Engage, Discover, Share
Bertschi School's curriculum is known for combining challenging core academics with hands-on activities that engage students in interdisciplinary learning.
At the heart of Bertschi School’s academic curriculum is math, literacy, and social studies. Students move through scaffolded instruction and practice that meets their “just right” level. This may look like instruction and exploration of new material, independent or collaborative practice and problem solving, and application of the learning to real-life situations and independent projects. Teachers provide students with opportunities to investigate how things work and why things happen. Bertschi graduates know how to learn as independent thinkers and as part of a collaborative team.
In addition their classroom teacher, every Bertschi student benefits from our Learning Services team, helping each student reach their potential and address areas of challenge.
Academics at Bertschi are also interdisciplinary and rooted in real-life experiences. Topics explored in math, reading, and social studies are infused with cross-curricular connections to our specialist classes in art, P.E., language study, drama, music, science, and technology.Bertschi believes that children thrive when they are given opportunities to see themselves reflected in the literature they read, the projects they create, and the problems they solve. They increase their capacity for empathy and collaboration when they are offered a diversity of perspectives and ideas. This belief informs the curriculum across all content areas. As equity-focused educators, we focus not just on exposing students to multiple perspectives but also raising students’ awareness of their role as change-makers. Moving from compassion to action happens on the playground, in classroom projects, and in spontaneous teachable moments. Bertschi students learn that their voices matter and that their actions can make a difference.
Social Emotional Learning
Bertschi School believes that the foundation of academic readiness includes a strong sense of self and safety within a community. Our curriculum includes a detailed scope and sequence for each grade level, reaching across the four competencies of social emotional learning: self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and decision-making. Our teachers are trained in a variety of strategies that are specific to the social emotional needs of each child and each grade level. In 2018, Bertschi School became an Institute for Social Emotional Learning (IFSEL) school, engaging in a year of work with the Institute to strengthen practices and curriculum.
Our campus is at the center of our commitment to sustainability, with a LEED Gold-certified building and the first certified “Living Building” in Washington State. These buildings were designed to serve as exemplars and teaching tools so that children will discover principles, strategies, and technologies that prepare and empower them to create a more positive and sustainable future. Our curriculum is full of interdisciplinary through-lines that delve into the ways that we can be stewards of our environment, taking action to care for the global world we live in.
The seeds of environmental responsibility are planted right from the start in PreK. Utilizing young children's innate curiosity about the natural world, pre-kindergarteners embark on a year-long discovery of local plant life found in and around our homes, parks and school. This integrated study allows children to deepen understanding of the importance plants play in our daily lives. The PreK classroom has a dedicated space to document and give voice to children's observations, questions, experiments and learning about plants.
The art of storytelling is fostered even in our youngest writers. Every Friday, parents join kindergarten classes to support our students in bringing their ideas to life on paper through words and art. These young writers are encouraged to spin their tales through weekly story time in the library, sophisticated projects in art class, monthly self-portraits in the classroom and anywhere else inspiration may strike!
D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Time:
Bertschi students’ love and enthusiasm for reading truly flourishes in first grade, as they are constantly empowered to read independently. With everything from special weekly phonics lessons led by the Director of Learning Services, to Home Reading Projects, author studies, choral reading, word attacks, and “just right” reading groups, children’s literature is explored deeply in first grade.
Pacific Northwest Forest Exploration:
Second grade classes immerse themselves in a rich study of temperate forests found throughout the Pacific Northwest. Through an integrated study, which spans across the classroom, science, and library classes, second graders are given the opportunity to explore the biodiversity which makes up these rich ecosystems. Students learn key vocabulary, and concepts such as forest layers, food chains and webs, and the interdependency of the forest and its inhabitants. A focus on sustainability teaches why forests are important, and which things harm or help them flourish.
Seattle History Project:
Project-based learning explodes in 3rd grade. The study of Seattle history, geography and peoples is married with videography so each third grade student emerges as a budding documentarian. Co-taught by the third grade classroom teachers and Technology Integration Specialist, this is the year that students grow tremendously in their creative expression and storytelling skills through the use of technology.
Portrait of the Whole Person:
This multifaceted project explores portraiture, writing, literature and disability rights and awareness. The project beings with a presentation on disability culture and history by Stacie Siebrecht, Associate Director of Legal Advocacy at Disability Rights Washington. Through reading, art, and writing, students paint portraits and create inspiring biographical sketches of people with disabilities. The artistic portraits and biographies are exhibited at the Montlake branch of the Seattle Public Library.
World Peace Game:
As a capstone project of the Bertschi experience, 5th grade students spend eight weeks immersed in a hands on geo-political simulation that allows them to explore global connectedness through politics, the economy, environmental strife, social crises and the imminent threat of war. As meaning is constructed out of the chaos, allegiances formed and negotiations navigated, students develop creative solutions in an attempt to live and prosper in an unknown frontier.
Pre-k is for Exploring, Discovering, Growing
Pre-kindergarteners are involved in many different kinds of activities designed to help young learners explore, discover, and grow.
Learning Environmental Responsibility
Third grade students get involved in, discuss, and problem solve local issues of sustainability focusing on garbage, compost and recycling. Students develop ideas and formally present findings and suggestions to the entire student body.
Kindergarten's Budding Authors
Kindergarteners engage in a combination of activities through drawing, dictating, discussion, and writing that introduces them to different types of narratives.
Just Right Books
First graders jump right into independent reading, selecting “just right books,” and learning from each other in guided reading groups.
Second grade students become experts on the rainforest ecosystem, alongside investigation of local ecosystem by exploring the relationship between soil and plant growth.
Fourth graders study five major world religions, considering the history, traditions, geography, arts, and culture of each. Issues pertaining to stereotypes and prejudice are discussed.
Achieving World Peace
The first school in Seattle to play, our fifth graders spend eight weeks immersed in the challenges and triumphs ofJ ohn Hunter's World Peace Game.