One of the main components of the DVFS Lower School program is to identify academic areas where students need further instruction to help them get to or make progress towards reaching grade level expectations. We call this process closing the gap. Many areas of academic need are identified in the later years of lower school (grades 3-5) when there is a significant shift in teacher instructional approaches and student academic expectations. Generally, this shift is described as going from “learning to read to reading to learn”. This shift has implications across the curriculum (Social Studies, Science, English and even Math) and has a profound effect on some students ability to find success in the classroom.

Closing the Gap - Language Arts

In the DVFS Lower School there are skill areas within language arts that receive particular emphasis because of their importance in remediating a student's reading. Decoding, spelling, reading fluency and reading comprehension instruction are taught using the Orton-Gillingham approach and teachers use a variety of research based instructional materials to meet individual needs in the classroom. Students are assessed and provided with direct and explicit instruction in the following areas.

    • Decoding and Spelling
      • Phonemic awareness
      • Sound symbol relationships
      • 6 Syllable types
      • Syllable division rules
      • morphology
    • Fluency
      • Reading rate
      • Reading Accuracy
      • Reading expression
    • Comprehension
      • Pre-reading skills
      • Vocabulary
      • Visualizing
      • Summarizing
      • Inferencing
      • Sequencing

Written Language Development

Closing the gap in terms of a student's written expression begins at the sentence level. This means instruction is designed to improve a student's understanding and application of sentence grammar and the progressing to instruction in building types and patterns of sentences. The next step in the sequence of writing instruction is to learn and apply the steps of the writing process into basic and maybe even expanded paragraphs. Students are taught strategies for checking quality and form of work. This includes an understanding of the technology side of composing, drafting and editing written work. The main resource used in written language development is Judith Hochman’s “Teaching Basic Writing Skills”.

Oral Language Development

    • Speaking and listening skills
    • Articulation
    • Sound production

Closing the Gap - Math A Multi-Sensory Approach

The multi-sensory approach to teaching math in the DVFS Lower School is based on the research of Marilyn Zecher out of the Multisensory Training Institute. The DVFS Lower School math program focuses on the main skills of numeracy and fluency. We plan our instruction with the knowledge that students will vary in their ability to retrieve math facts on demand and that students will have gaps in their procedural math knowledge.


    • Place Value - recognizing quantities without counting - the most crucial of all the concepts
    • Numeracy
    • Ordered pairs of 10
    • Number system and number lines
    • Multiplication
    • Fractions / Decimals / Percents
    • Time

The instructional approach follows a specific sequence of students learning and progressing through concepts at the concrete to representational to the abstract level At the concrete level, students and teachers use manipulatives and objects as the modality for instruction and understanding. The representational level is where students and teachers use visuals and pictures and at the abstract level students are able to understand that numbers on a page represent a specific quantity.

Executive Function Support

DV Lower School creates an environment that fosters the development of executive function skills through modeling and explicit instruction in planning, time and materials management, and self-regulation. Intentional and consistent reinforcement of these skills early on significantly benefits students when they reach the middle and upper school divisions.

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Delaware Valley Friends School
19 E. Central Avenue, Paoli, Pennsylvania 19301
Phone: 610.640.4150
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