Fieldstone Day School has always been known for its unique curriculum approach. Our curriculum continues to evolve as a rich and enriching programme, taking from the best and most-relevant aspects of several sources: the Cambridge Primary Programme, the Ontario Ministry of Education elementary curriculum, Core Knowledge, the AIM French programme (K-5), and Cambridge Secondary I (Middle School). New in 2015, in all grades Kindergarten through 8, the English, Math and Science programmes will be entirely based on the Cambridge programme; Social Studies will combine aspects of Core Knowledge and the Ontario programme; and French and the other specialties will be heavily influenced by the Ontario programme, with aspects of Core Knowledge included, where appropriate. Cambridge Primary (Kindergarten to Grade 5) and Cambridge Secondary I (Grades 6 through 8) are comprehensive, challenging and dynamic curricula in English, Science and Mathematics that are designed for the global educational context. Fieldstone students learn what thousands of other children study throughout the world, and they are regularly tested over the course of the programme. Students in Grades 5 and 8 write standardized Checkpoint exams that are assessed at the University of Cambridge. A Cambridge education develops students who are confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged, attributes that fit perfectly within the Fieldstone environment.
Fieldstone has a unique and dynamic music program, incorporating music appreciation, Orff Schulwerk, and stringed instrument instruction. Every day starts off with “Morning Music,” one half hour of classical music played throughout the halls and classrooms. A chronological survey of classical music, Morning Music teaches the students to appreciate listening to the great musical works of history, and to distinguish between the musical eras, from Medieval plainchant, through to art music of recent years. The recordings are accompanied by text, puzzles and pictures which complement the music the students are listening to. Once or twice a week, students from Junior Kindergarten through to Grade Three have Orff instruction, based on the ideas of the German composer, Carl Orff (1895–1982). The Orff approach combines movement, singing, playing, and improvisation to teach basic musical concepts, such as rhythm, beat and ensemble, through the use of simple and easy-to-play instruments such as xylophone, triangles and drums. From Grade One, all Fieldstone students learn to play the violin or cello. Initial instruction is based on a modified Suzuki approach, supplemented by a system of simple notation which helps the students to learn to play many pieces quickly and easily. By Grade Four, students learn to read from traditional treble and bass clef notation, and the focus shifts to playing with more sophisticated technique and better tone quality. More advanced students are invited to join our String Orchestra, in which the repertoire includes favourite works such as Karl Jenkins’ Palladio and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3. Our students play and sing in the community. They have performed many times at homes for the aged, such as Villa Columbo, Meighen Manor and a SPRINT lunch at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church. We have also brought a select group of students from Grades One through Grade Eight to play the American and Canadian anthems at the start of Blue Jays baseball games and Toronto Marlies hockey game. All students perform regularly throughout the year at assemblies and events within the school. There are two major concerts annually. The traditional December Holiday Concert showcases students playing stringed instruments and Orff instruments, as well as songs in languages such as French, Hebrew, Portuguese, Italian and German. The Spring Arts Night combines playing and singing with art work produced by the students. All combined, our students receive from 4 ½ to 6 ½ hours of excellent musical instruction a week. This is one of the best musical programs that Toronto schools have to offer.
Shakespeare lives on at Fieldstone Day School. Every year, for over a decade and a half, students in Grade One to Grade Eight are given the opportunity to participate in a Shakespeare Production. The performances are versions of plays by William Shakespeare from the series Shakespeare for Young People. Family and friends have come to see productions of <em>Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, </em>and <em>Much Ado about Nothing</em>, to name a few. Whether a comedy or a tragedy, each year the students’ performance on stage, for one night only, leaves the audience in awe of the talent they have witnessed. The production consists of a play written in five acts and a summary in between the acts, presented in the form of sonnets or rhyming couplets. This often requires a cast of student for the characters in the main play and a group of students for the Rhyming Couplets or Sonnets Crew, also known as “the players.” Students who wish to be in the main play are given time to prepare for an audition and they can request a small, medium or large role in order to ensure that they can attend the required rehearsals, which are scheduled during many months before the production date, and still stay on top of their other co-curricular activities and their academics. Once a student has been a part of a Shakespeare Production, they are almost always eager to be in the next one; they can’t wait to hear which the next play will be, when they can audition, and how soon they can get their copy of the script so they can begin memorizing their lines and becoming their character. Being part of a Shakespeare Production allows students to trust their abilities, strengthen their memory, and gain confidence. It also develops excellent focus of mind, body, and voice, as well as enhances their communication skills through the use of verbal and non-verbal expression. As the director of the annual Shakespeare Productions since 2009, I have been continually amazed with the level of dedication shown by the students during rehearsals, and the talent and energy that they exude when they are on stage is exemplary. The overall positive attitude they each demonstrate towards understanding the play and performing it well is paramount.
Visual Arts at Fieldstone includes much more than simply studio work and art appreciation. Within Visual Arts courses, students’ visual literacy expands and impacts all other learning experiences. Learning in, about or through the Visual Arts at Fieldstone helps students to use their imaginations and make creative choices to communicate their ideas, observations, feelings, and values.
Students explore the expressive character of art, their personal perceptions of art works, and the elements and principles of design. They investigate and produce a variety of art works using various media processes and traditional and emerging technologies. They develop skills using art tools, materials and techniques. Such learning also enhances students’ ability to respond to and interpret existing works. To wrap up the overall Visual Arts experience, the students participate in hanging, displaying, and curating their very own art show for a true, authentic, and complete Visual Arts experience.
The diverse opportunities that we create for our students are not limited to their classroom experiences. Within our relatively small and extremely inclusive environment, our participatory, rather than competitive approach to co-curricular activities encourages all students to engage in a rich and diverse school experience.
We encourage our students to get the most out of everything we offer, and our commitment to providing big-school experience within a small and safe environment benefits all our students.
Fieldstone participates extensively in the Small Schools Athletic Federation, and our student-athletes regularly compete in the following sports:
- Ball Hockey
- Cross Country
- Flag Football
- Golf Ice Hockey
- Track and Field
Other Co-curricular Activities
- Me-to-We Club
- Extensive music opportunities
Every year our curriculum comes to life with Horizons Week. Students in Grades JK-8 enjoy the opportunity to experience firsthand things they are learning in school. Until Grade 4, students take part in workshops planned and executed by some of our teachers and outside providers. Each year we invite professional actors to Fieldstone, and children learn and perform acts from Shakespearean play, that are specific to their grade. Another day, they may get a chance to work with an award-winning children’s author on how to write their own storybooks. In grades 5-8, students are given an opportunity to attend either a local, provincial, or European trip. This is a week-long adventure that connects our students to the world around them. Fieldstone believes in a global education and providing our students with these workshops and trips is part of how we fulfill this mandate.
Beyond our enriching in-class school experience, Fieldstone offers a diverse variety of learning opportunities for all students. Fieldstone truly has everything that a larger school has, but these opportunities take place in a non-threatening and inclusive environment so that all students can participate. From house league and inter-school sports to strings orchestra and an annual Shakespeare production, Fieldstone promotes participation over competition in all areas. Whether an extension of classroom learning or a new and exciting skill, all Fieldstone students are encouraged to explore these activities in either a leadership role or as a participant. At Fieldstone, you don’t have to be a star player to play on a team nor do you have to be the best actor to perform on the stage. Consistent with our goal to individualize the Fieldstone experience for all students, we can find a place for everyone in co-curricular life. Similar to our in-class philosophy of presenting our students with stimulating challenges in a nurturing and supporting environment, allowing all students to participate in co-curricular activities leads to positive feelings about school and a boost in self-esteem.
Individualizing the Challenge
The Fieldstone student body is a diverse and inclusive one, and the school is able to create a unique experience for each student. Whether a student needs remediation in one or more subjects or qualifies for gifted and enriched programming, Fieldstone is committed to ensuring that all our students get what they need from our programme. The individualized Fieldstone experience is a rich and dynamic one that encompasses academic, social, and co-curricular realms. A student who may excel in sports or on the stage will be encouraged and nurtured in these pursuits just as he or she would be in the classroom. At Fieldstone, every student is an individual.