GENERAL STUDIES AT OHDS
The OHDS General Studies program not only equips students with standards-based skills, but uses inquiry and project-based learning methods to engage their curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. Through literature and social studies, students learn to read and reread complex text, search for evidence to support their interpretations and ponder multiple understandings as they participate in shared inquiry discussions. Our young mathematicians consider the many ways to solve a single problem and effectively use manipulatives, drawings and words to explain their thinking process. And whether they are First Grade engineers designing bridges, Fourth Grade inventors building circuits or Sixth Grade chemists observing water molecules, our OHDS students learn to read, write, observe, experiment, design and problem-solve like real scientists, becoming specialists in their year-long field of study.
English Language Arts Program
English language arts instruction integrates the learning of essential foundational skills with an inquiry-based approach that makes reading and writing come alive for students. Whether learning how to blend sounds, spell multi-syllable words or write a five-paragraph essay, the nuts and bolts of language arts are taught explicitly with many opportunities for hands-on practice and the goal of mastery in mind. From early on, students are shown that reading and writing provide exciting opportunities for independent learning and exploration, opening them up to the world of research in science, social studies and their unique areas of interest. The depth and joy of literature is approached by engaging with specially chosen short stories, poems and novels, all of which require students to question, explore and discuss. Through close examination of important moments in their own lives, students become creators of literature themselves, using language to draw us into the rich stories they have to tell.
Math instruction throughout the grades focuses on developing a tangible understanding of numbers with the dual goals of computational mastery and the ability to approach real-world problems in creative ways. Through games, hands-on exploration and challenging word problems, students are both supported and encouraged to demonstrate their comprehension of mathematical concepts. Whether counting to ten, adding fractions or simplifying variable expressions, computing answers is not enough. Rather, students are asked to show their thinking, search for multiple ways to solve a problem and articulate the mathematical process with precision.
Science instruction brings an inquiry-based approach, leveraging students’ natural curiosity and giving them the opportunity to explore their world through reading, research and hands-on experiences. Whether observing the decay of compost in Kindergarten, building circuits in fourth grade or researching environmental issues in sixth grade, students are encouraged to ask questions, think logically and explain their thinking with precise and descriptive language. The study of scientific topics is intentionally integrated with the English language arts curriculum, offering the students multiple opportunities to build reading, writing and discussion skills within the context of scientific knowledge-building. Project-based challenges require students to solve complex problems while employing creative thinking and the collaborative skills essential for today’s world.
Social Studies Program
Social studies instruction is seamlessly integrated with the English language arts curriculum and gives students in all grades the chance to appreciate and understand the richness of the human world, both present and past. Whether studying maps in second grade, exploring family immigration stories in third grade, or closely reading American slave narratives as eighth graders, students are given the opportunity to use their reading, writing and discussion skills to develop a greater understanding of their topic. Songs, poems, folktales, novels and primary texts are specially selected to build background knowledge and to create a more intimate relationship with global cultures and historical time periods. Students use their research skills to increase their understanding of specific cultures or events and produce detailed research reports to share their findings.
JUDAIC STUDIES AT OHDS
The Judaic Studies program at OHDS enables learners to actively connect to their tradition and to their heritage. With its concentration on “learning how to learn,” our program produces informed and confident readers of traditional Jewish texts. Our students develop comfort and fluency in Hebrew through our Hebrew immersion approach. The study of Torah, Jewish holidays and Jewish history provide students with broad Judaic literacy. Tefillah, storytelling, music, art and drama open our students to a world of wonder, awe and spiritual exploration. We aspire to provide an environment where Judaism is not bound by school walls and class times, but is a sum of our collective experience as a people – then and there, here and now. May we be able to educate a next generation that will continue to believe in and work towards Ahavat Yisrael, Achdut, Shalom and Torah U’Mitzvot, continuously strengthening our relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
Our heritage has brought us strength, unity, and spiritual and cultural wealth, nurtured by the study of holy texts in written and oral traditions—Torah and Toshb’a. Our goal is to give students the necessary tools to develop skills that will allow them to “break the Sefer barrier” and to engage with the text years after they have graduated from OHDS. Towards this end, we have strived to create an environment where Hebrew is a natural occurrence. Judaic studies is taught in Hebrew in grades 1-5; in middle school, students engage in Hebrew language through the study of Israeli literature, music, current events, as well as a Judaic studies class where Hebrew is an intrinsic part of the everyday life of the student. The Hebrew language connects us in time and in space; from the lives of our ancestors to that of Jews in the 21st century today and onward.
Israel is alive within our walls. In early grades, students are exposed to the various facets of the country, from geography to its diversity; from art and music to the holiness of its cities; from Zionist thinkers to Israel’s Declaration of Independence. In middle school, students continue to explore Israel’s society, the minorities that constitute its population, its environmental challenges and cultural manifestations; its history and aspirations.