Whelan-Grades and Classes
The journey at Whelan begins in the kindergarten classroom, where children are learning basic concepts such as sharing, patience, structure, communication, and foundational skills that set the standard for the rest of their elementary education – and beyond. Through engaging lesson plans and activities that blend student autonomy with supportive guidance, the cognitive and neurological development of our littlest learners skyrockets.
It is our goal to further our students’ social and emotional growth, and that’s made possible by the abundance of experiences students have while participating in activities that increase children’s self-regulation skills, independence, and cooperation. We combine one-on-one instruction with group and partner work, allowing children to grow in their learning independently and collaboratively.
Mrs. Michelle Refino
Mrs. Adriana Ricci
Any way you add it up, math at Whelan for kindergarten students is a thrilling and engrossing experience where we start to teach foundational skills that yield high achievement in school across disciplines and an understanding of arithmetic concepts. The youngest mathematicians at our school use math throughout the day, counting, measuring, and talking about quantity and numbers. The basics of mathematical language are built in kindergarten.
Even during free play, it may appear that students are merely discussing toys, but if you listen more intently, you’ll hear them talking about size, shape, abundance, and patterns. We incorporate learning about number sequences into everyday activities, and make these numbers become “real” for our students.
Kindergarten English Language Arts
We make sure Whelan Elementary kindergarten students get hooked on phonics. We make the introduction into reading and writing fun for students through a rich supply of text, and show our students that stories are everywhere – during free play time, while communicating with peers about daily life, and in their own imaginations.
Our educators use active instruction, modeling and demonstrating literacy skills as they lead by example. We know that students learn by doing, so we encourage them to practice writing, boost their fine motor control, and help heighten their appreciation for language.
“Watch me!” That’s something you’ll hear kindergarten students at Whelan say quite often, as they share their talents they’ve discovered, and new findings they’ve uncovered. Particularly in kindergarten, curiosity peaks, and our educators lock into that to show students how much wonder there is in the scientific world.
Indoor and outdoor learning happens in kindergarten, and yes – sometimes, students will make a mess when conducting their own experiments. That mess students make is all part of the lesson. We learn about principles like light and color, about nature, and the basics of how things work.
Kindergarten Social Studies
Kindergarten students in particular will continue asking, “Why?” That’s just what we at Whelan want to hear. Our youngest learners are particularly intrigued by their surroundings, and we hone in on that to teach them about community and what it means to be a part of a collective.
It takes a village to raise a child, and we start to teach children about the components that make up a village: Different generations, a mixture of cultures blending together, customs, traditions, and a variety of perspectives. For many of our students, kindergarten is the first time they learn to play and interact with a large group of other children, and learn the essence of teamwork, respect, and listening.
The social, cognitive, and scholastic development of Whelan’s 1st-grade students is apparent. They’ve started to realize the school is not only a place they go to have fun and spend time with their peers – it’s also a place where they can ask questions, inquire about a range of subject areas, and make discoveries for themselves.
Children’s love for learning starts to flourish in 1st-grade, where they dig into critical thinking skills, reading and writing comprehension, problem-solving techniques, experimentation, and build strong friendships while doing so. First-grade students at Whelan feel a sense of ownership over their education.
Grade 1 Teachers
Mrs. Cheril Smith
Mrs. Cathryn Mariorenzi
Grade 1 Mathematics
First-grade students at Whelan start to see that math makes everything come alive. In 1st-grade, students grow rapidly in their ability to identify math concepts, use problem-solving approaches, and interpret data mathematically. With arithmetic, we know that process is everything, and teach our students the significance of clean copy, double-checking answers, and following steps to determine the correct solutions.
Student confidence is important to us at Whelan, and we instill self-assurance into our children’s everyday routines in school. That translates directly into subject areas including math, where confidence paired with accuracy is key.
Grade 1 English Language Arts
To help our 1st-grade students at Whelan become proficient and independent readers, we make sure they have a wealth of literature within reach. The youngest students at Whelan learn the value of letters, words, and whole thoughts through attentive discussions and learning about the “power of the pen” – or pencil. We all need an eraser sometimes.
Students in 1st-grade make the discovery that when reading, they can be “transported” anywhere in the world – stories allow readers to do that. Reading also introduces them to new people – characters – with their own stories to tell. Students start to notice that text and literature is surrounding them everywhere, and will be the first to tell (or ask you) about the words, directions, and phrases they see.
Grade 1 Science
Walk into a 1st-grade classroom at Whelan, and walk into a “work” zone, where students are building, deconstructing and testing. You can feel the excitement in the room when students share their findings, and can hear the follow-up questions students have for one another when discussing what they’ve created or discovered.
We offer plenty of hands-on activities and allow students to dig deeper, ask more questions, and truly act as engineers and scientists. Our educators know when to guide students through their scientific explorations, and when to move out of their way. Teachers at Whelan encourage students to share their ideas and theories and promote open dialogue with their fellow student scientists. At Whelan, our students aren’t just at the table when it comes to their education – in many ways, they’re learning how to lead the table.
Grade 1 Social Studies
Evolve. What exactly does that mean? To 1st-grade students at Whelan, it means a number of things: Students are adapting to their surroundings more and more at school, they’re learning to open their minds when learning about new content areas, and they are taught about ways society has progressed when learning about world events of the past and how those timestamps are important to present day.
Students start to see that history is more than a date in time – they see how people can and do make an impact on their communities, and start to realize they can do the same even at their young age. Diversity and historical figures become more than just key words in a textbook.
Whelan 2nd-grade students are given new, rigorous coursework, but not without preparation and guidance from our teachers who establish an exhilarating environment for them to thrive in. In 2nd-grade, students become critiquers, educational interrogators, more self-sufficient researchers and more articulate communicators.
As they progress through their elementary education, 2nd-grade students learn life skills and academics simultaneously, and truly begin to apply what they read and talk about at Whelan to the world outside of the confines of our school campus.
Grade 2 Teachers
Mrs. Kaila Alger (Kittell)
Mrs. Stephanie Voccio
Grade 2 Mathematics
At Whelan, we make numbers make sense. Our 2nd-grade students learn a variety of more advanced concepts, including telling time, the value of money, measurement systems, and addition and subtraction. We use clever phrasing within the math problems we present to students to pull them into math lessons.
Before a student can solve a problem, they must understand the concept of the problem. Our educators help students take a few steps back to look at all variables of a problem, but also show them why those elements matter. This helps students lock in a deeper understanding of math, and strengthens their practice and study habits.
Grade 2 English and Language Arts
What’s in a name? In 2nd-grade at Whelan, with the help of our educators, students start to take apart pieces to puzzles of literacy to better understand this. Of course, English Language Arts is taught throughout the day across subjects students are learning, whether it be science, math, or visual arts.
Students become authors, book critiquers, and honorary “book club” members in 2nd-grade, as they interpret text, share their written works, and strengthen their reading comprehension. Our students work on individual journaling and literacy workshops, read books they’ve chosen, find their favorite types of stories, and make real-world connections with what they take away from reading.
Grade 2 Science
Second-grade students at Whalen don’t need to board the “Magic School Bus” to go on a scientific adventure. During this academic year, students further sharpen their engineering skills – testing materials, analyzing data, creating their own experiments in pairs, groups, and independently, and asking more detailed questions.
Students learn that science involves math, literature, reading and proofreading, and efficient use of digital tools. Our young learners see that science is a communal language everyone can relate to, and our educators keep up with trends that students love to incorporate them into their lesson plans. Take slime, for example. We make “slime,” disguised as “just for fun,” and use that activity as a teaching moment.
Grade 2 Social Studies
At Whelan, Social Studies and History is far from boring. Our goal is for our students to discover history – not merely be taught history. We ensure our 2nd-grade students understand cultures and societal, historical, and governmental systems – it’s not a memory game.
Learning about the world should be fun, and at Whelan it is. We’re able to provide a stimulating environment for our students with engaging read-alouds, relevant content, and discussions about students’ own heritage, family traditions and conventions, and Whelan community ethics. Students develop an appreciation for the similarities and differences between people and places of the world.
Third-grade at Whelan represents many things: Advanced class work, deeper understanding, meaningful lessons, and a heightened focus on academics and overall learning. Halfway through their time at Whelan, students have transformed into more active thinkers, literate learners, and voluntary participants across all subject areas.
Efficiency and fluency are noticeable in 3rd-grade classrooms at Whelan, where students make the switch from learning to read to reading to learn, and ask more elaborate questions about more complex content. Students make strides socially, emotionally, and academically in 3rd-grade, and our educators act as their cheerleaders as students navigate through new and invigorating
Grade 3 Teachers
Ms. Susan Coughlin
Mrs. Nina Szumita
Grade 3 Mathematics
At Whelan, math has meaning. Third-grade students are taught in a stimulating environment, and educators work to make sure children are present in their learning. Place value, multiplication, division, and fractions take on purpose beyond the worksheets students complete and tests children take. Third-grade math is a critical component of each child’s education, as it marks transition in subject area and becomes more complex.
The work 3rd-grade students complete, composed of figuring out math problems using charts, graphs, and tables to visualize the find answers to math challenges, pushes them to further hone in on their interpretation and explanation skills. Applicable math is what keeps students engaged and thinking about the subject during arithmetic lessons, but also excites them in a way that causes them to identify math and how it can be used outside the classroom.
Grade 3 English Language Arts
Third-grade students at Whelan are turning the page in more ways than one. They pick up on the significance of plots, can predict how stories might unfold, make note of “big picture” themes, and develop a greater appreciation for individuals characters.
You can see the figurative “light bulbs” turn on as students pick up their pens or pencils and write their own ideas down, brainstorm and sketch out their thoughts for their own stories, and make connections to texts they’re reading in class. The students read more advanced literature, which directly translates to polished creative and objective writing skills.
Grade 3 Science
In 3rd-grade you can see the sparks flying – not literally, unless that’s part of the lesson plan! Students are always experimenting, and we know many students learn best by doing. We’re all about active learning at Whelan, where you will always see many students’ hands raised during lessons, asking questions of teachers and participating in zealous and lively conversations.
Through a variety of workshops and experiments, students make their own choices and decisions to see how they can change variables and what causes different outcomes. The autonomy we provide our students allows room for their personal growth, and encourages them to take a step back, analyze materials and research they’ve completed, and use deductive reasoning and trial and error to find solutions.
Grade 3 Social Studies
It’s the 21st-century, and our 3rd-grade Whelan students are learning with tangible objects, digital tools, and philosophical and open-ended discussions. While doing so, they’re learning how the past impacts the present, and the significance of the word “influence.”
Third-grade students at Whelan see the purpose of reflection when it comes to civics, holding follow-up discussions – and additional follow-up discussions – after reading and learning about key moments in time. Our educators highlight current events that are ongoing to provide more relevant instruction that make lessons really adhere to students’ minds in ways that matter to them.
Whelan students are at the helm of their own learning in 4th-grade. Students truly begin to steer their way through diverse and challenging coursework in writing and reading, science, math, and digital literacy – a skill taught across disciplines to better prepare our children for the future. Educators at Whelan are molding minds, making it known to students that the content they’re learning in school is applicable to the world around them.
Educators encourage and listen closely to the divergent ideas children have. We take what our students have to say and ask seriously, and our young learners understand that and feel comfortable in the nurturing environment we continue to provide throughout their elementary education.
Grade 4 Teachers
Mrs. Donna Canario
Mr. Kevin Geremia
Grade 4 Mathematics
Math fluency. That is what’s taught to 4th-grade students at Whelan. It’s made possible by the educators who work patiently and persistently to ensure students understand the material they’re learning each day, so students are comfortable and confident in math as an overall “language,” not merely a subject.
Students navigate their way through math problems independently, one-on-one with teachers, and also support one another in groups by polishing their math conceptualization.
Grade 4 English Language Arts
Our 4th-grade students use the English Language Arts lessons they’ve learned at Whelan through in-depth workshops, engaging discussions, meaningful content, and enlightening literature as a springboard to 5th-grade. Students sharpen their thought process when writing, become more proficient in reading comprehension, and their confidence soars not only in English, but all subject areas.
A combination of independent work, engaging group conversations, and projects empower students. In our classrooms, students feed off one another’s creativity and drive to make purposeful, thoughtful, and intriguing stories, and understand the importance of breaking down complex literature and sharing written work with their peers.
Grade 4 Science
What does good science instruction look like? At Whelan, it looks like students learning through trial-and-error, sticking to issues they’re trying to solve, and digging their heels into conceptual material. Fourth-grade students start to see the world as a giant experiment – or several small experiments where answers lie, waiting to be uncovered.
Students start to feel responsible for the natural world, and are curious about how to make the world a better place through innovative ideas, new data, research, and the scientific process.
Grade 4 Social Studies
Rewind. That means more than a setting on a remote control to 4th-grade students at Whelan, who know that going “back in time” is certainly a journey. It’s a journey that provides context, clues, answers, and more questions about the past and how it has led to the present.
Government systems and processes, social responsibility, and service in the community are important topics students learn about in 4th-grade, using their own research, visuals that give historical moments a “rebirth,” and exhilarating class conversations in which students interpret historical events. Students study maps and complete projects that allow them to learn more about their own family traditions and celebrations. Students also take away an appreciation for how being a member of their own family as well as the Whelan family makes up their identity.
Fifth-grade students at Whelan have the knowledge to comprehend, the skills to succeed, and most importantly, the will to learn. By the time they graduate from our school community, they are aware of how much education impacts their lives and the lives of all those around them. In their last year as Whelan students, children have improved their writing, listening, communications, scientific, artistic, and mathematical craft.
They have become better students, community members, and friends. At Whelan, we set students up for success through the elementary years, and prepare them for the rest of their academic careers as they advance to middle school and beyond.
Grade 5 Teachers
Mrs. Vanessa Puccio
Mrs. Jamie Dilorenzo
Grade 5 Mathematics
Math in elementary school represents a journey – an expedition in which students grow from learning about basic concepts like addition and subtraction to fractions, money value, observing data and statistics, and finding solutions through deductive reasoning and sharp calculations.
Unsuspectingly, our 5th-grade students have become more scholarly mathematicians. They navigate through advanced problems, interpret and identify variables, and become fluent in the “language” that is math. With preparation, encouragement from teachers, and personalized learning, our oldest students are ready to make the jump from elementary school to middle school.
Grade 5 English Language Arts
Fast forward to 5th-grade, and you’ll see just how much students have progressed over the years of English Language Arts instruction at Whelan. Students have grown drastically in reading, writing, story structure and understanding, and revision techniques.
If it’s a new word, students are looking it up. If it’s a complex story, students are deconstructing it to put it back together in their minds. If it’s a blank piece of paper, students are changing that with their imaginations and a pencil. If it’s a new book, they’re leafing through it. A love for reading and writing begins at Whelan, and lasts long after students leave the confines of our school community.
Grade 5 Science
It’s a big world out there, and 5th-grade students at Whelan are more than ready to uncover all it has to offer and test the limits of what is considered “possible.” They ask more worldly questions about ecology, biology, geology, and genealogy.
In their final year at Whelan, students want to know how to protect the planet they’ve learned so much about. They want to continue making links between humans and the natural world. They proudly take on the role of “stewards” of science and future leaders of inventions and discoveries.
Grade 5 Social Studies
From their first years as Whelan students, educators have planted “the seeds” for a love of learning about people, culture, society, and the way systems work. By 5th-grade, we see the fruits of that labor. Students are more engaged in civics than ever before, learn about serious moment in history and why they matter today, and are thrilled to become more involved in the communities they’re a part of.
That includes not only our Whelan family, but their neighborhoods, their circle of friends and families, North Providence, and on a global community scale.
Health & Physical Education
The Whelan physical and health education program is inclusive, respectful, welcoming, and nurturing. Healthy habits are taught at Whelan, where educators lead by example. Through instruction, educators show children that mental and physical health are important to not only their roles as active and engaged learners, but their overall wellbeing.
Teamwork, interaction, and collaboration are more than “buzz words” at Whelan. Students come to understand the value of nutrition, being a team player, and self-care.
Mr. Gerald Rubino
“Music is the universal language of mankind.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Music All students will have a hands-on music class once a week to encourage an appreciation of a wide variety of musical styles. Music classes will incorporate listening, moving, singing and performing. Students will have many opportunities to perform, create and experiment individually as well as in groups. Many music classes throughout the year will coordinate with the lessons that the students are studying in their classrooms. All music lesson plans, kindergarten through grade 5 are in accordance with the National Core Arts Standards which can be found here.
Band All 4th and 5th grade students in good standing will have the opportunity to join the band. Band class will meet every Wednesday during the school day. In September, a detailed letter will be sent home which will include: instrument rental/purchasing information, teacher requirements as well as academic and behavioral expectations.
Mrs. Deirdre Donovan
Art at Whelan is an expressive journey, and each child’s experience in art at our school is different. That’s the beauty of it. We make art playful, engaging, unique, and eye-opening for our students. Our youngest learners study aesthetics, detail, and artistic elements, and begin to see how much detail there is in the world around them.
Whelan students feel the power of art, which allows them to imagine, create, and work with raw materials to form something else entirely. From a young age, Whelan students are immersed in art – our school promotes individuality and the power of imagination. By learning about a range of art forms, students discover their own artistic genius.
Ms. Kim Celona
Library Class The students at Whelan participate in a library class once a week in a positive, welcoming environment. During this class, the students engage in meaningful activities that promote a love of reading and literature in a variety of formats, including print and digital materials. Students are empowered to become critical thinkers and seekers of information and ideas. We, also, teach the students about the ethical use of information and technology. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities are incorporated into the library curriculum as well.