Passionate Teachers
Focused Learning Environment
Responsive Students
Involved Parents

Swan School Mission

Swan School builds strong learners in an environment of academic excellence aligned with creativity and personal expression. We develop wise and compassionate leaders as an investment in everyone’s future.

The Adventurers

Russ Yates, Teacher

Our classroom is a great place to learn. It seems there is something new and interesting happening all of the time. Whether it is a simulation to help us learn a slice of history, a field experience followed with a hands on activity to help us understand a science concept, or a community service project, you
can bet that we have learned a great deal… and have enjoyed it too!
On this page you will find class information and links to pages that are useful and specific to our classroom. Of course, things will change from time to time, so keep posted.

Student Work

Students in our class are constantly learning and doing amazing things. We frequently share our learning with each other at school and with our families at home.  This collaborative sharing provides a natural structure that encourages progressive growth.  Teacher expectations of course also play a role and to that end my expectations grow with your child.  In many classrooms, expectations are based on age – making it frustrating for those who need more time to gain understanding or to master a skill, and boring for those children who have grown beyond a mandated curriculum.  At Swan School students are provided with just the right amount of challenge, allowing learning to be fun and progress to be seamless.  The three years students spend in the Adventurer program allow for a continuous progress that supports the natural rhythms of childhood growth (just because it is October 25 doesn’t mean that we should all be on page 43 of a math textbook).  It also means that there is not the academic equivalent of a “glass ceiling.”  Children easily follow learning paths that often lead them beyond what is normally expected for their age.


There are four main parts to homework; weekly spelling, independent reading, monthly projects, and occasional math or special assignments. Much of the homework in our classroom is project based. Each month students are given a menu of choices that revolve around a theme. With your help, they may choose any of the projects listed, modify any of them, or even make up appropriate alternatives. Students are not required to work each day, although they may. I do however ask each student to work a minimum of 1 to 3 hours per week on these projects. Many students will be able to finish more than one project per month, however, all projects completed should be done to a level that shows your child has gained a new depth of understanding as well as having learned or refined various skills. On Fridays students will be required to turn in a Homework Time Sheet. These time sheets will document the amount of time spent on homework as well as the work that was accomplished. Please help your child complete these time sheets as a part of their homework each day that they do some work and initial the time sheets in the appropriate spaces. To help your child complete their homework projects successfully, plan to sit down with him or her at the beginning of each month. Go over the different options and help your child choose a project, modify one on the menu, or create a new project that matches the month’s theme. Next, it is suggested that you use the Project Planning Form to break the project into manageable “chunks” and decide on dates for when each portion of the project should be completed. As the month progresses, check periodically with your child to find out if they need help with their project and if they are “on schedule.” At first your child will likely need a fair amount of help. With time he or she should gradually become more independent while completing their homework projects.  These projects build skills necessary to successfully complete the capstone project required for graduation.  Below are links to this year’s homework menus (2017-2018).

Homework Project Menus

September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May | June


A regular weekly portion of your child’s homework supports their increasing ability to spell words correctly. To this end I would like you to help your child learn their list of 20 spelling words by Friday. Note that they will likely bring home a 60 word spelling list. They have only been assigned 20 of these words.  You will find these listed at the top of the page and they are also written on their pretest.   (Note: some students will have 10 words assigned to them. Please check with Russ if you feel that your child’s list is too difficult or too easy). In addition, they will be completing a Spelling Pattern page as homework. Below find links to all of our spelling lists. To return to this page from the lists use your web browser’s back button.

Classic Spelling Lists

Nouveau Challenge Spelling Lists

Pattern Spelling Lists

Reading Homework

Finally, students are encouraged to incorporate a regular schedule of reading into their homework routine. The choice of reading materials for this should be self-selected and based on your child’s personal interests, or supportive of one of the monthly homework projects she or he is working on. Please have your child include the time spent reading on the homework time sheet.

Transporting Homework & Notes

One of the pocket folders your child brought to school as a part of their supplies will be designated as a homework folder. I ask that it be kept in their backpacks, using it to neatly transport homework and notes back and forth between home and school. Look for it regularly as it should contain either homework or communication from school.

I want to be sure there is clear and frequent communication between home and school. To that end I will send home a packet of corrected student work each Monday in your child’s homework folder. At the front of the packet there will be a weekly note from me with room for comments, and other information about work completion. Please sign this form and return it the next school day, Tuesday. This form will help me keep track of whether or not you are receiving information about how well your child is doing with their schoolwork. The form also allows you to easily communicate with me by simply writing a quick note. I treat this as a homework assignment for the children to help insure that this piece of weekly communication is constant.

Additional Information & Helpful Links

Classroom Information

Student Resources

Math Resources



 Student Supply List

  • 3-ring binder with 2 inch metal rings
  • 1 pencil pouch for 3-ring binder
  • 1 package of wide-ruled notebook paper
  • “tons” of #2 pencils, sharpened
  • 1 large pink eraser
  • 2 spiral bound notebooks with lined paper (70+ pages)
  • crayons (optional)
  • colored pencils
  • scissors
  • 2-4 glue sticks (not liquid)
  • 12 inch ruler with both English and metric systems
  • 5 pocket folders (like “Pee-Chee” folders)
  • 1 clipboard

*A class-specific laptop is an optional supply item that will be discussed shortly after school begins. A laptop used at school during a previous year will work fine and we also have a few older classroom laptops that students may borrow.. If you are considering purchasing a new or used laptop, please check with Russ first.

Please label all supplies with your name (including individual pencils and crayons)