Lower School Curriculum (2-5)

  • Overview

    In accordance with the Academy’s philosophy of teaching the whole child, our Lower School program strives for a balance among intellectual, social, creative, and physical activities.

    The academic program focuses its attention upon five major disciplines: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and World Languages. This core coursework is supplemented throughout the grades by experiences in Fine and Performing Arts, Physical Education, Technology, Library, and Character Education.

    The development of reading and language arts skills is a major focus of the Lower School. An eclectic approach, combining children’s literature with exercises from anthology books, is used. Emphasis is placed on strengthening phonics and other word attack strategies, comprehension skills, and vocabulary building. All other aspects of language arts – grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc. – are incorporated into the program through writing, which is an integral part of the language arts program. During the elementary years, students continue to build upon this foundation through the use of novels, anthology books, and beginning in third grade, the Junior Great Books program. Reading instruction includes both whole and small group lessons, as well as cooperative group activities. The emphasis on writing continues in these grades and growth is evident in portfolios and journal writing.

    The Everyday Mathematics program begins in kindergarten and continues throughout second grade. The spiraling curriculum helps children master basic numerical processes and understand key mathematical concepts. In the third through fifth  grades, students are transitioned from this constructionist mathematical program to a more traditional one, forming a bridge to Middle School. At this point, we also introduce flexible grouping for math. Groupings are determined by a pretest, and teachers cluster students based on current skill and concept understanding for a particular topic. Student abilities are grouped and regrouped for each unit. We feel differentiation via flexible grouping not only propels all children academically, but also supports our whole child philosophy.

    In science, students develop an understanding and working use of the scientific method as they practice questioning, predicting, observing, experimenting, collecting data, and drawing conclusions. Activities and experiments encourage students to develop skills of scientific inquiry as they deal with a wide range of topics within the physical, chemical, and biological sciences. 

    In the lower school grades, the social studies curriculum is designed to help children organize and develop appropriate perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Class discussions and role-playing are used, along with materials from various programs designed to strengthen self-concepts and decision-making skills. In the intermediate grades, students learn of factors that have shaped their world, develop research skills, learn how to read and create maps, and begin to develop the skills necessary for critical analysis necessary for their fifth grade course in World Geography.  To enhance their studies, students frequently work in cooperative groups, give oral presentations, enact historically significant events, and make use of the computer as a tool in research and presentations. Each year, students look forward to Global Explorers’ Week during which an in-depth study of a target country and service-learning replace the regular curriculum.

    Fifth graders participate in an inquiry based research project called the Cornerstone Project.   Students self-select a topic they are keenly interested in to complete an intensive, fully integrated study of their chosen topic. Examples of some possible topics from which a child may choose an inquiry question are: a new skill he/she would like to learn, an invention, a person he/she would like to know more about, a scientific wondering, a particular historical event, or a curriculum topic from a previous grade that the student may want to explore in depth.  The project is created at school and each child presents their project to their peers and invited guests.

    Character education encompasses how to follow the MPA way of “Be Kind and Do Your Best.”  Doing your best covers goal setting, celebrating individuality, being proactive, and practicing mindfulness. The topic of kindness includes encouraging students to walk in someone else’s shoes, being open to diversity, and tapping into another person’s feelings through empathy. The Responsive Classroom program provides daily practice and modeling of building a community in which everyone is a valued, contributing member.

    Character education in early elementary (K-3) involves helping students identify their intricate emotions, while giving them skills to control those emotions. Classes learn about personal space, how to read body language, polite listening skills, knowing when to self regulate, and understanding when to reach out to a teacher when they have maxed out their personal resources. 

    In upper elementary (4-5), classes review self love and treating others kindly.  Additionally, students learn social media etiquette, analyze stories of resilience and courage, and practice conflict resolution techniques.

    Our students will learn technology through a content-area based curriculum, by acquiring technology skills using software and multimedia. Technology integration will be used to enhance discipline-specific curriculum areas, as well as to further engage students in a differentiated instructional setting. This will be achieved with iPad 1:1 integration in classrooms and computer labs.

    Pre K students are introduced to integrative technologies, developing their hand-eye coordination and general computer knowledge.

    Grades K-4 will complete a series of Microsoft Plus Technology Projects that integrate Microsoft products into learning Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Publisher, and Paint. 

    Grade 5 students will complete a series of technology projects using Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, and Google Forms.  Projects and activities will also integrate subject areas such as language arts, geography, visual arts, science, history, and mathematics.

    Students will use KidPix 3D, iMovie, and WeVideo for creativity, innovation, and collaboration projects. 

    Computer Science--fundamentals are implemented in various modular based activities 

    Communication and Collaboration--implement critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills to manage projects using digital tools and resources

    Creativity and Innovation--demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative projects and processes using technology

    Digital Citizenship--through a cross-curricular framework, students understand the cultural, societal, and ethical implications of technological development

    Innovation, Collaboration, and Creativity--use digital media and environments to communicate and collaborate with others.  

    Keyboarding--acquire keyboarding skills required to utilize current technology.

    Research and Information Literacy--develop strategies to locate and evaluate useful information from appropriate Internet sources.

    The two main goals of library instruction are to foster a love of literature and to help students learn the skills to locate, assess, and apply information. In second through fifth grade themes for library activities continue to be integrated with the rest of the curriculum or chosen to relate to seasonal and current events. Students come two or three times a week for one semester and just for book checkout every other week the other semester.  Students are encouraged to check out up to three books at a time to read for pleasure or to pursue knowledge of subjects about which they are curious or passionate. The librarian also assists teachers by gathering collections of books and materials related to topic their classes are studying. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of how books in the library are organized. They practice research skills such as asking good questions, using searches on the computer catalog, and finding information using different kinds of reference books and other library resources.

    A Day in the Life

    Students in the Lower School experience a full and enriching school day, five days a week. Here are is a sample kindergarten schedule to give you a taste of a typical day in the Lower School.

    8:10 a.m. — Teacher welcome and attendance
    8:15 a.m. — Language Arts, Math or Journal Writing
    8:45 a.m. — Review of the day, Kindernews, jobs assigned
    9:00 a.m. — Language Arts
    9:45 a.m. — Classroom center time
    10:15 a.m. — Snack
    10:30 a.m. — Art, Library, or Music
    11:15 a.m. — Recess
    11:35 a.m. — Math
    12:00 p.m. — Physical Education
    12:45 p.m. — Lunch
    1:40 p.m. — Foreign Language
    2:05 p.m. — Recess
    2:25 p.m. — Math/Story
    3:00 p.m. — Dismissal

  • Difference

    What Makes Us Different

    The Curriculum Reflects Rigor:
    Lower School students typically read and write well above grade level on standardized tests
    Over 35% of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders regularly qualify for Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development’s Midwest Academic Talent Search.
    Students studying French regularly receive recognition in the National French Contest.
    Music, art, physical education, library, and world languages are part of the regular curriculum and are taught by subject specialists.
    Science is learned using hands-on activities; math classes stress problem-solving.
    Students are involved in at least one major dramatic performance per year.

    The Curriculum Reflects Global Perspectives and Understanding:
    Diverse student body leads to celebrations of days such as Diwali and Ramadan.
    International Day is an extensive educational project in Lower School involving research, planning, and sharing of cultural knowledge.
    Social Studies is taught throughout the Lower School. The content moves beyond the areas of family, local, and the United States to include current national and world events.

    The Curriculum Reflects Individualization:
    Students can express their individuality and show their varied strengths through open-ended activities including writing projects, literature groups, and projects.
    Learning differences are quickly recognized and the school works closely with students and families to ensure success.
    The teaching methods in the Early Childhood and Primary grades reflect a constructivist approach and a belief in the importance of play and child-directed learning.

    The Curriculum Reflects State-of-The-Art Program:
    Computers are used in the classroom and students develop technology skills in regular lab classes.

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    2nd Grade

    2nd Grade Curriculum

    “Look beyond the surface of a person into one’s heart. Take time to discover and appreciate the hidden talents within everyone.”

    READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS
    Students in second grade are provided with an integrated literature-based language arts program composed of various experiences in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They are given multiple opportunities to interact with print, choose materials to read, collaborate, and communicate with each other using literature as a foundation. This takes place during guided reading blocks.

    Reading strategies for monitoring comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and expanding vocabulary are the cornerstones of our reading program. Students practice, summarizing, comparing and contrasting, predicting, and asking questions. Contextual strategies for developing word meaning are modeled. Word attack skills are consolidated and extended., while sight vocabulary is increased.  Students monitor comprehension for unknown vocabulary. Students work as a whole class, in small discussion groups, and as individuals to strengthen and extend comprehension skills and develop reading strategies. A goal for students is to link concepts from the text to their daily lives.  Progress is measured through discussion, daily written work, self-reflection, portfolios, and teacher-made assessments.

    Students are given many opportunities to write about topics and issues of their own choosing through Writers’ Workshop. Journal writing and other projects prompted by seasons, holiday, or picture books are also included. Students utilize graphic organizers to expanded their writing to a cohesive five-sentence paragraph, then into a multi-paragraph essays. The writing process is emphasized through planning, setting writing goals, self-selection of topics, drafting, revising, conferencing, editing, publishing, and sharing.

    Sentence structure, language skills, and mechanics are emphasized during language arts blocks, and as students write across the curriculum. Students continue with Wilson Fundations and The Write Source programs. Spelling is taught in relation to reading and phonetic materials, along with the copies of writing. 

    MATHEMATICS
    Using the Everyday Mathematics program, students progress in their understanding of numbers and counting up to five digits, positive and negative numbers, and the breakdown of a whole into its parts. Topics include strategies for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, comparisons, mathematics vocabulary work, exploring and presenting data, geometry, and further study of measuring, estimating, money, and patterns. Procedures and application are equally emphasized.  By solving real-life problems, students build their confidence and understand the relevance of mathematics. Students share strategies and verbalize their thought processes orally and in their written work. Differentiation occurs via in class materials and online enrichment programs such as Khan Academy and Sumdog.

    SCIENCE
    Developing scientific thinking in students is an important part of the second grade science program. Students are given frequent opportunities to develop the science process skills, critical-thinking skills, and reasoning skills that support scientific inquiry through the use of Scientific Method.

    Students delve further into the life sciences, focusing on the impact of living things, including people, on environments. Other units of study include: the Earth’s changes through time, including fossils and dinosaurs; health and nutrition; motion and forces; light and color; and, states of matter.

    SOCIAL STUDIES
    The second grade social studies curriculum focuses on relationships, similarities and differences in neighborhoods, large and small. The year begins with discussion and role-playing of the characteristics of a good citizen. With an understanding of how people must work together in neighborhoods, we begin studying and locating neighborhoods around the world while simultaneously reviewing basic concepts of maps and globes. Visiting other countries lays a foundation for upcoming units on continents, landforms, bodies of water, and a Safari in Kenya. An emphasis is on discussion and personal reflection.  

    During Global Explorers’ Week, the daily curriculum is replaced by a study of a specific country.  Cultural and geographic aspects of the country form the basis of the week’s curriculum as students experience the song, dance, literature, poetry, arts, crafts, games and food from that target country. 

    WORLD LANGUAGE
    The curriculum for World Languages exposes children to the study of French, Spanish and Mandarin.  Our program allows children to explore basic vocabulary words and simple conversation in all three languages.  The goal of this exposure is to inspire a lifelong interest in language learning, facilitate the beginnings of global thinking, and integrate essential 21st-century skills in the elementary program.

    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons.  Lessons focus on communicative, kinesthetic and musical activities such as skits, dance, movement, songs, and rhymes.  Many hands-on materials, visuals, and technology are used to engage the students. Some written work takes place in class to facilitate the sound/spelling/character connections, but minimal homework is intended in this program at this level; instead, the children are encouraged to learn experientially.  Core topics covered include a review and expansion of previous core topics as well as domestic, farm and zoo animals, calendar and seasons, weather, fruits and vegetables, and cultural traditions, celebrations, and customs. Time permitting, the curriculum may expand to include topics chosen by the instructor.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION
    Movement exploration still plays a huge role at this level, but now moves on to improvement and mastery of basic skills involving movement and manipulation.  At this level, we see students moving from learning the basic skills to putting them into practice. Some of this encourages participation as a group or team, and simple competitive challenges are now being introduced.  We also spend time on balance, strength and coordination to start to complete the physical education of the whole child. During this age phase, many students start to realize what they enjoy doing the most and what they seem to do best.

    ART
    Projects for the younger grades are geared toward stimulating imaginative potential and developing visual awareness. A variety of materials are used such as paper, crayons, chalk, oil pastels, watercolor, tempera, cloth, yarn, as well as two dimensional projects. Basic elements of art are introduced, which include color, form, line, shape, space texture, and value. Originality of thought is stressed and children are aided on an individual basis.

    MUSIC
    Second grade students will begin to engage the singing voice easily while singing with proper breath support and posture.  They will accurately echo rhythmic patterns of longer duration on non-pitched and body instruments. Second grade will maintain and internalize a steady beat on instruments or body percussion while singing or chanting rhythms.  They will distinguish simple melodic lines and recreate them on Orff instruments. Their listening skills will enhance by recognizing melodic patterns, distinguishing musical patterns both melodically and rhythmic and the organization within a given piece of music.  Musical terminology will be introduced. The children will develop an awareness of rehearsal techniques in an ensemble setting. Mallet percussion skills will also be developed and musical learnings in the concept area of beat, rhythm, melody, harmony and form will occur.  Songs, poems and children’s literature will be incorporated into these lessons.    

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    3rd Grade

    3rd Grade Curriculum

    “Living in harmony with one another, communities around the globe, nature, and the world.”

    READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS
    Reading strategies are practiced through reading and analyzing selections from various novels, Junior Great Books, current Scholastic magazines, and a comprehension workbook. Numerous additional books are made available in the classroom and library.  These are read by students for book reports, research projects and recreation. Understanding vocabulary is stressed with all reading selections. 

    Oral communication and listening skills are practiced in class discussions, cooperative group work, performance of plays, oral reading, reading or reciting poetry and oral presentations of reports or projects.

    Grammar and writing skills are taught with proofreading exercises, skill practice, writing conferences and group lessons on skills and concepts needing emphasis.  Writing skills are practiced in journal entries, literature responses, paragraphs on assigned topics and longer writing assignments in which students are carried through the steps of the writing process. Cursive writing is introduced and practiced weekly with the Wilson Cursive Method.

    MATHEMATICS
    In the third grade, students are taught using flex-groups and the McGraw-Hill My Math series. Students take a pre-test at the beginning of each unit to determine flexible groups to better differentiate and pace instruction. Problem-solving skills are developed through each unit, with topics such as place, value and money; addition and subtraction; data and probability; the basics of multiplication and division; time and measurement; geometry; and fractions and decimals. In each unit, students review the essentials from the previous year so that they can build on their previous knowledge. 

    SCIENCE
    Third Grade Students begin the year with a study on recycling and vermicomposting.  They learn how recycling helps the environment. Students continue exploring with the scientific method to become more familiar with the processes scientists use, such as observing, classifying, communicating, hypothesizing, experimenting, recording data and drawing conclusions.  The unit on weather focuses on the layers of the atmosphere, air pressure systems, and natural weather-related disasters. Students complete a weather interview or broadcast presentation. During the roles of living things unit, students learn about food chains and webs, and how living beings adapt to their environments.  We focus on animals in the rainforest habitats. The health and nutrition unit focuses on the different system of the human body, as well as nutrition and USDA guidelines. Students learn about the Solar System through a study of constellations, planets and their moons. Students learn about current Science topics through the Scholastic Super Science magazine.   Students also learn about simple machines and inventions.They are encouraged, but not required, to participate by doing a science fair project.

    SOCIAL STUDIES
    Students third grade use materials such as library books, magazines, videos, websites, state tourist information, photos, souvenirs, and maps to explore social studies. Students learn about our flag and an introduction to our government, as well as map skills. Other themes and units include: national parks, the fifty states, inventions, and pioneer life. Students read about current topics in the weekly Scholastic News Magazine. In an international unit leading up to the Global Explorers’ Week, students learn facts about the country each class has chosen and gain empathy for and understanding of the history, culture, and life experiences of people who live in those countries.

    WORLD LANGUAGES
    The curriculum for World Languages exposes children to the study of French, Spanish and Mandarin.  Our program allows children to expand communication skills building on the students’ foundation of vocabulary and beginning grammar in all three languages.  Our program seeks to inspire lifelong interest in language learning and global thinking, as well as integrating essential 21st century skills into the elementary program. 

    French
    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons for one trimester.  The overarching theme is Islands, Jungles, and Forests. Lessons continue to focus on communicative, kinesthetic and musical activities such as skits, dance, movement, songs, and rhymes, but the beginnings of grammar and conjugation are introduced.  Many hands-on materials, visuals, and technology are used to engage the students. Written work takes place in class to facilitate sound and spelling connections, and the learning of simple grammatical structures. Some homework is intended in this program at this level. Core topics covered include a review and expansion of previous core topics as well as vocabulary associated with location, geographical landmarks, giving directions, more advanced animals and insects, francophone islands and territories, and cultural traditions, celebrations, and customs. Time permitting, the curriculum may expand to include topics chosen by the instructor.

    Mandarin
    Students receive five classroom lessons every week for one trimester.  Lessons will include a review of core topics studied in previous grades, modes of transportation, cultural differences between China and America.  Students will learn vocabulary in Pin Yin and Chinese characters. The students will learn these topics through a variety of mediums including cards, video clips, songs, shows, and a variety of visuals. The vocabulary will be reinforced through songs, dialogues, and shows. Written and oral assignments in Pin Yin and characters are expected at this level.

     

    Spanish
    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons for one trimester. The overarching theme for this year in Spanish class is indigenous populations from Mexico and Central America. Lessons continue to focus on communicative, kinesthetic and musical activities such as skits, dance, movement, songs, and rhymes, but the beginnings of grammar and conjugation are introduced.  Many hands-on materials, visuals, and technology are used to engage the students. Written work takes place in class to facilitate sound and spelling connections, and the learning of simple grammatical structures. Core topics covered include a review and expansion of previous core topics as well as vocabulary associated with location, geographical landmarks, more advanced animals, legends, cultural traditions, celebrations, and customs. Time permitting, the curriculum may expand to include topics chosen by the teacher.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION
    Movement exploration still plays a huge role at this level, but now moves on to improvement and mastery of basic skills involving movement and manipulation.  At this level, we see students moving from learning the basic skills to putting them into practice. Some of this encourages participation as a group or team, and simple competitive challenges are now being introduced.  We also spend time on balance, strength and coordination to start to complete the physical education of the whole child. During this age phase, many students start to realize what they enjoy doing the most and what they seem to do best.

    ART
    Third graders are anxious to relate their art projects to both imaginative, as well as realistic interpretations. The basic elements of composition are introduced to arrange or organize the art piece in a way that is pleasing to the artist and the viewer. It helps give structure to the subject. Projects such as printing, drawing, paper mache, sewing, depth perception, optical illusions, murals, weaving, and pen and ink drawings are used. Mixed media projects are popular in these grades. Formal art elements and vocabulary is introduced. Success and progress in the children’s work is measured in terms of composition, handling of media, involvement and attitude. Artwork is continually displayed in the art room and hallways.

    MUSIC
    In third grade, students will focus on more complex rhythms and engaging their singing voices with more ease.  They will sing familiar folk, ethnic, holiday and patriotic songs in English and other languages. Third grade will internalize pitch before singing aloud while singing with more complex rhythmic patterns being played on pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments.  Students will perform accurate rhythms and melodic patterns while maintaining a steady beat. They will begin to apply body percussion, rhythmic patterns to classroom instruments adding melodic elements where appropriate. Performing multiple independent rhythms in an ensemble setting is essential to growing as a young student of music.  The children will utilize appropriate musical terminology as it applies to compositions studied in class. Finally, they will explore concepts of appropriate rehearsal technique and behavior with musical performances at varying degrees of formality.

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    4th Grade

    4th Grade Curriculum

    “Engaging curious minds through exploration and hands-on learning.”

    READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS
    Reading skills are taught and practiced through award-winning trade books. Subsequent lessons will be taught through the Junior Great Books. Word attack skills are reviewed and redefined, but the primary focus is on the development of comprehension skills, vocabulary, and critical thinking using a literature anthology, workbooks, and trade books. Independent reading is encouraged through SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) in class and library time each week. Reading instruction is done in a variety of forms, including whole class, cooperative small groups, shared inquiry, and student led literature circles. Reading is often integrated with other subject areas and serves as inspiration for writing and character education.

    Students read novels such as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by DiCamillo, Maniac Magee by Spinelli, and Swindle by Korman, Freedom Train, by Sterling, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and The Great Cake Mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith. Students engage in creative writing, and create projects that reinforce their understanding.

    Many written and oral opportunities are given to further develop writing and language skills. Students write in journals on a regular basis and write a number of compositions, stories, and poems. Students further develop language and grammar skills with The Write Source program, which emphasizes complete sentences and paragraphs, as well as capitalization, punctuation, and parts of speech. Editing techniques are highlighted and practiced each day through Daily Oral Language sheets and discussions. The Pearson Education 5th grade-spelling workbook is used throughout the school year. Larger writing projects, including compositions and creative writing, give students practice in utilizing the components of the writing process. Though organization and grammatical skills are stressed, equal importance is placed on creative thought, style, and critical thinking. Students frequently share their writing informally with the class, but also make formal presentations of reports, projects, and books they produce. This practice gives students numerous occasions to celebrate their own work and that of their classmates.

    MATHEMATICS
    The McGraw-Hill My Math series is employed to teach students in flexible groupings. Though both groups cover all the major concepts of fourth grade math, one group moves at a faster pace, includes much enrichment, and moves into the fifth grade math concepts. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are reviewed and expanded. Concepts include: place value, multi-digit multiplication and division, geometric construction and concepts, word problems, addition, subtraction, and equivalency of fractions, working with mixed numbers, decimals, and percents, algebra, and estimation. Problem-solving strategies are reinforced and expanded through word problems, math stories, hands-on activities, games, and an enriched curriculum.

    SCIENCE
    Students work with experiments and activities to promote the understanding of the phenomena of their daily lives and learn to use the scientific method by observing results, graphing, and making written reports.  This program gives an overview of the human brain and magnetism. Students will discover the five kingdoms of life through the use of a microscope. It also introduces physics through a unit on electricity. Finally, simple chemistry is explored through kitchen science and other experiments.

    SOCIAL STUDIES
    Regions of the United States are the focus of fourth grade social studies.  The environment of each region will be explored including its natural resources, economy, and history.  Cultures and customs of the United States will be studied as well as government and citizenship. There will also be a unit on the history of Chicago where students will learn more about our great city.  Geography skills will be developed through interpreting, organizing and identifying various types of maps. A multimedia approach and note-taking are augmented by research techniques, report writing, and project making. During Global Explorers’ Week students will gain an understanding and appreciation for their chosen country through exploration of culture and heritage.

    WORLD LANGUAGES
    The curriculum for World Languages exposes children to the study of French, Spanish and Mandarin.  Our program allows children to expand communication skills building on the students’ foundation of vocabulary and beginning grammar in all three languages.  Our program seeks to inspire lifelong interest in language learning and global thinking, as well as integrating essential 21st century skills into the elementary program. 

    French
    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons for one trimester.  The overarching theme is the francophone world. Lessons continue to incorporate communicative, kinesthetic and musical activities such as skits, dance, movement, songs, and rhymes, but simple grammar and conjugation are formally introduced.  Many hands-on materials, visuals, and technology are used to engage the students. Written work takes place in class with sound and spelling connections as a continued focus, as well as the use of simple grammar and verb conjugation. Some homework is intended in this program at this level. Core topics covered include a review and expansion of previous core topics as well as vocabulary associated with extended family, clothing, culturally authentic food and table settings, the home, physical description and the francophone world and its varied cultural traditions, celebrations, and customs. Time permitting, the curriculum may expand to include topics chosen by the instructor.

    Mandarin
    Students receive five classroom lessons every week for one trimester.  Lessons will include a review of core topics studied at previous grades such as: important dates, different occupations, describing daily routines, and sports.  Students will learn vocabulary orally and in Pin Yin and Chinese characters. Students will continue to learn and interact with Mandarin Chinese through a variety of mediums including cards, video clips, songs, shows, and a variety of visuals. Both oral production and written production in Pin Yin and characters are expected at this level.  

    Spanish
    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons.  The overarching theme for this year in Spanish class is the indigenous populations of  South America. Lessons continue to incorporate communicative, kinesthetic and musical activities such as skits, dance, movement, songs, and rhymes, but simple grammar and conjugation are formally introduced.  Many hands-on materials, visuals, and technology are used to engage the students. Written work takes place in class with sound and spelling connections as a continued focus, as well as the use of simple grammar and verb conjugation in the present tense.  Core topics covered include a review and expansion of previous core topics as well as vocabulary associated with school and leisure activities, cultural clothing, culturally authentic food, the home, physical descriptions, the Spanish-speaking world and its varied cultural traditions, celebrations, and customs.  Time permitting, the curriculum may expand to include topics chosen by the instructor.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION
    As students move up through their Lower School years, many start to focus on skills that will be used later in team sports.  Sports and games are used to teach social interaction, sportsmanship and positive peer competition. More emphasis is now placed on rules for games, and the students learn to be honest and perform with integrity (doing the right thing even when no one is looking).  Physical fitness now comes more into play as well as care of the body and health and wellness are incorporated into daily lessons. Student progress is assessed by means of participation, positive attitudes and cooperation with peers, teammates and competitors.    

    ART
    Fourth graders are anxious to relate their art projects to both imaginative, as well as realistic interpretations. The basic elements of composition are introduced to arrange or organize the art piece in a way that is pleasing to the artist and the viewer. It helps give structure to the subject. Projects such as printing, drawing, paper mache, sewing, depth perception, optical illusions, murals, weaving, and pen and ink drawings are used. Mixed media projects are popular in these grades. Formal art elements and vocabulary is introduced. Success and progress in the children’s work is measured in terms of composition, handling of media, involvement and attitude. Artwork is continually displayed in the art room and hallways.

    MUSIC
    In fourth grade, the recorders are introduced and used as one of their main instruments.  The students will echo and perform short rhythmic and melodic patterns. While using that as a platform, they will accurately perform simple rhythmic and melodic instrumental pieces, demonstrating internalization of the underlying pulse.  Students will perform small group instrumental parts while others sing or play contrasting parts. They will then start to apply their musical knowledge and skills to the soprano recorder, incorporating expanded musical vocabulary with recognizing and demonstrating knowledge of basic musical forms and structure.

    Their embouchure helps produce a sound on their recorder.  They will learn that their fingers have to cover the holes on the recorder to produce a sound.  Music is composed on a staff. The staff will include line notes, space notes, measures and bar-lines.  Fourth grade will learn about time signature, repeat signs, and how to follow the directions in a score.  

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    5th Grade

    5th Grade Curriculum

    “Developing empathy and a sense of character through a global lens."

    READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS
    In the fifth grade, whole group novels and small group novels help students build on their skills in reading comprehension.  Students reflect to literature in a variety of ways including: summaries, responses requiring specific evidence and examples from the text, and projects associated with the novels. Students write regularly in their journals or notebooks in response to their reading and related topics. Small group skills and partner work are also developed through small novel groups and other assignments. Phonetic decoding and use of context for vocabulary meaning are reviewed in the novel study. Sentence and paragraph structure is taught using examples from literature read in class and through daily language lessons. Grammar, capitalization, and punctuation rules are practiced using Write Source materials, examples in our reading, students’ writing, and daily language review.  

    The writing process is used to complete several published writing projects including: narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive forms of writing.  Using the Six Traits Writing Process, essays will contain introductory paragraphs, a two-to-three paragraph development, and a concluding paragraph. Oral presentations are also done periodically throughout the year.

    MATHEMATICS
    Students in fifth grade math explore more advanced topics in mathematics. Students master the four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division with two- and three-digit whole numbers; and place value and exponents are reviewed and expanded.  Other topics include: multi-digit multiplication; multi-digit division; properties of addition and multiplication; solving expressions using Order of Operations; and the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimals, fractions, mixed numbers and one-step equations.  Also included are the concepts of divisibility rules; greatest common factor; least common multiple; prime factorization; measurement; and geometry. Additional enrichment lessons may include: connecting the unit to a project, developing a game, and multi-step problem solving. In math, independent and group problem solving is emphasized. Interpretation of written word problems is integral to the curriculum. Concrete understanding is built through physical manipulation, drawing, and note-taking. Throughout all the units, the teacher aims to help students develop a sense of a real-world purpose to math.

    SCIENCE
    Fifth grade students engage in interdisciplinary inquiry and project-based Science learning that emphasizes critical thinking and the habits of mind of scientific thinkers. Students build their knowledge of Earth Science, Life Science, and Physical Science through hands on activities.  They apply their understanding of essential questions by developing hypotheses and designing experiments to test their ideas. They also work to develop their skills as effective readers, researchers, and writers through lessons and projects. Topic of study may include: Scientific Method, Design and Function, Classifying Organisms, Body Systems, Ecosystems, Weather, Earth’s Surface, Earth and Space, Properties of Matter, Force and Motion, and Energy.  In the fall, Students go on an overnight trip to Camp Duncan YMCA in Ingleside, IL to immerse themselves in nature and outdoor education activities. In this cross-curricular activity, they also learn more about community building, ecosystems, and sustainability. 

    SOCIAL STUDIES - WORLD GEOGRAPHY
    This course begins with an overview of basic geographical terminology, skills and map reading. Next, students study the human and physical geography of regions that correlate with the setting of our novels in language arts. Throughout these units, the focus is first on the physical geography, then at its effect on the history and cultural development of each area. Students are also made aware of the present state of affairs in countries. The course’s primary goal is to study other regions of the world, focusing on the relationship between the environment and the values and lifestyles of the people living in each region. Oral and written reports, both individual and group, form an integral part of the course.  These projects allow students to develop research and critical-thinking abilities. Tests and quizzes are also given as a means of evaluating student progress. Homework is designed to reinforce what has been discussed in class and as a study aid. 

    During Global Explorers’ Week, students in 5th grade participate in a variety of activities that promote global awareness. Local day trips will be taken during this week, and may include Chinatown, Bronzeville, the Global Kitchen, and Hindu temples.  Students give back to the community by completing service projects.

    WORLD LANGUAGE
    In fifth grade, the curriculum for World Languages changes to allow children to expand their interest and knowledge of one language. Our program allows children to expand communication skills building on the students’ foundation of vocabulary and grammar in their chosen world language.  Our program seeks to inspire lifelong interest in language learning and global thinking, as well as integrating essential 21st century skills into the elementary program.

    French
    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons, if this is the selected language, for the school year.  In fifth grade French, a textbook is introduced and incorporated into daily lessons. Lessons continue to include communicative, kinesthetic and musical activities such as skits, dance, movement, songs, and rhymes, but French grammar and structure are formally addressed in a more deliberate fashion. Hands-on materials, visuals, and technology are used to engage the students.  Written work is an important part of what takes place in class, and homework is regularly assigned. A variety of assessments are also used throughout the year to keep abreast of each student’s progress. We continue to discuss and explore the francophone world and its varied cultural traditions, celebrations, and customs this year. The French curriculum expands to include noun and adjective agreement, infinitives, and verb conjugations in the present tense.

    Spanish
    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons, if this is the selected language, for the school year.  In fifth grade Spanish, a textbook is introduced and incorporated into daily lessons. Lessons continue to include communicative, kinesthetic and musical activities such as skits, dance, movement, songs, and rhymes, but Spanish grammar and structure are formally addressed in a more deliberate and structured fashion. Hands-on materials, visuals, and technology are used to engage the students.  Written work is an important part of what takes place in class. A variety of assessments are also used throughout the year to assess each student’s progress and growth. We continue to discuss and explore the Spanish speaking world, notable works of art, cultural traditions, celebrations and customs this year. The Spanish curriculum expands to include adjective agreement, infinitives, and verb conjugations in the present tense, for example.

    Mandarin
    Students receive five weekly classroom lessons, if this is the selected language, for the school year. In Fifth Grade, students are formally introduced to pinyin, the Chinese phonetic alphabet.  Students will use pinyin to learn computer typing in Chinese, basic vocabulary, and Chinese grammatical structures.  Emphasis is placed on developing oral and aural proficiency, communicative competence, and an appreciation for the culture.  Listening comprehension exercises will challenge students to improve their aural abilities while classroom discussion will further develop their speaking skills.  By the end of the year, students will start to communicate effectively in both written and oral Chinese.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION
    As students move up through their Lower School years, many start to focus on skills that will be used later in team sports.  Sports and games are used to teach social interaction, sportsmanship and positive peer competition. More emphasis is now placed on rules for games, and the students learn to be honest and perform with integrity (doing the right thing even when no one is looking).  Physical fitness now comes more into play as well as care of the body and health and wellness are incorporated into daily lessons. Student progress is assessed by means of participation, positive attitudes and cooperation with peers, teammates and competitors. 

    ART
    Fifth grade focuses on art as a language. Artists explain their world and express their beliefs through visual means. Art serves to make us aware of who we are as individuals and joins us to other people and other cultures. Students move away from interest in art solely for personal expression toward a broader interest in art. They create work in response to art of different cultures and different art periods. Elements of art and introduction to color theory will be covered. Drawing, painting, collage and printmaking will be explored. Students are required to maintain a sketchbook. They show their work in an art exhibition.

    MUSIC
    In Fifth Grade Music, students work with the elements of music at a more complex level and includes that comprises musical activity in class.  The Soprano recorder, which is introduced in grade four, continues and is incorporated with other instruments and activities in developing the ensemble experience. Some of the techniques utilized include group echo of the teacher, individual echo and question-and-answer (teacher plays, students respond with something different) both in groups and individually, laying the groundwork for improvisation.  As students gain confidence and competence, improvisation becomes a bigger part of their experience, stretching their creativity both vocally and playing the instruments. Analysis of musical form is developed further. Rhythmic notation is regularly addressed. Student notation is incorporated. Ensemble work reaches advanced levels as the students utilize their voices, recorders, pitched percussion and experiences.