A matter of perspective and a world in motion

Beginning in the fall of 2014, fourth and fifth grade students students will work together in multi-grade classes for subject such as history and social studies, science, and STEAM.  Other subjects like math, Spanish, and language arts will be taught by individual grade.

To ensure that all students interact with interesting challenges, students follow a two year cycle of study. In this two year cycle, each year brings new topics. At the same time students also progress through the skill expectations that are appropriate to their age.

Cycle One: A Matter of Perspective

What can we and can’t we see?  How can we see more clearly and fully?  Can we look beneath the surface?  Can we see up close?  Can we see far away?  Can we see from another person’s perspective?  Can we come to see eye to eye?  Can we see the future?  These are some of the questions that guide the work for the first year of the four/five cycle.

STEAM

In grades four and five, students pursue their studies in an integrated manner.  Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, are consistently integrated, as students pursue essential questions, research, investigation, experiment, reporting, and peer review.  Generally, each “STEAM cycle” culminates in a performance assessment—an exhibition of an individual’s or a group’s learning and new found questions. Below are some of the academic themes that are interwoven in STEAM and other studies.

History & Social Studies

During the year of cycle one, students think about what people see and explore the human perspectives that have converged and conflicted throughout U.S. history.

  • First term: colonial and early American history of the United States
  • Second term: a close look at slavery and the events that led to the Civil War.
  • Third term: Western expansion and an introduction to American industrialization

Throughout the terms, students become familiar with the biographies of notable Americans. They record events on timelines and maps. Examine the relationship between natural resources and human migration. Delve into the nature and limits of human decisions.

Through biblical texts and other resources, students also become acquainted with the religious, cultural and social settings of each age. They consider ways in which people have often been called to make moral decisions at critical moments and live lives of faith and courage.

Science

Deeply engaged in investigations, students raise questions. Wrestle with ideas. Search for connections.  Inquiry becomes a habit of mind as children pursue scientific study.  Disciplined thought develops as students weigh evidence, solve problems, imagine new perspectives and possibilities. They gain respect for God’s creation as well as their own callings to observe, discover and invent.

The science program in cycle one is supported by the Delta Science & Smithsonian curriculum.  It includes

  • Plant and Animal Cycles
  • Earth Systems
  • Flight, Rocketry and Space.

Throughout the year, students practice observational skills, interpret data, study the history of invention, and utilize the engineering design process.

Mathematics

A problem-solving approach is the key to our math program.  Students are encouraged to solve problems in varied ways and communicate their processes to others. Computational fluency and mastery of number operations, including decimals and fractions, is a primary aim of fourth and fifth grade instruction. Functions, fractions, and geometry are investigated and used in real-world contexts and with the support of hands-on materials. Still further, measurements and collections of data are represented in graphs and lead to discussions about probability. TERC’s Investigations Program provides a firm foundation for understanding, while other materials provide for students’ need to master the facts.

Language, Literature, Literacy & Written Composition

This year, as students read informational texts, American tall tales, poetry, biographies and historical fiction, they encounter multiple points of view, opinions and perspectives.

Courses of study often include: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and other works by Mildred Taylor; Abraham Lincoln: A Photobiography; The Poetry of Langston Hughes, The Story of Helen Keller and other biographies, Sing Down the Moon, Children of the Longhouse, Walk Two Moons, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, and the Chronicles of Narnia.

In order that students might become skilled, avid readers, teachers utilize reading workshop, literature circles and response journals.  These activities and others provide important opportunities for students to develop vocabulary, fluency and comprehension skills within the context of literature and in connection with science, social studies, mathematics and the arts.

Through multiple lessons and conferences with the teacher, students learn grammar, mechanics, editing skills and the craft of writing as they repeatedly choose topics, draft, revise, edit and publish their work in Writing Workshop. In both the fourth and fifth grade writing program, informed by R. Fletcher’s Qualities of Effective Writing,  L. and Calkin’s Writing Workshop model, writing activities include informational writing, expressive writing (narration), literary writing (story and poetry) and persuasive writing (essay form).  Skills, such as parts of speech, punctuation, writing mechanics, spelling, paragraph organization and rich vocabulary, are emphasized and formal curriculum supports instruction in grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.

Spanish Language

Students enter an immersion language experience via games, drama, art, projects and technology. Students will be exposed to authentic music and literature, video and games from various Spanish-speaking countries.  Hola textbooks and workbooks will serve as additional support to the language program.  Students will learn to use the textbook and workbook at home to practice and strengthen what they are experiencing in the language classroom.

Visual Arts

In the visual arts, students work with a wide variety of media, including drawing materials, paints, clay, printmaking materials, mixed media sculpture and digital media.  They also visit art museums to study Pre-Columbian, Colonial and early American art and artifacts. This year’s work includes an introduction to the media that ranges from sketching pencils with kneaded erasers to saws and drills. Cross-curricular projects include a beaded weaving, an artistic response to poetry, an entry in The Graceful Envelope contest, and a mathematical tessellation in wooden tiles.

Music

In music, students sharpen skills and develop critical and creative habits of mind that will enable them to appreciate a world of human culture. As they work to become more independent musicians and learners, they compose and conduct their own pieces of music, perform the compositions of others, critique performances and use classroom instruments (recorders, Orff, percussion) to accompany themselves and others.

Cycle Two: A World in Motion

Everything moves. Birds fly south.  Seeds are carried for miles by the wind.  Ships sail and rains move from ocean to plain. Even the earth itself moves, as soil erodes and plants draw from and replace the soil’s nutrients. People, too, move from place to place, city to city, nation to nation, as they pursue adventure, seek freedom, join loved ones and find new homes.  So we will often ask, “How do you move?” “Where have you come from?”  “To what places or in what direction might you go next?

STEAM

In grades four and five, students pursue their studies in an integrated manner.  Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, are consistently integrated, as students pursue essential questions, research, investigation, experiment, reporting, and peer review.  Generally, each “STEAM cycle” culminates in a performance assessment – an exhibition of an individual’s or a group’s learning and new found questions. Below are some of the academic themes that are interwoven in STEAM and other studies.

History, Geography, & Social Studies

As students study the motions of the globe itself, they also trace the paths of people who have traveled the varied regions of North America. This year, students focus on the geography of New Jersey and all of North America, with an emphasis on the significance of location, human interaction with the environment, regions and movement.  As students experience rural communities first hand, they become familiar with lifestyles, religion, culture and environments that are new and complex. In addition, as students tour the urban, tri-state area, the hopes, work, language and customs of diverse peoples and cultures come into view.

Science

As they pursue areas of scientific study, students raise questions, observe changes and movements, make discoveries and gain respect for creation, as well as their own callings to observe, discover and invent.  The science program, which utilizes Delta Science & Smithsonian curriculum, includes studies of:

  • Ecosystems,
  • Simple Machines
  • Shipwrecks (ocean navigation)

In the fall, learning is enriched by an overnight trip to a Pennsylvania farm.  In the spring, scientific studies are extended by trips to the Meadowlands Environmental Education Center and many other sites. Throughout the year, students practice observational skills, interpret data, study the history of invention, and utilize the engineering design process.

Mathematics

A problem-solving approach is the key to our math program.  Students are encouraged to solve problems in varied ways and communicate their processes to others. Computational fluency and mastery of number operations, including decimals and fractions, is a primary aim of fourth and fifth grade instruction. Functions, fractions, and geometry are investigated and used in real-world contexts and with the support of hands-on materials. Still further, measurements and collections of data are represented in graphs and lead to discussions about probability. TERC’s Investigations Program provides a firm foundation for understanding, while other materials provide for students’ need to master the facts.

Language, Literature, Literacy & Written Composition

This year, as students read informational texts, American tall tales, poetry, biographies and historical fiction, they encounter multiple points of view, opinions and perspectives. Courses of study often include: James and the Giant Peach and other stories of Roald Dahl, The Wanderer and other stories by Sharon Creech, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell and other biographies, From the Mixed Up Files of Basil E Frankweiler and other books by EL Konigsburg, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and other books by Kate DeCamillo, and A Year Down Yonder and other books by Richard Peck.

In order that students might become skilled, avid readers, teachers utilize reading workshop, literature circles and response journals. These activities and others provide important opportunities for students to develop vocabulary, fluency and comprehension skills within the context of literature and in connection with science, social studies, mathematics and the arts.

Through multiple lessons and conferences with the teacher, students learn grammar, mechanics, editing skills and the craft of writing as they repeatedly choose topics, draft, revise, edit and publish their work in Writing Workshop. In both the fourth and fifth grade writing program, informed by R. Fletcher’s Qualities of Effective Writing,  L. and Calkin’s Writing Workshop model, writing activities include informational writing, expressive writing (narration), literary writing (story and poetry) and persuasive writing (essay form).  Skills, such as parts of speech, punctuation, writing mechanics, spelling, paragraph organization and rich vocabulary, are emphasized and formal curriculum supports instruction in grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.

Spanish Language

Students will enter an immersion language experience via games, drama, art, projects and technology. Students will be exposed to authentic music and literature, video and games from various Spanish-speaking countries.  Hola textbooks and workbooks will serve as additional support to the language program.  Students will learn to use the textbook and workbook at home to practice and strengthen what they are experiencing in the language classroom.

Visual Arts

In the visual arts, students work with a wide variety of media, including drawing materials, paints, clay, printmaking materials, mixed media sculpture and digital media.  Fall begins with an introduction to the many media available in the art room. This ranges from sketching pencils with kneaded erasers to saws and drills.  The year’s first project will be about the human body. Students will draw self-portraits and concentrate on proportions and details. This focus will extend to the whole body as they move from 2D into 3D art. Each child will create a relief sculpture self-portrait in clay. In the winter students, enter the The Graceful Envelope Contest. This international competition celebrates the role of letters by transforming an ordinary envelope into a work of art. For the last five years we have had winners from Mustard Seed School.  The locally educated artist, Alexander Calder, will be a featured artist in the Spring as students investigate his artworks known as mobiles and stabiles.

Music

In music, students sharpen skills and develop critical and creative habits of mind that will enable them to appreciate a world of human culture. This year, students will study many folk songs, be introduced to partner songs, and continue to explore the basics of music in many different ways.  They will learn and perform more complex rhythms and explore the effects of crescendos, decrescendos, accelerandos, and ritardandos on a piece of music. They will sing in unison, in canon and in harmony, and will discuss conducting techniques. They will also play soprano recorders, Orff, instruments, and percussion. All of these experiences able students to become masters of reading and performing music. Students will have multiple performances, including Las Posadas, Spring Concert and Carnegie Hall Link Up! Concert.

summer reading

Summer reading list and requirements for students entering fourth/fifth grade.