In Upper School, (8 -12 year olds) retain their natural excitement for learning as their enthusiasm for knowledge grows while core academic, social and emotional skills continued to be laid. With a focus on organizational and time-management skills: students acquire a sense of personal order, and thoroughly enjoy the process of developing these competencies. Students learn to organize their own plans for learning, including managing their workspace, and then following through and executing those plans.
Integrated Language Arts
The literature-based Language Arts program in the Upper School Grades emphasizes listening, speaking, reading, and writing, while addressing a variety of topics in diverse genres. Students at this level are fluent readers who are able to read on or above grade level.
Students learn to read for different purposes and transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” The program emphasizes analytical/critical thinking and problem-solving skills in daily lessons. Students learn to express themselves clearly and coherently in both oral and written communications. Comprehension skills, fluency, and expression are developed through literacy circles, chapter books/novels, and units centered around mysteries, biographies and classics.
The reading program is designed to promote lifelong readers through units such as fiction, historical fiction and biographies. The girls explore a variety of literary genres throughout the school year.
The Reading Program for ages 8- 12:
- Literature circles, journals, analysis of writer’s intent, reflections, and other content enrichment providing girls with opportunities to lead discussions, share their ideas, and expand their understanding by listening to and considering different points of view.
- Students also read self-selected novels during daily (DEAR) “Drop Everything and Read” time and for homework, commenting on their books on a Book Blog and keeping track of their choices through the year.
- Teaches students in-depth critical reading strategies through the investigation of a variety of novels, poetry, classics and short stories.
- Students learn, practice, and apply techniques for highlighting and annotating by searching a text for patterns, similarities, contrasts, and imagery that deepens understanding.
- Analyze literature orally in class discussions, addressing real-world problems and considering the possible solutions offered by literature, framing their responses in traditional analytical terminology (plot, characterization, conflict, theme, and irony, for example).
- Encouraged to use literature as a lens through which they may better understand their own lives and begin to gain insight beyond their own direct experiences.
Writing (Spelling, Phonics, Handwriting)
Writing Process – The students will be involved in composing meaningful text on a daily basis. Students will be planning, composing, revising/editing, publishing and sharing their writing. Students will learn to write and communicate their thoughts and ideas using different forms (stories, journals, letters, & poems). The writing process will be modeled daily by the teacher. Spelling and grammar instruction is integrated with writing instruction.
The K – 6 writing program is based on the Writing Workshop Model. Students are given opportunities to write in a variety of genres and helps foster a love of writing. The Writing Workshop allows teachers to meet the needs of their students by differentiating their instruction and gearing instruction based on information gathered throughout the workshop.
The basic framework for Writing Workshop:
- Mini Lesson
- Independent Writing & Conferring
- Guided Writing
Writing Workshop by Grade Level
Third Grade – Using a Writers’ Workshop approach (which includes formal spelling, grammar, vocabulary building, and punctuation components), students develop increased awareness of construction, grammar, punctuation, and clarity, while gaining experience in the proofreading and revision of their written work. Students practice organizing their ideas effectively, as well as critiquing and improving on their writing, revision, and editing skills. Creative and expository writing assignments include poetry, fiction, personal experience, persuasive writing and a research paper.
Fourth – Fifth Grade – Writing activities at this level focus on writing for a variety of purposes: to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Grammar skills, spelling rules, and vocabulary development are integrated throughout the year so that the students may incorporate a rich background into their writing. Two activities illustrate this range of work particularly well: the Mystery Writing project in which each girl creates fictional characters and writes a mystery story, and a research paper in which she presents a topic that she has explored in detail through the research process.
Sixth Grade – 6th grade students solidify their understanding of parts of speech and fundamental writing mechanics through a formal grammar study. They apply this understanding to all of their written assignments, becoming adept editors of their own and others’ work. Writing is emphasized throughout the 6th grade year. Students write twice weekly: writing thesis statements for daily history work and responding to current event articles she has read. The culminating writing project of the year is a research paper. Students work through the research process over the course of the year, utilizing a variety of sources and techniques to produce a well-researched and well-written final paper in the spring. Students also have independent writing time to work on self-directed projects including poetry, short stories, graphic novels, and plays.
Handwriting fluency is fundamental to learning because children think and write at the same time. When we teach children to write, we also teach them how to express themselves. If they struggle to form their letters, their ability to express themselves will suffer. Children who do not master handwriting may be slow, sloppy, or illegible writers.
We focus on fun and achievement to optimize children’s curiosity and joy of learning throughout school. Our goal is to help students learn proper handwriting habits and then apply those habits naturally and automatically to all writing experiences that they’ll take throughout elementary school, high school, and beyond.
The Handwriting Without Tears curriculum starts when children enter kindergarten. By playing, singing and building letters, they develop important skills they need to print words, sentences, paragraphs, and eventually transition to cursive in Grade 2.
Mathematics – 5 BASIC MATH STRANDS
- Number Sense and Operations – Arithmetic and place value
- Algebra – From the youngest age, learning to recognize patterns and sets (“pick the small red fish”) creates the groundwork for working with unknowns and algebraic variables.
- Geometry and Spatial Sense – When children build on their knowledge of basic shapes, they increase their ability to reason spatially, read maps, visualize objects in space, and eventually use geometry to solve problems.
- Measurement – Learning how to measure and compare is an important life skill that encompasses the concepts of length, weight, temperature, capacity, time, and money.
- Data Analysis and Probability – Using charts, tables, and graphs will help children learn to share and organize information about the world around them.K- 6 students will be actively engaged in applying the language and basic skills of math through mini lesson led by the teacher and learning centers and stations. A combination of hands-on activities, online learning modules and paper/pencil reinforcement and practice are used.
K- 6 students will be actively engaged in applying the language and basic skills of math through mini lesson led by the teacher and learning centers and stations. A combination of hands-on activities, online learning modules and paper/pencil reinforcement and practice are used.
The math curriculum is designed to help students learn a wide range of concepts and problem solving skills as well as assure knowledge of basic skills. A wide range of manipulatives will be used to provide a strong conceptual understanding of skills. Collecting and organizing data, solving word problems, using various strategies for problem solving and test preparation will be emphasized.
In grade five and beyond, general education instruction in math focuses a great deal on advanced concepts and reasoning (e.g., what a variable or a function is), learning of complex computational algorithms (e.g., those involved in adding and subtracting fractions and decimals), and more difficult kinds of verbal problem-solving (e.g., problems with multiple steps).
A chart outlining all of the math goals for each grade level is available to parents. Students are given a pre-test at the beginning of each new math chapter to determine the skills that each student has already mastered and needs to learn. The program uses the Houghton Mifflin Math program and is supplemented by IXL (web-based online math practice).
Building on the inquisitive nature of children in grades 3 through 5, students are encouraged to develop and investigate solutions to everyday problems. Instruction focuses on the relationship between such processes as addition and multiplication, and subtraction and division. Students are introduced to multiplicative reasoning, equivalence, and a variety of methods for computation.
Instruction focuses on developing children’s interest, confidence and understanding of mathematics.
Students in grades 6 and beyond are forming conclusions about their mathematical abilities, interest, and motivation that will influence how they approach mathematics in later years. Instruction at this level builds emerging capabilities to think hypothetically, comprehend cause and effect, and reason in both concrete and abstract terms. Algebra and geometry form a large part of the recommended curriculum during these years.
An important key to developmentally appropriate mathematics instruction, at any age or grade level, is achieving balance between teaching for conceptual understanding and teaching for procedural fluency. Students learn procedures with meaning so math is not just memorizing discrete pieces of information that are difficult for to remember. Students develop an understanding of the concepts they are studying before they apply these ideas to procedural strategies.