Intermediate Division

Transitioning from the Primary Division to the Intermediate Division in Grade 3, children are building on the solid foundation of the content and processes they experienced in Kindergarten through Grade 2. In the Intermediate Division, the shift of responsibility changes from the hands of parents/guardians and teachers to the students. Teachers scaffold their students toward becoming independent by encouraging children to take ownership of their learning. Our structure in the Intermediate Division reflects this delicate balance we must strike as the bridge from the lower grades to the upper grades. In Grade 3, students have a lead teacher and an associate teacher in the classroom; however, Grade 4 is the first year students have one teacher in the classroom, moving them toward independence. All of the grades are located on the fourth floor, which encourages a community among Intermediate Division students and teachers. The School works on a ten-day schedule, which, in addition to three hours devoted to literacy and math every day, provides time for visual arts, dance, class meetings, music, science, Spanish, spelling and social studies.
The social studies content of our curriculum often brings context to the concepts children are studying. The Intermediate Division is the first time children experience history as a unit of study. Beginning in Grade 3, students learn about the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance and immigration. In Grade 4 they transition to study of American Colonialism and Native Americans. In Grade 5, students look at the ancient civilizations of China and Greece.
Our academically diverse population requires all teachers to meet the needs of a wide range of students. Our need to remediate as well as challenge our students is imperative to our goal in the intermediate grades of creating independent, self-regulated learners. Differentiating instruction takes many forms within the classroom. Student needs are determined through ongoing assessments. Teachers group students based on their changing needs. It is the responsibility of the classroom teachers, with support from learning specialists, to adapt to all types of learners.
Third, fourth and fifth graders are given an opportunity to direct their own learning through academic goal setting. M.A.P. goals, also known as My Achievement Plan goals, are developed through a partnership among parents/guardians, teachers and child in the classroom and during conferences. Students direct their own conferences in the spring and present evidence of their best work. 
In the intermediate grades we have a literacy liaison, math liaison and learning specialists devoted to Grades 3, 4 and 5. Classroom teachers schedule weekly meetings with the liaisons to discuss students and grade-level objectives, plan units of study, add resources, and learn new approaches to math, reading and writing. Children experience standardized tests (ERBs) for the first time in the Intermediate Division beginning in Grade 3. While ERBs are only another window through which to see our students' progress, they do provide insight into the programmatic health of The School’s curriculum.

Teachers of all disciplines collaborate to implement a concept- and skills-based integrated curriculum, in order to give children a balanced academic experience. Teachers meet once a week for an hour to plan and discuss curriculum. During this time, teachers share their discipline’s goals, objectives and essential questions, and look to make cross-disciplinary connections.
Intermediate teachers subscribe to the constructivist learning theory, where students acquire new knowledge by connecting prior experiences. This occurs through peer interaction, discovery and teacher facilitation. Teachers involve students in the curriculum by modifying units to accommodate interests and questions, as well as offering students choice in how they represent their new understandings. Integration happens throughout the day and also once during the ten-day schedule in the form of an Integrated Block. During this time, also known as I-Block, all members of the grade-level team and all students spend two hours engaged in focused experience.

Rachel Klem
Intermediate Division Director

Academics: Intermediate Division

Grade 3

List of 11 items.

  • Library

    During their library class time, Grade 3 students enjoy reading and discussing non-fiction books in support of the non-fiction reading and writing they do in the classroom. Students are exposed to various elements of non-fiction texts, such as table of contents, index, and sidebars, and they discuss strategies for finding the information they need within these works. Third-graders are also introduced to the basics of the Dewey Decimal system and begin to become increasingly independent library users and knowledge seekers. 
  • Literacy

    Students grow as thoughtful and independent readers in Grade 3. Comprehension skills such as retelling, making connections, visualizing, and predicting help students to understand texts on a literal and inferential level. Time is dedicated for selecting appropriate books in school, and they spend more time reading chapter books and nonfiction texts. Students talk about texts together, through read alouds, partnership work and in book clubs, learning to develop their ideas in conversation using accountable talk phrases.  In third grade Writing Workshop, students are introduced to Writers’ Notebooks, and compose pieces about their personal lives, applying craft techniques from mentor texts to develop their stories. Students acquire spelling and grammatical skills that help them as readers and writers, as they work through word sorts and study spelling patterns in class.
  • Mathematics

    During the semester, students continue to develop their computational fluency in addition and subtraction. They focus on flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency by using a variety of addition and subtraction strategies. Students also strengthen their communication skills by explaining their strategies in verbal and written form. Students apply reading strategies to math problems, envisioning the actions and relationships in the problem and then creating clear representations of their problem-solving processes. During our geometry study, students synthesize their understanding of shapes, structures, and measurement. Students are taught to use estimation in all areas of mathematics and given opportunities to continue developing concepts of time and money. Throughout the year, students engage in both individual and collaborative work focused on deepening their mathematical understandings.

    In math, students are challenged to be accurate, flexible, and efficient in their thinking. During the final term, they continue to solidify their addition, subtraction, and multiplication strategies, and they develop their understanding of, and fluency with, division. Students use their experience with equal-size groups and the open array model to connect multiplication to division. During the New York City landmark investigation, students apply their multiplication strategies in a real-world context. Throughout the year, third graders develop problem-solving strategies and habits of mind that equip them to tackle complex word problems. Using these approaches, they are expected to read and interpret the information presented, represent their thinking with mathematical notation, and clearly communicate their thinking using mathematical language. The school year concludes with an integrated study that introduces students to fractions and includes familiar concepts from measurement and geometry. In this context, students estimate, calculate, and reason logically. Within all the term’s mathematical inquiries, students further develop their mathematical vocabulary and communication skills while working collaboratively with peers.
  • Performing Arts: Dance

    Grade 3 students begin the year building community through dance. They quickly embark on various choreography projects, a favorite being an integrated art, music and dance project where they create solos and then small group dances based on New York City-inspired paintings. Throughout the project, students are able to re-familiarize themselves with the elements of the craft including space, time, energy, and body. They revise and shared their work several times, practicing and reinforcing good audience member and performance skills and even learn how to give and receive feedback in a constructive and positive manner. Later in the semester we visit New York City Center to see Ailey II perform one of the world’s most renowned works, “Revelations.” This is enhanced by two fantastic in-school workshops with the Ailey dancers. Upon returning to school in January, third-graders begin an immigration study.

    In the second half of the year, Dance class is tightly interwoven into the third grade curriculum. Students begin the semester learning world dances and creating their own immigration-inspired works. Upon returning from spring break, they are immersed in jazz technique, which leads beautifully into a performance-focused study. The students learn, rehearse and perform a full-length production, All That Jazz. Students complete the year working on a Broadway-inspired unit, learning about the history of musical theater, watching clips of various musicals and experimenting in the style.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    Performing Arts: Music
    Music in third grade is an exciting time as students are learning rhythms, rhythmic notation (including whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes), and a varied repertoire of songs (singing lyrics, solfege, and note names from the staff). Third grade students sing and perform a sophisticated repertoire of music related to the theme of New York City. Third grades students have composed a soundscape for works of art inspired by New York City by performing on different classroom instruments. Third grade students are learning to play the recorder, and are reading and playing notes B, A, G, C and low E on the five line treble clef staff with good posture, accuracy of pitch, and a pleasing tone.

    During the second semester, third grade students work on a sophisticated repertoire of music related to the theme of New York City. Third grade students study the history of and progression of Jazz Music starting with Spirituals and Blues through Scat Singing and Broadway. Third grade students study the arts of the Harlem Renaissance and how important it was for the progression of popular music. They also learn and perform on the recorder, reading and playing notes A, B, C, D, E and G on the five line treble clef staff with good posture, accuracy of pitch, and a pleasing tone.
  • Science

    In Grade 3 Science class, students explore the world of rocks and minerals. They begin the study by examining various rocks and minerals and sorting them by identifying attributes. As students study as geologists, they learn to gather information about minerals by using a streak test to distinguish between the observable and identifiable color of minerals, and assessing minerals using the Mohs scale of hardness. In addition to examining rocks and mineral samples in class, they examine rocks found in local parks and explore how New York City's unique geology has shaped the city and its environs. Students also examine the many ways which nature weathers and breaks down rocks on the earth's surface. Through various investigations, students develop an awareness an appreciation of the role of rocks and minerals in the world and everyday lives.

    In the second semester, during the unit on Lego Robotics, students construct robots and learn the language of Mindstorms programming. They explore concepts of time, distance, and speed while programming their robot to follow different pathways. Students work collaboratively to troubleshoot when they encounter challenges both in construction and programming. Students also examine and analyze current robot technologies in their world as they engaged in dialogue with their peers during science story.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    Students focus on building a community, both in their classes and as a grade. Students learn to work in concert with their peers and develop the ability to appreciate different perspectives, compromise, and collaborate. In community club, students learn skills to help them regulate their emotions and develop persistence, flexibility, and resilience. With these skills, students become increasingly able to work through frustration and solve academic and social problems. In the classroom, students become increasingly aware of personal responsibility and resulting consequences, while they develop self-awareness through regular reflective writing.

    In the second half of third grade, students learn to appreciate diversity in many different aspects of their lives, from the idea that families immigrate from many countries in many ways, to an understanding that a story may be different depending on who is telling it. In Community Club, children learn and practice skills of flexible thinking and perspective-taking, and then are taught to use those skills to improve their ability to compromise and collaborate. These lessons culminate in a discussion of "I-statements" that validate both the speaker and the listener. With these skills, children become increasingly able to work through frustration and independently solve academic and social problems.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    In third grade Spanish class, students explore the concept of Experience and the theme of City in Spanish. This exploration is visual, verbal and kinesthetic through speaking, reading, singing, dancing, role-play and games. Students use notebooks as language resources to keep a record of new vocabulary and engage in scripted conversations to practice pronunciation and vocabulary while learning about their classmates. They build on their prior Spanish knowledge to discuss their experiences in New York City. They work on creating a book where they describe different landmarks in the city, which they then share with their seventh grade buddies during the yearly Spanish Buddy Reading event. Students continue the year describing their families and sharing activities that they enjoy doing in the city. They conclude this exploration through a pen-pal activity by writing letters introducing themselves and their families, and expressing their likes and dislikes to a group of third graders in Colombia. Finally, they identify countries and capitals in South America and make connections comparing New York City with cities in Spanish-speaking countries.

    In the second semester, third graders study the Spanish-speaking countries of South America. They integrated movement into the theme of ‘City’ by engaging in a study of South American capitals, where they research its forms of transportation, monuments, currency, typical music and food. They also explore the geography, landscape and climate of South America. In connection with the Library’s Leo’s Choice Award, they hold their our own Leo Lee award. Connected with their studies on immigration, students participate in a round of interviews with members of our school community from Spanish-speaking countries. Finally, reinforcing the theme of “City,” third graders learn about Latino neighborhoods in NYC exploring some of the cultural elements, symbols of nationality and art expressions of Latino groups in NYC.
  • Technology

    Grade 3 students are introduced to strategies for using their new laptop computers safely, responsively, and creatively. They begin the year by building touch-typing and trackpad skills, which continue to be practiced throughout the year via weekly “morning work” typing technique activities. Next, they establish their electronic portfolio websites for the upcoming school year. Students create pages for each of their subjects, which they will later populate with documents, photos and video samples of their work for future reflection and preservation. Sites are private and not publicly accessible on the Web. The term concludes with an in-depth study of the built environment focusing on the bridges of New York City. Connecting to both their Math and Social Studies curricula, students learn how and why engineers use geometry to design the large-scale structures that connect the five boroughs. Students construct models of beam, arch, truss and suspension bridges while exploring concepts of tension, compression, force, load, and the 2D polygon geometry that is employed in various bridge designs.
  • Visual Arts

    In the Art Studio, third grade students continue to develop their skills and work with a variety of materials, exploring the expressive qualities of two and three-dimensional media, including paint, collage, and clay. To begin the year, third graders personalize their portfolios with design paintings. Next, they explore color mixing and create their own a Color Mixing Recipe Book. They apply their color mixing knowledge in new design paintings based on shapes. The class goes on an outing to the Hudson River in Riverside Park to paint a view of the river and later, students write about their experience in their classrooms. Students begin a unit on clay by learning about Lenape pottery. The make their own pinch pots with additional coil construction and they create their own designs on their pots as the Lenape did, by impressing natural objects in the wet clay. Students learn about the three basic forms of clay construction: ball, slab and coil, and they practice using scoring, slip and smoothing techniques for joining clay. Our clay unit culminates in the creation of sculptures of animals with the theme, “How animals take care of each other”. Students further exercise their visual imaginations with torn-paper collages of animals and humans at play. Art is linked to the classroom curriculum through a series of Art Talks on topics such as New York Paintings, Arts and Crafts of the Lenape, and life in Amsterdam and New Amsterdam as seen through art.

    Grade 3 students finish glazing their clay sculptures based on the theme, “How Animals Take Care of Each Other”. The sculpture project is followed by a sequence of torn-paper collages. In the next project, “Stick Puppets: Characters in Motion,” students use cardboard, tempera paint, and fabric to construct original stick puppet characters. At the end of March, Grade 3 students go on a field trip to view ceramic tile murals in the subway. Back in the Art Studio, they plan and create their own glazed ceramic tiles based on the theme of New York City. In April, students go on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view, respond to, and sketch, a variety of artworks with connections to their study of New York. Throughout the semester, Art Talks connect the third grade curriculum with the Arts. The final major project is the New York City Street Mural. This project combines independent work in printmaking and collaborative work in painting and collage to create a multi-media mural representing a New York City street. The finished murals serve as a backdrop for the grade 3 Dance Concert in May.
  • Wellness

    Third graders begin the semester working on cooperative games and continue working on positive, effective communication strategies for groups or teams with emphasis on the Grade 3 theme of Experience. They learn the history of the Marathon, some training techniques are running, and practiced the techniques. They work toward completing a marathon distance over time utilizing some class time and being encouraged to work outside of class time as well. The students continue to focus on movement education. They isolate the individual skill of dribbling or cradling, passing, and shooting in the games of soccer, basketball, and lacrosse and focus on how their movements are related. Students participate in multiple drills, exercises and differentiated learning scenarios to help develop the correct techniques and skills necessary to succeed in each sport and skill.

    In the second semester, Grade 3 students continue to focus on movement education. They develop an understanding of fundamental skills and rules to transfer into a game setting. Specifically, the students develop individual skills related to basketball, soccer, lacrosse, baseball/softball, and racquet sports. Students concentrate on working as a group or team to continue the development of positive effective communication strategies.

Grade 4

List of 11 items.

  • Library

    Grade 4 students use their Library class time to refresh and deepen their understanding of the library’s organizational system, particularly focusing on the subject categories of the Dewey Decimal System, and practicing independently locating library materials. As the year draws to a close, students reflect on their experience over the course of the year as readers and researchers, thinking about how their reading and research habits and abilities have evolved and grown.
  • Literacy

    Students immerse themselves in reading and writing units connected to the Social Studies concepts of Exploration and Country. Students develop their research skills in both reading and writing, and as nonfiction readers, learn to gather and synthesize new information, and navigate more sophisticated text features and structures. As nonfiction writers, they put information into their own words and craft their writing using a variety of techniques. Strengthening their narrative skills next, students create folktales rooted in the Native American tradition and refine their research skills to thoughtfully plan and organize these pourquoi tales. Students work on their word study sorts and increase their application of known spelling patterns to their ongoing writing. Students expand their ability to think and talk about texts with others, through read alouds, reading partnerships and book clubs. They prepare for conversations by citing text evidence and developing theories, and then compare their ideas with others and stretch themselves to consider differing opinions from others’ perspectives. Students develop a variety of ways to respond to text in writing, using digital tools as well.

    Students consolidate a variety of reading comprehension skills during reading times, including envisioning, empathizing and sympathizing, and pushing themselves to prepare for conversations. A large whole-grade study in Social Studies of Colonial America frames the students’ exploration of the historical fiction genre through reading and talking in book clubs. They end the year with an examination of the concept of Justice through the lens of reading and discussing books with social issues embedded, and connect their writing to their reading, in order to write for real audiences and make a change in the world. The genres of journalism and poetry are their vehicles. They also continue to listen to class read alouds and they respond through talking and writing, in order to grow deeper thinking.

    As writers, students work through the writing process in order to create original pieces, using self-chosen perspectives or topics as their focus. During the study on historical fiction, they work to weave together facts from the time period with fictional anecdotes and details in multiple scenes. Using mentor texts, including the class read aloud, “Blood on the River,” students use specific craft techniques to make their writing come alive and remain authentic to the time period. The last writing projects of the school year allow students to consolidate their understanding and independence with the writing process, as they compose poems and opinion pieces, as well as learn about current events in relation to historical time periods and movements in Social Studies. Students use specific revision techniques as they go back to weave through a variety of details in their entries and drafts. During the editing stages, students work to apply their ongoing knowledge of spelling patterns and grammatical rules and are encouraged to continually reread their own writing, looking for one thing at a time to independently edit. They also work to strengthen their abilities in working with a writing partner by the end of their fourth-grade year.
  • Mathematics

    During the first semester, students continue to solidify computational fluency in whole number operations with the goal of becoming more flexible, accurate, and efficient thinkers. Along with developing their number sense through oral discussions, they also have the opportunity to problem solve and represent their thinking in a variety of authentic contexts. These experiences include exploring the country through a road trip and analyzing data. Students also engage in both individual and collaborative work focused on deepening their mathematical understandings.

    The final term of Grade 4 mathematics features a variety of authentic investigations designed to help students solidify whole-number operations. Students reason with division as a way of solving for the number of groups of a smaller number nested inside a larger number as well as the size of groups when a larger number is partitioned equally. Computationally, they use the partial quotients strategy to solve problems with numbers in the hundreds and higher. Students transition from whole-number operations to fractions by investigating the connection between division with remainders and fractions. They also explore rational numbers in authentic contexts connected to the concept of Social Justice. Students are also asked to reflect on their problem-solving mindsets and are given opportunities to develop their strategies for tackling more complex problems. Across contexts and concepts, fourth-graders are encouraged to be critical thinkers, efficient problem solvers, and effective communicators of their ideas.
  • Performing Arts: Dance

    The grade-wide concepts of Exploration and Justice are integrated into many Dance lessons. As budding choreographers, Grade 4 students begin the year immersed in a solo choreography project. Their task is to choreograph the letters of their first name using all of the elements of choreography, as well as a great deal of their own creativity. The final products from this project are shared with the fourth-grade community. Later in the fall, students have the amazing opportunity to not only see a live Native American dance performance by the Redhawk Dance Troupe, but to be immersed in a six-week residency with the troupe, learning authentic Iroquois dances and creating the appropriate regalia. This work, combined with their own creative movement pieces, is presented to families in a December share.

    Upon returning to school in January, fourth-grade dancers embark on a modern dance unit that combines technique and history. This study is especially enhanced by a partnership with the Joyce Theater’s Education Department and the opportunity to see Complexions Contemporary Ballet perform live. This leads into a fun, completely student-driven choreography project based on a music icon of the class’ choice. As the year comes to a close, students are engaged in a wonderful integrated dance, music and art performance. Students work very hard to learn, rehearse, choreograph, and perform concert repertory connected to a story. Their performance is always a highlight of the year!
  • Performing Arts: Music

    Grade 4 students start the year with a variety of games that reinforce rhythmic learning such as the reading and performing of quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes and the corresponding rests. Sixteenth notes are experienced and will be made conscious in the second semester. The materials used all relate to the curricular theme Country. The fourth-graders also learn songs from the Native American tradition as part of an in-depth study of Native American culture. Toward the end of the semester, fourth-graders delight in learning choral repertoire that celebrates wintertime and seasonal celebrations. This repertoire includes both unison and part-singing, and culminates in a joyous share on the last day of school before Winter Break!

    Students continue to learn many songs and musical games relating to the theme of Country. The repertoire includes a medley of games from around the U.S. and a variety of play parties. Play parties provided a vibrant form of socializing and entertainment across the country from the Colonial era onward. Students develop increased mastery on the barred instruments using alternating hands at quick tempi. They also work creatively on a year-end performance, which includes body percussion, instrumental work, dance, and speech, along with mastery of a variety of songs related to the curricular theme Justice.
  • Science

    As part of their study of the theme Exploration, Grade 4 students engage in a study of geography, specifically gaining an understanding of continents, countries, states, terrain, and common landform terms. Students next learn to program robots to use sensors and move autonomously. They work through a series of programming challenges in which a variety of sensors are used to measure characteristics of the environment, i.e. touch, light, sound, and distance sensors. Students engage in the engineering process by identifying programming and building challenges, developing multiple solutions, and testing and refining their work until their final team project, the creation of either a useful or entertaining robot, is complete. Students’ understanding of robotic apparatuses is supported by a concurrent, complementary Technology unit on designing for motion with machines and mechanisms including gears, levers, belts, pulleys, pawl and ratchet, and rack and pinion.

    As part of their study of Justice, fourth-grade scientists explore the incredible diversity of marine life through a variety of experiments and readings. The hands-on study of salinity and temperature currents, fish and squid anatomy, and seashell classification as well as marine food webs helps students understand how organisms adapt to thrive in their environment. Throughout the unit, students ask questions, gather evidence, and communicate their ideas orally and in writing.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    In Grade 4, social and emotional learning skills and objectives are embedded in students’ study of Country, Exploration, and Justice. By examining the impact that exploration has had on different groups of people, students begin to grapple with questions around responsibility and equity. Students extend these discussions into the problems of their own social lives by practicing different constructive strategies for handling upsetting situations, continuing to show cooperative behaviors in group settings, and advocating for themselves and peers in various social interactions. Fourth-graders learn to be responsible students by showing increasing independence in managing their time and belongings and solving problems on their own.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    In Spanish class, students explore the theme Country through study of Central America. Students engage in activities in Spanish visually, verbally, and kinesthetically through speaking, reading, writing, singing, dancing, drama, role-play, and games. Connected to the concept of Exploration and their study of regions, students study the political and physical geography of countries in Central America. They learn and apply vocabulary to describe relative positions using prepositions, and geographical location using cardinal directions. They learn to use the verb estar when referring to a location and to conjugate for singular and plural subjects. They apply their knowledge of Spanish prepositions and landscape elements to a country project, identifying geographical features. They explore the concept of nationality through study of symbols that represent nations and culture. They practice subject-adjective agreement and use of the verb tener in descriptions of flags, and while describing typical dishes from Central America. Finally, integrated with their study of Native American culture, they study the indigenous populations of Central America.

    In the second semester, fourth-graders study ancient Mayan culture and its connection to today’s descendent indigenous Mayan people. In conjunction with their study of Native American fiber arts, students learn about Central American textiles and the cultures they represent. In connection to their exploration of marine wildlife in Science, students create their own paper molas that they describe in Spanish practicing subject-adjective agreement. To conclude the year, they study land and marine animals native to Central America.

  • Technology

    Grade 4 students begin the year by preparing their electronic portfolio websites for the upcoming school year. They establish pages for each of their subjects and later populate those pages with documents, photos, and video samples of their work for future reflection and preservation. Students then study the components and necessity of having secure digital passwords for their school accounts, and the risks associated with having a breach in one’s digital privacy, culminating in an activity where they each create their own unique password with 12+ characters including numbers, symbols, and both upper and lowercase letters. The central unit of the term is an exploration of simple machines and mechanisms, focusing on designing for motion. Students work through a series of model-building activities and experiments with LEGO components to better understand work, effort, and load. They build with levers, gears, worm drives, pulleys, belts, cams, rack and pinion, and the pawl and ratchet. Design strategies and concepts including gearing up, gearing down, and mechanical advantage are also studied. Students’ understanding of simple machines and mechanisms is supported by a concurrent, complementary Science unit that focuses on robotics engineering and programming with sensors.
  • Visual Arts

    Students continue to develop their techniques and explore the expressive qualities of materials while building creative problem-solving skills. Students begin the year creating a self-portrait through collage. Grade 4 artists make careful observations, create and arrange shapes to form their composition. Students also undertake an in-depth painting project based on the cross-disciplinary study of U.S. geography. Students use their skills in color mixing, composition, and brush techniques to capture a landscape of a national park.

    In connection with the grade-wide study of Colonial crafts, students explore the weaving process with paper and yarn. Later in the spring, students undertake a woodworking unit that involves measuring, clamping, sawing, and drilling. They end the year with a set design project that culminates in a performance integrating students’ work in dance, music, and visual arts.
  • Wellness

    Students begin the year with fitness pre-assessments to find their baseline fitness levels to build on throughout the year. They work on their cooperative and teamwork skills through a series of games and problem-solving activities. Students focus their energies on accomplishing a team goal rather than simply achieving individual success. They study football through the sport education model, with each student taking on leadership roles and also following leadership from their peers in a variety of positions including coach, manager, equipment manager, referee, and fitness trainer. They then reflect on the responsibilities and challenges they faced in journal entries. In addition, students explore lacrosse’s roots in Native American culture and its evolution into a modern sport.

    Students learn about the history and creation of the sport of basketball, as well as essential skills for the sport. Students demonstrate understanding and knowledge gained throughout the basketball unit by displaying learned skills in several drills and game-like situations. Students are also introduced to the sport of rugby, learning the history, rules, and regulations of the sport, and then connecting it to sports they may know more familiarly. Tying to the Grade 4 concept of Justice, students debate the need for justice in sports, and discuss how sports have affected justice in society throughout history.

Grade 5

List of 11 items.

  • Library

    Information and research skills are the emphases of the fifth-grade library program. Fifth graders develop an understanding of information literacy skills by reviewing and learning new concepts that allow them to become independent users of the TSC and the New York Public Library (NYPL) systems. Students expand their learning by applying these new concepts to: works cited, notetaking, developing effective search strategies, and evaluating information sources when using the internet and the library's collection of databases. Throughout the year, fifth graders are expected to conduct short research projects that use multiple print and online sources to build knowledge through the investigation of different aspects of a topic.
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  • Literacy

    Students develop strong habits as readers and writers, pushing themselves to be as independent as possible. They build dynamic reading lives, choosing appropriate books, reading with greater stamina and exploring a variety of genres. Students track their reading in order to analyze choices and set goals. Their understanding of the genre of realistic fiction is deepened through read aloud and book clubs, as they study character development and themes across texts. They respond to texts, both through conversations and in writing. Sophisticated texts connected to the themes of the year are read aloud, and students develop ideas and theories as they also expand their worldviews through the investigation of ancient civilizations and cultures, specifically Ancient China. A focus on nonfiction reading and writing takes root, and an examination of historical perspective illuminates the shifting nature of recorded history. Students are guided to think like detectives, reading to uncover clues and compare and contrast their findings. In writing, students hone the skills necessary to independently work through the writing process, including planning, collecting entries, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. They write narrative texts on a variety of personal topics, and later develop nonfiction research pieces, using their research skills to strengthen their work. During word study, 5th-graders study Greek and Latin root words and/or work on word sorts and build a wider vocabulary.

    During the last phase of the year, students continue to deepen their “reading to learn” muscles by researching a variety of topics connected to Ancient China and then Greece. The year caps off with a study of the biography genre through the structure of book clubs. Students connect their traditional text reading to reading online and studying videos as well. They focus on analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing ideas across texts, as well as considering how the past influences the present. Using text evidence as they talk and write about their reading and strengthening their note-taking abilities is also emphasized. Through this lens of studying history and looking at different time periods, a variety of complex expository nonfiction texts, as well as biographies, are read aloud. As they move through the writing process more independently, students go from collecting entries, to drafting, and then to revising and editing for final publication. Their ability to think outside of themselves grows, as they move from writing about personal topics to writing about bigger ideas in the world. They use mentor texts to improve their own writing, learning how to “read like writers” and emulate specific writing techniques. Their writing stems from the integrated studies of Ancient China and Ancient Greece in Social Studies, and they publish a variety of pieces, learning how to analyze the notes they take during the research phase, and synthesize that information into original claims along the way. Students explore the structure of a research-based essay in the last part of the year, looking for themes and patterns across texts as they research. Students learn about the importance of writing for an audience, developing a thesis statement or claim, and supporting it with persuasive text evidence from their research. A large portion of the students’ word study continues with spelling and vocabulary, through the weekly learning of a new Greek or Latin root and connected words.
  • Mathematics

    Throughout the semester, students explore authentic contexts in which they develop strategies for problem solving, reasoning, and organizing their thinking. To launch math workshop, students engage in an investigation of perimeter and area, during which time they apply their knowledge of large-number multiplication strategies. Following this unit, students examine properties of the number system by identifying factors, multiples, prime numbers, and square numbers within a variety of applications. Beginning in late November, students delve into a two-dimensional geometry study, classifying triangles and quadrilaterals and looking at characteristics of these shapes’ angles and sides. Students also deeply analyze elements of the coordinate grid and explore aspects of geometry through technology. Throughout all of their math work this year, students develop and refine strategies for whole-number operations. They continue to work individually and collaboratively to generate and test conjectures about big mathematical ideas such as divisibility and multiplicity. Students work through a number of open-ended, multi-day investigations that allow them to apply their conceptual knowledge to realistic situations.

    As in fall and winter, the spring math term emphasizes making connections and developing strong representation tools. Throughout the term, students continue to develop efficiency, flexibility, and accuracy when manipulating whole numbers. Students complete an in-depth study of fractions, decimals, and percents. By working with models such as the hundred grid, the bar model, the number line, the clock model, the circle graph, and the ratio table, students have opportunities to develop deep understandings of fractions, decimals, and percents and how the three representations connect. Real-world contexts frame much of this work. Following this unit, students investigate the concept of probability while using fractions and percents to communicate the likelihood of specific outcomes. Students record results from various investigations by using line plot graphs and working with the concepts of mean, median, mode, gaps, ranges, and outliers. Throughout the term, students have multiple opportunities to work with measurement and data in authentic contexts.
  • Performing Arts: Dance

    In the first term of dance, students learn to execute three intricate warm-up series and practice traveling dance phrases across the floor. To deepen their intellectual understanding of movement, students make objective observations of motion, shape, negative space and time, experimenting with their own dance styles based on these observations. They learn how these elements of motion can be translated into movement qualities through their own improvisations. While studying the craft and purpose of personal narratives in their literacy work, students draw Life Maps in dance and transform them into their own Life Dance Solos, applying their understanding of universal stage areas, spatial awareness, and the important elements that make strong choreography. In the final step of this creative process, students perform their solos for an invited family audience in a Dance curriculum share. During Silence In Action, students practice techniques in focus, concentration, intention, alignment, relaxation, and self-reflection. During a unit on Ancient China, students study the history of Chinese dance and learn to perform a traditional cultural Chinese ribbon dance. For their digital portfolios, students post photos and videos of their work and trace their creative processes through written reflection and slideshow presentations.

    In the second term of dance, students are challenged to grow in their technical and improvisational skills as well as in their conceptual understanding of choreographic principles and application of intellectual ideas to their own work. In an extensive unit on yoga, students learn basic intellectual and physical principles of the practice. They learn to execute fifty poses in the following categories: standing, seated, inversions, backbends, forward bends, twists, abdominals, and restoratives. For their digital portfolios, students design and create a slideshow where they post their research of specific character qualities they are purposefully developing through their yoga practice. They include photos of themselves in poses of their choice and write reflections on the qualities of character development, the meaning, and the learning that the yoga poses hold for them. Students also learn and memorize advanced warm-up techniques, complex movement combinations, partner work with weight and balance, Greek folk dance, and Ancient Greek dance history. They are introduced to basic theatrical principles such as stage areas, Greek choral work, and placement and body carriage to reflect the character development of any role they choose to portray. It is required that all of these elements be reflected in their choreography. During the unit on Ancient Greece, students study Ancient Greek art and choose artifacts and Greek gods and goddesses to be the inspiration for their own live sculpture poses. Based on these poses, all students choreograph group dances with appropriate titles and music. Students develop an understanding of the elements of design, a philosophy of movement, and an appreciation for the value of communication through the art form of dance.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    Students begin the year by reviewing and solidifying skills learned in Grade 4 music. Emphasis is placed on proper technique for the voice and barred instruments. To integrate the concept of China, students learn about traditional Chinese instruments. By experiencing songs, students identify the differences between Eastern and Western music. These songs also reinforce rhythmic patterns, melodic contour, and proper technique on a variety of percussion instruments.

    During the second half of the school year, Grade 5 students continue to focus on developing their musicianship. By singing as a part of the Grade 5 choir, each student begins to understand more about phrasing, dynamics (louds and softs), singing in parts and/or canon, music notation and symbols, and the general practice of performing as a member of an ensemble. As part of grade-wide Ancient Greek studies, students develop chants, incorporating facts about given city-states, for use at the annual Grade 5 Olympics later in the spring. During the second half of the school year, Grade 5 students continue to focus on developing their instrumental musicianship. Students work toward proper embouchure and/or hand positions, breath support, reading rhythmic notation, and reading melodic notation. In addition, Grade 5 students perform as a traditional band in a final concert.
  • Science

    In the fall, Grade 5 students study the world of flowering plants. The central experiment of the unit is a study of Wisconsin Fast Plants, Brassica rapa. Students grow their own Brassica rapa plants in a controlled experiment, changing one variable in their experimental plants. They care for their plants throughout the study, from planting the seeds, and thinning seedlings, to harvesting the final seedpods. By measuring and analyzing data on plant growth, and by making careful observations of plant health throughout the experiment, students determine how plant growth is affected by variations in light, fertilizer, and spacing. Students also visit the Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, where they have the chance to view thousands of plants from different regions of the world and learn about plant adaptations. Throughout the semester students continue to develop science skills in recording and graphing data about their plants, using microscopes to examine plant parts and communicating their findings through written and oral reports.

    In the second semester, Grade 5 students study basic concepts in magnetism and electricity, learning about conductors and insulators, the parts of a light bulb, and how current flows in closed circuits. They create, compare and make diagrams of series and parallel circuits using circuit symbols. Students investigate the connection between magnetism and electricity, and design their own experiments to test the strength of electromagnets. In a series of mystery circuit experiments, students deduce the electrical circuit components by systematically testing materials with their own circuit testers. Students also explore how to use energy efficiently through the Con Edison Smart Kids Energy Efficiency Program. Throughout the unit students formulate strategies to analyze and solve circuit problems, and reflect on their work through discussion and journal writing. Students further develop their leadership skills by taking turns leading class discussions.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    In Grade 5, social and emotional learning skills and objectives are unearthed through the children’s study of history and ancient civilizations. Through lessons that address essential questions about culture, progress, and communication, students acquire a deeper understanding of themselves. The development of each classroom community effectively mirrors the development of larger human societies around the world. Each day is structured to allow for individual, partner, small group, and whole class interactions. Following the setting of behavioral guidelines and limits, students are expected to attentively listen to others and respond with relevant comments and questions. Cooperative activities are balanced with independent work, to allow for the development of effective social communications as well as autonomy. Weekly homework packets are designed to foster responsibility, cultivate time management skills, and consolidate the understanding of concepts and topics. The assignments intentionally reflect classroom lessons, topics, and skills, and students are expected to complete the work independently.

    In the second semester of Grade 5, planning and executing a culminating overnight to Black Rock Forest promotes a deeper sense of community, and helps students appreciate the need to collaborate together for a successful outcome. Finally, through the practice of active listening, students develop the ability to advocate for their needs and evaluate the consequences of their decisions.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    Students explore the concept of culture and ancient civilizations in Spanish. They learn visually, verbally, and kinesthetically through reading, writing, singing, inquiry, discussion, games, drama, and technology integration. Connected with Day of the Dead festivities, they begin an investigation of origins, completing research on a relevant figure of the Spanish-speaking world. They use physical characteristics and personality attributes to describe and compare people. In their descriptions, they practice subject-adjective agreement and use of the verbs ser and tener. They engage in an anthropological study of artifacts, using descriptive adjectives to make inferences about ancient civilizations. Students practice and reinforce their pronunciation, fluency, and conjugation of the verbs ser and tener. Finally, building on roots and origins, they explore the foundations of the Spanish language and its Latin roots.

    In the second semester, Grade 5 students continue to integrate their study of ancient civilizations while focusing on the development of skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking the Spanish language. They study ancient Incan civilization and, connected to their study of landscapes in Visual Arts, write descriptions of Incan cities and landscapes using prepositional phrases. They investigate Incan society and lifestyle by learning about Incan traditions, beliefs, and customs. In April (National Poetry Month), students write poems about the gods of pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas. They study clothing vocabulary and compare clothing styles among ancient civilizations. Finally, students summarize their study of ancient civilizations with a poster presentation where they represent the main aspects of Incan civilization.
  • Technology

    Grade 5 students begin the term by preparing their electronic portfolio websites for the upcoming school year, to be curated with documents, photos and video samples of their work. The first unit of the year is an in-depth study of current cybersecurity and digital privacy issues. The main vehicle for this study is an immersive, interactive video game from PBS NOVA where students play as the chief technology officer (CTO) of a fictional social media startup company. As players, students create secure password algorithms, defend against computer viruses, and identify email phishing and social engineering scams. Students then compile their own slideshow presentation sharing their “Top 5 Cybersecurity Tips” based on what they learned.

    The second unit of the year is a computer science and physical computing course utilizing Arduino-based microcontrollers and Ardublock - a graphic, block-based programming language built off the text-based language, C. Students program a variety of inputs (touch, light, temperature and moisture sensors) and outputs (LEDs), and reinforce skills with computer programming concepts such as sequences, loops, events, conditional statements, data, and logical/mathematical operators. Connecting to their Grade 5 Science study of plants, our Technology unit culminates in an engineering design challenge where students are tasked to build and program a sensor-based instrument for monitoring indoor plant health, i.e. a lightup soil moisture meter, or a plant pot that alerts you when it needs watering.
  • Visual Arts

    Students first learn to develop their observational and technical skills through drawing with ebony pencil to see shape, value, texture, and details. They start drawing simple objects and later progress to more complex objects from around the school. Students then create their drawing timeline. They also practice sharing thoughtful comments and constructive suggestions in critique sessions. During the following ancient China study, students learn the history, ideas, and techniques of Chinese calligraphy and brush painting. They look carefully into traditional Chinese art and how it relates to works by current Chinese artists. Each student makes their own ink with an ink stick and grinding stone, and uses a bamboo brush to paint elements from the natural world. The fifth-graders practice and apply their knowledge of value, composition, and line to their ink painting. They also create a name seal by carving a block, and use it as an artist’s signature for their ink paintings.

    Grade 5 students continue to deepen their understanding of the yearlong concept of Culture and Progress in Visual Arts class. Students make both historical and personal connections through artistic expression. Following the Chinese calligraphy study in the fall, students continue to learn and explore the process of Chinese ink painting in the spring. They practice painting a variety of images from nature and experiment with painting on rice paper. Transitioning from ancient Chinese art, fifth-graders learn about utilitarian art. During this study, they learn slab technique using a rolling pin, and develop hand-building skills with clay. Their final clay project demonstrates their knowledge, skills, and creativity. The semester ends with a collaborative work. Students design and paint a Greek Olympics flag for the grade-wide Olympics. As part of the ancient Greece study, students visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art and view the Greek and Roman galleries to enrich their learning at school.
  • Wellness

    Students start the year with a focus on cooperative games and teamwork. They follow that first unit by moving into a sports education unit on team handball. During this unit, students are each assigned teams and given roles on their team. These roles include coach, fitness trainer, referee, equipment manager, player and manager. The objective during this unit is not only a focus on skills, but also to help students understand the different roles and responsibilities in sports. Following that unit, students move into a unit on tai chi to connect with their study of ancient China. The goal is to use tai chi as a way for students to strengthen their balance, coordination, and overall health. This unit also focuses on self-discipline and respect, both of which are important principles in martial arts. We finish the year with a unit on rock climbing. During this unit students work on climbing maneuvers and techniques, while improving core strength and balance.

    The second semester begins with work on striking and hand-eye coordination skills in a floor hockey unit. Floor hockey is followed by a fitness unit that emphasizes building endurance and the differences between strengthening and stretching muscles. This fitness unit leads into a study of the Olympic games in connection with ancient Greece. As students work on track and field events, they also prepare and compete in the annual Grade 5 Olympics. The semester ends with an assessment of students’ skills as measured by FitnessGram.

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