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 become more fluent and thoughtful independent readers as the year progresses in third grade. Students read to grow ideas, and their conversations are energized by the structures of same-book partnerships and Book Clubs. Texts read and discussed together through whole class Read Alouds and in Series Book Clubs compose a majority of students’ reading diet. With these chapter books, students practice inferential skills such as connecting, visualizing, questioning, predicting, and synthesizing, as well as strengthen their fluency. Students read a wider variety of nonfiction texts to learn more about the world around them. They also begin learning how to note-take in more effective ways when reading nonfiction to learn. Book selection remains an essential part of a reader’s life, and time is dedicated to helping students select independent reading books that are appropriate for them.

    In Writing Workshop, students compose poems and realistic fiction pieces, applying sophisticated craft techniques learned from mentor texts. They exercise their narrative writing muscles in the realistic fiction study, moving from personal narrative writing to short fiction writing, and incorporating details that make a story come alive. They have varied opportunities to expand their growing knowledge of Social Studies topics into shorter pieces of writing. Students hone their ability to communicate new information to others in an organized way, as well as to persuade readers when taking a stance on a topic or issue. They also learn to organize information to teach their peers, solidifying their growing knowledge and developing speaking skills.

    Students grew their reading stamina and abilities, applying the comprehension skills of connecting, visualizing and questioning. They read more nonfiction during the second half of the year, recognizing the differences between expository nonfiction and narrative nonfiction texts. Students examined text structures and used their knowledge of these structures to take effective notes. They also looked carefully at the reading comprehension skills of accessing prior background knowledge, determining importance by finding main ideas and supporting details, and building up strategies to read more technical vocabulary in nonfiction books. Students independently studied a wide range of topics and then formed smaller research groups. They zoomed in on a topic, reading across a variety of texts in order to synthesize and talk about their findings with their group.

    The nonfiction reading work overlapped with new nonfiction writing, as students composed and revised their own expert books, moving through cycles with more layers of research. They continued working on their note-taking skills. The Social Studies topics of Immigration, The Underground Railroad, The Great Migration and The Harlem Renaissance featured prominently, helping students gain more control over researching and working with new information in order to determine importance, and also sequence and synthesize information. Students explored a variety of nonfiction genres such as biographical essays, photojournalism, expert books, and feature articles.
  • Mathematics

    In the winter term, third graders continue to develop their computational fluency in addition and subtraction, particularly in the context of larger numbers. New to the term, they undertake an in-depth study of multiplication, investigating the operation through several real-life contexts. Students use various models that illustrate the iteration of equal-size groups and the regrouping of smaller groups into larger groups. Furthermore, students have opportunities to reason with multiplication as a relative comparison between numbers, and they eventually encounter the Commutative, Distributive, and Associative Properties. Building on their understandings of multiplication, students reason with division as an inverse operation: where multiplication constructs numbers according to equal-size groups, division breaks apart numbers according to equal-size groups. Across mathematical concepts, students strengthen their communication skills by explaining their strategies in verbal and written form. They create clear written representations of their problem-solving processes, and they engage with both routine and nonroutine problems, where the latter problem type does not, in its presentation, indicate any clear path to solution. Students are encouraged to use estimation in all areas of mathematics, and they are provided opportunities to further develop concepts of time and money. Throughout the year, students engage in both individual and collaborative work focused on deepening their mathematical understandings.

    As in the fall and winter, during the final term of the year third graders were challenged to be accurate, flexible, and efficient in their thinking. They reviewed and practiced the addition and subtraction strategies they learned earlier in the year, and they continued to solidify multiplication and division strategies and understandings. In particular, instruction in this domain emphasized the Commutative, Distributive, and Associative Properties along with the inverse relationship between multiplication and division. Also, students explored division as an operation that can answer for the number of groups or the size of each group. Next in the sequence of study, students encountered fractions as the result of a fair share, reasoning with dividends smaller than divisors (e.g., 2 brownies shared fairly amongst 3 kids). They proceeded to investigate many other meanings of fractions—for example, fractions as numbers, fractions as parts of a set, and fractions as operators that shrink or expand another number or quantity. Across the year, students strengthened their communication skills by explaining their strategies in verbal and written form. They created clear written representations of their problem-solving processes. They engaged with both routine and nonroutine problems, where the latter type of problem does not, in its presentation, indicate any clear path to solution. Instruction encouraged students to use estimation in all areas of mathematics as a way to guide solution strategy and assess the reasonableness of answers. Throughout the year, students engaged in both individual and collaborative work focused on deepening their mathematical understandings.
  • Performing Arts: Dance

    Grade 3 students begin the year building community through dance. They quickly embark on various choreography projects, a favorite inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie. Throughout the project, students focus primarily on pathways and are able to re-familiarize themselves with the elements of the craft including space, time, energy, and body. They revise and share their work several times, practicing and reinforcing good audience member and performance skills. Later in the semester we move into a creative exploration of the Lenape tale Rainbow Crow. We finished off with a very special visit to New York City Center to see Ailey II perform one of the world's most renowned works, Revelations. This was enhanced by the two fantastic in-school workshops with the performers. Upon returning to school in January, third-graders begin an exciting Broadway study.

    Dance class is tightly interwoven into the third grade curriculum. Students began the semester learning about the history of Broadway and being exposed to the music from a variety of different musicals. They also learned, rehearsed and performed a full-length production Broadway on Broadway. Everyone worked very hard together in class and were also asked to practice their dances for homework. Their incredible effort paid off as their performance was a wonderful success! As the social studies focus shifted to the Harlem Renaissance, we made a smooth transition into an exciting tap unit. The children learned basic tap dance technique, as well as the history of how the genre evolved. They were even able to watch video clips featuring the greatest tap dancers of all time. Our study was greatly enhanced by a workshop from the Apollo Education Department that introduced the children to various social dances from the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    Music in third grade is an exciting time as students are learning rhythms, rhythmic notation (including whole notes, dotted half 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 are learning to play the recorder, and are analyzing music, reading and playing notes B, A, and G on the five line treble clef staff with good tonguing technique, breathing, playing posture, accuracy of pitch, and a pleasing tone.

    Music in third grade is an exciting time for students to immerse themselves into New York City. Third grade students studied a varied repertoire of songs, learned and performed on the recorder, integrated the theme of New York City through Broadway and the history of Jazz Music starting with the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Science

    This semester third graders explore the world of rocks and minerals. We begin our 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. They also examine the many ways which nature weathers and breaks down rocks on the earth's surface. Through various experiments and experiences, student will develop an awareness and appreciation of the role of rocks and minerals in our world and every day lives. Through these investigations, students develop scientific skills and attitudes, as well as learn to communicate their ideas, observations, and scientific thinking in conversation and writing.

    During our unit on Lego Robotics, students constructed Lego robots in partnerships. They explored concepts of time, distance, and speed while programming their robot to follow different pathways using the Mindstorms programming language. Students worked collaboratively to troubleshoot when they encountered challenges both in construction and programming. Students also examined and analyzed current robotic technologies in the world as they engaged in dialogue with their peers during science story.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    Third-grade 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, children become increasingly able to work through frustration and solve academic and social problems. In the classroom, children 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 learned 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, students learned and practiced skills of flexible thinking and perspective-taking, and then were taught to use those skills to improve their ability to compromise and collaborate. These lessons culminated in a discussion of "I-statements" that validate both the speaker and the listener. With these skills, students became increasingly able to work through frustration and independently solve academic and social problems.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    This Fall semester students have been exploring the concept of ‘Experience’ and the theme of ‘City’ in Spanish. This exploration has been visual, verbal and kinesthetic through speaking, reading, singing, dancing, role-play and games. Students have used their Spanish folders as language resources to keep a record of new activities and vocabulary. They have engaged in scripted conversations to practice pronunciation and vocabulary while learning about their classmates. They described their families and shared activities that they enjoy doing in the city. They concluded 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 Spain. Students continued the semester building on their prior Spanish knowledge to discuss their experiences in New York City. They worked on writing poems where they described New York City. Finally they identified countries and capitals in South America and made connections comparing New York City with cities in Spanish-speaking countries.

    This semester, third graders studied 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 researched its forms of transportation, monuments, currency and typical music. They created a digital presentation with their research and presented it orally in front of the class. In connection with the Library’s Leo’s Choice Award, we held our own Leo Lee award. Third graders studied the concept of ‘experience’ through the books “Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre,” “Dragones y tacos” and “Soñadores,” where they learned about social differences through exposure to the different characters' lifestyles and experiences. To conclude our Leo Lee award, the students received a special visit from Eric Velasquez, a Latino author and illustrator who shared his vision and experiences on the theme of immigration. Connected with their studies on immigration, students participated in a round of interviews with members of our school community from Spanish-speaking countries. Finally, reinforcing the theme of “City,” third graders learned about Latino neighborhoods in NYC. The students explored 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, grade three 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, drawing and clay. To begin the year, third graders personalize their portfolios with exploration paintings. Next, they develop their color mixing skills and create their own a Color Mixing Recipe Books. Students apply their color mixing knowledge in 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. Students exercise their visual imaginations with torn-paper collages of animals and humans at play. Observational Drawing is the focus of the next lesson sequence. Next, students choose a topic from the grade 3 experience so far and create their own dioramas. After the winter break, students learn about the three basic forms of clay construction: ball, slab and coil. 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”. The grade three class takes a field trip to the Museum of Modern Art to view and learn about the work of Charles White which relates to topics in the grade 3 curriculum during the Spring semester. Art is linked to the classroom curriculum through a series of Art Talks on topics such as New York City Land Marks, Arts and Crafts of the Lenape people, and 17th century Amsterdam and New Amsterdam as seen through the lens of art.

    In Art Talks, Grade 3 students viewed, discussed and responded to the work of the artist Charles White. Next, grade 3 went on a class trip to The Museum of Modern Art. At The Museum of Modern Art students participated in a guided tour of the exhibition “Charles White: A Retrospective”. The study of Charles White integrated with the grade 3 study of the Enslavement, The Great Migration, and the Harlem Renaissance. In the Art Studio grade 3 students explored the sculptural possibilities of clay and constructed and modeled clay sculptures based on the theme, “How Animals Take Care of Each Other”. After the sculptures were fired in the kiln, students finished their sculptures by adding colored glazes. In the next project, “Stick Puppets: Characters in Motion,” students used cardboard, and tempera paint, to select and combine shapes in the creation of original stick puppet characters. Grade 3 students celebrated their stick puppet creations by staging short puppet shows in the Art Studio. Throughout the year Art Talks in the grade 3 classrooms connected to the third grade curriculum by viewing each unit of study through the lens of Art. During the study of the Great Migration, students viewed, discussed, and responded to the work of Jacob Lawrence. In the Art Studio, Grade 3 students created their own collages about The Great Migration inspired by the paintings of Jacob Lawrence. The final major project was the Harlem Street Mural. This project combined independent work in printmaking and collaborative work in painting and collage to create a multimedia mural representing a Harlem street and connecting to their study of the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Wellness

    The students began the semester working on cooperative games and continue working on positive, effective communication strategies for groups or teams with emphasis on the third-grade theme of Experience. The students continue to focus on movement education. They isolated the individual skill of dribbling or cradling, passing, and shooting in the games of soccer, basketball, and lacrosse and focused on how their movements are related. We gave the students multiple drills, exercises and differentiated learning scenarios to help develop the correct techniques and skills necessary to succeed in each sport and skill.

    The Grade 3 students continued to focus on movement education. They developed an understanding of fundamental skills and rules to transfer into a game setting. Specifically, the students developed individual skills related to basketball, soccer, lacrosse, baseball/softball, and racquet sports. Students learned the importance of personal fitness and were introduced to a variety of activities that they can perform to elevate their heart rate in a fun and stimulating environment. Students concentrated 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 continue to immerse themselves in literacy learning connected to the Social Studies content in exploration, country and states. Through an integrated study looking closely at Native Americans and then early settlers in Jamestown and the colonies, students develop their research skills in both reading and writing. As
    nonfiction readers, they gather and synthesize new information, navigate more sophisticated text features and structures, and learn to take notes in a variety of ways. As writers they practice putting information into their own words and crafting their writing using a variety of techniques from their study of mentor texts. They create
    folktales rooted in the Native American tradition called Pourquoi Tales, and refine their research skills in order to thoughtfully plan and organize their writing. They then turn their attention to writing historical fiction pieces connected to their content area studies, creating rich characters with problems and struggles that match their
    historical time period.

    Students expand their ability to think and talk about texts with others, through Read Alouds and book clubs. Historical Fiction Book Clubs offer students the chance to prepare for conversations, and to cite text evidence when developing and supporting a theory. Students also compare their ideas with others in order to consider differing opinions from another’s perspective. Working across different time periods offers students the chance to explore the genre broadly.

    Students continue to work on their Word Study sorts, and increase their application of known spelling patterns to their ongoing writing, using editing checklists to do this independently and with writing partners.

    Students continued to consolidate a variety of reading comprehension skills across the year, including envisioning, empathizing and sympathizing, and pushing themselves to prepare for conversations. The year came to a close with a deep examination of the concept of Justice through the lens of reading and discussing books with social issues embedded, and students connected 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 became the vehicles for communicating their ideas about these topics. Students continued listening to class read alouds, responding through talking and writing in order to grow deeper inferential thinking with evidence.

    Students worked through the writing process to create original pieces, using self-chosen perspectives or topics as their focus. They first wove together facts from the time period with fictional anecdotes and details in multiple scenes when writing historical fiction. Using mentor texts including the class read alouds, students applied specific craft techniques to make their writing come alive and remain authentic to the time period. The last writing projects of the school year allowed students to synthesize their understanding of and independence with the writing process. They created poems and opinion pieces, while studying current events and historical time periods. Students used specific revision techniques to weave a variety of details through their entries and drafts. During the editing stages, students applied their ongoing knowledge of spelling patterns and grammatical rules. They practiced rereading their own writing often, in order to edit independently and with writing partners.

  • Mathematics

    Fourth-graders 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 have the opportunity to problem solve, compute, and represent their thinking in a variety of authentic contexts. For example, during the road trip unit, students apply their knowledge of estimation and the addition and subtraction algorithms to explore magnitude with numbers through the millions. They work with numerical data related to population, distance, elevation, and national park visitors. Elsewhere in the curriculum, students study and work on all aspects of problem-solving, from interpretation, to modeling, to justifying their answers and developing specific problem-solving habits and attitudes. Students also engage in both individual and collaborative work focused on deepening their mathematical understandings.

    The final term of Grade 4 mathematics featured a variety of authentic investigations designed to help students solidify whole-number operations. Early in the term, students extended their existing multiplication understandings by using the open array to calculate partial products, first in isolation and later in context. Next, students reasoned 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 the groups when a number is split equally. To compute division problems involving numbers in the hundreds and higher, students used the partial quotients strategy. Students transitioned to a study of fractions by reasoning with remainder as a quantity that needs to be shared fairly amongst multiple recipients (e.g., half a carton of eggs shared equally with 3 people). Students proceeded to investigate additional fair-share contexts (e.g., 5 brownies shared fairly amongst 6 kids). They subsequently reasoned with other meanings of fractions—for example, fractions as numbers, fractions as parts of a set, and fractions as operators that shrink or expand a number or quantity. Through word problems, students broadened their problem-solving mindsets and strategies while also connecting all four operations to real-life situations. Importantly, they engaged with both routine and nonroutine problems, where the latter type of problem does not, in its presentation, indicate any clear path to solution. Across contexts and concepts, fourth-graders were encouraged to think critically, solve problems efficiently, and communicate their ideas effectively.

  • Performing Arts: Dance

    The concept of Exploration is 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 the elements of choreography, as well as a great deal of their own creativity. The final products from this project are featured on The Tube and 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 month-long residency, learning authentic Iroquois dances and creating the appropriate regalia. This work, combined with their own creative movement pieces, is beautifully 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 is enhanced by a visit to Lincoln Center.

    The concepts of Exploration and Justice have been integrated into many of our dance lessons. Students began the semester immersed in a study of modern dance. Not only did they learn the fundamentals of the technique and vocabulary, but they were also introduced to the history. This study was especially enhanced by a partnership with the Joyce Theater and the opportunity to see the José Limón Dance Company perform live. As the semester came to a close, students were engaged in a wonderful integrated dance, music and art performance of The Giant Story. The children worked very hard to learn, rehearse, choreograph and perform concert repertory connected to the story. Their performance was truly a highlight of the year!

  • Performing Arts: Music

    The concept of Exploration is integrated into many of our dance lessons. As budding choreographers, Grade 4 students begin the year in a terrain study. They worked on improvisation and choreography skills based on various geography. The final products from this project feature the use of a green screen and work with iMovie. Also 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 month-long residency, learning authentic Iroquois dances and creating the appropriate regalia. This work, combined with their own creative movement pieces inspired by the Four Elements are beautifully presented to families in a formal share. Upon returning to school in January,
    fourth-grade dancers embark on a modern dance unit that combines technique and history. This will be enhanced by a spring trip to see a live modern dance performance at the Joyce Theater.

    The Grade 4 students learned many songs and musical games relating to the theme of Country. The repertoire included a medley of games from around the USA and a variety of play parties. Play parties provided a vibrant form of socializing and entertainment across the country from Colonial times onward. The students developed increased mastery on the barred instruments using alternating hands at quick tempi. They also worked creatively with the magical story “The Quilt Makers Gift” which included body percussion, instrumental work, dance and speech, along with mastering a variety of songs related to the curricular theme of 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 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 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.

    As part of completing their study of the concept of Exploration, students worked in small groups to create entertaining or useful robots of their own design to use sensors and move either autonomously or by remote control. As part of their study of Justice, fourth-grade scientists explored 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 helped students understand how organisms adapt to thrive in their environment. Throughout the unit, students asked questions, gathered evidence, and communicated their ideas orally and in writing.

  • Social Emotional Learning

    In Grade 4, social and emotional learning skills and objectives are embedded in the children’s study of Country, Exploration and Justice. By examining the impact that exploration has had on different groups of people, children begin to grapple with questions around responsibility and equity. Children 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.

    In the second half of fourth grade, social and emotional learning skills and objectives were embedded in the study of social justice. By grappling with questions around curricular themes—from forming new societies to how we treat those who are different from us—students learned to use language to express ideas about which they feel passionate. As they began to consider questions of responsibility and equity, students were encouraged to think deeply about the impact they can have on their own community. Working in large and small groups, students also developed SEL skills by practicing different constructive strategies for handling upsetting situations, continuing to show cooperative behaviors in group settings, and advocating appropriately for themselves and their peers in a variety of social interactions.

  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    This semester in Spanish, students explore the theme Country through the study of Central America. Students engage in activities in Spanish visually, verbally, and kinesthetically through speaking, reading, writing, singing, dancing, role playing, and games. Connected with 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 with 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 in relation to others. They explore the concept of nationality through the study of symbols that represent a nation and its people. Finally, they practice subject-adjective agreement and use of the verb ‘tener’ in descriptions of flags and typical dishes from Central America.

    This second semester, and in connection with the Library’s Leo’s Choice Award, we held our own Leo Lee award, where students continued working on their yearlong theme of country by reading “La tejedora del arcoiris”. They explored the traditions and customs of the hispanic culture reflected in “La princesa y el guerrero” and explored the topic of identity through “El día en que descubras quién eres.” In conjunction with the study of Native Americans and their fiber arts in the Fourth Grade, students learned about native textiles from Central America and the cultures they represent. They studied the Mayan culture and some of their most outstanding achievements and heritage to today’s descendent Maya indigenous groups. They explored the concept of nationality through the study of traditions and symbols that represent a nation and its people. In connection with their Science exploration of marine wildlife, students created their own paper “molas” (textiles from Central America) that they described in Spanish practicing subject-adjective agreement and the verb “hay.”

  • 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

    In Grade 4 visual arts, students continue to develop their techniques and explore the expressive qualities of materials while building creative problem-solving skills. Students begin with revisiting collage materials through the creation of a “pop-up” scene of a place they would like to travel to. Then they continue with creating a selfportrait
    through collage. The artists make careful observations, and create and arrange shapes to form their composition. The fourth-graders 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
    from their writing research.

    Through material exploration, Grade 4 artists discovered new possibilities in the studio this year! Students began the semester practicing their observational drawing skills by looking closely at a variety of plants around the school, tools and objects from the studio, and their own shoes. They found new challenges in showing three-dimensional objects and created their own strategies in both pencil and conte crayon, a form of charcoal. Then, in connection with the grade-wide study of Colonial America, students explored the weaving process with paper and yarn to create a woven pouch. After Spring Break, students undertook an exploration of the human figure, beginning with drawing and continuing in clay. Their figures could show people in expressive poses of their choice. Students ended the year with a set-design project that culminated in a performance integrating work in dance, music, and visual arts.
  • Wellness

    Students begin the year with fitness pre-assessments to find their baseline fitness levels from which they can build 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, each student taking on leadership roles and also following leadership from their peers in a variety of jobs, including coach, manager, equipment manager, referee, and fitness trainer. In addition, students explore lacrosse and its Native American roots, as well as its evolution into a modern sport.

    Students learned about the history of basketball, as well as essential skills for the sport. Students demonstrated understanding and knowledge gained throughout the basketball unit by displaying learned skills in several drills and game-like situations. Students were also introduced to the sport of rugby, learning the history, rules, and regulations of the sport, and then making connections to sports they already knew. Connecting to the Grade 4 theme Justice, students debated the need for justice in sports, and discussed how sports have affected justice in society throughout history.


Grade 5

List of 12 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.
    Read More
  • Literacy

    Students develop their reading lives and identities, paying attention to choosing appropriate books, reading with greater stamina, and exploring a variety of genres. Students track their reading, and respond thoughtfully to texts both through conversation and in writing. Students read and prepare their ideas for Mystery Book Clubs, studying how authors develop suspicious characters, plant clues and lead the reader to a resolution where the mystery is
    solved. This work allows students to develop their prediction and synthesis skills. As student track a character’s development, they grow theories about their motivations and the larger themes embedded in their mystery books. The reciprocal nature of reading and writing is highlighted when students then take these noticings and apply them to their own mystery writing.

    During Writing time, students hone the skills needed to independently carry out the stages of the writing process including planning, collecting entries, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. They learn to lean on mentor texts to lift the level of their own writing, naming an author’s craft techniques and then applying the variety of
    techniques to their own pieces. Completing their mystery fiction writing helps them stretch their narrative writing muscles as they practice crafting strong sentences and revising for clarity.

    More sophisticated nonfiction texts (narrative and non-narrative) connected to the content areas are read aloud, as well as independently read, and students discuss these texts together in whole class conversations and respond in writing using a variety of note-taking strategies. The students’ content area writing is connected to the continued study of Ancient China, with an emphasis on research-based writing across a variety of genres, including
    informational writing and poetry.

    During Word Study times, students expand their speaking and written vocabulary through the continued study of the Greek and Latin roots, and/or work with word sorts to improve upon their spelling.

    Fifth-graders spent the year thinking like detectives in order to uncover old and new ideas, while using research skills. Students continued to pay close attention to book choice, and to use recommendations as a way to read new genres and titles. During the last phases of the year, students deepened their “reading to learn” muscles by researching a variety of topics connected to Ancient China and then Greece. The year ended with a genre study of biography through the structure of book clubs. Students connected their traditional text reading with reading online and learning from videos. They focused on analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing ideas across texts as well as considering how the past influences the present. They used text evidence in conversations and writing about reading in order to strengthen their arguments. Through the lens of studying and comparing famous people in history and exploring a variety of time periods, complex expository nonfiction texts and biographies were read aloud. Students’ ability to think outside of themselves grew, as they moved from writing about personal topics to writing about bigger ideas they find in texts and the world. Moving through the writing process more independently, students collected entries, then drafted and revised their final publications. They used mentor texts to improve their own writing and emulate specific writing techniques. Writing stemmed from the integrated studies of Ancient China and of Greece in Social Studies and they published a variety of pieces, learning how to analyze the notes taken during the research phase and then synthesize information into original claims. Students explored the structure of a research-based essay in the last part of the year, looking for themes and patterns across texts as they read. Students continued to grow their knowledge of spelling patterns and rules, and to use more sophisticated vocabulary in their writing.

  • Mathematics

    Throughout the semester, Grade 5 students work within authentic contexts to develop strategies to problem solve, reason, and organize their thinking. Students continue examining properties of the number system by reasoning with factors, multiples, prime numbers, and square numbers through a variety of applications. The number theory
    unit wraps with a study of least common multiple and greatest common factor, which lays a conceptual foundation for the fractions, decimals, and percents unit. During the geometry study, students classify triangles and quadrilaterals by analyzing characteristics of their angles and sides. They also investigate the coordinate grid,
    explore specific geometry topics using technology, and reason spatially with ratio and scale as a bridge between geometry and fraction work. Students then begin an in-depth study of fractions, decimals, and percents. By working with models such as the hundreds grid, the bar model, the number line, the clock model, and the ratio table, students have opportunities to develop deep understandings of fractions, decimals, and percents and how
    the three representations connect. Throughout all of their math work this year, fifth-graders continue to develop strategies for operating with whole numbers. They also continue to work individually and collaboratively to generate thoughtful questions about big mathematical ideas.

    As in fall and winter, the spring math term emphasized making connections and developing strong representation tools. Throughout the term, students continued to develop efficiency, flexibility, and accuracy when manipulating whole numbers. Students completed an in-depth study of fractions, decimals, and percents. They reasoned with multiple meanings of fractions—for example, fractions as numbers, fractions as parts of a set, and fractions as operators that shrink or expand a number or quantity. By working with models such as the hundred grid, the bar model, the single and double number line, the clock model, the pie chart, and the ratio table, students had opportunities to develop deep understandings of fractions, decimals, and percents and how the three representations connect. Real-world contexts framed much of this work. Following this unit, students investigated the concept of probability while using fractions and percents to identify the likelihood of specific outcomes. Students recorded results from various investigations by using line plot graphs and working with the concepts of mean, median, mode, gaps, ranges, and outliers. Across mathematical topics, students continued to develop as problem-solvers as they engaged with concepts in open-ended formats. Finally, students studied and applied the traditional division algorithm, exploring the types of numerical situations that require the algorithm and interpreting remainder within problem context. Throughout the term, students had multiple opportunities to work with data in authentic ways.

  • Performing Arts: Band

    During the first half of the school year, Grade 5 students begin 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.

    During the second half of the school year, Grade 5 students continued to focus on developing their instrumental musicianship. Students worked toward performing as a full band setting in rehearsals and performances.
  • 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. Their developing choreography is videoed and each new recording is posted on the TSC website’s
    “vidigami” and “The Tube,” for the students to reflect and refine their dances. In the final step of this creative process, students have the opportunity to perform their solos for an audience of their first-grade buddies during the Dance Curriculum Buddy Shares. During Silence In Action, students practice techniques in focus, concentration, intention, alignment, relaxation, and self-reflection. During the 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 their conceptual understanding of choreographic principles and application of intellectual ideas to their own work. In the extensive unit on yoga, students learn basic intellectual and physical principles of the practice of yoga. They learn to execute fifty poses in the following categories: standing, seated, inversions, backbends, forward bends, twists, abdominals and restoratives. 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 have developed 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 fourth-grade music. A study of rhythm completes the review of K-4 music. Students continued to enhance rhythmic skill and understanding through music activities in singing, movement, and were assessed on the understanding. Emphasis is placed on proper
    technique for the voice and barred instruments. To integrate studies of Ancient China, students learn about traditional Chinese instruments. Students experiencing songs such as “Mo Li Hua” (Jasmine Flower), and were able to identify the differing sounds of eastern and western music.

    During the second half of the school year, Grade 5 students continued to focus on developing their musicianship. By singing as a part of the Grade 5 Choir, each student began 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 developed chants, incorporating facts about given city-states, for use at the Grade 5 Olympics.

  • Science

    In the fall, fifth-graders 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 Enid Haupt 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.

    This semester, Grade 5 students studied 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 created, compared, and made diagrams of series and parallel circuits using circuit symbols. Students investigated the connection between magnetism and electricity, and designed their own experiments to test the strength of electromagnets. In a series of mystery circuit experiments, students deduced the electrical circuit components by systematically testing materials with their own circuit testers. Throughout the unit students formulated strategies to analyze and solve circuit problems, and reflected on their work through discussion and journal writing.

  • Social Emotional Learning

    The classroom community is based on the shared values and expectations developed by the group. Each day is structured to allow for individual, partner, small-group and whole-class interactions. Students are expected to attentively listen to others and respond with relevance. Cooperative activities are balanced with independent
    work. The development of effective social communications and behaviors is valued alongside the development of autonomy and the ability to independently initiate and carry out a plan of action. Weekly homework packets are designed to foster independence and 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, students continued to practice SEL skills through their collaborative work with partners, small groups, and whole class interactions. Students were expected to become increasingly independent in managing their time and materials, and to advocate appropriately for themselves with teachers and peers. In book clubs, Greek Council meetings, and math partnerships, students continued to develop their ability to listen to others, think flexibly, and be respectful of ideas that differed from their own. Planning and executing a culminating overnight to Black Rock Forest promoted a deeper sense of community, and helped students appreciate the need to collaborate together for a successful outcome.

  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    This semester students explore the concept of culture and ancient civilizations in Spanish. Students learn visually, verbally, and kinesthetically through reading, writing, singing, inquiry, discussion, games, drama, and technology integration. Connected with the 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, use of the verbs “ser” and “tener,” and adverbs of quantity.

    Building on roots and origins, they explore foundations of Spanish and its Latin roots. They work with dictionaries as language resources to find and make use of new vocabulary. Finally, they practice and use -AR regular verbs, conjugating in the present tense and working in groups to create song lyrics with pronouns, adverbs of frequency, conjugated verbs, and new vocabulary. Students practice and reinforce their pronunciation by presenting their songs in front of the class.

    This semester, Grade 5 students continued to integrate their study of ancient civilizations while developing skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in Spanish. They studied the differences between the verbs “ser” and “estar,” and learned vocabulary related to mapping and geography. In connection with their study of landscapes in Visual Arts, they wrote descriptions of Inca cities and landscapes using prepositional phrases. They investigated aspects of Inca society and lifestyle by learning the traditions, beliefs, and customs. In April, National Poetry Month, students wrote poems about Pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas. They studied clothing vocabulary and compared what people wore in different ancient civilizations. Finally, students summarized their study of ancient civilizations with a poster where they represented some of the main aspects of Inca 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

    Fifth-grade students explore and deepen their understanding of the year long concepts “culture” and “progress” in visual art class. The students first learn to develop their observational and technical skills and create drawings with ebony pencil. They experiment with various techniques to carefully observe shape, value, texture, and details. They start drawing simple objects and later progress to more complex objects from around the school. They also practice sharing thoughtful comments and constructive suggestions in critique sessions. Then, the 5th graders learn to use the slab technique during the clay unit: students learn to use a rolling pin to create evenly flat pieces of clay and develop hand-building skills. The final clay container project demonstrates their knowledge,
    skills and creativity.

    The fifth-grade students continued to deepen their understanding of the concepts “culture” and “progress” in visual art class. They made both historical and personal connections through artistic expression. Following the Chinese calligraphy study in the fall, the students continued to learn and explore the process of ink painting this semester. They practiced using a variety of images from nature and experimented with painting on rice paper. The 5th grade students were then inspired to work with wire as a medium to artistically portray movements and actions. They learned to manipulate wire with tools such as pliers, and capture the essence of movement after their figure drawing. As part of this ancient Greek civilization study, the students visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and viewed the Greek and Roman galleries to enrich their learning experiences in art class. The semester ended with a collaborative painting project and each class created a banner for their Olympic games.

  • Wellness

    In Grade 5 Wellness, we start the year with a focus on cooperative games and teamwork, followed by a unit on volleyball. Students learn striking and passing skills to help them be successful during game play. Following volleyball, students focus on a floor hockey unit centered on tactical concepts. Students learn the game of floor
    hockey and different strategies, such as creating space and defensive positioning. Students finish with a unit on tai chi to connect to Ancient China studies. The goal is to use tai chi to strengthen balance, coordination, and overall health. This unit also focuses on self-discipline and respect, both important principles in martial arts.

    Students began the second semester in Wellness working on striking and hand-eye coordination skills in a floor hockey unit. They followed floor hockey with a fitness unit that emphasized building endurance and the differences between strengthening and stretching muscles. This fitness unit led into study of the Olympic games in connection with ancient Greece. As they worked on track and field events, students also prepared and competed in the annual Grade 5 Olympics. The semester ended with an assessment of students’ skills as measured by the Fitnessgram.

The School at Columbia University

556 West 110th Street
New York, NY 10025
Contact Us