Visitors to the fourth and fifth grade classrooms find students and teachers engaged in active learning. Student work displayed throughout the 4-5 classrooms reflects thoughtful and authentic learning experiences; while specific artifacts rotate with each study, examples include a gallery of self-portraits with Spanish narratives, scientific sketches of salt marsh specimens, collaborative poetry inspired by literature study, and scaled designs of dream houses. Students in grades 4-5 are learners who are excited to delve into their subjects and investigations in depth. The learning is collaborative and cooperative, as new ideas and concepts are investigated. A sense of community is evident.
The 4-5 curriculum is centered around thematic studies. Themes are integrated across the two-year curriculum, and provide a framework to connect learning across the subject areas. Units are developed to reflect the interests and strengths of students, teachers, and relevant issues in the larger community. Through this process, students explore topics such as immigration and the Industrial Revolution, physics, salt marshes, electricity, and an annual Global Focus study.
Reading, writing, math, social studies, and science skills and concepts are honed during this two-year period. In writing workshop the students’ work reflects personal voice as they explore a diversity of genres, both creative and expository. Greater detail, editing strategies, and revision are emphasized in student writing. Our math curriculum follows two strands throughout the year with continued practice and skill development around number sense and computation, while investigating broader concepts through more in-depth studies. We strive to balance skill-building with conceptual understanding across a variety of strands.
Learning is extended through student-centered literature classes. Students read a range of genres over the course of their two-year program. A balance of student-selected and teacher-selected titles complement the thematic studies. Theme studies integrate social studies concepts such as citizenship, civil rights, westward movement, and geography with scientific learning focused on ecology and local foods resulting in authentic, real-world applications.