Last Thursday, the Prep School English department held its annual Summer Reading Symposium for 11th and 12th grade students.
The fifth grade CORE program is a central place for students new to the Middle School building to come together for shared academic and social-emotional opportunities.
The fifth grade academic program fosters burgeoning independence, critical thinking skills both abstract and conceptual, and analysis of connections to the curriculum through individual experiences. In social studies, students explore why communities seek to establish new civilizations, how to create balance through government structures and how the foundations of our forefathers influence the policies of today. In language arts, inferential, analytical and comprehension skills are cultivated through expository writing, vocabulary development and written expression. All of these interconnected disciplines allow students to develop relationships with their peers while balancing shared experiences with the collective fifth grade community.
- Fifth Grade CORE
- Mathematics 5
- Science 5
- Social Studies 5
- STEAM/Technology 5
- World Languages 5
- Arts Integration 5
- Studio Art 5
- Library 5
- Music 5
- Physical Education 5
- Meeting 5
The CORE program is a blend of English and social studies curricula that introduces students to interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Students read a variety of literary genres throughout the year, including: Save Me a Seat, Holes, My Brother Sam is Dead, Running Out of Time, Number the Stars and Ajeemah and His Son. Reading skills, such as identifying elements of a story, sequencing, summarizing, making inferences, interpreting figurative language and drawing conclusions are strengthened. In addition, students are expected to read independently and complete written responses. Students are instructed in various forms of writing, including: personal narratives, expository writing, persuasive essays and research reports. Teachers focus on developing students’ understanding and application of literary elements. Students learn to continuously draft, revise and edit writing projects before finalizing them.
Fifth grade mathematics is a discovery-oriented course that builds on concepts and skills learned in fourth grade. With two teachers in the classroom, an abundance of individualized attention is available to the students for reinforcement of particularly difficult math concepts as well as additional challenge, as appropriate. Students develop computational fluency with operations of whole numbers and further solidify their understanding of fractions and decimals. They study ratios and percents, exponential notation, elementary number theory (primes, composite numbers, factors and multiples), plane and coordinate geometry, measurement, probability and statistics and introductory algebra. Students practice computation, estimation and problem-solving and go on to apply these more advanced skills through a variety of explorations and projects.
In fifth grade, students explore the realm of physical science with elements of chemistry integrated to enhance their experience in the lab. They begin by learning the scientific process through inquiry-based lab activities that introduce real-world problems in a classroom setting. Other topics include measurement, forces and motion, energy, simple machines, chemical and physical reactions, and matter. Students continuously engage in analyzing patterns, cause and effect, scale, proportion and quality, energy and matter, and structure and function. These crosscutting concepts are intertwined throughout the entire Middle School curriculum, increasing in complexity each year. Building upon skills students learned in the Grammar School, students are reintroduced to the engineering design process through increasingly complex, multiple project-based units.
Students explore the cause-and-effect relationship in American history. They begin with studying the geography and topography of the United States. Other topics include colonization, slavery, the American Revolution, the Constitution and Westward Expansion. Students participate in class debates, projects and investigations to develop a deeper understanding of America’s Colonial Period. A variety of texts, primary sources and multimedia tools are used in class, including newspaper articles, books, poetry, political cartoons, documents, letters and personal accounts. A culminating field trip to Philadelphia and the students’ creation of a living wax museum bring history to life.
In fifth grade, students enhance their blossoming engineering skills as they engage in various project-based learning units including egg-drop and bridge building challenges. They develop their coding skills by using Scratch during an invention project in which they create a wide variety of end products that showcase their own personal interests.
In technology, fifth grade students use a programmable circuit board to code and build interactive inventions. Students will also have introductory lessons in robotics and how to code their robots to perform simple tasks, such as “move forward,” “turn right,” “turn left, ”“move backward,” “detect objects” and “change color.”
The Middle School world languages program develops confident communicators with a critical understanding of language, and a deep appreciation for culture. In the fifth grade, all students are enrolled in Spanish class three days a week. Students build upon the foundation they began in the Grammar School. Students are introduced to basic greetings and language structures, thematic vocabulary and the cultures of a wide variety of Spanish-speaking countries. Students further develop their strong foundation of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.
Middle School students participate in an art integrated curriculum with other core content subject areas. This is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form to another subject area and achieve evolving objectives in both.
In the fall, students plan and execute the Moroccan ceramic tile design project in which they are introduced to the geometric pattern and symmetrical design in Moroccan tiles. Math concepts are reinforced in art as math teachers participate in art classes and co-teach the lesson on math in art class. Students develop skills in ceramic tile design and clay techniques including hand-building, sculpting and glazing. The unit culminates with a trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to visit the Art of the Islamic World exhibit where students experience first-hand the works of this period.
The next project, called literary & personal narrative, dovetails with Black History Month in February. Students are introduced to the artwork and personal childhood stories of Faith Ringgold, which serve as inspiration for their own work. Students identify a passage from a book they’ve read in class or as part of their independent reading or a personal story. Working with various media, students translate their ideas to creating a work of art. Carrying over the theme of quilting that is part of Ringgold’s artwork, students use fabric to create a border for their final project.
The Middle School art program introduces students to a wide range of media and techniques while encouraging individual expression and artistic growth. Over the course of three years, students participate in a variety of disciplines including drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, mixed media, sculpture, digital art, digital photography and stop-motion animation. Students follow the benchmarks for scope and sequence curriculum in general art. By seventh grade, class sizes are smaller and semester-long classes provide them with the opportunity to master specific art skills and techniques each semester.
In library, students learn research skills and how to be critical users of information. The curriculum focuses on online information literacy, intellectual curiosity and responsible information use. Library is integrated into English, history, science, math, art and language classes to support a deeper understanding of how all subjects are connected as well as a love of reading across all genres and topics. The library collection is regularly updated based on the needs and interests of students to reflect current issues and information, and to best support learning in and out of the classroom.
During library class, fifth graders will explore a variety of topics and learn very basic research skills and concepts to foster a love of learning. Together students learn about different cultures, important but forgotten people and build connection to people with different backgrounds and abilities from their own. Class meets every other cycle, and the last ten minutes are dedicated to finding new and exciting books to read.
All Middle School students at every skill level take music three times per cycle, focusing on active music making and creation. In addition, students have the option to participate in band, chorus or orchestra during the school day. All instrumental students receive a small group lesson on their chosen instrument once per cycle. Extracurricular opportunities for motivated instrumentalists include Big Band and Sunrise Orchestra. Students begin the program by using their personal instruments: their voices. Through singing games, folk dance, recorder, percussion instruments and interactive technology, students learn to sing in tune both individually and as an ensemble. The curriculum develops an understanding of ensemble and musicianship through experiential learning with drums, xylophones, recorders, ukuleles and technology. Building on prior music literacy skills, students learn how to perform and compose their own music. Students develop music technology skills including electronic notation, recording and editing so that their creative work can be mixed and produced to share with others. Music teachers work collaboratively with classroom teachers to create interdisciplinary and cross-curricular lessons, integrating text and concepts from English, history and STEAM classes.
The Middle School physical education curriculum focuses on a variety of team sports activities with a strong emphasis on fitness concepts to improve students’ individual health and athletic skills. In addition to various fitness challenges, some of the sports units and games covered throughout the year are soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, diamond games and badminton. The program is designed to expose students to a level of functional fitness training and gameplay that encourages them to collaborate, increase sports knowledge, develop leadership skills and lead healthy lifestyles.
Our Middle Schoolers use their Meeting class time to discuss issues related to their social, emotional and physical development, as well as to share thoughts about various academic challenges and triumphs they experience day to day. Discussion activities are designed to build self-awareness and a sense of community and help students work on their listening, planning, communication, collaboration and problem solving skills. In an open circle forum, our students are provided with consistent opportunities to contribute, reflect and take responsibility for how their group feels and operates.