|Third, Fourth & Fifth Grades|
Third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms build on foundations established in the K-1-2 program. While addressing the curricular needs of children in the upper elementary years, the program continues to value choice, creative exploration, and experientially-based learning opportunities.
Children build on the literary foundation developed during their first three years in school. Writers’ workshop emphasizes a balance of creative expression and use of proper mechanics. Children write about their reading in reading journals, which allows them to carry on an ongoing dialogue with their teachers. Children focus on the strategies competent readers use, for example, inferring, questioning, and making connections. Several periods each week are devoted to sustained silent reading times. Teachers emphasize reading fluency as well as comprehension. Children begin reading longer chapter books and a wider variety of materials in the third through fifth grade classrooms both individually and in book groups. Poetry, non-fiction, journalism, and expository writing are explored. Revision and editing of writing are emphasized, according to the six writing traits of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Teachers stress conventional spelling, punctuation and vocabulary building, and show students organizational skills and techniques such as paragraphing and note taking.
Children are expected to give verbal presentations on various topics throughout the year. During “Author’s Chair” opportunities, children share their creative writing pieces. Students are also expected to present social studies reports, as well as other research projects during the year.
In the third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms, children consolidate basic math skills learned in the younger grades. The development of new concepts is layered onto the strong foundation received in grades kindergarten through second grade. With manipulative materials and practice, skills and concepts are explored and consolidated.
In the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes the children are able to handle more complex problems that entail more than one variable. They integrate new skills, particularly in multiplication and division, in fractions and geometry. Children at this stage begin to implement the concepts of estimation, multiplication, division, and addition and subtraction with larger numbers. They learn new math facts, including multiplication tables, which allow them to successfully integrate more complex operations.
Applications of math skills and concepts are encouraged through project work and games. Children approach multi-task problems such as measuring the school, designing their own ideal living spaces or creating classroom stores. Such interactive projects require students to utilize the skills of pricing, selling and writing checks for the classroom bank. Written work is integrated through increasingly sophisticated workbooks, math journals and other published materials.
Formal math homework is introduced in third grade. A weekly math activity is assigned which gives children further opportunity to practice what has been learned in school. This also enables parents to learn about concepts being covered in the classroom.
The Social Studies curriculum, also known as “Time Travel & World Exploration” (T.T.W.E.), rotates annually between Colorado History, World Studies and United States History. The teachers use these different areas of study as backdrops for teaching children how to research and process information, as well as how to ask questions, convey ideas and understand themselves in the context of the world in which they live. The teachers give the students the skills to manage and present information through written reports, visual displays, verbal presentations and dramatic expressions.
The science curriculum rotates in a three-year cycle. During one year the children explore Earth and Space Science. During another year, they learn about Life Science, which includes the human body, ecosystems, animals, plants and nutrition. In the third year they explore Physical Science, which includes energy, technology, chemistry, and inventions. Taught by a science curriculum specialist, areas of the science curriculum are frequently integrated with the social studies curriculum.
The heart of the 3-4-5 Science Program involves conducting experiments, pursuing the scientific process, exploring the world around them and appreciating human, animal, and plant life and the interdependency of these systems.
The Spanish teacher’s job is twofold. The children are exposed to both oral and written language by speaking Spanish, by displaying written work, and by using dramatic and kinesthetic techniques. The Spanish teacher helps the children become familiar with the language by reading well-known books, and engaging in exciting games in Spanish. In addition, an important part of learning another language is familiarizing oneself with new cultures and customs. The Spanish students have many opportunities to explore different Latino cultures and think about how they may be similar or different from their own culture. The Spanish teacher builds on the foundation begun in K-1-2 and works with the classroom teachers to help incorporate Spanish into the classroom program, including running one all-class morning meeting in Spanish.
In the 3-4-5 classrooms, the children experience two to three 45 minute choice times each week, in which they make decisions and pursue their own interest. The 3-4-5 choice times often reflect the social studies and science curricula. The children also are responsible for planning and reading activities.
"Afternoon of the Arts"
3-4-5 students participate in a Thursday afternoon visual and performing arts program each week. Art resource teachers build on the work done in the classrooms and provide children with opportunities to learn the skills required to extend their artistic work to new levels of quality and expression. The arts are conceptualized not as a series of activities, but as a framework through which to view one’s world. All the arts teachers approach the children as creators in their own right.The afternoon includes:
Music, Drama, and Dance
In dance class, children are engaged in their own process of problem-solving and group choreography. Movement begins at the kindergarten, first and second grade level; by the third, fourth and fifth grades students are able to choreograph complex routines utilizing diverse and multiple-step movement.
Classroom teachers integrate drama into their classrooms via Readers Theater groups, social studies related plays, writers’ workshops and choice time. Afternoon of the Arts drama classes focus on improvisation skills, theater games, and basic scene studies.
3-4-5 students have a weekly music class in which they study and experiment with musical concepts such as tone, rhythm, tempo, scales, and harmonies. The Afternoon of the Arts programming incorporates a choir in which all students participate. As a culmination of their performance arts studies, students present a full-production musical every spring.
In art class, the children are always empowered to bring themselves – their skills, interests and emotions – to the process. The teacher provides the guidance and technique, which enable them to fulfill their artistic vision.
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students participate in two visual art classes, the first an "art choice" program in which students engage in group creative projects, and the second an "arts skills" class which introduces students to formal artistic technique and terminology.