Intermediate: 4-5

At The Country School, a 4th and 5th Grades are a time of transition, as students move from the more sheltered world of the Primary years to the more independent realm of Middle School. Academic and personal responsibilities increase, and with these growing responsibilities come growing opportunities to learn about self-advocacy, responsibility, and leadership.

Examples include:

  • At the beginning of the school year, 5th Graders run the weekly Lower School meeting, using a radio show format, WTCS, that fosters public speaking and leadership skills. Later in the year, 4th Graders take over the show.
  • 4th Graders oversee the school's recycling program; 5th Graders tend to the kitchen garden.
  • 4th Graders begin to participate in clubs; 5th Graders can join teams such as Robotics.
  • 4th Graders join 5th Graders for outdoor education activities in the fall. In the spring, 4th Graders experience an overnight "tent in" on campus, while 5th Graders head off campus for the first official Outdoor Education overnight trip. This outdoor Middle School takes advantage of its location on the Connecticut shoreline.
  • As a STEAM Middle School in New Haven County, 4th and 5th Graders typically collaborate on a major STEAM project; recent examples include a personal narrative altered book project and an exploration of innovations from 1955 (the year The Country School was founded) to 2015 (The Country School's 60th anniversary year).
  • 5th Graders begin to participate on interscholastic athletic teams; 4th Graders are leaders in intramural sports and on our Flying Owlets cross country team for our youngest athletes.

Even as they gain independence and responsibility, 4th and 5th Graders can count on nurturing support from their teachers. Here is what a new 5th Grader had to say:

I love The Country School because all the teachers and students are really friendly and helpful. The teachers are always willing to give you extra help or help you catch up with your homework or school work. You have more one-on-one time with your teachers and you get to call and/or email them if you have any questions or do not understand something.

Curriculum Overviews

4th Grade

Reading
In reading workshop students will learn the following reading strategies :

  • Using inquiry strategies to gain meaning
  • Finding textual evidence
  • Using point of view to interpret literature
  • Connecting personal experiences to text
  • Analyzing various genres such as nonfiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, & poetry
  • Summarizing
  • Visualizing
  • Inferring information by using clues throughout the text
  • Vocabulary development through direct word study and the use of context clues
  • Developing written response to literature
  • Choosing “Just Right” books
  • Discussing books with peers and senior citizens through intergenerational book clubs

Writing
Writing is taught through the Lucy Calkins Units of Study series. We will use the Writers Express manual to cover grammar and conventions (editing / mechanics).

Students will write a variety of genres including

  • Narrative Writing (Fictional and Personal
  • Expository
  • Poetry
  • Creative Writing
  • Reading Responses

Speaking
Students will engage in various speaking opportunities including grade level culmination learning expos, monthly poetry recitations, MacLane Poetry Recitation, and interactive, extended discourse to socially construct meaning of various topics of study.

Cursive
Students will have weekly practice and by mid-year they will be expected to complete certain assignments in cursive. Fourth grade is a year of review, practice, and usage.

Word Study Overview
We use a combination of word study programs including Rebecca Sitton Spelling and Word Journeys. Assignments will be given regularly providing opportunities for practicing words and their features.

Practice
A new spelling pattern will be introduced to your child (or a repeat practice pattern will be given if continued review is needed). Students will learn the patterns associated with each new pattern. Literacy centers will give students additional exposure to the patterns and practice sorting words.

High Frequency Words
High frequency words are commonly found in text and are used regularly in students’ writing. In addition to words following the weekly pattern, students will be given individualized high frequency words to practice at home. At the beginning of the school year each child will be assessed to determine the high frequency words they need to master. Students are assessed on an ongoing basis and adjust their words when they show mastery.

Math
Singapore math stays with concepts and skills longer than traditional math programs, guaranteeing that learners have full understanding before moving to the next concept. It moves students from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract carefully and systematically to ensure student understanding of the “why,” not just the “how.” The program stresses mathematical thinking and problem solving: Math is the vehicle and the goal is thinking and problem solving. The following grade-specific skills can be placed in one or more of the following areas: facts, basic skills and procedures, basic (one-step) word problems, complex (multi-step) problems.

Fourth Grade Key Concepts:

  • Whole Numbers (approximation, factors, multiples,order of operations, negative numbers)
  • Four Operations of Whole Numbers
  • Fractions (equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, mixed numbers, improper fractions, fraction and division, fraction of a set)
  • Geometry
  • Area and Perimeter
  • Decimals
  • Four Operations of Decimals
  • Congruent and Symmetric Figures
  • Coordinate Graphs and Changes in Quantities
  • Data Analysis and Probability
  • Measures and Volume

Spanish
Children will improve their Spanish while in grades 4 and 5, expanding their vocabulary and learning basic grammar and expressions. Children will review topics of study from previous years (weather, numbers, colors, etc.), and learn to talk about themselves, their family and the world around them, and begin basic conjugation of verbs. Students will engage in listening, speaking, reading and writing activities.

Affective Education
Affective education at The Country School celebrates our commitment to the whole child. We provide meaningful opportunities for leadership, service, and environmental stewardship. Fourth grade participates in a variety of team building activities, classroom meetings, team time with fifth grade, reading buddies, and community service.

Our daily classroom meetings follow the Responsive Classroom format and cover a wide range of topics. The meetings are dedicated to strengthening social growth and development of the whole child by helping them recognize and manage emotions, developing care, concern for others, and fostering a safe, caring and highly-engaged classroom and school community.

Our 4th Grade Open Circle Meetings are held once a week. This is where we dedicate time to helping the children through many of the day-to-day life skills of being a 4th grader. Children feel free to raise concerns and speak openly and honestly with their peers if the need should arise. We also focus on life skills such as dealing with peer pressure, decision making, and managing day to day expectations.

Elmore Leadership
This program incorporates opportunities for the students to develop their leadership skills. In the fourth grade students have the following opportunities:

  • Being the “older” reading buddies to the younger students in Pre-K / leading weekly activities, energizers, modeling talents and playtime
  • Recycling duties for the TCS community
  • Hosting and organizing the technology for the lower school meetings (WTCS Radio Show)
  • Assisting to maintain the gardens
  • Peer mentors with 3rd grade with various programming
  • Senior Center book club buddies
  • Assisting with school owl mascot costume

5th Grade

Theme Integrated Throughout the Curriculum: Leave a footprint behind in time.

ELA (English Language Arts)
In ELA students participate in skill-focused mini-lessons in reading and writing workshops; shared, guided and whole group reading and writing lessons; book clubs/literature circles; conferences and discussions; and independent time to read and write. During various times of the year, our reading is closely linked to our history studies. We read historical fiction novels set in Egypt, Egyptian and Greek myths, a biography of Howard Carter, and The Adventures of Odysseus.

Reader’s Workshop
Essential Questions: What strategies do good readers use that they will eventually internalize and use automatically as their reading abilities continue to mature and when reading more complex material? What skills do readers need to learn in order to reach deeper levels of understanding? Some of these skills include the following:

  • Analyzing the basic elements and features of fiction and non-fiction
  • Knowing your reading focus or purpose
  • Knowing the author’s purpose
  • Main idea and supporting details, cause/effect, fact/opinion
  • Summarizing
  • Visualizing
  • Inferring using clues throughout the text
  • Building stronger background knowledge
  • Using inquiry strategies to gain comprehension; self-checking strategies for comprehension
  • Returning to text to support ideas (textual evidence)
  • Using point of view to interpret literature
  • Making personal and contemporary connections to reading
  • “Word attack” strategies and vocabulary development through direct word study and use of context clues
  • Analyzing various genres such as personal narratives, informational text, historical fiction, myths, poetry, and an epic tale.
  • Choosing “Just Right” books
  • Developing lifelong readers by giving students time to read independently, to share their reading in a variety of ways and appreciate the author’s craft
  • Collaboration and discussion
  • Read-alouds. We encourage parents to find time to read aloud with their children.

Reading Materials

  • A Long Walk to Water and The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler (required summer reading)
  • a selection of personal narratives
  • informational text (history text and a variety of other resources); David Macaulay’s Pyramid;Eyewitness Egypt and Greece
  • current news articles
  • persuasive/opinion essays/articles
  • poetry anthologies
  • biography (interactive read aloud): The Biography of Howard Carter
  • Egyptian novels: The Golden Goblet and Maia of Thebes
  • D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths
  • The Tale of the Ulysses (Odysseus)
  • independent reading books
  • read alouds

Writer’s Workshop
Essential Question: What skills and strategies does it take to lift a writer’s level of writing?

Our goal in writing is to have students write, write, write. Writing workshop is primarily based on Lucy Calkins Units of Study series (The Columbia Reading and Writing Project). We will use the Writers Express manual to cover grammar and writing conventions (editing / mechanics). Inspired by Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook and the CRWP, students will use a personal “Jot-it” notebook for collecting “seeds” or ideas that might be expanded upon in class. We will also use a “Writer’s Notebook” in order to track their writing development throughout their units of genre study.

Writing is a process and will be practiced and developed through a variety of writing assignments. Additionally, three writing prompts are given to the class throughout the year as another means to monitor growth and to assess areas that need reinforcement.

Students will write in a variety of genres:

  • personal narrative
  • informative (research writing)
  • persuasive
  • poetry
  • creative pieces
  • reading responses (from several sentences to paragraphs to multi paragraph essays).

Writing Materials:

  • mentor texts for modeling
  • Lucy Calkins Grade 5 Units of Study
  • Writer’s Express handbook
  • Notebook that are set-up for writing workshop
  • Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook and Marshfield Dreams
  • 6+1 Traits of Writing and Trait Crate (Ruth Culham)

Word Study (vocabulary/spelling) is based on

  • Content-related vocabulary encountered in genre study and history
  • High frequency spelling words for fifth graders
  • Word study lessons from Worldly Wise

Speaking
Students will experience a variety of speaking/performance opportunities including: presentations (both individual and group), daily discussion (small and large group), the MacLane Poetry Recitation, and The Greek Play.

Math
Singapore math stays with concepts and skills longer than traditional math programs, guaranteeing that learners have full understanding before moving to the next concept. It moves students from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract, carefully and systematically, to ensure they understand the “why,” not just the “how.” The program stresses mathematical thinking and problem solving: Math is the vehicle and the goal is thinking and problem solving. The following grade-specific skills can be placed in one or more of the following areas: facts, basic skills and procedures, basic (one-step) word problems, complex (multi-step) problems.

Fifth Grade Key Concepts:

  • Whole Numbers (approximation, factors, multiples, prime factorization, multiplying and dividing by tens, hundreds, and thousands)
  • Four Operations of Whole Numbers
  • Fractions (comparing fractions, multiplying and dividing fractions, adding and subtracting unlike fractions, adding and subtracting mixed numbers, multiplying a fraction by a whole number, fraction of a set, word problems.)
  • Area and perimeter, surface area
  • Decimals
  • Percentages
  • Angles
  • Average and Rates
  • Data Analysis

History 5
Learning about the past helps understand the present, learn from our past mistakes, and develop tolerance for differences.

Our learning journey (Odyssey) in fifth grade history begins with examining the job of a historian and an archaeologist. With that foundational understanding in place, we are on the move with the hunter-gatherers in north-eastern Africa who decided to settle in one spot, the banks of the Nile, Egypt. Why did these early people stay? They learned to farm- The Agricultural Revolution. We venture onto the banks of the Nile, are introduced to the features of a civilization and then examine the rise and fall of three great kingdoms over three thousand years. We end our travels in history with the study of two early kingdoms of Greece- Knossos and Mycenae.

The story linked to these two civilizations remains powerful and influential today. With each civilization, we will analyze how geography and resources influenced the settlement and development of the civilization, the key features of a civilization and the cause and effect of each civilization’s decline. We also take a close look at how we in the 21st century share similarities with these ancient civilizations.

This is a year where it is essential that students read to learn, copy notes from the board and participate in class to clarify and enhance their comprehension of and confidence with the material. Along the way, we will link our studies of ancient history to events in today’s world. Cultural literacy is an area of focus in the history classroom. Students are encouraged to watch the History Channel and other specials; read newspapers, Dig magazine (in the classroom) and National Geographic for Kids (in the library); visit museums (Yale’s is a great start) and even listen to NPR when appropriate.

We are also involved in an activity called Wordless News where a current newsworthy event is listened to and then students sketch and record words that capture the gist of the story. Not everything they see or hear has to be linked to ancient history. Appropriate exposure to the world beyond TCS and how that connects to their lives/studies is my goal.

A spring field trip to the MET will be a culmination of our studies in the classroom.

Materials Used:

  • Textbooks: Discovering Our Past: A History of the World; Ancient Egypt; Ancient Greece
  • Eyewitness Archaeology
  • Eyewitness Egypt
  • Pyramid (David Macaulay)
  • Eyewitness Greece
  • The Adventures of Odysseus
  • WordlessNews.com
  • Classroom Library

Technology/Library/Enrichment

  • Technology and library use will be integrated into our program throughout the year.
  • Mr. Leidt will join us for technology class as needed, especially focusing on the the appropriate and safe use of Google and social media.
  • Each student has been assigned a ChromeBook along with a password for classroom use.
  • Students will practice and strengthen their typing skills through the use of typing.com.
  • Students will research selected topics, using a variety of sources.
  • We explore ancient history, as well as current events, through multimedia. Students are offered enrichment opportunities that go beyond our classroom lessons through the use of audio/visual presentations, YouTube clips, Wordless News and independent research projects.
  • Google Classroom will be a tool that students will need to rely on for homework assignments and for eventually generating assignments.

Affective Education
Responsive Classroom, Leadership Pillars or C.A.R.E.S. (Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, Self-Control), Choose Love Movement, Reading Buddies, Campus Care, Team Time and Outdoor Education.

2018-2019 C.A.R.E.S. Theme: Assertion
Fifth Grade will participate in a variety of team building activities that encourage leadership, responsibility, risk-taking, and problem-solving. They will engage in Open Circle meetings; Intermediate team meetings with fourth grade; reading buddies with the kindergarten; maintenance of the Intermediate gardens; lessons from the Choose Love Movement, Yoga 4 You; various community service initiatives; and appropriate ropes course challenges.

Our Open Circle meetings follow the Responsive Classroom format and cover a wide range of topics. The meetings are dedicated to the social/emotional growth and development of the whole child by helping them recognize and manage their emotions; developing care, respect, and concern for themselves, others and the world; and fostering a safe, caring and highly-engaged classroom and school community.

Fifth Graders also experience two outdoor education adventures. Our fall event is a trip to Bushy Hill to learn Survival Skills 101. Bushy Hill director and counselors facilitate this event. Come spring time, we head to Deer Lake in Killingworth, CT for an overnight trip, again under the guidance of experienced counselors.

Fifth Grade students also serve as mentors in upholding one of the five leadership pillars that are part of the Affective Ed program. First, we set the stage by discussing what leadership is and what opportunities present themselves at TCS and beyond. We urge students to get involved in the community.

Last year’s leadership pillar was cooperation and this year’s is assertion. Various discussions and activities are planned to offer students a better understanding of what “assertion” looks and feels like. Finally, fifth graders will also set social and academic goals for each trimester, and these goals will be monitored and modified throughout the year by us.

French
Our French program is based around a method of learning called Comprehensible Input (CI). The goal of CI is for students to acquire the language, not just learn about a language or the grammatical structures of a language. We will help students acquire French in much in the same way that those around us taught us our first language, by listening and connecting words and meaning naturally. Because of the nature of CI, we will not depend on a textbook this year, but will depend on students being able to understand the meaning of what is being said or presented to them. It does not mean that teachers must use only words that students understand. In fact, students learn a new language best when they receive input that is just a bit more difficult than they can easily understand. In other words, students may understand most, but not all, words the teacher is using. We will provide students with a variety of sources for comprehensible input, ranging from student created characters and stories, news articles, movies and the Internet. We will also focus on developing reading skills, since this is one of the most valuable sources of input for students. Graded readers and dedicated reading time in class will help students transition into reading authentic texts over the course of their studies. We will also continue to fold in short lessons on grammar and culture. Our primary focus will be on listening and reading, helping students grow into the skills of speaking and writing.

Spanish
Children will improve their Spanish while in grades 4 and 5, expanding their vocabulary and learning basic grammar and expressions. Children will review topics of study from previous years (weather, numbers, colors, etc.), and learn to talk about themselves, their family and the world around them, and begin basic conjugation of verbs. Students will engage in listening, speaking, reading and writing activities.


STEAM

4th Grade

State Expo
Students take part in a state study learning about an assigned state. They create state brochures reflecting their study of state biomes and promoting ecotourism, construct a “Circuit Quilt” (state symbols meet electricity studies), redesign new license plates, create a travel itinerary for their state using Google spreadsheet, design a new state monument, print with Tinkercad and the FlashForge 3D printer, and write a persuasive writing piece. They research environmental issues in various states, what is being done about them, and design ways to solve the problems.

In science students study electric circuitry applications for state greeting cards and fabric art state symbols. They gather climate and weather data and analysis from their chosen state. By studying the state biomes, they promote ecotourism. The research various innovations/inventions from their chosen state, learn about the properties of plaster before building armatures for the plaster cast of a monument they design and build, they wax resist on license plates, and investigate environmental concerns.

Technology class allows them to hone their online researching skills and use of Google applications: inserting links and images, creating a Google spreadsheet for data and itinerary collection, using Google to create a brochure layout and editing, using 3D design with Tinkercad and 3D printing using Tinkercad designs.

In art they view and analyze images of various artists and their designs of monuments across the world. Students create either monuments that represent a unique fact about their state and or design a model of something that would solve one of the state’s environmental problems. They used design elements and principles when organizing license plates and monuments. They visually communicate state information through brochure and essay creation and in music they learn patriotic songs to enhance understanding of the United States.

Math class provides students with opportunities to measure borders for license plates, determine the median of state lettering for license plate design to create a balance, and work with proportions, scale, and balance as a part of the monument creations. Additionally students designed itineraries that included calculating elapsed time and understanding of time zones for scheduling and budgeting for expenses and calculating with decimals. Students price-shop for flights, hotel, and other activities with stretch work including calculating gas mileage and comparing the tax rate of different states. Finally, they analyze weather data using bar and line graphs (temperature and precipitation).

Long Island STEAM Unit
Overview: Students take part in a learning experience about Long Island Sound including a field trip to Grass Island to conduct data collection, collect and analyze information from the online site National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to observe changes and patterns, use Meta-Chart to explore using an online graph creator, and create scientific illustrations and murals of plant and animal life found in the variety of ecosystems of Long Island Sound.

Details: On a field trip to Grass Island, the 3rd Graders used population sampling methods to gather data on common and uncommon organisms of the intertidal zone of Long Island Sound. They collected interesting specimens and shared them with their classmates. The 4th Grade took water samples using hydrometers and indicator strips to test for salinity, nitrates and nitrites in the water of the Sound near Grass Island, and they discussed possible pollution sources in the region. Back at school, 3rd Grade compiled and totaled their data, and shared it with the 4th Graders. They helped set up a saltwater tank to observe spider crabs, hermit crabs, killifish, sea robins, and baby horseshoe crabs. Additionally, they used special magnifying tools called “loupes” to look at specific details of sample organisms from the Sound. Fourth Grade studied several fish species from the Sound such as bunker and false albacore and used the Japanese art of Gyotaku to make prints of their fish. Afterwards, they observed a dissection of a false albacore and studied sample food chains and food webs of the fish of Long Island Sound.

Students used iPads to collect and analyze information from the online site National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration over several weeks to observe changes and patterns. They used Meta-Chart to explore using an online graph creator https://www.meta-chart.com/pie, and listened to a short documentary on James Audubon and his contributions to scientific illustrations.

In the STEAM lab students created scientific illustrations of plant and animal life found in the variety of ecosystems of Long Island Sound. Fourth Graders focused on the five ecosystems of the Sound and researched plant and animal species from each. In Studio A, students designed a harmonious Grass Island mural using collaboration, critical thinking skills, math gridding skills, observation skills, first in pencil and then with paint. Students gained skills in color theory and the color mixing process. Students created this environmental mural on cardboard pizza boxes. This is also directly connected to the 4th Grade’s responsibility of recycling awareness on our campus. Students created fish prints on simulated rice paper and were introduced to printmaking.

In the 4th Grade math classroom, students used the 3rd Grade data collection chart to create graphs. Students learned about bar graphs and pie graphs. They studied the features of these graphs and designed their own. Students also worked with an online graphing program to compare data compiled in a bar graph to a pie chart.


5th Grade

Wind Turbine Renewable Energy Challenge
Students learn about renewable energy sources and wind turbine design. They then sketch-out, plan, engineer, and reengineer their own models. Our wind turbines are designed to be mounted outside, as an art installation, with the capability to power a 2 volt LED diode. This final prototype is made from PVC pipe, aluminum metal rubberized with colorful electrical tape, and ball bearings.

The Story of US
A 4th and 5th Grade personal narrative/altered book project requiring self examination and involving reading, writing, engineering, visual art, music design, and global language.

60 Years of Changes: Plant and Animal Life Through Time (Three Geological Eras)
In science students learned about how the earth was formed and how life evolved over 4.6 billion years. They were introduced to fossil record and radioactive dating, they delved into researching various plants and animals from this time period, and they created 3D wire sculptures.