The Lower School curriculum is a balanced program designed to teach each student at his or her developmental level. In designing the program, we start with the question, “Who is the learner?” in order to develop age-appropriate curriculum and teaching methods for each grade. At the same time, we base each grade on a solid academic core designed to prepare our students for the next level in a rigorous continuum that stretches from 1st through 5th Grades. At every level we cultivate adventurous minds.
Who is the Learner?
First graders are eager, motivated, and inquisitive learners. They thrive on encouragement and delight in doing. Process is more important and has more value to the child than the finished product. During first grade, children make the transition to more logical thinking and teaching through games that strengthens learning patterns. Peer relationships become increasingly important and children’s school environment provides significant influence in their lives.
The curriculum builds on competencies the children have developed in Kindergarten. The program is a balance of literature, phonics, and skill-based instruction. Children are introduced to a broad range of literature and respond to their readings through talk, writing, art, and drama. Reading aloud to the children remains an integral part of the literacy experience in first grade. The children are encouraged to experiment with language and to find their own voices as authors. Process writing is introduced, in which students go through the stages of planning, writing, editing, and publishing their work. As a result of our language arts program and the child’s individual development, first grade students move naturally from inventive to more conventional spelling.
The Everyday Mathematics program expands upon the concepts that were introduced in Kindergarten. Comparing, patterning, counting, place value, and numeral formation reinforce addition and subtraction skills and introduce students to the process of regrouping when adding and subtracting. Units of measurement, geometry, identification of simple fractions, time, and money are repeated throughout the year in a spiral fashion. Activities are developed to enable students to apply mathematical skills to problem solving and reasoning situations.
Social studies expand the student’s awareness of the world through a variety of themes. The units of study include the concepts of self and friendship, fall harvest, holidays, night, and the geography of the United States. These themes enable first graders to better understand their unique role in their environment.
First Grade Specials:
The first grade music program develops vocal, instrumental, and literacy skills through singing, listening, playing, and reading activities. The areas of conceptual development are rhythm, melody, tempo, meter, notation, form, and part work. Individual musicianship and creativity are fostered through utilization of pitch-matching exercises, solo-singing, game songs, improvisation, and ensemble work on barred and small percussion instruments. Many different musical styles, genres, and cultures are represented in the listening and vocal repertoires. Songs are oriented toward the seasons, holidays, class plays, Lower School projects, and the first grade classroom curriculum. Theory concepts, basic ear training, and knowledge of instruments are also reinforced through use of new computer programs. Outside the classroom, students have numerous opportunities to perform at assemblies, concerts, and class plays.
The first graders’ fine and gross motor skills have developed enough to enable them to take on more challenging projects and learn to use new materials and tools. The student is now able to follow a sequence of directions independently. At this age, social interactions are very important and the ability to work well with others is emphasized. The first grade student recognizes colors and is now learning to differentiate between warm and cool colors. Both two- and three-dimensional projects are assigned. Previously introduced art concepts continue to be reinforced while new concepts are added.
The science curriculum involves the study of earth, physical, and life sciences. Topics covered in first grade include air, water, rocks, soil, seasons, measurement, chemistry, plants, and the human body. We concentrate on basic science principles and make links between concepts. Important science process skills are introduced and practiced throughout the year. Discovery learning is emphasized through the use of hands-on explorations and discussions. Language arts skills and a variety of teaching methods are used to identify and meet the needs of all learners.
The Lower School computer program revolves around the academic curriculum and the developmental levels of the students. The program uses the computer as a tool for academic learning as well as for teaching clearly defined technology skills. The program emphasizes discovery learning and problem solving that enrich the academic curriculum. All computer applications are taught through thematic, project-based methods. First grade students have one regularly scheduled computer lab period per week and access to computers in their classrooms. Their subject and classroom teachers can schedule additional lab time for the entire class. By the end of first grade, students will: demonstrate basic keyboard knowledgeuse software for tutorials, along with drill and practiceconduct Internet activities safely and ethicallybe able to word-process a document, add pictures, save, and printbecome familiar with spreadsheet conceptsaccess the Shipley networkuse electronic encyclopediassave to the networkcreate a multimedia presentationcontribute to the design of a Web pagebe able to complete a grade appropriate Internet scavenger hunthave knowledge of a scanner
The first grade students expand their movement skills to include qualities of space and time by learning to move in different directions at varying speeds. The program is one of movement education, concentrating on developing basic locomotion skills, body awareness, and ball handling skills. The best results come from learning the skill correctly the first time and through continuous repetition. Emphasis is placed on listening, following directions, and cooperation. Our intent is to increase each student’s level of physical fitness and enhance his or her self-image through active participation in class.
review library policies and procedures with emphasis on check-out and the maintenance of shelf order. Strategies to locate a particular book are introduced on an informal level. Appropriate literature is read and discussed. Participation in the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award program continues in first grade. Nominated books are read to the class and students vote for their favorite.
Who is the Learner?
Second graders are very curious and love to be challenged. The second grader is an eager learner who is expanding his or her concrete concepts through exploration and problem solving with various materials. Through hands-on activities, exploration, reading, and discussion, he or she establishes links between past experiences and new ideas. Second grade students like to do things well and be praised for their accomplishments. Receiving recognition, honesty and truthfulness are also important at this level. The development of a broader perspective allows the child to find his or her place in the world and to gain a stronger sense of self.
ArtsThe language arts curriculum is a literature-based approach generally taught in small groups using a combination of whole language, balanced literacy, and skill-based instruction. Children are asked to respond to a broad range of literature through hands-on activities, discussion, art, and drama. The day includes both silent reading and read aloud time. The process writing method of planning, writing, editing, and publishing is used in creative, journal, and report writing assignments. The students are introduced to a formal spelling program. This is a phonics-based approach that includes weekly mastery of a particular phonics pattern. Cursive handwriting is introduced in January.
The mathematics curriculum is a continuation of the Everyday Mathematics program. This is a very hands-on method that allows the students to use critical thinking skills to experience a variety of problem-solving techniques. Units on number awareness, number patterns, and place value will help prepare the students for addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers. Throughout the year we will work on time and money concepts. In addition, each child will have the opportunity to begin exploring fractions, measurement, and geometry.Social StudiesThe major focus of our curriculum is the study of the Native Americans in the regions of the United States. We begin with basic map skills and geography concepts that will be used as we move from region to region. Students will explore the historical and geographical aspects of the coastal plain, the mountains, the tundra, the prairie, the swamp and the desert. The concepts of exploration, change, culture, tradition, transportation, homes, animals, and vegetation are introduced. The students study the journey of the Pilgrims and their trip on the Mayflower. Second graders also learn developmentally appropriate study and research skills, which they use to gather information for a research project.
The Lower School music curriculum in second grade builds on the musical foundations begun in Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and first grade. A love of singing, appreciation for music, and a mastery of new concepts and skills is a continued focus. Introduction to both recorder and Orff instruments gives the second grader opportunities to create melodies and ostinato patterns. Meter, form, and the musical phrase are taught using creative movement, singing, playing classroom instruments, and conducting. Curriculum integration in math, social studies, language arts, and science enables students to make connections with the world around them. Computer programs such as Music Ace, Professor Piccolo, and Menlo the Frog reinforce the music curriculum. Performing opportunities at Shipley include Friday assemblies, all-school assemblies, winter concerts, and a second grade play.
The second grade student has become fairly proficient with many different art tools. New and more challenging techniques are now being introduced. Art concepts that he or she has been working with in previous grades continue to be a part of the curriculum on a more challenging level. The second grader is beginning to notice and depict details as his or her perceptual awareness increases. Process over product is still emphasized. It is critical for students to work at developing good work habits, caring for materials, and respecting others and their property
The science curriculum involves the expansion of previous units and introduces new units in the earth, physical, and life sciences. Topics covered in second grade include insects, the characteristics and needs of living things, changes in the earth, electricity, rocks, measurement, the human body, and nutrition. The second grade student has a lengthening attention span and the teaching methods of discussion and direct teaching are thus more productive and impart more meaning. Students gradually acquire the ability to solve problems by generalizing from concrete experiences. Through guidance and praise, the children are encouraged to become independent learners.
The Lower School computer program revolves around the academic curriculum and the developmental levels of the students. The program uses the computer as a tool for academic learning as well as for teaching clearly defined technology skills. We emphasize discovery learning and problem solving that enrich the academic curriculum. All computer applications are taught through thematic, project-based methods. Second grade students have one regularly scheduled computer lab period per week and access to computers in their classrooms. Their subject and classroom teachers can schedule additional lab time for the entire class. By the end of second grade, students will have increased proficiency in the skills that they learned in first grade in order to: demonstrate basic keyboard knowledgeuse software for tutorial, drill and practice, as well as gaining new conceptsconduct Internet activities safely and ethicallyword-process a document, apply styles, add pictures, save, and printbe familiar with spreadsheet conceptsaccess the Shipley networkuse electronic encyclopediassave to the networkcreate a multimedia presentationcontribute to the design of a Web pagecomplete a grade-appropriate Internet scavenger hunthave knowledge of a scanner.
tudents at the second grade level explore movement patterns with a partner to define movement in relation to another person, shape, group or group shape. They are very active and their attention span is significantly longer than it was in first grade. They are more interested in group activities and group play. They are very curious and love to be challenged. Varieties of activities are organized to provide continued improvement with hand and eye and perceptual/motor coordination. At this age, students like to do things well and be admired and praised for their accomplishments. Receiving recognition, honesty, and truthfulness are also important at this level. In teaching physical education, we design activities to reinforce skills that have been taught while taking into consideration the current developmental concerns of the students. During the fitness component, the students are introduced to the concepts and components of physical fitness.
In library orientation, students review all policies and procedures. Students participate in the Public Library Choice award program. Nominated books are read to the class and students vote for their favorite. Locating skills are discussed as children become more independent.
Second graders are presented with enough basic greeting vocabulary to engage in a brief but authentic French dialogue. The children recite and sing the French alphabet and learn to identify family members and other useful vocabulary. The prevalence of French as a world language and the numerous and diverse peoples of five continents for whom French is a primary or secondary as well as a national language are discussed. Recall and recognition skills are assessed throughout the year. Our main goal is twofold: to develop oral-aural skills and to foster an environment in which language learning is engaging and fun.
Who is the Learner?
Third graders are industrious, gregarious, and inquisitive. They readily become engrossed in classroom activities and love to socialize while working. Students at this level are beginning to master basic skills in all areas of the curriculum and are also developing a sense of competence in applying these skills. During their year in third grade, students become more independent, logical thinkers.
The third grade curriculum is built around genres of literature. We read books in various genres including realistic fiction, poetry, biography, fantasy, and mystery, as well as non-fiction books in the curriculum content areas. Whole language and the acquisition of basic skills are integral to instruction in both reading and writing. Children keep literature response journals to demonstrate literal, inferential, and evaluative levels of comprehension. [Using the writing process, the children write and pieces of their writing.] The third grade year marks the transition from print to cursive handwriting. Spelling instruction includes words taken from daily writing, the curriculum content areas, and our spelling program that is phonics-based.
The goal of the Everyday Mathematics program in third grade is for the students to experience the joy and fascination of mathematics as they build conceptual understanding and computational skills. Our program focuses on math reasoning and mastery of basic facts. Activities involve logical thinking, ordering, problem solving, grouping, and estimating. Through a hands-on approach to learning, will cover:computationfractionsmeasurementplace valuedecimalsword problemsgeometry
Our focus in social studies is geography and specific regions of the world including Australia, Africa, and South America. Children learn about the cultural aspects of each area, including location, language and vocabulary, crafts, music, art and literature.
Third Grade Specials
The third grade music curriculum encourages a love of singing, movement, listening, note reading, and the playing of simple instruments. In addition, we emphasize exposure to many types of music and mastery of certain basic skills and concepts. Through a variety of activities, each child's inherent musicality and creativity are encouraged. Five areas of conceptual development in the third grade music curriculum are rhythm, melody, meter and tempo, notation, form, and part work. Performing opportunities throughout the year include Friday assemblies, all-school assemblies, a winter and spring concert, and classroom plays. Curriculum integration connects music with third grade studies. For example, a study of music and instruments of Japan, Australia, and Africa is designed to coincide with the third grade social studies curriculum. The computer software programs Music Ace, Professor Piccolo, and Making More Music reinforce the curriculum.
Upon entering third grade, the students’ motor skills are considerably well developed. The third grader wants to and, by and large, is capable of taking on new and more difficult lessons with enthusiasm and confidence. The student is beginning to be able to move from the concrete to the abstract. Process over product is still emphasized, but the third grader is becoming increasingly critical of the end result in relationship to his or her peers’ efforts. Working well with others, proper care of materials and tools, and being respectful of others and their property continue to be emphasized.
The science curriculum becomes more focused than in previous grades and the units in earth, physical, and life science are studied in more depth. Topics covered in third grade include air and water pollution, trash and land use, matter, energy, measurement, the human body, and nutrition. Third grade students continue to be in the concrete operational stage of cognitive development, yet they are more aware of the world around them. The environmental science units require the use of problem solving skills and exercising critical thinking to make informed decisions.
The Lower School computer program revolves around the academic curriculum and the developmental levels of the students. The program uses the computer as a tool for academic learning as well as for teaching clearly defined technology skills. The program emphasizes discovery learning and problem solving that enriches the academic curriculum. All computer applications are taught through thematic, project-based methods. Third grade students have two regularly scheduled computer lab periods per week and access to computers in their classrooms. Their subject and classroom teachers can schedule additional lab time for the entire class. By the end of third grade, students will:have knowledge of computer terminology understand computer hardwarede monstrate correct keyboarding techniquesuse software for tutorial along with drill and practice conduct Internet activities safely and ethicallybe able to word-process a document, apply styles, add pictures, save, and printcreate a databasebe familiar with spreadsheet conceptslog onto the Shipley networksave to the hard drivecreate multimedia presentations contribute to the design of a web pagehave knowledge of a scanner and digital camera.
Students in third grade combine and sequence movement skills to create patterns that demonstrate continuity and change. They are very curious and love to be challenged. Their reaction time continues to develop but is still considered to be slow. A variety of activities are organized to provide continued improveme
Second Grade Specials
nt in this area along with hand and eye and perceptual/motor coordination. At this age, students like to do things well and be admired and praised for their accomplishments. Receiving recognition, honesty, and truthfulness are also important at this level. In teaching physical education, activities are designed to reinforce skills that have been taught while taking into consideration the current development concerns of the students. During the fitness component, the students are learning how to use pedometers and why movement is an important part of physical fitness.LibraryLibrary orientation reviews all policies and procedures. Students participate in the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award program. Some nominated books are read to the class and others can be borrowed individually. Third graders become more familiar with the electronic card catalog and more adept at finding a book on the shelf without assistance. There are several research programs available on CD for this age group and they will be introduced to the appropriate research skills included in the Louisiana Library database. Modern LanguageThe third grader can now use the French alphabet to take simple dictation and to spell aloud words in guessing games. Students play games to sharpen color, animal, and other conversational vocabulary. Since an understanding of diversity is directly related to language learning, third graders listen to music of Francophone peoples from Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe.
Like all art forms, drama is involved with both individuality and communication. It enriches the imagination while providing an outlet for creative expression. The theatre program in grade three includes motivational activities involving emotional expression, exercises in body language and vocal effects, appropriate response to social cues, pantomime and improvisation, script reading, and a myriad of dramatic games and experiences all aimed at developing self-confidence and ease of oral expression, as well as encouraging the joy and freedom of creativity through theatrical exposure. The third grade spends a good deal of time on improvisational dialogues and ad-lib techniques. All experiences serve to hone life skills. The children have opportunities to perform for audiences at assemblies and plays throughout the year. .
Who is the learner?
The fourth grade learner is a friendly, happy student who is talkative and inquisitive. The learner displays a strong sense of justice, truthfulness, and fairness. A fourth grader is usually good at solving problems, particularly those involving social issues. The learner is cooperative, affectionate, and loyal. Routine, rules, and structure are important to children in this grade. The learner is industrious, focuses well, and is conscientious about schoolwork. He or she is an eager student of factual information. The student enjoys classification, exactness, and organization. Working in small groups on projects is both enjoyable and productive.
The fourth grade reading program includes fiction and historical fiction selections. The historical fiction books are related to the major topics studied in American history, providing our students with a richer understanding of how people lived during a particular time in our country. Understanding and appreciating each selection is accomplished through discussion, written responses, artistic interpretations, and drama. Skills taught include recalling details and main ideas, sequencing, summarizing, drawing conclusions, making inferences, determining cause and effect, and identifying themes. The children do creative and expository writing using the process writing approach. Mini-lessons in grammar and writing skills are taught at the beginning of writing workshop. Our spelling program teaches and reinforces spelling patterns.
We use Everyday Mathematics as our basic program. The goal is to provide rich learning experiences that are anchored in real life situations. We build on the knowledge the children bring with them, as well as introduce and foster mastery of many new concepts. Most skills are interwoven and reviewed throughout the year. Major areas covered include:computation in all four operationsplace valuemoneyfractionsdecimalsgeometrymeasurementproblem solving
The fourth grade curriculum focuses on American history and includes study of the thirteen colonies with an emphasis on Pennsylvania, the Revolutionary War, the Constitution and the U.S. government, westward expansion, and the Civil War. We use a social studies textbook and many other written materials. The children are taught a wide variety of study skills, including summarizing, outlining, note taking, and test preparation. Higher level thinking skills are emphasized throughout their studies of the various units. Enrichment is provided through special projects, guest speakers, and field trips.
Fourth Grade Specials
The fourth grade music curriculum continues to build on five areas of conceptual development: melody, meter/tempo, notation, form, and part work. Students work with duple, triple, and compound meter and the musical forms: ABA, fugue, rondo, and theme and variation. Fourth graders practice two- and three-part rhythm exercises, sing rounds in two and three parts, and practice chord construction. In addition to learning how to notate simple melodies and rhythm patterns, the children refine their skills by playing Orff, recorder, and other classroom instruments. Throughout the year, music is integrated into the fourth grade study of Colonial America, the Revolutionary War and the Westward Expansion. For the fourth graders, the instruments and songs of the early settlers provide great insight into the hearts of our fore fathers. Computer programs continue to be used as enrichment. Friday assemblies, all-school assemblies, winter and spring choral concerts, advanced vocal ensemble, a recorder ensemble and string ensembles complete the curriculum and performance options. The computer programs Music Ace and Making More Music reinforce the music curriculum.
Fourth and Fifth Grade String EnsembleThis music elective is offered to students in grades four and five. It provides aninstrumental opportunity for those who would like to improve their recorder technique, strengthen their reading skills, and perform with others in a chamber setting. Improvement of technique is accomplished by the establishment of good breathing habits, correct posture and fingerings, methods of articulation, and attention to dynamic, tempo, and other musical markings. Ensemble skills include learning how to achieve a balance with other members of the group, playing solos, and playing more than one part. Although all students begin on the soprano recorder, many also elect to learn alto, tenor, or bass once they have demonstrated moderate proficiency on the soprano. Repertoire for the recorder ensemble is drawn from Medieval through Romantic periods; contemporary pieces are selected from Broadway musicals, popular songs, folk tunes, and holiday repertoire. Throughout the year, the recorder ensemble performs at St. John Academy School assemblies and concerts, as well as at off-campus events.
The fourth grade artist is now beginning to understand the relationship between 2-D and 3-D space. Students begin to compare their work with peers and recognize differences. This is an important time to keep projects open-ended, encouraging many different answers to each lesson. Basic art elements continue to be our building blocks, but with more emphasis on mastering the media. Some art history will provide a venue for learning how the art elements are used and to introduce ways to look at art, talk about art, and consider the purpose of art.
The study of earth, physical, and life science continues in more depth than in previous grades. Topics covered in fourth grade include ecology and animal behavior, owls, measurement, electricity, nutrition, and changing land forms. The use of science process skills is balanced with the acquisition of knowledge and discovery-based learning experiences. Fourth grade students are between the concrete operational and the formal operational stages of cognitive development. Tests and quizzes are used as assessment tools and the emphasis is placed on test preparation rather than the end result.
The Lower School computer program revolves around the academic curriculum and the developmental levels of the students. The program uses the computer as a tool for cognitive learning as well as for teaching clearly defined technology skills. The program emphasizes discovery learning and problem solving that enriches the academic curriculum. All computer applications are taught through thematic, project-based methods. Fourth grade students have two regularly scheduled computer lab periods per week, access to computers in their classrooms, and the entire class can be scheduled for additional lab time by their subject teachers. By the end of fourth grade, students will:have knowledge of computer terminologyunderstand computer hardwaredemonstrate correct keyboarding techniquesbe able to produce, save and print word-processed documentsuse software for tutorial along with drill and practicecreate and search a databasecreate a spreadsheet and chartuse electronic encyclopediaslog onto the Shipley Networkconduct Internet activities safely and ethicallysave to the hard drivecreate multimedia presentationscontribute to the design of a web pagehave working knowledge of a scanner and digital camera.
Fourth graders are growing steadily and their muscular coordination and skills are consistently improving. Students focus on demonstrating the correct technique for object manipulation. The emphasis throughout this experience is on learning the correct technique for manipulating the object rather than on the result of the object manipulation. Students work as partners within small groups. Peer acceptance, sportsmanship, independence, and recognition are of great importance. They enjoy team and group activities, as well as sports and sport-related activities. They are competitive, active, noisy, and inquisitive. They are learning and experiencing valuable concepts and skills, some of which include competition, sportsmanship, beneficial social interaction, self-discipline, and leadership abilities. During the fitness component, the students are evaluated and tested to measure the level of their fitness and skills compared to other students their age.
The year begins with orientation to review all policies and procedures. Students have a scheduled time to borrow and return books each week throughout the year. In addition, there is one period each week scheduled in October, January, and March for the teaching of library skills, to review in depth the Spectrum online card catalog, and for an introduction to the Dewey Decimal System and research skills. Students are also introduced to several of the age-appropriate research tools available on the Access New Orleans and Jefferson Parish Library site. Flexible scheduling will then permit students to use the library resources for research projects directed by their teachers and the librarian throughout the year.
Modern LanguageThe fourth grade French student creates a dialogue with a partner and recites it before the class. Students learn to describe themselves and others by using adjectives that are cognates with English. They learn the days of the week and the months of the year. We review numbers orally and in written form to the millions. Body part vocabulary is introduced and reinforced through “Simon Says” games. An environment is created and fostered in which the dynamic work of language learning remains unthreatening and engaging.
Who is the Learner?
The fifth grade learner is one in transition, both intellectually and emotionally. Having mastered basic decoding and comprehension skills, the learner is developing from concrete to abstract thinking at a more accelerated pace, highlighted by the application of more inferential and critical thinking skills. Fifth graders are able to function more independently and assume greater responsibility for their own learning. They possess an increased awareness of themselves as learners. Peer relationships, as well as peer approval, become increasingly important.
The language arts curriculum builds upon the competencies the children have developed in earlier grades. The reading portion of the program is literature-based and students respond to their reading through writing, discussion, and projects. Writing is a large component of the curriculum as children continue to hone writing process skills practiced in earlier grades. Students are asked to experiment with different kinds of writing, such as narrative, expository, descriptive, and persuasive. Students work in a formal spelling and language, and grammar skills are taught within the context of the student’s reading and writing.
The fifth grade math program continues Everyday Mathematics and builds upon the skills and knowledge gained in earlier grades. Greater depth and understanding of such core topics as decimals, fractions, percentages, ratio, geometry and measurement will be pursued, closely following the standards and goals established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. By the end of the year, students are expected to be competent mathematical problem-solvers and able mathematical communicators, applying appropriate vocabulary and concepts in context. Strategies and methods that will help accomplish the goals include working in large and small groups, using manipulatives, lectures, and playing math games.
Social studies in grade five focuses on the science of archaeology and the study of ancient civilizations. A framework is established defining a civilization and common elements of all cultures, both ancient and modern. Geography instruction centers on the themes of location, place, human environment, interaction and region. Historical facts are presented, along with the means by which this information was discovered by archaeologists. To further help them understand the work of archaeologists, students participate in a simulated “dig” each year. The goals of the social studies program are to help students understand common elements of all cultures, appreciate the accomplishments and contributions of ancient civilizations, and develop a sense of historical perspective, while widening their view of the world through history.
The fifth grade curriculum focuses on both physical and life science. Students learn about the principles of ecology and study several specific ecosystems, including oceans, wetlands, and forests. “Mystery powders” provide an opportunity for students to work in groups to design and carry out experiments to identify an unknown substance. Human sexuality, particularly in the context of their own development, is explored in the spring semester. Throughout the year and in a variety of settings, students are encouraged to question their assumptions, observe carefully, and reformulate their thinking when appropriate. Students write about their experiences in science in order to develop their ability to express what they learn. A goal of the fifth grade science program is to heighten each student’s interest in the natural world and to strengthen his or her base of knowledge.
Fifth Grade SpecialsFourth and Fifth Grade String Ensemble
This music elective is offered to students in grades four and five. It provides an instrumental opportunity for those who would like to improve their recorder technique, strengthen their reading skills, and perform with others in a chamber setting. Improvement of technique is accomplished by the establishment of good breathing habits, correct posture and fingerings, methods of articulation, and attention to dynamic, tempo, and other musical markings. Ensemble skills include learning how to achieve a balance with other members of the group, playing solos, and playing more than one part. Although all students begin on the soprano recorder, many also elect to learn either alto or tenor once they have demonstrated moderate proficiency on the soprano. Repertoire for the recorder ensemble is drawn from the Medieval through Romantic periods; contemporary pieces are selected from Broadway musicals, popular songs, folk tunes, and holiday repertoire.
Individual growth in the areas of conceptualizing, technical skills, creativity. and personal interest are becoming more apparent. Emphasis is placed on using art as a means to create personal statements. There is more peer comparison now, so the art environment must remain safe and supportive, honoring differences and encouraging artistic risk-taking. Art history continues to offer ways to see the world and question the purpose and use of art today and in the past. This is a time when all the creative skills are coming together. Students can be independent but love working in collaboration with their fellow students. They have earned more freedom with materials and decision making. They are truly learning the reward of self-expression.
The Lower School computer program revolves around the academic curriculum and the developmental levels of the students. The program uses the computer as a tool for academic learning as well as for teaching clearly defined technology skills. The program emphasizes discovery learning and problem solving that enriches the academic curriculum and all computer applications are taught through thematic, project-based methods. Fifth grade students have two regularly scheduled computer lab periods per week and access to computers in their classrooms. The entire class can be scheduled for additional lab time by their subject teachers. By the end of fifth grade, students will:have knowledge of computer terminology, understand computer hardware, demonstrate correct keyboarding techniques, be able to produce, save and print word-processed documents, use software for tutorial along with drill and practice, create and search a database, create a spreadsheet and chart, use electronic encyclopedias, access the Shipley Network, conduct Internet activities safely and ethically save to the Shipley Network, create multimedia presentations, contribute to the design of a web page, have the skills to conduct basic web searching, be able to create their own web page for the school’s Intranet using Site Central, make a brochure using Microsoft Publisher, be able to complete a grade-appropriate Web Quest, properly cite Internet text, images and sounds, understand the concepts of video-conferencing, have knowledge of a scanner and digital camera
Fifth graders are at the “golden age” of skill development. They are growing steadily with their muscular coordination and improving skills. The qualities of accuracy and speed in object manipulation are emphasized. Groups expand to include three or four students. Peer acceptance, sportsmanship, independence, and recognition are of great importance. They enjoy team and group activities as well as sports and sport-related activities. They are competitive, active, noisy, and inquisitive. They are learning and experiencing valuable concepts and skills, some of which include competition, sportsmanship, beneficial social interaction, and self-discipline and leadership abilities. During the fitness component, the students are evaluated and tested to measure the level of their fitness and skills compared to other students their age.
Library orientation begins with a review of all policies and procedures. Students have the opportunity to borrow and return books each week throughout the year. In addition, fifth grade students come to the library for one period each week during the late fall to review all skills taught in the previous year, including the Spectrum online card catalog, searching strategies, and the Dewey Decimal System. New lessons include the concepts of copyright law and plagiarism, deciphering URLs, and web site evaluation. Students are introduced to the age-appropriate research tools available on the Access Jefferson/ Orleans Library database. Flexible scheduling permits them to use the library resources to work on research projects directed by their teachers and the librarian throughout the year.
Fifth graders expand their French vocabulary as they can translate a limited menu written in French and interpret when grocery shopping and completing their transaction. Students also learn to tell time on the 24-hour clock. Written French is practiced more regularly than it has been previously and students work with a partner to create and present a grammatically proper dialogue incorporating their collective French vocabulary. Fifth grade is a time to broaden the base of French while using it to explore new language horizons. Students are introduced to Spanish as they are asked to compare cognates from the two languages. As their knowledge of Spanish increases, by the end of the school year they can create and recite a dialogue in which they successfully use both French and Spanish in authentic conversation. The Middle School years are an exceptional time in the life of the student. Physical, hormonal, social, emotional, neurological, and cognitive development happens almost daily. As the adolescent brain grows with increasing speed, students need clear boundaries, goals, guidance, and empathy. This is what we provide in an academically challenging, developmentally appropriate environment. St John Academy Middle School is the transition between the solid academic foundation of Lower School and the rigorous college preparation of Upper School. Our students explore their questions and interests as they discover their full potentials—intellectual, artistic, athletic, and human. Our seasoned faculty work with each individual student to explore across boundaries and to find new possibilities for achievement and building lives of learning and compassionate participation in the world.
Our academic curriculum promotes educational excellence. It is developed with the adolescent brain and learning styles in mind. Our curriculum offers an array of courses complemented with a variety of co-curricular courses that challenge students’ intellect, allow them to explore their passions, and promote intellectual curiosity so they can be life-long learners in an interconnected world. Our Middle School program features :A three-year curriculum for grades 6, 7, and 8 based in research on adolescent learning that promotes critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, collaboration, and cooperation. Small classes with personalized instruction in which students are well-known by their teachers.A culture promoting ethical and moral decision-making and a commitment to character education emphasizing respect, responsibility, and leadership.An advisory program in which students learn self-advocacy and students and teachers work together to build strong relationships.A diverse, inclusive, coeducational environment where students learn to respect and find meaning in both their cultural and individual differences and their common humanity.
Middle School Opportunities Middle School provides a unique educational experience for students during a pivotal developmental time in their lives. At the center of a challenging, diverse, and dynamic program is a core curriculum specifically tailored for young adolescents. The program provides attention to students’ academic and social needs and opportunities for them to find their passions in optional special-interest topics.
Vibrant Music Arts and Theater Arts Programs : Students can participate in the Middle School musical production each year or join any of our musical ensembles including chorus, wind ensemble, and strings ensemble.
Sleuth Class: Students are detectives, using science and logic to figure out what happened. Working in teams, they examine crime scene evidence and record observations. Then they use interviews and tests to get more information. In time, they hope to figure out the solution to the crime. But, they need to sort through the information very carefully; there may be some superficial or misleading evidence.
Design Class: encompasses a multidisciplinary approach to addressing a “real world” design problem. During the process of tackling this task, students learn that the artificial boundaries between different academic disciplines do not truly exist beyond the walls of academic institutions. Our process involves exploring the history of design; information gathering for programmatic considerations through research, interviewing, and site documentation; conceptual design work using modeling and loose free-hand drawing; and final design work involving finished drawing, models, and other presentation tools. Each team will be expected to give a final design presentation of their ideas.
Advisory Program: The advisor/student relationship is an important feature of Middle School life. The role of the advisor is to check in with students to make sure they are able to navigate their way successfully in the Middle School. The advisor is someone to whom a student can go for assistance of any sort such as help talking to another teacher, advice on social situations, suggestions to alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed with homework, or any other area in which a student feels the need for guidance. Advisors are also valuable contact people for parents. They are the faculty members who meet with parents at parent/teacher conferences in the fall and spring.
Student Support Services: Our student support services are designed to help students achieve academic excellence. Working with our learning coordinators and counselors, our students have opportunities to develop their individual academic and social/emotional potential in a curriculum especially attuned to the changing adolescent brain.