Each day, our Upper Elementary classrooms are alive with the energy and enthusiasm that our students bring! These years are a time of exploration, promise, challenge and opportunity, and Country Day School’s World School program is designed to promote this exploration, nurture individual thought, and seize opportunities. The Upper Elementary provides a supportive environment that allows students in 4th and 5th grades to explore, experiment, and engage with their world. The academic program in the Upper Elementary is designed to develop the skills and discipline of strong students. In all classes, primary emphasis is placed on the process of learning through advanced curriculum. The 4th and 5th grade programs are designed to allow for a gradual transition from the Montessori School environment to preparatory design of instruction.
Upper Elementary Curriculum
Active learning is at the heart of every Upper Elementary classroom. Through hands-on, experiential, and real-world application, our teachers encourage students to become self-directed learners, connect concepts across disciplines, and explore creative thinking through a variety of interactive projects. Expand and explore the sections below for more details.
The 4th and 5th grade English program focuses on developing students’ reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Reading units are formed around independently chosen novels as well as whole-class texts and explore the development of character, setting and plot. In poetry, students investigate writing devices and figurative language. Throughout the year, they explore elements of narrative, persuasive, and expository writing. A word study program supports the teaching of vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
Units of Study
- Short Stories (Greek Mythology): themes, writing styles, author’s purpose; reaction to current culture; conflicts; symbolism; foreshadowing; predictions; compare/contrast; context clues (comprehension strategies; fact vs. opinion); importance of bold beginnings; sentence types.
- Book Clubs & Discussions: fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, graphic novels; connecting to text; main ideas & supporting ideas; levels of questioning (higher-order thinking); reader response & establishing reading identity.
- Research (e.g. Social Studies research; photojournalism; 5-paragraph essay
- Writing: persuasive, explanatory, creative, research, compare/contrast, & literary papers; Writing Response Groups; year-long Writing Portfolio; stages of writing; writing rubrics; development of writing “voice”; mastery of grammatical skills; mastery of organizational skills; effectively communicating ideas; strategies to strengthen sentences; cursive & keyboarding instruction.
- Vocabulary, Spelling, Root Words, & Grammar: reading comprehension; prefix, root, & suffix study; grammar study of common errors, including colons, independent/dependent clauses, commas in a sequence.
- Plays: (Study of Shakespeare) play types; character development; symbolism; foreshadowing; themes; play writing; performance; developing dialogue in writing; creation of original Greek Myth play; composition, direction, and performance of original “Shakespeare-style” play.
- Speech & Speech Writing (study of historical speeches): personal “I Have a Dream” speeches; interpersonal skills, discussions, performances, presentations, and projects.
- Novels (e.g. science fiction, author studies): summary; setting; symbolism; analysis of actions of characters; analysis of conflict; details of plot; foreshadowing; predictions; character analysis (dynamic/ static; protagonist/ antagonist); Accelerated Reader technology.
- Poetry (classic & modern poetry); lyric poetry, elegy, concrete poetry, dramatic monologue, sonnet, & free verse; analysis of form, figurative language, imagery, & sound devices.
- Informational Reading & Test Prep: informational reading; ability to understand informational material; test taking strategies; argument; persuasion; fact/opinion; summarize; bias; patterns of organization; author’s perspective; text features; note taking; graphic aids; inferences.
Students develop their mathematical skills through hands-on activities, problem solving and collaboration. They use concrete materials to build an understanding of new concepts. In addition to computation work, they learn to estimate, solve problems with multiple steps, and work in teams. Technology is often incorporated to extend thinking and reinforce progress. Students gain familiarity with fractions and decimals, geometric ideas surrounding two-dimensional shapes, and place value.
- Points, Lines, & Rays
- Measure, Draw, & Classify Angles
- Triangles, Circles, & Solid Figures
- Reflections, Rotations, & Translations
- Model Building; Problem-Solving
- Symmetry Nets
Measurement & Data
- Measurements Concepts
- Customary Unit of Length, Weight, & Capacity
- Measurement Addition & Subtraction
- Pattern Problem-Solving
- Area of Parallelograms & Triangles
- Circumference of a Circle
- Surface Area, Volume, & Formula Use
- Fractions & Mixed Numbers
- Equivalent Fractions & Simplest Form
- Use Logical Reasoning
- Relate Fractions, Mixed Numbers, & Decimals
- Compare & Order Fractions & Decimals
- Estimate with Fractions
- Addition & Subtraction with Like & Unlike Denominators
- Diagram Drawing
Number & Operations in Base Ten
- Place Value through Hundred Billions
- Powers of Ten
- Compare, Order, & Round Decimals
- Algebra: Expressions & Addition Properties
- Estimate Sums & Difference
- Add and Subtract Whole & Greater Numbers
Operations & Algebraic Thinking: Multiplication
- Expressions & Multiplication Properties
- Model the Distributive Property
- Logical Reasoning
- Double Digit Multiplication
- Patterns in Multiples of 10
- Estimation of Products & Quotients
Operations & Algebraic Thinking: Division
- One- and Two-Digit Divisors
- Use Operations
- Quotients with Zeros
- Solving of Equations
- Divide by Multiples of 10, 100, 1000
- Working Backwards to Solve Problems
- Order of Operations
- Remainder Interpretation
- Prime & Composite Numbers
- Prime Factorization
- Greatest Common Factor
- Least Common Multiple
In their study of science, students work both collaboratively and independently as they perform experiments to support their study of earth and its structure, earth in space, and matter and motion. Through hands-on explorations and investigations, they become familiar with the scientific method and with metric measurement. Rubrics, student self-assessment and portfolios are integral to both the design and evaluation of all classwork, homework and special projects. Integration of technology allows for development of media and Internet literacy skills and extension of scientific inquiry by generating guiding questions to help them analyze evidence-based claims. Class pets, including a bearded dragon, yellow belly turtle, red footed tortoise, red ear slider, hermit crabs, and monarch butterfly garden allow for experiential learning and investigation. Also, outdoor education and field trips provide a way for students to understand concepts taught in the classroom through meaningful and authentic experiences. Scientific skills and data collection include inquiry, observation vs. inference, scientific method, measurement, graphing data, and lab safety.
Science & Technology
- What is Science
- Tools of Science
- Ecosystems & Biomes
- Living Organisms & the Environment
- Diversity of life
- Properties and Classification of Minerals & Rocks
- Forces in the Earth’s Crust
- Earthquakes & Seismic Waves
- Volcanoes & Plate Techtonics
- Land Forms
Earth in Space
- The Solar System
- Phases & Eclipses
- Earth’s Moon
- Stars, Galaxies, & the Universe
Matter & Motion
- Solid, Liquid, & Gas
- Motion & Forces
- Electricity & Magnetism
- World & Machines
- Sound & Light
Integration of Technology
- Video Recording/ Digital Photography
- Vex Robotics/ K’Nex
- Snap Circuits
Fourth and fifth grade students study the history, resources, and government of Florida and its relationship to the states and the world. Map and graph reading skills are reviewed and expanded. Use of primary and secondary sources, timelines, and map allow students to evaluate data effectively. Students use these references and technology for projects and researching, and specifically are introduced to the skills of paraphrasing, source citations, academic writing, and Internet searches. Field trips and experiential learning bring lessons to life for students.
Florida History I (Earliest People-1860)
- Pre-Columbian Florida
- Exploration & Settlement of Florida
- Growth of Florida
Florida History II (1860-Present)
- Crisis of the Union
- Industrialization & Emergence of Modern Florida
- Roaring 20’s, The Great Depression, & WWII in Florida
- Contemporary Florida into the 21st Century
- Economics in Florida
American History (Prehistory-1700)
- Pre-Columbian North America
- Exploration & Settlement of North America
Colonial Settlement (1587-1775)
- Colonialization of North America
A New Nation (1776-1791)
- American Revolution and the Birth of a New Nation
Early Years of the Republic (1789-1830) & The Nation Expands (1820-1860)
- Growth & Westward Expansion
Civics & Government
- Foundations of Government, Law, & the American Political System
- Civic & Political Participation
- Structures & Functions of Government
The main thrust of Spanish and Chinese in Upper Elementary is to connect, apply, and demonstrate understanding in the target language. Lessons include subject-content goals with a variety of cognitive levels that are adapted to integrate the classroom program. Language learning activities are content-based and require comprehension, communication, reading, and writing skills.
- Greetings and Leavestaking
- Classroom Items
- Basic Questions
- Body Parts
- Numbers 0 – 31
- Calendar: Seasons, Days, Months
- Definite and indefinite articles
- Directions and placement
- Family members
- Community Places
- Physical attributes
- House vocabulary
- Vacation vocabulary
- Los Días de los Muertos (Days of the Dead)
- Three Kings Day
- Valentine’s Day
- Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón
- Art by Carmen Lomas Garza
- Places of Interest in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica
- Chinese Festival
- Chinese New Year
- -ar Action Verbs
- Subject Pronouns
- -ar Verb Conjugation
- Present progressive tense
- the verbs ser & estar
- -er and –ir Verb Conjugation
- the verb ir
The Upper Elementary art curriculum focuses on developing skillful use of materials, expanding art vocabulary, increasing aesthetic and perceptual awareness, as well as introducing various artists and cultures. The program explores the basic modes of visual expression, including drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, color and composition. Students learn to use drawing as a means of exploring their own imagination and understanding the three-dimensional world. Units are coordinated with other disciplines when appropriate, and multicultural and historical references are made whenever possible.
Musical & Performing Arts
Musical experiences continue to be varied, but become more subtle and complex as a child’s musical responsiveness increases and musical sensitivity is further developed. Emphasis is continued on discovering one’s creative approach and exploring musical concepts. By the Upper Elementary, students are ready to examine other artists’ approaches to the creative process in greater depth and to relate this to their own experience and compositions.
- Gain and demonstrate knowledge of a variety of cultures and various historical periods
- Learn about influential historical composers and their musical styles
- Compose short pieces using the basic elements of music to demonstrate repetition and contrast
- Create an original composition using different styles of music
- Show respect for the composing and arranging efforts of others
- Create original lyrics by integrating song structure
- Correctly identify song lyric hooks, storyline and over tone.
Vocal Production & Performance
- Tonal Placement: Chest, Mask, Voice
- Matching Pitch
- Response to Cues of Conductor
- Integration of Basic Acting Skills & Story Telling through Song
- Use computers, sound recording software, and vocal recordings to create music videos
- Integrate movement and story telling elements to final pieces
Musical Theater Production
- Demonstrate the ability to perform and understand the basic tasks of the actor including the practice of character analysis, memorization of text, participation in ensemble, the employment of sufficient volume of sound and clarity of speech to communicate to an audience, and use of the body in an expressive and communicative way.
- Demonstrate a basic understanding of the fundamental skills required of the director: script analysis, communication of directorial intent/concept, audition procedures, rehearsal procedures, and communication with collaborative artists.
- Demonstrate the ability to use the body effectively on stage as an instrument for characterization and to be responsive to changing time/rhythm demands and spatial relationships.
- Demonstrate a high level of proficiency in the analysis and acting of songs written for the musical theatre.
- Demonstrate a high level of proficiency in dance and movement technique appropriate to the musical theatre.
Fourth and fifth grade young programmers and engineers study the strengths and limitations of the construction of various objects. Through engineering, students define and test the dimensional stability of different forms and shapes. Upper elementary students experiment with a number of different construction techniques, then use those techniques to make objects that are used in research. Crafted cars, gliders, catapults and other objects then become the tools to discover how to properly conduct an experiment, collect and interpret data, and ultimately present that information. Upper Elementary students use iPads, laptops, RaspberryPi technology, VEX robotics, and iPods. Further, students use tools like Minecraft to gain a better understanding of 3D space, planning and blueprinting a project, and how to work in a collaborative project environment. The goal of the program is to allow activity to reveal content, rather than trying to present content to students before they have a framework to process it.
Elements of Academic Technology Program
- Basics of Programming (using Scratch)
- Engineering using Real World Science and Math
- Construction and Mechanics of Robots (using VEX System)
- Focus on Innovative Thinking using the Engineering Design Process
- Exploring Real World Challenges Facing Scientists Today
- Exposure to using both Apple and Microsoft tools (example: Word and Pages)
- Properly using the internet for Research (From a reputable source)
The Upper Elementary Physical Education program is designed to teach teamwork, independent and group practice, positive social development, good sportsmanship, leadership, cooperation and responsibility. This is achieved through sport and recreation education, partner work, and competitive and non-competitive exercises. Emphasis is placed on learning and on applying sport-specific skills, rules and strategies. Following NASPE and NGSSS standards of instruction, games in flag football, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, and tennis are introduced as coordination develops. The application of physical skills is encouraged, as well as improvement of personal fitness levels. Students are also able to participate in swimming and equestrian programs during PE classes. Grades are based on participation, sportsmanship, completion of activities, and conduct. Fourth and fifth graders have PE every day for 45 minutes.
Units of Study
- Flag Football
- Lacrosse & Team Handball
- Jump rope
- The Blue & Gold Competition
We believe that hands-on learning in our Upper Elementary Barnyard program leads to deeper understanding of the world as we give students the tools they need to care for our earth and its creatures. As students interact on the farm, they understand how society is organized and learn divisions of labor. Compassion, dedication, and collaboration skills are developed through our program. Care for barn animals, plants, and the planet are also emphasized, as the importance of sustainability is personally experienced.
Students take care of themselves, their community, and many of the lives that surround them by:
- Growing and cooking their own food
- Managing natural resources
- Caring for dependent animals, including horses, a cow, a llama, a goat, geese, chickens, and a pig
Through flexible scheduling, the library curriculum enhances and extends the classroom curriculum, fosters literary appreciation, and targets information and research skills. In classroom and library settings, students enjoy a variety of genres, develop active listening and viewing skills, reinforce concepts through experiential activities, learn to confidently use a library for research, and purposefully explore a wide array of media, both traditional and technological.