3-5 Curriculum

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Language Arts

The upper grade (3-5) language arts program at the Museum School addresses students developmentally.

During the year, students are grouped in multi-age settings in order to receive instruction appropriate to their developmental level in language arts reading & writing.  Rather than only considering grade level placement, this organization of materials and instructions allows us to scaffold for students and their needs.

As a team, the teachers collaborate to bring students to a “proficient” level in their language arts skills as defined by the California Standards in 5th grade and on our Museum School report card.  It is a long-term goal for students as they continue their education at the Museum School, and approached as a destination along a continuum in language arts development.

Students are initially evaluated by their reading level on a standardized assessment tool (ARI), and the San Diego Quicklist.  As students progress through the reading groups and language arts program, teachers make recommendations for placement based on reading & writing skills, production, maturity, and grade level.

There are three level groups.  The first group, addresses the needs of many of our incoming third graders providing more highly scaffolded instruction in phonemic awareness, foundation building in the basic rules of grammar and mechanics, developing core skills in reading, etc. building comprehension and knowledge.

The next two level groups focus on reinforcing those basic skills and build upon our students abilities to refine those areas of applied understanding, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation in reading and writing.

The Creative Writing Workshop is paired with the Expository & Persuasive Writing Workshop and the Reading Workshop.  Students are grouped by developmental reading level so instruction can place more emphasis on various level skills.  The groups rotate through the writing and reading workshops through six sessions.

The last session of the year focuses on the Personal Learning Project (PLP) where students research, write a project paper, and present their learning and a creative project connected to their topic of interest to the rest of the student body.

Language Arts is also supported in the Departments where students will use their reading and writing skills to gather information and work on a project to share what they’ve learned.  Students read recipes and instructions, they read for information about various body systems, biomes, famous historical events and figures, they write plays, songs, and reports.  They read out loud and practice their oral presentation skills.

The Departments models “learning how to learn” so that students can approach their PLP with many ways of research and presentation.

Expository Reading and Writing with Tanya

The goal of this Language Arts group is to build a strong foundation of non-fiction reading and writing skills. We will be working on word study, which will include mini-spelling and grammar lessons, and paragraph editing. The students will experience an expository Reader’s Workshop, which will include:

Read Alouds –    Building listening and comprehension skills

Shared Reading – Reading as a whole group/building comprehension

Guided Reading – Small reading groups (teacher guided) where the students will practice reading with fluency while developing their word recognition, literary response, and comprehension skills

Independent Reading – Students will practice reading strategies while reading independently

The students will also experience an Expository Writer’s Workshop, in which they will be required to be active learners. The workshop will include mini-lessons (comparing/contrasting, cause/effect, writing reports, qualities of good writing, editing skills, etc.)  Then the students will write independently.  The workshop will also include sharing times, when students will be able to share their writing with the whole class and one on one editing times with the teacher.

The goals of this Writer’s Workshop are:  To promote a love for writing, to practice writing effective paragraphs and expository essays, and to learn the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.

Independent Work (Homework) will change weekly depending on students needs.

Reader’s Workshop with Emily

This year your child will grow as a reader while exploring fiction and non-fiction text.  For five weeks (my first session with your child) we will focus on compare/contrast, questioning, determining importance, character traits, theme, and literary devices as we explore the folk literature (grades 3/4) /fantasy (grade 5).

During my second session with your child, we will read a historical fiction novel and learn more about the traits of fiction (setting, problem/solution, plot, etc). During both sessions students will develop their reading fluency, vocabulary, and knowledge of Latin and Greek roots.


Project Based Learning – ‘Departments’

As part of the Museum School’s regular curriculum, all upper grade (3-5) students engage, for six hours per week, in project-based departments.  Each student is a member of a multi-aged team that works together for 30 weeks out of the school year.  The team rotates through five different departments, working in each department for a consecutive six-week period.  Each year, to match the needs of the students, and to most efficiently make use of resources available, the departments may change focus. For the 2013/2014 school year our kids will work in the Drama Department, Evolution Department, Ancient Civilizations Department, National Parks Department and the Kitchen Science Department.

The department teams work with a facilitator/teacher in constructing a goal for themselves.  The team works on developing the goal, conducting research and exploratory activities to synthesize what they have discovered.  The six-week period ends with a culminating activity in which the team presents what they have learned in their course of study in the form of speeches, photo-essays, videos, skits or feasts to the entire school community.

We invite you to attend Department Presentations.  Please see the Calendar section for dates and times.

Upper Grade Rotations (3-5)

Each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, our upper grade students have the opportunity to attend four different rotations (two per day) plus a PE day. The rotations include:

Spanish – Spanish class will be taught at a beginning level and will focus on conversation.  Students who are already fluent in Spanish will be engaged in reading and writing activities.

PE  – Students will engage in a range of rigorous and fun activities addressing skills, strength , balance and endurance. Our PE classes will be taught, this year, by Evan McMahon a credentialed PE teacher who also serves as a Lifeguard for the City of San Diego.

Homeroom – Homeroom teachers will have the benefit of working with their homeroom classes in smaller groups (13 students) to complete projects, conduct assessments, student conferences, Socratic Seminars and other activities.

Art – Students engage in a variety of techniques, tools and media.  Projects are both individual and collective.  Some projects are accomplished in one class session, while others involve a multi-step process that requires several sessions to complete. Basic elements of art and design are practiced at appropriate grade levels.

Sewing – Students will enjoy creating useful items out of recycled materials while developing useful, fine motor skills that promote creativity and practicality.

Music (World Music) –All students will participate in our school’s gamelan program taught by Dr. Alex Khalil, Putu and Andrea Hernandez. Each student will receive a well-rounded overview of world music, while focusing with exposure to traditional western instruments too. In addition, students will learn tabla, an Indian hand drum under the tutelage of Miles Shrewsberry, an arts educator from the Center for World Music.