3rd, 4th, & 5th Grade Learning
In third, fourth, and fifth grade, students engage in a reading workshop model that utilizes units of study based on latest research from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). Our upper elementary approach to reading workshop provides a structure to the teaching of reading, one that has been especially designed to make sure that children are given the essentials they need to flourish as readers that we call the three Ts: time spent reading, using techniques that readers use, about diverse topics (genres) that matter to them. The workshop approach in grades 3-5 differs based on each child’s development as a reader, the reading curriculum is guided by TCRWP’s essentials of reading instruction which include:
- Students need teachers who demonstrate what it means to live richly literate lives, wearing a love of reading on our sleeves.
- Students need long stretches of time to read.
- Students need opportunities to read high-interest, accessible books of their own choosing.
- Students need explicit instruction in the process and skills of proficient reading.
- Students need opportunities to talk in response to texts.
- Students need assessment-based instruction, including feedback that is tailored specifically to them. Strugglers especially need instruction that is tailored to their specific strengths and needs, as well as extra time and extra help.
- Students need teachers to read aloud.
- Students need a balanced approach to language arts, one that includes a responsible approach to the teaching of writing as well as to reading.
In third, fourth, and fifth grade students use the Writing Workshop model to teach writing. It is based upon the Units of Study curriculum developed by Lucy Calkins and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). This approach to writing instruction is designed to provide students with a developmentally appropriate experience in which they write regularly. Students learn that both the process and product are important. Students write in a variety of genres and strengthen their understanding of craft and conventions through the examination mentor texts. Our approach to writing workshop provides a structure to the teaching of writing, one that has been especially designed to make sure that children are given the essentials they need to flourish as writers. In grades 3-5, we focus on the three Ts: time spent writing, using techniques that writers use, about diverse topics (genres) that matter to them.
Third grade students write persuasive essays and craft new and adapted fairy tales. In fourth grade, students write realistic fiction stories, drawing from their own experiences, and try their hands at writing a literary essay. In fifth grade, students are asked to consolidate all of the skills learned in previous grades to write narratives, biographies, and research-based argument essays. Grammar is taught explicitly and is applied through various writing and speaking activities across the curriculum.
Problem solving is at the center of math learning, and in grades 3-5, the concepts are taught with a concrete–pictorial–abstract learning progression through real-world, hands-on experiences. Students first investigate mathematical concepts through the use of hands-on manipulatives. They then move on to the pictorial stage in which pictures are used to model problems. Later, when students are more familiar with the ideas taught, they progress to the abstract stage in which only numbers, notations, and symbols are used. Instruction focuses on mathematical thinking and the application of skills to problem-solving. Students learn to understand the "how" and the "why" so they can tackle both routine and non-routine problems.
Teachers use this flexibility to best meet the needs of all their mathematical learners. In fourth and fifth grade, the teaching of math is departmentalized. Through on-going assessment, teachers are able to differentiate math instruction, adding additional support where required and providing challenges to stretch thinking where needed. Above all, it is important that all students not only see the importance of mathematics, but also see themselves as capable, confident mathematicians who apply what they learn in math to the real-world.
The Georgia Science standards are designed to provide foundational knowledge and skills for all students to develop proficiency in science. Students use a hands-on, inquiry-based science curriculum that provides them with experiences appropriate to the students' developmental levels. Students often work in collaborative groups as they use the scientific processes to explore a variety of content areas. In grades 3-5, the science content reflects the latest scientific research with a blend of physical, earth and space, and life sciences.
The Social Sciences Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) prepare students to be informed citizens who will live in, engage in, and compete in a global environment and society. Students learn to seek knowledge, to seek understanding, and to use that knowledge and understanding for critical analysis regarding the world around them. Through the study of economics, geography, government/civic responsibilities, and history, students cultivate a working knowledge of United States history, of national and world events, and of the various cultures seen throughout the world. Technology skills are woven throughout the curriculum. Social studies units are integrated with other academic and co-curricular subjects when possible.
The social studies program includes multicultural perspectives, hands-on experiences, field trips, and numerous opportunities to share student learning outside of the classroom.