This is a year of immense growth as students begin to think more critically and deeply. Third graders make connections between their studies and their own lives and develop the ability to compare and contrast information with greater confidence.
Language Arts is framed around the reading and writing workshop. Third graders create personal narratives, expert topic writings, persuasive speeches and letters about causes that matter, and historical fiction about Ellis Island.
Students complete novel studies and hone their close reading skills as they critically analyze literature. Book clubs focus specifically on closely examining character development. Additionally, the importance of non-fiction reading skills is emphasized through a study of text features, the synthesis of information and other key approaches to informational text.
Third graders develop an understanding around the meaning of multiplication and division of whole numbers. By comparing a variety of solution strategies, students develop a toolbox of approaches and clearly see the conceptual process behind multiplication and division as they seek answers that makes sense. Third grade math also begins the study of fractions as students use models to see parts of the whole. Most importantly, students practice persevering around challenging problems, thinking critically and communicating their reasoning both orally and in writing.
In science, third graders dig deeper into experimental design. Students plan and conduct investigations collaboratively and grapple with the changing of variables to answer an investigable question. They develop and revise models and display either qualitative or quantitative data on tables and then analyze that data. There is a strong emphasis on communication as third graders use evidence to support an explanation of observed phenomena and defend their reasoning. Students investigate high interest topics such as force and motion, life cycles, extinction, traits and behavior, weather and climate and natural hazards.
Third grade is known for an in depth coverage of Chicago History, from early settlers to the diverse communities of today. Students dive deeply into their own family history while studying immigration through Ellis Island during the turn of the 19th century. During the third grade Shining Moment students share their researched family tree, participate in an interactive simulation of Ellis Island and create an original fictional diary entry from an immigrant’s perspective.
4th and 5th Grades
Students transition into a collaborative specialization structure for fourth and fifth grade in which they move between two different teachers for their primary subjects of science, math, reading, writing and social studies. This approach allows students to learn from content area experts who are passionate about the specific subject matter; this often leads to greater student buy in and more rigorous curriculum. Additionally, introducing this in the intermediate grades creates a careful and thoughtful transition to the full departmentalization of the middle school.
Fourth graders are broadening their perspective and moving beyond self into the greater world. Students at this level also enjoy learning factual knowledge and are expanding their understanding of abstract information. The expectations increase and fourth graders need to work more carefully on time management and prioritizing tasks in order to be successful.
Language Arts continues with Lucy Calkin’s reading and writing workshop model. Reading units vary between independent studies and book club units. Mentor novels include Kate DiCamillo’s Tiger Rising and Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. Writing units vary between opinion, argumentative, and informational writing. Word study introduces vocabulary study from Classical Roots program which focuses on Greek and Latin roots.
Fourth graders engage in many mathematical practices. They work on persevering around challenging problems, reasoning abstractly and flexibly and listening to or reading the arguments of others to decide whether they make sense, and asking useful questions to clarify or improve the arguments. Math advances as students continue to progress with multiplication and division. They learn estimation and place value with decimals. By the end of 4th grade, students are expected to be proficient with related division facts.
In science fourth graders are taught to ask questions that can be investigated and predict outcomes based on patterns such as cause and effect, develop models to describe phenomena, make predictions when changing a variable, compare and contrast collected data, describe, measure, estimate, and/or graph quantities such as volume, identify the evidence that supports an explanation, and respectfully provide and receive critiques from peers by citing relevant evidence, and posing specific questions. High interest topics include chemistry, electro-magnetism, meteorology, cells, as well as the cross-grade level unit on life cycles with the kindergartners with the chicks.
Social Studies for 4th graders introduces all regions of the US, learning the geography, culture, economics, government and history of each. Fourth graders celebrate their Shining Moment with a project-based learning experience in Humanities. They invite friends and family to watch and read their exciting projects and reports in an end of the year celebration.
Fifth graders are increasingly abstract thinkers and begin to challenge their own assumptions to develop new theories. It is an exciting year as students focus on preparing for yet another transition, the transition to middle school. Teacher expectations are high, but the high-interest content ensures there is plenty of motivation for success.
The fifth grade Shining Moment is an art, science and technology integrated project on Biomes. The students invite friends and family in to watch and listen to their projects.
Language Arts continues with Lucy Calkins reading and writing workshop model. Reading units vary between independent studies and book club units. Mentor novels include Katherine Applegate’s Home of the Brave and Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always. Writing units vary between opinion, argumentative, and informational writing. Word study continues vocabulary from Classical Roots program which focuses on Greek and Latin roots.
Fifth grade math students are able to use increasingly abstract representations to make sense of the relationships between numbers. Students move beyond computation to a deeper ability to flexibly draw upon a toolbox of strategies to solve problems. The curriculum stresses fractions, percents, decimals, multiplication and division.
In science, students build upon prior knowledge to solve new dilemmas. Fifth graders develop diagrams or simple physical prototypes (and sometimes compare multiple) and then use data to evaluate and refine design solutions. In the end students develop the ability to make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem by citing relevant evidence about how it meets the criteria and constraints of the problem. Science topics range from the periodic table, the endocrine system, a detailed unit on human reproduction and they end the year with a unit on the Earth’s waters and environmental science.
Social Studies covers ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China. Students extend their learning with a trip to the University of Chicago’s Oriental Museum.