Academics

Intermediate Division

Transitioning from the Primary Division to the Intermediate Division in Grade 3, children are building on the solid foundation of the content and processes they experienced in Kindergarten through Grade 2. In the Intermediate Division the shift of responsibility changes from the hands of the parents and teachers to the students. Teachers scaffold their students toward becoming independent by encouraging children to take ownership of their learning. Our structure in the Intermediate Division reflects this delicate balance we must strike as the bridge from the lower grades to the upper grades. In Grade 3, students have a lead teacher and an associate teacher in the classroom; however, Grade 4 is the first year students have one teacher in the classroom, moving them toward independence. All of the grades are located on the fourth floor, which encourages a community among Intermediate Division students and teachers.  The School works on a ten-day schedule, which, in addition to three hours devoted to literacy and math every day, provides time for visual art, dance, class meeting, music, science, Spanish, spelling and social studies.
 
The social studies content of our curriculum often brings context to the concepts children are studying. The Intermediate Division is the first time children experience history as a unit of study. Beginning in Grade 3, students learn about the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance and immigration. In Grade 3 they transition to study of American Colonialism and Native Americans. In Grade 5, students look at the ancient civilizations of China and Greece, which launches the Middle Division study of cities.
 
Our academically diverse population requires all teachers to meet the needs of a wide range of students. Our need to remediate as well as challenge our students is imperative to our goal in the intermediate grades of creating independent, self-regulated learners. Differentiating instruction takes many forms within the classroom. Student needs are determined through ongoing assessments. Teachers group students based on their changing needs. It is the responsibility of the classroom teachers, with support from the learning specialist, to adapt to all types of learners.
 
Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders are given an opportunity to direct their own learning through academic goal setting. M.A.P. goals, also known as My Achievement Plan goals, are developed through a partnership among parents, teachers and child in the classroom and during conferences. Students direct their own conferences in the spring and present evidence of their best work. Another way students take ownership of their learning is through individual digital portfolios. The entries in their portfolios give children the opportunity to reflect upon their learning in many different disciplines and make connections among them. Peers, teachers and parents elevate each child’s understanding through questions and comments made available through their portfolio in an online blog.
 
In the intermediate grades we have a literacy liaison, math liaison and learning specialist devoted to Grades 3, 4 and 5. Classroom teachers schedule weekly meetings with the liaisons to discuss students and grade-level objectives, plan units of study, add resources, and learn new approaches to math, reading and writing. Children experience standardized tests (ERBs) for the first time in the Intermediate Division beginning in Grade 3. While ERBs are only another window through which to see our students' progress, they do provide insight to the programmatic health of our curriculum.
Teachers of all disciplines collaborate to implement a concept- and skills-based integrated curriculum, in order to give children a balanced academic experience. Teachers meet once a week for an hour to plan curriculum and talk about students. During this time, teachers share their discipline’s goals, objectives and essential questions, and look to make cross-disciplinary connections.
 
Intermediate teachers subscribe to the constructivist learning theory, where students acquire new knowledge by connecting prior experiences. This occurs through peer interaction, discovery and teacher facilitation. Teachers involve students in the curriculum by modifying units to accommodate interests and questions, as well as offering students choice in how they represent their new understandings. Integration happens throughout the day and also once during the ten-day schedule in the form of an Integrated Block. During this time, also known as I-block, all members of the grade-level team and all students spend two hours engaged in focused experience.
 
Kevin Fittinghoff
Intermediate Division Director

Academics: Intermediate Division

Grade 3

List of 11 items.

  • Library

    During their library class time, third graders enjoy reading and discussing non-fiction books in support of the non-fiction reading and writing they do in the classroom. Students are exposed to various elements of non-fiction texts, such as table of contents, index, sidebars, and discuss strategies for finding the information they need within these works. Third graders are also introduced to the basics of the Dewey Decimal system and begin to become increasingly independent library users and knowledge seekers.
  • Literacy

    Students grow as thoughtful and independent readers in Grade 3. Comprehension skills such as retelling, making connections, visualizing, and predicting help students to understand texts on a literal and inferential level. Time is dedicated for selecting appropriate books in school, and they spend more time reading chapter books and nonfiction texts. Students talk about texts together, through read alouds, partnership work and in book clubs, learning to develop their ideas in conversation using accountable talk phrases.  In third grade Writing Workshop, students are introduced to Writers’ Notebooks, and compose pieces about their personal lives, applying craft techniques from mentor texts to develop their stories. Students acquire spelling and grammatical skills that help them as readers and writers, as they work through word sorts and study spelling patterns in class.
     
  • Mathematics

    Students continue to develop their computational fluency in addition and subtraction. They focus on flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency by using a variety of addition and subtraction strategies. Students also strengthen their communication skills by explaining their strategies in verbal and written form. Students apply their reading strategies to envision math problems and create clear representations of their problem-solving processes. During our geometry study, students synthesize their understanding of shapes, structures, and measurement. Students are encouraged to use estimation in all areas of mathematics and to continue developing concepts of time and money. Throughout the year, students engage in both individual and collaborative work focused on deepening their mathematical understandings.
  • Performing Arts: Dance

    Third grade students began the year building community through dance. They quickly embarked on various choreography projects. A favorite being an integrated art, music and dance project where they were asked to create small group dances based on New York City-inspired paintings. Throughout the project, students were able to re-familiarize themselves with the elements of the craft including space, time, energy, and body. They revised and shared their work several times, practicing and reinforcing good audience member and performance skills and even learned how to give and receive feedback in a constructive and positive manner. Next, the children will move toward a more technical unit, discovering the uniqueness of New York’s Broadway scene. We will focus primarily on musicals set in the city. As the social studies focus shifts to the Harlem Renaissance, we will make a smooth transition into an exciting tap unit. The children will learn basic tap dance technique, as well as the history of how the genre evolved. They will even able to watch video clips featuring the greatest tap dancers of all time.
    new learning.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    During this semester, third grade students are learning rhythms, rhythmic notation (including whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes), and a varied repertoire of songs (singing lyrics, solfege, and note names from the staff). Third grade students have worked and continue to work on a sophisticated repertoire of music related to the theme of New York City. Third grades students have composed a soundscape for paintings portraying different neighborhoods of New York City. Third grade students continue to learn and play the recorder, reading and playing notes B, A, and G on the five line treble clef staff with good posture, accuracy of pitch, and a pleasing tone.
  • Science

    This semester third graders will explore the world of rocks and minerals. We begin our study by examining various rocks and minerals and sorting them by identifying attributes. As students study as geologists, they will learn to gather information about minerals by using a streak test to distinguish between the observable and identifiable color of minerals, and assessing minerals using the Mohs scale of hardness. In addition to examining rocks and mineral samples in class, we will examine rocks found in local parks and explore how New York City's unique geology has shaped the city and its environs. We will also examine the many ways which nature weathers and breaks down rocks on the earth's surface. Through various investigations, student will develop an awareness and appreciation of the role of rocks and minerals in our world and every day lives.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    Students focus on building a community, both in their classes and as a grade. Students learn to work in concert with their peers and develop the ability to appreciate different perspectives, compromise, and collaborate. In community club, students learn skills to help them regulate their emotions and develop persistence, flexibility, and resilience. With these skills, children become increasingly able to work through frustration and solve academic and social problems.  In the classroom, children become increasingly aware of personal responsibility and resulting consequences, while they develop self-awareness through regular reflective writing.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    This semester students have been exploring the theme of City and the concept of Experience in Spanish. This exploration has been visual, verbal and kinesthetic trough speaking, reading, singing, dancing, drama, role-play and games. Students have used notebooks as language resources to keep a record of new vocabulary and conversation starters. They have built on their prior Spanish knowledge and experiences to discuss how they were feeling, describe their families, and share activities that they enjoy doing in the city. They engaged in daily scripted conversations to practice pronunciation and vocabulary while learning about their classmates. Finally they made connections comparing New York City with cities in Spanish-speaking countries in South America.
  • Technology

    In the fall, Grade 3 students were introduced to strategies for using their new laptop computers safely, responsively, and creatively. They began the year by building touch-typing and trackpad skills, which continue to be practiced throughout the year via weekly “morning work” typing technique activities. Next, they established their electronic portfolio websites for the upcoming school year. Students created pages for each of their subjects, which they will later populate with documents, photos and video samples of their work for future reflection and preservation. Sites are private and not publicly accessible on the Web. The term concluded with an in-depth study of the built environment focusing on the bridges of New York City. Connecting to both their Math and Social Studies curricula, students learned how and why engineers use geometry to design the large-scale structures that connect the five boroughs. Students constructed models of beam, arch, truss and suspension bridges while exploring concepts of tension, compression, force, load, and the 2D polygon geometry that is employed in various bridge designs.
  • Visual Arts

    In the art studio the third graders will continue to develop their technical skills and explore the expressive qualities of a variety of two and three-dimensional media. To begin the year third graders will create and personalize their portfolios with a design painting.  Students will begin a unit focusing on clay with explorations in clay to reacquaint themselves with its unique malleable qualities. They will learn about the three basic forms of clay: ball, slab and coil as useful forms for clay construction and practice techniques for joining. Our clay unit will culminate in the creation of a sculpture of two animals showing affection with a background environment. From there students will turn to two-dimensional materials with an exploration in paint and a focus on color mixing.  Third graders will be challenged not only to mix a wide range of colors from the basic primaries but also to be mindful of their process and to record their unique color “recipes.” They will consider how adult artists combine colors, shapes and lines in a broad range of non-objective paintings before beginning their own. Third graders will make choices about color and composition in the creation of dynamic tempera paintings. 
  • Wellness

    The students began the semester working on cooperative games and continue working on positive, effective communication strategies for groups or teams with emphasis on the 3rd grade theme of Experience. They learned street games of NYC and looked at the history of their development and the limitations of playing in an urban environment. The students continue to focus on movement education. We isolated the individual skills of dribbling or cradling, passing, and shooting in the games of soccer, basketball, Frisbee, and lacrosse and focused on how their movements are related. We gave the students multiple drills, exercises and differentiated learning scenarios to help develop the correct techniques and skills necessary to succeed in each sport and skill.

Grade 4

List of 10 items.

  • Library

    Grade 4 students use their library class time to refresh and deepen their understanding of the library’s organizational system, particularly focusing on the subject categories of the Dewey Decimal System, and practicing independently locating library materials. As the year draws to a close, students reflect on their experience over the course of the year as readers and researchers, thinking about how their reading and research habits and abilities have evolved and grown.
  • Literacy

    Students immerse themselves in literacy units connected to the Social Studies content of exploration, and country. Students develop their research skills in both reading and writing, and as non-fiction readers, learn to gather and synthesize new information, and navigate more sophisticated text features and structures. As nonfiction writers, they put information into their own words and craft their writing using a variety of techniques. They create folktales rooted in the Native American tradition and refine their research skills to thoughtfully plan and organize their Pourquoi tales. Students work on their word study sorts and increase their application of known spelling patterns to their ongoing writing. Students expand their ability to think and talk about texts with others, through read alouds, reading partnerships and book clubs. They prepare for conversations by citing text evidence and developing theories, and then compare their ideas with others and stretch themselves to consider differing opinions from others’ perspectives. Students develop a variety of ways to respond to text in writing, using digital tools as well.
     
    As writers, students work through the writing process in order to create original pieces, using self-chosen perspectives or topics as their focus. During the study on Historical Fiction, they work to weave together facts from the time period with fictional anecdotes and details in multiple scenes. Using mentor texts, including the class read aloud, “Blood on the River,” students use specific craft techniques to make their writing come alive and remain authentic to the time period. The last writing projects of the school year allow students to consolidate their understanding and independence with the writing process, creating poems and opinion pieces, and learning about current events in relation to historical time periods and movements in Social Studies. Students use specific revision techniques as they go back to weave through a variety of details in their entries and drafts. During the editing stages, students work to apply their ongoing knowledge of spelling patterns and grammatical rules and are encouraged to continually reread their own writing, looking for one thing at a time to independently edit. They are also expected to strengthen their abilities in working with a writing partner by the end of their fourth grade year.
     
  • Mathematics

    Students continue to solidify computational fluency in whole number operations with the goal of becoming more flexible, accurate, and efficient thinkers. Along with developing their number sense through oral discussions, they also have the opportunity to problem solve and represent their thinking in a variety of authentic contexts. These experiences include exploring the country through a road trip and analyzing election data. Students also engage in both individual and collaborative work focused on deepening their mathematical understandings. 
  • Performing Arts: Dance

    The concept of Exploration has been integrated into many of our dance lessons. As budding choreographers, the fourth graders began the year immersed in a solo choreography project. Their task was to choreograph the letters of their first name using all of the elements of choreography, as well as a great deal of their own creativity. This project was a huge success! The students produced incredible work, which they truly enjoyed watching on The Tube and sharing with the fourth grade community. Next we will move toward a whole-class choreography project based on a Native American tale. This work will be further enhanced by a live Native American dance performance of the Redhawk Dancers. As we move toward the end of the end of the semester we will take a different look at Exploration and focus on the explorers of modern dance. Children will learn basic modern dance fundamentals as well as the history of this beautiful art form.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    The fourth grade students started the year in music class with creating name dances. Working collaboratively in small groups, the students performed their dances as part of a larger rondo form incorporating movement, singing and playing on the barred instruments. Through this unit, the students reviewed the pentatonic scale, simple rhythmic patterns, ternary form (ABA), rondo form (ABACADA) and expanded upon their barred instrumental technique to include the alternation of hands. Throughout the semester, the students will continue to master games and songs from around the United States that relate to their study of Country and support the development of healthy singing, recorder technique, collaboration skills and musical literacy. Before the holidays, the students will master a variety of songs related to the winter season, some with instrumental accompaniment. This will include singing in two parts and in canon. The semester will culminate with learning American dance-songs called Play Parties and a colonial dance called “Gathering Peascods.’
  • Science

    In conjunction with their study of Native Americans and Colonial times, the 4th grade students are exploring and measuring how simple machines make work easier. Experiments included designing and testing levers, quantifying the mechanical advantage of inclined planes and testing the effectiveness of pulleys when lifting loads. Throughout the unit, the students ask questions, make predictions, gather evidence, analyze data, and communicate their ideas orally and in writing. Late in the fall, as part of their study of the theme Exploration, the students will begin to learn to program robots to use sensors and move autonomously.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    In Grade 4, social and emotional learning skills and objectives are embedded in the children’s study of Country, Exploration and Justice. By examining the impact that exploration has had on different groups of people, children begin to grapple with questions around responsibility and equity. Children extend these discussions into the problems of their own social lives by practicing different constructive strategies for handling upsetting situations, continuing to show cooperative behaviors in group settings, and advocating for themselves and peers in various social interactions. Fourth-graders learn to be responsible students by showing increasing independence in managing their time and belongings and solving problems on their own.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    This semester in Spanish class students have been exploring the theme of country trough a study of Central America. Students have engaged in activities in Spanish visually, verbally and kinesthetically trough speaking, reading, writing, singing, dancing, drama, role-play and games. Connected with the concept of exploration and their study of regions, students studied the political and physical geography of countries in Central America. They learned and applied vocabulary to describe relative positions using prepositions and geographical location with cardinal directions. They learned to use the verb “estar” when referring to a location and to conjugate for singular and plural subjects. They applied their knowledge of geography to a country project, identifying the location of their chosen country, capital and geographical features in relation to others. Finally, integrated with the study of Native Americans, they studied indigenous population of Central America.
  • Visual Arts

    In fourth grade visual art, students will continue to develop their technical skills and explore the expressive qualities of materials. Students will began the year creating a self-portrait through collage.  In the process, students will make close observations to create and arrange shapes to capture their likeness. The fourth graders will then have the opportunity to work in clay to sculpt a figure. The challenging task requires creative problem solving and develops an understanding of attaching and balancing clay forms. The semester will close with an observational drawing study focusing on objects in nature. During the unit, students will investigate the possible line qualities of ebony pencils.
  • Wellness

    Students began the year with fitness pre-assessments to find their baseline fitness levels from which they can build throughout the year.  They have worked on their cooperative and teamwork skills through a series of games and problem-solving activities. Students focused their energies on accomplishing a team goal rather than simply achieving individual success. They began their study of the country and its geography through mapping and directional lessons that helped them to orient on a map and locate geographical features. In addition, students explored lacrosse in relation to its roots in the Native American culture and its evolution into a modern day sport.

Grade 5

List of 10 items.

  • Literacy

    Students develop strong habits as readers and writers, pushing themselves to be as independent as possible. They build dynamic reading lives, choosing appropriate books, reading with greater stamina and exploring a variety of genres. Students track their reading in order to analyze choices and set goals. Their understanding of the genre of realistic fiction is deepened through read aloud and book clubs, as they study character development and themes across texts. They respond to texts, both through conversations and in writing. Sophisticated texts connected to the themes of the year are read aloud, and students develop ideas and theories as they also expand their worldviews through the investigation of ancient civilizations and cultures, specifically Ancient China. A focus on nonfiction reading and writing takes root, and an examination of historical perspective illuminates the shifting nature of recorded history. Students are guided to think like detectives, reading to uncover clues and compare and contrast their findings.  In writing, students hone the skills necessary to independently work through the writing process, including planning, collecting entries, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. They write narrative texts on a variety of personal topics, and later craft mystery stories, using mentor texts to strengthen their work. During word study, 5th graders study Greek and Latin root words and build a wide vocabulary.
  • Mathematics

    Throughout the semester, students explore authentic contexts for developing strategies for problem solving, reasoning, and organizing their thinking. To launch math workshop, students engage in an investigation of perimeter and area, during which they apply their knowledge of big number multiplication strategies. Following this, students look at properties of the number system by identifying factors, multiples, prime numbers, and square numbers through a variety of applications. Beginning in late November, students delve into a two-dimensional geometry study, classifying triangles and quadrilaterals and looking at characteristics of their angles and sides. Students also investigate the coordinate grid in a variety of ways and explore aspects of geometry using technology. Throughout all of their math work this year, students work on strategy development for whole number operations. They also continue to have a variety of opportunities to work individually and collaboratively to generate thoughtful questions about big mathematical ideas.  Students work on a number of open-ended, multi-day investigations, such as the Locker Problem, that allow them to apply their conceptual knowledge to realistic situations.
  • Performing Arts: Dance

    In the first term of dance, students make objective observations of motion, shape, negative space and time, experimenting with their own dance styles based on these observations. They learn how these elements of motion can be translated into movement qualities through their own improvisations. While studying the craft and purpose of personal narratives in their literacy work, students draw Life Maps in dance and transform them into their own Life Dance Solos, applying their understanding of universal stage areas, spatial awareness and the important elements that make strong choreography. During Silence In Action, students practice techniques in focus, concentration, intention, alignment, relaxation and self-reflection. During the unit on Ancient China, students apply the principles of balance, simplicity, clarity and discipline to their movement studies. Students use the inspiration of Ancient Chinese poetry and music to choreograph their first group dance pieces. For their digital portfolios, students post photos and videos of their work and trace their creative processes through written reflection.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    Students begin the year by reviewing and solidifying skills learned in fourth grade music. Emphasis is placed on proper technique for the voice and barred instruments. To integrate the concept of China, students learn about traditional Chinese instruments.  By experiencing songs such as “Mo Li Hua” (Jasmine Flower) the students identify that Eastern music has a different sound from Western music. These songs also reinforce rhythmic patterns, melodic contour and proper technique on a variety of percussion instruments.
     
  • Science

    In science fifth graders are studying the world of flowering plants. The central experiment of the unit is a study of Wisconsin Fast Plants, Brassica rapa. Students grow their own Brassica rapa plants in a controlled experiment, changing one variable in their experimental plants. They care for their plants throughout the study, from planting the seeds, and thinning seedlings, to harvesting the final seedpods. By measuring and analyzing data on plant growth, and by making careful observations of plant health throughout the experiment, students determine how plant growth is affected by variations in light, fertilizer and spacing. Students also visit the Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, where they have the chance to view thousands of plants from different regions of the world and learn about plant adaptations. Throughout the semester students continue to develop science skills in recording and graphing data about their plants, using microscopes to examine plant parts and communicating their findings through written and oral reports.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    In Grade 5, social and emotional learning skills and objectives are unearthed through the children’s study of history and ancient civilizations. Through lessons that address essential questions about culture, progress, and communication, students acquire a deeper understanding of themselves. The development of each classroom community effectively mirrors the development of larger human societies around the world. Each day is structured to allow for individual, partner, small group, and whole class interactions. Following the setting of behavioral guidelines and limits, students are expected to attentively listen to others and respond with relevant comments and questions. Cooperative activities are balanced with independent work, to allow for the development of effective social communications as well as autonomy. Weekly homework packets are designed to foster responsibility, cultivate time management skills, and consolidate the understanding of concepts and topics. The assignments intentionally reflect classroom lessons, topics, and skills, and students are expected to complete the work independently.
  • Social Sciences

    Our study of ancient civilizations, as well as our exploration of various methods used to explore human history, brings us to ancient Greece this semester. Students are extensively exposed to mythology through both an in-depth look at The Odyssey as well as work with various other classic myths and their major themes. A grade-wide Greek-style Olympics is an integrated event with Wellness and designing Greek temples with Google Sketchup integrates technology. Throughout the year we discuss various elements of the cultures of ancient civilizations that inform and contribute to the modern world. Students engage in comparing and contrasting elements of ancient Greek culture with those of ancient China and are encouraged to find meaningful connections between ancient Greek culture and current Western culture. Throughout the year our focus on ancient civilizations aims to teach students to use history as a powerful tool for critically examining their own city, culture and world.
     
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    This semester students have been exploring the concept of culture and ancient civilizations through a personal study of their own origins and the origins of the Spanish language. Students have been learning visually, verbally and kinesthetically through reading, writing, singing, inquiry, discussion, games, drama and technology integration. They used physical characteristics and personality attributes to describe and compare people. In their descriptions, they practiced subject- adjective agreement and the use of the verbs “ser” and “tener”. They engaged in an archeological study of artifacts, using descriptive adjectives and past tense verbs to make inferences about ancient civilizations. Students practiced their pronunciation, fluency and conjugation of verbs “ser” and “tener”. Finally, connected to their study of China, students acted out a traditional Chinese tale in Spanish.
  • Visual Arts

    Fifth-grade students continue to deepen their understanding of the yearlong concepts “culture” and “progress” in visual art class. They make both historical and personal connections through artistic expression. Following the Chinese calligraphy study in the fall, the students continue to learn and explore the process of ink painting this semester. They practice using a variety of images from nature and experiment on rice paper. Then, the 5thgraders learn to use the slab technique during the clay unit: students learn to use a rolling pin to create evenly flat pieces of clay and develop hand-building skills. Their final clay project, the inside & outside container, demonstrates their knowledge, skills and creativity. The semester ends with a collaborative project with social studies about ancient Greece. The 5th graders are inspired to work with wire as a medium to artistically portray Greek Olympic sport and dance, as well as gods and goddesses. They learn to manipulate wire with tools in the art studio, and capture the essence of movement through figure drawing, in collaboration with dance class. As part of this study, the students visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and view the Greek and Roman galleries to enrich their learning experiences at the school.
  • Wellness

    In Grade 5 Wellness we started this year with a focus on cooperative games and teamwork. We followed that first unit by moving into our Sport Education unit on Team Handball. During this unit the students were each assigned teams and were given roles on their team. These roles included coaches, fitness trainers, referees, equipment managers, players and managers. The objective during this unit was not only a focus on skills, but also to help students understand the different roles and responsibilities in sports. Following that unit we moved into a unit on Tai Chi to connect with the students study of ancient China. The goal for this unit was to use the Tai Chi form as a way for students to strengthen their balance, coordination and overall health. This unit also focused on self-discipline and respect, both of which are important principles in martial arts.  We finished the year with a unit of rock-climbing.  During this unit students worked on their climbing maneuvers and techniques, while improving their core strength and balance.

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