Developmentally, Form III is a magical year that marks a transition from learning particular skills to using those skills to learn about ideas. Students in Form III develop a social interest in group work and cooperative play, changing the algorithms of both the classroom and the playground, and learning to manage the give-and-take of interpersonal relationships through an expanding interest in collaboration, and the growth of metacognition and self-awareness. Students in Form III are ready to tackle all sorts of new challenges in their enthusiasm for the larger world opening up to them.
Form III teachers celebrate the imagination and enthusiasm characteristic of their students even as they challenge them to dive deeper in their inquiries. Girls are pushed to reflect on ideas rather than merely coming up with simple responses to questions. Woven into every school day are opportunities to become critical thinkers, to reach for more complex and nuanced understanding, and to navigate the world with confidence and calm.
The Lower School art program is structured to develop skills that build upon prior knowledge from previous years. The girls are introduced to the Elements and Principles of Design in each Form and deepen their knowledge of these concepts every year by using different mediums, through learning new techniques and by being introduced to the work of different artists. Art in the Lower School focuses on developing creativity and innovation while embracing challenge. Students explore a variety of two-dimensional and three-dimensional projects that will extend the girls’ classroom learning and aid them in developing unique solutions to other design challenges. In the art room there is usually more than one solution to a problem or project and we will embrace experimentation and creation.
The goal for each student is to enjoy her time in art and to extend her learning in integrated studies for a rich understanding of the topic. A sampling of focal areas: artists who work to create change in their communities, art connected to science and the environment, art created in cultures all over the world throughout history and today, and Columbus-area artists. We will also be laying a foundation of art and art history including significant artists, movements, and skills such as observational drawing.
Form III students studied landscapes and perspective techniques. We began by learning about Georgia O’Keeffe and her ties to the American Southwest in conjunction with studies in the girls’ homerooms. After reading about O’Keeffe and learning about her paintings, we created landscape drawings based on pictures from different locations in the U.S. The girls learned how to show perspective and depth by drawing closer objects larger and distant images smaller. We also experimented with color and atmospheric perspective using watercolor. Atmospheric perspective is the technique of painting closer images darker and farther images lighter. Students learned how to mix colors and use different quantities of water to control the opacity or lightness and darkness of their colors.
Based on guiding questions, homeroom teachers collaborate with curriculum specialists to create an Integrated Studies unit that weaves the classroom Social Studies theme with Science, Spanish, Technology, Library, Physical Education, and the Arts. This approach provides a myriad of experiences that contextualize the learning process and builds a deeper understanding of the topic for each student.
In Form III, typical Integrated Studies units include the city of Columbus, the U.S. and biography. In the interest of conducting a layered, dimensional study, we opt to cover material more deeply than broadly, with the girls’ curiosity leading them to pose guiding questions along the way. Teachers facilitate the studies through carefully orchestrated points of introduction, leading the girls to generate questions and directing their exposure to materials in a way that maximizes their participation in the process.
The following is an outline for a research unit on the City of Columbus:
- How did the city of Columbus come to be established?
- What sort of work originally drew people to Columbus?
- How has the map of Columbus changed? What prompted the change?
- Who were some of the builders of Columbus and what were their stories?
- Where do we find information about the history of Columbus? What kind of information is available?
- When and how did various neighborhoods develop around Columbus?
- What characterizes different neighborhoods today?
- Where do we go in the city to learn about the cultures of its people? How do we investigate the idea of culture?
Each study emphasizes several primary skills:
- Familiarity with the construction and design of maps
- Development of research skills, from choosing sources to interviewing and note-taking to writing and editing drafts of reports
- Generation of salient questions through experiences with field trips, guest speakers, and classroom lessons
- Connectivity among theme studies and all academic disciplines
- Oral and written presentations of learned material
In the Lower School, instruction is deeply integrated to create a strong connection between reading, writing, word study, and oral language. Our Language Arts instruction relies on the latest research from the International Reading Association, National Institute of Literacy, National Institute of Health, Association of School Supervision and Curriculum Development, United States Department of Education, and the Ohio Department of Education, as well as many other national and international organizations.
Our focus of instruction matches the developmental stages of each student through differentiation and continual monitoring of growth to ensure literacy success.
The Lower School reading curriculum immerses students in a balanced literacy program that addresses the five components of reading instruction as identified by the National Reading Panel: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. The classroom teacher and the Lower School literacy specialists provide opportunities for reading support and enrichment.
In Form III, students who have been learning to read begin reading to learn. Children who are fluent and confident decoders of written language make this transition with great success. They begin to reach further in order to read more, and process the elemental aspects of what they read more deeply in areas such as plot development, character, and theme. Our focus on non-fiction bridges pleasure reading, core curriculum, and theme units as we develop the skills necessary to read for information. We assess these skills three times within the academic year by frequent informal assessments, as well as by formalized assessments such as the Developmental Reading Assessment and STAR program. Form III students balance what they read among personal choices, reading group selections, research, and class read-aloud favorites. Form III students explore the written word with the goal of “diving deeply” into every book.
The Lower School writing curriculum centers on a writing process that includes prewriting (brainstorming, webbing, outlining, etc.), composing the rough draft, editing for conventions, revising for content, and publishing the final draft. Students in the Lower School learn to write within multiple genres to broaden their exposure to literary components. Writing projects are often integrated through thematic units of study.
The writing curriculum steadily moves toward deeper reflection on meaning, the ability to pose and consider salient questions, and the generation and defense of argument in written form. Students practice their writing skills in journals and short assignments, as well as in papers that require editing, revision, and presentation. Students write both independently and in collaboration, so that they develop personal ideas by listening to others, assessing, and then writing. Form III curricular components focus on personal narrative, poetry, persuasive writing, and expository reporting.
The spelling program in the Lower School follows Primary Spelling in Forms I-IV and components of Spellography in Form V. These are systematic, explicit programs written to enhance each student’s phonological and orthographic understanding of word construction, as well as syllable identification, morphology, and parts of speech. Students learn grammar and vocabulary through mini-lessons and also through application to the writing process.
We focus on spelling, grammar, and vocabulary as stand-alone lessons throughout the year. Students continue the systematic pursuit of word formation through the Primary Spelling program, by developing their understanding of long and short-vowel words, homophones, prefixes and suffixes, root words, syllable types, and phonemes through a series of lessons, each centered on a list of 20 words. Grammar lessons in Form III range from general information such as parts of speech and sentence structure, to pronoun usage and capitalization rules. Vocabulary naturally pervades the curriculum, emerging as it does across disciplines in daily conversation and through spelling lists. Form III students become more curious about words and more independent in using dictionaries and other resources to define them.
Oral Language: Speaking, Listening, and Presenting
Foundational oral language skills include speaking, listening, and presenting. Teachers embed these skills into daily experiences by highlighting them in a variety of ways, including through classroom ambassadors, lunch announcements and jokes, curriculum showcases, and grade-level presentations to the entire Lower School in the Unicorn Theater.
Lower School students use Math in Focus, a textbook series based on Singapore Math methodology, to guide mathematical understanding.Concepts are introduced developmentally in a three step progression:concretely, pictorially, and then abstractly.Sprints and daily counting techniques promote stamina, focus, and number fluency.In addition, problem-solving is integrated daily, and teachers encourage students to explain strategies, formulate multiple solutions, and collaborate with peers.Each lesson involves the use of technology. Math in Focus is organized to teach fewer concepts at each level with mastery as a goal.When a concept appears in a subsequent grade level, it is always at a higher or deeper level.
Form III students use base ten blocks to represent addition and subtraction of numbers to 10,000 in a visual manner.Teachers reinforce multiplication as repeated addition and division as repeated subtraction, and they encourage students to recognize number patterns rather than memorize math facts by rote.Place value is foundational in Singapore Math; Form III girls use blocks, mats, and manipulatives to practice multiplication of ones, tens, and hundreds with and without regrouping, as well as division of tens and ones with no remainder.They investigate equations, equivalencies, and geometric concepts such as congruence, symmetry, and transformations.Measurement lessons involve discovering formulas for area and perimeter.Students build upon knowledge of bar modeling techniques to solve one- and two-step word problems.Lessons reinforce development and application of estimation strategies.Small group collaboration fosters effective mathematical communication and analysis of different solutions.
In the Lower School, the music curriculum develops skills, cultivates creativity, and helps students cultivate an appreciation for the art of music. Using techniques from the Kodaly, Orff, and Dalcroze methods, steps toward musical literacy and ear training prepare students for future ensemble work. The music faculty also works closely with the other Lower School teachers to create meaningful, authentic experiences that reinforce content learned in other subjects.
Form III rhythmic literacy extends to include 16th notes and 8th-16th note combinations. Students learn about absolute pitch and we introduce additional solfege pitches. Form III students begin their ensemble experience with either strings or recorder where they learn basic instrumental playing techniques like articulation, fingerings, and instrument care.
Form III Strings students experience music through the study of an instrument (violin, viola, cello, or bass) and by collaborating in an ensemble. Students learn the basics of proper posture, instrument and bow hold, and quality sound production on their instrument. The class learns to read musical symbols and notation and focuses on listening to others and playing with a steady beat. Students learn the notes of the D Major scale, and they learn and memorize several unison and two-part songs. All strings students perform at Lower School Arts Night in May.
The curricular focus for students choosing to play a wind or percussion instrument begins with responsibility for and care of the instrument. They will begin to connect their musical knowledge from previous music classes to their recorder or band instrument. The goal is to be able to perform simple to complex melodies independently and with an ensemble.
Form III recorders are considered a "Pre-Band" ensemble. Students learn how to use their breath to produce a steady tone, their tongues to articulate the beginning of each note, and their fingers to properly hold and cover specific holes on a recorder. Students manage an octave of notes and learn beginning musical terminology/theory, as well as unison and two-part traditional pieces. They will perform at Lower School Arts Night in May.
The goal of the Lower School Physical Education program is to provide our girls with a safe and fun environment, where they are engaged in activities that will develop their knowledge, skills, and fitness levels to participate competently in physical activities. Emphasis in all classes will be placed on cooperation, teambuilding, and the practice of good sportsmanship. Our hope is that each girl finds her own motivation to stay physically fit and make healthy choices throughout her life. Each Form in Lower School has Physical Education twice every six-day rotation for 40 minutes throughout the entire school year.
In Form III, the girls review fundamental motor skills and movement patterns. Some of the target units in this Form are lacrosse, volleyball, basketball, soccer, striking activities, introduction to field hockey skills, jump rope activities (jump bands and long rope skills), and swimming.Motor and manipulative skills are applied and enhanced through sport specific activities. As the levels of student competency and competition begin to increase, teamwork, and sportsmanship concepts are emphasized. All students participate in FITNESSGRAM Assessments in the fall and spring. Students begin to have a greater understanding of health-related fitness concepts. In the pool, the girls develop water safety skills, swimming and diving skills, and enjoy collaborative water activities.
Science in the Lower School is an inquiry experience. The girls ask and answer questions, collect and analyze data, and create explanations for phenomena in the natural world. They also apply scientific knowledge to solve problems through engineering and design challenges. There is also a strong emphasis on literacy through reading nonfiction text, writing in science notebooks, and frequent discussions. In Forms III-V, students use numerical and pictorial data to answer questions. They begin to analyze data through charts and graphs, and make claims based on evidence. By the end of Lower School, students can write simple scientific arguments in response to questions.
In Form III, students study habitats, how organisms interact within a habitat, and how habitats change as a result of human and natural influences. The girls explore the effects of various forces, including gravity and friction, on the motion of objects. Finally, they investigate weather and climate, including the various climate regions found around the world. Students continue to hone observational skills and represent their observations in drawings and writing. They begin to work more independently with informational text and practice reading strategies with text that supports their acquisition of science content. Students continue to develop their ability to generate evidence-based claims and begin to represent data in simple graphs.
The goal of Lower School Spanish is to prepare students for Middle School Spanish by tapping the natural language-acquisition abilities of young students to encourage them to speak authentically. To accomplish this, the Lower School curriculum is based on an instructional strategy in which students learn vocabulary through Total Physical Response actions and then through storytelling. Students thus contextualize the words they have learned. This program produces a balance between student comprehension and student production of meaningful language. We strive to promote keen interest in and enjoyment of the language and cultures of Spanish speaking countries.
Form III students master core vocabulary through recycling exercises that progress in difficulty. They continue their development of basic sentence structure. Students also learn about the importance of the Hispanic population in the U.S. and its influence on our culture.
In Technology classes, students learn a variety of applications and skills that allow the use of technology as a tool to accomplish educational objectives. Technology classes in Lower School have four main concentrations:
- Students learn word processing and presentation software.
- The robotics program begins in Form I with 3D design and culminates with programming Lego robots in Forms IV and V.
- Students utilize a variety of programs, including green screen technology, to create multimedia projects.
- Using curriculum materials from Common Sense Media, students discuss how to be safe and smart when online and using technology.
Form III students use individual network accounts, navigate to files on the network, review and reinforce Microsoft Word basics, and create PowerPoint presentations. They learn keyboarding skills using Type to Learn 4 and create a variety of multimedia projects including using green screen technology to make videos. With supervision, they utilize web sites that support their curriculum units of study. They are introduced to age-appropriate internet safety concepts in staying safe online by understanding rings of responsibility and cyberbullying, protecting private and personal information, using keywords for searching, and in showing respect online.