Ten and 11-year-old students are inquisitive, fun, and enjoy their peers and surroundings. They like to share their knowledge with others and are proud of what they have accomplished. They have a growing capacity for higher-level thinking, and typically like to try work that is challenging and involves cooperative interaction with classmates.
The Form V year provides various opportunities to foster the growth the each student and help unlock her unique potential. Students manage their time on long-term projects, articulate their point of view in writing class, demonstrate an acquaintance with world and domestic events, delve into science labs in a double-period block, and become online citizens in Digital Literacy. They also build a sense of personal independence and autonomy through an overnight class trip.
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.
Through studies in their homerooms, science, and art classes, Form V girls learned how explorers used the constellations to navigate long before there were GPS systems. Each girl was given a constellation to research and recreate using a variety of materials. We began the unit by looking at several examples of astrophotography. To reproduce these effects, students used many techniques including watercolor, ink washes, and resistance. They learned how salt and alcohol react with watercolor creating surface texture. They also created their own experimental techniques with a variety of media including metallic pigment powders and glue mixed into their paint. To create their “stars” we mixed borax and water and grew crystals that were then glued onto our backgrounds.
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 V, typical Integrated Units of Study include: Geography of the Western Hemisphere, The Age of Exploration, Colonial America and Seeds of Independence, and Westward Expansion.
The following is an outline for a research unit on The Age of Exploration:
- Why did European explorers come to the Americas?
- What conflicts have arisen from exploration, past and present?
- How have our lives been impacted by past and present exploration?
- How has scientific exploration been important to the human condition and to human knowledge?
- What are we exploring today?
Each Study emphasizes several concepts and skills:
- Describe major European explorers: their personal background, sponsors, motives, routes of exploration, and impact.
- Compare Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations.
- Identify bodies of water, physical features, and landforms.
- Connect “the final frontier” of exploration to the Space Age and recent space exploration.
- Read a variety of nonfiction and primary resources.
- Interpret maps and directions.
- Research an explorer (past or current) through nonfiction books, articles, and web sites.
- Write an expository essay on the explorer. This project includes skills of summarizing, note-taking, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
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 V, we encourage students to read from Newbery Award winning novels or honorees. Students receive daily reading instruction as a part of that day’s lesson, aloud as a class, or through independent reading time. Each year, students read historical fiction novels that coincide with the material they are learning and studying in Social Studies. The novels may include titles such as Stowaway by Karen Hesse, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, and Crooked River by Shelley Pearsall. We assess skills throughout the academic year by frequent informal assessments, as well as by formalized assessments such as the Developmental Reading Assessment and STAR program. In addition to reading instruction in class, we invite Form V students to join a book club that meets during lunch once a month. Students select the books and representatives run meetings in conjunction with an adult facilitator.
The Lower School writing curriculum is grounded in 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. Teachers often integrate writing projects through thematic units of study.
Form V students write in multiple genres: academic research papers, descriptive pieces, narrative fiction, argumentative letters, historical journals, autobiography, and in response to literature. During writing periods, teachers present mini-lessons and help students work towards individualized writing goals. Students share their best work with peers and then add it to their writing portfolio.
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 enhance vocabulary for students in Form V through the Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop program. Students learn words in context with direct instruction from the teacher and reinforcement through multiple activities. Additionally, opportunities to read aloud and to discuss class novels help students to encounter new words in a print-rich environment.
Direct instruction in grammar helps students learn the parts of speech, punctuation, and spelling. Student writing drives grammar lessons, and the Sadlier Grammar Workshop text provides exercises for practice. Writers learn how to expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader interest, and style.
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 such as classroom ambassadors, lunch announcements and jokes, curriculum showcases, and grade-level presentations to the entire Lower School in the Unicorn Theater.
Form V students display their growing confidence in public speaking with various classroom presentations, including their “Create a Country” project, explorer research poster, writing from Writer’s Workshop, and argumentative/persuasive writing. Students in Form V offer two presentations to the Lower School: the first on a class unit of study and the second in the Spanish language.
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.
The Form V math curriculum develops strong number concepts and algebraic thinking while strengthening mathematical practices. The content is focused on building foundations for number sense, algorithms, problem-solving, measurement, and geometry. The girls identify, describe, and extend numeric patterns involving all operations. They understand place value concepts through the millions place. They multiply multi-digit numbers and find quotients involving multi-digit dividends. The girls use visual models to represent operations with fractions and decimals. Bar modeling promotes solving complex word problems by visualization of algebraic equations, therefore providing a meaningful transition to abstract thinking. Students use Order of Operations to evaluate numeric expressions, and they begin to represent unknown quantities with variables. Geometry units involve discovering area and perimeter of various polygons, exploring properties of angles and triangles, decomposing solid figures to find surface area, and constructing and interpreting graphs. Strategies for estimation and mental math are implemented throughout the curriculum. Small group collaboration fosters effective mathematical communication and analysis of multiple solutions.
In the Lower School, the focus of the music curriculum is to develop musical skills, cultivate creativity, and discover an appreciation for the art of music. Using techniques from the Kodaly, Orff, and Dalcroze methods, steps toward musical literacy and ear training will 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 the other subjects.
In Form V, students work in both the major and minor modes and experience changing and mixed meter. In chorus, band, and strings, students apply what they have learned to more advanced literature, singing and playing technique, part independence, and expressive elements to prepare for Middle School ensembles.
In Form V Strings, students sharpen the technical and expressive elements of their playing through the study of challenging string orchestra repertoire. The class works on scales, arpeggios, technical exercises, and sight-reading pieces. Students enjoy the collaborative aspects of playing in an ensemble by learning to follow a conductor, listen to different parts of the orchestra, and play with dynamics and varying articulations. The students have the opportunity to perform in school concerts and for service projects in the community.
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 with an ensemble and independently.
Form V band members learn how to properly care for their instruments and maintain their working order. They also learn how to breathe, articulate, produce a steady musical tone, and play as an ensemble. They then focus on musical terminology corresponding to the music they are playing as well as note names, rhythms, expressive elements, and different genres of music. We strive to develop secure beginner musicians who enjoy making music on their instruments individually and together and are ready to transition to Middle School Band the following year.
The goal of the Lower School Physical Education program is to provide students 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. In all classes, we emphasize cooperation, team building, 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 throughout the entire school year.
In Form V, the girls are starting to refine their fundamental motor skills and movement patterns. Some of the target units in this Form are aerobic games, lacrosse, floor hockey, lifetime activities, and swimming. They are able to comprehend more complex concepts, strategies, and principles as applied to the learning and performance of physical activities. They begin to learn more complex motor skills and therefore begin to transfer concepts and skills learned in one game or activity to performance in another. Physical fitness is a key component of the curriculum as well as overall health and wellness. The girls will begin to independently set personal fitness goals for their fall and spring FITNESSGRAM assessments for cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and core and upper body strength. In the pool, Form V students will refine their water safety, swimming, and diving skills. They will also develop their aerobic fitness during water games and 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 V, students explore the solar system, galaxy, and universe. They observe and analyze data from natural cycles such as day to night and the seasons, and then develop explanations for these phenomena. Students study human body systems and their functions. The year concludes with a study of biomes around the world as well as the ways in which matter and energy flow through ecosystems. Students continue to practice and develop proficiency in all science skills introduced throughout the Lower School curriculum, including recording observations, creating graphs, generating evidence-based claims, writing scientific arguments, and designing simple experiments with a control and variables.
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. Thus, students 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 V students continue to develop their fluency through reading and storytelling. They expand their writing skills by creating original stories. They enhance their understanding of Spanish speaking cultures by studying differences and similarities with the U.S.
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.
The Form V Digital Literacy curriculum includes topics such as media literacy, Internet Safety, and the creation of digital content. This combines technology and library content into one class. We integrate research skills through student projects in many core classes including social studies, science, and Spanish. Form V students use individual network accounts, navigate to files on the network, advance their skills in Microsoft Word, hone keyboarding skills using Type to Learn 4 from home, and create a variety of multimedia projects including using green-screen technology to make videos. They learn more advanced programming skills using the NXT LEGP robotics program and design webpages using Weebly. Students 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 showing respect online. Form V students are empowered to explore programs and apply what they know.