The math curriculum in the Upper Elementary program includes arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. Upper Elementary teachers observe and assess each student’s skill level to determine where the student should begin in the curriculum. Students learn basic operations, math facts, fractions, decimals, word problems, geometry, measurement, pre-algebra, ratio and proportion, percents, graphing tables and charts, rounding and averaging. Students improve upon their problem solving skills by working collaboratively. The Upper Elementary math curriculum is built to ensure that all students are challenged appropriately, while progressing toward higher mathematical thinking. Sixth grade students attend a weekly one-hour science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lab in our Middle School with Middle School math and science teachers. This experience further develops each student’s math and science skills through active engagement in inquiry-based activities.
The Upper Elementary language curriculum fosters the growth and development of receptive and expressive language. Choices of literature complement other areas of the Upper Elementary curriculum including history, cultural studies, and social skills. Comprehension, reading aloud, and group discussion skills are reinforced, and techniques for literary criticism are introduced. Emphasis is placed on essay writing, stylistic writing, research and report writing, creative writing, and analytical and critical thinking. Sentence analysis and diagramming using manipulative grammar materials continues through the language curriculum. Progression in spelling capabilities continues with higher sophistication, as does cursive writing and keyboarding. Sixth graders complete a year-long research project that culminates in a written report and presentation to the Oak Meadow community.
The Upper Elementary cultural curriculum includes the study of geography, history, and science. The curriculum is designed to help students appreciate the impact of geography and technology on the history of the human race. Interconnectedness is an underlying theme as children explore man’s use of the earth’s natural resources and the development of trade. Students continue to build on their knowledge of land, water, and climate, and the effect each of these has on world cultures. Students benefit from the experience of Oak Meadow’s multicultural community as they explore regional foods, dress, music, art, religion, and traditions.
The Upper Elementary science curriculum is designed to familiarize students with some of the fundamental principles of scientific investigation and research, strengthen their powers of observation and critical thinking, and explore some of the basic concepts within the fields of biology, physical and chemical science, astronomy, and earth science. Many of the scientific principles are learned by the students through their own experiments with various liquids, solids, gases, prisms, magnets, electricity, gravity, pulleys, and balances. Upper Elementary students use their knowledge of the scientific method to design their own experiment and present at the Oak Meadow Science Fair held each spring.
The Upper Elementary Spanish curriculum expands upon the four basic skills of language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students continue to practice their conversational skills through skits and interaction with each other, and with the teacher. Card games, Lotería, and customized theme board games serve as a fun way to reinforce vocabulary and dialogue. Classes meet twice a week. The curriculum is guided by a monthly theme that includes vocabulary, reading and writing assignments, and cultural units, which include exploration of regional food and dance.
Beginning in the sixth grade, regular homework and project assignments are given. Students also begin to take quizzes to prepare them for the Middle School. In addition to the expansion of vocabulary, students learn to conjugate regular verbs in the present tense, and learn to form the simple future. They also learn the irregular verbs ir and ser and the correct use of estar. Reading in the target language is supported in the classroom and assigned at home. Writing extends to include creating flash cards, making regular entries in a personal reference journal, practicing translation skills, and completing exercises.
Social and emotional learning as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision- making and relationship skills. The development of these skills helps to promote prosocial behavior, reduce violence and bullying behaviors, and increase ability to learn and achieve in the school environment. Upper Elementary students explore developmentally appropriate concepts of social and emotional learning. Topics may include cooperation, responsibility, teamwork, community, kindness, impulse control, self-care, acceptance, and more. Lessons are taught both in small groups by classroom or include the entire Upper Elementary program, and are taught through projects, role-playing, experiential learning, visual cues, and guided discussions.
Upper Elementary students attend art classes by grade level once a week. Students continue to develop a deep understanding of materials and processes in order to independently pursue projects of their own design, as well as achieve competency while working on class projects. Awareness of art history and art as an expression of culture continues to be important at this level.
The Upper Elementary music curriculum emphasizes group singing, musical literacy, rhythmic training, ensemble work, and individual confidence. Students gain fluency in melodic and rhythmic Solfege systems, learning to write basic melodies and drum patterns. Classes incorporate songs, movement and musical games from many traditions, listening to and discussion of musical masterpieces, and frequent opportunities to explore and try musical instruments from around the world. Fourth and fifth grade students have an extended band unit during which they learn to play a wind instrument of their choice. Fourth graders also have a spring unit in Caribbean music during which they learn to play steel pan drums from Trinidad and learn syncopation through calypso, reggae, and soca styles. Fifth graders perform an African folktale as part of a unit in musical composition that centers around understanding scales, steps, and writing melodies on the kalimba, an African thumb piano. A highlight of the sixth grade year is a performance of the Mummer’s Play, an ancient European folk tradition celebrating the winter season with singing and dancing, rhyme and comedy. In addition to weekly classes, Upper Elementary have the opportunity to participate in after school music offerings including Concert Band and Concert Choir, musical theater, and lessons in vocal performance and a wide variety of instruments.
Drama classes at Oak Meadow allow students the opportunity to find their unique voice through the exploration of theatrical imagination. Beginning in the Lower Elementary program and continuing into Middle School, students participate in games, exercises, improvisations, and scripts that encourage confidence, enhance team-building skills, intellectually challenge, and heighten awareness. Through drama classes, students gain a better understanding of their emotions, and recognize their commonality with one another instilling in them a greater empathy towards others.
Upper Elementary students attend physical education classes by grade twice a week. As in Lower Elementary, students at this level continue to refine simple locomotor skills. Emphasis is placed on improving knowledge and specific sport skills needed to perform in individual, group, and team sports. Students continue to develop greater muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory endurance, which prepares them for physical fitness testing. Sixth year (grade) students participate in health education classes led by Oak Meadow’s physical education faculty.
Field trips are an integral part of the Upper Elementary curriculum and allow students to learn through their experiences at Nature’s Classroom, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chelmsford Performing Arts Center, and Drumlin Farms to name just a few. Sixth year (grade) students take a three-day trip to New York City in the spring where they visit museums and the zoo, take a Circle Line tour of the city, and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as an introduction to the cultural richness of an urban setting.