During the ages of 9 to 12 years of age (grades 4 – 6), your child is going through the transformation to adolescence. The child-like nine year-old who enters fourth grade is very different from the socially savvy 12 year-old who moves on to Middle School. The Upper Elementary years are a time of physical change and often a time of emotional instability. Confidence surges and wanes, bodies change, friendships and loyalties are in flux. Balancing an emerging competitive drive within a diverse group is an important and challenging skill to master.
In Upper Elementary we encourage healthy social, emotional, and physical development by structuring the program with many cross-level group activities and lessons. Growing intellectual capacity is matched by challenging concepts and a robust curriculum. Students are introduced to textbooks in addition to the advanced Montessori materials and plentiful classroom resources. There will be work that needs to be completed at home. An Intervention Specialist is available as a resource for all students and provides support where needed. The West Side Montessori curriculum is reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the school meets and exceeds State standards.
Reading fluency and comprehension are the foundation for success in all academic disciplines. Each student develops individual reading goals within the Accelerated Reader program. After testing at 70% or above they move on. Goals and progress are monitored in weekly meetings with mentor teachers. Literature Circles led by 6th level students are used to discuss assigned reading. The student leaders create the questions and activities for those in their group and help to evaluate their work. Each group may be reading a different work.
Listening, following directions, organizing thoughts, and writing effectively are emphasized. Vocabulary is developed through Wordly Wise assignments. Writers Workshop takes place weekly with teachers offering a prompt or students choosing their own topics. A rubric is often used to provide the framework for evaluation. Additional resources such as Daily Language Review are used as needed to practice and refine grammar and punctuation.
Research and public speaking are reinforced at the Upper Elementary level. Students do several Independent Investigations each year that result in a research presentation including a written report, a visual aid, as well as an oral presentation in front of students, teachers, and parents. Students often enjoy using their technology skills to enhance oral presentations.
When fourth level students enter Upper Elementary, they meet in math groups to review concepts and skills. The Montessori mathematics materials such as the stamp game introduced in Lower Elementary are used as needed to transition to abstract paper/pencil work. Advanced Montessori materials in fractions, decimals, geometry, and algebra are used to illustrate increasingly complex concepts and help children understand the process behind different algorithms as they progress through the rigorous curriculum. Students are also challenged to develop their mathematical thinking through the use of group problem solving activities with Math Investigations (levels 4-5) and Connected Math (level 6).
Curriculum is presented by grade level as follows:
Grade 4 – Life Science includes describing the characteristics of life, interdependence of life, identifying the 5 kingdoms, explaining scientific classification, and cellular structure. Human anatomy is also studied. Earth Science includes the earth’s surfaces and measurement, the composition of rocks and the rock cycle, and the work of water. An understanding of the scientific method is developed through investigations and experiments.
Grade 5 – Life Science includes plant kingdom phyla and cellular structure. Earth Science includes seasons, climate, and weather patterns. Physical Science includes the physical and chemical properties of matter, the periodic table, compounds, mixtures, and solutions. The scientific method study is expanded to include data interpretation and reasoning.
Grade 6 – Life Science includes the study of the remaining kingdoms of Fungi, Prokaryote, and Protoctista. Earth Science focuses on the rotation of the earth and its relationship to our solar system and the universe. Physical Science studies include Newton’s Laws of Motion and the study of energy forms. Additional scientific method tools and techniques, variables, interpretation, and faulty reasoning are explored.
There is a three-year rotation of curriculum including the study of: Early Man, Ancient Civilizations, and Early American History/Ohio History. All grade levels work together as they research and develop written and oral presentations. Maps and timelines are used to support the curriculum. Art and technology teachers work with classroom teachers to enhance projects and research papers.
World Language – French or Spanish
Students are exposed to world languages beginning at age three. They choose one world language to pursue when they enter Lower Elementary. At the Upper Elementary level French and Spanish classes meet twice per week in fourth level, three times per week in fifth level and four times per week in sixth level. Teachers individualize with different listening activities, presentations, and outcomes expected. Speaking, reading, writing, and culture are all included. A variety of multi-media, on-line resources and texts are used.
Art, Music, Physical Education, and Technology classes are included in each child's weekly schedule and are taught by specialists in each area of the curriculum. Co-curricular specialists often work together to plan student performances.