Grades 3-4: The Oak Knoll Middle Grades Program
Grades 3-4 Curriculum
At Oak Knoll, we refer to our Grade 3-4 Program as the Middle Grades. With increasing maturity and sense of responsibility, our grade 3 and 4 curriculum helps students solidify their foundational skill acquisition and broaden their ability to think critically.
We challenge our students to draw conclusions, differentiate between fact and opinion, make generalizations, as well as compare and contrast. Learning how to learn is an important component of the middle grades, as well as developing a broad range of study skills that will serve students a lifetime.
Children in our 3-4 Middle Grades Program progress in their ability to take personal responsibility for their learning and develop into independent thinkers and good citizens.
Field Trips Expand Our Middle Grades Curriculum
All Elementary School students enjoy special opportunities to head off campus for field trips. Visiting these sites is part of a yearlong cross-curriculum study of the United States.
As part of our Grade 4 curriculum, students in fourth grade explore the rich history of New Jersey through their study of the Lenape Indians and the state’s role in the Revolutionary War. The study of New Jersey state government culminates in a trip to the State House in Trenton.
Grades 3-4 Courses
The children grow in their understanding of a Triune God and learn the sacraments of the Church. God’s Law of Love, the Ten Commandments, and the Beatitudes become the moral foundation for making choices. Children learn how to read the Bible and pray the rosary.
Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are integrally entwined as students build their foundational skills and expand their ability to connect new learning with prior knowledge. Children hone their comprehension skills by developing the ability to identify character traits, story elements, cause and effect, and turning point. We enrich the reading program to include vocabulary development, grammar study, and reasoning skills. Students employ the writing process of brainstorming, revising, and editing as they learn and apply the elements of good writing.
Using Envision 2.0, students follow a differentiated math program that emphasizes competency on their current grade level and sometimes the level above. Instructional strategies implemented include mathematics as problem solving, mathematics as communication, mathematics as reasoning, and mathematical connections. Mathematical concepts covered included estimation, number sense and numeration, concepts of whole number operations, whole number computation, geometry and spatial sense, measurement, statistics and probability, fractions and decimals, and patterns and relationships. Students begin to move from a concrete to more abstract thinking skills by the end of the middle level.
Science students are active learners in the physical, earth, and life sciences. Laboratory experiments develop skills in observation, note-taking, cooperative learning, and multi-step directions. Our young scientists exclaim, “Science is fun!” as they explore rocks, minerals, ecology, water, weather, phases of the moon, and body systems. STEM investigations are integrated into certain units to enhance critical thinking and high levels of science learning for all students.
The United States is the broad umbrella for the social studies program. Children learn about Lenape Indians/Native Americans, along with colonists from different countries who have explored the Americas. They will also understand the different empires that have come to power. Students will do extensive study on the New England, Middle and Southern Colonies. They will be able to understand the different reasons why the colonists came to the different colonies, ie., religious opportunities. We will finish the year with the Revolutionary War. Students will be able to identify important people as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the American Army and the British Army.
In grades 3-4, physical education focuses on the introduction of sport-related skills in modified games and activities. Motor concepts are applied to these activities that encourage students to think critically and make responsible choices. Students are introduced to the “Fitnessgram” to asses individual fitness levels.
In the visual arts, the children are given a variety of experiences in many different media in order to strengthen their skills and abilities. As the child’s confidence and skills grow, new materials and challenges are introduced. The curriculum goes from a formalist approach in the lower primaries to cross-discipline integration in the older grades. Aesthetics and art appreciation are also extremely important in the total development of the student’s creative process.
Lower School students participate in a general music class of active music making and an age-appropriate chorus. Classroom music uses the Orff Schulwerk approach, in which children sing, move and play pitched and unpitched percussion instruments and recorders, as well as listen, analyze, improvise, and compose. Aspects of theory and music literacy are part of the instruction. The music curriculum for all grades includes hands on support of classroom iPads for reinforcement of music skills and creativity in composition. All students in grades 1 to 6 participate in the Christmas Concert and at least one other performance during the year incorporating music, movement, and drama. Often these performances represent a cross-discipline experience. In addition, students prepare and sing liturgical music for school liturgies.
An instrumental program is optional for children in grades 4 to 6. Strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments are taught in small groups by a private music instructor. A fee is charged for these lessons and for instrumental rental.
In creative drama classes, the children explore, enjoy, and share new ways of self-expression through movement, pantomime, storytelling, puppetry, improvisation, and small and large group performances. Middle graders receive formal instruction in puppetry and create their own puppet shows. All grades participate in creative dramatics throughout the year and are involved in the creation of their own videotaped commercial that is self-developed, written, directed, and produced! In the winter and spring, the students celebrate their talents in both our Christmas and spring concerts.
The world language program at Oak Knoll is designed to enable students to communicate meaningfully in another language at an age-appropriate level. We seek to broaden our students’ understanding of and appreciation for other cultures and nationalities. Lively games, activities, and songs reinforce the acquisition of oral and visual vocabulary and encourage students to speak in Spanish. Students continue to broaden their vocabulary with an emphasis on speaking and pronunciation. Simulations of real life experiences encourage conversational skills.
In third grade, students become secure in the purpose of the I.D.E.A.S. Lab and handling the equipment with care. They develop basic presentation skills and the ability to use Google Apps for Education. They further develop typing skills through Typing Club and learn how to log in using individual user accounts and passwords. They learn to navigate both Chrome and Windows 10 laptops. Students create individual Scratch account sand further develop their coding skills to program robots and work through challenges. LittleBits skills are enhanced by introducing Gizmos and Gadget Kits, while students complete design challenges and other project-based learning initiatives. Students begin to understand how to troubleshoot independently and begin a Digital Citizenship course through Google’s Be Internet Awesome.
Students in fourth grade expand their knowledge of the I.D.E.A.S. Lab, further develop their typing, troubleshooting and basic presentation skills while completing Design Challenges. They will use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. They will create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations. A robotics team is formed in fourth grade, where they further develop coding skills to program all robots and work through challenges. Students are also introduced to myOKS, Oak Knoll’s learning management system, and learn how to access and complete online assignments. They will continue the Digital Citizenship course through Google’s Be Internet Awesome, explore virtual reality through Google Expedition and be introduced to Tinkercad for 3-D printing by the end of the year.
The Bonaventura Library program focuses on two main objectives: the development of information literacy skills necessary for learning in the 21st century and a lifelong love of reading. Children in kindergarten to grade 6 attend regularly scheduled library classes and visit the library for class projects, for group or independent research or to check out books at any time during the school day.
In grade 3, we expand our use of reference materials and begin the use of electronic subscription databases, such as World Book Reference Center and Culture Grams. In grade 4, almanacs, atlases, and specialized reference sets and more advanced databases are added to the mix.
Students in grades 4 to 6 study the body, growth and development, nutrition, disease prevention, substance abuse, and first aid in a formal class setting. Many topics are taught in conjunction with units in science.