Lower School students in science class

Grades 5-6

Grades 5-6: Our Intermediate Grades Program Prepares Students for Today’s World

Grades 5-6 Intermediate Program
Students in our Grade 5-6 program, our Intermediate Grades Program, experience that period of growth between childhood and adulthood called adolescence. Students are ready to apply foundational skills learned earlier and develop abstract thinking ability.

Future Ready
In order to develop skills that meet the wants of the age, such tools as NoodleTools, Webspiration, Wikis, and online forums and discussions are used in all areas of our grade 5 and 6 curriculum. Each classroom is outfitted with SMARTboards, and all students have access to laptops to help facilitate learning.

Prior to fifth and sixth grade, students learned to read — now they read to learn. Study skills are paramount during this period. Teachers guide students in how to conduct research, take notes, write paragraphs, organize time, study for tests, and answer essay questions.

Developing Leadership Skills for Middle School
With increased maturity comes more opportunities for leadership. We encourage young men and women to look beyond themselves in service to others. A change in uniform is a symbol of this new growth and development, and grade 6 students are invited to run for elected office on the Executive Board of our Student Council.

Grades 5-6 Courses

Students deepen their relationship with God through Scripture, study of the life of Jesus, sacraments, and prayer. They assume leadership roles, enhancing the liturgical celebration of the Mass through the ministries of breadbaking, dance, decorating, drama, hospitality, lectors, music, servers, and sacristans. Through interviews with Holocaust survivors, our students learn the effects of prejudice and the need for tolerance and respect. We encourage our students to live their faith through service to others. Students make lunches for those in need in the local community, and sixth graders prepare a monthly meal at homeless shelters.

Good literature is the core of the reading/language arts program. We develop students’ abilities to think critically and clearly express their thoughts in writing. “Literature Circles” encourage higher-level thinking skills as students read, share, question, and summarize. The writing process of drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading improves student writing. Vocabulary development and advanced grammar skills continue to be essential components of the curriculum. A highlight for our sixth graders is their performance in the Poetry Coffeehouse during the third trimester.

The intermediate level students continue with the Envision 2.0 program. The program offers differentiated instruction and concentrates on problem solving, the explanation of thought processes and the reasoning behind the mathematical thinking. This program is supplemented by an intuitive program called Redbird that delivers individualized learning and application. Mathematical concepts covered include decimals, fractions, data, geometry, measurement, graphing, expressions, equations and inequalities, rates and ratios and percent. At the end of sixth grade, the students are well prepared for a Pre-Algebra course.

The science curriculum incorporates an interdisciplinary approach that allows for students to develop a stronger understanding of science content, as well as, scientific skills, such as observing, hypothesizing, and drawing conclusions. During fifth grade, students focus on “The Living World” (which covers the Cell Theory, the human body systems, ecosystems and biomes, survival through adaptation), a unit on space exploration (where students simulate a moon landing at the Buehler Challenger Science Center), and an introductory unit on chemistry. Class activities include planning investigations to test out new ideas, independent research during projects, and active participation during class or small group discussions. Students develop their own science notebook  which replaces a traditional science textbook, and includes class discussion notes and vocabulary, reflective journal entries, data tables and graphs, and sketches. The absence of a traditional textbook allows for the instructor to share instructional materials from a variety of sources, and to share documents and digital media that bring the most current materials for science instruction to the students.

In the sixth grade, students continue to develop scientific knowledge through a hands-on study of the Hudson River ecosystem (which leads up to the students sailing along the Hudson River on the Clearwater Sloop), a forensic science unit, and an independent science project. The Hudson River unit focuses on tying together the studies of biology and chemistry as students learn about the Hudson’s River pollution issues, animal and plant life, and water quality testing. Students then become forensic scientists, focusing on various skills that help to solve crimes, such as dusting for prints, analyzing fiber samples, and measuring bones during an anthropology lab. These budding scientists wrap up the school year by completing a science experiment and publishing their work using a technology tool of their choosing.

Social studies encompasses history, geography, citizenship, culture and current events. Students in fifth grade study the basic principles of the Constitution, simulate a wagon train on pioneer trail, and debate the efficacy of the Civil War.  Weekly discussions of current events help create knowledgeable citizens of the world.Throughout the year, students gain skills in written communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and print and internet research.

In sixth grade, students continue their study of American history and the emerging role of the United States as a global leader. Sixth grade students also participate in a personal budget project, whereby they gain real-life experience identifying the economic principle of “needs vs. wants.” Weekly discussions of current events help create knowledgeable citizens of the world. Throughout the year, students gain skills in oral presentations, written communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and print and internet research.

At the intermediate level, physical education focuses on sports-related motor skills including, but not limited to, field hockey, soccer, team handball, basketball, volleyball, paddle ball, lacrosse, floor hockey, baseball, and track and field. Higher level motor concepts including game rules and strategies are emphasized, enabling students to think critically in game situations. Health-related fitness concepts including cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility are emphasized. Students are expected to demonstrate responsibility, respect, and enthusiasm for a lifetime of healthy choices. The “Fitnessgram” is used as an assessment of health-related 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. Intermediate students learn the art of storytelling as they work to develop their public speaking skills. 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. With the confidence gained from several years of world language instruction, students broaden their skills to include writing using proper syntax. Children develop practical communication skills through real-life simulations.

Students in fifth grade are now secure in the purpose of the I.D.E.A.S. Lab and handling the equipment with care based on the expectations set in our acceptable use policy. Students are allowed to choose their own design projects and activities using a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. They are allowed to create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations. Students also further develop design skills for 3-D printing through TinkerCad and are introduced to Dremel Software for 3-D printing. Students will feel secure in coding using Block Coding language to enhance Scratch and coding skills. They will complete the next level of Google’s Be Internet Awesome for Digital Citizenship in conjunction with Common Sense Education. Students will also be introduced to virtual reality design using CoSpaces and further explore virtual reality. Students will further develop their ability to access and use myOKS and feel secure in their troubleshoot ability.

In grade six, our seasoned users of the I.D.E.A.S. Lab will design and create using all of the available tools. Students are allowed to choose their own design projects and activities based on real world applications – using a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. They will be secure in their design skills for 3-D printing through TinkerCad and Dremel Software; secure in coding using Block Coding language; secure in virtual reality design using CoSpaces; secure in their ability to access and use myOKS; and secure in their troubleshooting ability. They will continue developing Scratch and coding skills. Students will complete the next level of Google’s Be Internet Awesome for Digital Citizenship in conjunction with Common Sense Education.

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 grades 5 and 6, the emphasis is on critical evaluation of Web resources and proper citation. Students must put together all the steps of the research process and construct bibliographies for all projects requiring research.

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.