Grades 5-8

Fifth Grade

English Language Arts
The materials and class discussions are designed to move the students from comprehension to analysis.  In reading fiction, students learn to identify figurative language and to examine its meaning in the larger context of the story.  Students are introduced to the Document Based Question and the skills for expository writing.  They learn to distinguish among the modes of writing:  persuasion, narration, description, explanation.

Social Studies
The students look at the interconnection of geography, economics, culture, government, technology, and history. The course emphasizes the social studies skills of critical reading as they consider the idea of citizenship and identity.  Students study the rise of civilizations and the cultures of North and South America prior to European contact.  They then examine the arrival of the colonists, colonial settlement and European economic influence on early America.   In particular, students look at the development of the waterways in New York State.

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Students at the Outdoor Classroom up at Burke

Science
The course focuses on Ecology and Environmental Science. Students study native insects, amphibians, mammals, and trees. They collect samples and data, and make labeled scientific drawings. They begin to observe natural connections by studying the interaction of living things by studying food webs, photosynthesis and the water cycle.  Students continue to develop important scientific skills that are introduced in the earlier grades including: collecting data accurately, making scientific drawings, using the scientific method to make and test hypothesis, and writing lab reports.

Math
Students begin the year by reviewing place-value and the rounding of numbers.  The students then use the bulk of the year studying the math operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and their use with whole numbers, decimal numbers, and fractions.  Students continue to apply the four-step problem solving process.

IMG_4227The Fine Arts
Students begin the study of classical drawing by maintaining a sketchbook of weekly assignments.  Students keep the same sketchbook through grades five to eight.  Native American arts are the focus.  Aligned with the Native American studies, students create a variety of decorative and fine arts projects while studying the relevant art history of each.

Sixth Grade

English Language Arts
Students read a broader range of texts and poetry to expand their analytical skills.  Students practice more complex Document Based Questions and couple that with more complex writing assignments.  Several writing assignments grow out of the Social Studies units of study.

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Large group seminar discussions during Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Social Studies
The students continue to look at the interconnection of geography, economics, culture, government, technology, and history. The course emphasizes the social studies skills of critical reading as they consider the idea of citizenship and identity.  Students examine ancient cultures, the Fertile Crescent, the Nile River Valley, the Indus River Valley, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Europe in transition, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the natural philosophers.

Science
The course focuses on Ecology and Environmental Science. Students study native insects, amphibians, mammals, and trees. They collect samples and data, and make labeled scientific drawings. They begin to observe natural connections by studying the interaction of living things by studying food webs, photosynthesis and the water cycle.  Students continue to develop important scientific skills that are introduced in the earlier grades including: collecting data accurately, making scientific drawings, using the scientific method to make and test hypotheses, and writing lab reports.

Math
Students begin the year by honing their knowledge from the previous year to become more efficient math students.  Sixth graders are introduced to the concept of the variable and its use in solving real-life problems.  They are required to complete more complex problems involving fractions as well as lessons about measurements, and their conversion.  Students are also introduced to integers and the solving of algebraic equations.

IMG_4228The Fine Arts
Students maintain the classical drawing sketchbook of weekly assignments begun in the fifth grade.  Students create art projects which explore the decorative and fine arts of the ancient cultures in combination with the early civilizations they study in history.  The art of the Renaissance and colonial America are explored.

Seventh Grade

English Language Arts
Students consider American literature and its themes and images, as they read short stories, novels, poems, letters, diaries, and newspapers in conjunction with the history course.  They review essential characteristics of each of these genres, including their structures and their content.  The course places heavy emphasis on learning to write formal essays in the modes of persuasion, expression, analysis, and explanation.  Students work heavily with primary documents and the Document Based Question and Essay.

14702383_1141586779240343_4451900725755725775_nSocial Studies
United States:
  The year begins with a study of the early years of the United States and the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Using multicultural literature, primary documents, film, scientific and retrospective essays, this course focuses on the relationship between the ideas of equality, race, and gender and their impact on the historical events and perspectives that have shaped today’s nation.  Group and independent inquiry units ask students to apply the five national standards of historical approaches: chronological thinking, historical comprehension, analytical and interpretive thinking, historical research, and historical issues and decision-making. The class is run seminar-style and the students receive a seminar grade.

Math – Introduction to Algebra.
The course begins with a review of basic mathematical concepts and then proceeds to pre-algebra material in preparation for Algebra 1 in grade eight.  Topics include properties of integers, rational numbers, real numbers, factors, monomials, exponents, linear functions, graphing, proportions, percents, measurement, area, and volume.  If time allows we examine some properties of polynomials.  Throughout the year students are encouraged to deepen their abstract thinking skills by applying their new-found skills to complex problems and participating in MathCounts.

IMG_4258Seventh grade math is meant to prepare students for algebra.  Students begin by reviewing the order of operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. They then move on to integers, then to variables and like terms, followed by solving equations using inverse operations. Basic operations with geometric shapes are introduced to help students visualize space in three dimensions. Throughout the year students are encouraged to deepen their abstract thinking skills by applying their newfound skills to complex problems.

Science
The class focuses on Life Science and Ecology.  Students begin the year with a comprehensive study of our Northern Forest Ecosystem.  Although they will study mammals and birds, the focus is really on different forest communities including northern mixed forest, moisture tolerant softwood forests, wetlands and alpine ecosystems. Students create their own healthy forest by studying and practicing habitat and tree stand improvement.  Students also visit local wetlands, bogs, and mountain-tops to observe, draw and collect data. Students learn to use the microscope to study cells. They examine human body systems, DNA, and genetics. They also undertake dissection of animal specimens when possible. Students continue developing important scientific skills including: making detailed scientific drawings, making and testing hypotheses and writing thoughtful lab reports.

IMG_4887The Fine Arts
As part of the American Studies year, students continue their study of classical drawing with weekly assignments.  The belief that art is a cultural artifact guides students through the American Studies focus:  American arts, folk art, African-American art, Hudson River School, American ex-patriot sculptures, kinetic sculpture, ephemeral sculpture, and modernism.

Eighth Grade

IMG_5375English Language Arts
Students read a wide variety of memoirs, letters, novels, and poetry designed to deepen their understanding of elements of language and rhetoric, using guidelines established by the College Board’s Pre-Advanced Placement.  The course continues to emphasize strong reading and writing skills.  Students write argumentative essays based on literary texts, primary documents, and research.   They continue to study grammar in increasingly complex sentences.

Social Studies – Global Studies
Focusing on the emerging nations and governments of the late Twentieth Century, students analyze the actions and roles of nations that are guided by deeply held beliefs which may differ considerably from one to another.  As students circumnavigate the globe, the issues of hunger, homelessness, conflict, migration, and international commerce are viewed from the perspective of interdependence and common interests.  They also create a comparative religions book.  The five geographic themes of location, place, relationships within places, regions, and movement of people, goods, and ideas assist in achieving a global understanding of issues and events.

14572313_1141581505907537_2633088348644063032_nScience
The eighth grade focuses on Chemistry, Geology and Physical Science. Students start the year with hands-on experiments collecting data about water. Students study and experiment with pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, velocity, and turbidity. Students engage in discussions about environmental ethics and work on a stream restoration project. We study geology on Wheeler Mountain and explore the Peacham Bog. During the winter, students study Chemistry and learn to interpret the Periodic Table of Elements. We also take a close look at plate tectonics, the solar system, and rocks and minerals. Students choose, plan and complete a hands-on outdoor project that will improve the school’s outdoor scientific facilities. Students are expected to master important scientific skills including: writing a meaningful lab report, creating detailed labeled scientific drawings, and presenting scientific knowledge visually and orally

Math
This course begins with a review of basic mathematical concepts and continues with a rigorous treatment of beginning algebra sufficient to prepare the student properly for a successful career in high school mathematics.  Topics include the properties of integers, rational numbers, and real numbers, proportions, percents, solving equations of absolute value and inequality form, compound inequalities, graphing functions, polynomials, the Pythagorean Theorem, some basic probability and statistics, and solving systems of linear equations and inequalities.   Students are also introduced to the use of graphing calculators in solving problems of the above mentioned concepts.

IMG_0044The Fine Arts
Complementing the Global Studies focus, the course includes ancient Egyptian art, Japanese Sumi painting, block printing, linear perspective, classical portrait sculpture, and the portrait from ancient through modern civilizations.

Religion Book
Promoting the understanding of the world religions, the course asks students to create a book containing information and imagery related to Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.  Joining the beliefs and the icons of each through the use of medieval illumination techniques, students create a reference book.

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