Upper Elementary (3rd - 5th)
Language Arts: This subject encompasses many areas of learning including reading, reading comprehension, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and rules for punctuation. But most importantly, our teachers help young student minds foster a true love of reading. Statistically, if a child is an avid reader they continue to excel and learn for a lifetime. We utilize a Reader's Workshop model. The whole class is not always reading the same book at the same level and at the same pace. Students are reading on their own. We try to encourage a community of readers making personal choices in reading material with guidance from their teacher. Our vocabulary studies include the study of word origin and exercising knowledge of affixes, and morphology which results in vocabulary growing exponentially as opposed to the memorization of words. Children are taught spelling rules and then how to apply the rules of spelling through explicit instruction.
Due to the large amounts of learning in Language Arts in Upper Elementary Grades, we have categorized their learning standards.
3rd Grade Language Arts: In 3rd grade, our students make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. It is a big year! Our 3rd graders learn what it takes to be a good reader through reading workshops and one on one conferencing. Through reading workshops, students learn what to do when they don’t understand a word or a passage. Students discuss books in small groups and ask questions about what they are reading. Students use interactive notebooks and graphs to organize their thoughts about the books they read. Through conferencing and workshops, students are introduced to many literary genres and a variety of print forms. In Writing, our 3rd graders learn organizational methods that help them prepare for more complex writing assignments. Students go through the writing process by creating webs, maps, and diagrams. Students learn to write persuasive, fiction, and informational writing pieces. After writing, students take ownership of their writing and learn to edit, proofread, and revise their writing pieces. In Spelling, our 3rd graders learn age appropriate spelling patterns, It is important to teach spelling patterns rather than memorization because it unlocks so many more words for our third grade learners. Students learn how to apply the rules and spelling concepts they have learned. Vocabulary in 3rd grade is a cross sensory experience. Students study word parts which allows students to unlock hundreds of thousands of words in the English language. Students learn how to look for context clues through explicit instruction, take their vocabulary to art form, act out their vocabulary, and finally learn synonyms and antonyms. Our 3rd grade students love the word work sessions.
- Interactive read-aloud and literature discussion
- Shared and performance reading
- Writing about reading
- Oral, visual, and technological communication
- Phonics, spelling, and word study
Our 4th grade writing curriculum also utilizes a workshop approach. The primary resource for teaching writing is Units of Study in Opinion, Narrative, and Expository Writing (copyright 2015, Heinemann) also developed by Lucy Calkins and colleagues at The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Our students begin the year with narrative writing, move into opinion writing to prepare for the Fourth Grade Writing Test, and end with Expository Writing. Our 4th graders improve their skills in English grammar and usage to study the eight parts of speech and English language syntax. The teaching of spelling is programmed, focusing on word roots, patterns, and families. Students practice cursive handwriting using the Palmer Method of Handwriting where they develop and use muscular movement in handwriting.
5th Grade Language Arts: The 5th grade reading program is designed to foster a love of reading in our students at a time when many begin to feel the draw of an interactive video game over that of an engaging story. Access to literature books that are leveled in both the classroom and the school library allow our students choice in their reading. Reading skills are taught using the books the students are reading. Picture books are used in the modeling of these skills. "Book Commercials" are a common place in the classroom to share our own opinions of the books we are reading and to encourage others to read the same book. Teacher confer with the students regularly to assess their engagement with books of all different genres.
Fifth grade at Sacred Heart studies the eight parts of speech and writing. Writing genres include narrative, expository, research reports, essays and letter writing. Children write daily across the curriculum. The writing process is developed beginning in the primary grades. Grammar usage and mechanics are reinforced through writing. Speaking and listening skills are also part of the program, as well as working on library and dictionary skills. A Greek and Latin Root program consists of the weekly study of three Greek or Latin roots and 10 words containing those roots, presented throughout the year in 30 units. The work of each unit is divided into a seven-part structure: definitions, match the meaning, synonyms and antonyms, completing the sentence, analogies and parts of speech.
Our religion studies concentrate on the roots of Christianity, the Bible, and many of the Catholic prayers such as Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Guardian Angel, Act of Contrition, Angelus, The Rosary, Hail Holy Queen, and Stations of the Cross. Students participate in weekly School Masses. There are several service projects woven into their school year that reinforce helping our neighbor and those in need - canned food drives for our local homeless shelter, volunteering at the food pantry, Christmas gifts for needy children, monthly dress down days for local charities, etc. Our teaching staff really learns the needs of their students through morning intentions and prayer requests, which are a part of every school day.