Lower School Academics: Grades 4-5
At the Academy, your child will be part of a rigorous learning community where skills are mastered, imagination and curiosity are nurtured, and where enrichment opportunities abound. Your child will also be supported and challenged at each developmental stage, so he/she emerges confident and capable for future academic achievement.
The small school community ensures your child receives individual attention while the community’s rich spiritual and moral values help him/her develop strong character and adept social skills. In the Academy’s supportive, multi-faith and culturally-diverse, Catholic school environment, your child will discover friendships, community connections, and enrich a strong spiritual foundation to last a lifetime.
Your child will benefit from the wisdom and tradition of success that has formed the Academy for over 150 years. In addition, your child will blossom in the care of attuned teachers trained in innovative teaching strategies and utilizing a full range of technological support, including interactive Star Boards in many classrooms. Your child will learn with students from more than 30 surrounding communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as international students.
As a member of a vibrant community, your child will come to discover his/her unique gifts, and learn to use these gifts for personal success, to help others at the Academy, and to serve those in need in the broader community.
The school day runs from 8:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., with a mid-morning working snack break and a forty-minute lunch/recess break. The Academy also offers an Extended Day Program which provides close supervision, homework support, organized and free play, crafts, enrichment opportunities and nutritious snacks for students between 2:35 and 6:00 p.m.
English Language Arts
The fourth and fifth grade English Language Arts curriculum is comprehensive and rich in content. Both grade levels include reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and handwriting skills. This curriculum uses the Houghton-Mifflin Journeys series, an anthology of authentic stories/text which exposes the children to a variety of literary genres that include fantasy, folklore, myths, biographies, realistic and historical fiction, as well as non-fiction. Additionally, fourth and fifth grade students will complete three independent book studies. Students will read one book (provided by teacher) each term to extend and apply targeted reading skills and strategies to help students comprehend, understand and make connections to their reading. Spelling and vocabulary building is a significant part of the ELA program which includes decoding skills and vocabulary strategies. Grammar and writing will be taught together, and students will be expected to apply learned grammar skills and spelling to their informal and formal writing. The writing curriculum will include student models, teacher models and published works to guide students as they write. Writing genres include narrative, informational, descriptive, persuasive, opinion, and research. Weekly journal writing will encourage students to apply learned skills, enjoy the process of writing for pleasure, and show growth from the beginning to the end of the year. Voyages in English, by Loyola Press, will be used as a supplemental grammar and writing text. Cursive handwriting is considered important and necessary. While the children will also be asked to type some writing pieces, the art of handwriting will not be lost. The Zaner-Bloser Handwriting curriculum will be used.
Scott Foresman Science- The science program provides a well balanced foundation of concepts based on three major blocks: Life science, Physical Science, and Earth science. Through content, illustrations, learning strategies, and special features, this program encourages every student to participate in the process and excitement. Cooperative learning activities allow students to work collaboratively and learn from each other. A small group setting builds self-esteem because it allows the individual to contribute something special to enhance the learning of the group. Our major science project will explore alternative energy sources and the uses of them in today’s rapidly changing world of science.
The 5th grade science curriculum uses the textbook Scott Foresman Science Seeing in a Whole New Light as a hands-on approach to teaching science. The topics that fifth graders will learn are the Earth’s systems, plants, ecosystems, matter, motion, and energy. The topics in science will be expressed by lessons, discussions, videos, and lab reports. Students will learn how to write a lab report, using the scientific method, to help them discover science. Also, students will learn how to make operational definitions, observe, infer, classify and predict throughout the course of a chapter as well as throughout the year.
The fourth grade Religion curriculum uses the book, Faith and Life Series: Jesus our Guide, published by Ignatius Press. It is an introduction to the Bible stories and basic teachings of faith. Doctrine is presented in a manner that challenges student’s intellect, stressing vocabulary and reading comprehension. The series begins with Creation and the Old Testament, and continues through the New Testament.
The fifth grade Religion curriculum uses the book, Faith and Life Series: Credo: I Believe, published by Ignatius Press. Through studying the Creed and the development of salvation history, students are immersed in the Profession of Faith. They develop a deeper understanding of each component of the Creed as it is part of salvation history. Students also develop an understanding of the mystery of Christ and the Church through age appropriate teachings on Church doctrine and scriptural references.
The fourth grade math curriculum uses the Sadlier Progress in Mathematics series. This encompasses a spiral based method of teaching. It is used throughout the lower school in general classes and in some Reach classes. In the fourth grade, students build upon the basics taught in earlier years. Students very quickly progress through a review of addition and subtraction into the main topics of multiplication and division of one ,two and three digits. Intermittently students study, measurement, geometry, probability, graphing, fractions and decimals. Algebraic basics are also explored. Homework is given nightly with a weekly quiz on material taught, and tests at the end of every chapter.
The grade five curriculum uses Progress in Mathematics textbook published by Sadlier-Oxford. Each chapter begins introducing the mathematical concepts and skills for each chapter. Every lesson provides graduated and varied exercises for different levels of mastery. Problem solving is integrated throughout each chapter. Students are expected to use math vocabulary to explain their thinking process about mathematical concepts and connections.
In fifth grade all operations of whole numbers, fractions and decimals are introduced or reinforced. Place value, Geometry/Measurement (standard/ metric) Protractor and compass use, coordinate areas, circles, Algebraic concepts and skills. Exponents, order of operation, Roman Numerals, averaging, percent and integration of math with other core subjects and everyday experiences are also covered.
The 4th grade Social Studies course focuses on the regions of the United States (Northeast, South, Mid-West, West.) This course emphasizes map skills and the knowledge of geographical terms. The study of each region will focus on the specific geography, landforms, natural resources, history, and culture/society. Students will complete a State Research Project that will outline these topics in their chosen state. Students will learn the fifty state capitals over the course of study. Students will apply reading skills to analyze, understand and provide evidence based answers in their written and oral work. Note-taking strategies will be taught during this course. Technology projects will be incorporated into this course. The textbooks used are Horizons: States and Regions, by Harcourt and Daily Geography Skills, by Eva- Moor
The 5th grade Social Studies course focuses on the United States history beginning with ancient Indians and Native Americans, and continues with the study of European exploration and European settlements. It concludes with the uniting of the thirteen English colonies prior to the Revolutionary War. Map skills and daily geography will continue in fifth grade. During the year, the students will complete the following projects: a pumpkin globe, a Native American shelter, an explorer report, a colonial trade report and trifold that will be presented at the annual colonial fair. The textbooks used are Horizons United States History: Beginnings by Harcourt and Daily Geography Skills by Evan-Moor.
The goal of the program is to initiate children in the appreciation of Spanish and French language and culture through active engagement of all of their senses. Topics include numbers, colors, shapes, use of masculine and feminine articles following simple directions, expressing personal needs, defining seasons, days of the week, and the alphabet.
In Grade 5, students continue to study parts of the body, items of clothing, spelling numbers, and composing simple sentences in the target language. Participation in the early language program helps students in later intensive programming that begins in Grade 6.