Monday - Friday • 8:10am - 3:15pm
Math at Prairie School is unique because Math is not thought of as a list of skills to check off but as a tool for investigating the world around us. Students construct the big ideas in math through experience and connection to daily life and independent projects. Upper Elementary students create proofs and justify their thinking, this way math not only makes sense but is fun at Prairie School!
Upper Elementary Math program emphasizes hands-on, real world math. Students build on and extend math concepts through mental math talks, mini-lessons and contextual tasks. Students strengthen math concepts through math games, reflective notebooks and independent study. Math processes drive the curriculum. Students persevered in problem solving, check for logic while finding and connecting patterns in math. They are encouraged to model their ideas and identify useful tools to help them grow in mathematical thinking. Students are encouraged to communicate their ideas clearly and logically to support their mathematical solutions.
Authentic literacy rests on the choices made by individual students within a community of fellow readers and writers through such activities as an in-depth immersion in the writing process through writing narratives, dramas, poetry and research and to describe their response to the writer's technique. The students are immersed in reading through the rich choices of material that are available through an in class library. Students are expected to always have a book to read, nonfiction or fiction, that they are enjoying. In addition, they study mentor texts, grammar, vocabulary and spelling during teacher conducted mini lessons and self-assess all of their work in order to have an acute knowledge of their own learning process.
The Upper Elementary is also expected to deepen their response to literature. They learn to develop an interpretation of a text through careful reading and they are expected to support their judgment to portions of the text with solid evidence. They deepen their understanding of research protocols, how to write and give speeches and arguments, and adapt literature for dramatic purposes. The Upper Elementary literacy skills are integrated throughout the day and across the curriculum, and taught through small group instruction, individual conferencing with the teacher, and project based learning.
Upper Elementary History helps to deepen a student's background knowledge of the world and thus not only gives them information about the world that they live in, but also helps to deepen students reading and writing skills. During the 3 year Upper Elementary cycle students learn about the Age of Exploration, American history and the Constitution, and Modern History. They work with timelines to get an overall idea of the impact of the United States on world events and how the world impacted the United States and with maps to show where these events took place, and how the world has shifted. For a deeper understanding of the politics, people and culture of the time, they choose an area of interest to conduct research for presentation to their classmates. Deeper research protocols are learned. History is integrated with literacy through informational reading, research, and reports.
Upper Elementary science curriculum is deeply rooted in science and nature. The science of observing and recording the world around you, and having a true knowledge of the place where you live. Science follows cross-cutting concepts and deepens gradually each year. It is also authentic, dynamic and living! Our students tackle real-world problems and solutions such as, " What is the best way to irrigate a garden? Why did the bee hive collapse? How do we clean a polluted pond?"
Upper Elementary students will also have the opportunity to pick year-long projects that follow their interests and passions.
Upper Elementary Spanish class is taught by a native speaking instructor in an immersive environment that emphasizes conversational and written Spanish. The upper elementary students study conjugation, present, past and future tenses. Spanish is offered 2 times a week.
THE FINE ARTS
The Fine Arts are valued as being an integral part of a child's holistic education, and are integrated into the daily academics. Formal instruction is also given during the week.
- Formal Visual Arts instruction is taught in a 2.5 hour lab each week. Visual arts classes focus on the basic elements of design, and principles of composition. The students explore many different forms of visual arts such as drawing, painting, printing and sculpting. They also work with different techniques and materials within each form. The Upper Elementary students continue their journey through art history by exploring a timeline of art movements and discovering many different masters of art.
- Orchestra is taught 2 times a week. Upper Elementary orchestra focuses on learning a string instrument of choice, music theory, notation and reading, and ensemble performance.
A formal movement class is offered twice a week, and varies throughout the year. The children are exposed to yoga taught by a yoga instructor that is certified in both adult and children’s yoga. There are many physical and mental benefits of yoga for children, but the benefits specific to the classroom include increased attention span and ability to focus, reduced anxiety and emotional balance, and better work habits. The Upper Elementary class also participates in a tumbling class, and various games classes.
Our mission is to nurture an understanding of, and develop a deep relationship with the natural world. Some of things we will be doing are:
- Daily observation hike
- In-depth observation and exploration of local plants, birds, animals, geography and weather patterns
- Identification, journaling, tracking and data keeping
- Working in the school garden
- Maple Tree Tapping
Upper Elementary deepens their outdoor education and builds their self confindence and self reliance with off-site camping 2 times a year. These trips are student-chosen, student planned, and student run. While the teachers and chaperones are there to support the students, the Upper Elementary students learn to plan, budget, and run the trip for themselves. Each trip is a combination of physical challenges, citizen scientist study or other academic exploration, team building and community service.
The Upper Elementary has unit studies two times a week and each unit runs for 6-12 weeks. The students work on units such as:
- P4C (philosphy for children)
- Handwork: learning to sew, knit, crochet, wet and needle felting technique
- Independant studies: each 8th grader will chose a year-long independant study and work with mentors to complete a project or certification of their particular interests.