The Upper Elementary of Christ Church School is grades three through five. An enriched, well-balanced curriculum that ensures that concepts and skills spiral through the grades, building on what was learned in previous grades, is the keystone to this program.
Beginning in third grade, an important shift in learning occurs. Students begin to “read to learn” as opposed to “learning to read”. The concepts and skills learned in the lower elementary grades have laid the foundation for an increasing integration of learning. In this method of learning, connections across the curriculum are made making it more engaging, holistic and meaningful.
Additionally, students are becoming increasingly ready to develop their higher order thinking skills. Some of these include:
- interpreting information
- drawing conclusions
These more effective methods of inquiry, problem-solving and critical thinking equip students to question, create, apply and transfer knowledge.
Students’ accountability grows with each year as do the expectations for their organizational skills. Note taking, study skills, and test taking methods are expanded. Students are encouraged and challenged to be self-directed and responsible for the future.
Through a balance of strong academics, spiritual development, character shaping, physical education, fine arts, Spanish, organizational skills, and technology Christ Church School graduates children who are independent, well-rounded citizens equipped for a successful middle school experience and future.
Examples of this building integration of curriculum are:
The centerpiece of the unit would be reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House in the Big Woods” with vocabulary and spelling words being derived from it. Literature genres would be studied as well as learning about, and writing stories, of other early settlers including the Pilgrims with a study of Thanksgiving. History of the westward expansion as well as geography concepts and earth science are all integrated in this unit. Art activities would include weaving and tin punching. The students would take field trips to visit the first areas of settlement in Ft. Lauderdale including the Oldest Schoolhouse and museum. They culminate the study with a pioneer day participating in period activities and games.
Another essential part of the third grade curriculum is a study of world cultures. Students are guided through a research project on an assigned country and create multimedia presentations that are shared with their classmates and parents. A one-day field trip to Epcot and 'Around the World Day' are highlights of the unit.
An integral to this year is the study of Florida history with the culmination being a two day trip to St. Augustine, the oldest continuously settled city in the United States. Students further their study of exploration and settlement starting with the early European explorers. Students are assisted by the Library Media and Technology Center to research, write, create and present Florida reports and related projects. Reading “Sign of the Beaver” about life in the wilderness and discussing and comparing settlers experiences are challenging students to think and problem solve. The study of Florida progresses through the year in science with weather studies, hurricane tracking and learning weather coordinates. The weather unit is concluded with the visit by a local weather forecaster and the students’ presentation of a live weather report complete with graphics on the classroom SmartBoard.
Integration across the curriculum is at its highest level with the study of US history capping off with a four day trip to Virginia. The trip includes visits to Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and Yorktown. The students will have read the biography of Thomas Jefferson, studied the settlements they will visit, memorized poetry written about that time period and studied their literary devices, They have also learned Latin and Greek roots for vocabulary words related to the geography. While on the trip they must use learned note taking skills to prepare for writing a “book” upon their return. It is written as historical fiction from the perspective of a specific person of the time period meeting Thomas Jefferson. Calligraphy, book binding and cover art are integrated in their art enrichment class. Students write a poem based on a sight from the trip and complete digital illustrations with the help of the Library Media Specialist and Educational Technology Specialist.