Preschool 3s to Grade 5 IB Curriculum

The Primary Years Program Curriculum Guide

primary years program international baccalaureate kids

Dwight School offers the Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate from the Preschool 3s Program through Grade 5. What follows is the complete curriculum guide for this program.

Please note that while this guide reflects the current and/or upcoming academic year offerings, courses are subject to change. Families are encouraged to inquire with our Department Heads at hod@dwight.edu about any specific courses or subject areas of interest.

Overview

The IB Primary Years Program at Dwight School, offered from the Preschool 3s through Grade 5, focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer in both the classroom and in the world outside. It provides a foundation for academic rigor and innovation that will follow the student through Lower School and beyond.

Our teachers inspire students to become independent thinkers — one child at a time, in Dwight’s tradition of personalized learning.

The PYP at Dwight Is Designed to:

  • Teach students a broad base of knowledge and skills in subjects, ranging from mathematics and science, to social studies, the arts, and language in line with PYP and, for math and language arts, Common Core standards.
  • Incorporate six transdisciplinary themes that encourage students to learn more about themselves and the world around them — and to see how they interconnect.
  • Foster every student’s development of learning with a powerful emphasis on important ideas and concepts through the units of inquiry.
  • Emphasize the development of the whole student, including the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical well-being of every child.
  • Empower students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Embrace the attributes outlined in the IB Learner Profile: Dwight students are inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective.

Preschool 3s

Overview

The Preschool offers the Primary Years Program (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate to children ages three through five. The nature of the PYP places the child at the center, which allows Dwight to consistently position the student's strengths and interests at the forefront of the learning experience. No two students are alike, and the School enthusiastically supports and fosters each child’s unique “spark of genius.” One may be a future mathematician, another a budding artist, and still another a world-class athlete in the making. Throughout the year, the Preschool 3s and 4s classes explore four Units of Inquiry and the students in kindergarten through fifth grade explore six Units of Inquiry. Each unit falls under one of six transdisciplinary themes (Who We Are; Where We Are in Place and Time; How We Express Ourselves; How the World Works; How We Organize Ourselves; and Sharing the Planet). The units incorporate the PYP language, mathematics, science, social studies, PSPE (personal, social, and physical education), and arts curricula as well as the New York State Common Core Standards. This inquiry-based learning method enables students to explore content in the context of their own lives. For a full description of our preschool curriculum, please visit our website.

Language Arts

The language and literacy standards in the 3s program reflect an amalgamation of the standards set by the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program as well as the Common Core Creative Curriculum for Preschool. Students demonstrate knowledge of phonics and phonemic awareness through daily classroom routines and activities, including games, manipulatives, puzzles, and fine and gross motor experiences. Environmental print is used to introduce the concept that print conveys meaning via daily calendar and schedule review, read­-aloud stories, and dictation of children’s thoughts and ideas. Emerging writing skills are developed through the use of the Handwriting Without Tears Program, which incorporates hands­-on activities, including Roll­-a­-Dough Letters, Stamp and See Screens, and building letters with wooden pieces. Children develop their communication skills through conversations with peers and teachers, and sharing opportunities.

Math

Mathematics in the 3s program is a year of introduction and practice. We begin the year focusing on mathematical fundamentals such as number recognition and counting. Development of these skills are supported through formal lessons as well as everyday routines such as group time, work time, and free play with classroom manipulatives. Once students have a working knowledge of basic numeracy, we move on to quantifying and connecting numerals with their quantities. Students learn one­-to-­one correspondence before engaging in more analytical math skills. Through topics covered in our Units of Inquiry, as well as daily procedures in classrooms, students are exposed to identifying and creating patterns. In similar ways, students are also exposed to the concept of sequencing to round out their mathematical skill set. By the end of the year, students have an awareness of the basic foundations of math skills that will be expanded upon during their time in preschool.

World Languages

Spanish
The 3s Spanish program is based on the immersion and richness of the Spanish language. Through exciting activities, songs, dances, storybooks, and games, children develop their communication skills, allowing them to integrate a second language into their oral language development. As the children become progressively more familiar and comfortable hearing, understanding, and responding in Spanish, it becomes a natural part of their thought process.

 

Music

Students in the 3s classroom experience music in a variety of languages and styles. They develop a repertoire of songs from memory, and begin to explore steady beat through singing, speaking, playing classroom instruments, and movement. The songs they sing include holidays, seasons, and often focus on alphabet recognition and counting. Students are also very involved in improvisation. They are encouraged to find different ways to play their instruments in class, and begin to become aware of the different timbres on non­-pitched percussion (like ringing, jingling, rattling, scraping, and clicking). In the 3s music classroom, students also develop the ability to creatively organize musical ideas and sounds.

Physical Education

In the 3s program, children begin to participate in structured physical education classes. In these classes, young students are introduced to the strands of personal, social, and physical education through adventure challenges, athletics, body control and spatial awareness, movement to music, games, gymnastics, and health­-related activities. 3s students are introduced to the proper terminology to various skills found in P.E. class and participate in and follow directions for simple games requiring little to no equipment to aid their development in different areas such as spatial awareness, gross motor and fine motor skills, coordination, balance, and components of fitness. The environment places a high priority on safety, physical activity, and tasks with a high rate of success to boost students’ confidence and develop a positive attitude towards physical education.

Pre-kindergarten

Overview

Dwight’s Pre-Kindergarten classes follow the IB Primary Years Program. Children of this age are enthusiastic learners. They ask focused questions and make demands of the world around them. This curiosity is fostered as a central tenet of inquiry in the PYP curriculum. Themes and Units of Inquiry, based on student questions, build upon children’s interests and learning and expand their horizons.

Lively and imaginative four-year-olds tackle new tasks and adventures with delight. Socially, they are more mature and form strong friendships. They are able to relate to their peers and show empathy and understanding. Sometimes children of this age fluctuate from needing reassurance and security to asserting bold independence. Teachers work hard to provide a warm and loving environment where individual strengths are nurtured and children feel valued ― and value each other.

Pre-Kindergarteners are articulate and approach new vocabulary with enthusiasm. In class, children are encouraged to express themselves verbally as well as through pictures and drawings. Many children develop a natural curiosity for reading and writing. A language-rich classroom provides many opportunities for children to explore and develop these emergent skills. They have access to varying writing instruments ― crayons, markers, pens, pencils, chalkboards, a variety of papers, notepads, and notebooks. Children are able to see many examples of written text through books, poems, and child-authored stories. The acquisition of listening skills is also paramount and children are exposed to a range of early literacy experiences.

Dwight Pre-Kindergarten students begin the IB Primary Years curriculum and can explain what it means to be a thinker, a communicator, and a risk taker, among others, and demonstrate examples of these attributes in their interactions with their teachers and peers.

Language Arts

Pre­-K is an exciting year and the next important step toward becoming readers. Students participate in a variety of activities throughout the day that focus on the organization and basic features of print, offering exposure to emergent phonics and word analysis skills (i.e., letter identification and symbol­-sound associations). Ultimately, students will demonstrate an emerging understanding of spoken words, syllables and sounds (phonemes), and display emergent reading behaviors with purpose and understanding (e.g., pretend reading).

The students use writing in a variety of ways. From drawing pictures to forming letters and words, they use their developing fine motor skills to communicate on the page. Students use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to express an opinion about a book or topic, to narrate a single event or to provide a reaction to an event. Students are encouraged to respond to questions and suggestions and add details to strengthen illustrations or writing, as needed.

Language skills are an important part of the daily curriculum. The students participate in collaborative conversations about pre­kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in both small and large groups. They demonstrate an emergent ability to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas and are encouraged to describe familiar people, places, things, and events, and provide additional detail. Through conversation, a student confirms his or her understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally
through other media. On a daily basis, students are encouraged to ask and answer questions in order to gain information, seek help, or clarify something that is not understood.

Listening skills are a crucial component of early literacy development. Group discussions, read-­alouds, and language classes are an integral part of the daily routine. From understanding and following directions to listening respectfully without interrupting others, there are ample opportunities to develop these important skills. Students are encouraged to listen attentively to spoken language (e.g., books read aloud, rhyming words, songs) and to listen for a purpose (e.g., to track individual words as they are spoken or to gain information).

Math

Mathematics in the pre­-kindergarten program is an exploration of basic concepts through a wide variety of materials. Math concepts such as numeracy, patterning, geometry, and measurement are interwoven through our play, work, and Units of Inquiry. Children gain a deeper understanding of numbers, ways to represent numbers, relationships among numbers, and the number system. They learn to count, quantify, and connect numerals with their quantities (one­-to-­one correspondence). We scaffold upon the student's ability to recognize patterns and assist them in extending and creating their own color and shape patterns. These pattern skills also help children to understand the beginning principles of addition and subtraction. Data handling skills are introduced by sorting, classifying, and organizing objects by size, number, attributes, and other properties. In addition, we expand upon the children’s ability to understand, explore, and describe geometric shapes and spatial relationships. Children learn to understand directionality, order, and position. The children learn basic knowledge of measurement using an array of manipulatives, such as Unifix cubes, blocks, and traditional measurement tools. Through this experience, they learn to compare and measure everyday objects in their environment.

Music

In music, the pre-kindergarten students focus on musical contrasts such as loud/soft and fast/slow, exploring steady beat, responding to music through movement, and recognizing basic rhythmic music notation. Students are also very involved in instrument exploration and improvisation. Throughout the year, they discover a wide range of classroom instruments with various timbres. Students also sing songs representative of different activities, holidays, and seasons in a variety of cultures.

World Languages

Chinese (Mandarin)
In the pre-k program, students are formally introduced to Mandarin for the first time. They learn basic vocabulary related to the Units of Inquiry through fun games, songs, story books, and videos, as well as practice basic communication skills. Students are encouraged to reproduce the sounds of Mandarin, pronounce syllables and words correctly. Students are exposed to Chinese character writing by coloring and tracing words. In addition to the Chinese language, basic Chinese customs and culture are explored.

Spanish
The pre-k Spanish program is an immersive exposure to the Spanish language. The program includes culturally rich and exciting activities, games, translated and original Spanish songs, books, vocabulary and flashcard projects, and an interactive and musical Spanish environment.

Physical Education

Physical education classes for students in the pre-kindergarten program reinforce concepts, ideas, terminology, and skills introduced in the 3s program to help build a strong foundation for future years of physical education. Students will continue to explore locomotor and non-locomotor skills; develop the ability to solve tasks individually, in pairs, or in small groups; become aware of some of the elements of a healthy lifestyle; use movement as a way to express themselves; and learn the importance of safety during exercise.

Kindergarten

Our kindergarten classrooms balance inquiry­-based, student­-directed time with large­ group, teacher­-directed experiences. Using the PYP Learner Profile and PYP Attitudes as a guide, students learn to become independent thinkers, communicators, and risk­-takers. Six­-week Units of Inquiry allow students and teachers to explore science­ or social studies­-based themes in depth. Daily activities include Morning Meeting, small group work, discussion, problem solving, open exploration, P.E., and outside play in nearby Riverside Park. Math, English Language Arts (ELA), science, and social studies are woven seamlessly into the daily schedule, providing students with an authentic learning experience. Weekly specials include music, library, and studio (art and science) in addition to language study in both Spanish and Mandarin.

Unit of Inquiry

Kindergarten completes six inquiry­-based units that allow for the children’s own curiosity to guide their learning. These units incorporate aspects of the science and social studies elements into the curriculum as well as areas of physical, social, and personal growth and development. Our units include inquiries into: senses, products we use, the city around us, celebrations, simple machines, and forests. Through questioning, hands­-on experiments, play, reading, writing, and other research, students come to construct meaning and understand large themes within each unit and take action to demonstrate their learning. As the year progresses, students will develop communication, self­-management, research, and social skills through whole group projects and individual activities both inside and outside of the classroom environment.

Reading

Our goal in kindergarten is to accept all children where they are in their literacy development. We help our students progress by providing them with daily reading and writing opportunities that inspire them to become lifelong learners.

Kindergarten reading instruction is based on the reading workshop curriculum model. Kindergarteners are engaged in the following reading opportunities every day: read-­alouds, shared reading, guided reading, paired reading, and independent reading. Reading aloud to children exposes them to different genres of literature and new knowledge, vocabulary, and patterns of speech. Shared reading, or reading as a whole class, allows students to learn and practice decoding skills and reading strategies. We also use this time to develop comprehension skills to help students understand the meaning of printed text. Guided reading occurs in small groups or one­-on-­one with a teacher. These sessions are highly focused and allow children to work on specific skills that need development. Paired reading invites students to interactively share the reading process with their classmates. Students also participate in independent, self­-selected reading activities. Independent reading provides students with an opportunity to practice reading on their own level, develop fluency, and pursue personal reading interests.

Spelling and phonics instruction are structured around the kindergarten word wall and individualized word study lessons. Sound and letter recognition are important stepping­ stones on the path toward reading. In order for students to master each phonemic sound, we embed daily phonics activities in reading. We extrapolate key word sounds from reading experiences and often use familiar and accessible words, such as student names, to demonstrate letter sounds. These keywords, as well as high­-frequency words, are added to the word wall for student reference. High­-frequency words are grade­-level words that commonly appear in printed text. We expect students to fluently read and correctly spell high­-frequency words in their writing. We also teach children to decode and spell words through small group word study lessons based on individual student needs.

Writing

Writing Workshop is a key component of kindergarten language arts instruction. We begin Writing Workshop every day with teacher­-modeled writing or a shared writing experience. Students are given many opportunities to write about a topic of their choice. While writing, students apply phonemic understanding, practice penmanship, learn about grammar, and gain knowledge about the writing process. It is important that our students feel like successful writers who have a valuable and unique voice to share. In kindergarten, we encourage students to use invented spelling so they are not hindered by researching the correct spelling of all words. Invented spelling pushes students to contemplate letter­-sound relationships and keeps them actively engaged in the creative process.

Math

Our math program is designed to help children explore a wide variety of mathematical concepts. We study patterns, numbers, geometry, sorting and classifying, graphing, counting, addition, subtraction, measurement, time, money, and problem solving. To aid our mathematical exploration, we use many materials such as counters, Unifix cubes, tiles, links, Cuisenaire rods, dominos, and pattern blocks.

Kindergartners will begin to view math as a part of everyday life rather than just a subject in school. We want children to recognize math at home, school, play, and in the community. Parents can encourage student mathematical thinking by demonstrating that math is a necessary skill used by all people in and out of school.

 

World Languages

Spanish
The Spanish kindergarten program is based in the immersion exposure to the Spanish language. Students are expected to use their previously learned language skills in a culturally rich and exciting way with translated and original Spanish songs, games, and storybooks. Students are able to create and understand simple commands and short sentences, which prepares them for the next step in second language fluency.

Chinese (Mandarin)
In kindergarten, we continue fostering students’ interest in Mandarin acquisition. Students not only practice responding appropriately to simple commands and instructions in Mandarin, but also have fun and learn the language at the same time. They acquire Mandarin through kinesthetic learning activities, fun games, art projects, Mandarin songs, story books, and video clips. We also integrate technology into the classroom to help students master the vocabulary of each unit. Students are trained to communicate and express simple greetings, words, and phrases. They further their study of Chinese character writing via tracing and copying isolated words. Students learn more about Chinese customs and culture: the teacher introduces important Chinese legends and myths in the classroom, and students experience Chinese calligraphy, brush painting, paper cutting, and festival celebrations.

Music

Kindergarteners’ focus in music is on understanding dynamics (short/long and high/low), demonstrating steady beat, responding to music through movement, and beginning sight­-reading. Students are also very involved in instrument exploration and improvisation. They are often playing and composing during class, and singing songs in a variety of languages and styles.

Kindergarten students also participate in a Carnegie Hall program throughout the year called Musical Explorers. The curriculum is designed to connect students to the diverse musical community of New York City as they develop listening, singing, and composing skills. Each semester culminates in an interactive concert featuring vocalists from a wide variety of musical styles and cultures and from six New York City neighborhoods. Students not only listen to, but also perform songs with the artists during the concert.

Physical Education

Kindergarten students in physical education classes will review and utilize the basic skills learned in previous physical activity settings and apply them in different settings and situations. Locomotor movements become more challenging by adjusting speed, level, pathway, or direction while maintaining control and body awareness. Students are introduced to movement sequences consisting of a small number of steps in a pattern with awareness of the position of objects and/or people in relation to oneself. Kindergartners begin to demonstrate simple and modified techniques found in sports (striking, kicking, volleying, etc) and use small group games to promote teamwork and cooperation. Greater emphasis is placed on well­-being and healthy lifestyles and students are introduced to the importance of rest, well­-balanced nutrition, and exercises to form connections between health and physical activity.

Art

In kindergarten, students conduct an in-depth study of two of the basic elements of art: color and line. They identify different types of lines and are introduced to working with and making the appropriate selection of media: tempera, oil pastels, crayons, and clay. Students are given their first sketchbooks, in which they put their ideas, make preliminary sketches, or free-draw. Students also learn the important concept of using art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Library

In kindergarten, students visit the school library once a week to enjoy stories and nonfiction books. Books selected often support the PYP Units of Inquiry and students are encouraged to participate in the stories and make connections to the unit. Students borrow books from the Riverside Campus library and begin to recognize the importance of the library and its resources as part of their classroom work.

Technology

In kindergarten, technology is integrated with learning in the classroom and is directed by the classroom teachers. Students begin using computers and iPads in the classroom so that they are prepared for regularly scheduled technology classes when they enter first grade.

Grade 1

In first grade, students begin to develop the underlying skills and knowledge they need in order to move into deeper thinking and questioning. Students are given opportunities to learn and problem solve collectively, as well as individually. Our goal is that children will start to feel responsible for their own learning and behavior.

We believe that all students learn most successfully in a safe, nurturing environment, one in which students care about each other and each other’s learning — an environment where students are not afraid to take risks and make mistakes.

Units of Inquiry

The Units of Inquiry examine the concepts of identity, culture, and expression through the arts and poetry, the life cycles of plants and animals, geography, and conservation. Through questioning, hands­-on experiments, reading, writing, and other research, students come to construct meaning and understand large themes within each unit. Students analyze their knowledge by thinking about how things function, why they are the way they are, and how and why they may change. They also develop social, communication, reasoning, self­-management, and research skills by embarking on larger group projects. They gain knowledge that is relevant and of global significance to develop an appreciation that we hope will lead to international­-mindedness. Students strengthen their ability to see things from different perspectives, and reflect upon their own responsibility in the personal choices that they make.

Reading

Students participate in a reading workshop as a part of the balanced literacy framework that is used throughout the school day. Whole group lessons occur regularly, during which students are taught the skills and strategies they need to navigate a variety of genres of books. Students are also split into small groups to work closely with their teachers, giving them the support they need to work towards individualized goals. Students also read independently and are taught how to select books that are appropriate for their skill levels. Teachers assess students periodically throughout the year to determine their progress.

Writing

First grade is an important and exciting year for writing. Students move beyond the mechanics of writing and start to put their own opinions and ideas on paper. They  begin to think about the content and quality of their writing by applying their emerging editing skills. During the different units of study, students learn to write for different purposes and across various genres such as poetry, persuasive, expository, and creative writing. Students are also exposed to and start using similes, metaphors, dialogue, and senses in their writing.

 

Math

Mathematics in the first grade at Dwight is a year of foundational skills. We begin the year focusing on and conducting a comprehensive review of the basic number facts that students have learned in kindergarten. The topics include counting, place value, and comparing numbers. After a solid review, we move into addition and subtraction. Then students explore geometry and fractions. Later in the year, we explore money, measurement, and time. Finally, students learn to organize, compare, and interpret data by using various types of graphs. Throughout the year, we teach our students a variety of strategies for solving number stories. Students use math manipulatives, math games, and different math apps in order to fully understand and explain their thinking. 

World Languages

Introduction
All students in the PYP are required to study at least one language in addition to English. Learning these languages is seen to be an important element in preparing young people for citizenship in the developing global community.

Students in French, Spanish, and Mandarin are exposed to the culture of the target language and develop the necessary skills to become active users of the language at the end of their school career. Students in grades 1-­5 learn language through a variety of ways including songs, games, role-­playing, and cultural activities.

Chinese (Mandarin)
In first grade, the goal is for students to continue to feel comfortable speaking and hearing Chinese. The curriculum focuses on correct pronunciation, basic vocabulary, numbers, days of the week, weather, animals, parts of the body, and family. Students learn how to recognize and write simple, familiar Chinese characters. They learn how to ask for simple information. Chinese culture is explored through arts, music, storybooks, and the celebration of Lunar New Year.

Spanish
In first grade, the goal is for students to feel comfortable speaking and hearing Spanish. Students learn the alphabet and gain the ability to sound out both familiar and unfamiliar words. An emphasis is placed on correct pronunciation so that a native speaker would be able to understand them. Students learn how to have a conversation about themselves including their name, age, origin, birthday, and parts of the body. Emphasis is on a basic vocabulary of numbers, days of the week, months, weather, colors, animals, and family. Students will experience some Spanish traditions throughout the year as they celebrate “Día de los Muertos,” “Three Kings Day,” and “Fiesta Latina"

French
In first grade, the goal is for students to feel comfortable speaking and hearing French. Students are introduced to the alphabet and gain the ability to sound out familiar words. An emphasis is placed on correct pronunciation and intonation so that a native speaker would be able to understand them. Students learn how to have a conversation about themselves including their name, age, gender, and height. Emphasis is on a basic vocabulary of numbers, days of the week, weather, colors, animals, parts of the body, and family. French culture is explored through songs and storybooks. During the celebration of “La Francophonie” students celebrate French language from around the world. 

Visual Arts

First grade students continue to develop their fine motor skills. The emphasis is on creating and building artwork independently. They begin by painting self­-portraits during their unit of inquiry, Who We Are. They study the proportions of the face and start experimenting with color, while figuring out how to mix different shades of brown to create the subtleties of skin tones. First graders experiment with three­-dimensional form and texture during their Sharing the Planet unit. They create their own sculptures made from recycled materials and found objects. In the second half of the year, first graders are introduced to the concepts of space and composition as they begin to understand how to create the illusion of dimension and space during the How We Organize Ourselves unit. Students revisit the elements of line, shape, and form when they learn how to draw habitats of animals by breaking their forms into simple lines during their inquiry into life cycles in How the World Works. Finally, students are introduced to the principles of form when designing and creating structures out of wood during their final unit, Where We Are In Place and Time.

Music

First graders sing songs in a variety of languages and styles. Students begin to learn and apply the principles of music notation both traditional and nontraditional, sight-reading, and musical ear training. In the instrumental portion of first grade music curriculum, emphasis is made on strengthening and learning of various world and classical rhythms through the use of pitched and unpitched percussion instruments. Students work on their compositions individually and in groups by using basic technology tools and compositional techniques. Special emphasis is made on collaborative and creative projects. Students strengthen their communication and creative thinking skills while exploring percussion instruments, such as African drums, xylophones, metallophones, and steel drums.  The primary goal for the first grade is to allow students to experience the joys of group and spontaneous music making while building their social and collaborative skills. 

Throughout the year students have the opportunity to present their musical talents in Community Meetings, Holiday and special assemblies, Community Outreach Projects, and Winter and Spring Concerts. The IB Learner Profile is at the center of our rich musical life in Timothy House and is an integral part of our curriculum.

Physical Education

In the first grade, physical education focuses on teaching students important movement fundamentals related to health, fitness, and well­-being. Students explore and develop the ability to solve problems individually or in pairs, and begin to identify different roles and responsibilities in small group activities. Students are taught sports­-specific skills and techniques in a variety of games­-related activities. Through these games and activities students are familiarized with the concepts of teamwork and cooperation. First grade students are exposed to different stimuli and respond through movement to express feelings and moods using imagination and original ideas. They explore and develop traditional gymnastic skills and interpret and answer movement tasks by putting simple movement sequences together. Students are aware of the importance of daily exercise and explore, use, and adapt a range of movement skills. They focus on the connection of “body and exercise” when looking at physical changes in relation to exercising during their interdisciplinary studies. 

Library

Students in first grade are introduced to the library as part of their scheduled classes. They participate in activities that support recognizing the difference between fiction and nonfiction and begin to learn the parts of nonfiction books that are tools for finding information. In addition to print materials, first grade students are introduced to age appropriate digital resources and basic research skills that integrate with the PYP units of inquiry. They also begin to learn the organization of materials within the library. A love of literature and the understanding that the library is a source of information is of primary importance. First graders borrow books from the library and enjoy sharing a variety of fiction and nonfiction stories that support their PYP Units of Inquiry.

Design

First grade students are introduced to the design cycle and technology that complement the PYP Program of Inquiry. A variety of digital tools will be integrated into the classrooms to enhance their units of inquiry. In the beginning of the year, first graders learn how to use technology responsibly and begin to learn basic technology skills. Students also reflect on their own learning process through a digital portfolio.

Students in the first grade will begin to that understand that technology is the process of communicating and sharing information. Students are introduced to coding through floor robots called bee­-bots. These programmable robots help students to learn control, sequencing, and directional language. Students use the design inquiry cycle to help solve problems by creating new and imaginative solutions. For example, during the unit, Sharing the Planet, students build recycled envirobots that all play a special role in making sure we keep our earth clean.

Grade 2

Second grade at Dwight provides a strong academic foundation of intellectual and creative pursuits with a focus on ongoing skill development. The language arts curriculum focuses on basic reading, writing, grammar, spelling, penmanship, critical thinking, speaking, and listening. The second grade Units of Inquiry examine the concepts of interdependence, symbology, transformation, expression through stories, movement of people, and healthy choices. Students begin to learn basic research skills, formulating clear questions that highlight their thinking skills, and work collaboratively with a group. Opportunities are provided to encourage children to become active and independent learners. The curriculum is extended through numerous field trips that utilize the many resources of the city such as Ellis Island, The 96th Street Farmer’s Market, The American Museum of Natural History, and The Metropolitan Museum.

Units of Inquiry

Through the second grade Units of Inquiry, students are guided to ask deeper questions that will lead to richer discussion around the unit topics. Students are also taught to become more proficient at finding answers for themselves by exploring multiple forms of media. There is a strong emphasis on cooperative learning as students use one another as resources and work as a team to make discoveries.

Our six Units of Inquiry and their central ideas are as follows:

Who We Are – The choices we make affect our health
How We Organize Ourselves – Signs and symbols help organize communities.
How We Express Ourselves – Stories inspire and help guide us.  
How the World Works – Natural forces change the earth.
Where We Are in Place and Time – The risks associated with human migration, challenges, and opportunities.
Sharing the Planet – Living things are connected.

Reading

Second graders start the year by acclimating to the reading environment of the classroom, as well as developing their independent reading skills. Students consider their strengths and interests when choosing “just right” books, with an increased focus on chapter books. Second graders continue to develop their ability to decode and work on their overall comprehension of various texts. We help them navigate by giving them a forum to talk about their reading in one­-on-­one teacher conferences, peer partnerships, and small groups. Students are encouraged to discuss connections between texts, their own lives, and the world around them. They are also prompted to recognize characters’ feelings and challenges while following their journeys through books. As the year continues, second graders read non­-fiction books to improve their research skills and comprehension of informational text.

Writing

The students start the year by writing about themselves in their personal narratives. They write about personal experiences, as well as various topics that are of interest to them. Throughout the year, second graders write about things that happen over the weekend, as well as thoughtful reflections at the end of each week. Students learn how to focus on one event and use that knowledge to produce detailed and thoughtful writing pieces. Second graders are given many opportunities to practice using descriptive language, correct writing conventions, and learned skills. They work on these skills through writing autobiographies, historical fiction pieces, persuasive letters, and more. Additionally, they develop a stronger understanding of the writing process by publishing many fiction and nonfiction pieces throughout the course of the year.

Math

In math, students work throughout the year to master their basic addition and subtraction facts. Within each math unit, students develop problem solving abilities through weekly multi-step word problems with a focus on showing and explaining their thinking. Students continue to develop their number sense through an inquiry into place value. Additionally, they learn useful skills for working with money and time, such as making change, and telling time to the nearest five minutes. Students enjoy the inquiry into measurement, where they are provided with the opportunity to move around the classroom to measure various lengths, perimeters, and distances. During the unit on geometry, students explore two-dimensional and three­-dimensional shapes, and partitioning. A popular unit focuses on interpreting data and graphing, where students develop their own surveys to organize their collected data.

World Languages

Introduction
All students in the PYP are required to study at least one language in addition to English. Learning these languages is seen to be an important element in preparing young people for citizenship in the developing global community.

Students in French, Spanish, and Mandarin are exposed to the culture of the target language and develop the necessary skills to become active users of the language at the end of their school career. Students in grades 1-­5 learn language through a variety of ways including songs, games, role-­playing, and cultural activities.

Chinese (Mandarin)
In second grade, students review previously covered material, while new concepts are introduced such as food, colors, countries, languages, habitats, and likes and dislikes. Students begin to speak in full sentences with basic conversational terms. In conversations, students are able to create their own personal responses. Students continue to write simple, familiar Chinese characters, and learn to read short phrases. They also continue to ask for simple information. Chinese culture is explored through arts, music, and storybooks, and the celebration of Lunar New Year.

Spanish
In second grade, students review previously covered material, while new concepts are presented such as food, colors, countries, languages, habitats, and likes and dislikes. Students begin to write full sentences in Spanish and are able to read short phrases. Through conversations, students learn to create their own personal responses. Students will experience some Spanish traditions throughout the year as they celebrate “Día de los Muertos,” “Three Kings Day,” and “ Fiesta Latina”

French
In second grade, students review previously covered material, while new concepts are presented such as food, parts of the body, places in town, and transportation. Students begin to write full sentences in French following example sentences and are able to read short phrases. Through conversations, students learn to create their own personal responses. Students will experience some of the French traditions throughout the year through cultural songs, poems, and stories. During the celebration of “La Francophonie” students celebrate French language from around the world.

Dance

Second graders expand their movement vocabulary and learn to recognize and apply Dance Compositional tools such as Level, Speed, Stillness and Spatial paths, expanding/contracting, and advancing/retreating. They develop locomotor skills (skipping, jumping, and moving through space forwards, sideways, and at different levels) and create their own shapes based on design concepts such as including negative space and geometric shapes and lines. They learn to take risks as they balance on one foot or on one foot and one hand, and improvise with many different parts of their body (shoulders, knees, head, hands, etc.). They create and notate simple dance sequences, swap notations with a partner to learn their partner’s dance, and put two dances together to make longer sequences. Pictures of actions (stretching, floating, rockets blasting off,, etc.) along with pictures and words from story books are used as impetus for developing movement vocabulary. In their How The World Works unit, they work in small groups to create dances based on the rock cycle, the water cycle, and the stages of a volcanic eruption.

Music

Second graders enjoy creating their own original melodies inspired by the knowledge and understanding during the Units of Inquiry.  Students continue building their vocal and instrumental  skills by combining their singing with instrumental accompaniment. In addition to exploring basic principles of harmony, second graders learn basic techniques of classical and world instruments, such as ukulele, violin, cello, and  guitar. The main goal of the second grade music curriculum is to continue fostering and strengthening performance confidence, auditory memory, critical thinking, and collaborative skills in a context of transdisciplinary themes and differentiated approach to learning.

Physical Education

Second grade students develop the ability to solve physically challenging problems, individually, in pairs, and in small groups. They learn to identify different roles and responsibilities in team activities during adventure challenges. Students learn to apply skills and techniques involved in a variety of games­-related activities, and lead­-up games, as well as invent, present, evaluate, and modify their own tag games. Second graders are exposed to different stimuli of movement composition, and respond through movement to express feelings and moods using imagination and original ideas. They develop traditional gymnastic skills and interpret and answer movement tasks with or without a partner. Students explore and develop basic techniques of jumping, throwing, and running in their track and field unit, and are also introduced to collecting and recording results. Health­-related activities are taught throughout the year and students focus on the relationship of nutrition and exercise within an interdisciplinary approach.

Library

In second grade, students begin to recognize their ability to utilize the library’s resources for their academic interests, as well as pursuing books for personal and aesthetic growth. Research in second grade is highlighted through the How the World Works and Sharing the Planet units by utilizing digital resources to expand their understanding of the unit topics.  Students become comfortable accessing online databases and collecting and recording information. Second graders explore the steps to becoming expert book-browsers and using the library to expand their reading interests.  The layout and organization of the school library, the concept of choosing “just right” books, and the learning to be open-minded in book selection offer students many opportunities to develop an appreciation for and love of reading.

Design

In the second grade, students are becoming more proficient at using technology and thinking creatively. Students will continue to have design integrated in their classrooms two times per cycle where they utilize a variety of media for researching, creating, programming, and presenting that enrich their units of inquiry. Students explore a variety of tools in order to share their innovative thinking, including using Scratch Jr. to demonstrate their knowledge of how living things are connected in their unit for "Sharing the Planet." One of their favorite units is "Who We Are," in which students use design principles to organize a magazine that demonstrates their knowledge of healthy habits and allows them to express their own sparks of genius.

 

Visual Arts

Second grade students begin the year by looking at the form and movement of the human body They create plaster cast sculptures of their bodies during the first Unit of Inquiry, "Who We Are." They also begin to play with pattern and texture while creating detailed drawings using observation. In the second unit of the year, second graders build on the concepts of space and composition as they learn to use imagery in painting to illustrate their stories. Students are introduced to printmaking during their third unit, "How We Organize Ourselves." Continuing their inquiry into texture, pattern and emphasis, they create block prints out of repeated geometric shapes. Students will embark on their exploration of three­-dimensional form during "How The World Works." They will experiment with clay and other materials while creating landforms and natural disasters. Finally, during the "Sharing the Planet" unit, students revisit the elements of line, shape, and form when they learn how to draw animals by breaking their forms into simple shapes and lines.

Grade 3

Third grade is an exciting year for students at Dwight School as they move into the second half of the Primary Years Program (PYP). Students develop greater independence as they complete research projects, work collaboratively with their peers, explore various technology platforms to communicate their understandings, and experience a greater emphasis on applying what they know to strengthen their skills. Teachers also continue the work with students to strengthen the traits of the Learner Profile, which include being effective communicators, caring friends, and reflective, knowledgeable students.

Units of Inquiry

In the third grade, students have an opportunity to explore six in­-depth Units of Inquiry that incorporate the science and social studies curricula. These units include the six transdisciplinary themes: Sharing the Planet, Who We Are, How We Express Ourselves, Where We Are in Place and Time, How the World Works, and How We Organize Ourselves. During our Sharing the Planet unit, third graders explore how conflict affects relationships and actions. This unit is a great way to start the year and helps us build our classroom community. During our Who We Are unit, students learn about human body systems and how they are connected. Our How We Express Ourselves unit invites students to be risk­-takers by trying out various performing arts as ways to communicate messages. Our Where We Are in Place and Time unit is a historical unit where we investigate how exploration has changed over time. Our How the World Works unit, a third grade favorite, is a wonderful unit in which we learn about Earth’s place in the solar system, the universe, and beyond. Finally, our How We Organize Ourselves unit is a real­-world introduction to financial responsibility and ways even third graders can start to make informed financial choices. Each of our six units are inquiry based, student­-driven, and allow students to develop their social, communication, research, thinking, and self­-management skills in fun, interactive, and meaningful ways.

Reading

Throughout the year, third graders read various genres which include: realistic fiction, fantasy, biography, and nonfiction. Within each genre study, students inquire into what makes each genre different and what work they will need to do as readers to successfully explore each genre. These investigations are done independently, as a class, through reading partnerships, and in book clubs. All of these allow students the opportunity to deepen their comprehension skills and engage in meaningful conversations about their books and their thinking. Readers are also expected to track their thinking as they read. This helps them to recall important information, provide evidence to support their ideas, determine importance, make inferences, recognize themes and main ideas, and in turn, synthesize so that they are reading to learn.

Writing

Third grade students write in a number of different genres throughout the year including personal narrative, non­fiction, short story, research writing, and persuasive essays. Each of these units align with the transdisciplinary theme for our current unit of inquiry. As a class, we investigate the purpose of each genre, how it is organized, the strategies and features of each genre, and how to insert a unique writing voice. Students learn pre­writing strategies to help plan before writing to enhance the structure of the composition, and elaboration strategies to develop each piece. Students also learn about the writing process where they draft, revise, edit, and publish a piece of writing by the end of each unit. Throughout the year, students learn about various grammar topics such as the proper use of ending punctuation, commas, apostrophes, and quotation marks. Finally, students do word study every day to learn spelling words on their individual level.

Math

Third grade mathematicians explore various topics throughout the year such as place value, number sense, measurement, data, geometry, fractions, and money. All topics we learn about are differentiated based on student readiness and individualized level. Within our place value unit, students explore how to read multi­-digit numbers, round, and estimate. During our number sense unit, students learn how to add and subtract multi­-digit numbers including problems that require multiple instances of regrouping. We also work to develop a conceptual understanding of the meaning of multiplication and division and their connections to addition and subtraction. During our measurement unit, students inquire into the metric system to measure mass and volume, and time. During our data unit, students explore and create various graphs such as bar graphs, pictographs, and line plots, as well as ways to collect and interpret data. During our fractions unit, students learn what a fraction is and how to determine parts of a whole. During our geometry unit, students explore various polygons and their attributes and categorize them. They inquire into how to calculate area and perimeter. Finally, students in third grade leave knowing multiplication and division after ongoing practice throughout third year. All math activities are differentiated, incorporate hands­-on and technological components, and include real­-world problem solving connected to each unit.

World Languages

Introduction
All students in the PYP are required to study at least one language in addition to English. Learning these languages is seen to be an important element in preparing young people for citizenship in the developing global community.

Students in French, Spanish, and Mandarin are exposed to the culture of the target language and develop the necessary skills to become active users of the language at the end of their school career. Students in grades 1-­5 learn language through a variety of ways including songs, games, role-­playing, and cultural activities.

Chinese (Mandarin)
In third grade, students continue to build on and review previously covered material, as new material and concepts are presented. Students use simple sentence structures and learn to write complete sentences using simple characters. They also explore conversations they can use in daily life, such as how to politely interact with others. Chinese culture is explored through arts, music, and storybooks, and the celebration of Lunar New Year.

Spanish
In third grade, students learn more complex Spanish grammar and vocabulary such as planets, clothing, and currency of different Spanish speaking countries. Students understand a string of phrases and can write short phrases themselves and use them in creating a short story. Students start to engage in more complex conversations, such as how to shop and how to order food. Students will experience some Spanish traditions throughout the year as they celebrate “Día de los Muertos,” “Three Kings Day,” and “Fiesta Latina.”

French
In third grade, students learn more complex French grammar and vocabulary such as basic feelings, descriptions of personality, and sports through reading, writing, and speaking activities. Students begin to understand and read longer phrases and passages, and can write short and long phrases, following an example. Students will experience some of the French traditions throughout the year through cultural songs, dance poems, and stories. During the celebration of “La Francophonie” students celebrate French language from around the world.

Visual Arts

Third graders begin the year by looking at the faces of conflict during their Sharing the Planet unit. They re­-examine the form and structure of the human face by drawing each other as they act out many different moods. Students continue to explore facial features while they build three­-dimensional faces out of plaster and paper. Students expand their knowledge of the human form when they are introduced to human anatomy, while inquiring into Who We Are. They start to examine the human form, both inside and out, while creating detailed pencil drawings of the skeletal system, referencing a life­-sized skeleton. After exploring the works of Alberto Giacometti, they sculpt in metal and paper mache. During their Unit of Inquiry, How We Express Ourselves, third graders foray into the world of fashion, by designing and creating their own costumes during their inquiry into the performing arts. Finally, students are introduced to the concept of value in art during their inquiry into world money systems.

Music

In third grade, students are closely studying Baroque recorder technique, principles of modern notation, reading of instrumental three-part scores, and performing in all-grade and all Lower School combined ensembles. Students create and showcase their own compositions in binary and ternary forms and further develop their ear-training and sight-reading skills, while continuing to explore various instruments of the orchestra, in addition to a recorder. Students are engaged in multiple transdisciplinary projects in connection to PYP Units of Inquiry. The creative process is entirely student-driven and is closely connected to the classroom learning. Throughout the year, students share their musical talents in Community Meetings, holiday concerts, lower school assemblies, and Community Outreach Projects. The main  focus of the third grade music curriculum is to give students an opportunity to effectively apply peer and teacher feedback to the learning process and to become stronger independent learners. Students are also given opportunities to lead musical activities during the class and to share their skills and knowledge in a collaborative environment.  The IB Learner Profile is at the center of our rich musical life in Timothy House and is an integral part of our music curriculum.

Dance

Students build on the dance foundational elements in third grade to further their knowledge of dance composition by applying their knowledge of geometry to dance when considering levels, individual shapes, groups shapes and travel paths. They work cooperatively in small groups to create short dances with a clear beginning, middle, and end. In the Who We Are unit, they learn the difference between a hinge joint and a ball and socket joint, where these joints are located, and the movements they make possible. Later in this unit they create dances based on the circulatory system. In the unit on How We Express Ourselves, they explore stagecraft and theatrical exaggeration to create gestures and moves for the stories they develop. In the unit on How The World Works, they work in small groups to create dances based on planets in the solar system, design their own space exploration dances, and learn how the application of gravity gives us momentum.

Physical Education

Physical education in the third grade provides students with the opportunity to solve challenging problems, individually, in pairs, or in small group activities. They learn and apply specific skills and techniques involved in a variety of lead­-up games and design their own simple games. Third graders respond through movement to a variety of stimuli to express feelings and moods using imagination and original ideas. They improve traditional gymnastic skills and interpret and answer movement tasks in small groups in their own ways. Health related activities are incorporated throughout the year and students understand that they can enhance their performance in physical activities through developing and maintaining physical fitness, refining movement skills, and reflecting on techniques and performance. In track and field, students develop the basic techniques of throwing, running, and jumping. They collect and record data in at least one of these activities. While focusing on the bigger concept of “energy,” students explore the science behind sport in their practical physical education lessons and have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge during a cross­-curricular field trip to the New York Hall of Science.

Library

Library is an exciting time for third graders as they become independent researchers and continue to develop their ability to choose their own books. Students begin to learn the process of searching for a book using the library online catalog and then locating that book on library shelves. Integration of the PYP Units of Inquiry with research in library and using books and online resources is a primary aspect of third grade, so that students begin to connect the concept of research and classroom inquiry in order further their knowledge. The use of text features in print and digital resources as well as note­-taking skills are introduced. Students continue to share read-alouds linked to the classroom units as well has having the opportunity to borrow books in order to reinforce their lifelong love of reading. A highlight of the third grade library curriculum comes during the unit How We Express Ourselves when students participate in Reader’s Theater. Students select a script, share parts, and perform without props, costumes, or stage. 

Design

Third grade students are able to build on their technical skills and tackle more complex applications. Design sessions occur two times per cycle and students are fully engaged with presentation programs, multimedia apps, and electronic research tools. Students use a variety of tools to plan, gather, organize, synthesize, present, and evaluate information to solve problems. Students exercise their skills to present their ideas in interactive timelines, creative slideshows, animations, and game design.

Third grade is a time of excitement and exploration of new ideas and the understanding of how design and technology fits into classroom learning. One notable Unit of Inquiry in third grade is How the World Works. In this unit, students have the option to develop multimedia projects for their STEAM Expo that shows their understanding of the solar system. Another favorite unit of inquiry in third grade is How We Organize Ourselves. In this unit, students learn how to become entrepreneurs and create a product or service that they feel will benefit the school community.

Grade 4

The fourth grade is a true year of growth and change within the Primary Years Program at Dwight School. Students continue to build knowledge and confidence across disciplines, delving into topics such as ancient civilizations, force and motion, belief systems and natural resources. Fourth graders build collaboration skills while practicing Learner Profile traits, such as being reflective and thoughtful communicators. Students learn that education crosses subject boundaries, applying and enhancing math skills during Unit of Inquiry and using knowledge gained during Unit of Inquiry for reading and writing sessions. Learning experiences extend beyond the classroom and include exciting trip opportunities that enhance topics covered during the year. This balanced approach to learning helps cultivate an adaptive and engaging classroom of students.

Units of Inquiry

In fourth grade, students inquire about six units using the transdisciplinary themes. These units cover areas of science, social studies, and personal/social education. These units will inquire into such concepts as: government, forces, resources, major world religions, decision-making, and ancient civilizations. Students will use New York City to bring each unit to life in many different ways. Some examples of our learning journey will include students examining human impact on resources and reflecting on how their own consumption of these resources impacts the world around them. Through our unit How We Express Ourselves, students practice being open­-minded about religious beliefs and values around the world. In our unit on How the World Works, students experiment with many different forces and how these help our understanding of the world. During our Who We Are Unit students investigate how decisions affect who we are and our relationship with others. In the spring term, the entire grade travels to Washington, DC for some tremendous educational and social experiences!

Reading

Students begin fourth grade by reflecting on their reading habits and genre preferences. As the year progresses, students dig deeper into the texts they read, building their inferencing skills by uncovering implicit themes, ideas, and character motivations in fictional works. Later, fourth graders practice “reading for a purpose” using nonfiction texts to aid in research and heighten their understanding of the subject matter being studied across disciplines. Students enhance their note­-taking skills and formulate questions within their reading that require them to research further for the answer. In book clubs, fourth graders practice analyzing literature with a critical lens, identifying important and relevant topics like social issues within the texts they read. Students also connect with Where We Are in Place and Time by studying place and time in the historical fiction genre.

Writing

In fourth grade, students experiment with craft elements, tone, and voice in their writing. Fictional writing is always a fun unit for students where they write a story from beginning to end. Fourth grade writers elevate the quality of their stories by adding description and detail with strategies like “show­ don’t­ tell,” as well as practicing introductions that hook the reader. Students also focus on organization in writing, practicing paragraphs, and outlining personal essays, as well as properly using conventions like capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Students also explore researched based writing by backing up their opinions with relevant research. We connect to our reading by having students journal from a character’s perspective in a historical fiction novel. We also focus on how word choice and more specifically, figurative language, can help create impact on a reader in our poetry unit.

Math

During the year, fourth graders inquire into many different mathematical concepts. All topics we learn about are differentiated based on student readiness and individualized level. Problem­-solving skills are interwoven into all units studied. Fourth graders also become more independent in selecting strategies to solve problems, as well as explaining their mathematical thinking. Students use place value understanding to round multi-digit whole numbers to any place. Multiplication and division are a focus in fourth grade, and students review their basic facts, while becoming experts in multi­-digit multiplication and division with remainders. Fourth graders collect data and analyze information to connect to the Units of Inquiry. Students extend their understanding of fraction equivalence and ordering through games and hands­-on activities. 

World Languages

Introduction
All students in the PYP are required to study at least one language in addition to English. Learning these languages is seen to be an important element in preparing young people for citizenship in the developing global community.

Students in French, Spanish, and Mandarin are exposed to the culture of the target language and develop the necessary skills to become active users of the language at the end of their school career. Students in grades 1-­5 learn language through a variety of ways including songs, games, role-­playing, and cultural activities.

Chinese (Mandarin)
In fourth grade, students can reproduce all previously learned content and learn more complex grammar and vocabulary. Students can produce a guided conversation by using correct words and sentence structure to give and ask for information. Students also start to practice reading short paragraphs. In addition, they learn to write simple sentences. Chinese culture is explored through arts, music, and storybooks, and the celebration of the Lunar New Year.

Spanish
In fourth grade, students are able to reproduce all previously learned content and learn more complex grammar and vocabulary, such as action verbs and daily activities. They can read and understand a short paragraph in Spanish and can engage in short conversations. Students can also generate original short sentences. Students will experience some Spanish traditions throughout the year as they celebrate “Día de los Muertos,” “Three Kings Day,” and “Fiesta Latina.”

French
In fourth grade, students are able to reproduce all previously learned content and learn more complex grammar and vocabulary, such as physical descriptions, how to express nationalities, jobs, and action verbs for cooking. They can read and understand a short paragraph in French. Students start to take part in more complex conversations. Students can also generate original short sentences with the use of connectors. Students will experience some of the French traditions throughout the year through cultural songs, dance, poems, and stories. During the celebration of “La Francophonie” students celebrate French language from around the world.
 

Visual Arts

By fourth grade, students are becoming more familiar with the different stages of the creative process, from generating initial ideas to the completion of a project. They begin to use personal interests, beliefs, or values as the starting point to create a piece of artwork. Fourth graders explore the artworks of ancient Egypt in great depth as they inquire into Where We Are in Place and Time. Students delve into the concept of imagery and symbolism in the visual arts as they inquire into the artwork of different civilizations. They roll out slabs of clay to make relief tiles of a chosen animal. In other units, students are introduced to the principles of graphic design and to the power of iconographic imagery. The principles of balance, contrast, and emphasis are discussed as students inquire into the function of design in the world and explore different types of printmaking. Students use a range of strategies to solve problems during the creative process and now use a variety of media, including technology, to explore and express ideas.

Music

Fourth graders have great opportunities to strengthen their performance confidence and communication skills through multiple venues and group or personal projects. In a creative, design thinking lab setting, students continue to strengthen essential learning and problem-solving skills while singing, composing, and playing various instruments of world and classical orchestras, such as the violin, cello, double bass, guitar, ukulele, flute, clarinet, trumpet, and multiple percussion. Students are exposed to and utilize the latest age-appropriate music technology platforms and are engaged in various basic music theory and history activities that further strengthen their knowledge and appreciation of the art form. Students enjoy singing two and three-part choral arrangements and closely analyze, study and perform a rich vocal and instrumental  repertoire in various styles and genres. Throughout the year, fourth grade students present and share their music talents in Community Meetings, holiday concerts, lower school assemblies, and Community Outreach Projects. The IB Learner Profile is at the center of our rich musical life in Timothy House and is an integral part of our music curriculum.

Dance

Fourth grade students continue to develop their ability to create, design, and organize dances. They expand their movement vocabulary through improvisation while rising/falling, advancing/retreating, and using the whole body versus isolating parts of their body. They expand their knowledge of dance compositional tools as they examine the differences between weight, speed, path, and energy, and how different combinations of these create vastly different expressions. In the unit on Where We Are In Place and Time, students learn about the Great Migration and study work dances from the Southern U.S. and create their own work dances based on building railroads. Then they follow the historic changes that occurred in Harlem as a result of this migration and work in small groups to create dances based on a quick blues tune and a jazz swing tune. Afterward, they apply their knowledge to discuss and write about what they see in videos of various genres of dance from around the world. In the unit on Who We Are, students study a poem and create solo and group material as a response.

Physical Education

Fourth grade students solve challenging problems in groups and identify and utilize the strengths of individual group members in team activities to accomplish a common goal during adventure challenges. They apply skills and techniques involved in a variety of lead­-up games, and modified versions of these games. Students also develop their own games and related activities. Fourth grade students use their bodies in response to stimuli and as a medium for expression. They improve and refine traditional gymnastic skills and work in groups to design their own sequences. Students understand the interconnectedness of the factors that contribute to a safe and healthy lifestyle, begin to set goals, and identify strategies that will help to develop well­-being. A special focus is on biomechanics, which also helps them to improve techniques of jumping, throwing, and running. They have the opportunity to test their new skills and independently collect and record data in at least one activity in a modified track and field event.

Library

Fourth graders continue to work on being independent researchers and library users. The concept of the library as resource for independent research and book selection is introduced. Students begin using the online card catalog and its tools in order to broaden their research. The tools and skills of research and note-taking continue to be reinforced through the study of topics connected to the PYP Units of Inquiry. During the units devoted to research fourth graders continue to add digital resources to their research toolbox. An example is during the unit Sharing the Planet when students are introduced to more sophisticated digital resources that will prepare them for fifth grade. Fourth grade students pursue their understanding and knowledge of literature during a unit devoted studying Newbery Award authors and their writing styles. In addition, students are encouraged to pursue personal reading interests through stories in folklore as well as book discussions and shared read-alouds.

Design

In the fourth grade, design classes build on the skills from the previous three years of the Primary Years Program. Starting in fourth grade, students are using their devices with increasing independence. Students work on projects that support the PYP units of inquiry while still acquiring skills to become more sophisticated technology users and design thinkers. Students engage in digital citizenship and literacy, develop their internet­-based research skills, and create products to communicate ideas for an intended purpose and audience. Students become proficient in presenting their ideas using a variety of presentation tools. Students apply design thinking to build 3D structures using computer-aided design (CAD_software) and animate simple machines during their unit on How the World Works.

Grade 5

Fifth grade is the concluding year of the Primary Years Program at the Dwight School. It is a year filled with in-depth research and collaborative learning. Students gain independence as they utilize their educational foundations to explore new ideas. Over the course of the year, students explore topics such as the human brain, leadership over time, and systems for food production and distribution. They strengthen their skills in reading, writing, math, and Unit of Inquiry while consolidating their knowledge of the PYP in preparation for the exhibition at the end of the year.

The PYP exhibition is the culminating experience of primary school, marking the transition from the Primary Years Program (PYP) to the Middle Years Program (MYP). The exhibition is both a collaborative and independent project that involves students in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to real-life problems. Students work as a class to select a theme and central idea, and then in small groups closely examine a related key concept. Individual students then choose a specific topic that they are passionate about within that concept and begin their investigation. The exhibition provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning in the PYP and to take action as a result of their learning.

Units of Inquiry

Fifth grade students inquire into six different Units of Inquiry. Each of these units is integrated across the subject areas and are the pillars of the fifth grade curriculum. The units include Who We Are, in which the students study how we learn, how the brain functions, and the parts of the brain. Students inquire into leadership, historical time periods, and the leaders who emerged from these periods during the unit, Where We Are in Place and Time. In the How We Express Ourselves unit, students delve into media past and present and the impact it has on society. Students investigate matter in its many shapes and forms in our How the World Works unit. During the Sharing the Planet unit, students learn about the challenges and risks children face worldwide. Within the How We Organize Ourselves unit, students inquire into the production and distribution of food around the world. 

The fifth and penultimate unit in fifth grade is the PYP exhibition. This unit is determined each year by the students based on their interest in global and local issues. In previous years, students have inquired into issues such as children’s rights and human impact on the environment. Once the students determine the theme, they inquire deeply into their topic and determine a plan for taking action. The unit culminates with a museum-like display and an oral presentation to the Lower School community, parents, and staff.

Reading

In fifth grade, students review, strengthen, and extend their understanding of reading comprehension strategies while developing a greater appreciation for literature. They read award­-winning novels and nonfiction with a greater emphasis on inferential thinking skills to gain a deeper understanding of the text. Through the use of book clubs and class discussions, students analyze literature in order to identify social, moral, and cultural issues within a story. They discuss connections between characters, multiple texts, and real-world issues. Reading for research and learning becomes exceedingly important as students leave elementary school and enter middle school, and is therefore emphasized in fifth grade. Fifth grade students learn new ways to gather information from a variety of sources and regularly practice synthesizing this information through annotation and note-taking skills.

Writing

Fifth grade students practice and develop writing skills within a variety of genres. They learn more about the writing process through expository, creative, and narrative writing practice. Emphasis is placed on writing in a clear, descriptive, and organized manner that takes the audience into consideration. Fifth grade students also work more closely with the selection of words and how strong word choice can dramatically enhance the quality of their writing. Also, students become careful peer editors in which they offer constructive feedback and give examples from the piece to help push one another’s writing. Nonfiction writing is an integral part of fifth grade, as students learn to write different types of essays, lab reports, conduct research, and integrate quotes from texts into their writing while accurately citing sources.

Math

The fifth grade math curriculum is an integration of PYP and Common Core Standards. Fifth grade students extend their understanding of the foundations of mathematics. They learn additional skills and concepts related to place value, number operations, geometry, measurement, data and probability, and fractions. There is also an emphasis on problem­-solving as it relates to the world and how using math is valuable in our everyday lives. Problem-solving math groups allow students opportunities to work collaboratively on challenging word problems while sharing strategies with classmates. Students improve their ability to communicate math thinking both verbally, and in writing. Fifth grade utilizes Khan Academy to enhance the math curriculum and further personalize instruction.

World Languages

Introduction
All students in the PYP are required to study at least one language in addition to English. Learning these languages is seen to be an important element in preparing young people for citizenship in the developing global community.

Students in French, Spanish, and Mandarin are exposed to the culture of the target language and develop the necessary skills to become active users of the language at the end of their school career. Students in grades 1-­5 learn language through a variety of ways including songs, games, role-­playing, and cultural activities.

Chinese (Mandarin)
In fifth grade, students are expected to start using their previously learned language in more independent ways. In conversations, in addition to stating feelings and expressing wants, students also ask for information. They form short paragraphs and simple stories by using the sentences they know. Students engage in conversations with one person or multiple people. Chinese culture is explored through arts, music, and storybooks, and the celebration of Lunar New Year.

Spanish
Students are expected to use their previously learned language skills in independent and original ways. Students can understand short stories and engage in guided conversations with one person or multiple people. Students learn more complex grammar and the concept of register to address different people. Students will experience some Spanish traditions throughout the year as they celebrate “Día de los Muertos,” “Three Kings Day,” and “Festina Latina.”

French
Students are expected to use their previously learned language skills in independent and original ways. Students can understand short stories and engage in more complex conversations with one person or multiple people. Students learn more complex grammar, the concept of register to address different people as well as how to express their opinion.  Subjects such as functions of the brain, telling time, daily routine, and the IB Learner Profile are incorporated into regular instruction. Students will experience some of the French traditions throughout the year through cultural songs, dance, poems, and stories.  During the celebration of “La Francophonie” students celebrate French language from around the world. 

Visual Arts

Fifth grade students become much more able to independently develop and express their ideas through the visual arts. Their compositional skills continue to strengthen, as will their comprehension of the elements of art and the principles of design. Having been introduced to a wide variety of materials and having practiced critiquing artwork since first grade, students are now able to select appropriate media and techniques to effectively communicate their ideas. At the beginning of the year, while inquiring into the workings of the brain, fifth graders explore the science of color in order to create optical illusions. This exposure to color theory is then practiced as they revisit the design principles of contrast and balance, and create portraits of themselves as leaders. Finally, students’ knowledge of design principles are applied when they use their skills to communicate their ideas during the culminating project of their elementary careers, the PYP exhibition.

Music

Our fifth graders are engaged in multiple independent and collaborative music projects. In addition to playing in a full orchestra setting and singing through a wide variety of vocal repertoire, Each student has the opportunity to create his/her own music compositions using the using traditional compositional methods or the latest technology tools, such as Noteflight, Garageband, and Sibelius. As the year’s highlight, students  collaboratively create and perform a full-length song that summarizes their music skills, diversity of their personal taste, and performance styles in connection to the fifth grade PYP exhibition unit of inquiry. As a group, students perform their original composition during the exhibition’s final presentation. Students are exposed to a variety of world music and its evolution across genres and styles in a historical context.  Students continue building their independent thinking and problem-solving skills through a wide variety of basic music theory, ear-training, and performance activities. A key focus of the fifth grade music curriculum is to give students an opportunity to make independent creative decisions and effectively apply peer feedback to their own independent work. Students learn how to productively build on each others’ ideas throughout the process.  

Dance

Our fifth graders expand their  movement vocabulary through composition and improvisation. In the Who We Are unit, they create dances based on isolating body parts with specific rhythms and tempos. In the Where We Are in Place and Time unit, students work in small groups using different leadership styles (executive, democratic, and consensus) and reflect on their preferences for leaders. In the How We Express Ourselves unit, students draw and dance: they create a list of descriptive words for three different musical works and create solos based on one of those songs, using their pictures, improvisations, and word lists as impetus. They explore traveling through space while connecting and disconnecting with partners and small groups, and collaborate to create dances about molecules in different states of matter. As they notate their dances in journals, they accumulate descriptions of dances they see, including videos of different dance genres from around the world and one another’s dances. They study specific migration issues in the unit on Sharing the Planet, and collaborate in small groups to create a dance based on their response to these studies.

Physical Education

Fifth grade students solve challenging problems in larger groups and apply strategies to resolve conflicts independently. They are taught advanced skills and concepts associated with games and sports and develop their own innovative games and activities. Fifth grade students use their bodies in response to stimuli and as a medium for expression. They refine the traditional gymnastic skills and work cooperatively to create their own movement sequences. Students understand the interconnectedness of factors that contribute to a safe and healthy lifestyle, set goals, and identify strategies that will help to develop well­-being. They practice specific techniques for throwing, jumping, and running events, evaluate their performance, and understand how they can improve. Students have the opportunity to design their own track activities and participate in a modified event, independently collecting and recording data.

Library

In fifth grade students are comfortable using the library online database for book searching as well using online databases for information collection. Becoming independent researchers is a goal in fifth grade library. Students continue to explore the many tools and skills that contribute to an understanding of resources, both print and digital, for research. A primary focus in fifth grade is developing confidence and the ability to utilize research skills in order to be prepared for the PYP exhibition. A mid-year unit focusing on text features and reading science for understanding helps prepare students for their research and displays for exhibition. In addition, students become familiar with citing sources and creating bibliographies. The online citation and note-taking tool, “Noodletools” is introduced to support fifth graders in research. Students are encouraged to try new literature genres and explore informational texts as pleasure reading. A highlight of the fifth grade library curriculum is a literature-based unit called “Reading without Walls.” This unit encourages students to read outside their comfort zone and explore new genres and topics in their independent reading.

Design

In the fifth grade, design classes build on the skills from the previous four years of the Primary Years Program. Fifth grade students continue in our 1­:1 program, but with laptops. With increasing independence, students work on projects that support the PYP Units of Inquiry while still acquiring skills to become more sophisticated technology users and design thinkers. Students work together to build a strong digital citizenship community and practice responsible use of their online platforms. Fifth graders are motivated to explore the basics of computer programming, which helps nurture creativity and problem­-solving skills. In the fifth grade, students embark on a journey to find and develop their Spark of Genius by investigating a passion during Genius Hour. For most of the year, students produce and edit products to communicate information and ideas for an intended purpose and audience in preparation for the PYP Exhibition.