Fourth and fifth grade are located in beautiful, historical homes. The upper elementary program fosters the developmentally appropriate, rigorous academic tone in our Lower School. Fourth and fifth grade is a bridge between the lower elementary grades and the Middle School. Fourth and fifth Graders hone the fundamental skills they have learned in the previous grades and take the application of these skills to a greater depth. This includes using their research and writing skills to demonstrate what they have learned through a series of exhibitions. The exhibitions are based on essential questions and then culminate with the Fifth Grade Exhibition.
To prepare our students for the variety of standardized tests that they will take as they progress through their school years, our students take the nationally normed standardized test offered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) starting in fourth grade. Fourth and fifth graders continue the use of portfolios as an assessment tool and fifth graders are presented their Permanent Portfolio at the Closing Ceremony, which honors their years in the Lower School.
The guiding principles of fostering independence and developing leadership skills while also learning to be effective collaborators act as the underpinnings of our fourth- and fifth-grade academic and social programs. Our fourth graders lead the Lower School paper recycling efforts while the fifth graders oversee the Lower School’s UNICEF fundraiser. The fourth and fifth grade take part in a collaborative science program each year that has an environmental focus and has, in part, led to the development of our Outdoor Classroom space. Students in fifth grade have opportunities to challenge themselves through participation in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (eligibility based on ERB scores).
In Fourth and gifth grade, Academic Exhibitions of Knowledge continue to play an important role in the assessment of our students. The students are proud of their final exhibitions and often speak about them years after they accomplish them. Past exhibitions have included the following:
The fourth grade FourthFest involves students spending over a month researching a chosen aspect of Japanese, Korean, and Indian life (food, seismic events, historical events, technology, and more) and then spending a day sharing what they have learned with the entire Lower School community.
The fourth grade Immigration Day is an event when students experience the process of immigration when entering the United States. The students use their French skills as they take the test to become a citizen in French, so that the students get to see what it is like to take the test in a language that is not their first language!
The fifth grade Colonial Exhibition has students debating issues facing the colonial people in their interactions with Native Americans and then the students share their research regarding the lives of the colonists.
The Fifth Grade Exhibition is the culminating exhibition for our Lower School students. The Fifth Graders explore the essential question What is independence? They choose an event or person(s) who they feel has demonstrated independence and spend two months working with an assigned faculty advisor to prepare a written piece, a complementary visual component, and an oral presentation. On the day of the exhibition, the students answer questions about their written and visual pieces and then make a three to five minute oral presentation in front of their parents and other adult members of the Lower School community. They speak about what they learned, about what process they went through preparing for the exhibition, and about how their research answered the essential question.
As in the lower elementary grades, we believe it is important for our Fourth and Fifth Graders to experience a rich curriculum outside of the one they receive in their core subjects. All students sing in the chorus and many choose to perform in the band. All fourth and fifth graders participate in the culminating musical. Use of emerging technology prepares students for the research that is required of them and teaches them the skills necessary to use technology to their greatest benefit. All students continue to take French and 5th graders will take one trimester of French, Spanish, and Mandarin. After sampling all three languages, they will then have the option to select a language to focus on for the entire year in 6th grade. Physical Education classes emphasize sportsmanship, game and sports skills development, and the program also teaches students team skills that prepare them for inter-scholastic competition that starts in Middle School.
Finally, our fourth and fifth graders are role models for the students in the lower grades. Each fourth and fifth grader is assigned a “buddy” in one of the lower grades. “Buddies” get to know each other at the beginning of the year when the entire Lower School goes on an apple-picking trip, and they get together most weeks at the Lower School Share Assembly. The goal of the Lower School is to help our students become strong academic students who work to reach their highest level of learning. More importantly, we help them become honest, respectful, responsible, and kind citizens in our ever-changing world.