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Upper Elementary Division (3-5)

Please find detailed information about each of the subject areas students in grades Third through Fifth grade are enrolled in. With lead teachers for all of these subject areas, The Fay School puts great emphasis on ensuring a well-rounded education for each student.

Language arts is an integrated curriculum that focuses on reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.  Upper elementary students at The Fay School use the Journeys Reading Program to develop reading skills and an appreciation for various genres of literature.  Students become skilled, confident readers through daily reading instruction that focuses on comprehension skills and analysis of texts for various story elements.  The Collins Writing Program is designed to improve students’ thinking and writing skills simultaneously, and encourages students to develop skills through frequent, meaningful writing practice.  Multisensory Grammar is a Neuhaus Education Center program that teaches the parts of speech based on their usage in sentences.  Students learn to identify the various parts of speech by using a systematic color-coding system, and they participate in activities that extend their knowledge of parts of speech into their written work.  The Scientific Spelling program is another Neuhaus Education Center program that is used to teacher students sound and letter patterns that help them develop accurate spelling.  The Wordly Wise Vocabulary program provides direct academic vocabulary instruction that develops the critical link between vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Everyday Mathematics comes from the University of Chicago Mathematics Project and is based on decades of research and engineered to make sure that all students have an opportunity to succeed.  Numbers, skills, and mathematical concepts are not presented in isolation, but are linked to situations and contexts that are relevant to everyday lives. Students are challenged to explain and discuss their mathematical thinking in their own words, and through the program’s writing component.  This program encourages students to be creative problem solvers and flexible thinkers, and it requires students to explain and discuss their mathematical thinking in their own words.  The five domains taught in Everyday Mathematics include: operations and algebraic thinking, number and operations in base-ten, number and operations in fractions, measurement and data, and geometry.  In the upper elementary grades, students also memorize basic math facts, and they use supplemental technology programs to enhance their mathematical skills and understanding.  Students also have the ability to access the Everyday Math online component for lesson overviews and extension activities.  

Science A Closer Look is a McGraw Hill curriculum that provides students with the foundations for observing, communicating, measuring, comparing, describing, classifying, predicting, collecting, and interpreting data.  Students learn concepts through a combination of direct instruction utilizing the textbook, and through exploration activities and science labs that incorporate life, earth, and physical science.  These engaging activities promote curiosity and foster the development of science inquiry skills.  Through a consistent and structured learning cycle, students confidently build upon their experiences to develop a lifelong understanding of science concepts.  Upper elementary topics include:  living things, ecosystems, earth and its resources, weather and space, matter, forces and energy, scientific Investigation, solar system and the universe, changes in matter, and energy.    

The Social Studies Alive program promotes increased awareness of self, family, community, country, and the globe. The third grade focus is on “Our Community and Beyond,” and students are taught to recognize that that community begins in the classroom.  Children actively learn the meaning of respect, equity, cooperation, and citizenship.  In third grade, geography and map skills are also emphasized and reinforced through The Daily Geography program.  The focus in fourth grade is on “Regions of Our Country,” and it presents the five regions of the United States through the lens of the four social sciences — economics, geography, political science, and history.  In fifth grade, the focus is on “America’s Past.”  This curriculum covers American history from the first migrations into the Americas through the 20th century. Intense interaction with the personalities, places, and events that structured our nation leads students to be both keen observers of and informed participants in U.S. history.

In Upper Elementary, the students get an in-depth look at the lives of composers through fun, hands-on activities.  They also develop and hone their acting skills, have an opportunity to participate in recorder and ukulele ensembles, and study the evolution of rock and roll in America from 1900 to the present.  The students are prepared to further pursue music instruction at a higher level by the time they leave Fay.  

The Fay School’s Upper Elementary art curriculum encourages inventive thinking, creative problem solving, visual awareness, as well as intellectual, social and emotional development. We consider every student an artist and cultivate innate creativity and curiosity with hands-on exploration of art materials, as well as self-reflection during art-making.

Upper Elementary art focuses on age-appropriate assignments, guided experimentation, group demonstrations, and one-on-one instruction. All Fay School art students use a variety of materials, tools and techniques as they develop individual expression, focus, and a strong work ethic.

The Fay School's art program allows children to engage in the creative process, take risks, solve problems, and develop insights. Their ideas take shape in a finished work of art. The Fay School is constantly changing exhibitions in several spaces throughout the campus to show case student work.

Our goal is to provide a supportive studio environment where students can visually express themselves and experiment with a variety of processes and techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, and sculpture. As students move through the grades, they engage in deeper and more elaborate understandings of materials, processes, and techniques.

In Upper Elementary Physical Education, along with developing new and more advanced skills, we also emphasize the importance of endurance and personal fitness goals. Pace work, muscle strengthening, and stretching are components of each of our classes. In introducing new units, we begin with skill acquisition and development. In our volleyball unit, we focus on the fundamentals of the sport: serving, passing, and setting. In serving, we work on a consistent toss, maintaining a high elbow, and contacting the ball with a strong hand.  In passing, we focus on a balanced base, hand positioning, and a flat and frozen platform. In setting, we concentrate on high and triangular hands, contacting the ball on our finger pads (a “silent set”), and ending each set with a high follow-through.  We progress in each of our units to strategies in team play, moving to get open, and moving with a purpose. In our soccer unit, we encourage the students to maintain their spacing, forming a triangle with their teammates in game play, to ensure better passes. In our basketball unit, we work with the students on the fundamental skills of offense and defense. The students work on proper shooting technique, correct passing form, and moving to get open, keeping in mind spatial awareness. We finish each unit with an exciting class game, highlighting the skills the students have developed. Throughout the year, we continue to emphasize the importance of playing cooperatively, playing honestly, and playing as a team.

As receiving comprehensible input continues in upper elementary, the students’ acquisition of the target language grows as well. The use of props and acting for the purpose of storytelling in Spanish remains key. This makes acquiring Spanish still a fun an engaging process. It is in these grades that reading and writing in Spanish are developed, and output of the Spanish language becomes much more evident.

The Wolf Library serves our Upper El students and their teachers and parents as well.  We have over 15,000 volumes of books and aim to provide a collection that meets the needs of our students. All students visit the library once a week with their class and other times with their teacher’s permission. Promoting literacy and the love of reading is paramount to any good library program.  We strive to help students become users and producers of all types of information.  The process of research is taught in collaboration with the classroom teacher and the librarian and it is done entirely at school.  We subscribe to online databases that give students and their families access to resources such as encyclopedias, search engines appropriate for school age children, and web based programs as tools for learning.  These students are offered participation in the Texas Bluebonnet reading program.  Fourth and fifth grade students can also participate in the Read it Forward Book Club in the fall and in the spring.  Noted author visits enrich their learning and are usually coordinated with the Book Fair.

At Fay, our students learn to be good consumers and discerners of information. We provide an interactive, safe environment with cutting edge, age-appropriate technology to enhance learning in a digital world. Technology is a daily part of classroom instruction and is integrated in a forward-thinking and innovative way. This class will lead our students to have independent and collaborative experiences through the consumption of digital resources for instruction, research, production, and assessment.

In Upper Elementary we build upon the core skills learned in Lower Elementary. A higher level of skills, applications, and digital citizenship are introduced through computer class. Students are introduced into a 1:1 environment using laptops, and a wide array of digital resources that supplement our textbooks. Through our 1:1 program students have greater independent and collaborative experiences that prepare them to become leaders in a digital world.