The Fifth Grade Year
Birchwood’s middle school academic program is designed to provide opportunities for high level achievement. The breadth of opportunities for acceleration and enrichment is unique among middle schools in Northeast Ohio. However, the extent that students benefit from these opportunities is in direct proportion to their stage of development in skills, knowledge, work habits, and attitudes.
It has been our experience that the fifth grade year at Birchwood can play an important role in this development. After much consideration, we have decided to add a few important curricular features in fifth grade which may help our students build a stronger base for high achievement in sixth through eighth grades.
We call the fifth grade year, Cap and Bridge. It is a cap upon the foundation laid in the primary grades and a bridge for high level achievement and enriched experiences in middle school.
This program is carried out by two curricular enhancements:
- Mr. and Mrs. Debelak participate directly in opening and character class to cap habits and attitudes. Subject area teachers and parents collaborate to equip each child with specific habits and skills for success subject by subject.
- We integrate history, reading, theater arts, performing arts, and visual arts. This provides a deeper understanding and richer experience of history and literature.
- Students will demonstrate academic responsibility through completing homework and class work, consistently and well. Students’ homework planner will be checked at the beginning of the day, at the end of each class, and at the end of the day. If there is a persistent problem with homework – whether quantity or quality – parents, teachers and students will strategize to resolve issues.
- Students will demonstrate organization skills through developing, maintaining and adjusting daily schedules; maintenance of an organizational trapper; and systems for having paper, pencils and other materials necessary for success in class. Three classes per quarter will be dedicated to assessing progress through reviewing schedules and renewing systems for organization. Students will learn to use the creative solving process to address and solve personal challenges in this area.
- Students will demonstrate respect for their own work and for the work they give to teachers. Illustrated through quality of class work and homework.
Concerning Skills, Knowledge and Habits of Mind:
- At the beginning of the school year, each teacher will describe the skills, knowledge and habits of mind that constitute a solid foundation for achievement in middle school.
- These objectives will give parents a better handle on how their children are progressing.
- Attitudes about achievement lay at the core of achievement. When students understand that high achievement requires hard work, self-discipline, perseverance, and dedication, they are more likely to apply these attributes to their work. Building these characteristics and the attitudes they illustrate, starts with language and models. Mr. and Mrs. Debelak will join the homeroom teachers to hone and enrich the opening curriculum and to build the language of achievement
Enhancements: Integrating History, Reading and Fine Arts:
As part of the Cap and Bridge year, the study of United States history will be integrated with literature, art, drama, and music.
The focus of history is to understand and appreciate the human story in history, and what these stories – great and small – teach us about our own lives. Students of history are students of nonfiction literature – biography, autobiography and historical periods. By combining our history curriculum with literature, we acquaint students with nonfiction reading.
Music, art and drama help children make emotional as well as intellectual connections with history and literature. Re-enactments, recitations, simulations, folk music, and art, provide students with a deeper understanding and richer experience.