Elementary Curriculum Update

September 2019

Penn Class - 1st and 2nd Grades

We have had a great start to the school year as students have taken part in a variety of activities to help build our classroom community. The students enjoyed listening to many read alouds, focused on themes including friendship, kindness, perseverance, and Quaker testimonies.

Class meetings have been centered on ways in which we can be supportive in creating a safe and comfortable learning environment full of respect towards all. After reading How Full Is Your Bucket, a class meeting was held to discuss ways in which we “fill” each other’s buckets through encouraging actions and words. The students participated in a “Compliment Circle” in which we drew other students’ names and paid each other a compliment based on positive behaviors. We continue to work on building and enhancing our classroom community by sharing commonalities and recognizing and honoring differences. We focused on acknowledging and rewarding positive behaviors by earning and collecting “warm and fuzzies” (re. pom-poms) that went into our class Reward Bowl. We set goals and are keeping track of all the warm and fuzzies that we have earned. Through their acts of kindness and responsibility, they will earn rewards/ privileges for the whole class.


During Writing Studio, the students set personal and academic goals for themselves this year which are on display in our classroom entitled “Reaching For Our Goals!” We also established boundaries/class rules for respect and for safety both in and outside of the classroom. Our classroom has colorful, visual displays of expectations displayed on the walls. The students have also focused their efforts on reflective daily journals about themselves and their opinions. We will collect all of their writing for their personal “Big-kid Binders” to share with their parents at the end of each month.


In our Reading Studio, the students worked on making book selections based on interests and reading levels as well as practicing the routine itself. As our first month comes to an end, the students have worked on meeting the goal of reading to themselves using “just right” book selections. In groups, we focused on basic story elements such as character, setting, etc. We incorporated phonics and spelling skills while performing many different tasks during our Word Work sessions.


In First and Second Grade Math, the students have been working diligently as we explore new materials and routines in our Bridges Math program. We begin our time each day by gathering at the Number Corner where we review the calendar, observe patterns, and record our various observations. First Grade has been concentrating on counting and recognizing numbers from 0 to 30, with special emphasis on understanding that teen numbers are made of 1 ten plus a set number of ones. We started our collection of popsicle sticks to represent tens and ones as we count the number of days that we have been in school thus far. Second Grade has been collecting “60 minutes a day” and keeping track of them as we add each hour on our clocks. We have also been working with the number rack to help us solve equations up to 20. The number rack and our daily rectangle workouts aid us in identifying odd and even numbers. Both math classes are working through story problems and using pennies and nickels in our computation practice. A favorite aspect of our time together is visiting workplaces, where students can play games and work with fun manipulatives to create and solve their own mathematical queries individually and with partners.

In Discovery, the class started with the topic of study: Identity. The students created their first self-portraits this year. (We will create other self-portraits as we grow and change throughout the year.) Several wonderful selections of children’s literature were incorporated into our lessons to help us explore related topics such as families, homes, and community.

We met with the Anthony Class to discover and learn our commonalities as well as recognize and respect our differences. We participated in a large group activity in our Big Room altogether and then enjoyed a read aloud by Daniel Pinkwater called The Big Orange Splot. We will continue to work together with our partners to design the house of our dreams.

Fox Class - 3rd Grade

This September, the Fox Class has been focusing on building our classroom community and learning rules and procedures. We are learning that working together as a team helps us all shine bright. We have begun having class Meeting for Worship, where we will work on social and emotional lessons. It can be a time to discuss concerns, problems at recess, and also a time for the teacher to pose queries that are beneficial in creating a safe, compassionate community.

We read a book called All The Colors of Us by Karen Katz. It is a beautiful story about what makes each of us special. We each got a mirror and were able to draw self-portraits, being careful to draw our unique features that best represent us. We all took our time and created beautiful skin tones, hair textures, and eye colors. If you have not seen them, please come in and see them! We also discussed that our character traits are part of who we are. We looked at a list of words that best describe who we are as Third Graders. We chose one for ourselves and wrote an acrostic poem describing who we are.

In Readers’ Workshop we are learning that our books are gold. Books should be exciting! During this time we should be choosing books that are interesting to us. We all received a shopping list and got to choose books for our bins this week. We are practicing reading independently and learning how to read with our partners. We are learning to build a reading life by taking care of our library and our leveled books in our bins. We are learning that readers don’t just read books, they talk about them too. We are learning to keep a reading notebook and are keeping track of the books we have read in school while building good reading habits. Reading bags have just started coming home and students are practicing reading every night.

In Writers’ Workshop we have been writing personal narratives. We begin with narratives because these are the stories that students know very well and with which they can make connections. We are learning that if we can’t think of a story, there are strategies we can use to help us. The first strategy we learned is that you can think of a person, then think of something you have done together. We read a book called Ralph Writes a Story to help us find inspiration in the smallest of life's moments.

In Third Grade Math, we have been working on addition and subtraction fact fluency. We have been working on counting and adding and subtracting by tens. Students are learning various strategies for solving double-digit addition and subtraction problems. We have played many games to help us build our skills and understanding. In Number Corner, students were introduced to different models of multiplication.

We are beginning our Discovery unit learning about George Fox, the founder of Quakerism. We learned that Quakers are pacifists. Being at a Quaker school, we also believe in non-violence and have discussions when there is a conflict. We learned about the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace and Social Justice, Integrity, Community, Equality and Care for the Earth.

Throughout the year there are many holidays that different families come together to celebrate. We will be learning about these holidays as they come up during the year, our first being Rosh Hashanah. Students learned about what “Rosh Hashanah” means and what traditions Jewish families have surrounding these holidays.

Anthony Class - 4th and 5th Grades


Many of our activities in the Anthony Class this month have been centered around building community. On the first day of school, we had “Council” where the children sit in a circle with a candle in the center. After some silence, a question is posed and a talking object, in our case a rock, is passed around the circle. Everyone who wants to can speak when holding the rock. When you are not holding the rock your role is that of an active listener. At the end, there is a poem we recite together, the chime is rung, and the candle is blown out. The question at our first council was, “What are your hopes and dreams for this school year?” Later in the day, the students wrote down their hopes and dreams for the year.

Three other whole group projects have marked our first weeks together as the Anthony Class. Everyone painted their own cubby. They chose the colors and designs and personalized the cubby. After reading a picture book called The Best Part of Me the students wrote about the best part of themselves. They made posters that included their writing and a photograph of the best part of themselves. Lastly, the students brainstormed words that describe them and worked in small groups to paint “We Are…” canvases with those words.

We have Meeting for Worship in the classroom several times a week. At least once a week I have been reading books about our namesake, Susan B. Anthony. On Fridays, we have an “Appreciations and Gratitudes” meeting. Another topic we have begun to explore during Meeting is the Quaker testimonies. The students worked in small groups creating posters, which are now hanging in our room, to represent each of the testimonies. The testimony the school is focusing on this year is Integrity.


The first two D.E.A.L. (Drop Everything and Listen) chapter books I read aloud to the class were The Iliad and The Odyssey adapted by Gillian Cross and illustrated by Neil Packer. These were chosen because the theme of the first half of this year is “Heroes and Ancient Greece.”

Everyone has a reading bag with a personal reading book, a reader’s notebook, and a reading log. The class has begun an exploration of character traits and has been working to find textual evidence for the traits of the main characters in their books. We started our first Literature Circles of the year. All of the books are fantasies based upon mythology. As a part of a Literature Circle, everyone has a job to complete before the circle meets for a discussion. The different roles are the Discussion Director, Passage Predictor, Creative Connector, Super Summarizer, Word Wizard, Artistic Artist, and Researcher. Our first books are The Oracle of Apollo by Rick Riordan, The Curse of Hera by P. J. Hoover, and Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom by Joan Halub and Suzanne Wiliams. We are also reviewing parts of speech and capitalization. Everyone has written short personal narrative pieces and paragraphs defining the words hero and idol.


The first questions we are exploring in Science are "What is energy and how is it related to motion? How is energy transferred? How can energy be used to solve a problem?" The students have performed two experiments about transferring energy. In one, small groups were given seven pennies and had to figure out different ways to use energy to create motion. They recorded their experiments and shared at the end of the class. In the second, the groups were given a ping pong ball and a golf ball. First, they experimented with how to make each ball bounce higher and, after that, how to transfer energy from one ball to the other. They diagramed their experiments in their science journals. We’ve also read a book about energy and the terms kinetic, stored, and potential energy have been introduced.

We are spending the first half of the year exploring Heroes and Ancient Greece. The class made maps of Ancient Greece and reviewed geographic terms such as continent, peninsula, and equator. Each child is doing research to become an expert on one of the Olympic Gods or Goddesses. After they are done their research they will create trading cards.


Our first unit is called “Expressions, Equations, and Volume.” The 5th-Grade Mathematicians have spent a good part of the month tackling different problems about how many different ways you could package 24 baseballs if the packages have to be rectangular prisms made of cubic units and how many square units of cardboard the different boxes would use. They have also practiced representing multiplication using area models and looked at doubling and halving and partial product strategies. We have defined factor, multiple, prime, and composite, and used number lines and ratio tables to help solve multiplication problems.

Bentley is having regular weekend sleepovers at his classmates’ homes! On 9/27 we began to bake bread through the alphabet. Our first bread was Arepas.