All About Academics: K-8

December Updates from Curriculum Coordinators

Welcome to our second installment of All About Academics!

'Tis the season for learning, engagement, and celebrations. Your children are well into the swing of things this school year, our teachers are challenging them with rigorous activities and assessments, and our schools are buzzing with the holiday spirit.

Our winter newsletter is chock-full of information regarding what your students are learning in kindergarten through eight. We have included times, dates, and links for Grade 5 parent meetings regarding the middle school transition, K-8 content areas, and loads of clickables for more information. Enjoy!

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Grades 5 and 6 Transition Meeting

Middle School Counselors, Middle School Principals, and Curriculum Coordinators will go live to talk about what goes on in the spring and summer to help prepare students for the next school level. During this session, there will also be information regarding the placement process for Advanced Studies in Grades 6-8.

Join us virtually on Tuesday, January 17

You are invited to attend one of the sessions listed above. More information is available on our district website. If unable to attend, the slide deck and video recording of both meetings will be available online as early as January 18.

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English Language Arts



Reading: Super Powers: Reading with Print Strategies and Sight Word Power

Writing: Narrative: Writing for Readers

Fundations: Uppercase letter formation, phonemic awareness (blending/segmenting), phonics (blending and reading three sound short vowel words), alphabetical order.

Grade 1

Reading: Nonfiction: Learning About the World

Writing: Information: Nonfiction Chapter Books

Fundations: Baseword and suffix (-s), pluralization, reading with accuracy and prosody, Glued Sounds (ang, ing, ong, ung, ank, ink, onk, unk), blending and reading words/segmenting and spelling (words with ng or nk)

Grade 2

Reading: Growing Word Solving Muscles

Writing: Opinion: Writing about Reading

Fundations: Open Syllables, y as a vowel, combining open syllables with closed and vowel consonant-e syllables, syllable division rules, Suffixes (-y,-ly,-ty), R-controlled syllable type (sounds ar and or), Combining r-controlled syllables with other syllable types.

Grade 3

Reading: Mystery Foundational Skills in Disguise

Writing: Opinion: Changing the World (Persuasive Speeches, Petitions and Editorials)

Fundations: Open-syllable review, y as a vowel ( long i and e), Schwa in an open syllable (a&i), open syllable exception, Reading soft c and g (ce, ci, cy & ge, gi, gy), lowercase cursive (x, z). Review: closed syllables, concepts of prefixes/roots, syllable division for multisyllabic words

Grade 4

Reading: Details and Synthesis: Close Reading of Fiction

Writing: Opinion: The Literary Essay: Writing About Fiction

Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop: Defining words, work with synonyms and antonyms, sentence completion, word associations, work with Latin/Greek roots, words in context

Grade 5

Reading: Interpretation Book Clubs: Analyzing Themes

Writing: Literary Essay: Opening Texts and Seeing More

Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop: Defining words, work with synonyms and antonyms, sentence completion, word associations, work with Latin/Greek roots, words in context

Middle School

Grade 6

Reading: Tapping the Power of Nonfiction

Writing: Research-Based Information Writing: Books, Websites, and Presentations

Grade 7

Reading: Completing: Essential Research Skills: Argument

Moving into: Contemporary Fiction

Writing: Writing About Reading: From Reader’s Notebooks to Companion Books

Grade 8

Reading: Completing: Exploring Non-Fiction

Moving into: Historical Fiction

Writing: Literary Essay: Analyzing Craft and Theme

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in English Language Arts?

Contact Kim Paladino:, or head to our website.

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Social Studies

In the grades listed below, students are working on topics related to:


  • Kindergarten: My Family & Me
  • Grade 1: Home, School & Community
  • Grade 2: People & Groups
  • Grade 3: History of Government in Greenwich
  • Grade 4: Movement of People & Ideas
  • Grade 5: The 13 Colonies and Europe

Middle School

  • Grade 6: East Asia (China, Japan, North, and South Korea). Next up: Europe (Western and Eastern)
  • Grade 7: Subcontinental Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan). Next up: Middle East and North Africa
  • Grade 8: The United States Constitution. Next up: Expansion of the Early Republic

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in Elementary Social Studies? Contact Marc D'Amico: Marc_D' Want to learn more about what your child is learning in Middle School Social Studies? Contact Gordon Beinstein:, or head to our website.

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Elementary: Please be on the lookout for the Family Letter that comes home before each chapter. These letters provide context, learning targets, and success criteria for the chapter.

Kindergarten: Compare numbers to 10, Next unit: Compose and Decompose numbers to 10.

Grade 1: Addition and subtraction situations, Next unit: Add numbers within 20.

Grade 2: Fluently add within 100, Next unit: Subtraction to 100 strategies.

Grade 3: Division facts and strategies, Next unit: Patterns and fluency.

Grade 4: Multiply two-digit numbers, Next unit: Divide multi-digit numbers by one-digit numbers.

Grade 5: Multiply whole numbers, Next unit: Multiply decimals.

Middle School: Middle schoolers started the year with launch units to support prerequisite skills for each course and are now teaching the units using the Big Ideas Math program.

Course 6: Fractions and decimals, Next unit: Ratios and Rates

Course 6A: Numerical expressions and factors, Next unit: Ratios, rates, and proportions.

Course 7: Expressions, Next unit: Equations and inequalities.

Pre-Algebra 6 & 7: Graphing and writing linear equations, Next unit: Systems of linear equations.

Algebra: Graphing linear functions, Next unit: Writing linear functions

Geometry: Parallel and perpendicular lines, Next unit: Transformations.

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in math? Please visit the support on our website for access to support videos and topics to practice. Contact Mike Reid:, or head to our website.

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'Tis the season for science! Students in grades K through 8 are flying into their second units of instruction. We are getting better at making our thinking visible, using evidence to support our claims, and showing what we know quantitatively.


Students in Grades K through 5 spent September working on science and engineering practices and began documenting findings in science notebooks. In December, all students are finishing up their first instructional units and moving on to Unit #2. In the grades listed below, students are working on topics related to:

  • Kindergarten: Finishing up Properties of Matter, Next Unit: Weather
  • Grade 1: Finishing up Force and Motion, Next Unit: Sun, Moon, and Stars
  • Grade 2: Finishing up Light and Sound, Next Unit: Land and Water
  • Grade 3: Finishing up Applied Chemistry, Next Unit: Earth's Materials
  • Grade 4: Finishing up Force and Motion, Next Unit: Electricity and Magnetism
  • Grade 5: Finishing up Waves, Next Unit: Natural Resources

Upper elementary students in Grades 3 through 5 have been working in a new platform in November and December called Gizmos. This science simulation tool allows students to manipulate variables and collect data online. It mimics the functionality of the NGSS Assessment in Grade 5. Check it out on your students' iPad or Google Classroom.

Enrichment Spotlight: Stepping Stones Visits NMS Grade 2

Middle School: You may have heard your children talking about models or projects in class. Each unit in middle school science allows students to make their thinking visible, grapple with real-world phenomena, and engage in individual and team projects. Currently, students in the middle school classroom are in their second unit of the school year. Students engage in scientific explanations based on evidence.

  • Grade 6: Nature vs. Nurture: How can we use environmental and genetic factors to explain changes in organisms?
  • Grade 7: Cycles of Energy: How do energy and matter cycle within a natural system?
  • Grade 8: Exploring our Solar System: Why do the planets never collide? What forces keep the parts of our solar system together?

Junior Innovators Hard at Work in the GHS Research Lab

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in science?

Contact Tara Fogel:, or head to our website.

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K-8 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages):

We are gearing up to administer the annual LAS Links assessment to all English learners in grades K-12 in order to evaluate their progress in and mastery of English language acquisition. This testing window runs from January through early March.

At the elementary level, we are studying winter holidays and vocabulary specific to the season of giving such as community, charity, celebration, and traditions. Some of our newest arrivals were able to celebrate their first Thanksgiving and were able to participate in pumpkin carving.

In K-2 ESOL, we are reading our favorite story books, looking for sight words we know, learning about story elements, crafting all about/expert books, and using nonfiction text features to help us navigate non-fiction text. In ESOL, we try to reinforce/use Fundations that are taught in the general education classroom in both reading and writing.

In 3 - 5 ESOL, based on the TC reading/writing curriculum, we read books and focused on learning about characters, story elements, and themes! We recently transitioned into reading informational texts. In writing, we published personal narratives, and have transitioned into writing informational texts.

At the middle school level, multilingual learners in the beginning classes enjoyed presenting and sampling foods from different U.S. regions as part of their culminating project in the U.S. Geography unit. Students at the intermediate level participated in debates to practice persuasive techniques in the persuasive writing unit. Multilingual learners in the advanced level classes are enjoying the twists and turns in short stories by classic American authors, and analyzing theme and craft.

K-8 Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) and World Language (WL):

In K-2 FLES, students are learning about activities they like to do according to the weather; how to describe themselves and their family members; and identify school subjects, classes, supplies, classroom objects and activities in the target language.

In 3-5 FLES, third grade students are learning how to answer questions about themselves including their name, age, where they live and where they were born. Fourth grade students are learning vocabulary to name and describe the rooms in the house, size/color of homes, and express the location of rooms in the house using prepositions of location. Fifth grade students are learning to describe and talk about the place and town in which they live.

In grades 3-5 Native Spanish Language Arts, students are learning to identify the story elements in fictional stories, and to make personal connections with diverse characters. They are also continuing to develop their own narrative writing skills in Spanish, as well as learning how to compare and analyze characters and adventures.

At the middle school level, eighth grade students are gearing up to complete tests for Spanish native language arts placement at GHS, and midterms in eighth grade non-native Spanish and French in January.

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in English for Speakers of Other Languages and World Language?

Contact Geoffrey Schenker, head to our ESOL or FLES websites, or click on the banner below.

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Arts: Visual Arts & Music (and a little Theater!)


Tis the season for all the holiday and winter themed music in our schools! Lots of musical performances sprinkle December and January in Greenwich Public Schools!

Our winter concert season is a great time to assess student learning since the start of the school year. The songs that students play in their concerts may be familiar or unfamiliar tunes to the general audience. For the teachers and students, it’s their culminating event to demonstrate all the skills they learned individually and as an ensemble. We get to see if that bow hold is improving, if they are able to keep a steady beat while playing with others, and many more specific performance skills that we have been reinforcing throughout the school year.

In addition to the performance skills, we are also focused on teaching all students the traits of a good audience. With the help of our building administration, we talk about the importance of staying quiet during a performance and giving the performers their undivided attention as they have been working hard each week to put their performance together for friends and family. I have been so pleased with all the outstanding audiences I have come across so far!

The GPS Honor Choir had their very first performance at the Songs of the Season concert that took place at the Palace Theater in Stamford. Young students performance groups from Fairfield County took the stage to serenade us with holiday music to kick-off the winter season. Our Honor Choir opened the show singing tunes and concluded their set with the popular classic, Lovely Day, made popular by Bill Withers. Such a wonderful event and reminder to recognize the lovely days ahead in the holiday season.

Looking forward to seeing you at our December and January events! In addition to our concert performances, we have our GHS On Stage Winter Musical, High School Musical, coming up on December 14th! Cardinal News did a promotional short HERE, where you can hear two cast members talk about the show. Performance and ticket information can be found HERE!

You can find a copy of the district performance calendar on the Arts academic page found here:


Some creative things are “cooking” around the district in the art classrooms! Students are not only working with various Elements of Art and using a variety of mediums that enhance the winter season, they are also working on learning about specific artists and creating work that is inspired by some of the techniques they used that make them icons in the art world.

One example of this is the various works centered on the technique made popular by Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, the “princess of polka dots.” Students at Old Greenwich Elementary School used the book, Spookly for additional inspiration. The outcome? Unique dot pumpkins! See some of the amazing work below!

In our middle schools students are utilizing their original thoughts to demonstrate the variety of skills that they have learned in each medium. A focus at all of our middle school art classrooms is how students plan, prepare, create, and reflect on their work. Students go through a thoughtful planning process with guiding questions and conference time with the teacher. Students get the opportunity to write artist statements to present the work that they have created and discuss the variety of resources that may have inspired their work. You will see many unique works throughout the hallways and display cases in all of our middle schools all year! Take a moment to observe the amazing ideas and skills students have demonstrated in their pieces.

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in Art or Music?

Contact Laura Newell, or head to our Arts website.

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Special Education and Student Supports

Special Education Coffee

  • Please keep an eye out for an invitation to your school’s Special Education Coffee. Every elementary and middle school school has held a Special Education Coffee to introduce the SESS staff and building administrators and to provide updates. We will continue to hold these meetings throughout the year to provide parents and guardians with additional opportunities to interact with our SESS staff.

Excited to Welcome New Staff!

  • Ms. MaryPat Caldwell is the Special Education Reading Lab Teacher. The reading lab teacher works with students with critical reading needs in grades k-12.
  • Ms. Rachel Rubin is the k-12 Inclusion Specialist who provides support students with significant needs in the general education classroom as well as co-teaching support to our co-teaching teams.

CT-SEDS Update

We thank you for your continued support as we work together to transition to the state's new platform for IEPs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your school with questions. Here is a link to the parent portal “quick start”.

Want to learn more about how we are providing special education and student supports?

Contact Joseph Baynes, or head to our SESS website.

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Library Media Services

Baby, It's Code Outside!

It's that highly-anticipated time of the year: Our elementary school learners are celebrating Computer Science Education Week with Hour of Code in our Library Learning Commons!

When children learn, they are encouraged to experiment, that is, to find multiple ways to solve a problem. Thus, they build on their creativity and ability to look at things in general, outside the box. When students learn to code, it is almost challenging to be involved in another activity, therefore they become more focused and persistent in the best sense. Finally, by studying programming, our learners receive at least the fundamental technical skills, which are indispensable in the digital world of the future. Kids have a lot of fun!

Some of the stories we read to inspire: How to Code a Sandcastle, How to Code a Rollercoaster, Doll-E 1.0, T-Bone the Drone, Grace Hopper - Queen of Computer Code

Apps we use: Code Monkey, Lightbot, Scratch Jr.,, Dash and Dot (Wonder Workshop)

Battle of Books: Our elementary schools are gearing up for the Annual Battle of Books, a school library program designed to encourage our 5th graders to read quality literature over the summer months and continue reading in their leisure time during the school year. Each participating school will send a team of five students to the District Competition to battle out literature-specific questions from ten carefully curated books.

Mark your calendars! This year's competition will take place at the Greenwich Library on Wednesday, January 25 at 6:30 PM with snow date, Wednesday, February 1 at 6:30 PM. Hope to see you there!

News from our Middle School Media Centers...


This is always an exciting time of year in the Middle School Media Centers. There are prominent book displays for the many winter holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza. For example, Stephen Krensky’s Hanukkah at Valley Forge is a fictionalized story based on an encounter General George Washington has at Valley Forge. General Washington stumbles upon a soldier who was lighting a candle to celebrate Hanukkah, and the soldier tells a tale of how a smaller Maccabee force eventually beat a much larger Greek army. A student interested in checking this book out could connect it with his Revolutionary War unit in Social Studies. Our book collections give students the opportunities to connect with and enhance what they learn in the classroom.


In Middle School Media Digital Literacy classes students are currently…

  • Identifying high quality resources by identifying the publisher, author, and content.

  • Using Noodletools to properly cite reliable online sources.

  • Learning how to directly quote and paraphrase information in sources.

School-wide Support:

Middle School Media specialists also support teachers with their classroom instruction.

  • Media supports staff members with educational technology like Swivls, document cameras, and Wevideo support.

  • Media contributes to school magnet programs as well as school wide improvement goals.

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in Library Media? Contact our Library Media Specialist Learning Facilitator: Esra Murray, or head to our Library Media Services website.

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Advanced Learning Program (ALP)

Grade 2 Enrichment to begin in January:

The ALP team is in the final stages of evaluating grade 2 students for the enrichment program, which will start in January. Placement recommendations will be emailed to parents on January 3. Meetings to explain the evaluation scores will be held on January 5.

Want to learn more about Advanced Learning? Get in touch with our team at, or head to our website.

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Academic Curriculum Coordinators

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