All About Academics: K-8

December Updates from Academic Curriculum Coordinators

Welcome to our second installment of All About Academics.

We have included winter updates about each content area, some dates to remember, and loads of clickables for more information. Enjoy!

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English Language Arts and Social Studies

Elementary: Elementary students are digging deep into what it takes to be great readers, writers, and thinkers. As part of our Science of Reading requirement, students are successfully progressing through Lexia, learning the necessary skills to be better readers.

K-2: Fundations is proving to be highly successful, training students to be excellent readers and helping students understand the Art and Science of Reading. In Social Studies, students are learning about the world around them, what it means to be a citizen, and the rights and responsibilities of good citizens. Please engage your children in conversations about being a good citizen in our community.

3-5: In English Language Arts, students are building on their previous work in reading and writing with greater complexity of tasks. From Nonfiction Studies to Reading Informational Texts, students are working on Character Development, Personal Narratives, Synthesis, and Themes. Please ask your children about their latest book. In Social Studies, our 3rd Graders are studying Geography and the Economy and have begun learning about the history of Greenwich. 4th and 5th Graders are learning about the Environment and Climate and Indigenous People/Early Settlers, respectively. Moving forward, 4th Graders will be learning about the migration of people and ideas, while 5th Graders will begin learning about the 13 Colonies and Europe.

Middle School: Middle school students are deep into their units of study, applying inquiry skills, all to gain a greater understanding of the world around them.

Sixth Grade: In Social Studies, students are completing their study on East Asia and are beginning a comprehensive unit on Eastern and Western Europe. In English Language Arts, students completed their study of the Narrative Craft and have produced excellent memoirs. They have also completed a study around Character and Research Based Information Writing. Moving forward, students are honing their research and writing skills in a unit of Nonfiction and Research-Based Information Writing. Please make sure to check in with your children and read their impressive work.

Seventh Grade: In Social Studies, students are completing their study on Subcontinental Asia and are beginning to study the Middle East and North Africa. In English Language Arts, students are looking at Contemporary Fiction and will begin a writing unit on the Art of Argument.

Eighth Grade: In Social Studies, students are completing learning about the Revolutionary War and have started learning about the United States Constitution. In English Language Arts, students have completed a study on Argumentative Critical Reading and are now deep into their study of Historical Fiction.

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in ELA or Social Studies?

Contact Dr. Markus:, head to our website, or click on the banner below.

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Elementary: Students in elementary school are cruising along! Both teachers and students feel more comfortable within the Big Ideas program. When walking through buildings, math vocabulary is evident across the board. Our K-5 math students are transitioning into the middle trimester and working on all sorts of great concepts:

Kindergarten: Finishing comparing and counting and moving into composing, decomposing, and adding.

Grade 1: Finishing fluency strategies and moving into addition and subtraction within 20.

Grade 2: Finishing fluency strategies and moving into addition and subtraction within 100.

Grade 3: Finishing multiplication/division strategies and moving into patterns, area, and estimation.

Grade 4: Finishing place value, addition/subtraction, and moving into multiplication, division, and factors.

Grade 5: Finishing place value, addition/subtraction, and moving into multiplication/division, including decimals.

Middle School: Students and teachers are well into their courses and adjusting to individual needs daily. Here is an update of where each class is in the sequence of their curriculum:

Course 6: Finishing rates/ratios and moving into percentages.

Course 6A: Finishing multiplication and division of rational numbers and moving into ratios/rates/percentages.

Course 7: Finishing expressions and moving into equations and inequalities.

Pre-Algebra 6 & 7: Finishing geometric shapes/angles and moving into equations and inequalities.

Pre-Algebra 8: Finishing transformations and moving into angles/triangles.

Algebra: Finishing graphing linear functions and moving into writing linear functions.

Geometry: Finishing transformations and moving into congruent triangles.

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

Contact Mike Reid:, head to our website, or click on the banner below.

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Elementary: Students in elementary school have their initial Science Notebook setups and are moving through Units 2 and 3 of instruction! Our elementary students are exploring:

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

Middle School: Students are working into Unit 2 in grades 6-8 as well. Our middle-level students are exploring:

  • Grade 6: Survival of Organisms
  • Grade 7: Ecosystems and National Parks
  • Grade 8: Exploring the Solar System

North Street Science

Multiply Your Options Conference

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

Contact Tara Fogel:, head to our website, or click on the banner below.

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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 safely.

In K-2 ESOL, we are reading our favorite story books, looking for sigh words we know, learning about story elements, crafting all about/expert books, and using non-fiction 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 in December, 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 Adriane Hirsch-Klein:, head to our ESOL or FLES websites, or click on the banner below.

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K-8 Arts: Music

The winter season is always an exciting time for the Arts as our subject areas allow us to celebrate the changing of the leaves and all the holiday music that sets the mood for the season!

Your child may be coming home singing songs about pumpkins, some American classics, and even some songs about snowmen as the Core Music curriculum utilizes our winter weather and holiday calendar as a way to connect music content to the world around them. Students continue working on vocal explorations where they are to demonstrate high and low sounds with their singing voices, soft and quiet sounds, and keeping a steady beat while decoding familiar rhythmic patterns, that include quarter and eighth note patterns. Students are using holiday themed choice boards and listening maps to respond to music and personalize the learning in the classroom. These activities include creating rhythmic patterns, using mallet instruments to play three note songs, and learning how these three notes, do, re, and mi, look in the music staff.

Instrumental music students are continuing to refine their basics regarding hand position, playing skills and music reading. Teachers are focusing on music literacy to ensure that our little musicians develop the skills that foster independent musicianship by learning how to read music and decode familiar and unfamiliar rhythms.

Students are also learning the important traits that a musician needs to play in an ensemble. These skills will be critical when we start to resume band and orchestra rehearsals this year. Technical skills, such as their D Major scale in orchestra, and the Concert Bb Major scale in band, are reinforced throughout their small group lessons to prepare them for playing in the large group. Below are photos of some of our youngest musicians from Hamilton Avenue school, demonstrating proper posture and playing position, skills that are critical to the success of all musicians!

Winter performances are also popping up around our schools, so please keep an eye out for your building newsletters regarding any events or performances that our music team has put together. We are hoping to return to our traditional concert setup in the spring of 2022.

K-8 Arts: Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Warm and cool colors set the tone for this time of year as the leaves change and the winter landscapes start to move in. Students are experimenting with paints as they explore the Elements of Art. Line and Shape are two essential elements that students in our elementary schools frequently incorporate and focus on when creating their artwork. In addition to Line and Shape, primary and secondary colors are reinforced with projects such as the one pictured below from New Lebanon School where students created paintings that emphasized the use of primary colors, then adding white, and focused on composition, where students had to use the entire page for their masterpiece. These objective lessons prepare our young artists for the next level work in middle schools where student’s design skills are complete from start to finish.

In the middle school art classes, CHOICE is the focus for artwork. Students are compelled to make artistic decisions all while demonstrating the skills that they are responsible for mastering. Students at Western Middle School are focused on creating clay vessels. In their pottery, students are responsible for the specific clay building techniques, the appropriate use of tools, and the very important task of making connections of cultural uses of clay vessels and pondering a specific purpose for their work. These expectations are also explicitly connected to the careers and real-world uses of ceramics/pottery in our society. Keep an eye out for some pictures of these vessels in our next newsletter!

Want to learn more about what your child is learning in Music, Visual or Theater Arts?

Contact Laura Newell:, head to our website, or click on the banner below.

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Student work from New Lebanon Elementary School

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Advanced Learning Program (ALP): 2-8

Board of Education Update:

  • In October, the ALP team presented an update to the Board of Education the written report can be found here

  • The slides were presented to PTAC in November the video of the presentation can be found here

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 mid-January.

  • Meetings to explain the evaluation scores will be held on January 19 at 7:00 pm and January 21 at 9:30 am

Advanced Studies, Middle School:

  • There will be information regarding the placement process for Advanced Studies in Grades 6-8 shared during the fifth to sixth-grade transition meetings being held on January 3 at 9:00 am and 6:30 pm.

Want to learn more about Advanced Learning? We have a NEW EMAIL for all things ALP:, head to our website, or click on the banner below.

----------- DATES TO KNOW -----------

January 3 - Grade 5 Parents: Transition to Middle School Meeting

Save the date for a virtual meeting to discuss the fifth to sixth-grade transition. Counselors, Coordinators, and Middle School Principals will talk about what goes on in the spring and summer to help prepare students for the next level of school. There will also be information regarding the placement process for Advanced Studies in Grades 6-8.

You are invited to attend one of the sessions listed above. These zoom links and more information is available on the website, school-based newsletters, and sent out in individual grade 5 parent emails.

Board of Education Meeting: STEM Spotlight

TENTATIVE: In January Dr. Shanta Smith will share information about ongoing Magnet School Updates for Hamilton Avenue's STEAM theme. Mrs. Tara Fogel will provide a Science Update regarding ALP Science in Grades 3-5 and Advanced Science at the middle level for the 2022-2023 school year.

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Academic Curriculum Coordinators

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