Elementary Curriculum Update

January 2020

Penn Class - 1st and 2nd Grades

During Reader’s Workshop, students continued to pick “just right” books at the beginning of each week in order to have books of their choice to use throughout the week for independent reading and practice. We practiced several reading strategies each week in order to become better readers. These strategies included: Fluency, Monitoring for Meaning, and Questioning. We also practiced looking for the story elements of the main characters, setting, problems, and solutions in our stories, first with a mentor text and then in our individual books. Additionally, we worked on building our reading stamina by challenging ourselves to read more and more each day!

During Writer’s Workshop in January, the Penn Class began to work on editing their personal writing pieces by using proofreading marks that they have learned and practiced in their Daily Language Arts booklets. The class is learning to add many details and adjectives to create super sentences. The Penn class began its literary journey by diving into the world of poetry. Their first writing endeavor in this unit gave them the opportunity to show off their amazing skills. The students wrote and published very thoughtful and expressive acrostic poems using their names. They all did such a fantastic job on their poems and designed beautiful and glittery posters to hang in our classroom with pride! The culminating activity, which practiced their presentation skills, was sharing their poems in class while sitting in the Author’s Rocking Chair.

We are fast approaching the end of January, and it's been a wintery one! In Discovery, the students observed the changes around them with the arrival of snow mid-month. We have been exploring the topics of snow, ice crystals, light and reflection, how snowflakes are made and the terms: transparent and translucent. We created a fabulous and colorful idea web around the topic "Snow" that is leading our studies to animal adaptations as well as how we can adapt in cold environments through ingenuity and creativity. We will hypothesize and experiment with many of our ideas on how to better insulate ourselves in the cold weather.

In Social Studies, the focus over the last two months has been kindness and how to raise our voices to speak up against injustices and to be a helpful community member within and outside of our classroom and school environment. We talked about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his message. The Penn class made colorful posters reflecting these messages. We were also inspired by the book We Dream of a World... On January 17th, the Penn Class participated in UFS’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. We joined together with both the Mott (Preschool-PreKindergarten) and Rustin (Kindergarten) classes to make soup and cookies for Food for Friends, personal care packages for the Code Blue shelter, snack bags for the Quakertown Food Pantry and dog and cat toys for the SPCA. Opportunities and activities such as these create social awareness and empathy in children. Our UFS friends did a fabulous job and enjoyed the process.

In First Grade Math, the class was busy adding, subtracting, counting and comparing numbers and quantities each day. We focused on practicing efficient math strategies to add and subtract within 10 and 20, building an understanding of place value with tens and ones, and solving addition and subtraction story problems with pictures, numbers, and words. We used a number rack, as well as dominoes, to practice doubles facts, figuring out the answers to subtraction problems, and for instantly recognizing numbers that make ten (example, 3 + 7 =10). Ten frames were also utilized to help students visualize Add Ten facts. We also worked with unifix cubes to compare two stacks of cubes, or “towers,” and find the difference between two numbers. The spirit of cooperative learning was live in our classroom as the first and second grade math classes joined together a few times throughout the month to collaborate and share their math/problem-solving strategies, especially when encountering story problems. We also had a lot of fun playing many math games together while practicing our skills. Their favorite game was “Domino War" or the more peaceful name is “Top-It.”

In 2nd Grade Math, students completed Unit 3 which focused on addition and subtraction within one hundred. Students learned how to use the open number line and place value grouping as strategies to find the various sums and differences. We will continue to practice these skills throughout the year. In our number corner we recorded multiple equations related to story problems and worked to solve them. This cultivated wonderful discussions about how to identify important information within story problems and how multiple strategies may be used to solve them. Students also analyzed data in graph form and determined if the graph was a bar graph or pictograph.

Fox Class - 3rd Grade

Readers Workshop:

The Fox Class began literature circles this month. In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students’ responses to what they have read. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. This month we spent a lot of time talking and practicing what role each student will take in their literature circle: Discussion Director, Artful Illustrator, Creative Connector, Super Summarizer, and a Vocabulary Enricher. Each student will have the opportunity to take a turn in each role. Students work collaboratively to discuss thoughts, make connections, and ask questions while reading a shared text.

Writers Workshop: This January we worked on word goals. The class came together to discuss what the word “resolution” means. We talked about starting the year off in the right direction and choosing a word that helps us focus on an area of our life that we want to improve or grow. We made a list of words and brainstormed some that we thought would be best for us. After we brainstormed we chose one word we liked best. We talked about how we could achieve this goal and what things we could do to become the best we can be.

Third Grade Math:

In Third Grade Math, students are working on the third unit of the Bridges curriculum – Multi-Digit Addition and Subtraction. In this unit, students are learning how to round numbers to the nearest ten and hundred and also reviewing and learning various strategies for adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers including the standard algorithm. They played various games to practice and reinforce these skills.


This month we began our Force and Motion unit. We began by learning about Sir Issac Newton's first law of motion: An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Students learned that a force is a push or a pull. Students experimented with objects in the classroom and tried to understand what type of force they were using to move the object. The next experiment we explored was how to move an unbalanced rope through a game of “Tug of War.” Students learned that an object will move in the direction of the largest force. Students also learned that an object will not be in motion if the forces are equal or balanced.

Anthony Class - 4th and 5th Grades


This January the Anthony Class has been reading picture books as the jumping-off point for our Meetings for Worship in the classroom. Amongst the books we have read are Dear Dr. King: Letters From Today’s Children to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr; Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton; Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport; My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers by Christine King Farris; My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Marin Luther King III; I Have a Dream: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrated by Kadir Nelson; and As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom by Richard Michelson. The first of those books inspired the class to write their own letters to Dr. King which they shared at the all-school Meeting for Worship on the school’s Day of Service in honor of Dr. King.

To fulfill our quest to make one bread for every letter of the alphabet, this month we made Foccacia, Irish Soda Bread, Johnnycakes, and Lavash.


The January D.E.A.L. (Drop Everything and Listen) chapter book was Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. This is the fantastical tale of a magical circus and a boy trying to save his grandfather.

The Anthony Class completed its second round of Literature Circle books all featuring heroes.. One group read Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. This piece of realistic fiction tells the story of a 5th-grade age boy who is one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” Another read Hero by Jennifer Lee Schotz. In this story, a former police rescue dog breaks up a dogfighting ring. The final book was I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai. This is the memoir of a Pakistani teenager who fought against the Taliban for the right to go to school. The class also watched a documentary film about Malala Yousafzai.

In Writing Workshop, the students created a superhero and wrote a myth for their hero. During this process, they identified the physical and character traits of their heroes; created a story outline including a plot and subplot and a story map; and drew their superheroes. Many of these stories included multiple characters and the children learned about protagonists and antagonists.


The Anthony Class has spent this month finishing up their Ancient Greek Projects and the temples to honor the gods or goddesses they have become experts on. Their presentations include ones on Ancient Greek Weaponry and Warfare; a retelling of the Labors of Heracles; Food in Ancient Greece; Sculpture; Clothing; and the First Olympics.


Fourth Grade

Students in Fourth Grade Math have been learning about fractions and decimals, the third unit in the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum. In this unit, students have explored equivalent fractions, compared fractions and mixed numbers, learned about decimals to the thousandths place, and learned about the relationship between fractions and decimals.

In the January Number Corner curriculum, students learned and practiced division strategies, looked at geometric shapes, and explored the relationship between fractions, decimals, and money concepts.

The 5th-Grade Mathematicians recently completed a unit on “Place Value and Decimals.” Students have learned several different strategies for approaching these types of problems including double number lines, money, clocks, and ratio tables. They examined whole number and decimal place value using the “Great Wall of Base Ten;” charted fraction and decimal equivalencies and practiced rounding numbers to the nearest 1, nearest tenth, and nearest hundredth; practiced placing decimals on a number line; worked with patterns in the placement of the decimal point when multiplying or dividing by the powers of 10; were introduced to exponential notation; practiced the “Give and Take” and “Constant Difference” strategies for the addition and subtraction of decimals; and completed activities around converting metric units of measure. The unit the 5th-Graders are working on now is on “Multiplying and Dividing Whole Numbers and Decimals.”