All About Academics: K-8

Spring Updates from Curriculum Coordinators

Welcome to our third quarterly installment of All About Academics!

As we approach the spring thaw, things are heating up in classrooms district-wide. Our spring newsletter is chock-full of information regarding what your children are learning in kindergarten through eighth grade. We have included curriculum unit updates for K-8 content areas and loads of clickables for more information. Enjoy!

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English Language Arts

All grades are in, or will be moving into, the following units in the month of April



  • Reading: Becoming Avid Readers
  • Writing: Persuasive: Writing of all Kinds
  • Fundations: Digraphs: wh, ch, sh, th, ck, Continued Practice Decoding and Encoding Consonant, Vowel, Consonant Words (CVC)

Grade 1

  • Reading: Reading Fiction: Meeting Characters
  • Writing: Narrative: From Scenes to Series
  • Fundations: Long Vowel Sounds and Vowel Consonant-e Syllable.

Grade 2

  • Reading: Reading Non-Fiction Cover to Cover
  • Writing: Informational: Non-Fiction Writing Projects
  • Fundations: Introduce Long o Sound of oa, oe and ow and Review of Suffix Endings.

Grade 3

  • Reading: Reading Research Clubs
  • Writing: Informational: Writing About Research
  • Fundations: Double Vowel Syllable Type, Sounds and Spelling of ai and ay, Combining Syllables

Grade 4

  • Reading: Historical Fiction Book Clubs
  • Writing: Narrative: Writing Historical Fiction: Tackling Complex Text
  • 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: Reading in the Content Area
  • Writing: Informational: Lens of History: Research Reports
  • 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: Social Issues Book Clubs
  • Writing: The Literary Essay: From Character to Compare and Contrast

Grade 7

  • Reading: How to Eat a Poem: Analyzing Craft and Structure
  • Writing: Poetry Immersion and Innovation

Grade 8

  • Reading: Literary Non-Fiction
  • Writing: CAPSTONE Project

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 Place & Me
  • Grade 1: Our Needs as a Community & Geography
  • Grade 2: Remembering the Past
  • Grade 3: Colonial CT & Indigenous People
  • Grade 4: Social Responsibility
  • Grade 5: The American Revolutionary War

Middle School

  • Grade 6: The Americas (Middle America, South America) and the Caribbean
  • Grade 7: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Grade 8: Expansion of the Early Republic, Slavery, Sectionalism and the Civil War

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 look 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 20; Next unit: Count to 100.
  • Grade 1: Add and Subtract Tens; Next unit: Add Two-Digit Numbers
  • Grade 2: Add Numbers Within 1,000; Next unit: Subtract Numbers Within 1,000
  • Grade 3: Add and Subtract Multi-Digit Numbers; Next unit: Multiply and Problem-Solving
  • Grade 4: Add and Subtract Fractions; Next unit: Multiply Fractions and Whole Numbers
  • Grade 5: Add and Subtract Fractions; Next unit: Multiply Fractions

Middle School: Middle schoolers are past the halfway point in their respective courses.

  • Course 6: Algebraic Expressions and Properties; Next unit: Equations
  • Course 6A: Algebraic Expressions and Properties, Next unit: Equations
  • Course 7: Percents; Next unit: Probability
  • Pre-Algebra 6 & 7: Exponents and Scientific Notation; Next unit: Real Numbers and the Pythagorean Theorem
  • Pre-Algebra 8: Data Analysis and Displays; Next unit: Functions
  • Algebra: Polynomial Equations and Factoring, Next unit: Graphing Quadratic Functions
  • Geometry: Right Triangles and Trigonometry, Next unit: Circles

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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Spring means Science! Students in grades K through 8 are flying into their final units of instruction from April through June. We continue to refine our skills with data analysis, using evidence to support our claims and showing what we know through models.


Students in Grades K through 5 spent this winter continuing to grapple with science and engineering practices and documenting findings in science notebooks. In April, all students finish their second instructional unit and move on to Unit #3. In the grades listed below, students are working on topics related to:

  • Kindergarten: Finishing up Weather; Next Unit: Tools for Science
  • Grade 1: Finishing up Sun/Moon/Stars; Next Unit: Survival
  • Grade 2: Finishing up Land and Water; Next Unit: Interdependence in Ecosystems
  • Grade 3: Finishing up Earth's Materials; Next Unit: Plant & Animal Adaptation
  • Grade 4: Finishing up Electricity & Magnetism; Next Unit: Energy Transfer
  • Grade 5: Finishing up Natural Resources; Next Unit: Climate

Students in Grade 5 will also be taking the NGSS Assessment in April/May.

Enrichment Spotlight: Grade 5 Renewable Energy Projects

Middle School: As our middle school students continue to spiral through content, they are getting more savvy in their science and engineering practices. Currently, students in the middle school classroom are in their third unit of the school year. Students continue to engage in scientific explanations, analyzing data and scientific argumentation based on findings.

Topics Coming Up:

  • Grade 6: Thermal Energy and Climate: How do people use technology to survive in regions with extremely hot or cold climates?
  • Grade 7: Cycling of Earth's Materials: How do energy and matter cycle within the geosphere?
  • Grade 8: Adaptation Over Time: How do species change over time, and should we intervene?

Students in Grade 8 will also be taking the NGSS Assessment in April/May.

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 have completed our annual LAS Links assessment for all English learners in grades K-12 in order to evaluate their progress in and mastery of English language acquisition. We are so proud of all of our students for putting forth their best efforts during the testing window.

In K-2 ESOL, we are reading books aloud on animals and learning how characters and settings are important to a story. Students have explored story mapping as a bridge to begin opinion writing. 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, we are reading historical fiction books and are focused on learning to read for information. We continue to familiarize content specific vocabulary in science and math in addition to building linguistic fluency.

At the middle school level, multilingual learners in the beginning classes have been expanding their vocabulary and putting it to use in the form of writing a friendly letter. Students at the intermediate level participated in a biography unit for which they chose a person and presented the biography in a Wax Museum gallery presentation. Multilingual learners in the advanced level classes are learning about the original 13 colonies and developing their writing skills through a written presentation of colonial life.

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

In K-2 FLES, students are learning about their families and talking about things they like to do with them, all about the places in their community and the professions people have in it, as well as food and nutrition.

In 3-5 FLES, third grade students are learning how to speak about themselves, describe animals and the places they live. Fourth grade students are learning vocabulary to name and describe their favorite foods. Fifth grade students have finished learning to talk about their different classes and the objects they need in each, as well as beginning to complete the district wide LinkIt and AAPPL tests for language proficiency.

In grades 3-5 Native Spanish Language Arts, students are learning to read nonfiction passages in Spanish to locate facts and information and Identify supporting details in nonfiction selections. Some of these topics include text about animals as well as biographical picture books.

At the middle school level, students are continuing to build their linguistic proficiency in navigating an authentic marketplace, understanding how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and describing and introducing their friends. French students are building linguistic proficiency in the topics of activities and pastimes, school, and shopping through cultural comparison.

In 6-8 Native Spanish Language Arts students are reading fictional stories about school, short stories by famous Spanish speaking writers, and stories about family. In addition to this students are developing their writing from constructing paragraphs, retelling stories, and writing descriptive essays.

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: March is Arts in Our Schools Month!

March is Arts in Our Schools Month and GPS has been gearing up for some special events and learning in the music and art classroom!

An arts-rich district is a benefit to our community and the individual development of all children. Research shows that arts education heightens engagement for all students and can increase motivation and persistence for those most at risk for falling behind. Learning in the arts uniquely prepares students for creative, divergent thinking, as well as problem-solving and the teamwork skills that are necessary to be a contributing member of a global society.

Here in Greenwich Public Schools we celebrate what the arts do for our community through outstanding programs, such as the district art show, the various assured experiences that take place in multiple grade levels, the continued partnerships that we have with the Bruce Museum and the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra, and high-quality curriculum that is guaranteed to all of our students.

We are so proud of what the Arts do for our students and school community and our outstanding teachers will be celebrating this throughout the month of March! This Smore will be focused on some of the special events that are taking place throughout the district.

Visual Arts

Our District Art Show opened with an amazing crowd on Monday, March 13 during our K-5 reception! Artwork from all of our schools is on display for families and friends to observe the hard work and creative talents from many of the students in our K-12 art program.

The District Art Show is hung at the Greenwich Arts Council, located at 299 Greenwich Avenue. The gallery hours are Monday- Friday, 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM, Saturday, 12:00 PM- 4:00 PM, and Sunday, 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM. Hope to see you there!

Some of our young artists from Cos Cob School also have their work up in the Cos Cob Library! You have until March 29th to get over to see the amazing work of our Cos Cob students.

Please keep an eye out for all of our individual school art shows!


Congratulations to our Honors Ensemble students that recently performed with their respective groups. The Honor Choir, under the direction of Chris Powers and Robin Chenot kicked off our season with a performance and festival with world-renown composer, Rollo Dillworth. Students spent a day rehearsing with Dr. Dillworth before putting on an amazing performance of his work.

The String Festival, directed by Aaron Lofaro and Jillian Corey, featured select string students in the district. Students got a chance to not only work with other string teachers and students across the district, but also with our guest conductors, Cody Brown and Michael McNamara. The night concluded by highlighting our special Suzuki program at our Hamilton Ave STEAM school, and with a performance with all the string students that performed that night!

The honors ensemble season closed with our band students! The Honor Band, under the direction of Holly Brown and Michael Strange, featured our advanced band students across the district. The night was full of energy and music-making as their guest conductor, Hilary Brown from Ridgefield Public Schools, worked with our students to perform a world debut of a commissioned piece! I would like to thank the Greenwich Alliance for Education for their generous support in making this once-in-a lifetime experience happen for our students!

This past week the GHS Electronic Music program, under the direction of Dr. Barbara Freedman and Mr. Jason Polise, hosted their annual Composer’s Showcase. Students enrolled in the Electronic Music program at GHS get a chance to perform and have their work played for an audience. This time is particularly special as their friends and family get an inside look at their polished creation that they worked on during the class. Some of our composers perform their own pieces, while others coach an ensemble to play their work. This event is an intimate look at the audio engineering process and how a composition is brought to life!

Please join us later this month for the GHS Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival on March 25 at the Performing Arts Center.

The annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival is one of the most innovative jazz education events in the world. In addition to the Competition & Festival in New York City each May, Essentially Ellington co-produces non-competitive, education-focused festivals designed to offer high school jazz bands of all levels the opportunity to perform the music of Duke Ellington and other seminal big band composers and arrangers at various locations across the country. Participating bands receive professional feedback from Jazz at Lincoln Center clinicians and other jazz professionals in their own backyard. We are so lucky and excited to be hosting one of these here in Greenwich!

Please review the schedule of the day online! Our own GHS Jazz Ensemble performs at 7:00 PM!

Theater @ GHS

GHS Theater students just wrapped on their successful performance of Anton's Chekhov's The Seagull. The theater program at GHS has a long history of amazing performances and this one certainly did not disappoint!

Mr. Richard Kohn, theater teacher and director of The Seagull states, "I was particularly pleased by how cohesively the large group of students worked to perform and produce the play, the depth of character they achieved, their level of shared creativity, and the real passion for doing excellent theater work. Chekhov’s plays can be very challenging and the student actors have to make an enormous effort to understand and create the characters they will portray; and create and fill the play offers them, but that is what makes it such a worthwhile and meaningful challenge."

I would also like to note that the visual elements were all created and designed by Scott Borowka and the students in our two technical theater classes, Stagecraft and Theatre Workshop. Outstanding work and student-driven from start to finish!

Take a moment to enjoy some of photos of the play online. You can also find a picture at the bottom of this section detailing the remaining GHS Theater performances for the school year.

There are many other events happening now and throughout the school year in the Arts department. You can find a copy of the district performance calendar on the Arts academic online page.

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

Professional Development

  • Writing Revolution Training: Many of our K-2 Special Education Teachers took part in a two-day Writing Revolution Training. The Writing Revolution provides teachers with an evidence-based and proven instructional methodology, the Hochman Method. The methodology rests on explicit, carefully sequenced instruction, building from sentences to compositions.
  • Building High-Quality IEPs: Special Education Coordinators have been working with Prek–12 SESS staff (special education teachers, speech and language pathologists, and school psychologists, and other related service staff) on writing high-quality IEPs. The focus has been on writing effective present levels of performance, impact statements, and appropriate goals and objectives.

Parent Workshops

  • The SESS team wants to thank all parents that attended the CPAC Parent Workshops. These workshops focused on becoming more of an active participant in PPT meetings, helping parents to get to know their child’s IEP, and supporting parents in strengthening their communication skills around special education.

Special Education Coffee

  • Please keep an eye out for an invitation to your school’s Special Education Coffee. Every elementary and middle 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.

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

News from Our Elementary School Library Learning Commons...

Themed Reading Programs at Your School Libraries...

Reading, especially reading together, brings so much to joy to all of our hearts!

This time of the year, some of the GPS elementary Library Media Specialists are running a Picture Book March Madness, intentionally to coincide with the NCAA event. The bracket consists of 16 picture books with a cohesive theme. Students and teachers alike are excited about reading and voting for their favorite picture books in the bracket as they follow their favorites move to Elite Eight, Final Four, and Championship!

Themes this year range from Dogs vs Cats to 16 different versions of The Three Little Pigs to Chickens! Some schools are hatching some ideas to extend the Chicken theme, and will be waiting expectantly for some added EGG-citement!

Digital Citizenship & Wellness

It is critical that today’s students are aware of the benefits and pitfalls of digital life. Digital citizenship and digital wellness are taught by library media specialists at all 11 elementary schools in Greenwich to all students.

Topics include, but are not limited to, Internet Basics, Responsible Use of iPads, Staying Safe Online, and Being Kind Online at the youngest levels up to Copyright, Digital Footprint, Personal and Private Information, Cyberbullying, Citations, and Website Evaluation for the older students.

Your Library Media Specialists use resources and lessons from Common Sense Media to deliver instruction and students “show what they know” through quizzes and projects. We all appreciate the support of parents and caregivers in keeping students safe online!

News from our Middle School Library Learning Commons...

Let's talk about our media collection in Middle School Library Learning Commons:

CMS: A CMS librarian has organized and presented book talks for multiple teachers, in all three grades. Units on Social Issues, Contemporary Fiction, and Literary Non-Fiction. Amazingly only ten days into March and they have already circulated over 300 books!

WMS: The WMS librarian and media assistant pulled nearly 250 non-fiction books to support the eighth grade capstone project. The book topics range from sports injuries, climate change, substance abuse, immigration, clean water, homelessness, and fake news.

Here are some news on how we support Instruction:

Middle School Media specialists support teachers with their classroom instruction:

  • Media Specialists supported ELL students with Noodletools citations for their biography essays.

  • Media Specialists assisted both social studies teacher and ELL teachers with implementation of philosophical chairs, an avid strategy, in the classroom. Having another certified teacher in the room allows for more student feedback.

School-wide, our Media Specialists provide support across many areas:

  • The EMS Media Center bulletin board gives eighth grade students a preview of what they will be experiencing in May when they go on their Washington, DC field trip! Thank you to Janet Ginise, Media Assistant, for creating this wonderful display!

  • Media specialists coordinate with local PTAs to ensure enrichment speakers and events are smoothly run with appropriate audio visual equipment.

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Academic Curriculum Coordinators

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