Who am I as a human being? How have human evolution and history formed me, and what are my responsibilities to my social and natural world?
Humanities (Language Arts & Inquiry)
Peregrine School’s upper grade humanities and writing program aims to inspire a love of history, culture, literature, poetry, and drama while cultivating independent thinkers and writers. Students learn to respect others’ thoughts and opinions while forming and defending their own. The program focuses on the interrelated experiences of reading and responding to literature, composing creative and expository pieces, and thinking critically about texts.
At Peregrine School, the upper grade language arts and history curricula are very interrelated and correspond through content and the lens of themes. Teachers incorporate history, geography, and language arts to explore a central topic, theme or experience. For example, a trimester-long theme guiding the study of the ancient world might be “What is reason?” As historians, the students investigate Athenian democracy using primary sources, while in language arts reading the Odyssey and composing their own original Greek tragedy using Aristotle’s Poetics to guide them in the creation of a successful play.
The upper grade writing program is implemented with a keen eye toward the developmental leaps a student must make when entering the middle school years. Reinforcing the idea that the process of writing is a system, and encouraging the class to see composition as construction, upper graders are creating a “toolbox” with which they can use to access and hone their writing craft. We want to our students to see themselves as writers.
Approaching their written work with an eye on process and the notion of revisiting and revising allows us to be more productive, organized, and in control of their finished product. Most importantly, the upper graders become more independent and fluent writers, confident that they are communicating their interior thoughts clearly and with intention. Grammar and mechanics are addressed within the context of daily writing assignments through mini lessons that are generated from authentic student work. This direct teaching method keeps the information relevant to the writers, allowing the students to embed grammar lessons into their work as they are creating it. Completed written work is submitted for publication in literary magazines, performed publicly, and/or published independently in hardbound anthologies. Through creative and analytical writing, fiction and nonfiction reading, planned presentations, and collaborative conversations, students have ample opportunities to grow as thinkers and communicators.
The upper grade mathematics program provides a highly individualized, student-centered, hands-on, constructivist environment for students to explore, invent, discuss and debate the meaning of mathematics.
We attempt to balance the three elements of good math instruction:
Cognition (understanding and exploring concepts)
Practice (learning skills and algorithms; increasing fluency)
Application (applying math to academic and daily life)
In these final years of Peregrine education, we provide an appropriate level of instruction for each student so that they can reach their highest potential when entering middle school. Advanced students do pre-algebra (a seventh grade curriculum) in a group in sixth grade, and all students are assisted in mastering elementary mathematics at their individual level of proficiency.
Singapore Math is used as a basic text. It includes normed assessments of student progress at predictable intervals. Other research-based methods, such as Cognitively Guided Mathematics and Math in Context, are also used to create a varied, balanced program.
Peregrine’s math program supports the Common Core Curriculum, placing emphasis on mathematical thinking and on collaborative conversation as a way to explore mathematics.
Science is a central focus at Peregrine School. It is taught by an expert with advanced science degrees, who works with each class at least three hours per week.
Peregrine science instruction balances important, research based elements of science teaching:
Inquiry—students are actively engaged in asking questions, conducting investigations, predicting and measuring results, and discussing and drawing conclusions.
Exploration and mastery of New Generation Science Standards at or above grade level, with standards through middle school covered by sixth grade.
Environmental and outdoor education– students participate in inquiry based garden projects including the creation of a wildlife habitat on campus, maintenance of a school garden and compost area, and engineering and designing various energy and water saving devices. These projects allow students to apply science concepts to the real world.
Environmental responsibility is important at Peregrine School. Students participate in environmental service learning projects.
Collaborative conversations and group projects enable students to learn from each other and to learn to be members of a science team.
Individual research, experimentation, and writing enable students to reach their full intellectual potential and enable individual assessment.
Older students mentor kindergartners and preschoolers in the garden and through projects which enable them to share their maturity and knowledge
Frequent field trips and exposure to guest speakers enable students to see science as a dynamic part of life.
Integration of science with the arts and other subjects enables students to see its importance in human life and history.
The national Common Core Curriculum is incorporated in science instruction as students hold collaborative conversations, learn to read and write analytically, are challenged to provide evidence for their claims, and provide positive critical feedback to each other.
Our goals in science instruction are to create scientifically literate citizens for the 21st century who have the skills to participate in a science learning community, and the understanding and compassion to contribute positively to their world.
As part of Peregrine School’s commitment to nurture the whole child, our social-emotional Cool Tools program plays an integral role in the curriculum at every grade level. We encourage students to examine their own thoughts and actions and be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others. Within the context of guided activities and peer feedback, our social-emotional program gives children the tools to be successful within the interpersonal domain, as well as to develop personal resiliency and awareness in the intrapersonal domain, with lessons in mindfulness and meditation, for example.
During the upper grade years, the Cool Tools curriculum broadens to encompass the physical and emotional changes of adolescence and the impact of technology on communication and behavior, providing guidance to analyze and stressful social situations, make ethical decisions, and develop peer-leadership skills. The upper graders have frequent opportunities to mentor their younger peers for example, and present social-emotional lessons in lower grade classrooms to reinforce those values. The core competencies developed through this curriculum lead to increased resiliency, empathy and a positive school climate.
Click HERE for a narrative description of a Trimester-Long Project in our 5th and 6th Grade classroom.