Elementary age students are in a period of tremendous physical, social, and intellectual growth. The Upper Elementary program recognizes this growth and sets goals that constantly support the students in this phase of rapid development. In addition to its adherence to the Montessori philosophy, the Upper Elementary program recognizes that upon graduating from the School, students will be attending a variety of highly competitive middle school programs. As such, teachers work with students starting at the Lower Elementary level to set goals that prepare students to make this critical transition. These goals become increasingly important with each year in Lower Elementary, and by Upper Elementary they act as a driving force in each student's individualized curriculum. Some of the goals of the UE program include instilling a love of learning, research, and the process of discovery; making connections across disciplines; and building confident, resourceful, independent learners.
Upper Elementary classrooms are carefully prepared environments, that allow students to pursue their work independently, and cooperatively with other students. Students in Upper Elementary utilize an assortment of Montessori materials, while also engaging in increasingly complex abstract lessons. A hallmark of the Upper Elementary program is the ability of the students to internalize abstract concepts and skills, and use them in novel ways when presented with new problems to tackle. The highly integrated curriculum encourages students to think about problems from an interdisciplinary point of view. The curriculum and teachers also support the natural growth-mindset of the students. Students are encouraged to seek out, discover, or create the resources that they need in order to achieve their goals.
The Language Arts curriculum in Upper Elementary emphasizes language as an art of communication. Over the three-year cycle, students become proficient readers, writers, speakers, editors, authors, critics, and poets. They learn and practice essential skills in note-taking and organization, grammar, punctuation, and expression in a range of contexts including small and large group lessons, independent work, writing workshops, journal writing, Friday letters home, research projects, oral presentations, and literature circles.
In the Upper Elementary classroom, students discover that their use of language, whether written or spoken, communicates valuable information about who they are as people and offers insight into how they think. Through a variety of literary forms including biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, editorials, news articles, and theatrical plays, students observe and analyze models of effective communication. As they begin to define their own identities, they develop an appreciation for the rewards of effective communication.
Upper Elementary mathematics builds a foundation of skills and concepts that students use in their future studies of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and calculus. Throughout the three-year cycle in Upper Elementary students extensively work with the following list of concepts, skills, and applications, adding layers of complexity as they master each level. The Upper Elementary Geometry curriculum is woven into the weekly schedules throughout the year. The geometry curriculum continues to expand students’ working knowledge of geometry in nature and design using calculations, formulas, and theorems. The four operations are also fundamental in the progression of the Upper Elementary math curriculum. As students explore a three‐year, spiraling curriculum, they are expected to master all four operations as they are applied to fraction and multi-digit decimal work. Students will also gain a greater understanding of the value of numbers and the four operations as they explore various estimation strategies, the order of operations, and the properties of equality. Students also continue to work with various forms of measurement conversions as they are applied to science and real-life situations. Finally, students will build on previous work with number lines and number value as they work with the four operations as they are applied to negative and positive integers.
Upper Elementary students work with ratio, proportion, and percent as they apply to real life events and situations. By understanding rate concepts and using the appropriate language to express the relationship between two events, students will practice, experiment, and analyze many types of situational events. Students will also use their understanding of decimals and fractions to make connections with and calculate percent and proportional relationships.
Students spend all three years spiraling through a pre-algebra curriculum, learning first to use a variable in place of a numeric quantity before moving through the steps required to write, simplify, and solve multi‐step algebraic equations as well as graphing linear and non‐linear functions. This curriculum is integrated throughout the Upper Elementary math curriculum and is used in conjunction with the work within geometry, number systems, ratio, and proportion. Collecting, organizing and interpreting data is also consistently related to real-life situations. As a means to interpret data, Upper Elementary students find the mean, mode, and median as well as the range and deviation. Students will use this information to draw conclusions about a data set and use the information to create and interpret various types of graphs.
The Upper Elementary Science curriculum combines the Montessori interdisciplinary approach with student-led, inquiry-based investigations. Units of study in the three core areas of Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science are designed to give students a foundation in content knowledge and skills across these domains. Each year the science curriculum is aligned with the current Upper Elementary unifying theme to give our studies a broader context in the humanities. Students collaborate in small, multi-age groups through the inquiry cycle, designing and conducting experiments, analyzing data, and presenting their results. Through interaction with their team members, students develop their analytical skills by expressing their thoughts, engaging in debate, and using quantitative methods to evaluate evidence. The program emphasizes the development of other essential scientific skills such as scientific observation and journaling, using reference materials, and constructing conceptual and physical models. Classroom studies are extended to their real-world applications through field trips, viewing documentaries of scientific fieldwork, and guest speakers.
Cultural studies in Upper Elementary are guided by a respect for young people’s developing awareness of history, current world events, and each individual's ability to impact the future that they have the ability to affect the directions their lives will take. Students begin to think more abstractly and are guided to engage in a comparative analysis as they study history and contemporary society. Students work both independently and in groups on a variety of research projects across topics.
The Cultural Curriculum is divided into four years, covering different content, but with a central focus on research, geography and current events, writing, and organizational skills. Common field trips during these units highlight the lives of early Americans as well as how our government was formed and how it functions. In the Sixth Grade year, students extend upon and synthesize the research skills covered during Fourth and Fifth Grade.
Four-year curriculum cycle based on Cultural curriculum themes, with the goal of integrating math projects and applications and writing, reading, research, and presentation skills in project and problem-based units. In addition, each unit incorporates a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) theme.
Year 1: Archaeology and Early Humans
SEL Theme: Community (I Am a Human)
Year 2: Early Civilization and World Geography
SEL Theme: Responsibility (I Am Civil)
Year 3: Explorers, The Renaissance, and World Geography
SEL Theme: Courage and Character (I Am an Explorer)
Year 4: History of Government and U.S. Geography
SEL Theme: Point of View (I Am a Citizen)
At the Upper Elementary level, Peace Education is the foundation for all of the educational goals. From initial greetings during Morning Meetings to dismissal handshakes, this program seeks to instill core values of grace and courtesy throughout the learning community. Every day, students practice their active listening and effective communication strategies while remembering to maintain eye contact and speak with a kind, friendly tone of voice. Students participate in activities that focus on teamwork and respectful exchanges with both peers and adults. “Morning Meeting Guidelines” maintain consistency in language and expectations across content area lessons. Additional curricular lessons may also be filtered into content area time blocks to emphasize grace and courtesy through proper tone, effort, and attitude in our learning community. The Upper Elementary program also strives to instill advocacy skills and tactics for students to express themselves in productive, responsible, empowered, and collaborative approaches in order to best have their needs met.
Students may learn strategies to advocate for their needs, coping strategies, or simple ways to carry themselves with grace and courtesy through modeling and explicit lessons. Upon completion of the Upper Elementary program, Kingsley works to equip students with a “toolkit” of skills and strategies at their disposal to understand how they best learn. These skills are intended to be transferable to multiple situations to support their curiosities and love of learning throughout their lives.
Kingsley implemented a Social Emotional Learning curriculum from Yale University called RULER. This is not just a curriculum delivered to students via lesson plans and during group times or morning meetings; it pervades the social and emotional learning fabric of our everyday activities for children and adults. We believe this integrated home/school connection further supports our parents as partners to deliver the best education for each student. All of the specific curricular pieces we implement stem from using RULER and Montessori Grace & Courtesy as the foundations.
Many of the behavior guidelines that are established at the beginning of the year in each classroom are designed to ensure each student's safety and well-being and to create a culture and community of acceptance in the classroom and the School at large. All students and faculty follow a common set of guidelines known as classroom charters. All behavior management is based on an understanding of the developmental needs and growth of each student.
Respect and kindness toward others and responsibility for one's own behavior are important values in the school community. Students are to always act with integrity, whether that be in their social relationships or academic work. Students’ positive behavior is reinforced by the respectful ways in which their teachers work with them. Teachers are expected to be willing to put in the time necessary to help and assist students to effectively process academic and social issues in a timely fashion. Students are involved in age-appropriate ways to develop and understand acceptable behaviors within their classroom environments.
Practical Life skills are transformed during this stage of development. Students are not only learning at their own pace, but also have opportunities to serve as role models and leaders both inside and outside of their Kingsley learning community. The Upper Elementary Practical Life Program offer students opportunities to learn from real world experiences while building upon work done within the classroom. Each of the three programs contain their own specific academic and social-emotional rigors.
From students’ first year in Upper Elementary, they have increasing responsibilities to take care of the classroom environments and one another. As students begin their early adolescent development, they are often provided a greater sense of independence, which also comes with additional, developmentally appropriate, responsibilities and challenges. As academic work moves from the concrete to the abstract, a greater sense of advocacy for individual learning styles and preferences becomes necessary. Not only are students encouraged to discuss their interests and level of learning, but are also guided to know what tools and scaffolds may be necessary to help them learn best.
Upper Elementary Capstone Experiences are multi‐faceted and build on skills obtained in lower grades; they provide opportunities for students to be leaders in many different ways. Students, across ages, have opportunities to be leaders both in small and large group settings. The multi‐aged classroom allows students to lead Morning Meetings, group work projects, and other activities while developing and practicing skills to be both an effective leader and group member on a daily basis. Upper Elementary students also have many opportunities throughout the year to lead school‐wide initiatives. Through these ventures, students not only practice being a leader but also model such skills to peers and younger students alike.