3-4 – Curriculum
The 3rd/4th grade classroom is always full of activities, projects, inventive play, and cooperative learning. The class spend most of its time in the big room, which features plenty of space to move around and an abundance of natural light. There is lots of color, music, kid creations, and a wall of books that is our fiction library. We have a smaller classroom as well, where our nonfiction library is housed, and which provides another space for us to use when we split into smaller groups.
We recognize and promote academic, social, and emotional growth for every student. While we have general goals for all students in those areas, we know that each student brings her own unique interests, skills, and experiences to the classroom.We accept and honor these differences as we help each student grow. We also include plenty of music (including a ukulele for every student), and art opportunities both within our curriculum and as creative outlets. In addition, we take advantage of the resources available though Indiana University. Students have participated in the IU Books and Beyond authoring program, as well as a recent education study regarding how children process information about complex scientific systems. We often take walking trips to IU’s beautiful campus as part of a unit of study, or just to get out and explore.
Another feature of Harmony programs involves guiding children as they participate in a democratic culture. The 3rd/4th grade class has a weekly Family Meeting, in which students determine agenda items and lead discussions about issues, concerns, or ideas to improve our class and school. Students are encouraged to listen critically, speak thoughtfully, and vote their conscience on class decisions.
Ultimately, we aim to provide a classroom that values every student and allows each to explore the world through his own lens, while recognizing and valuing the roles of other individuals that create a vibrant and diverse culture.
The clearest indicator of our classroom experience may be a description of a typical day.
- Students arrive at school between 7:45 and 8:45. They can play in our gym, read, draw, build, and socialize with friends before class starts at 9.
- At 9, we gather in our classroom and make a circle for morning meeting. We go over the day’s schedule, then we might read and discuss current events, sing, complete a Mad Lib, or pose a discussion question. We warm up our brains for math class with a math routine, such as skip counting around our circle, doing an activity with a number line, or playing a game called “guess my rule”. We often do a number talk as well, where we pose a math equation for students to solve mentally, then discuss the strategies they used to solve it.
- After our morning meeting, we switch to math class. Twice a week we have whole class math, using the Investigations curriculum. This curriculum focuses on mathematical thinking and reasoning, and provides multiple access points to students at different levels. Twice a week we break into smaller groups, which are more leveled and focus more on facts and skills. On Fridays, we often do something different with math, like playing games, solving logic puzzles, or incorporating math into art.
- From 10:30-10;45 we have a break where students can eat a snack and play outside, in the gym, or in the classroom.
- After break we have a language arts period. We try to provide a literacy rich classroom, where students experience reading and writing in a variety of media and structures. From independent free-choice to structured writing workshops and reading groups, our goal is to help all students stretch themselves and grow as readers and writers.
- From 12-1 we have lunch and recess. Students are free to eat, move, and play throughout the campus. A great deal of awesome, creative, multi-age play and learning happens during this hour.
- After lunch, our class either participates in the school-wide Exploration classes, which are mini-electives run by teachers throughout the school, or engages in our science or social studies themes.
- Two or three days a week we have Body Works, our version of gym class either outside or in the gym.
- We close our day with our cherished read aloud, then a big all-school clean up.