Academics

Elementary | Grades 1-4

Literacy@RCS

At each grade level, teachers provide daily direct instruction using an individualized, research supported multi-sensory approach that ensures the children’s growth as readers, writers, and spellers. The curriculum is tailored to the specific needs of each student and a combination of best practices from research-based programs. These include:
  • Developmental Reading Assessment (Grades 1-4)
  • Gates-Macginitie Reading Test (Grades3-4)
  • Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (Grades 1-2)
  • Judith Hochman’s Windward based program, Basic Writing Skills (Grades 1-4)

Elementary | Grades 1 - 4

Active learning is at the heart of everything we do on the RCS Lower Campus. You can hear it in the sounds of children collaborating on group projects, engaging in meaningful class discussions, discovering possibilities in our Imagination Space, and speaking during assemblies and performances. Students in Grades 1 through 4 explore the process of experimentation, enhance their critical thinking skills, delve deeper into language and mathematics, bring history to life, create with technology, and further expand their minds. Our teachers inspire passion and ignite curiosity.

Literacy growth continues as children make the critical transition from learning to read to reading to learn and begin to develop a voice in writing. There is a natural progression in every aspect of our curriculum as students build confidence through risk taking, personal responsibility, and increased independence to lead with character. Our children experience the importance of being a significant member of a community.

Grade 1

The first grade curriculum encourages curiosity, independence, and resilience. Students take risks in a classroom environment that supports asking questions and sharing observations. Across disciplines, projects come to life through innovative hands-on activities that encourage creative problem solving while establishing a solid academic foundation.

List of 6 items.

  • Top Skills Your Child Will Learn in Grade 1

    1. To appreciate similarities and differences between cultures.
    2. To speak eloquently in front of their peers.
    3. To use the number 10 to expand their understanding of all numbers.
    4. To be a word detective to improve their spelling, fluency, and vocabulary.
    5. To use technology to highlight their learning.
  • Language Arts

    The first grade literacy program develops each student’s reading, writing, listening, and public speaking skills so that they are prepared to become not just readers who can pull words off of a page but curious seekers of content. By the end of the year, students read appropriately leveled texts aloud with teachers and peers, write across a variety of genres, and master the spelling of all main sight, or “red,” words which demonstrates their ability to move onto the escalated expectations of second grade readers and writers.

    To meet these goals, teachers provide daily direct instruction using an individualized, research supported 
    multi-sensory approach that ensures the children’s growth as readers, writers and spellers. Differentiated skills work is planned in conjunction with a learning specialist, to both extend and support, for all learners.

    READING: In a classroom that is rich in literature, students move from decoding to reading for meaning. Consistent assessments using the Developmental Reading Assessment allow teachers to closely monitor each child’s reading growth throughout the year.

    WRITING: Children secure their understanding of the parts of a sentence and early stages of a paragraph. As some of Ripp’s youngest authors, they write “small moment stories” based on an event from their own life, non-fiction “books,” and a perennial favorite - they even write a fractured fairy tale. For the first time, students are introduced to the concept of editing and take tremendous pride in their final products.

    LISTENING AND PUBLIC SPEAKING: First graders engage in daily listening and public speaking skills practice. For example, at the very start of the day, during Morning Meeting, they are asked to answer a daily question as well as listen to and recall their peers’ answers. The question may be as simple, and even silly, as “would you rather be a rhino or a lion, and why?” however, the required, full-sentence answer provides powerful reinforcement of these lifelong skills.
  • Math

    The first grade math program is designed to help students become mathematical thinkers using Investigations as the backbone of the program. Emphasis is placed on thinking about and understanding numerical and spatial relationships, and the communication of that understanding in both the written and spoken word. First grade students:

    • Investigate different ways to combine numbers and develop strategies for recalling and applying basic facts.
    • Communicate their observations and understanding of mathematical operations through conversation, pictures, writing, and standard mathematical notation.

    The homeroom teachers work in conjunction with the Lower Campus Math Specialist to supplement the curriculum to offer individualized support and enrichment.
  • Science

    The first grade science classes begin exploring lab-based learning opportunities. Students are encouraged to explore and learn through discovery by investigating the physical world and the organisms around them. The plant and animal unit develops the idea that, like a superhero with special powers, every animal and plant has unique parts and behaviors that help them grow and meet their needs. A highlight of the year takes place in conjunction with the popular Shark Week, where students compare and contrast information on marine life in an attempt to dispel popular myths.
  • Social Studies

    The first grade social studies program teaches students how to make thoughtful observations about cultures beyond their own through an ongoing process of comparing, contrasting and finding similarities. The curriculum includes an in-depth analysis of the different types of communities within New York state after which they embark on a world tour in an imaginary airplane. By the end of the year, first graders broaden their world lens beyond their immediate community, think critically about what they investigate, and learn to embrace, appreciate and celebrate difference.
     
  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus foreign language program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries. Students are taught using the research-based, Comprehensible Input approach, including TPR (Total Physical Response) as well as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) in the older grades. Instruction is based on the proven idea that language acquisition requires interaction with meaning in the target language. 

    On any given day, what might Spanish look like on the Lower Campus?
    • Kindergarten students practice their colors by naming the colors of the rainbow.
    • 1st graders explore what cultures speak Spanish.
    • 2nd graders write back and forth to a pen-pal from a Spanish speaking country,
    • 3rd graders apply their reading comprehension skills as they sequence a Spanish read-aloud using the Super 7 verbs (have, want, is, there is, goes to, says, like) and then act out scenes.
    • 4th graders engage in an in-depth study of the geography of a Spanish-speaking country.

Grade 2

The second grade curriculum uses an interdisciplinary framework to solidify students’ skills as readers and writers and to explore concepts of community, geographic awareness, and historical time periods. 

List of 6 items.

  • Top Skills Your Child Will Learn in Grade 2

    1. To travel back in time.
    2. To write and act out their own Native American legends.
    3. To use the number 100 and 1,000 to expand their understanding of all numbers.
    4. To use books and technology to unlock facts about Arctic animals.
    5. To understand their reading strengths and choose a “just right” book.
  • Language Arts

    Students continue to receive rigorous daily direct instruction that supports their growth in the language arts including reading, writing, listening and public speaking.

    READING: Students improve their reading stamina and ability to select a ‘just right book’ as they self-monitor their ability to decode and comprehend a story. Formal assessments using the Developmental Reading Assessment, and small, differentiated groups ensure that students read aloud daily with a teacher’s direct guidance. Teachers continue to use an individualized, research supported multi-sensory approach to teaching in conjunction with assessments. Differentiated skills work is planned in conjunction with a learning specialist, to both extend and support, for all learners.

    WRITING: Students experience tremendous growth in writing. They learn planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing, as they write across disciplines, including in mathematics, social studies, and science.

    LISTENING AND PUBLIC SPEAKING: 2nd graders continue to engage in daily listening and public speaking skills practice. For example, each week a member of the class takes home “Flat Stanley” and takes him on an adventure that they log about in a journal. The chosen student shares his experience before the whole class while the others plot eagerly where they will take Stanley!
  • Math

    The second grade math program continues to utilize Investigations as the foundation. Students:
    Explore addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers as well as the landmark numbers of 10 and 100.

    • Practice using a variety of problem-solving strategies that support computational fluency, accuracy, and efficiency.
    • Journal their work and use of manipulatives to monitor and make sense of their math thinking as they explore multiple methods for solving individual problems.
    • Discuss different strategies as an essential part of each activity.

    The homeroom teachers work in conjunction with the Lower Campus Math Specialist to supplement the curriculum to offer individualized support and enrichment.
  • Science

    The second grade science program continues to provide students with a challenging yet balanced curriculum to develop scientific literacy. The scientific method is introduced and emphasized as students are encouraged to apply previous knowledge to new venues. Nurturing students’ inherent curiosity of and appreciation for the natural world, students investigate the scientific method. In a spiraling curriculum students are encouraged to apply knowledge from previous years to new topics. For example, they apply their first grade study of plants to enhance their regular hands-on lessons in the garden. One unit that is always incredibly popular happens in the spring when students synthesize lessons on kinetic and potential energy in the construction of a roller coaster! Working within a budget, each students designs and builds his/her own paper roller coaster for a marble to roll through.. In conclusion, students even write to Disney to try and persuading them to build and feature their roller coaster in a theme park!  
  • Social Studies

    The second grade social studies program takes students back in time to study the Native American Iroquois tribe, the peoples and land of the Arctic, and the life of Leonardo da Vinci. By the end of the year, students develop a historical perspective that deepens their appreciation of communities outside of their own. Through goal-oriented, hands-on, multimedia projects that encourage innovative thinking, teachers integrate language arts, math, science, art, and music into each unit. A highlight of the year is the individually researched, written, and designed Arctic animal e-book (link to example coming).
  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus foreign language program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries. Students are taught using the research-based, Comprehensible Input approach, including TPR (Total Physical Response) as well as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) in the older grades. Instruction is based on the proven idea that language acquisition requires interaction with meaning in the target language. 

    On any given day, what might Spanish look like on the Lower Campus?
    • Kindergarten students practice their colors by naming the colors of the rainbow.
    • 1st graders explore what cultures speak Spanish.
    • 2nd graders write back and forth to a pen-pal from a Spanish speaking country,
    • 3rd graders apply their reading comprehension skills as they sequence a Spanish read-aloud using the Super 7 verbs (have, want, is, there is, goes to, says, like) and then act out scenes.
    • 4th graders engage in an in-depth study of the geography of a Spanish-speaking country.

Grade 3

The third grade curriculum further challenges and stretches students as the academic expectations heighten to ensure a solid foundation in fundamental reading, writing and math skills and begins to focus increasingly on the preparation of each student for the middle school years. Interdisciplinary study expands and helps students cultivate their critical and creative thinking skills through content driven discussions about the nature of dissent, change, and risk.

Students are also encouraged to develop greater independence by taking ownership of their daily routine. Organizational skills are emphasized and include such practices as the use of a daily academic planner to track assignments and greater integration between the two homerooms that requires more movement from class to class within the school day. 

List of 6 items.

  • Top Skills Your Child Will Learn in Grade 3

    1. To understand the impact of European exploration.
    2. To write letters to their heroes.
    3. To use all four main numerical operations to create a class number line.
    4. To read and understand the main components of a biography.
    5. To apply their improving keyboarding skills.
  • Language Arts

    The third grade literacy program shifts to focus on deepening student comprehension. A significant amount of discussion and writing is expected on topics such as main idea, character traits, and theme.

    READING: Students read across genres, with a favorite being a unit on biographies. Reading instruction regularly takes place in small, differentiated groups of 4 to 6 children along with formal assessments to ensure each child get the support or enrichment needed to improve their independent reading ability and interest level. Differentiated skills work, planned in conjunction with a learning specialist to both extend and support, is offered at a pace appropriate for each child using a continuation of a research-based multi-sensory approach and regular assessments are performed to track progress and monitor growth using the Developmental Reading Assessment and Gates-Macginitie Reading Test.

    WRITING: Emphasis is placed on expository writing, focusing on skills such as sentence expansion, paragraph organization, and grammar using best practices from research-based programs such as Judith Hochman’s Basic Writing Skills. Students cycle through the stages of outlining, drafting, revising, rewriting, and publishing. In addition to a study of cursive handwriting, each student has their own classroom-based laptop for typing final assignments and receives keyboarding instruction. Third graders also complete creative writing activities, write poetry and practice letter writing when they write to a famous person of their choice - and often get a reply! By the end of the third grade, students write a succinct, well-structured paragraph so that they are prepared for essay work in fourth grade.

    PUBLIC SPEAKING/LISTENING: 3rd graders continue to engage in daily listening and public speaking skills practice through read alouds, daily Morning Meeting, frequent small group and partner work, as well as math congresses where they share their understanding of a particular problem. A particular focus in 3rd grade that will continue through the Upper Campus is to help the children become increasingly comfortable with the idea of giving and receiving feedback to improve their and their peers’ work. They are expected to go beyond “I liked your project” and instead share what they’ve learned, questions they have or give a specific complement.
  • Math

    The third grade math program builds on the concepts of addition and subtraction and places a new focus on multiplication, division, fractions, numbers through 1,000, measurement, data analysis, and geometry using Investigations. A favorite student activity is the year-long creation of a growing number line, which is used to introduce and solidify an understanding of the order of operations concept.

    In addition to higher level problem-solving, students recall and repeat their addition, subtraction and multiplication facts so that they can apply this information to more complex problems. In conjunction with the Lower Campus Math Specialist, additional support and enrichment is offered.
     
  • Science

    The third grade science curriculum takes full advantage of our great outdoors. Through observing, comparing, and classifying, the students engage in a study of predator vs. prey as well as their local habitats, noticing what makes each habitat unique. Regularly visiting the garden as well as the outdoor classroom, they then bring the outdoors in as they design and implement a lab using the scientific method to discover what living situation the local woodlouse prefers. The spring term later shifts to empower the children as engineers as they test conductors and insulators, build circuits, and solve a variety of problems in teams which will culminate with constructing a working alarm system!
  • Social Studies

    The third grade social studies program encourages conversations about similarities and differences by considering certain historical time periods from various perspectives. Through in-depth studies of geography, early Explorers, the Pilgrims, and the impact of the actions of European settlers, students develop their early research skills. Acting as history detectives, the students’ study of history is tied closely to the reading and writing curriculum as they read non-fiction and develop early notetaking skills. The program also emphasizes the importance of public speaking, particularly during a culminating performance for their families and peers.
  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus foreign language program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries. Students are taught using the research-based, Comprehensible Input approach, including TPR (Total Physical Response) as well as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) in the older grades. Instruction is based on the proven idea that language acquisition requires interaction with meaning in the target language. 

    On any given day, what might Spanish look like on the Lower Campus?
    • Kindergarten students practice their colors by naming the colors of the rainbow.
    • 1st graders explore what cultures speak Spanish.
    • 2nd graders write back and forth to a pen-pal from a Spanish speaking country,
    • 3rd graders apply their reading comprehension skills as they sequence a Spanish read-aloud using the Super 7 verbs (have, want, is, there is, goes to, says, like) and then act out scenes.
    • 4th graders engage in an in-depth study of the geography of a Spanish-speaking country.

Grade 4

As leaders of the Lower Campus, the fourth grade curriculum is entirely built on securing the elementary school skills needed to transition to the Upper Campus in 5th grade. With increased independence, routines that were guided in third grade such as the daily planner become even greater expectations in fourth. The children increasingly work in groups across the two homerooms that allow for developmentally appropriate challenges and support in ability-based groups.

A cornerstone of the year is the end of year Moving Up Ceremony where the fourth graders are recognized for all their hard work and contributions on the Lower Campus in front of their families, peers and those younger students in the community who aspire to be strong leaders of the Lower Campus one day. 

List of 6 items.

  • Top Skills Your Child Will Learn in Grade 4

    1. To understand key historical events in early America
    2. To analyze the impact of increasing industrialization on American people
    3. To use all four standard U.S. mathematical algorithms
    4. To recognize themes of empathy and prejudice in literature
    5. To use Google Drive to organize their digital assignments
  • Language Arts

    Fourth grade is a magical year for young readers and an emphasis is placed on the theme of empathy throughout all fourth grade shared novels and extended outside the classroom through community service work.

    READING: Students travel back in time to Nazi occupied Europe during World War II and pour through the pages of Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. They imagine being lost in the wilderness as they devour Brian Paulsen’s Hatchet. A particular highlight of the curriculum, that works to support the school’s mission on diversity, equity and inclusion, includes working alongside the team at local therapeutic horse farm, Endeavor,to explore the themes they are reading about in practice through visiting speakers and a culminating field trip.

    WRITING: Students continue to cycle through the writing process of outline, draft, edit, revise, and publish utilizing components of the Judith Hochman’s Basic Writing Skills program. Stronger connections between reading and writing are developed and emphasis is placed on the importance of using descriptive language and elaborating on an idea. Students learn to proactively edit their writing so they can add, delete, reorganize, and apply what they have learned through direct instruction in appropriate grammar in their writing. By the end of the year, students complete a multi-paragraph research report.

    A Learning Specialists works closely with the fourth grade homeroom teachers to plan for extensions and remediation as needed. In addition, growth is monitored for all students through both informal and formal assessments, such as the Developmental Reading Assessment and Gates-Macginitie Reading Test to prepare them for the transition to the Upper Campus.
  • Math

    Fourth grade continues to utilize Investigations as the backbone of their formal math program for much of the year; Investigations is a research-based program that prepares them with an essential number sense to ensure long-term mathematical growth. As the year continues, the students learn the standard algorithm for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This shift is deliberate as the teachers focus on preparing the fourth graders for their transition to the middle school math curriculum on the Upper Campus.
  • Science

    The fourth grade science curriculum, which includes four weekly visits to the Lower Campus Science Lab including one extended lab period, emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Students work individually, in partners, and in groups to follow lab procedure and the scientific method. The fourth graders learn the engineering design process, becoming civil engineers as they construct various bridges to solve problems. A particular highlight of the year includes a unit focused on investigating coding and problem solving with Lego Robotics. Teams are faced with situations that demand communication, collaboration, and creativity as they build and program a variety of robots to perform tasks.
  • Social Studies

    The fourth grade social studies program is academically rigorous and highly interactive. Students explore the original 13 colonies in the 1700’s through the 1800’s through journal writing, technology and simulation games, performing arts, and experiential activities in the Imagination Space. Students continue to develop their research skills using primary and secondary resources, and as the year progresses, the research sources become more complex and note taking more detailed.

    Public speaking is intertwined into the curriculum as the students share what they learn throughout the year with their peers and families. A particular highlight is the Invention Fair that showcases the students’ project-based learning study of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus foreign language program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries. Students are taught using the research-based, Comprehensible Input approach, including TPR (Total Physical Response) as well as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) in the older grades. Instruction is based on the proven idea that language acquisition requires interaction with meaning in the target language. 

    On any given day, what might Spanish look like on the Lower Campus?
    • Kindergarten students practice their colors by naming the colors of the rainbow.
    • 1st graders explore what cultures speak Spanish.
    • 2nd graders write back and forth to a pen-pal from a Spanish speaking country,
    • 3rd graders apply their reading comprehension skills as they sequence a Spanish read-aloud using the Super 7 verbs (have, want, is, there is, goes to, says, like) and then act out scenes.
    • 4th graders engage in an in-depth study of the geography of a Spanish-speaking country.