The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 27, 2009

Carlisle School’s fifth grade provides a year of transition

In preparation for sixth grade, Carlisle School’s fifth graders participate in a transitional team-teaching environment, the fifth grade teachers told the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) at their March 18 meeting. Now in its third year, the teachers said the experience is successfully easing students into middle school.

The five teachers are split into two teams and each teacher teaches two core subjects (English Language Arts and Social Studies, Science and Math). Fifth grade Special Educator Kathryn Garcia and teachers Kendra Katz, Jennifer Putnam, Al Ticotsky, and Jennifer Reinhard/Margaret Gleason (who share one teaching position) said the format is working well.

Students move from one teacher to the other within their teacher team and remain with that team throughout the year. It is a change from fourth grade, where students are in self-contained classrooms with one teacher who teaches all core subjects. The fifth grade format prepares them for sixth grade’s four-teacher format with each teacher teaching one core subject, where students may have new classmates for each class. The teachers said that by having students change classes in fifth grade they “become familiar with moving between classrooms for different subjects.” The two teams function “as a unit,” allowing teachers to specialize in the subject areas, they added.

Cross-curriculum learning stressed

The teachers presented three examples of curriculum units, all of which involved writing, reading, research, and presentations. The “Colonial Roadshow,” which is “brand new to us,” explained the teachers, is a three-stage research project. Students learn about colonial life, research an artifact from the era, and create a presentation. “We are hoping to get the third grade to see the presentations,” explained Putnam. The “Biography Project” also stresses research, writing, and presentation skills. The students choose a person from the Revolutionary War period, and produce both written material and a presentation. Some students have dressed as the person they are studying for their presentation.

One of the favorite units is “Endangered Species,” said Ticotsky. He said the unit is an opportunity to combine Science and Social Studies. The students research an endangered species, write a multi-paragraph essay and create an informational cartoon. The team passed around examples of students’ cartoons. “The kids are very engaged in this,” said Putnam. ∆

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