Intermediate Grades (3rd through 5th)
In the intermediate grades, third through fifth, teachers build upon the students’ experiences in the primary grades, using a variety of classroom activities to develop important reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Recognizing the diverse abilities of students within the classroom, teachers work in both whole group and small group settings. As students progress from third through fifth grade, they will read increasingly more challenging literature, articles, and other sources of information and continue to develop their vocabulary. They will read a variety of fiction and nonfiction geared toward their individual reading levels and also of greater complexity that will be explored with teacher support. They will think, talk, and write about what they read. In their writing, students will pay more attention to organizing information, developing ideas, and supporting these ideas with facts, details, and reasons. By the end of fifth grade, students will be expected to understand and clearly summarize what they have learned from readings and classroom discussions, referring to specific evidence and details from the text. Students will write regularly and continue to develop their ability to gather, organize, interpret, and present information using the rules of spoken and written English.
Students in the intermediate grades are developing more abstract understandings of many mathematical principles, and they begin to be able to see connections from one dimension of math to another, such as the relationship between fractions and decimals or area and multiplication. Teachers continue to extend these understandings through the use of manipulatives as needed, interactive whiteboard lessons, frequent guided and individual practice, and other research-based practices for math instruction. In third grade, students will continue to build their number sense, developing an understanding of fractions as parts of whole numbers. They will develop a foundation for multiplication and division and apply problem-solving skills and strategies to solve word problems. Students will also explore of the area of a rectangle and other aspects of measurement. In fourth grade, students will use all four operations to solve word problems, including problems involving measurement of volume, mass, and time. Students will continue to build their understanding of fractions—creating equal fractions, comparing the size of fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, and multiplying fractions by whole numbers. They will also start to explore the relationship between fractions and decimals. In fifth grade, students will expand their understanding of place value by working with decimals up to the thousandths place. Students will also add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions with like and unlike denominators. They will continue to expand their geometry and measurement skills, learning the concept of volume and measuring the volume of a solid figure.
Students are encouraged to find ways to apply their mathematical understandings to the world outside of their classroom as a means of reinforcement. Teachers also support students in developing the perseverance and problem solving skills necessary for success with future math concepts.
Science instruction is a diverse curriculum that explores aspects of Life Science (cells, interdependence, flow of matter and energy, heredity, biodiversity and change) Earth and Space Science (the universe, Earth, the atmosphere), and Physical Science (matter, energy, motion, forces in nature). Classes are held in the hands-on primary science lab for third and fourth grade and in the classroom/middle school science lab in fifth grade. Students develop their understanding of scientific inquiry through observation, prediction, experimentation, and drawing conclusions. Building upon their growing skills in the classroom, students have the opportunity to read, write and demonstrate what they know in the classroom and through displays throughout the school.
In the intermediate grades students shift from survey courses covering a range of social studies topics into content focused on more narrow areas of geography and history. In third grade students will develop skills across the six elements of geography and the impact these elements have on cultures from the past and present. They will explore the role of rules and laws in our daily lives and the basic structure of the United States government, with opportunities to compare different government systems. They will also look at how traditions and governments have evolved over time. In fourth grade students will learn about native civilizations in North America, European explorations to the New World, and the political, economic, and social development of the British colonies. They will study what led to the independence of the original thirteen colonies and the formation of a national government under the Constitution. They will also examine the history of Tennessee in this period of study, which ends in 1850. In fifth grade students will continue their study of American history with the causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War and Industrial America. They will explore the major events of the early twentieth century, such as World War I and the Great Depression. Students will describe the key events and accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the nation’s growing role in world affairs, from World War II to modern day.
In the intermediate grades, beyond the content specified by the course, students will also develop research, analytic, and critical thinking skills through the evaluation of evidence, interpretation of primary sources, and writing in response to their historical study.
At St. Mary’s School teachers recognize that all children develop at different rates and have differing abilities and interests. Our approach to education looks at the whole child, not the sum of discrete academic areas. In addition to direct academic instruction in the content areas and religion, students attend weekly classes in art, music, library, technology, physical education, and Spanish. These experiences enrich the academic program and offer cross-curricular connections to the classroom when possible.