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Curriculum Details

Upper Elementary Curriculum Details

While the skills and activities listed below appear as a linear progression, in real life at BMS, much of what our students learn takes place in a spiral progression of revisiting and building on previous learning. In this model, students deepen their understanding of subjects by learning to approach knowledge, skills, and concepts gained in one experience with new eyes and open minds; students gain a fresh perspective and deeper understanding from each new experience, whether this is with previously explored material or completely new material. 

Students typically remain in each classroom for two years, so the topics and skills listed below are not addressed yearly, but will be addressed at some point during a student’s time in each class. Topics and skills are always taught through the lens of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP), which requires teachers to consider: 1)what is known about child development for a given age group, 2)what is individually appropriate for a student, and 3)what is culturally important in a child’s family, classroom, school, and community.

Language Arts

Speaking and Listening

  • Engages effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on various age-appropriate topics, texts, and issues, building on others‟ ideas and expressing their own clearly
  • Interprets information and analyzes the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas contribute to or clarify a topic, text, or issue under study
  • Delineates a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not. Is able to evaluate the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence
  • Presents claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation
  • Is able to include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information and emphasize salient points
  • Adapts speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate


  • Actively develops broader and deeper understanding of informational and literary texts
  • Reflects on skills and adjusts comprehension and vocabulary strategies to become better readers
  • Discusses, reflects, and responds, using evidence from text, to a wider variety of literary genres and informational texts
  • Reads for pleasure, choosing books based on personal preference, topic, genre, theme, or author
  • Has an awareness of the author's craft
  • Adjusts purpose, pace and strategies according to difficulty and/or type of text
  • Produces oral and written responses which analyze and/or synthesize information from multiple sources, showing a deeper understanding of content


  • Writes opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information
  • Introduces claim(s) and organizes reasons and evidence clearly when writing
  • Writes arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
  • Writes informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content
  • Writes narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences
  • Produces clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience
  • With guidance and support from peers and adults, develops and strengthens writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach
  • With some guidance and support from adults, uses technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others
  • Conducts short research projects to answer questions, drawing on several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic
  • Refocuses inquiry when appropriate, generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation
  • Recalls relevant information from experiences or gathers relevant information from print and digital sources;
  • Uses search terms effectively, assesses and summarizes or paraphrases information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources
  • Is able to assess the credibility and accuracy of sources and can quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation
  • Draws evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research
  • Writes routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences


Problem Solving

  • Represents problems in various forms (diagram to number or symbolic expression)
  • Explains methods and reasoning behind solutions
  • Demonstrates the ability to make and verify reasonable predictions
  • Understands the basic language of logic in mathematical situations (and, or, not)

Basic/Advanced Properties of Numbers and Computation

  • Works flexibly with fractions, decimals, and percents to solve problems
  • Compares and orders fractions, decimals, and percents
  • Understands and uses ratios and proportions to represent quantitative relationships
  • Develops an understanding of large numbers


  • Understands both metric and customary systems of measurement
  • Understands relationships among units and converts from one unit to another within the same system
  • Understands, selects, and uses units of appropriate size and type to measure angles, perimeter, area, surface area, and volume
  • Selects and applies techniques and tools to accurately find length, area, volume, and angle measures to appropriate levels of precision
  • Develops and uses formulas to determine the circumference of circles and the area of triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids, and circles and develops strategies to find the area of more complex shapes
  • Develops strategies to determine the surface area and volume of selected prisms, pyramids, and cylinders


  • Describes, classifies, and understands relationships among types of two- and three-dimensional objects using their defining properties
  • Understands relationships among the angles, side lengths, perimeters, areas, and volumes of similar objects
  • Uses coordinate geometry to represent and examine the properties of geometric shapes
  • Draws geometric objects with specified properties, such as side lengths or angle measures
  • Uses two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects to visualize and solve problems such as those involving surface area and volume
  • Recognizes and applies geometric ideas and relationships in areas outside the mathematics classroom, such as art, science, and everyday life

Statistics and Data Analysis

  • Formulates questions, designs studies, and collects data about a characteristic shared by two populations or different characteristics within one population
  • Selects, creates, and uses appropriate graphical representations of data, including histograms, box plots, and scatterplots
  • Finds, uses, and interprets measures of center and spread, including mean and interquartile range
  • Uses observations about differences between two or more samples to make conjectures about the populations from which the samples were taken
  • Uses conjectures to formulate new questions and plans new studies to answer them
  • Understands and uses appropriate terminology to describe complementary and mutually exclusive events

Basic/Advanced Properties of Functions and Algebra

  • Represents, analyzes, and generalizes a variety of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic rules
  • Develops an initial conceptual understanding of different uses of variables
  • Recognizes and generates equivalent forms for simple algebraic expressions and solves linear equations
  • Models and solves contextualized problems using various representations, such as graphs, tables, and equations


Science as Inquiry

  • Solves problems using a variety of strategies
  • Designs and conducts a scientific investigation exploring the relationship between 2 variables
  • Constructs explanations, including the development of simple models
  • Works as a productive member of a small team to investigate a problem
  • Discusses evidence and explanations recognizing alternative explanations and procedures for scientific phenomena


Science in Personal/Social Perspectives

  • Demonstrates awareness of how society can affect the direction taken by science/technology
  • Demonstrates awareness of how science/technology can affect the direction taken by society

Physical Science

  • Applies the understanding that pure substances have characteristic physical and chemical properties and are made from a single type of atom or molecule
  • Provides molecular level accounts to explain states of matters and changes between states
  • Applies Newton’s Third Law of Motion to relate forces to explain the motion of objects.
  • Applies ideas about gravitational, electrical, and magnetic forces to explain a variety of phenomena including beginning ideas about why some materials attract each other while others repel
  • Develops an understanding that gravitational interactions are always attractive but that electrical and magnetic forces can be both attractive and negative
  • Understands that objects can exert forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact, through fields
  • Applies engineering practices and concepts to solve problems or questions such as “What happens when objects collide?”
  • Understands important qualitative ideas about energy
  • Understands that objects that are moving have kinetic energy and that objects may also contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions
  • Knows the difference between energy and temperature, and develops an understanding of the relationship between force and energy
  • Applies an understanding of design to the process of energy transfer
  • Describes and predicts characteristic properties and behaviors of waves when the waves interact with matter
  • Applies an understanding of waves as a means to send digital information

Life Science

  • Understands the structure and function relationship of cells
  • Understands of cell theory
  • Has a basic understanding of the role of cells in body systems and how those systems work to support the life functions of the organism
  • Understands the plant process of photosynthesis and the movement of matter and energy needed for the cell
  • Can explain how environmental and genetic factors affect growth of organisms
  • Connects this understanding to the role of animal behaviors in reproduction as well as to the dependence of some plants on animal behaviors for their reproduction
  • Analyzes and interprets data, develops models, and constructs arguments demonstrating a deeper understanding of resources, their role in the cycling of matter, and the flow of energy in ecosystems
  • Studies patterns of the interactions among organisms within an ecosystem
  • Considers biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem and the effects these factors have on population
  • Evaluates competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Uses models to describe ways gene mutations and sexual reproduction contribute to genetic variation
  • Understands how gene structure determines differences in the functioning of organisms
  • Constructs explanations based on evidence to support fundamental understandings of natural selection and evolution
  • Uses ideas of genetic variation in a population to make sense of organisms surviving and reproducing, hence passing on the traits of the species
  • Uses fossil records and anatomical similarities of the relationships among organisms and species to support their understanding

Earth/Space Science

  • Examines the Earth’s place in relation to the solar system, Milky Way galaxy, and universe
  • Examines geoscience data in order to understand the processes and events in Earth’s history
  • Understands how Earth’s geo-systems operate by modeling the flow of energy and cycling of matter within and among different systems
  • Investigates the controlling properties of important materials and construct explanations based on the analysis of real geoscience data
  • Understands the factors that control weather
  • Understands the ways that human activities impacts Earth’s other systems
  • Understands the significant and complex issues surrounding human uses of land, energy, mineral, and water resources and the resulting impacts of their development

Social Studies


  • Demonstrates appropriate intercultural competencies within school and broader community
  • Demonstrates appropriate map skills
  • Demonstrates understanding of global and U.S. geography
  • Demonstrates appropriate understanding of local and U.S. history
  • Uses a variety of appropriate tools for finding and conveying information
  • Practices appropriate civic discussion and democratic processes
  • Demonstrates developmentally-appropriate understanding of economic concepts

Possible Social Studies Themes

  • Exploring the relationship between human needs and historical and current events and patterns
  • Geography and Global Issues
  • Immigration and Community
  • Social institutions
  • Impact of Industrialization
  • Biographies of current or historical figures
  • Government/Politics
  • Community Service
  • Community Action and Activism
  • Current Events
  • Understanding racism, classism, sexism
  • Economics
  • Permaculture and the study of systems



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