Intermediate School (Grades 3-5)

In the Intermediate School, students build on the solid foundation and conceptual understanding they’ve gained in the primary grades. Visual and performing arts, foreign language, and technology all play an integral part in preparing them for the next steps in their education. Students in this age group are easy to motivate, eager to try new things, and endlessly energetic—all of which make for a fun, active learning experience, both for them and for our faculty.

As students journey through these three grades they become increasingly responsible, organized and independent – ready for the challenges of life in the middle school.

The School's Core Values - Respect, Responsibility, Goodness, and Service - continue to guide our academic program as well as the interpersonal interactions and relationships between and among children and adults.  

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  • Overview & Philosophy

    Our curriculum takes advantage of the special characteristics of this age group. Mutually rewarding, respectful and trusting relationships with family members, teachers, and increasingly, with peers, are extremely important. While still needing adult approval, support and guidance, these students are drawn to and imitate older youth.
     
    Friendships are important as they progress through middle childhood; acceptance by their peer group is vital. At this age, friendships are often formed with same gender peers and are usually based on common interests and hobbies. Shifting peer alliances are common and children can become critical of themselves and each other. It is best for adults to choose our words carefully when offering encouragement and suggestions as children navigate their social and emotional world.
     
    Children this age enjoy planning and are more product and goal oriented, although a tendency to be forgetful and disorganized is common. This is the age when collecting items of special interest and hobbies begin. Children enjoy games with more complex rules. They gradually develop the ability to apply learned concepts to new tasks.
     
    Opportunities to share thoughts, perspectives and reactions are appreciated. While thinking is concrete, they are beginning to think logically and symbolically, although there is a limited ability to extend logic to abstract concepts. Usually, their best work is done in small pieces and they need support completing long-term projects and studying (chunking and scaffolding bits of information) for tests.
  • Student Leadership

    The Intermediate Student Advisory Committee (ISAC) serves as a vehicle for a collective student voice on selected issues in the intermediate division. Student representatives from Grades 3-5 meet weekly to address common issues. Through this forum, the division experiences communal decision making and problem solving. Serving on the committee is an opportunity to develop individual leadership skills and experience collective community responsibility. ISAC is comprised of 18 students, two children from each Grade 3, 4 and 5 classroom. All children who wish to serve have an equal opportunity to join the committee.
     
    Examples of ISAC initiatives during the past few years include:
    • The annual Halloween Candy Collection, which donates about 200 pounds to St. Mary’s Church to fill many holiday stockings.
    • The annual Intermediate School Craft and Bake Sale, which raised more than $3,700 in 2015. 
    • Obtaining a $1,000 Parents’ Association grant to purchase playground soccer goals and playground equipment.
    • Developing rules and guidelines for free seating in the dining room on the last day of each week.
  • Technology

    Intermediate School classrooms are equipped with projectors and document cameras. Each student has a Chromebook as part of our One-to-One (1:1) program. The Chromebooks make the integration of educational technologies possible. iPads are also available to students for specific projects, like going on Virtual Reality tours. These technologies enhance, enrich, and facilitate the learning process. For example, students use their devices to practice and develop their skills for their academic courses, learn keyboarding skills with our Keyboarding Curriculum, and share and archive their work, among other things.

    Through our Digital Citizenship Curriculum, student learn how to be responsible and respectful digital citizens. Students have access to the Makerspace with 3D printers, 3D design software, LEGO sets, and robots that support their learning. Intermediate School students also have access to a Media Production Room with iMacs, PC’s and an iPad for video recording and editing.

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  • Explore Grade 3 - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Embrace and experience greater independence, responsibility and leadership opportunities by participating in the Intermediate School Advisory Committee and service learning opportunities.
    • Bring history to life with costume, dance, food, music and presentations in an Old Trail tradition—Frontier Day at Hale Farm and Village.
    • Investigate and communicate mathematical concepts in algebra, geometry and data analysis with individual and collaborative study.
    • Create personal narratives, biographies, research projects and speeches to develop both creative and expository writing skills.
    • Pursue learning opportunities in Spanish, visual arts, technology, music, library and media, and physical education.   
    Language Arts
    The third grade Language Arts curriculum employs a balanced literacy approach, encompassing word study, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, oral language skills, as well as writing craft and mechanics. The classrooms use the Reading and Writing Workshop structures for direct instruction as well as small group Guided Reading and individual writing conferences. Students read a variety of genres and work specifically to build expertise in understanding the characteristics of information, historical fiction, biography and mystery texts. Students engage in inquiry-based and small group collaborative learning, as they prepare for independent application of new skills.

    Math
    In third grade the sequence of topics emphasizes number sense, basic facts and computation. In depth work includes fractions, proportional reasoning and problem solving. They explore more in-depth concepts of algebra and geometry and gain understanding of all aspects of measurement including estimation and comparison. Students learn appropriate strategies and reasoning skills for real-world problem solving. Through hands-on exploration activities, students learn to discuss and communicate mathematical thinking. They identify connections and use representations, such as models and graphs, to help visually interpret and solve problems.

    Performing Arts
    Elements of music study continue in Grade 3, based in a playful, improvisatory, and exploratory classroom.  Students experiment with both instrumental music and singing, based on Orff and Kodaly teaching methods. Foundational skills are developed such as pitch matching, steady beat, musical literacy, and movement.  Repertoire includes music from around the world.  The annual fall/winter concert is presented as a culmination of our performance unit.  In the spring, students present a special Early American music and dance performance as part of Pioneer Day at Hale Farm. 

    Physical Education and Swimming
    Students build skills and practice teamwork through exposure to traditional and unique sports and activities. In addition to technique, students learn the rules and terminology of tennis, volleyball and flag football. They try their hand at cup stacking, juggling, our climbing wall, and orienteering. In our Red Cross swim program, students progress between Levels IV to V. They learn and practice all strokes, breathe control and water safety, including personal and boating safety and rescue. Students also enjoy organized water games, obstacle courses and relays. In Grade 3, students are also invited to participate in competitive swim meets with other schools.

    Science
    Students gain an in-depth understanding of the Grassland Biome through a visit to a reconstructed prairie, dissection of an owl pellet, and a research project. With lab work and hands-on investigation, students identify the differences between potential and kinetic energy as well as renewable and nonrenewable energy types. Students investigate local rocks formations and minerals by exploring the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. They visit our on-campus Living Machine to continue their study of water and the water cycle.

    Social Studies
    The interdisciplinary nature of the third grade social studies curriculum allows students to apply the skills they learn in a variety of ways and encourages creativity in problem-solving. Inquiry, supported by carefully chosen compelling questions provides the structure for students to develop disciplinary knowledge in civics, economics, geography, and history. Topics include mapping and human geography, Indigenous Peoples, exploration, colonialism, settlement, and migration. Students engage in an in depth study of daily life in early Ohio culminating in a Frontier Day Celebration at Hale Farm and Village. In preparation, students research  historic trades and the exchange of goods and services on the Ohio Frontier. Students develop economic literacy as they visit the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, participate Junior Achievement, and apply the skills they have learned at the Intermediate School Craft Fair and Bake Sale.

    Spanish
    Students learn Spanish using a program that replicates the natural way children learn a language, focusing on listening and speaking skills. Our program uses symbol cards placed side by side and interpreted as full complex sentences from the very first lesson. Students see the symbols, listen to the words and understand the message. When seeing a string of symbol cards, they are naturally compelled to recall, interpret the message, and reveal it out loud by producing language. This last action causes the mind to store the information in long term memory. Students are active participants in the learning experience and the role of the teacher becomes that of a facilitator. While the focus is on fluency, students in the Intermediate School start getting introduced to the more abstract world of reading and writing the language.

    Because language and culture are interconnected, students at Old Trail experience Hispanic culture through music, literature, games, celebrations, cooking and eating, and through special guests from Spanish-speaking countries. Our hope is that by learning about different cultures students will gain a better understanding of the world around them and of themselves.

    Visual Arts
    With projects designed to enrich their studies in History and Science, students draw landscapes of prairie habitat, design a frontier quilt and build and weave with a simple loom. Through drawing students capture land- and cityscapes, the motion of carousel animals and the human figures. They build and decorate wire sculptures and coil pottery. They also explore printmaking, chalk pastel still life drawings, and origami. Throughout each project, students are able to creatively master a wide range of concepts including composition, symmetry, foreground and background, depth, texture, pattern, shape, color and contrast.

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  • Explore Grade 4 - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Become an expert by researching and presenting projects focused on regions of the United States.
    • Start, plan, market, run and analyze a small business venture by participating in the Intermediate School Craft Fair and Bake Sale.
    • Present an original poem in a unique Poetry Coffee House event for parents and friends.   
    • Perform tall tale stories for parents and peers. Create and write tall tale stories, which are published in a hard bound book. 
    • Write, create and perform tall tale stories and perform for a parents and peer audience. Stories are then published in a hard bound book. 
    • Perform foraudiences by singing and playing musical instruments.
    • Pursue outside-the-classroom learning opportunities in Spanish, visual arts, technology, music, library and media, service learning, physical education and swim.
    • Mentor Grade 1 students in a Pals Program that includes social interaction, leadership and service learning/creative activities.
    Language Arts
    In Grade 4, students continue their exploration of Word Study, Grammar, Writing and Reading. They polish their writing skills in a variety of projects including letters, superhero stories, small moment personal narratives, tall tales and various research projects. Students explore the structure of various poems and work on refining their handwriting. By reading realistic fiction, tall tales, historical fiction, fantasy, poetry, non-fiction and Newbery Award Winning novels, students are able to compare and contrast information, summarize important story elements and demonstrate comprehension. Through class discussions, students begin to extract meaning and imagery from these stories and gain experience in clearly communicating their thoughts and opinions.

    Math
    Students progress in their study of numbers to include story problems with fractions and multiple operations, and multi-digit multiplication. In algebra, students learn about prime and composite numbers, common factors and least-common multiples. They use bar models to solve advanced word problems.  In geometry, students construct, identify, draw and measure angles and shapes, then calculate area and perimeter. They create and interpret graphs, plot data, and identify range, mean, median and mode. Students also examine and express probability. With hands-on activities and games, students communicate, apply and master a wide range of mathematical concepts.

    Performing Arts
    Students continue to broaden their musical education with both a general music course and an additional specialty course in either strings or recorder. Students refine their skills in singing, mallet percussion, and movement.  Emphasis is given to composition and improvisation using Orff and Kodaly teaching methods.  Students also complete a world music unit covering international music and culture.  The annual fall/winter concert is a culmination of our general music performance unit.  The spring concert features strings and recorder performance. 

    Students will choose either beginning orchestra, for those interested in joining the orchestra in Grade 5, or a recorder course that serves as an introduction for students wishing to join the band. In general music, students read music, sing individually and in groups, and complete written tests to assess their knowledge of various concepts and composers. Recorder students progress through four levels, practicing tone, fingering, note and rhythm reading, and playing style. In the orchestra course, students learn proper technique and learn to play a wide range of notes. Students in both courses will perform for parents and peers in a concert setting.


    Physical Education & Swimming
    Students are introduced to a wide range of sports and activities. In gym classes, students play soccer, team handball, floor hockey, basketball and track and field. In our Red Cross swim program, students progress between Levels V to VI. Students refine strokes, turns, and racing dives in a swim meet environment. Students also complete safety and rescue swimming. They prepare for distance swimming and practice capsizing and re-entering a canoe.  In Grade 4, students are also invited to participate in competitive swim meets with other schools.

    Science
    Students complete six diverse units of study, gaining an in-depth understanding of each subject through extensive hands-on experimentation. In their study of weather, students chart wind forces and cloud formation. In other classroom lab activities, students compare and contrast the characteristics of sound and light—which includes dissecting a cow eye; test and evaluate soil samples; observe and analyze the function of wetland plants within the Living Machine; evaluate matter in its various forms;  and build, test, and discuss simple machines.

    Social Studies
    Region by region, students explore the rich history of the United States. They learn from a historical perspective, studying native people, European settlers, trading and early immigrant life. They learn about Abolitionists and the Women’s Rights movement. The year-long study introduces climates, resources, industry, culture and government. In addition to learning key facts, dates and geography,  students begin to evaluate and form opinions about what they’ve learned. They compare and contrast different aspects of these regions and reflect on various impacts and events.  With lessons in economics and entrepreneurship, students create their own businesses. Students work with partners or as individuals to create a product to sell at the Intermediate School Craft Fair & Bake Sale. They gain real-world experience with setting goals, planning, managing, budgeting, marketing, selling and evaluating profit and loss.
     
    Spanish
    Students learn Spanish using a program that replicates the natural way children learn a language, focusing on listening and speaking skills. Our program uses symbol cards placed side by side and interpreted as full complex sentences from the very first lesson. Students see the symbols, listen to the words and understand the message. When seeing a string of symbol cards, they are naturally compelled to recall, interpret the message, and reveal it out loud by producing language. This last action causes the mind to store the information in long term memory. Students are active participants in the learning experience and the role of the teacher becomes that of a facilitator. While the focus is on fluency, students in the Intermediate School start getting introduced to the more abstract world of reading and writing the language.
     
    Because language and culture are interconnected, students at Old Trail experience Hispanic culture through music, literature, games, celebrations, cooking and eating, and through special guests from Spanish-speaking countries. Our hope is that by learning about different cultures students will gain a better understanding of the world around them and of themselves.

    Visual Arts
    Students create thoughtful imaginative works that apply their knowledge of balance, positive and negative space and symmetry. They are introduced to the color wheel and experiment with analogous colors, hot and cold colors, tints, shades and tones. They also review the work of artists and photographers, such as Vincent Van Gogh and Ansel Adams. Students apply these lessons as they create abstract landscapes, prints and natural branch weavings.  Students study examples of Mexican pottery, build and paint their own terra cotta pots. Students weave on branch looms, using a variety of earth-toned yarns.

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  • Explore Grade 5 - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Experience hands-on learning during a three-day/two-night overnight class trip to the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center.
    • Mentor Kindergarten students in a Buddy program that includes social interaction, leadership and service learning opportunities and creative projects.
    • Apply real-world problem-solving in math and economics by participating in the Intermediate School Craft Fair and Bake Sale.   
    • Find inspiration in world cultures and history to create unique art projects.
    • Travel to other classrooms for instruction in Spanish, visual arts,  music, library and media, physical education and swim.   
    • Participate in book club or book talks as part of the reading program, aimed at fostering a love for independent pleasure book reading.
    • Engage in edible education cooking lessons to apply math skills and deepen understanding of literature, social studies and Mexican culture.
    Language Arts
    Students complete advanced lessons in word study, grammar and writing. As they complete a range of writing projects, including descriptive essays, students learn to focus their thinking, clarify sentence structure, and make effective word choices. They also learn revision strategies and edit the work of their peers.  

    Math
    Students move beyond the four basic math operations, adding fractions, decimals, percents, ratios and a range of advanced concepts to their knowledge base. In algebra, students write, simplify, and evaluate expressions, then use them to describe situations and solve problems. In geometry, students classify angles, dimensional shapes, and calculate surface area and volume. In a lesson on economics, students create a spreadsheet and analyze the cost of one of their hobbies. Using tactics such as diagrams, tables, and models, students learn to visualize equations. By developing these thinking and visualization strategies, students grow in their ability to solve real-world problems.  
     
    Performing Arts
    Students participate in either band, strings or choir. In these groups, students study basic technique of their instruments or voices, rhythm and note reading and learn to perform basic music vocabulary. The band, orchestra and choir demonstrate their range of musical learning with two evening performances throughout the year, as well as special venues like Tuesday Community Assemblies or Rubber Ducks baseball games. 

    Physical Education & Swimming
    Students continue to play and enjoy a wide range of sports and swim activities. In Grade 5 gym classes, students play tennis, volleyball, tsjoekball, softball, and participate in fitness, strength, and team-building activities. Students are evaluated by instructors based on participation, enthusiasm and skill checks.  In our Red Cross swim program, students progress through Level VIl, working on advanced skills, distance swimming technique and the terminology and rules for competitive swimming. Students also complete safety and rescue swimming and participate in a Buddy Swim with their Kindergarten buddies. In Grade 5, students are also invited to participate in competitive swim meets with other schools.

    Reading
    Students participate in Literature Circles that challenge them each to lead discussion and contribute thoughtful opinions. Students read mysteries based in the National Parks, dystopia/science fiction, historical and realistic fiction, presenting monthly book talks to their peers. Students also learn the art of group performance as they memorize and perform the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

    Science
    As they explore the world’s Rivers and Oceans, students enjoy many opportunities for hands-on learning. They test and analyze water samples, construct models and investigate the local watershed during a three-day stay at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. Students research, design, construct and test bridge structures. They investigate cell structures and body systems, the solar system, electricity and magnetism and complete a study of wolves. In each of these units, students investigate behaviors, collect and analyze data, and identify and explain functions. By participating in numerous unique labs, experiments and activities, students gain a richer understanding of the material.

    Social Studies
    As they study World Geography, students develop a genuine interest in the world around them. They explore environments, climates, resources, population, culture, religion, economy, government and human interaction. Students study all regions of the world and analyze and discuss the lifestyle similarities and differences between each region. Throughout the year students engage in the study of several Global Issues topics such as Water Resources, Standard of Living, Health, Human Rights, Globalization and Population Growth. Students also practice public speaking and demonstrate reflective thinking in weekly current event presentations.

    Spanish
    Students learn Spanish using a program that replicates the natural way children learn a language, focusing on listening and speaking skills. Our program uses symbol cards placed side by side and interpreted as full complex sentences from the very first lesson. Students see the symbols, listen to the words and understand the message. When seeing a string of symbol cards, they are naturally compelled to recall, interpret the message, and reveal it out loud by producing language. This last action causes the mind to store the information in long term memory. Students are active participants in the learning experience and the role of the teacher becomes that of a facilitator. While the focus is on fluency, students in the Intermediate School start getting introduced to the more abstract world of reading and writing the language.
     
    Because language and culture are interconnected, students at Old Trail experience Hispanic culture through music, literature, games, celebrations, cooking and eating, and through special guests from Spanish-speaking countries. Our hope is that by learning about different cultures students will gain a better understanding of the world around them and of themselves.
     
    Visual Arts
    Connecting art with their study of world cultures, students create Tibetan Mandalas and construct ugly jugs from clay mirroring those originally created by African people. They utilize digital technology in a photo collage and experiment with color and value, along with principles of art, to enhance their projects. Drawing inspiration from the works of professional artists including Klee and Hockney, students paint abstract towns, construct self portraits, make prints with various papers and inks, and sculpt with wire. Continuing an Old Trail tradition, students also build a whimsical woven hat from poultry netting, fabric and embellishments.

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Old Trail School is an independent day school (toddler through grade eight) located in the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.