Middle School Curriculum

DISTINCTIVE PROGRAMS

Service Learning
Ridgefield Academy’s Service Learning program combines community service opportunities with classroom lessons and advisory programs in order to teach civic responsibility, strengthen our school and neighboring communities, and enrich the academic experience. Through guest speaker events, field trips, organizational partnerships, and discussion groups, our Service Learning curriculum addresses broader citizenship matters ranging from hunger, poverty, and homelessness to developmental differences and environmental awareness. These programs encourage and empower students to become thoughtful, reflective citizens who are inspired to serve as active change agents in their community.

Ridgefield Academy’s Service Learning program differs from many schools in that our students are encouraged to find their own voice and use it for the good of others. Passion drives action, and when our students are passionate about a particular cause, they are more invested in the work needed to make a difference. Each year we ask students what changes they wish to make in the world, and help them create an action plan. Student-led programs such as our “Stop Hunger Now” school wide meal-packing event and cooking elective were born from our students’ passion to make a difference in their world. You can find a complete list of the many Service Learning activities our students engage in and our partner organizations here.

Writing Across the Disciplines
Developing strong written communication skills is a hallmark of a Ridgefield Academy education. By requiring our students to write across the curriculum, they develop strong writing skills through practice, and learn that writing is a way of learning. Writing helps students think through ideas and concepts and requires them to reflect and take ownership of the information gained.

Physical Education/Sport-Specific Program
In addition to engaging in fitness-based activities, Middle School students are introduced to the skill sets, strategies, and rules of the competitive sports offerings in Upper School. Our friendly Blue-White intramural program gives our Middle School students the exposure to the competitive nature of sport, while reinforcing the ideals of teamwork, accountability, integrity, and good sportsmanship.

Public Speaking Program
An important part of becoming a confident learner is mastering the tools to effectively communicate ideas to others. Ridgefield Academy’s public speaking program teaches communication skills beginning with our youngest grades. Middle School children engage in numerous activities that require them to use their public speaking skills, such as the Grade 4 monologues, the Egypt Fair presentation, the Grade 5 musical, the Socrates Trial, and many more activities. Every one of our graduates completes his or her educational journey at Ridgefield Academy with a personal reflection graduation speech that highlights the success of our public speaking program.

Food Service Program
Ridgefield Academy’s farm-to-cafeteria food program is a point of distinction. Chef Paul Desiano and his staff are dedicated to providing nutritious, locally grown lunches (when possible) for our students, and work each day to source available food for preparation on-site. In fact, over 90% of every mal is made from scratch at Ridgefield Academy. We believe learning how our food is grown and the way in which it nourishes our bodies is an important part of every child’s education. We encourage all children to try new foods and embrace new tastes in an effort to broaden a child’s knowledge and appreciation of food and help him or her become better prepared to make healthy choices in the future.

Every Monday the school participates in the nationwide “Meatless Monday” movement, and every Wednesday international cuisine is served. Children with food allergies are treated with care and kindness.

Egypt Fair
Each year, students in Grade 4 study the history and culture of ancient Egypt. As part of a cross-curricular history, language arts, and digital arts lesson, students select a particular aspect of Egyptian culture to research and then produce a Claymation scene using stop-motion animation with Drag-On software. All work is presented and celebrated in front of students and parents at the spring Egypt Fair.

Grade 4 Monologues
As part of our public speaking and theater program, students in Grade 4 select one-page monologues, which they commit to memory and perform alone on stage in front of their audience. Props are kept at a minimum to encourage expressive dramatization and acting skills.

Grade 5 Play
We believe that every child should experience the joy and teamwork of working together to put on a musical performance. Each year a junior version show is selected and Grade 5 students undergo try-outs for the various acting parts. Those who wish to contribute to scenery creation or technical needs such as lighting or sound are provided with those opportunities. The Grade 5 play is performed for the entire school and in the evening for our parent audience.

Socrates Trial
Students in Grade 5 hold mock trial of Socrates to determine if the Greek philosopher is guilty of corrupting the youth, exposing the weaknesses of Athens, and questioning the gods. Students are divided into an offense team, a defense team, Plato, lead attorneys, a judge, and a jury, and everyone has to do his or her job by presenting a speech that reflects his/her ‘side.’ Students are required to “think on their feet” and answer questions to support their case. After much debate, a verdict is declared.

Wellness Program – Digital Citizenship
The RA Wellness Plan covers Grades 5-8. Each grade focuses on age appropriate issues and is led by a mix of faculty and outside speakers.

Grade 5 students will explore the topic of Digital Citizenship. The focus is on digital communication while using a respective device whether it be a smart phone or a computer. Teaching children how to communicate appropriately, to have respect for others, to be an “upstander”, to keep personal information private, and to think before posting, texting, or sharing are topics of discussion. The aim is to teach students how to best navigate communication through these types of devices.

Core Programs

Language Arts

Grade 4
  • Comprehend on three levels: literal, inferential, and evaluative
  • Write informed responses to literature
  • Engage in group discussions
  • Build and apply vocabulary
  • Handwriting
  • Compose narrative and expository pieces
  • Increase reading fluency through reading and listening to literature within groups and whole class guided reading
  • Build grammar awareness through direct instruction and within the context of reading and writing

Grade 5
  • Comprehend on three levels: literal, inferential, and evaluative.
  • Integrate group discussion and writing in response to literature
  • Build and apply vocabulary
  • Handwriting
  • Write narrative and expository pieces
  • Comprehend and analyze literature
  • Understand word roots, prefixes, and suffixes
  • Enhance grammar skills

Math

Application and demonstration of understanding

Grade 4
  • Place value
  • Add and subtract to one million
  • Multiply by 1- and 2-digit numbers
  • Divide by 1- digit divisors.
  • Identify factors, multiples, and patterns
  • Fraction equivalence and comparison
  • Add, subtract, and multiply fractions
  • Relate fractions and decimals
  • Measurement
  • Two-dimensional figures, angles, perimeter, and area

Grade 5
ON-GRADE COURSE
  • Place Value, Multiplication, and Expressions
  • Divide Whole Numbers
  • Decimals: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
  • Fractions: multiplication and division, addition and subtraction with unlike denominators
  • Algebra: Patterns and Graphing
  • Convert Units of Measure
  • Geometry and Volume
ADVANCED COURSE
  • Integers
  • Factors and Multiples
  • Rational Numbers
  • Operations with fractions and decimals
  • Ratios and rates
  • Percentages
  • Numerical and algebraic expression
  • Equations and Relationships
  • Two variable relationships
  • Polygons and area
  • Distance and area on the coordinate plane
  • Surface area and volume of Solids
  • Displaying, analyzing, and summarizing data

Social Studies/History

Grade 4
  • Understanding society, government, and culture
  • Historical perspective on creating and building society locally and globally
  • Connecticut
  • Prehistoric People
  • Ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China

Grade 5
  • Connections to Grade 4 understandings
  • Student involvement in learning
    • collaborative
    • active
    • simulation
  • Ancient world cultures from 2800 BCE - 1200 CE (Greek, Roman, Germanic, Frankish, Anglo-Saxon, and Viking) and their historical, social, physical, religious, and governmental structure

Science

Grade 4
  • Hands-on experiential
  • Data collection and lab notebooks
  • Rocks and minerals, fossils, plate tectonics
  • Electricity and circuitry
  • Animal behavior and biology

Grade 5
  • Emphasis on doing Science
  • Plants
  • Properties of Matter
  • Nutrition
  • Light and Vision
  • Sound and Hearing
  • Simple Machines
  • Invention Process

World Languages

Active, participatory, engaged Speaking is critical Focus on culture in French/Spanish speaking countries

Grade 4
FRENCH
  • Vocabulary and grammar
  • Gender
  • Adjectives
  • Articles, definite and indefinite
  • Superlatives and negation
  • Pronouns
  • Conjugation of ER verbs, être
SPANISH
  • Pronunciation and vocabulary
  • Geography of Spanish-speaking countries
  • Basic grammar concepts
  • Masculine and feminine articles
  • Word order
  • Articles, definite and indefinite
  • Singular and plural forms
  • Pronouns
  • AR verbs: definitions and conjugation

Grade 5
FRENCH
  • Geography of France and French-speaking countries
  • Holidays, festivals, traditions, and art
  • Vocabulary and grammar: subject pronouns, definite and indefinite articles, adjective agreement
  • Present tense
SPANISH
  • Common phrases and vocabulary
  • Geography of Spain, Central and South America
  • More complex grammar structure and verbs
  • Telling timeLikes and dislikes
  • Gender and adjective agreement
  • Infinitives and stem-changing verbs

Art

Students receive exposure to a variety of media and are challenged to think and speak as artists.

Grade 4
  • Drawing using blocking major shapes & contour lines
  • Positive & negative space
  • Design elements
  • Contour lines with pastels as a gateway to successful paint strokes
  • Basic color theory: mixing
  • Sculptural masks tied to Egyptian funeral masks
  • Ceramics: pinch & coil methods
  • Print-making: mono prints and mixed media

Grade 5
  • Drawing and illustration basics through cartooning
  • Elements of design as choices to be made when planning a piece
  • Painting techniques in gouache
  • Sculpture on armature
  • Ceramics: slab creations, handle attachment, and underglazing techniques
  • Print-making: linoleum prints

Music

Exposure to performing arts/Experience and performance/Confidence with performance

Grade 4
CHORUS
  • Musical genre
  • Harmony and rhythm
  • Performance
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
  • Introduction to wind, brass, percussion instruments
  • Rhythm, pitch, note reading
  • Performance

Grade 5
CHORUS
  • Musical genre
  • Harmony and rhythm
  • Performance
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
  • Wind, brass, percussion instruments
  • Rhythm, pitch, note reading
  • Moderate band literature
  • Performance

Drama

Grade 4
  • Monologues: voice projection, stage presence, character interpretation, performance, confidence, public speaking

Grade 5
  • Improvisation
  • Writing and performing monologues
  • Greek theater history and Greek myths
  • Musical comedy
  • Musical stage performance

Technology

Grade 4
  • Keyboarding Skills
  • Introduction to the Google Suite (Email, Docs, Slides, etc.)
  • Basic Photoshop skills: Manipulating text (font, size, color, placement), drawing
  • Long term project: Egypt Fair
    • Claymation: Create set & characters, film movie
    • Movie making: Rehearse & memorize skit, film in front of green screen, create backgrounds
  • Animation: create individual components in PS, basic animation skills in Final Cut Pro x

Grade 5
  • Cross-curricular work with digital arts-based projects
  • File organization
  • Strong understanding of graphic design programs: file organization, layers
  • Basic understanding of film editing applications and editing process
  • Script-writing

Performances

Grade 4
  • Students participate in seasonal performances, such as the Grade 4 monologues, and cross-curricular class plays throughout the year.

Grade 5
  • Students participate in seasonal performances, such as the Grade 5 musical, and cross-curricular class plays throughout the year.

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