Interactive Curriculum Matrix
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curriculum across all grades.
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At Berkwood Hedge students become lifelong readers who engage deeply with literature and develop a passion for reading and learning. At every grade level read alouds provide a joyful language experience.
Building on kindergarteners' appreciation for reading and listening to stories, children practice comprehension strategies such as retelling a story, asking questions, and making connections to their own lives and other books they know.
They learn about literary genres such as non-fiction, folktales, biography, and poetry. Studying the work of authors such as Eric Carle as well as Brian and Andrea Pinkney helps students begin to notice writing style and content variations. Language skills are taught in context and include concepts about print, letter recognition and phonemic awareness.
First Grade Reading
Development of comprehension strategies continues, as picture books, easy readers, and beginning chapter books provide opportunities for students to share text-to-text and self-to-text connections. Buddy reading, guided reading, and oral reading experiences strengthen reading fluency, and students learn to select "just right books" for independent reading.
Genre studies focus on memoir, non-fiction and poetry. Studying authors, such as Brian Wildsmith, provides a model as students write and illustrate their own stories. Phonemic awareness skills are taught through individual, mini-and whole class lessons.
Second Grade Reading
Students add making inferences, summarizing, and critical thinking to their growing repertoire of comprehension strategies. Increasingly independent, second graders transition from picture books to chapter books as a rich classroom library provides a wide range of reading choices.
Read-aloud sessions help build oral fluency, while experiencing poetry, descriptive writing, non-fiction and memoir strengthen breadth. Author studies of Patricia Polacco and Faith Ringgold provide interdisciplinary opportunities to integrate art activities and thoughtful conversations about community and social justice into the curriculum.
Third Grade Reading
The emphasis for these firmly independent readers is now on in-depth sharing of thoughts, ideas and opinions about literature. In book group and full-class discussions, students call on a range of comprehension strategies including inference and synthesis and develop the skills and vocabulary to discuss their reading.
Now familiar genres of biography, poetry, and memoir are revisited and more deeply explored. Author studies of Alan Say and Sandra Cisneros spark oral, artistic, dramatic, and written interpretive responses to texts.
Fourth Grade Reading
Through reading longer and more complex chapter books, students begin to understand how story elements like setting, characters and plot contribute to the meaning of the text. They solidify the use of comprehension strategies to help critically interpret texts.
Student-led book clubs foster a love for reading and provide an opportunity to share and discuss books with a reading community of peers. An extensive classroom library allows students the opportunity to engage with many different literary genres. Memoir and historical fiction are highlighted.
Fifth Grade Reading
In conjunction with developing research skills, students focus on comprehension strategies for understanding informational text. They learn to draw interpretations from text and support their conclusions with textual evidence.
Using guided and free choice reading selections, students reflect on their own experiences with characters in a variety of literary genres, including the novel, biography and autobiography, the short story, and non-fiction essays. Oral reading experiences continue to strengthen fluency and help students hear the natural rhythm and cadence of language.
The writing program at Berkwood Hedge emphasizes the process of writing and builds upon the students own abilities to communicate their thoughts, feelings and observations. They discuss their own work as serious writers with members of their classroom writing community.
Writer's Workshop is introduced as a special time for exploring ideas and words through drawing and writing. Inspired by their own lives, as well as favorite authors, students begin to understand the craft of writing. They develop confidence as they write, illustrate, and share their thinking and stories. Letter/sound knowledge and phonemic awareness develop as children write daily. Letter formation and beginning spelling skills are taught through individual and small group lessons in the context of Writer's Workshop.
First Grade Writing
Daily writing experiences in first grade continue to build students' confidence and ability to communicate as writers. Touchstone texts provide inspiration, and students share their writing in small groups. Regular publishing provides a wider audience for writing. First graders build their vocabulary using word lists, acquire spelling strategies, and learn the spelling of frequently used words. Regular handwriting practice continues.
Second Grade Writing
Students continue to deepen their understanding of the writing process. They begin to write for a larger audience and develop increased fluency. The concepts of revision and editing are introduced as second graders prepare poetry, fiction, and non-fiction pieces for some form of publication. Students use individual spelling dictionaries and make use of the word wall for spelling of commonly used words. Handwriting practice continues.
Third Grade Writing
Continuing to develop a sense of themselves as thoughtful writers and members of a responsive, literate community, students learn to write with a sense of purpose and begin to use writing as a tool for thinking. A third grade on-line blog extends the writer's audience beyond the classroom. The Spellwell spelling program provides a structured approach to spelling rules and word families. Cursive writing is introduced.
Fourth Grade Writing
Taking inspiration from literature, students explore various ways to write about the same topic, becoming more sophisticated editors and publishing their writing in a variety of genres. In studying the craft of authors such as Jane Yolen and Nikki Grimes, students learn to "read as writers" and use touchstone texts as models for their own writing. Through the Words Their Way spelling program, students learn to recognize spelling patterns and use spelling strategies. Cursive practice continues.
Fifth Grade Writing
In preparation for middle school, students learn writing formats that are used in higher education. Expository writing is the focus, with three research reports providing exposure and practice. One research method is introduced, providing students with the tools to assemble a paper based on the findings of others. The Writer's Notebook is used frequently to explore topics of personal interest. Memoir and poetry are incorporated into the creative writing program. Vocabulary and spelling continue to develop through writing experiences and the use of the Wordly Wise program.
At Berkwood Hedge, mathematical learning encompasses a wide variety of constructivist-based activities that emphasize discovery, strong development of mathematical reasoning, problem solving, collaboration, and communication skills, in addition to computational strategies. Teaching is based on developmentally appropriate concepts and deep mathematical understanding. Students are encouraged to develop a wide variety of efficient mathematical strategies. Mathematical thinking is woven throughout the day and integrated into many curriculum areas so children experience math in real life contexts. It is our goal to help our students develop a life long appreciation and curiosity for mathematics.
Mathematics is exciting, tactile, and integrated into real life with questions such as, "How do we divide snack equally among 20 children?" or "How many students are there in the kindergarten and first grade combined?"
In their study of penguins, students measure, count, sort, estimate, and solve penguin family story problems. Tools like the math rack counting frame encourage children to work with the structure of five and ten for addition and subtraction and help build strong number sense. Time is spent looking for patterns and relationships, which leads to higher algebraic thinking.
First Grade Mathematics
Continuing to tie math to real-life situations and other classroom studies, first-graders explore math concepts of compensation and equivalency using a double-decker bus model.
Children investigate multiplication while playing dice games and building multiplication arrays. Number sense is strengthened as students put together and take apart numbers to 100 as well as count by 2s, 5s, and 10s. They begin to solve double-digit addition problems, use non-standard units to measure length and weight, and identify and compare geometric shapes. Building a variety of strategies and articulating mathematical thinking is encouraged.
Second Grade Mathematics
Using a variety of problem solving strategies, students begin to choose efficient math strategies based on a problem's requirements. They articulate their thinking, orally and in writing when solving problems.
An annual "Bike to School and Work Day" lends itself to surveys, data collection, and analysis. Students delve deeper into double-digit addition and subtraction and read, write, and order numbers to at least 1000. They explore geometry concepts through creating patchwork quilt blocks.
Third Grade Mathematics
Students develop a solid understanding of place value and learn to look to the numbers to decide what strategy is most efficient when solving a math problem.
Working in small groups, they create an imaginary village populated by centimeter tall creatures. Together they build an understanding of area, perimeter, multiplication, estimation, and measurement. A strong number sense supports their development of computational fluency with addition and subtraction facts. They read, write, order, and compare numbers to 1000. Students develop and use multiplication facts up to 10x10.
Fourth Grade Mathematics
Using both written and mental strategies, skills, and concepts to solve problems, students work independently and collaboratively, and take risks as mathematicians. Working in groups, they solve problems and share their thinking with the whole class during math congresses. They create illustrative posters to explain their mathematical thinking.
Computational fluency grows out of an established number sense. Based on a strong conceptual understanding of fractions, students add and subtract common fractions, and learn to convert simple fractions into decimals and percents, tying these skills into the study of probability.
Fifth Grade Mathematics
At this level students know that math is about exploring patterns and relationships using a variety of strategies, skills, and concepts. One of the highlights of the year is the Fudge Factory Adventure Project, focusing on 2- and 3-dimensional models and incorporating problem solving, spatial reasoning, arithmetic with decimal numbers, art, and presentation skills. By the completion of fifth grade, students are proficient using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division algorithms with whole numbers, decimals and fractions. They apply their mathematical knowledge and skills to solve problems arising from a variety of situations with confidence and persistence, and they think algebraically.
Social Studies Overview
Berkwood Hedge's social studies program integrates many aspects of the curriculum, inviting learners to explore content in a variety of ways, defining and investigating problems important to them and their communities. As children move through Berkwood Hedge, their investigations grow both geographically and sequentially with their own expanding understanding of the world and their places in it. Students learn to value themselves as individuals and as members of a group in which each person's voice can be heard and respected. They become active, responsible, and involved community members who are advocates for equality, social justice, and peace.
Kindergarten Social Studies
Students explore the rich diversity of the world by sharing their home cultures with classmates. Stories, discussions, and playtime help develop an understanding of friendship and peaceful conflict resolution and build the skills of empathy and understanding. During a interdisciplinary study of animals, kindergarteners draw habitats, learn about birds and mammals, create maps, talk about pets, count and group animals, listen to stories, read, dictate, and write. A life study of Alvin Ailey sparks conversations about collaboration and artistic endeavors, and a year long service learning project at the North Berkeley Senior Center strengthens community ties and provides an inter-generational experience.
First Grade Social Studies
The concept of community grows as students examine Berkwood Hedge, our immediate neighborhood, the Bay Area, and the larger world. They begin to develop an understanding of interconnections, and their own personal roles and responsibilities as members of various communities, including the natural world. Studying the contributions made by Henry David Thoreau and Rachel Carson, children examine and create maps of the various communities they study. As stewards of their own classroom and schoolyard, first graders provide school leadership for clean-up and recycling projects.
Second Grade Social Studies
Forming an appreciation of life on this planet is encouraged through literature, art projects, field trips, writing, and other group explorations. Students read about and discuss families, examining differences and similarities among traditions represented in class as well as worldwide. They examine and make connections between animal and human societies, with a focus on woodland habitat, owls, dogs, and ants. Children explore concepts of geography as they learn about their own and nearby cities. Second graders are actively involved in an annual "Bike to School and Work Day" They graph school-wide participation, create bike routes, learn about bicycle maintenance, and ride to school together.
Third Grade Social Studies
Students make personal connections to national, state, and local issues through units that focus on government, physical and cultural geography, habitats and sustainability. A study of the life of Cesar Chavez provides the context for an understanding of labor history and civil rights. A field trip to a local organic farm provides an opportunity to understand how food is grown in a sustainable manner and the importance of farms to our society. Involvement with a local Food Security Project helps students reflect on their own contributions toward environmental and world stewardship. Geography studies cover mapping skills with a focus on local and world geography.
Fourth Grade Social Studies
Themes of power and conflict emerge as students study the history and geography of California, beginning with Native Californians, through Spanish colonization, to the Gold Rush and immigration. They begin to analyze history and current events through the interaction of culture, power, environment, and diversity using primary sources, historical fiction, local field trips, and an extended Living History field trip. Student consider different perspectives of Californians involved in water rights issues and role play them in a historical debate over the extension of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. California geography comes to life in a relief map-making project.
Fifth Grade Social Studies
American history, from the earliest times to the Age of Exploration, colonization, and the Revolutionary War, is examined through the issues that brought people to this continent and led them to stay; the problems that divided our nation, both racial and economic, and the resulting course that the United States took in national and international matters. Students make connections between the issues that confronted this nation then and now. U.S. geography knowledge is demonstrated through the cooperative creation of a relief map featuring the five themes of geography.
A week-long trip to a program emphasizing human relations, diversity awareness, and conflict resolution provides essential skills for living in an increasingly complex society.
The Berkwood Hedge science program engages students in developing a passion and curiosity for the practice of science. Children use the scientific process to explore the world, ask questions, and discover answers to their investigations. Through creative hands-on experiences and activities in classrooms, the garden, and our community, children become scientific inquirers who incorporate curiosity and critical thinking into their daily lives. In the early grades, the focus is on observation, inquiry and exploratory experiences. In the older grades, students build on these experiences and begin to utilize the scientific method by designing and implementing their own experiments. In addition, our experiential K-5 environmental science class, taught by a science specialist, introduces students to the ecology of gardens focusing upon life cycles and structures of plants and animals. Children learn about worm composting and the nutrient cycle while caring for the garden.
- Five Senses
- Physical Characteristics of Animals
- Life cycles of plants/animals
- Worm Composting
- Eggs/Chick Development
- Matter: Solids, Liquids, & Gases
First Grade Science
- Five Senses
- Life Cycles (Insects, Amphibians)
- Animal Predator/ Prey Relationships
- Animal Adaptations
- Food Chains & Food Webs
- Matter: Solids, Liquids & Gases
Second Grade Science
- Animal Migration
- Life Cycles
- Symbiotic Relationships - Ants/Aphids
- Seed germination & growth
- Soil Science - composition & properties of soil types
- Fossils & Bones
Third Grade Science
- Organisms & adaptation
- Environmental changes
- Natural resources - renewable and non renewable
- Measurement (Metric System)
- Energy - forms & transformations
- Alternative Energy: Wind & Solar Energy
Fourth Grade Science
- Microscope Investigations
- Native Plants
- Marsh Habitats
- Watersheds & Pollution
- Water Cycle & Properties of Water
- Solar System
- Electricity & Magnetism
- Designing experiments using dependent & independent variables
- Partner investigations
Human Growth & Development
- Human Anatomy
- Human Reproduction
Fifth Grade Science
- Plant & Animal Cellular Structures & Systems
- The Human Body
- Pollution & Bioaccumulation
- Water & Weather
- Wetlands - environmental role, restoration, & development
- Elements, Atoms, Molecules & the Periodic Table
- Heat & Convection
- Alternative Energy
- Conducting research projects through controlled experiments & investigations for Science Fair projects
Human Growth & Development:
- Human Anatomy
- Human Reproduction