Our upper elementary students are coming into their own, as they grow in confidence and initiative.
In these grades, students delve into more challenging academics, and become skillful practitioners of independence who can self-advocate, resolve conflicts, take risks, demonstrate their knowledge, and successfully collaborate.
We integrate a variety of strategies to promote childrens’ developing literacy. The reader’s and writer’s workshop model is a framework for instruction that employs whole and small group instruction, independent work, and customized lessons tailored to each student’s level of learning and performance. As in a workshop, space is opened for students to explore a variety of literature and writing styles.
We work to intstill a love of reading in our literature-based curriculum through exposure to new genres and digging deeper into texts. Students work in small, flexible groups as they focus on a variety of reading comprehension strategies. They delve into explorations of character, plot, theme, and learn to communicate their understanding of literature texts both orally and through writing. Reading formats include self-selected books, class read-alouds, and small book-club groups.
Students explore a variety of writing styles including narrative, opinion, and information pieces that frequently connect to social studies, science, and service learning themes. In developing their communication skills, they learn to create effective introductions, conclusions, and paragraphs; expand ideas with detail; and use descriptive vocabulary as they pre-write, draft, edit, and revise their work. Through the workshop process, teachers hold one-to-one writer’s conferences to assist students in setting goals to further their writing ability.
Vocabulary and Spelling
To enable students to think more critically about words and work on transferring their skills to reading and writing, grade levels use curriculum that best suits their abilities to dissect language, develop and transfer new vocabulary, observe spelling patterns, and improve word recognition speed.
Our goal for math instruction is to provide smaller math classes to allow for the highest level of differentiation. Beginning in second grade, a third math teacher is included. Using assessment, observation, and input from homeroom teachers, students are "clustered" to allow for complementary groupings based on learning style, social dynamics, and skills development. This smaller cluster model allows teachers to offer support and enrichment to each individual student, while also ensuring appropriate levels of stretch and pacing. Using EnVision Math as a core curriculum, teachers also pull from various sources to supplement and enrich math instruction as they see fit.
Grades 3-5 Social Studies is focused on the exploration of our nation and of Washington state. Third grade students begin with the overall themes of immigration, community diversity, economics, and citizenship.
Fourth and fifth graders engage in an in-depth study of Washington State and the United States, respectively, that includes geography, Native American culture, history and current issues. An example of a special project focus is the fifth graders’ production of individual “state websites” based upon extensive research of a state of their choice.
Science at Villa is hands-on! Throughout the year, we incorporate Villa’s expansive campus as an outdoor learning lab, where the garden, orchards, woodlands, and other resources enhance learning in all science topics. The internationally benchmarked Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a central component of our program. They comprise a global set of skills that guide science education, with a focus on developing cognitive skills rather than memorizing facts.
Using the FOSS core curriculum, our lessons incorporate inquiry-based instruction and STEM principles. We also incorporate whole class discussion, analyzing and interpreting data, writing in science journals, and role play to enhance children’s understanding of scientific concepts. From studies in Earth, Physical, and Life Science, students engage in all four steps of the scientific method.
Learn more about Villa’s approach to STEM education
MakerSpace and Computer Lab
In the MakerSpace, the power of hands-on learning is evident as students progress through the five steps of the engineering process - Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Test, and Improve - in designing 3D projects with a variety of materials.
In the computer lab, students build computer literacy and skills including: basics of computer operations, working in a variety of applications, web research for multimedia presentations, introductory robotics, and three weeks of coding.
In the immersion study of Spanish, students use the language to express themselves. In a fun, active, and participatory environment, they learn through repetition, songs, games, and even physical movement to develop oral comprehension and facilitate language acquisition and retention. Grades 3-5 progress in their ability to read and write in Spanish.
The goal of our library program is to develop students who value learning and can apply the skills, strategies, and processes to be independent users of information as they:
Our approach to social emotional learning is central to a Villa education and is woven throughout every day and across all grade levels.
Mother Cabrini and her legacy of compassion is central to students’ spiritual growth and incorporates social emotional and service learning. Students learn about God’s grace, explore the story of Jesus through the Gospels, and come to understand the role of the Catholic Church as a community. A special focus of study are the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. Students experience the many forms of prayer, attend school wide liturgies, and are responsible for planning and playing an active role in one liturgy per year.
We promote the importance of regular year-round Physical Education for a lifelong healthy lifestyle. Students visit the gym twice weekly.
3-5 students hold open houses and special events where they present their project knowledge to our community. Younger students are teamed with 4-5 students who become their mentors and special friends through our Buddy Program. Students participate in school events like the Halloween Parade and perform at Christmas concerts, and take part in the rich offerings of our after school programs.
Beyond the school community, students participate in the wider community through service learning throughout the year.