General Studies

Children spend half their days in General Studies and the other half in Hebrew/Judaic Studies. Students in all grades have classes in art, music, P.E., technology (grades 2-4), library, and science. We have a separate science classroom with two science teachers.

CURRICULUM BY GRADE

Click the grade levels below for a detailed look at the Ramaz Lower School General Studies curriculum.

Grade 1

First grade is a year of amazing discoveries and a time when children learn so many new things. Children begin first grade with a wide range of skill levels, and each child receives instruction at his or her level. It is a year where children transition to a more structured learning environment, and develop a sense of responsibility and independence. In addition to the academic curriculum, we also focus on the social and emotional development of each child. We strive to instill a love of learning in each child and work to create a safe and supportive first grade experience.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Our first grade reading curriculum helps students become enthusiastic and fluent readers. We incorporate children’s literature as well as phonics to teach the structure of the English language. Each child learns to make personal connections to literature in order to deepen comprehension, choose appropriate books, and become a more thoughtful and fluent reader.

MATHEMATICS

Our first grade mathematics program highlights the importance of number relationships, knowledge of facts, and a solid understanding of mathematical concepts. Children are taught strategies for finding sums and differences, and they can arrive at the correct solution in multiple ways. Our classrooms are equipped with manipulatives to help students understand more complex mathematical concepts. Children add to make larger quantities, and break numbers apart into smaller numbers. They also learn to estimate, explore shapes, begin telling time, count money, and use graphs to organize data. First grade students work in small groups discovering the structure of the number system, numerical relationships, addition and subtraction, and graphing and measurement. Using manipulative materials as the foundation, students compose and decompose numbers and become aware of mathematical patterns and generalizations. Students use graphic organizers and symbols to represent problem situations. Math games are played to develop flexibility in thinking and fluency with basic facts. Curriculum and methods of instruction are differentiated to meet the needs of every student.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Our social studies curriculum includes the study of current events, the study of Jewish and American holidays, map skills, needs and wants, and goods and services. The children also learn all about communities. We begin the year thinking about our classroom as a very small yet vibrant community, continue with our larger school community, and ultimately the children explore our neighborhood community. The children learn about the people that live in our community and how they work every day to keep it safe, happy, and beautiful.

SCIENCE

Through hands-on investigations, first-grade students discover and understand the properties of water that make it vital to living things and our planet. Students experience what happens as water changes phase through freezing, melting, and evaporating and use different materials to explore buoyancy. By handling and closely observing sea stars, urchins, seahorses, and other marine life, students learn about the ocean and begin to understand what a habitat is and what a habitat provides for living things. Students watch as live insects go through their life cycles and connect this learning to the idea that all living things grow and change. In learning about their own bodies, students investigate human digestion, focusing on how the food we eat gives us energy and changes as it passes through our bodies. Throughout the year, students practice using their senses and science measurement tools to make detailed observations of their surroundings, describing and illustrating findings in their personal science journals.

ART

The first grade art program presents the concepts of foreground, background, and composition in an assortment of drawing and painting projects. Students study the great masters such as Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Seurat. For example, the children learn to identify primary and secondary colors and explore the mixing and blending of colors. They learn about the artworks of Georges Seurat and the phenomenon of optical mixing that is Pointillism. Students practice pointillism on small sheets of paper, creating patches of dots that mix optically. They draw a still life onto fine sandpaper using wax crayons. A warm iron is then used to transfer the design onto paper. The texture of the sandpaper is picked up by the transfer, giving the composition the impression of Pointillism.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing, programs and music appreciation. They meet weekly where they learn the basic musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, form and singing on key. Through vocal exercises and song, they explore the different ways in which they can use their voices for singing. Many songs are introduced through body percussion, encouraging students to feel the music. Through movement and playing with non-pitched percussion instruments, they learn the basic concepts of rhythm. Students develop performance confidence as they learn prayer-related songs and prepare for their Chag Ha-Siddur.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and cultural days of significance. First Grade is a special year in which the students have the opportunity to attend and participate in the weekly Lower School Friday Oneg Shabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel. Additionally, students apply their listening and musical movement skills as they are exposed to various styles of music, including selections by famous composers. Students also develop their listening skills by learning to sing in basic two-part canon/round.

LIBRARY

Students visit the library once a week for a read-aloud, followed by guided book selection. First-graders particularly love our Fairy Tale unit and the books we read in celebration of the American and Jewish holidays. Reading aloud helps develop the auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills necessary for 21st-century learners. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences. First-grade students participate in the annual Lower School Book Day, in which the entire student body explores literature through interdisciplinary activities based on one featured book.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Our goal in first grade is to emphasize good sportsmanship and teamwork through a variety of cooperative games. Students learn movement concept skills such as locomotor skills, non-locomotor skills, and body management skills.

Grade 2

Second graders continue to develop foundational skills to help them acquire greater learning proficiency and independence as they progress in their education. Teachers foster the students’ natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. Students are aided in applying knowledge to new contexts, thinking critically, accepting new responsibilities, constructively using unstructured time, and taking time and pride in their work.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Using a wide repertoire of decoding strategies, students begin to make sense of chapter books and other more complex reading materials, including nonfiction and mysteries. They get pleasure from working on reading with expression and deepening their comprehension; students write complete sentences and go through the writing process to generate outlines, drafts, and paragraphs to express specific ideas. They also work on developing their proofreading skills and editing and revising their own work using checklists. The students' vocabulary and acquisition of language expand as they practice retelling and summarizing. Their critical thinking skills grow as they recognize a growing number of story elements and learn the differences between various genres of literature.

MATHEMATICS

Students work with problem-solving models, charts, and patterns to develop strategies and deepen their understanding of number concepts. They develop their critical thinking skills by working in peer groups and using logic and visual thinking to apply what they are learning to real-life situations. Students use technology to help them illustrate and solve problems. They expand on their knowledge base by using manipulatives such as base ten blocks, clocks, and geometric shapes and solids.

Math is taught in small groups where students develop critical thinking skills and the ability to articulate their reasoning. Using tools such as number lines and base ten blocks that represent the structure of the number system, students discover numerical patterns and develop a solid conceptual base for number operations as well as geometry, representing data and measurement. Students use multiple methods to solve traditional and open-ended problems. Students use graphic organizers such as model drawing for problem solving. They expand on this knowledge base by using technology to explain, illustrate, and solve problems. Curriculum and methods of instruction are differentiated to meet the needs of every student.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Students study the different communities to which they belong, orienting themselves to their neighborhood, city, state, and country by using maps. They compare and contrast urban, suburban, and rural communities in a variety of ways, including Venn diagrams and community collages. The students focus on New York City, visiting the Hudson and East Rivers, and complete an authentic and integrated research project on New York City landmarks. Students also study the diverse kinds of people who populate our city by exploring cultural enclaves.

SCIENCE

Students begin their year in science exploring the living and non-living components of soil, the role of earthworms in keeping soil healthy, and the actions that move and change rocks. Using this knowledge, students carry out an inquiry investigation in which they plant seeds in different types of soil and monitor growth. Through hands-on activities with cars, ramps, and falling objects, students begin to build accurate understandings of force, balance, and motion and engage in relevant engineering and construction projects. During this unit of study, students use scientific tools to practice their measurement skills in both the customary and metric systems. To help them understand their own bodies better, students learn how oxygen and other materials move around the body through the human circulatory and respiratory systems. Throughout the year, students practice their observational and questioning skills and document their work in personal science journals.

TECHNOLOGY

Formal technology classes begin in second grade. Students use laptops or tablets that are brought into their classrooms for weekly computer classes. The technology is formally introduced as a productivity and learning tool. Students learn special-purpose keys on the keyboard and are introduced to technology management and organization. Classes are project-based to enhance and augment the classroom curriculum. Students create projects that introduce them to basic word processing functions and screencasting, as well as locating, moving and resizing images. They are introduced to FASTT Math, an adaptive technology to help students develop math fact fluency and automaticity; students continue to use this software at home throughout the year. Students practice responsible use and care of technology systems and learn about proper digital citizenship. Each classroom has a SMART Board that interacts with a teacher’s computer and iPad as well as a printer. Students’ laptops and iPads are also available on a sign-out basis by classroom teachers.

ART

The Grade 2 art program builds on skills presented in Grade 1. Students learn about artists Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Peter Max, and Romare Bearden. Students observe that artists use lines to make patterns, shapes, and symbols, while writers use them to form letters, words, and numbers. Many of the art projects are integrated into the children’s social studies curriculum, based on New York City. Students create a paper collage of the New York City skyline inspired by the art of Bearden. They develop an understanding of landmarks as symbols of New York City. This is incorporated into the skyline composition. The children get inspired by the Pop artist Peter Max and incorporate his style as they paint their own versions of the Statue of Liberty.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing, programs and music appreciation. They meet weekly where they learn the basic musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, form and singing on key. Through vocal exercises and song, they build on what they learned in Grade 1 and explore the different ways in which they can use their voices for singing. They continue to sing basic two-part canon/round. Many songs are introduced through body percussion, encouraging students to feel the music.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and cultural days of significance. Students enjoy a weekly Lower School Friday OnegShabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel, creating a sense of community through music.

The first semester focuses on preparation for the Chag HaChumash where the students learn and prepare Torah-related songs, include basic harmony, and hone their singing and performance skills. During the second semester, students develop their listening skills as they learn about the instruments that make up an orchestra, and how they are classified into families. Students are exposed to various styles of music, including selections by famous composers, and are encouraged to apply their new knowledge of orchestral instruments. As students study a unit on New York in their general studies classes, they learn and perform a medley of New York songs.

LIBRARY

Students visit the library once a week for a read-aloud, followed by guided book selection. To help students develop an appreciation for the creative expression of ideas, in second grade we explore a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Reading aloud helps develop the auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills necessary for 21st-century learners. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences. Second-grade students participate in the annual Lower School Book Day, in which the entire student body explores literature through interdisciplinary activities based on one featured book.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Second-graders work on throwing, catching, kicking, and passing skills during our organized sports units. A big emphasis is put on different cooperative games; these games emphasize teamwork, sharing, and helping others through physical activity.

Grade 3

Third-grade students are encouraged to expand their love for the printed word. As such, they are exposed to a variety of reading materials and asked to write in a variety of styles. They develop skills in estimating, measuring, and predicting data. The material students learn in school is reviewed and enriched through long-term projects and independent assignments, as well as through homework.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Distinguishing between such genres as historical fiction, informational, poetry, and nonfiction, students develop a love for many types of literature. They learn to identify parts of stories to enforce contextual skills and reading comprehension. Studying word roots and working with vocabulary units help improve word usage and spelling. Through prewriting conferences, students gain facility and comfort with using figurative and descriptive language in their writing. Mini-lessons on sentence and paragraph structure are part of learning the writing process. Students learn to research various sources and how to organize and report the information. They work on their penmanship, learning cursive handwriting. Through oral reports, students strengthen their oral communication skills.

MATHEMATICS

Working with manipulatives, such as blocks and counters, students learn to read and write numbers through one thousand and begin comparing fractions and using factors to multiply. Students learn how to properly use the multiplication table through problems, games, and flashcards. They learn basic division and how it relates to the operations of multiplication and subtraction. They begin the study of fractions using clocks, money, and number lines. A graphing unit teaches students how to record data and display it on a variety of charts.

SCIENCE

Third-grade learning in science begins with an exploration of Earth’s place in our solar system and the relationship between Earth and the Sun. From here, students investigate how the Sun and other environmental factors affect weather and learn specific vocabulary words to describe daily conditions. Students learn to use and read thermometers, in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit, as well as weather forecasts, while they collect, graph, and analyze weather data to identify patterns and make decisions. Working collaboratively, students engage in an engineering activity that requires them to design solutions that reduce the impacts of weather-related hazards. Students also use models and hands-on materials to visualize the rotation and revolution of the Earth, in addition to the phases of the Moon. Shifting our focus to life sciences, students identify and investigate adaptations and structures of life that help living things survive in their specific environments. Students practice their observational drawing skills as they examine crayfish and document their findings. Taking an inquiry approach, students learn about photosynthesis and the needs of plants by varying conditions and measuring growth. Their study of adaptations is extended as students investigate the nervous system and the human structures that allow us to respond to our environment and continue to survive. Throughout the course of the year, students practice and refine their observational and measurement skills and record their ideas in personal science journals.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Students study India in depth as a sample world community, developing such skills as map and globe reading and building their geography vocabulary. Students begin to develop a familiarity with world geography, and learn to relate climate and other physical conditions to the development of human culture. Through projects, class bulletin boards, museum trips, and role-playing, students begin to understand worlds that are radically different from their own. Students also learn basic historic chronology by placing events on timelines, and study current events to learn that history is still going on around them today.

ART

Third-grade students begin to develop an understanding of the personal and cultural forces that shape artistic communication. Art is integrated into the social studies program as students explore art and artifacts from India to discover the role that it plays in the lives of the people of India. They learn about the culture of India through a craft workshop where students choose a project to work on. The crafts may include cummerbunds, Mendi hand painting, friendship bracelets, trinket boxes, sand design, and rangoli mat designs. Students make papier-mâché globes as they learn about the continents in their general studies classrooms. They explore color theory through a unit on warm and cool colors in the beginning of the school year, when the autumn leaves are changing colors. They learn about Impressionism and the art of Claude Monet to inspire their landscape compositions. Students learn to portray details, depict action, use different vantage points, and plan their use of visual qualities to express ideas and feelings. Art activities develop flexibility and problem-solving skills in two- and three-dimensional media and art forms.

TECHNOLOGY

In the third grade, students have a formal computer class once per week, with access to laptops and tablets on a sign-out basis by classroom teachers. Each classroom has a SMART Board that interacts with a teacher’s computer and iPad as well as a printer. Computer classes are project-based and are integrated with classroom curriculum. Students learn to use developmentally appropriate digital resources such as digital maps, subscription databases, and websites selected by teachers. Students increase their knowledge of word processing functions and are introduced to presentation applications. Students are introduced to keyboarding and use online software to practice keyboarding at home. They continue using FASTT Math at home, an online adaptive technology to help students develop math fact fluency and automaticity. They practice responsible use and care of technology systems and learn about proper digital citizenship.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing, programs and music appreciation. They meet weekly where they learn the basic musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, form and singing on key. Through vocal exercises and song, they build on what they learned in Grade 2 and explore the different ways in which they can use their voices for singing.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and cultural days of significance. Students enjoy a weekly Lower School Friday OnegShabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel, creating a sense of community through music.

Students are exposed to various styles of music, including selections by famous composers. Students also start to learn the basic foundation of rhythm notation, and can recognize note values. Students work to create rhythm patterns based on a 4/4 time signature. They further study orchestral instruments and texture and deepen their ability to sing canon/rounds. Students enjoy Friday afternoon Shabbat assemblies and special programs, including concerts linked with a particular Chag or calendar event.

LIBRARY

21st-century learners need to be able to find, evaluate, and select the appropriate source to answer a question. In third grade, therefore, the focus in the library program shifts to beginning research skills and to helping students become more independent users of the library and its resources, both print and online. We continue to read aloud to further develop the auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences. Third-grade students participate in the annual Lower School Book Day, in which the entire student body explores literature through interdisciplinary activities based on one featured book.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

In third grade we divide the year between sports and cooperative games. Students learn and refine their throwing, catching, passing, and hitting skills by practicing and playing the games of volleyball, basketball, jump rope, kickball, and handball. We integrate math, vocabulary, and spelling into our activities, helping connect P.E. to the classroom.

Grade 4

Students in the fourth grade are proficient in reading, writing, and mathematics. As such, they spend time honing their basic skills in all study areas to prepare them for the more critical and analytical work of the upper elementary grades. Through group work and research projects, students progress in their ability to work with one another and to interact socially.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Students work on identifying central ideas and related details, as well as distinct literary elements, such as plot or characterization. Through genre studies and author studies, they learn to evaluate the author's purpose and point of view, and to analyze characters through their actions and attitudes. They grow in their appreciation of various types of writing as they distinguish between expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative texts. In their own writing, students work on developing paragraphs in which subordinate ideas are related to a main topic and topic sentence. They learn new research techniques, including interviewing; and they use discussion as a stimulus for their writing. They develop checklists which aid them in their proofreading, and in editing their own work. Students simultaneously work on developing their vocabulary and their reading comprehension as they derive word meanings from contextual clues.

MATHEMATICS

With the aid of charts, number cards, tables, and graphs, students learn the numbers to millions and learn to add and subtract five digit numbers. Building on their third grade multiplication studies, students learn to multiply two- and three-digit numbers and work on rounding numbers and estimation. Basic algebra is introduced, and a unit on division teaches students how to divide with remainders and with zero in the quotients, as well as learning to calculate averages. Students use pictorial representations to help them add and subtract fractions, and use graph paper to relate fractions to decimal numbers. Oral and written word problems demonstrate the real-life applications of the skills that are being learned.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Students study the geography of the New York area, reinforcing and building their facility with topographical maps, globes, compasses, and other tools. They learn how to create their own maps. Studying the early people of New York allows students to understand the impact of nature on human migration and culture. Students access the World Wide Web as they research early Native Americans and recreate native crafts and folktales. Studying the confrontation between the European settlers and Native Americans allows for discussion of diversity and racial attitudes; a unit on Colonial times and the causes of the American Revolution enables students to develop a sense of patriotism. A study on the settlement and colonial growth of the state and city of New York helps students understand the development of New York City as a world center for commerce and immigration. Students are exposed to various media and are taught to evaluate their respective advantages and disadvantages. Current events discussions continue as the students' media reading skills grow.

SCIENCE

Through hands-on investigations, students explore magnets and magnetic force in action. Students experience how magnets affect other magnets and magnetic objects and apply their knowledge to engineer and improve an everyday object. From here, electromagnets are created and tested to demonstrate electromagnetic force and the relationship between magnetism and electricity. Using batteries, bulbs, and wires, students engage in active inquiry as they construct a variety of circuits and learn how electrical energy travels. Students continue to develop their ideas about energy through experiments with light and sound and are introduced to the basic properties of waves. Energy is further investigated and measurement skills are practiced as students study the advantages of using simple machines. Students then extend their learning to their own bodies and identify parts of the human skeleton that function like specific simple machines. This leads students into an interactive examination of the human skeletal and muscular systems. Students use X-rays, models, and iPads to learn the names of bones, the types and placement of joints, and the ways the skeleton and muscles work together to allow our bodies to move. By performing an owl pellet dissection as a part of this unit of study, students observe real bones and use their knowledge of the human skeletal system to identify rodent bones and assemble a complete skeleton. Throughout the course of the year, students practice and refine their observational and measurement skills to collect and use data to make well-supported claims and document findings in personal science journals.

TECHNOLOGY

In the fourth grade, technology is used as a tool to enhance learning and teaching throughout the day. Each classroom has a tablet for every child, access to a laptop cart, and a SMART Board that interacts with teacher computers and student devices. Students are introduced to basic word processing skills, which include keyboarding and formatting. They learn about workflow management and digital collaboration as they begin using digital note-taking apps and cloud services to save, create, annotate, share, edit, comment, and receive feedback on a variety of documents. Fourth-graders learn about digital content creation as they work on projects that involve e-book publishing, screencasting, movie-making, and photo editing. Digital literacy skills are integrated into research projects. Students become more familiar with academic databases and online maps, and they learn how to search the web efficiently and critically. As they gain access to their school email and obtain commenting rights on class blogs, fourth-graders learn about proper citizenship in 21st-century environments.

ART

The art curriculum in fourth grade is project and technology based. Students discuss how digital art is used in contemporary careers and culture, and are inspired by artists ranging from Henry Matisse to David Hockney. They are introduced to digital art tools, particularly Adobe Photoshop Touch, as they create artwork such as collages, silhouettes, self portraits, and text designs. Students learn how to work with layers, manipulate transparency and color settings, undo their mistakes, zoom in for more detailed revisions, and crop/rotate to create visually appealing compositions. Fourth-grade students are also introduced to kinetic and three-dimensional art as they learn about using online computer assisted design (CAD) software to design and print various objects. At the end of each unit, students integrate their digital art with “non-tech” fine arts projects.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing, programs and music appreciation. They meet weekly where they learn the basic musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, form and singing on key. Through vocal exercises and song, they build on what they learned in Grade 3 and explore the different ways in which they can use their voices for singing.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and cultural days of significance. Students enjoy a weekly Lower School Friday OnegShabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel, creating a sense of community through music. Students are exposed to various styles of music, including selections by famous composers.

Students continue to learn rhythm notation, as they create rhythm patterns using 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures. They learn to recognize the notes on the staff by their musical letter name, and also develop a stronger ear by learning solfege syllables in conjunction with traditional ear training techniques. Students learn how to play the recorder, in preparation for their performance in the Link-Up program, which culminates in a concert at Carnegie Hall where students sing and play as part of the orchestra.

The Ramaz Lower School music program culminates as students prepare songs for a grade-wide Zimriah performance based on a particular theme, value or Chag. They learn and perform songs in two-part and three-part harmony. This program also gives the students opportunities to express themselves individually through a solo, skit, dance or set- design role.

LIBRARY

Fourth-graders are independent users of the library and its print resources, and they continue to develop the skills needed for 21st-century research. Using their iPads, students learn to access the Ramaz e-Book collection for research, using the highlighting, note-taking, and dictionary capabilities. We continue to read aloud to further develop the auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences. Fourth-grade students participate in the annual Lower School Book Day, in which the entire student body explores literature through interdisciplinary activities based on one featured book.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

More emphasis is put on organized sports in the fourth grade. We work on skills, learning the proper rules and using the correct sports vocabulary. We integrate subjects like math and spelling into warm-up activities, connecting the gym to the classroom. Kindness, respect, and sportsmanship are continually addressed throughout the school year.

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