All academic subjects except French and Music Theory are taught by the lower school teacher and take place in the secure environment of the Third and Fourth Grade classroom.
The English syllabus is split into three categories: Literature, Grammar and Interdisciplinary Writing. The boys are exposed to a number of literary genres including Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Biography, Science Fiction and Poetry with several Newberry Award titles being used. Grammar lessons are developed both in and out of context. Out of context lessons utilize our grammar textbook for objectives and lessons. In context mini-lessons are determined from students’ writing errors. Interdisciplinary writing is taught throughout the year in the form of writing essays and reports in Science and History. The five steps to report writing: outlining, prewriting, writing editing and publishing are covered in the program.
The FOSS system (Full Option Science System) is used. All lessons are hands-on and designed for cooperative learning. Units of study include Water, Physics of Sound, and Measurement. In addition to the core curriculum, interdisciplinary units that transform the classroom into a large science installation are created. These installations are fashioned by the students after researching a topic such as the tropical rain forests, coral reefs or solar system. Each student is given a portion of the classroom to create his own interpretation of the topic studied. A research paper is also required for this project. The topic for each paper is not assigned by the teacher but rather is determined by the student’s interests. The teacher serves as a guide for the topic, assisting the student to narrow or broaden their topic of interest for the paper. The five steps to report writing: outlining, prewriting, writing editing and publishing are covered.
The Everyday Mathematics curriculum is used. Topics covered include: Addition and subtraction of whole numbers, time, multiplication division, fractions, measurement estimation, geometry and decimals.
The academic year begins with the study of the history of the Saint Thomas Choir School. Study includes the mission of the School, its founders, Origin and Expansion. We then go on to do a sweep through New York State history starting our journey with the Native Americans, then moving onto the European invasion, formation of New Netherland by the Dutch, conversion into New York by the British, the Revolutionary War, Immigration and ending with New York as it is today. The textbook History Around You is used as an aide along with biographies and historical fiction that connect to each unit of study. Essay writing is incorporated into the syllabus with. Essay topics include Peter Stuyvesant, English, Dutch and Native American conflicts and immigration stories.
The Students of The Saint Thomas Choir School are enrolled in French studies from grade 3 through 8. Students are taught French primarily for its role in the rich cultural traditions of France, as well as its language as it has become a part of the world language. The study of French exposes students to a language spoken by 265 million people worldwide, and is one of the official languages of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations.
Grades Three and Four are combined for the study of French and are taught by our native French teacher in a French-only environment. The French program that we are currently using at Saint Thomas Choir School is called Super Max 1. The program uses stories, daily situations and music to help students acquire high-frequency vocabulary. Specifically designed stories become the focus for a range of motivating language activities that help students develop confidence and competence in their use of French as they progress through each unit. In the process students acquire vocabulary of daily activities, greetings, days of the week, the months, weather, numbers, colors, clothing, animals, etc.
French grammar is taught inductively, meaning that students learn to acquire it in a way that very closely resembles the manner in which they learned their English grammar. Once this concept has been acquired, grammar becomes meaningful to them. Along the way, students are introduced to basic grammar and syntax concepts such as gender of name, agreement of adjective and double verb construction.
There is an equally, strong emphasis on the development of all four language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) through a program that meets the specific needs of each language learner and his learning styles. Classroom activities are varied, so that students have the opportunity to work individually, with partners, in small groups, and with the entire class.
The first weeks of Grade 3 Music Theory center on the study of basic musical elements, which for some boys is review and for others is brand new information. Among these elements are the names of the notes, their location on the staff and on the keyboard; the meaning of time signatures and the durations of different note values; the intervals of the half step and whole step; and melodic dictation (writing notes on the staff as they are played on the piano). Rhythm recitations start with whole beats in the meters 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4, gradually adding dots, rests and ties. The sole singing recitation focuses on half and whole steps above and below the notes C and G. Written work, lesser in quantity than recitations as is typical for grade 3 first semester, focused on half and whole steps, culminating in a final test.