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Elementary

1st graders viewing large tortoises on boardwalk

Lower School: Grades 1-4

Environment and Learning Focus

Structured Learning

Reading, writing, researching, questioning and problem-solving lead our students into the elementary years at St. Mark’s Episcopal School. As their learning becomes more sequential and structured, consistency in expectations for focused learning behavior, class work completion and active participation in discussions and projects guides the work in our classrooms.

Curriculum and School Hours

Students in 1st through 4th grade follow a sequential core curriculum in handwriting, math, word study-combined phonics and spelling, reading, and writing. Students attend private school five days a week from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM; after school care is available until 6:00 PM.

1st and 2nd Grade

The transition from the centers-based, hands-on learning environment of the early childhood years to the skill-based learning of the elementary grades is introduced in 1st and 2nd grade. Self-contained classrooms incorporate table or desk work, with room for games, projects, and group experiences in open-floor areas. The students actively participate in whole group learning sessions, small group guided instruction, and independent assignments. Interdisciplinary studies bring both social studies and science themes into their work.

3rd and 4th Grade

As students move from learning to read to reading to learn, the organization and extension of their skill work begins to accelerate. The ability to listen for information, and to read and follow directions independently, means that students are ready to follow a morning work agenda, begin to use an assignment planner and to manage homework that includes projects, writing assignments and presentation practice. At St. Mark’s our 3rd and 4th grade teams work hard to prepare their students for their middle school years. The children are taught by both teachers in their grade level, flipping for language arts, math and social studies. Social studies work is in-depth and includes research-based projects. Science is taught by a specialist.

Curriculum

The 1st Grade Experience

Reading Workshop
The 1st grade year begins with the extension of the Rice School Literacy Storytelling format with more extensive reading and writing activities utilizing quality stories found in children’s literature and capitalizing on their growing skills as storytellers and writers. The students will move into the genre studies of Reading Workshop and develop comprehension and fluency through the recognition of what good readers and writers do on a routine basis. Spelling and word work is developed through the Scientific Spelling program.

Writing Workshop
Students complete journal work, participate in shared writing activities, story writing and genre studies. There is also a focus on legibility and consistency as they grow as writers.

Math
Everyday Mathematics program focused on numbers and counting, operations and computations, data and chance, measurements, and more. Learning centered around thematic studies, problem solving, games, partner and group activities, workbooks and centers.

Interdisciplinary Studies
Five senses, human body, nutrition, bats, reptiles and amphibians, insects, ocean life, political awareness, map skills, famous inventors, and the first Americans.

Enrichment Classes
Physical Education, Library, Religion, Music, Art, Spanish, Technology, and Chapel.

The 2nd Grade Experience

Reading and Writing Workshop
In the workshop approach to teaching, the teacher is seen as the reading and writing professional and peer coach; he or she guides the readers and writers as they develop their craft. Students read favorite books and put pencil to paper; they learn to make good independent reading choices and deepen their love and understanding of reading. In their writing, they learn to choose their own topics and to manage their own development as they work through a wide variety of writing projects, both in a sustained and self-directed way. Full class lessons are short and tightly focused on practical, real-world reading and writing skills. Students have time to work as well as share their thinking and writing with the class each day. Emphasis is placed on conferencing both with each other and the teacher/coach. At the end of each genre study, students celebrate their reading and writing.

Math
Everyday Mathematics program focused on attaining proficiency in basic number operations and developing problem solving skills. Special emphasis on developing “mental math” abilities.

Interdisciplinary Studies
Famous Americans, Ancient Egypt, International Customs, Animals and Habitats, the Solar System, Force and Motion, and Space Travel.

Enrichment Classes
Physical Education, Library, Religion, Music, Art, Spanish, Technology, Chapel.

The 3rd Grade Experience

Reading and Writing Workshop
In the workshop approach to teaching, the teacher is seen as the reading and writing professional and peer coach; he or she guides the readers and writers as they develop their craft. Students read favorite books and put pencil to paper; they learn to make good independent reading choices and deepen their love and understanding of reading. In their writing, they learn to choose their own topics and to manage their own development as they work through a wide variety of writing projects, both in a sustained and self-directed way. Full class lessons are short and tightly focused on practical, real-world reading and writing skills. Students have time to work as well as share their thinking and writing with the class each day. Emphasis is placed on conferencing both with each other and the teacher/coach. At the end of each genre study, students celebrate their reading and writing.

Math
Everyday Mathematics program with content emphasizing number and numeration, operations and computation, geometry, measurement and reference frames, patterns, functions, and algebra.

Social Studies
Studies draw upon knowledge from history, geography and economics as well as arts and humanities. Units of investigation including: Landforms, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Pioneer Life, Native Americans, USA States. Special Study Unit on “Pioneer Days.”

Science
Students meet once in a six day rotation with a science specialist where they are introduced to science process skills, lab investigations, data collection, and content reading and writing.

Enrichment Classes
Physical Education, Library, Religion, Music, Art, Spanish, Technology, Chapel.

The 4th Grade Experience

Reading and Writing Workshop
In the workshop approach to teaching, the teacher is seen as the reading and writing professional and peer coach; he or she guides the readers and writers as they develop their craft. Students read favorite books and put pencil to paper; they learn to make good independent reading choices and deepen their love and understanding of reading. In their writing, they learn to choose their own topics and to manage their own development as they work through a wide variety of writing projects, both in a sustained and self-directed way. Full class lessons are short and tightly focused on practical, real-world reading and writing skills. Students have time to work as well as share their thinking and writing with the class each day. Emphasis is placed on conferencing both with each other and the teacher/coach. At the end of each genre study, students celebrate their reading and writing.

Math
Everyday Mathematics program with content emphasizing number and numeration, operations and computation, geometry, measurement data and chance. Extensions centered around thematic studies, problem solving and partner and group activities.

Social Studies
Texas History is the core of fourth grade Social Studies. Students learn map and globe skills and participate in centers, creative drama, guided reading and research.

Science
Students meet three times a six day rotation with a science specialist where they are introduced to science process skills, lab investigations, data collection, and content reading and writing.

Enrichment Classes
Physical Education, Library, Religion, Music, Art, Spanish, Technology, Chapel.

Before and After School Care

St. Mark’s offers before school care and after school care for students in Pre-K through 8th Grade. The before school care program begins at 7:00 AM and after school care is available through 6:00 PM.

Learn More About Before and After School Care