Program

Upper Elementary Academics

The Upper Elementary division (Grades 3-6) fosters the increasing independence of our students, while providing continuing support, engagement, and challenge within a nurturing environment.
Approximately 260 students are enrolled in the Upper Elementary division. Each of Grades 3, 4, and 5 is divided into four classes consisting of 16 or 17 students. The 6th Grade is a departmentalized program that includes a home base advisory, electives, community building, study hall, and its own traditions. The program for 6th Grade facilitates our graduates' transition to middle school.

List of 1 items.

  • Our Approach

    The educational needs of the Upper Elementary students are supported by more than thirty teachers and several specialist administrators and staff members.
    Read More

Grades 3-5 Curriculum

List of 3 items.

  • 3rd Grade

    Language Arts
    Our language arts curriculum is literature-based with a focus on developing reading fluency, reading comprehension, and higher order cognition through exposure to a variety of genres. Writing remains at the core of the program and students learn to write for a variety of audiences and purposes through utilizing different modes. Specific attention is given to teaching writing as a process and to reinforcing writing conventions. Emphasis is also placed on vocabulary extension, spelling, grammar, and oral expression.

    Math

    The math curriculum focuses on the teaching of concepts, skills, computation, and problem solving strategies through authentic contexts. Math instruction focuses on teaching of concepts, skills, computation, and problem solving strategies. Students in Grades 3-6 deepen their number sense and problem solving for the purpose of applying their mathematical thinking to novel situations. Engaging, multisensory activities are designed with an emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration, and a growth mindset. Young mathematicians explore ideas before organizing them into mathematical structure, focusing on the concrete before abstract, flexibility and efficiency. They learn to represent concepts in a number of ways, communicating their own thinking while learning how to understand others’ reasoning. One of the mathematical highlights of the year is "Math Day" when Upper Elementary students teach math to students in the Lower Elementary.

    Social Studies

    Our social studies curriculum is standards based and traces all aspects of the subject including history, anthropology, geography, government, economics, current affairs and research. The social studies curricula are integrated with other subjects where possible and enhanced by field trips directly related to areas of study. Library and technology teachers work together with classroom teachers and students to improve and develop research skills.

    Science

    Our science curriculum teaches foundational scientific method, theory, content and concepts and encourages inquisitiveness about the world around us. We foster curiosity through hands-on labs, experiments, and real world field trips. Students engage in thematic discussions and activities that help them to see the connectivity of all scientific knowledge. Health concepts are also incorporated into the science curriculum and aim to encourage students to accept personal responsibility for their own lifelong whole body health.

    Technology

    Upper Elementary students (Grades 3-6) learn to work collaboratively and to make their own choices and connections with regard to the technology tools that will best serve their purpose in locating, understanding and presenting information. The focus is on developing computer concepts and skills, based on the ISTE standards, that can be applied regardless of platform or application. This methodology enables students to become lifelong learners. The technology integrator works closely with the classroom teacher to develop lessons and integrate the use of technology in a way that enhances the curriculum. Areas of focus include word processing, graphic design, network awareness, multimedia software usage, internet usage, spreadsheet design and analysis, and an understanding of the social and ethical implications of technology use and misuse.
  • 4th Grade

    Language Arts
    Our language arts curriculum is literature-based with a focus on developing reading fluency, reading comprehension, and higher order cognition through exposure to a variety of genres. Writing remains at the core of the program and students learn to write for a variety of audiences and purposes through utilizing different modes. Specific attention is given to teaching writing as a process and to reinforcing writing conventions. Emphasis is also placed on vocabulary extension, spelling, grammar, and oral expression.

    Math

    The math curriculum focuses on the teaching of concepts, skills, computation, and problem solving strategies through authentic contexts. Math instruction focuses on teaching of concepts, skills, computation, and problem solving strategies. Students in Grades 3-6 deepen their number sense and problem solving for the purpose of applying their mathematical thinking to novel situations. Engaging, multisensory activities are designed with an emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration, and a growth mindset. Young mathematicians explore ideas before organizing them into mathematical structure, focusing on the concrete before abstract, flexibility and efficiency. They learn to represent concepts in a number of ways, communicating their own thinking while learning how to understand others’ reasoning. One of the mathematical highlights of the year is "Math Day" when Upper Elementary students teach math to students in the Lower Elementary.

    Social Studies

    Our social studies curriculum is standards based and traces all aspects of the subject including history, anthropology, geography, government, economics, current affairs and research. 4th Graders study California. The social studies curricula are integrated with other subjects where possible and enhanced by field trips directly related to areas of study. Library and technology teachers work together with classroom teachers and students to improve and develop research skills.

    Science

    Our science curriculum teaches foundational scientific method, theory, content and concepts and encourages inquisitiveness about the world around us. We foster curiosity through hands-on labs, experiments, and real world field trips. Students engage in thematic discussions and activities that help them to see the connectivity of all scientific knowledge. Health concepts are also incorporated into the science curriculum and aim to encourage students to accept personal responsibility for their own lifelong whole body health.

    Technology

    Upper Elementary students (Grades 3-6) learn to work collaboratively and to make their own choices and connections with regard to the technology tools that will best serve their purpose in locating, understanding and presenting information. The focus is on developing computer concepts and skills, based on the ISTE standards, that can be applied regardless of platform or application. This methodology enables students to become lifelong learners. The technology integrator works closely with the classroom teacher to develop lessons and integrate the use of technology in a way that enhances the curriculum. Areas of focus include word processing, graphic design, network awareness, multimedia software usage, internet usage, spreadsheet design and analysis, and an understanding of the social and ethical implications of technology use and misuse.
  • 5th Grade

    Language Arts
    Our language arts curriculum is literature-based with a focus on developing reading fluency, reading comprehension, and higher order cognition through exposure to a variety of genres. Writing remains at the core of the program and students learn to write for a variety of audiences and purposes through utilizing different modes. Specific attention is given to teaching writing as a process and to reinforcing writing conventions. Emphasis is also placed on vocabulary extension, spelling, grammar, and oral expression.

    Math

    The math curriculum focuses on the teaching of concepts, skills, computation, and problem solving strategies through authentic contexts. Math instruction focuses on teaching of concepts, skills, computation, and problem solving strategies. Students in Grades 3-6 deepen their number sense and problem solving for the purpose of applying their mathematical thinking to novel situations. Engaging, multisensory activities are designed with an emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration, and a growth mindset. Young mathematicians explore ideas before organizing them into mathematical structure, focusing on the concrete before abstract, flexibility and efficiency. They learn to represent concepts in a number of ways, communicating their own thinking while learning how to understand others’ reasoning. One of the mathematical highlights of the year is "Math Day" when Upper Elementary students teach math to students in the Lower Elementary.

    Social Studies

    Our social studies curriculum is standards based and traces all aspects of the subject including history, anthropology, geography, government, economics, current affairs and research. 5th Graders focus on the early history of the United States from the Age of Exploration to the Industrial Revolution. The social studies curricula are integrated with other subjects where possible and enhanced by field trips directly related to areas of study. Library and technology teachers work together with classroom teachers and students to improve and develop research skills.

    Science

    Our science curriculum teaches foundational scientific method, theory, content and concepts and encourages inquisitiveness about the world around us. We foster curiosity through hands-on labs, experiments, and real world field trips. Students engage in thematic discussions and activities that help them to see the connectivity of all scientific knowledge. Health concepts are also incorporated into the science curriculum and aim to encourage students to accept personal responsibility for their own lifelong whole body health.

    Technology

    Upper Elementary students (Grades 3-6) learn to work collaboratively and to make their own choices and connections with regard to the technology tools that will best serve their purpose in locating, understanding and presenting information. The focus is on developing computer concepts and skills, based on the ISTE standards, that can be applied regardless of platform or application. This methodology enables students to become lifelong learners. The technology integrator works closely with the classroom teacher to develop lessons and integrate the use of technology in a way that enhances the curriculum. Areas of focus include word processing, graphic design, network awareness, multimedia software usage, internet usage, spreadsheet design and analysis, and an understanding of the social and ethical implications of technology use and misuse.

6th Grade Curriculum

List of 12 items.

  • Art

    6th Grade Art is a highly collaborative class that focuses on developing a unique voice, as well as understanding the ways in which that voice fits into real world applications of art and design. Students learn how to initiate, problem solve, finalize, and reflect upon self-designed work through a series of layered, multidimensional projects. Emphasis is placed on process, skill building, and broadening a physical and digital “toolkit” that can be pulled from in all manner of making and purposeful creation.
  • Coding

    The goal of this introductory course is to spark interest in computer programming and to help build a solid foundation in the subject. Students will learn to read, understand, create, and debug programs through collaborative interactive projects, using real world programming strategies. Students will explore different programming languages throughout the year, and culminate the year by creating a professional coding portfolio.

    Introduction to Computer Science/Programming.
    • Block Coding to teach foundational programming concepts.
    • Intro to Javascript (Web Development).
    • Intro to Html & CSS (Web Development).
    • Advanced Javascript (Games & Visualizations)
    • Intro to Python (Game Design)
  • Community Building

    • Time for entire 6th Grade class to come together for speakers, performances or general class meeting
    • Flexible time for service opportunities
    • Flexible time for UE assembly programs
    • Flexible time for collaborative projects
  • Drama

    The main objective of 6th Grade Performing Arts is to cultivate an appreciation for the Arts around the world in their historical and social contexts, and connecting those antecedents to the present. Students read and discuss a few theatrical masterpieces, strengthening their skills in reading comprehension and analytical thinking, while exploring different styles of acting, movement, and music. Their dramatic studies culminate with a modern Commedia dell’ Arte production written collaboratively by them, complete with theatrical masks of their own making. Particular focus is placed upon collaboration, working in pairs and small ensembles, to boost interpersonal skills and to create a strong sense of synergy and collective accomplishment.
  • Electives

    Taught by some academic faculty members and specialists (art, drama, technology)
    • Yearbook and Photography; Drone Technology; De-stress for Success; Making Change, Landscape Painting; Yoga; Chamber Music; Life Skills
  • Homebase

    (7 groups of approximately 9-10 students) A place from which operations or activities are carried out; headquarters
    • Home base teachers are 6th Grade faculty
    • Attendance
    • Flag
    • General announcements
    • Birthday and holiday celebrations
    • General organizational tips: managing calendar, student planner, planning ahead
  • Spanish

    Drawing upon a variety of methodologies including comprehensible input and output, learning is based on the developmental progression of first language acquisition. The learning style is hands-on and activity-based with textual support. Listening and speaking skills are emphasized through interactive activities such as games, choral repetition, TPR (Total Physical Response), acting out stories, and music. Through the use of literature, students develop basic reading and writing skills. The program highlights “culture” with the goal of exposing students to the diversity among Spanish speaking communities: geography, customs, and linguistic nuances are addressed in the curriculum. Instead of merely studying Hispanic cultures, students are encouraged to see themselves as active participants in evolving cultural paradigms. To this end, students interact with the language in their daily lives and exercise agency over their learning experiences. The study of languages and cultures at Curtis serves as a launch pad from which to employ skills like flexibility, collaboration, creative problem solving, critical thinking, higher order empathy, and more. Our students leave our program with a strong foundation in Spanish as well as knowledge of themselves as language learners and tools to be successful in the 21st century.

    Spanish content topics may include the following:
    • Introducing yourself
    • Days of the week and months
    • Alphabet
    • Numbers
    • Telling time
    • Seasons
    • Asking questions
    • Super 7 verbs: querer, hay, tener, estar, ir, ser, gustar
    • Geography of Spain, Latin America and Caribbean
    • Conjugating regular verbs
    • Adjective agreement
    • Syntax
    • Colloquial expressions
    By the end of the year, Spanish students can:
    • Understand level-appropriate descriptions and stories of events
    • Communicate simple ideas clearly and accurately and be understood by someone accustomed to the language
    • Respond with complete sentences
    • Tell or retell a story in their own words
    • Ask basic questions
    • Demonstrate active listening
  • Study Hall

    • Goal: develop in students self-regulation when given structured free time
    • ex: independent reading, homework, collaboration on group projects, meet with teachers
  • Language Arts

    Specific objectives for 6th Grade Language Arts include the examination of a literary selection for its thematic development; the students' familiarity with well-known authors, titles, and literary genres; and the recognition and use of literary terms. The 6th Grade Language Arts curriculum reinforces reading by teaching the tools of prior knowledge, mental images, inference, asking questions, and synthesizing information. Students annotate at a more proficient level while reading to make note of well- written passages, vocabulary, and themes. Students participate in literary discussions, guided by both teacher and peers. These discussions allow for students to explore ideas, to develop analytical skills, and to present persuasive, well-supported arguments. A 6th Grade Language Arts student can recognize various literary terms, plot, setting, and characters. Students have also learned to write well-formulated literary and expository paragraphs by integrating concrete details and commentary to support the paragraph’s topic sentence.

    The teaching of grammar and vocabulary is fundamental to the Language Arts program and works to support the students’ understanding of literature and their development as writers. A rigorous study of vocabulary also includes participation in the Wordmasters Challenge, a nation-wide analogies competition that challenges students’ understanding of vocabulary and their ability to use critical thinking skills. Grammar lessons work toward proficiency in identification and usage of the parts of speech: common and proper nouns, linking and action verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Sentences and their parts and types are also examined. Mechanics lessons enforce the use of proper punctuation, including quotation marks, commas, semicolons, and colons.

    Fall
    : Discussion of a summer reading novel with a social justice theme, poetry and non-fiction texts, and a class reading/analysis of a young adult fiction novel

    Winter
    : An introduction to the poetry and language of Shakespeare, exposure to sonnets, and a class reading of a Shakespearean comedy

    Spring
    : Class and individual reading of a play featuring a historical theme
  • Math

    Both 6th Grade math curriculums focus on developing a strong math foundation rooted in procedural fluency, conceptual understanding, and problem-solving. To support that focus, students use mental math, logic, and a variety of problem-solving strategies and skills while tackling their 6th Grade curriculum. All students regularly demonstrate their mathematical thinking both orally and with written responses.

    Both 6th Grade math curriculums integrate the following pre-algebra concepts:
    • Rational numbers and their uses, including the basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals
    • Review of and additional experience with order of operations
    • Simplification techniques including the distributive property, like terms
    • Introduction to variables, expressions, and integers
    • Addition and multiplication properties
    • Parallel lines, angle relationships, kinds of angles
    • Finding the percent of a number, application of percent
    • Using inverse operations to solve equations
    • Study and application of ratios, rates, and proportions
    • Finding the perimeter and area of two-dimensional figures
    • Finding the surface area and volume of three-dimensional figures
    • Probability and odds, application and use in real life

    In addition, the 6th Grade Math Foundations curriculum (3 sections) will also focus on:
    • Reviewing estimating and rounding of numbers
    • Converting between fractions, decimals, and percent
    • Multiplying and Dividing by powers of 10
    • Number theory, including factors, multiples, and equivalent fractions
    • Prime and composite numbers, divisibility rules, and prime factorization
    • Calculating statistical measures, creating and evaluating data displays

    In addition, the 6th Grade Pre-Algebra curriculum (1 section) will also focus on:
    • Unions and intersection of sets
    • Right triangles and the Pythagorean Theorem
    • Introduction and application of multi-step equations and inequalities
    • Graphing inequalities on a number line
    • Graphing linear equations and inequalities on a coordinate plane
    • Transformations, including translations, reflections, and rotations
  • Science

    The 6th Grade science program is designed to introduce students to basic life and earth science topics. Through inquiry-based instruction and student led discovery, students gain a strong understanding and foundation in scientific methods. The 6th Grade science program holds Science Expo in the spring where students present their current class research and projects.
    • Students observe and maintain protists, plants, and animals in the classroom and study their characteristic features. The study progresses from macroscopic to microscopic observation to discover the fundamental unit of life, the cell. Students then investigate organism subsystems and behaviors and consider their diversity of adaptive structures and strategies.
    • Investigate earth science concepts including the processes and resulting structures involved in the rock cycle and the types of major landforms.
    • Learn about geologic forces and materials that cause natural phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.
    • Students will also collect their own data to analyze and practice drawing conclusions and making inferences about different topics throughout the course to develop a greater understanding of how science is used and how it works in the world around us.
  • Social Studies

    Underlying all aspects of teaching & learning social studies is the development of critical thinking skills. Understanding how and why are essential in the course of study and receive greater emphasis than memorization of “what” happened. Students learn to think like historians as they examine artifacts and learn about early technologies.
    • Themes of geography are introduced to help students understand why civilizations arose in particular regions. The impact of the human-environment relationship is also explored so students understand the interaction and the influence that each one has on the other.
    • The course of study includes learning about the development and migration of hominids, and the interaction between the environment and early humans.
    • The beginnings of ancient civilizations and the creation of empires are examined, with a focus on early settlements of the Fertile Crescent and an exploration of beliefs, practices, and technologies they developed that remain enduring contributions to human advancement.
    • Current events are used throughout the year as part of a rich social studies curriculum that asks students to think not only about the distant past but also about the news that shapes our daily lives.
    • Topics of social movements and social justice are woven through all the studies and offer possibilities for interdisciplinary study, alongside language arts. Social justice movements are further explored through a unit on tolerance. Students use WWII as a lens for looking at the choices people make.
    • A survey of world religions and belief systems is also introduced, as it relates both to ancient civilizations and lessons on tolerance. Students research the origins, principles, and customs of beliefs from around the world to gain an understanding of global cultures.

Curtis School

15871 Mulholland Drive  ·  Los Angeles CA 90049
310-476-1251