UE Academics & Curriculum


The Upper Elementary Program is designed to meet the unique developmental needs of students in grades 4-6. Students are provided opportunities to grow in independence, explore curriculum, and build relationships in a nurturing environment.

Students in grades four and five have one teacher for English/Social Studies and another for Math/Science. Upon entering sixth grade, students shift to a departmentalized model in preparation for entering the Upper School in seventh grade. In all three grades teachers collaborate to ensure that students have continuity of culture and expectation from class to class. Students also participate in a rich array of specials courses and are exposed to programming in Art, Music, Gym, Spanish, and Mindfulness.

Finally, our Advisory program and course is situated at the center of our social-emotional curriculum. Through this program students engage in community building and social-emotional learning activities aimed at fostering their development as whole people.

Curriculum Components

Upper Elementary students participate in English Language Arts (ELA), Social Studies, and Readers’ Workshop courses that are Common Core aligned. English classes include thematic units that include both reading and writing experiences. The Readers’ Workshop course aims to increase students’ motivation to read, discuss, and write about high interest texts at their independent levels. While both of these courses primarily incorporate fiction text, students navigate non-fiction text in Social Studies. Teachers aim to connect core content in each grade level – regions of the United States (gr. 4), Early American history (gr. 5), and Ancient Civilizations (gr. 6) – to larger civic and life lessons. Each of these courses is supported through our thoughtfully resourced school library.

The Upper Elementary Campus utilizes Math in Focus, a rigorous program based on Singapore Math. Math in Focus concentrates on problem-solving, mathematical thinking and communication, and the Common Core standards, including place value, number sense, computation, measurement, fractions, geometry, and algebraic thinking. Math in Focus provides for a balance of both procedural fluency (automaticity with math facts and operations) and conceptual understanding. One of the foundations of Math in Focus is that students learn concepts and skills through the use of concrete materials, visuals, and numbers.

UE teachers aim to meet Massachusetts State Frameworks by designing student-centered and inquiry based units and lessons.

Students in grades 4-6 participate in a Spanish course utilizing Organic World Language (OWL) methodology in which they are actively immersed in a Spanish speaking community of learners!

The UE art program is designed to expose students to various media and to use artistic techniques to express themselves and learn about other people and the world. Through art students explore aspects of their individual identities, create collaborative pieces, and use art to make statements about the world. 

In music, students are introduced to rhythm, melody, tone, songwriting, notation, and melody through singing, experimenting with instruments (including guitar and keyboard), and exploring different genres of music throughout history. In the course of their UE experience, students in grades fourth through six will look specifically at salsa, spirituals and songs of the Civil Rights Movement, Jazz, Rock and Roll, and Hip Hop.

Physical Education
During physical education classes, students engage in movement, exercise, and activities that provide the opportunity to explore themselves and at the same time interact with others. Students also get a chance to recognize individual differences and how to establish group relationship through play.