Curriculum

Our aim at the Krieger Schechter Middle School is to foster each student’s love of learning as he or she moves through pre-adolescence. We encourage our students to seek the goals of academic excellence and responsible independence.

Our curriculum synthesizes the intellectual heritage of both Jewish and American cultures and strives to instill an appreciation of both. The curriculum brings together the values of the Jewish and broader communities.

A crucial portion of the program includes a forum for each youngster to develop critical and analytical thinking skills and individual expression in each discipline. Middle School academics are a critical developmental step for students, helping them form the study habits, intellectual curiosity, and love of learning that will guide them through high school, college and beyond.

English

The English curriculum of Krieger Schechter Middle School focuses on the growth and improvement of skills and strategies in reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar and writing. The literature curriculum encourages reading in a wide range of genres, including fiction, poetry, and nonfiction texts. Students learn to read for fluency; to understand the elements of literature; to comprehend important ideas and details; to analyze, interpret, synthesize, and expand ideas; to think critically about an author’s use of language, style, purpose, and perspective; and to gain an appreciation of literature and the shared reading experience. Grammar and vocabulary skills are developed both through targeted practice and in the context of writing assignments. Writing skills are further developed and supported in Writing Workshop classes in 5th and 6th grades. Students learn to write for different audiences and purposes, and to follow a writing process that builds from brainstorming, to writing a rough draft, to editing a final product.

Students in 5th Grade study the elements of a novel: characterization, setting, plot, and theme. They also use close text analysis build comprehension skills and understand inferences, figurative language, and other literary elements. They respond to literature through writing, class discussion, art, drama, and computer projects. Writing assignments include book reports, compare and contrast essays, character sketches, research papers, persuasive writing, and creative poetry and prose.

Writing Workshop

Meeting three times per week in 5th Grade and twice a week in 6th Grade, writing workshop students explore the craft of writing in a low-key, small-group setting. Students experiment with various writing genres to achieve proficiency in mechanics, organization, and meaning. The 5th Grade course also includes a special emphasis on grammatical concepts and the application of these rules in writing. Both courses stress the importance of the revision process and encourage students to strive for excellence in their writing.

Math

Math classes in the middle school are generally homogeneously grouped so that students at every level of ability are challenged to the best of their abilities. Our comprehensive accelerated program for gifted and talented students provides a gateway into advanced math programs in high school.

Fifth Grade Math:

  • Place value, properties and problem solving
  • Addition, subtraction, and multiplication of whole numbers
  • Division with one, two and three digit divisors
  • All operations and problem solving involving decimals
  • Geometry: perimeter, area, and volume All operations of fractions
  • Percents
  • Standard and metric measurement
  • Statistics and Probability

See the 6th Grade Math curriculum for the 5th Grade Accelerated curriculum.

Social Studies

The Social Studies Curriculum at Krieger Schechter Middle School provides students with the tools to understand how the past has effected the present. By integrating the 5 Themes of Geography (Location; Place; Human-environment Interaction; Movement of People, Goods and Ideas; and Regions), established by the National Geographic Society, the students are able to have an awareness and understanding of their past and present world.

Students in 5th Grade focus on map skills, exploration, colonization, U.S. government, and the Revolutionary War. Highlights of the year include a one-day trip to Philadelphia and a state research project, culminating in a State Fair.

Science

The Science Department at Krieger Schechter Middle School seeks to encourage discovery while providing students with insights into the field of science. Each grade’s curriculum is supplemented with lab work that provides hands-on learning experiences using the tools of today’s scientists.

Students in 5th Grade focus on the systems of the human body. They are introduced to using a microscope and conduct various dissections in the lab. The highlight of the year for many of our young scientists, their families, and our own KSMS faculty and staff is the Invention Convention where students create their own inventions to solve everyday problems.

Judaics

The 5th Grade Judaics curriculum is centered on a close exploration of the Book of Numbers (Sefer Bamidbar). Students explore the text’s themes of leadership, nation-building and personal responsibility. They also discover the cycle of gaining and losing faith in God that the Israelites experienced on their journey in the desert from Egypt to the Land of Israel. Students uncover meaning through a variety of approaches, including a close reading of the original text (in Hebrew and in English, when needed), discussion, interpretation, commentary, art and drama projects, as well as student-created PowerPoint and other presentations.

The 5th Grade Jewish history curriculum focuses on early Jewish life in America, seamlessly dovetailing with the 5th Grade Social Studies curriculum’s focus on early American history. Through skits, stories, personal reflection and our year-end trip to Philadelphia, students discover the issues, obstacles and successes facing the earliest Jewish settlers in America.

Throughout the year, students continue to explore the Jewish holidays. Building on previous years’ learning about customs, laws and purposes, the curriculum develops and enhances students’ understanding of Jewish holidays – and their enjoyment of them!

Hebrew

The Hebrew Language curriculum features an “Ivrit B’Ivrit” approach, teaching in the target language. The curriculum systematically builds listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. The goal is to equip the student with the appropriate skills and stimulation to enable each student to:

  • Read, comprehend, and enjoy original Hebrew prose, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction as well as sacred texts.
  • Communicate successfully using the Hebrew Language orally and in writing.
  • Be familiarized and engaged with Israeli culture, Jewish tradition and general world knowledge.

Our middle school uses the NETA program.  This is a comprehensive Hebrew language program for students in middle and high school. The program provides a rich and rigorous experience for students of Hebrew via high expectations, state-of-the-art Hebrew language curriculum and materials, and an emphasis on the development of communicative skills. Materials highlight Jewish tradition, modern Israeli culture and general world knowledge, using original Hebrew texts of all historical periods and genres. NETA aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge to become active participants in Hebrew culture.  Students in the middle school are grouped and paced according to their level and ability. 

Physical Education

Meeting three times a week, PE includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and skills building through drills, games and sports contests. Our goal is to discover the joy of athletic participation and to provide a foundation for teamwork, cooperation and good sportsmanship. Sports played include basketball, soccer, softball, track and badminton, among others.

Arts

Fifth graders rotate through the following courses, which each meet twice a week for a trimester:

Introductory Drama

Fifth graders explore creative movement and pantomime, and they develop skits based on various given prompts. Active listening, appropriate response, creative problem solving, and learning to give and to take constructive criticism are some of the skills emphasized.

Exploratory Music

Fifth graders are given an opportunity to play several instruments and begin to read some musical notation. Additionally, the students are exposed to a variety of classical and jazz pieces featuring these instruments.

Introductory Art

Students receive an introduction to basic principles of art and art forms. They develop a knowledge of art techniques and an appreciation of art styles and history.

Life Skills

Fifth graders rotate through the following courses, which each meet twice a week for a trimester:

Computers

This class teaches keyboarding accuracy and speed, word processing for use throughout the content areas, Internet use, and the creation of products using various applications.

Independent Living Skills

Students learn about proper nutrition, basic cooking and sewing skills, consumerism and advertising.

Woodshop

Students are introduced to basic tools and their safe use as they work on increasingly challenging and imaginative projects. Students learn to work as a team as they share ideas and build skills.

Study Skills

This course begins with a brief survey that begins to help students understand their strengths and learning preferences: whether visual, auditory, or kinesthetic/tactile. Students then identify the techniques that will help them become a stronger learner. Filled with broad lessons about learning and the brain, the course arms students with specific memorization and test-taking techniques, note taking methods and strategies for engaging with printed text and oral presentations. Our motto: “Study Smarter, Not Harder.”