Welcome to the Upper Elementary

Welcome to the Upper Elementary The Sycamore classroom opens at 8:05 AM each morning so that students may enjoy some “talk time” before the classroom work day begins. This early opening allows students plenty of time to catch up on the news so they are ready to give full attention to school work when we begin Head Problems at 8:30. We gather as a whole class for daily Head Problems and through this format we introduce concepts, practice operations, engage in dynamic large-group discussion, and develop critical thinking skills.

During this time we also engage in a weekly peace study. Students work Head Problems socially and lead the correction discussion at the end of the morning work period. During our morning work period students work on researches, conduct science experiments, and join small group math, science, language, history, debate, or art lessons. Students meet individually with teachers for short conferences about their researches. Generally during the work period, a pair of students prepares and bakes a loaf of bread or other snack to be enjoyed the following morning.

The 9-12 is a research-based classroom. Our work cycle is organized around six sessions. At the beginning of each quarter students set goals and make a work plan for the quarter. We focus on one science discipline each quarter. These include Physical Science, Botany, Anatomy, Chemistry and Environmental Studies. Opportunities for works in all disciplines are available throughout each quarter though primary lessons and experiments will adhere to the quarter’s focus. All three grades have opportunities for Natural Science researches each quarter. These are sometimes complemented by an experiment or activity. Each quarter concludes with a large group project week known as “Intersession”. The second Intersession each year is devoted to our Shakespeare production, which is performed annually in February. The fourth is traditionally a week of filmmaking and the first and third are democratically student-selected.

History and Geography are taught by grade. Grade 4 studies Indiana History, Grade 5 studies United States History, and Grade 6 studies World History. Debate and argumentation skills are introduced to Grade 5 and continue through Grade 6.

Through researches and works, students study plants and animals, our earth’s history and geography, and human history and culture. Math lessons are given to small groups or one-on-one during the morning work period. Arithmetic, geometry, and algebra concepts are practiced using the Mathimagination series and the Key To series as well as supplemental math practice materials. Montessori math materials are used as needed as students transition to abstraction. We study language through writing practice and reading of literature, poetry, drama, and non-fiction. Spelling is organized by grade and handwriting is practiced through our spelling practice and tests.

Quarterly, every 9-12 student is in a self-selected discussion-based literature group. Students also have weekly physical education, Spanish lessons, music lessons, Art and Architecture, and opportunities for special projects.

Opportunities for public speaking occur throughout the year, formally and informally. Students read aloud and present Head Problems materials and their own researches, participate in formal debates, memorize and recite poems, and deliver prepared and practiced speeches during our annual December Holiday Program. In February students perform an annual Shakespeare play.

This year we are looking forward to more small and large group outings by bus. We are also expanding our practical life area and food preparation work. We will explore options for learning programming and will start a small classroom business. We will continue, for the third year in a row, giving the Grade 6 class the opportunity to prepare and sit for the National Mythology Exam.

Entering Grade 4 students can look forward to a day trip early in the school year to the Indiana State Museum in the White River State Park in Indianapolis for a day of Indiana history and culture as well a chance to enjoy being together as the new 4th grade class. Other annual field trips include the Grade 6 Turkey Run camping trip, the Grade 5 Bradford Woods camp experience, the Grade 6 Chicago trip, the whole-class pioneer experience, and the Grade 6 day off preceding their graduation. Grade 6 graduation is a very special rite of passage that students attend to with great preparation and planning. It gives parents and teachers the opportunity to summon BMS traditions and honor and celebrate the students’ many years of hard work while supporting them in moving on to an exciting new stage in life.

As a number of the 9-12 annual activities impact family budgets, we thought it would be helpful to know those well in advance so that you may plan accordingly. The following amounts are rough and may be slightly more or less. They also do not include field trip opportunities that arise during the year. If you are unable to meet the cost of one of these events, please talk to the office. If you are interested in offering to sponsor another family for one of these events, also talk to the office. 4th Grade: August or September: Indiana State Museum $10; Spring: Honey Creek or substitute pioneer school activity $10. 5th Grade: October: Bradford Woods $130. 6th Grade: September: Turkey Run Camping Trip $80; December: Chicago trip $300. Graduation and Skip Day costs are covered by bake sale funds though individual parents have sometimes incurred or assumed costs.

If you would like to begin purchasing school supplies, please refer to the following lists of supplies to bring and items to leave at home.

Please bring on the first day:

3-4 yellow pencils with erasers*
1-2 blue or black stick pens*
5 single section 10 1/2 by 8-inch spiral notebooks*
1 pair of comfortable indoor shoes to remain at school
$12 for student bus tickets


Please do not send in:

Permanent markers
Gel pens
Correction fluid
Personal pencil sharpeners
Mechanical pencils
Toy erasers or writing implements
Personal staplers
Warehouse quantities of supplies
Cell phones or ipods
Rolling ball pens
Decorative items for desks
Personal hand sanitizer
Lip gloss
Silly bands

Personal items not needed for the work of the classroom need not enter the classroom

Daily Schedule

8:05 Classroom opens
8:30 Morning Meeting/Head Problems
9:30-11:10 Morning Work Period
11:10-11:25 Correct Head Problems (Large Group)
11:25 Morning Clean-Up
11:35-12:05 Recess
12:10-12:35 Lunch & Clean-Up
12:35-1:35 Spanish & Spelling
12:35-2:30 Afternoon Work Period (Small and Large Group Lessons)
2:30 Afternoon Clean-Up
2:45 Afternoon Sign-Out/Silent Desk Work
3:15-3:30 Dismissal

Monday 2:00-3:00 PM Music
Tuesday 10:40 AM Literature groups meet
Thursday 2:30 PM PE