CURRICULUM

We are proud of our strong record of academic excellence and continued commitment to best practice approaches to teaching young learners. Our academic day begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.

 

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In Early Childhood, students are introduced to the fundamentals of learning which are building blocks for a more focused foundation of literacy skills, emerging mathematics, and hands-on science.

In Kindergarten, students work on mastering literacy skills, and are introduced to Singapore Math concepts. They also receive instruction with specialty teachers in art, music, and physical education, and French or Spanish.

Reading and writing skill development and mathematical skill development are at the core of the educational experience for students in Grades 1-4. Specialty instruction in physical education, art, music, French or Spanish continue through these grades.

In Middle School (Grades 5-8) classes are divided into two sections for all academic and specialty classes. In addition to their core academic classes, Middle School students receive instruction in art, music, speech & drama, physical education, science, and Spanish, French or Latin.

Preschool

Young children have the greatest capacity for learning. Congressional’s Preschool program provides our students with just. Through hands on exploration and discovery, we delight in sharing in the child’s learning experience. Academic opportunities are presented throughout our day. Our curriculum is integrated across content areas and lessons are presented in engaging and exciting ways.  We recognize each child as an individual and focus our attention on educating the whole child. Through differentiated instruction, each child’s talents are recognized and celebrated. We strive to enhance a child’s self-esteem and independence, while maintaining a nurturing and supportive environment.

Language Arts

Congressional Preschoolers approach language arts through a variety of methods. Through the use of interactive and diverse literary experiences and discussions, students develop a rich and expansive vocabulary and a deep appreciation of literature and storytelling. By focusing on developing a strong alphabetic and phonetic understanding, a solid foundation is put in place to ensure that all children have the opportunity to gain the necessary skills in preparation to become engaged and emergent readers. At Congressional, preschoolers are also introduced to early printing skills through the use of the Handwriting Without Tears Program.

  • Letter Recognition and application
  • Developing phonemic awareness and letter-sound relationships
  • Comprehension and participation in shared literature
  • Ability to tell and retell stories
  • Development and expansion of receptive and expressive language
  • Exploring rich and relevant vocabulary by providing experiences for application
  • Developing printing skills with the Handwriting Without Tears program
  • Express own ideas and stories through illustrations and beginning writing

Science

Congressional Preschoolers are introduced to the scientific method to help them engage in the world around them. They make simple observations, predictions and generalizations based on real life experiences. Our students are encouraged to use their senses to gather information about their surrounding environment. Preschool students collect, describe and record information through discussions, drawings and charts. We utilize our 40 acre campus as an outdoor classroom to foster a love and appreciation of nature. Topics of study include:

  • Earth science: seasons and weather
  • Environmental science: recycling and stewardship of our planet
  • Physical science: states of matter, cause and effect, simple machines
  • Life science: plants, animals, basic needs

Math

The Congressional Preschool program allows students to experience mathematical concepts through multisensory activities, independent exploration and guided learning. Students are able to connect real life experiences to the material being taught as they utilize math and number concepts throughout the school day in engaging and relevant ways.

  • Rote counting to 10
  • Recognition of print numbers 1-10
  • Number value 1-10
  • Comparison of numbers and groups
  • Use of relevant mathematic vocabulary
  • Explore geometric shapes
  • Matching, sorting and classifying
  • Patterning
  • Exploring weights and measures
  • Special awareness

Social Studies

The Preschool Social Studies program at Congressional is designed to create awareness of and celebrate the students’ personal cultures and community. Throughout their preschool year, students transition from singular awareness to cooperative interaction. By providing a variety of learning opportunities through literature, dramatic play and technology our students develop into caring, socially conscious and responsible individuals.

  • Awareness of physical attributes of self and others
  • Relationships among family and friends
  • Recognition of habitats and their features and locations
  • Awareness and celebration of diverse cultures and communities
  • Understand the relationship of ourselves, the members of the community and the roles that they play

Music

The music teacher meets with the Preschool students twice each week. The program exposes the children to musical concepts through:
Singing

  • Creative movement
  • Playing rhythm instruments
  • Participating in performances throughout the year

World Languages: Spanish and French

In the Preschool, the class meets twice a week for twenty minutes each class.the students are exposed to the Spanish and French language through:
Songs

  • Movement
  • Stories

Physical Education

Preschool is a time of growth in physical development. During PE class, the students will participate in a variety of activities that promote physical fitness and health.

Field Trips

At Congressional, our Preschool students go on two to three field trips during the spring. Field trips enhance the classroom experience in a meaningful way and provide the student with the opportunity to make concrete connections in their world.

Junior Kindergarten

At Congressional we celebrate the whole child. In Junior Kindergarten students are given multiple opportunities to grow and expand upon their preschool experience. We strive to ensure all students’ academic and social needs are met at their current level and challenged as the year progresses. We cultivate and encourage a strong collaborative atmosphere, in which students feel nurtured, secure, and free to learn from their experiences. We aim to create a well-rounded global citizen, who is empathetic and knowledgeable. We achieve these goals through discovery, exploration, and understanding each child’s valuable contribution within the classroom community.

Language Arts

The Congressional Junior Kindergarten language arts program is an expansion of the Preschool program, offering a dynamic environment in which students develop essential skills. During Junior Kindergarten, the students begin dictating their own stories and later work towards becoming independent writers. Congressional’s Junior Kindergarten utilizes the Scott Foresman reading series, as well as the Handwriting Without Tears writing program.  Engaging and inclusive group discussions enable children to make relevant contributions as they continue to develop a richer and more expansive vocabulary. Junior Kindergarten uses a variety of materials to develop their gross and fine motor abilities instrumental for beginning reading skills.

  • Identify and utilize upper and lower-case letters
  • Develop phonemic awareness
  • Acquire a solid understanding of concept of print
  • Cultivate a love and appreciation of literacy
  • Build comprehension skills

Science

Congressional’s Junior Kindergarten students utilizes the school’s forty-acre campus in order to allow students the opportunity to explore and discover the world around them. Each classroom is equipped with a science center and an array of materials to investigate and experiment with the concepts introduced. Bridging from preschool, we incorporate scientific method terminology and concepts into their daily happenings. Some topics covered in science include:

  • Seasons and weather
  • Magnets
  • Animals and insects
  • Plants
  • Habitats
  • Environmental science

Math

Congressional Junior Kindergarten students are given the opportunity to understand and distinguish between concrete and abstract concepts. Building on their preschool experience, Junior Kindergarteners continue to use a variety of materials to encourage and engage the students in a multisensory math experience. Additionally, students are introduced to Singapore Math terminology to prepare them for Kindergarten.

  • Patterning
  • Number recognition and writing 0-10 in random order
  • 1 to 1 correspondence
  • Sorting and sequencing
  • Counting by rote to 20
  • Measurement
  • Graphing
  • Beginning addition skills

Social Studies

Congressional ’s Junior Kindergarten students receive a multi-faceted approach to social studies. We begin with social emotional concepts and include the students’ family backgrounds in order to create personal connections.Throughout the year, the students are exposed to different geographical elements and historical events. These topics are interwoven into the daily curriculum to enrich their learning and provide them with a global perspective of the world in which we live. Topics in social studies include:

  • Family, home, and school connection
  • Native Americans
  • Holidays around the world
  • Medieval times and fairy tales
  • Historical figures

Music

Junior Kindergarten meets has music class two times per week. To supplement their music lessons the students perform in concerts throughout the school year. Junior Kindergarten students explore music through:

  • singing
  • playing
  • listening and moving

Spanish

In Junior Kindergarten Spanish class, students will learn basic classroom commands and greetings. They will listen to short stories with illustrations, and will use common vocabulary such as numbers, colors and basic greetings. The students will learn about the culture, traditions and holidays in the Spanish speaking world.  Class resources will include:

  • Books
  • Songs 
  • Games 
  • Multi-media

French

In Junior Kindergarten French class, students will focus on: greetings, colors and shapes, numbers (0-10), weather and some clothing, the days of the week, classroom commands, family, body, feelings, springtime nature, animals, food and drinks. They will also learn about the French holidays throughout the year following the French calendars. Class resources will include:

  • Books
  • Songs 
  • Games 
  • Multi-media

Physical Education

Junior Kindergarten continues to build upon the skills learned in Preschool. The children actively participate in a variety of movement activities throughout the year to continue to strengthen their gross motor development. The activities they engage in promote Congressional’s commitment to physical fitness and health. 

Field Trips

Congressional Junior Kindergarten students have the opportunity to go on several different types of field trips throughout the year. These field trips are engaging, enriching, hands-on learning experiences that enhance the curriculum. Past field trips have included: farmer’s markets, productions at the Smithsonian, and the National Zoo.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a time for great discovery. Our Kindergarteners are given opportunities to flex their natural curiosity, their growing muscles and their social capabilities all in a day’s work.Though part of Lower School, kindergarten is a transition between the Early Childhood Program and Lower School. Students work on mastering literacy skills; are introduced to Singapore Math concepts; and receive increased instruction with specialty teachers in art, music, physical education, and world language. At the same time, students spend time learning in centers and have plenty of time for play.

Language Arts

Language Arts is a centerpiece of the daily kindergarten curriculum.  As they enter kindergarten, children occupy a wide literacy spectrum with some small friends still mastering letter sounds and others beginning to consume chapter books. Through their small classes and small group instruction, teachers meet children where they are and support them as they reach for the next level of literacy accomplishment.  Whether they’re enjoying leveled readers on their own or listening to teachers read stories by authors such as Jack Ezra Keats, Eric Carle, Nancy Carlson, or Faith Ringold, Senior kindergartners are immersed in daily reading activities.  

Using the Writer’s Workshop approach, kindergartners are also expressing their thoughts and feelings on a variety of topics and beginning to craft stories using multiple sentences.  Congressional kindergartners use inventive spelling, relying on the letter sounds they hear to begin communicating their ideas on paper. Congressional kindergartners are also instructed in early handwriting using  “Handwriting Without Tears”, a program that is taught throughout Lower School and prepares students for cursive. Congressional kindergartners are working to master many concepts, some of which include:

  • Developing phonemic awareness and letter-sound relationships
  • Understanding spelling patterns
  • Participating in leveled reading
  • Understanding parts of speech
  • Comprehension strategies
  • The ability to tell and retell stories
  • Recognizing the roles of authors and illustrators
  • Crafting, editing and producing stories
  • Developing a vocabulary of high-frequency words
  • Developing printing skills using Handwriting Without Tears

Science

There is perhaps no greater point of curiosity on life’s learning curve than that of kindergarten.  So it is no wonder that kindergartners thrive in the natural laboratory that is kindergarten. Kindergartners use a variety of hands-on STEM-based activities and resources to go in depth on scientific topics.  Whether they’re making it rain in the classroom, measuring their body weight on other planets, or completing their own taste tests, there is no greater place to ask a question, make a good guess, observe carefully, and write down what you see.  Some of the topics covered in science include:

  • Weather and Seasons – identifying concepts and characteristics of the four seasons including typical weather
  • Human Body – understanding that major systems of the body and the characteristics and position of major organs of the body
  • Nutrition – identifying foods and classifying into food groups
  • Solar System – recognizing the characteristics of the sun including day and night
  • Dinosaurs – exploring the characteristics and history of the dinosaurs and classifying dinosaurs as herbivores, carnivores or omnivores

Math

Congressional Schools’ Singapore Math program emphasizes the progression of math concepts from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. It’s this progression that helps children to better understand the “why” behind mathematical operations.  Children develop an appreciation for math, as a means of solving a problem.  The result is children with a depth of understanding and a confidence to their approach. At Congressional, parents and students are even invited to learn together during Math Meet-Ups, where families are invited to come in on select mornings to problem-solve alongside their children using the Singapore Math program.  

  • Numbers to 100
  • Addition & Subtraction 
  • Number Bonds as Part-Whole
  • Measurement
  • Money and Time  
  • Greater than Less Than

Social Studies

Kindergartners share equal enthusiasm for the community around them and the history that shaped them.  In kindergarten, children study figures from American History including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, the Pilgrims, and many famous African Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Wilma Rudolph, and Barack Obama. They songs about Johnny Appleseed or listen to music by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Senior kindergarten children are given regular occasions to appreciate the great the contributions from those individuals who continue to shape our nation. 

If you happen to be visiting our campus in the Spring and need directions, ask a kindergartner and they can point you in the right direction.   Kindergartners get out and walk the Congressional grounds as they map the various structures, roads and landmarks all over our campus.  Social Studies topics covered include:

  • Community helpers – their roles in our society
  • Historical Figures – introduction to various figures from American History
  • Maps – understanding their significance and usefulness
  • Identifying continents and oceans

Music

Children in kindergarten attend a specialty music class twice a week where they learn to appreciate the joy of music and movement.  At this age, children are beginning to tune their bodies to the different beats and rhythms of the various kinds of music.  For some, it will mark their first time playing an instrument or learning to vocalize and sing as a part of a group. Kindergarten children also share their innate love of music through school-wide performances at International Day and the Spring Concert.  Children in kindergarten will also learn some of the following:

  • How to aurally repeat simple duple and triple rhythm patterns
  • To play rhythm patterns by clapping, drumming or using percussion instruments
  • How to aurally identify high and low sounds (major and minor tonalities)                                                                                 
  • To recognize instruments by sight and sound
  • To improvise movements to music or poetry

World Languages

Bienvenidos amigos! (Welcome friends!)  Venez apprendre avec nous!  (Come learn with us!)  Congressional Students can select 1 of 2 World Languages; Spanish or French. Both The students will strengthen their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills using resources such as:

  • Books
  • Songs 
  • Games 
  • Multi-media

Physical Education

Children in Kindergarten will attend Physical Education class four days a week. Kindergarteners are embarking on a journey of formal physical education and a lifetime of movement. They are curious and eager to learn new skills. Some kindergarten students are kinesthetic learners who use their bodies to understand the world. The qualities of color, shape, texture, and space are important concepts for kindergarten students that should be taught in different subject areas. The concept of circle, for example, can be learned by writing, drawing, and through physical education activities that use circles. Physical Education enhances kindergarten students’ skills of learning through physical actives. The students will learn about:

  • Movement Concepts
  • Body Management
  • Locomotive Movement
  • Manipulative Skills
  • Rhythmic Skills

Field Trips

Field trips are an important component of the curriculum at Congressional that allow children to engage in their learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.  Children look forward to the opportunity to travel to destinations that bring concepts to life through demonstration, activity and hands-on experience. Children return to campus with experience that further extends their depth of appreciation on a range of topics.  In kindergarten, those topics include:

  • Pumpkin Patch
  • Air and Space Museum
  • Museum of Natural History
  • Nature Center

Art

Kindergartners attend a specialty art class twice a week to develop their own ability to create and appreciate art.  During their kindergarten year, our young artists create a portfolio of masterpieces that include their very own self-portraits.  Art is another setting in which to extend the learning that begins in their home base classrooms. In kindergarten, children use their discovery of primary and secondary colors to create a 3D healthy food color wheel that links directly to their study of nutrition. Consistent with their emerging literacy skills, children’s literature, read in art class, serves as inspiration for many of the creations our children will embark on during the year. Over the course of the year, children gain experience with many different artistic concepts including:

  • The identification of primary and secondary colors
  • Introduction to famous artists and identification of their work
  • Use of textures, lines, shapes and patterns
  • Learn to care for art materials
  • Introduction to a wide a variety of media and techniques including: tempera, watercolor, and Bio paints, graphite and colored pencils, markers, crayons, oil pastels, collage, and Model Magic.
  • Vocabulary relative to specific media, techniques, and subject matter

Library

There is perhaps no greater playground for the mind than the library. Through weekly visits to the library, Congressional students are given instruction to assist them in learning to navigate the world of information that is available to them. Our librarian carefully aligns units of instruction to those taught in classes so that children are able to extend their own learning through a vast collection of books.  In kindergarten, children focus on the following skills:

  • Learn the role of the librarian
  • Understand that library materials are available in various formats
  • Develop reading, listening and discussions skills
  • Identify the parts of a book
  • Understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction

Grade 1

First Grade represents a period of tremendous cognitive, social and emotional growth for young children.  Congressional Schools’ First Grade program mirrors the energy, excitement and enthusiasm of the typical first grade student through a rigorous and challenging academic program. Our first graders are given the room to question assumptions, to fully explore topics and to collaborate with their peers. Busy, fast-paced days that encompass academics, team-work, movement and creativity are all the motifs of the wonderful canvas that is first grade.

Language Arts

Language Arts is the cornerstone of the first grade classroom.  Our program follows approaches developed at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University, the epicenter of cutting edge practices in the teaching of writing and reading.  Through the Writer’s Workshop method, children are provided daily lessons that ignite the writing process and encourage children to develop along their own individual journeys as writers.  The model for writing meets children where they are and allows for differentiation, particularly through their individual conferences with teachers where they are guided to edit, revise and “fancy up” their works.  As a class, children often will collaborate for shared writing exercises.  Children in first grade showcase select writing assignments during “Authors’ Celebrations,” where parents and guests are invited to visit First Grade classrooms and tour the various works proudly created by our young writers.  

Reader’s Workshop offers children the opportunity to explore various literary genres as well as dedicated author studies including writers such as; Mo Willems, Tomie dePaola, and Ezra Jack Keats.  Reader’s Workshop utilizes shared reading, read-alouds, and dramatic presentations to support children as they develop their comprehension and fluency in reading.  You may occasionally find our First Graders waxing poetic in our outdoor Amphitheater during a Poetry Slam, where they may be reading or acting out selected poems.  At any given time, our students may be found focusing on some of the following:

  • Identifying the elements of a story
  • Experimenting with various writing styles including: narrative, informational, and opinion
  • Making critical connections; text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world
  • Spelling words related to curriculum and phonics rules, and according to each child’s level using the Words  Their Way program
  • Recognizing capitalization, punctuation, and appropriate end marks  

Science

Science allows first graders the opportunity to act on their natural curiosity.  First graders at Congressional are given numerous opportunities to put the scientific method in practice.  Whether they are planting seeds in our outdoor classroom to observe life cycles or visiting Tripp’s Run to learn about the water cycle and proper care for their environment, first graders are active scientists.  

Here, children are introduced to the special roles that they can play in preserving the world around them and to concepts like Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Our campus provides the perfect setting for children to appreciate their potential for positive impact on all aspects of the environment.  In the classroom and all over campus, first graders are learning skills such as:

  • How to examine materials, define attributes, and sort samples based on common attributes
  • The safe way to handle scientific equipment and materials
  • How to identify, classify, and report on living things
  • Research methods to discover animal habitats like wetlands

Math

Congressional Schools’ Singapore Math program emphasizes the progression of math concepts from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. It’s this progression that helps children to better understand the “why” behind mathematical operations. Children in first grade develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills while cultivating an appreciation for math. The result is children gain a strong depth of understanding and a confidence to their approach.  Some of the concepts covered during first grade include:

  • Numbers to 100 – developing a thorough number sense
  • Number Bonds -- dividing numbers into two parts in different ways
  • Addition and subtraction – relating facts to number bonds, utilizing counting on strategies
  • Measurement (including length and weight)
  • Currency – recognition of bills and coins, comparing sets of coins, evaluating price, and preparation of payment
  • Shapes – sorting and classifying 2D shapes, describing patterns using 1-2 attributes and fitting pieces to form a basic shape

Social Studies

Congressional is noted for being a culturally diverse community that celebrates traditions at home and around the world.  First graders at Congressional are introduced to the world around them through a study of maps, history, culture, economics, and geography focusing on the United States and on more distant settings like Africa and Italy.  Students delight in learning about Italian culture and accentuate that learning with a special unit on Tomie dePaola’s now classic children’s novel, Strega Nona. 

Through a study of communities, first graders learn how communities support the needs and wants of citizens and more about their place within their own community.  These lessons come to life in a trip to the National Building Museum to participate in the City by Design program, where children become urban planners for the day, designing their own cities. Topics covered include:

  • Maps– Communicating location and directions, recognizing basic map symbols
  • Characteristics of a good citizen
  • Communities Study—understanding urban, suburban, and rural attributes and the needs versus wants of citizens in a community 
  • Geography – understanding where something is located and why it is there

Music

First graders attend a specialty music class twice a week.  Whether they’re tuning into various rhythm patterns or learning to sing and vocalize as a group, they’re always focused on a range of skills that support their natural appreciation for the joy of music.   In addition to their musical instruction, students are given multiple opportunities throughout the year to perform at special events like International Day or the Winter Concert.  Children may also be members of the chorus during the Spring School Musical.  Some of the skills our first graders learn include:

  • Singing a repertoire of songs
  • Playing simple accompaniments on drums and other percussion instruments
  • Recognizing instruments by families
  • Creating duo, trio, and quartet ensembles

World Languages

Bienvenidos amigos! (Welcome Friends!)  (Come learn with us!)  Venez apprendre avec nous!  Congressional Students can select 1 of 2 World Languages; Spanish or French.  Both programs meet three times a week.  World Language programs expose children to culture and life including holidays, food, songs and games. First grade marks the beginning of regular language conversation between students.

There is an emphasis on learning through context, supporting language acquisition through real-life experiences. First graders expand their prior vocabulary to include words related to community helpers, pets, inside and outside the home, polite expressions, basic commands, classroom directions, and cultural celebrations.  In addition, both programs focus on vocabulary that aligns with thematic units taught to first graders.  World Language students learn some of the following:       

  • Reviewing greetings and salutations
  • Calendar 
  • Using simple language patterns 
  • Using correct pronunciation in songs and games 
  • Recognizing vocabulary words in context

Physical Education

Children in First Grade will attend Physical Education class four days a week. Many first graders can demonstrate the proper form for jumping, hopping, galloping, sliding, walking, running, leaping, and skipping. Additional practice opportunities and instruction should be provided for children who are experiencing difficulties with these skills. First graders are genuinely excited about learning in physical education. They anticipate the excitement and fun associated with moving and learning. The Physical Education teachers will harness this energy and enthusiasm and channel it to help our first grader’s develop skills and build a solid movement foundation. Students will learn how to utilize knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts, principles, and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activity.

  • Concepts covered include:
  • Movement
  • Body Management
  • Locomotive Skills
  • Manipulative Skills
  • Rhythmic Skills
  • Fitness Knowledge
  • Muscular Strength/Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular Strength/Endurance
  • Self-Responsibility

Field Trips

Field trips are an important component of the curriculum at Congressional that allow children to engage in their learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.  Children look forward to the opportunity to travel to destinations that bring concepts to life through demonstration, activity and hands-on experience. Children return to campus with experience that further extends their depth of appreciation on a range of topics.  

In first grade, trips may include the following:

  • National Building Museum – City by Design
  • George Mason University Theater
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center
  • Discovery Theater Performances

Art

First graders attend specialty art classes twice a week at Congressional.  Refining the skills begun in Kindergarten, students in first grade can also be found using earthenware clay, painting, creating tapestry weavings or making art inspired by stories and poetry from their reading.  As they navigate their Social Studies unit on Africa, our young artists continue to investigate patterns and create a paper Kente cloth, which originates in Ghana.  Margaret Musgrove’s “The Spider Weaver” sets the stage for this artistic exploration of African culture.  First grade artwork can be found on display throughout the school year and during Fine Arts Week, held every spring.   Some of the skills our first graders learn include:

  • Identifying primary & secondary colors, warm and cool colors 
  • Learning to care for art materials
  • Understanding line varieties
  • Mixing secondary paint colors
  • Understanding texture, both visual and tactile
  • Identifying shapes including geometric and organic
  • Understanding patterns; alternating and repeating
  • Using real and imaginary sources of inspiration
  • Using vocabulary relative to specific media, techniques, and subject matter

Library

There is perhaps no greater playground for the mind than the library.  Through weekly visits to the library, Congressional students are given instruction to assist them in learning to navigate the world of information that is available to them. Our librarian carefully aligns units of instruction to those taught in classes so that children are able to extend their own learning through a vast collection of books.  In first grade, children focus on the following skills:

  • Choosing independent reading books that are appropriate to their reading level
  • Recognizing and appreciating award-winning books such as Caldecott and Newbery Medal books
  • Understanding what it means to be a good digital citizen
  • Understanding how the library is organized 
  • Locating and using the online catalog for basic searching

Grade 2

Second Grade is a time where children’s interest and enthusiasm is rivaled only by their growing confidence as students.  The ability to read, write, study and think critically about the world around them is what engages second graders to be their best selves.  Whether their interests lie in reading, writing, math, science or all of the above, the second grade program is designed to challenge the students while also stretching their young minds.  Through a carefully crafted program that emphasizes strong academics, students in 2nd grade reach their highest potential.

Language Arts
Second graders receive instruction on reading and writing using the Readers’ and Writer’s Workshop approach developed at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University.  Second graders expand their writing skills through personal narratives, opinion writing, poetry, research reports and story writing.  Building on the strong foundation from first grade, second graders are now writing material that includes multiple paragraphs and greater detail including elements like dialogue.   Second grade writing is featured throughout the classrooms and hallways of Congressional.  In fact, visitors to our Lower School Library may discover works, penned by our very own second grade authors.  

Still refining their reading and comprehension skills in particular, second graders are exposed to multiple genres including nonfiction, fiction, poetry and biographies.  Second graders are taught the value of thinking and reading critically, documenting their thinking using Stop and Jots; sticky note thoughts that cover their books like confetti.  Children enjoy class novels that may include; The Boxcar Children, Ramona Quimby Age 8, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little.  Second grade teachers also continue read-alouds for students to enjoy a shared reading experience.  Parents regularly read to children, encouraging and fostering a love for reading.   Congressional second graders are actively involved in student-centered discussions on books and literature and enjoy their very own book clubs, where they focus on novels designed for their specific reading level or based on a student’s particular interest area.  Students in second grade also focus on the following:
  • Reading aloud for expression
  • Writing directions and friendly letters 
  • Researching and writing multiple paragraph reports
  • Making class presentations
  • Identifying different types of sentences and understanding their subjects and predicates
  • Identifying  parts of a sentence including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and possessive nouns
  • Reinforcing story elements and comprehension skills such as main idea, cause/effect, inference, fact/opinion, author’s purpose, figurative language, predictions, and summarizing
  • Applying complex phonics rules through spelling using Words Their Way programg

Math

Congressional Schools’ Singapore Math program emphasizes the progression of math concepts from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. It’s this progression that helps children to better understand the “why” behind mathematical operations.  Children develop an appreciation for math, as a means of solving a problem.  The result is children with a depth of understanding and a confidence to their approach. 

Moreover, second grade children are beginning to develop an appreciation for the application of math to other areas of their work.  In fact, one favorite activity among second graders is the One Grain of Rice Counting activity based off the Mathematical Folktale, One Grain of Rice by Demi.  Through this clever exploration of exponential growth, children proudly discover their amazing mental math ability to count well beyond the tens, hundreds and thousands all the way to a million.  

In second grade there is a strong emphasis on mental math using strategies such as part-whole, number bonds, and an introduction to bar modeling.   

Some of the concepts covered during second grade include:
  • Place value with numbers to 1,000
  • Length in Metric and Standard Units
  • Money – counting and naming, adding and subtracting
  • Addition and subtraction of three-digit numbers
  • Geometry of flat and curved shapes
  • Telling time
  • Interpreting and comparing fractions
  • Multiplication and Division  of 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 10’s

Science

Second grade is home to budding scientists, eager for the opportunity to dig deeper into topics that pique their innate curiosity.  Our second graders use hands-on activities, technology and the natural landscape of the Congressional grounds to extend their study of science topics.  Visit our campus and you may stumble on a second grade class enjoying a nature walk where they unearth the components of an ecosystem, or identify particular plant adaptations.  In their review of plant and animal life cycles, second grade children raise butterflies, document changes, and create realistic scientific sketches to capture their observations, before releasing them to the world.   

During second grade, students will also study habitats and ecosystems, energy pyramids, food chains, renewable and non-renewable resources, and endangered species.  These topics invite multiple project opportunities to work in teams, conduct research, summarize their findings, and report back to other classmates to share what each team has learned.  If you’re interested in learning more about the Wetlands, Photosynthesis, Plant Adaptations or the Giant Panda, chances are that there is a resident expert in second grade to answer your questions.  

During second grade science, children will... 
  • Explore the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment
  • Study the process of photosynthesis and pollination
  • Understand renewable and nonrenewable resources and approaches to conservation
  • Investigate the properties of matter and changes in states of matter
  • Understand different types of energy – light, sound, heat, electricity
  • Be introduced to Simple Machines – lever, inclined plane, wheel/axle, screw, pulley, and wedge

Social Studies

Second graders take a big step forward when they take a big leap back in time to study Ancient Civilizations.  The study of Ancient China, Egypt, Greece and Rome takes children on an exploration of the beliefs, traditions, symbols, and figures and the way these early civilizations helped to shape the world we know today.  Children conduct their own research, integrating the findings from their primary and secondary sources.  Second graders develop many skills including some of the following:
  • How to locate, gather and process information from multiple sources
  • General map skills
  • How to make and record observations about the physical and human characteristics of places

Music

Second graders attend a specialty music class twice a week.  Whether they’re learning and studying composers or learning to play simple melodies on the keyboard, they’re always focused on a range of skills that support their natural appreciation for the joy of music.  In addition to their musical instruction, students are given multiple opportunities throughout the year to perform at special events like International Day or the Winter Concert.  Children may also be members of the chorus during the annual school musical.  Some of the skills our second graders learn include:
  • Singing a repertoire of songs found in American and other cultures
  • Identifying notated rhythmic patterns that move faster, slower
  • Applying knowledge of written music to repertoire of music
  • Playing on percussion instruments to accompany musical selections 

World Language

Bienvenidos amigos! (Welcome friends!)   Venez apprendre avec nous!  (Come learn with us!)  Congressional Students can select 1 of 2 World Languages; Spanish or French.  Both programs meet three times a week.  World Language programs expose children to culture and life including holidays, food, traditions, songs and games.  Second grade also marks the beginning of daily language conversation between students.

There is an emphasis on learning through context, supporting language acquisition through real-life experience. Second graders expand their prior vocabulary to include words related to some of the following; hobbies, seasonal sports, food and drink, numbers to sixty, expressions of courtesy and emotions.  In addition, both programs focus on vocabulary that aligns with thematic units taught to second graders.  Second graders will also focus on some of the following:
  • Simple introduction to regular and irregular verb conjugation
  • Daily conversations using all the vocabulary learned in class.
  • Emphasis on pronunciation
  • Guided writing activities including seasonal clothing, animals and families
  • Recognizing vocabulary words in context through singing songs, reading books and guided writing activities
  • Using language patterns in response to songs and games

Art

Second graders attend specialty art classes twice a week at Congressional.  Consistent throughout our art curriculum is the belief that art be a source of joy and the process of creating art supersedes the product.  Art is another setting in which to extend the learning that begins in their home base classrooms.  The study of ancient civilizations extends to the art studio, where second graders create artwork based on their studies of Ancient Egypt and Greece.  hieroglyphic writing, an Egyptian Sarcophagus or a Greek Temple are but a few of the projects you’ll see displayed by second grade artists.  As they continue to develop their writing skills, they pen their own original “monster” stories that serve as the foundation for the “Pillow Monsters” they create in art class.  

Here, as it is across the curriculum students are focused on collaboration, expression and problem solving.  Students are encouraged to leverage the unanticipated “mistakes” that occur through the art process.  Second grade artwork can be found on display throughout the school year and during Fine Arts Week, held every spring.   Some of the skills our second graders learn include:
  • Creating clay pieces using slabs and pinch pots
  • Using natural objects in creating art
  • Using rulers to measure and as a straight edge
  • Recognizing Greek Architectural features including columns, pediments, friezes, and plinths
  • Using sewing, drawing, painting and modeling materials
  • Creating artwork using symmetry
  • Using vocabulary relative to specific media, techniques, and subject matter

Physical Education

Children in second grade will attend Physical Education class four days a week. Second graders continue to maintain a high level of flexibility and a moderate but steady growth in muscular strength and endurance. They exhibit relatively high heart and breathing rates and are typically active intermittently, showing vigorous bursts of energy followed by periods of rest or recovery (Siedentop 2004). Locomotor and manipulative skills continue to improve, and students demonstrate a keen interest in practicing activities that they know how to perform. Static and dynamic balance skills also show steady improvement, and rhythmic skills show an increase in quality and complexity of movement. Second graders want to know how things work, including their own bodies. Second grade is the time when children begin working cooperatively with a partner, although they are still eager for adult approval and find criticism difficult to handle. Through social interactions with other students, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities. These interactions also provide opportunities for helping students accept and respect differences in others. Second graders are capable of exhibiting greater control over their emotions.  Concepts covered include:
  • Personal responsibility and feedback 
  • Rules and safety 
  • Movement concepts
  •  Muscular Strength/Endurance 
  • Flexibility 
  • Muscular Strength/Endurance
  • Manipulative skills 
  • Fitness knowledge
  • Self-Responsibility
  • Social Interaction
  • Group Dynamics

Library

There is perhaps no greater playground for the mind than the library.  Through weekly visits to the library, Congressional students are given instruction to assist them in learning to navigate the world of information that is available to them. Our librarian carefully aligns units of instruction to those taught in classes so that children are able to extend their own learning through a vast collection of books.  In second grade, children focus on the following skills:
  • Understanding the basics of the Dewey Decimal system and use it to locate a book
  • Independently using the online catalog
  • Learning about different fiction genres
  • Listening actively and critically for information and problem solving
  • Understanding basic reference sources
  • Learning to evaluate and compare information from multiple sources

Field Trips

Field trips are an important component of the curriculum at Congressional that allow children to engage in their learning beyond the four walls of their classroom. Children look forward to the opportunity to travel to destinations that bring concepts to life through demonstration, activity and hands-on experience. Children return to campus with experience that further extends their depth of appreciation of a range of topics.  In second grade, trips may include the following:
  • Mount Vernon
  • George Mason Center of the Arts – Theater Performance
  • DC Monument Tour
  • U.S. Bureau of Engraving
  • U.S.  Botanic Gardens
  • National Zoo
  • National Geographic Museum

Grade 3

Third Grade at Congressional is an adventure; ripe with rich learning opportunities and activities to continuously engage third grader’s intellectual curiosity.  Congressional third graders are highly motivated by their ability to work collaboratively with peers in the classroom.  Through a rigorous and challenging program, students in Third Grade continue to build a strong academic foundation that will prepare them for the 4th grade and beyond.

Language Arts

The third grade Language Arts curriculum includes reading, writing, spelling, and grammar instruction and is designed to stretch and challenge the students.   Third graders practice reading strategies using multiple genres and keep response notebooks that focus on various lessons such as story elements, connections, summarizing, character analysis, cause and effect, and tone.  In addition, third graders enjoy regular visits by parents and special friends who read to the children as a class.  

At this stage of their academic journey, children are more prolific with their writing portfolios, integrating the six traits of writing and better organizing their compositions with a clear beginning, middle, and end.  Children work together in leveled groups with the Words Their Way program to further develop their spelling skills. Vocabulary is closely aligned with the study of novels such as In the Year of the Boar and Jackie RobinsonFrindle, Because of Winn Dixie,, and The Sign of the Beaver.  Students in third grade also focus on the following:
  • Listening for multiple details and drawing conclusions
  • Practicing reading strategies on multiple genres including fiction, folktales, fantasy, and informational text
  • Identifying and writing four types of sentences and compound sentences
  • Fluently using  adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and possessive nouns
  • Spelling with the Words their Way program
  • Identifying  parts of a sentence including nouns, verbs adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and possessive nouns,

Math

Congressional’s Singapore Math program emphasizes the progression of math concepts from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. It’s this progression that helps children to better understand the “why” behind mathematical operations.  Through a rigorous program that emphasizes critical thinking, children develop a number of skills and strategies to solve complex and often advanced mathematical problems.  The result is children with a depth of understanding and a confidence to their approach.  

In third grade there is an emphasis on strategies such as number patterns, rounding numbers, mental math strategies, sums and differences, estimation, and two-step word problems.

Some of the concepts covered during third grade include:
  • Numbers to 10,000
  • Money – addition and subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Conversion of units of measurement – length, width, capacity
  • Geometry, including area and perimeter
  • Time – hours, minutes, and elapsed time
  • Fractions
  • Multiplication and Division  by 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 100’s

Science

Third graders apply their scientific skills in the classroom and throughout the campus. Whether they’re building simple machines or observing chemical reactions during the Mysterious Powder unit, third graders are constantly using a hands-on approach to learning.   As they begin to learn more about human impact on the environment, our third graders will complete a stream monitoring program using beautiful Tripps Run which flows throughout the Congressional grounds.  Put on your waders and join your third grader as they collect and analyze water samples discovering life at its most miniscule.  During this extended investigation, soil scientists will visit third graders to demonstrate watersheds and soil sampling right here on Congressional Schools’ campus.

Ask a third grader to see his or her science notebook and you may see topics ranging from the solar system, to weather systems, or constellations. Science learning is accentuated through the use of technology.  In the classroom and all over campus, third graders are learning about:
  • Predicting and testing hypotheses
  • Comparing the physical features and phases of the moon
  • Reading weather maps, including identification and meaning of pressure systems and frontal boundaries
  • Understanding human impact on the environment
  • Identifying and creating simple machines
  • Understanding basic chemical reactions; acids and bases, and PH

Social Studies

Social Studies take third graders around the globe and closer to home as they delve into topics ranging from world geography to American History.  An in-depth study of the Native Americans culminates in a third grade tradition, Native American Fun Day, where third graders enjoy activities, celebrations, games and crafts unique to Native Americans.  Third graders also learn about the settlement of Jamestown and the original thirteen colonies, the Puritan Code of Laws and the significance of the Mayflower Compact.  Third grade children weave these newly discovered threads of history into the tapestry that makes up the great United States of America, as we know it today. 

Children in third grade further the expertise developed in previous grade levels, using maps and globes as they study the world geography including continents, countries, and major bodies of water.  Exploring the 50 United States, or following the earliest routes of Ponce de Leon, John Cabot and Champlain, third graders are investigating our earliest origins and the connections between history and modern day America.  Third graders have the opportunity to study some of the following topics:
  • Exploring  World Geography including continents, countries, major bodies of water, and rivers as a source of civilization and trade
  • 50 United States – locating states within various regions and the unique attributes that distinguish each state
  • Learning about the vikings and explorers
  • Studying the earliest traces of man, the Inuit, the Plains, and other Southwest groups
  • Studying American history, geography, and economics beginning with the settling of Jamestown and the migration of Europeans to the United States

Music

Third graders attend a specialty music class twice a week.  Children in third grade are deepening their musical aptitude as they begin to sing with simple harmonies focusing on proper breath control and vocal technique.  During third grade they’re coached on how to respond accurately to musical terms such as dynamics and tempo markings. Musical direction is in place to support their natural appreciation for the joy of music.   Children may attend field trips such as children’s opera, dance, and puppet troupes to further support their appreciation for the role of music in various settings.  In addition to their musical instruction, students are given multiple opportunities throughout the year to perform at special events like International Day or the Winter Concert.  Children may also be members of the chorus during the annual school musical.  Some of the skills our third graders learn include:
  • Using movement to explore and understand tonal patterns and their relationship to one another
  • Exploring melodic patterns in and identify pitches played on soprano recorder
  • Advancing through the levels of the black belt recorder program
  • Playing selections from the World Music drumming curriculum
  • Identifying the direction of aural melodic patterns

World Languages

Bienvenidos amigos! (Welcome friends!)  Venez apprendre avec nous!  (Come learn with us!)  Congressional Students can select 1of 2 World Languages; Spanish or French.  Both programs meet three times a week.  World Language programs expose children to culture and life including holidays, food, traditions, songs and games. 

There is an emphasis on learning through context, supporting language acquisition through real-life experience. At this stage in their world language experience, third graders are beginning to use creative writing activities to construct simple dialogue and questions and students in both programs are focusing more closely on the intonations of the spoken language.  Third graders will also focus on some of the following:
  • Continuing focus on regular and irregular verb conjugation
  • Increasing understanding of language patterns such as intonation, gender forms, and noun/adjective agreement
  • Daily conversations using all the vocabulary learned in class.
  • Emphasizing intonation and pronunciation
  • Recognizing vocabulary words in context through singing songs, reading books, and guided writing activities
  • Skyping with pen pals

Art

Third graders attend specialty art classes twice a week at Congressional.  Art is another setting in which to extend the learning that begins in their home base classrooms.  In third grade, children create artwork based on Native American artifacts to extend their appreciation of American history.  Art class is an opportunity to draw connections between history, culture, and visual art.  Here, as they are across the curriculum, students are focused on collaboration, expression, and problem solving.  Students are encouraged to generate innovative solutions as they approach their art activities.  Third grade artwork can be found on display throughout the school year and during Fine Arts Week, held every spring.   Some of the skills our third graders learn include:
  • Identifying tints, and shades of color, neutral colors, and color schemes
  • Identifying balance-symmetry, asymmetry, radial symmetry, and kaleidoscopic patterns
  • Mixing tints and shades
  • Maintaining a sketchbook for notes and preliminary drawings
  • Distinguishing between abstract, representational, and nonrepresentational art
  • Using vocabulary relative to specific media, techniques, and subject matter
  • Using coil and bas-relief carving skills in creating with clay
  • Working within a limited palette of colors

Physical Education

Children in third grade will attend Physical Education class four days a week. Third grade is a pivotal time in the development of students’ movement skills. Third graders who demonstrate and understand the proper form for locomotor and nonlocomotor skills now shift their focus to combining these skills into new movement sequences. They have developed a stronger sense of right and wrong, having reached the stage of development for internalization of rules and regulations. They are becoming more self-reliant and can work independently. This is a good time to have students create personal fitness and motor skill goals and monitor their own progress, because they have a strong desire for self-improvement. These students also experience an increased desire for interaction with others and should be provided with opportunities to practice and work toward common goals in pairs and triads.
 

Library

There is perhaps no greater playground for the mind than the library.  Through weekly visits to the library, Congressional students are given instruction to assist them in learning to navigate the world of information that is available to them. Our librarian carefully aligns units of instruction to those taught in classes so that children are able to extend their own learning through a vast collection of resources.  In third grade, children focus on the following skills:
  • Demonstrating an independent use of the online catalog and locate books with minimal assistance
  • Understanding which reference materials are appropriate for informational needs
  • Identifiying appropriate websites based on evaluative factors
  • Understanding the significance of copyright
  • Learning to write a simple bibliography

Field Trips

Field trips are an important component of the curriculum at Congressional that allow children to engage in learning beyond the four walls of their classroom.  Children look forward to the opportunity to travel to destinations that bring concepts to life through demonstration, activity and hands-on experience. Children return to campus with experience that further extends their depth of appreciation of a range of topics.  In third grade, trips may include the following:
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Corcoran Art Museum
  • Thomas Jefferson High School Planetarium 
  • Claude Moore Colonial Farm – farm skills exploration
  • Lyceum Museum – walking tour

Grade 4

Fourth Grade represents an intersection between the experiences and lessons of Lower School and the future that awaits them in grades 5 through 8.  Congressional Fourth Graders are eager and capable in their approach and are well-prepared for the high academic standards of Middle School.  Through a rigorous and challenging program that emphasizes independence and “ownership of learning”, students complete the foundation needed to move to Middle School.  By the end of 4th grade, students will be academically prepared to negotiate the rigors and expectations of Middle School academics.

Language Arts

The Fourth Grade Language Arts curriculum includes reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and handwriting instruction.  At this stage, there is a strong focus on narrative writing and applying the six traits writing program.  The art of writing in fourth grade continues to become more sophisticated. Through regular one-on-one conferences with their teacher and through their writing peer group, children are constantly engaged in writing exercises be they narratives, poetry, journal entries, or biographies.  

Fourth graders are also writing about texts to solidify their comprehension skills in reading as they consume multiple genres such as tall tales, realistic and historical fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.  Now, avid readers with a variety of strategies to approach challenging texts, children can be found participating in reading groups and actively extending their comprehension of works as they hold discussion groups and act out stories. In fourth grade, vocabulary is closely aligned with the study of class novels such as Shadow of a BullIsland of the Blue DolphinsIndigo and The Green Book among others.  Students in fourth grade also focus on the following:
  • Analyzing what is heard; predicting outcomes
  • Writing sentences with compound subjects and predicates
  • Identifying prepositions and prepositional phrases
  • Using adverbs, pronouns, possessive nouns, and adjectives
  • Writing with dialogue, introductory phrases, and interjections
  • Identifying context clues, discussing cause and effect, and visualization
  • Identifying and exploring themes in literature 

Math

Congressional’s Singapore Math program emphasizes the progression of math concepts from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. It’s this progression that helps children to better understand the “why” behind mathematical operations.  Through a rigorous program that emphasizes critical thinking, children develop a number of skills and strategies to solve complex and often advanced mathematical problems.  The result is children with a depth of understanding and a confidence to their approach.  

In fourth grade there is an emphasis on strategies such as number patterns, rounding numbers, mental math strategies, sums and differences, estimation, and two-step word problems.

Some of the concepts covered during fourth grade include:
  • Place value to 100,000
  • Rounding numbers
  • Multiplication by a one and two-digit number, division by a one-digit number and 10
  • Mixed numbers and improper fractions
  • Presenting data in a table or graph
  • Measuring and drawing angles, perpendicular and parallel lines, area, and perimeter
  • Decimals; rounding, comparing, ordering, and the four operations
  • Solving word problems with various strategies

Science

Fourth graders investigate topics including the metric system, weather, matter, natural resources, and Earth’s history among others.  There is a careful application of STEM activities to support each of the scientific units including visits from Congressional parents to share their own work in STEM fields as well as a unique science cruise offered through the Living Classrooms Foundation. In fourth grade, students are becoming savvy in their ability to form a hypothesis and draw conclusions from their observations and they are actively preparing for their transition to the Middle School science program.

Science learning is accentuated through the use of technology such as iPads, United Streaming, and online research tools as well as unique relationships like that between Congressional Schools and the JASON project™.
 
In the classroom and all over campus, fourth graders are learning:
  • How to analyze and draw conclusions from data
  • How the scientific classification system works
  • How the water cycle works, including atmosphere, temperature, cloud types, air pressure, wind, and air masses
  • How to investigate adaptations through the process of evolution
  • Magnetism at the atomic level
  • How circuits work and how electricity is generated through electromagnetic induction
  • How to explore the physical and chemical properties of matter -- atoms and molecules, elements and compounds, mixtures and solutions, physical and chemical changes
  • The Earth’s structure, history, and geologic record
  • The rock cycle
  • The effects of erosion on Earth’s surface

Social Studies

“Historical knowledge is no more and no less than carefully and critically constructed collective memory. As such it can both make us wiser in our public choices and more richly human in our private lives.”-- American Historical Association

Fourth grade social studies is largely focused on U.S. History through the Reconstruction period.  Walk by a fourth grade classroom and you may overhear an enthusiastic discussion about independence and the role of government as they explore the social, political, economic, and cultural landscape of Virginia and the early United States.  Children explore important historical figures and themes through a creative learning process called notebooking.  By year’s end, each student will have their own treasured notebook filled with primary resources, maps, and foldables of their own making, and each will represent personal connections they have personally made to the content.  Indeed, a fourth grade Congressional classroom is a setting in which to share our nation’s collective memory, offering our students the wisdom they will need as citizens and humanity they will need to they make their way in the world.

Some of the topics covered in fourth grade social studies include:
  • Archaeology as a means of learning about the past
  • Exploration of economic growth – barter, debt, savings, credit
  • Economic goals of the first explorers and settlers and how tobacco served as an economic engine for Virginia’s economy
  • Understanding the French & Indian War, Revolutionary War, the Constitution
  • Civil War, underground railroad, slavery, states’ rights, Reconstruction and Jim Crow Laws

Music

Fourth graders attend a specialty music class twice a week.  In fourth grade, children are performing group songs using two-part harmonies, using percussion instruments, and are introduced to hand-bell playing for the first time.  In addition to their musical instruction, students are given multiple opportunities throughout the year to perform at special events like International Day or the Winter Concert.  Children in fourth grade are encouraged to participate in the school’s annual musical as members of either the chorus or the instrumental group.  In addition, Congressional fourth graders are invited to join the Congressional Orchestra and Band.  Some of the skills our fourth graders learn during music classes include: 
  • Identifying the function of the top number of a meter signature
  • Distinguishing between major and minor tonality, while learning chordal patterns
  • Accurately interpreting dynamic markings in performance settings
  • Distinguishing between stepwise and leapwise melodic patterns
  • Repeating and vocalizing beat patterns in double and triple time

World Languages

Bienvenidos amigos! (Welcome friends!) Venez apprendre avec nous!  (Come learn with us!)  Congressional students can select one of two World Languages; Spanish or French.  Both programs meet three times a week.  World Language programs expose children to culture and life including holidays, food, traditions, songs and games. Walk the halls of Congressional during the holiday season and you might take in the sweet smell of a Bûche de Noël or hear the sounds of holiday carols sung in Spanish.

There is an emphasis on learning through context, supporting language acquisition through real-life experience. At this stage in their world language experience, fourth graders are engaged in a number of different activities to help support their adoption of the language.  Activities may include; skits, weather reports, family trees, and Photo Story Projects.  Additionally, both programs focus on vocabulary that aligns with thematic units taught to fourth graders.  Fourth graders will also focus on some of the following:
  • Increased understanding of language patterns such as intonation, gender forms, noun/adjective agreement, and subject/pronoun agreement
  • Daily conversations using all the vocabulary learned in class
  • Emphasizing intonation and pronunciation
  • Writing pen pal letters
  • Creative guided writing activities
  • Recognizing vocabulary words in context through singing songs, reading books,g and guided writing activities
  • Skyping with pen pals

Art

Fourth graders attend specialty art classes twice a week at Congressional.  In fourth grade, art class is an opportunity to draw connections between history, culture, and visual art.  In fourth grade, artists also begin to appreciate the relationship between math and art as they explore the impact of diameter, radius, perimeter, and fractions on their artwork through a painting inspired by Islamic Tile Design.  Here, as it is across the curriculum, students are focused on collaboration, expression, and problem solving.  Students are encouraged to generate innovative solutions as they approach their art activities.  

As a passage to Middle School, fourth grade is where children begin to focus their attention on art as a part of their organic experience as individuals.  Students are supported as they identify opportunities for hands-on visual applications beyond the art studio.  As they near the Middle School years, students are beginning to make more artistic choices in-studio and are applying their own decision making.  They are less dependent on direction and more frequently seek instructors for their consultation.  Fourth grade artwork can be found on display throughout the school year and during Fine Arts Week, held every spring.  Some of the skills our fourth graders learn include:
  • Recognizing color characteristics; tint, tone, shade, and analogous colors
  • Creating artwork that uses themes, ideas, and art forms influenced by different regions of the world
  • Using various methods of clay hand building
  • Learning about and create linoleum block printmaking
  • Maintaining a sketchbook for notes, preliminary drawings, and drawing exercises
  • Using vocabulary relative to specific media, techniques, and subject matter

Physical Education

Children in fourth grade attend Physical Education class four days a week. Fourth-grade students are at a transitional stage between childhood and youth. There is still very little difference in motor skill performance between boys and girls, and there should be equal expectations for both in terms of physical performance. Eye–hand coordination is improving, fine-motor activities are becoming more skillful, and the greatest gain in strength begins at this stage. Students are also experiencing improvements in reaction time and balance, although the center of gravity is still located in the midsection of the body, making balance a challenge. The focus now shifts to using the proper form for manipulating (e.g., kicking, throwing, striking) objects. Fourth grade marks a period of increased curiosity and rapid mental growth.
 

Library

There is perhaps no greater playground for the mind than the library. Through weekly visits to the library, Congressional students are given instruction to assist them in learning to navigate the world of information that is available to them. Our librarian carefully aligns units of instruction to those taught in classes so that children are able to extend their own learning through a vast collection of resources.  In fourth grade, children focus on the following skills:
  • Understand how to effectively use a variety of search engines
  • Define a specific problem or task for research, investigation or discussion
  • Evaluate web pages and apply criteria to decide if site is good source of information
  • Identify and define a specific problem or task for research, investigation or discussion
  • Develop awareness that media messages are constructed with specific purpose

Field Trips

Field trips are an important component of the curriculum at Congressional that allow children to engage in their learning beyond the four walls of their classroom.  Children look forward to the opportunity to travel to destinations that bring concepts to life through demonstration, activity and hands-on experience. Children return to campus with experience that further extends their depth of appreciation of a range of topics.   In fourth grade, trips may include the following:
  • American Visionary Art Museum
  • Living Classroom Science Cruise
  • Local grocery stores – Mathematics Trip
  • Colonial Days at Gunston Hall

Grade 5

Fifth Grade marks the transition into Middle School at Congressional.  Beginning this year, students change classes throughout the day, working with specialist teachers who challenge and guide them. The curriculum in Middle School looks ahead to the student’s future academic needs, with a strong focus on preparing them intellectually, socially, and academically for the rigors of high school.

Language Arts

Fifth grade marks a significant expansion of students’ knowledge with respect to exploring words, ideas, genres, and expressive techniques through a range of reading and writing experiences. Walk into a fifth grade language arts classroom and you’re likely to find students engaged in group discussions, offering peer feedback, participating in student/teacher conferences, or deeply engrossed in writing or reading. 

Through the workshop model of structured mini-lessons and individual conferences, students build strength as readers and writers in a variety of genres such as free verse poetry, odes, short stories, literary reflections, and expository essay. Students practice their reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills, while also honing their understanding and use of English conventions such as grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary development. The curriculum encourages students to think critically and make connections across a wide range of texts and disciplines.

Reader's Workshop Overview

  • Read Aloud (Model a reader’s thinking)
  • Independent Reading and Conference (Develop a daily habit of reading and discussing self-selected novels)
  • Shared Novels (Spy School, Fever 1793)
  • Reading Units:
    • Building a Reading Life
    • Envisionment, Prediction, and Inference
    • Fluency: Reading for Sound and Meaning
    • Reading More Deeply
    • Nonfiction Reading

Writer's Workshop Overview

  • Vocabulary (Meaningful words drawn from across the curriculum & WordMasters Challenge)
  • Writing takes place across the curriculum. Writing takes places across the curriculum and includes strong instruction on grammar and writing mechanics.
  • Writing Units:
    • Poetry: Free-verse, Ode         
    • Narrative: Short Story
    • Expository: Essay and Literary Reflections

Mathematics

Congressional Schools’ Singapore Math program emphasizes the progression of math concepts from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. It’s this progression that helps children to better understand the “why” behind mathematical operations.  Children develop an appreciation for math as a means of solving a problem.  The result is children with a depth of understanding and a confidence to their approach.

Fifth grade math is taught with a collaborative, hands-on approach where students are challenged to explore the deeper concepts beyond the processes and procedures of the standard algorithms in a safe, risk-taking environment. Students continue their their study of numeracy and operations, in particular,  revisiting order of operations and each of the whole number operations; exploring fraction concepts and operations; transition to  decimal operations and applications; and discover and apply the connections between decimals, fractions, and percents.  The skills of estimation and approximation are  practiced in many different type of situations.  An introduction to ratios and rates  as a means to compare two and three quantities is presented and connected to the study of fractions.  

Students further their knowledge of geometry by first revisiting the concepts of perimeter and area. Strategies for finding the perimeter and area of various regular and composite figures are explored and proceduralized.  Students work to define the characteristics, relationships, and properties of angles,  triangles and quadrilaterals. Students are introduced to the ideas and application of visual representations to analyze data, including line graphs, and to apply the concept of an average. Technology, including iPads, SmartBoards, and web-based applications such as Khan Academy,  is integrated as appropriate for concept exploration, procedural practice, and skill enhancement. 

Through various projects, the idea that math is more than a set of procedures is developed and reinforced.  Highlights include:

  • Solving word problems using Singapore “model drawing” strategies
  • Communicating mathematical ideas effectively 
  • Applying new concepts through projects and collaborative activities
  • Taking risks when applying new ideas and concepts
  • Finding patterns in numbers and operations
  • Exploring the logic and beauty of geometry

Science

Using hands-on experiments, group discussions and field studies, fifth graders develop a sound understanding for the foundations of Physical, Life and Earth Science.  Fifth graders are introduced to the basics of physical principles of force, motion and energy by understanding the theory of forces, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and simple machines with application in day-to-day situations.  

Life science begins with the classification of living systems and evolves into studying the complexity of living systems and life at the cellular level. This investigation helps students appreciate the processes that govern microbial, plant and animal life and how life forms adapt to various environmental conditions. Building on lessons from Physical and Life Science, Earth science focuses on the influence of abiotic factors such as light, water and soil on the development of life and the relationships of  living things to their environment.  Students complete a deep investigation of the ocean as an ecosystem learning about the biotic and abiotic factors that influence the different ocean habitats. 

The use of ocean resources by humans for harvesting food and other products while also helping understand the consequences of human activity on disturbing the delicate balance of the ocean ecosystem will help students understand the principles of conservation of natural resources.

Units of Study:

  • Introduction to Experimental Design and Procedure 
  • Metrology - introduction to the metric system (units, tools of measurement and conversion)
  • Classification of Living systems
  • Sound
  • Force
  • Simple Machines
  • Ocean Ecosystem


Social Studies

In fifth grade, students journey through a study of pivotal events in American History. They embark with a review of key map skills and then apply those skills as they study Native American migration routes and regions, exploration, settlements, colonies, slavery, colonial Williamsburg, and elements of the American Revolution. The units involve a number of important skills, such as comparing and contrasting, sequencing events, identifying main idea and details, collecting and synthesizing information, interpreting graphic information, locating, organizing, analyzing, and evaluating resources, and writing for a variety of Social Studies purposes.  

Hands-on learning and problem solving opportunities are regularly woven into the students’ learning experience as a way to engage and equip them with important critical thinking practices. Students hone their ability to communicate and collaborate when they recreate the food, shelter, and clothing elements of Native American migration. Working in small groups, students use key cooperation and organization skills to create descriptive videos detailing the key aspects from exploration to colonization. Role-play, 3D (virtual and actual) models, and numerous apps became the communication choices for a deep dive into Colonial Williamsburg. These experiences help them to construct their own knowledge in meaningful, active ways.
                                                                                                               
Taking advantage of our proximity to Washington, D.C., our students visit local historic sites such as the Frederick Douglass House. These visits provide important context and deepen their understanding of the impact of events and historical figures.

Fifth Grade Social Studies Overview:

  • Geography of the United States
  • American Indians and Their Land
  • American Indian Cultural Regions
  • Experiential Migration Activity
  • How and Why Europeans Came to the New World
  • Routes and Exploration to the New World
  • Early English Settlements
  • Comparing the Colonies
  • Facing Slavery
  • Life in Colonial Williamsburg
  • The American Revolution
  • The Constitution

French

In Middle School, the French program meets five times a week.The program continues to support language acquisition through context and real life experiences. During this upcoming year, Students will improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in French while exploring the language and culture of France and the Francophone countries all over the world.

  • The students will review and practice vocabulary for greeting people, introducing oneself, talking about family and friends,pets, favorite colors and animals, feelings, school, food and sports.
  • The students will also learn nationalities, practice skills for ordering in a café, numbers 0-9999, telling time, days of the week, months and dates, weather and clothes for all seasons, professions, stores and places.
  • The students will understand intonation patterns; distinguish between statement, command, and question; understand cause and effect sequences·
  • The students will answer questions that use interrogative expressions such as à qui, combien, où, quel, quelle, qu’est-ce que, est-ce que; determine gender, number, adjectives agreement, verb endings, and word order; 
  • The students will practice daily conversations reusing all the vocabulary learned in class, Discuss daily activities and leisure pastimes, and talk about people and possessions.
  • The students will read simple sentences; Read their own descriptions and stories. 
  • The students will write  simple sentences in the present tense; write questions and answers in complete sentences.
  • The students will write pen pal letters about oneself and interests. comics. weekly Show and Tell using conjugations with all pronouns and a French brochure about a French speaking country. 
  • The students will debate about cultural differences between French and American school systems and driving privileges · 
  • The students will celebrate the French holidays and learn how to bake the specific recipes such as “la mousse au chocolat” for National French week, “la bûche de Noel” for Christmas, “la galette des rois” for “Epiphanie” and “les Crepes” for Mardis gras 

Spanish

Spanish IA is an introduction to the language and culture of the Spanish.The class is taught over the course of two years. Students will develop proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in the target language. Students will have the opportunity to perform skits, read novels/stories, conduct a basic conversation in Spanish, write essays, practice listening skills, study grammatical structures in the present tense, and various projects.

  • Themes covered: practice of greeting people, introducing oneself, adjectives,likes/dislikes talking about family and friends, food, weather/seasons, classroom and classes, places for activities, pastimes, possessions, and sports/activities.
  • Grammar topics covered: present tense, future, tense, forming questions, irregular verbs , ir + a + infinitive
  • Projects: family tree, skits, ser book, menu project, flip books, show and tell, video mystery series “eres tú maria”.
  • Spell words accurately using correct accent marks; use correct punctuation; write questions and answers in complete sentences using regular and irregular verbs in the present tense, write dialogues using mastered thematic vocabulary, expressions, and structures.
  • Read short stories and novels in Spanish.
  • Gain an appreciation for Hispanic traditions, holidays , and pastimes;  acquire knowledge of the cultural history of various Hispanic countries, their cuisine, diversity of lifestyles, and influence on the U.S.

Art

Fifth Grade artists are introduced to as many mediums, movements and ideas as possible with the goal of enhancing their appreciation of various forms of art and exploring a multitude of ideas. There are three main components to the middle school art program, classical techniques, technology integrated arts and traditional global arts.

In classical techniques, we explore introduction to drawing utilizing a variety of media including pencil and charcoal while drawing from life and imagination.  In technology integrated arts, 5th Grade explores, Computer Aided Design / 3-D printing, Claymation, and Digital Self-Portraits.  In traditional Global Arts, 6th Grade artists explore the Art of the Americas where they create a unique project every year inspired from the indigenous people of the continent.  Possibilities include Dream-catchers, totem poles, Rain-sticks, etc. 

Middle School students go beyond the practice of art with a study of the history of art. Typically prior to each unit, a short slide lecture is given to introduce the project within a historical context.  To further their study of art, Congressional students may also take a field trip that includes visits to the Freer-Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of African Art, among others.

Other units in art include:

  • Book arts and printmaking: autobiography and Japanese bound. 
  • Ceramics:  self-portrait caricature pencil holders. 
  • Kinetic Sculpture 
  • Artist Sketchbooks 
  • Abstract Expressionism

Music

This section under construction.

Physical Education

Physical Education is a daily class for Fifth Graders. There is an emphasis on team sports while fostering a love of lifetime fitness. Focus on competence in movement skills and skill combinations during complex movement activities. Students in fifth grade focus on applying movement principles and concepts in complex movement activities; body, space, effort, relationship to movements, and apply principles of accuracy, force, follow-through when projecting objects.

Opportunity to join the: 

  • JV soccer
  • cross country
  • basketball, 
  • lacrosse
  • softball
  • track and field teams

Speech and Drama

Through Speech & Drama, Middle School students are developing critical skills that they carry forward into high school, college, and career. More than just speeches and improvisational scenes, this class represents an opportunity for students to build confidence speaking in front of their peers, developtheir appreciation for drama as an art form, and to channel the emotions that are readily accessible to most children in this age group.

Students enjoy their first formal instruction in Speech & Drama during fifth grade. Specific work focuses on establishing a foundation of effective verbal and nonverbal communication techniques while developing and delivering informative speeches. Some broadcast journalism experience is gained as students learn to read from a prompter and speak to the camera, as well as recording radio or podcast style broadcasts on their iPads. Through drama, students have the opportunity to learn more about the use of voice and body in acting by presenting improvised scenes in the classroom that are largely derived from their own personal experiences.

During fifth grade, students will also:

  • explore the communication process 
  • develop active listening strategies 
  • gain experience providing constructive feedback to peers 
  • evaluate their own speech presentations to identify areas for improvement 
  • learn basic theater vocabulary, including stage types and areas of the stage 
  • participate in a literature-based choral reading performance with classmates 
  • attend a live theater performance

Grade 6

The transition into Middle School continues through Sixth Grade as the curriculum continues to build skills and knowledge in preparation for high school. Middle School teaching teams are segmented in to 5/6 and 7/8 teams, and sixth grade students benefit from the relationships they have established with the 5/6 teaching team, further helping to facilitate their transition into Middle School. Students gain more independence at this grade level, and have more opportunities to model kind behavior to younger students through a variety of activities.  

Language Arts 
Sixth graders continue to sharpen their reading, writing, and research skills through the Language Arts program. Students explore a variety of genres through shared novels as well as independently selected reading. Shared literature selections include Wonder, The Cay, and City of Ember. As students pursue various genres, they develop the ability to recognize key story elements such as character analysis, conflict, point of view, and plot analysis.

There is a strong emphasis on the writing process as writing skills are increasingly expected across the curriculum. Students are expected to demonstrate their proficiency and mastery over various subject areas through application of writing and grammar skills learned in Language Arts. Students will draft multi-paragraph essays and explore creative writing in the forms of prose and poetry. As they refine and practice (Modern Language Association) MLA appropriate research techniques, they are also leveraging their writing skills in cross-curricular projects with social studies. Vocabulary is enriched through participation in the WordMasters program.

Reader's Workshop Overview

  • Read Aloud (Model a reader’s thinking)
  • Independent Reading and Conference (Maintain a daily habit of reading and discussing self-selected novels)
  • Shared Novels (Wonder, The Cay, and City of Ember)
  • Reading Units:
    1. Maintaining a Reading Life 
    2. Fluency/Comprehension 
    3. Building Explanations and Interpretations  
    4. Reading Deeply and Asking Questions 
    5. Nonfiction Reading

Writer's Workshop Overview

  • Vocabulary (Meaningful words drawn from across the curriculum & WordMasters Challenge)
  • Writing takes place across the curriculum
  • Writing Units:
    1. Poetry: Free-verse and Memoir         
    2. Narrative: Descriptive/Persuasive Essay
    3. Expository: Research Essay, and Literary Reflections

Math
Congressional Schools’ Singapore Math program emphasizes the progression of math concepts from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. It’s this progression that helps children to better understand the “why” behind mathematical operations.  Children develop an appreciation for math, as a means of solving a problem.  The result is children with a depth of understanding and a confidence to their approach. 

In sixth grade, students grapple with increased complexity in problem solving, learning to apply appropriate mathematical tools to unique situations. Sixth grade math is taught with a collaborative, hands-on approach where students are encouraged to take risks when problem solving, learn from their mistakes, and communicate their mathematical learning effectively.  An increased emphasis is placed  on finding the patterns in mathematics, recognizing there is more than one way to solve a problem, and efficiency of solutions.  Students are challenged to calculate area, perimeter, and volume of composite figures, discover the relationships between dimensions, and find missing dimensions.  Circle properties are introduced including finding the diameter, radius, the special ratio pi,  area, and circumference.  Knowledge of quadrilaterals and triangles continues to expand.

A key area for sixth grade mathematics is the study of proportions and its relationship to fractions, ratios and percents.  Students explore the use of proportions through real world word problems; communicate their understanding via model drawing and journal writing;  and apply these concepts in novel situations.  The study of algebra and algebraic expressions continues in sixth grade with increased rigor and challenge. Students are asked to write equations with a single variable  to represent a given situation and to find the solutions.  Fraction operations are reinforced and data analysis is expanded to include developing and interpreting pie charts.  Technology, including iPads, SmartBoards, and web-based applications such as Khan Academy,  continues to be integrated as appropriate for concept exploration,  procedural practice, and skill enhancement.  

Projects and many hands-on activities continue to be employed to help students deepen their understanding of the concepts presented and to challenge students to apply their mathematical knowledge effectively and efficiently.  Special emphasis is placed on the following:

  • Communicating mathematical ideas effectively
  • Taking risks when applying new ideas and concepts
  • Finding patterns in numbers and operations and algebra
  • Exploring the applicability of geometry

Science 
Beginning with metrology, understanding the subtleties of accuracy and precision, the sixth grade science curriculum will build the foundation for students to transition into middle school science. Their journey will encompass an inter-disciplinary approach, connecting concepts of matter, energy, weather and climate systems and combining ecological principles, using the Chesapeake Bay to tie these scientific principles together. The unit on matter will span from properties of matter, applying the concept of atoms, molecules and compounds while studying the water molecule and its unique role in phase change, density, adhesion, cohesion and solubility. The role of atmosphere in tandem with the water cycle will lead into a systems approach of the inter-connections of Earth’s viability as a living planet. Building on what is the atmosphere and how anthropogenic and man-made processes affect air quality we will try to explore how our planet adapts and copes from volcanic eruptions to global warming and acid rain. The Chesapeake Bay will be used as a living laboratory with hands-on experiments to understand the importance of wetlands in the sustainability of a healthy ecosystem and the influence of human activities such as agricultural practices on eutrophication of natural ecosystems. Human water usage and power generation activities will propel a discussion of the adverse effects on public health and potable water quality. As we weave the Earth ecosystem together, we will try to understand how we as humanity prepare to explore the outer worlds. Earth and Space Science units will involve the study of the solar system, understanding the principles of gravity, planetary size and distribution and then focus on Earth and the moon’s influence on Earth’s physical processes. The students will also learn the basics of human space exploration, the challenges of living in space and the benefits of human space exploration in our daily lives.

  • Earth Science 
  • Matter 
  • Weather & Climate 
  • Ecology Space

Social Studies/Geography
Beginning in 6th grade, social studies exploration expands to World Geography. In preparation for their travels, students review and apply the necessary tools of geography, which include understanding the difference between absolute and relative location, locating major parallels and meridians, using latitude and longitude to determine absolute location, and measuring distance using scale. Once those skills are in place, students pick up where they left off in American History in fifth grade and familiarize themselves with the key events of the Civil War using the context of history and geography’s close connection. A field trip to Lincoln’s Cottage complements these units. From there, students travel the world in their study of global issues, such as consumption patterns, migration, and globalization. Through the lenses of thematic maps, graphs, migration biographies, and current events, students deepen their understand of the world and practice important skills. They analyze cause and effect and primary sources, sequence events, collect and synthesize information, and evaluate and predict future impact.  

Project-based learning is a key component of the Social Studies experience. Students work together to create 3D (virtual and actual) models, and numerous apps became the communication choices for a deep dive into thematic maps, migration, and globalization. 

To complement this learning and with the goal of committing their location to long term memory, the students are regularly quizzed on the location of the United States, Central and South American countries, Asian countries, European countries, African countries, and seas and rivers.

Sixth Grade Social Studies Overview:

  • The Tools of GeographyThe Causes of the Civil War
  • The Civil War
  • A Spatial Way of Thinking
  • Consumption Patterns in the United States: The Impact of Living Well
  • Migration to the United States: The Impact on People and Places
  • Women’s Role in the Development of Africa
  • From Asia to Everywhere
  • Land Use Conflict in the Amazon Rainforest
  • Invisible Borders: Transboundary Pollution in Europe

French 
Congressional students start learning a foreign language in Kindergarten.  In Middle School, the French program meet five times a week.The program continues to support language acquisition through context and real life experiences. During this upcoming year, Students will improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in French while exploring the language and culture of France and the Francophone countries all over the world.

Students will continue to develop the aptitude to converse about themselves and their surrounding environment using simple sentences containing basic language structures. Students will work towards mastering the important knowledge, skills and understandings of French conversation, grammar, and culture. This will be demonstrated through a variety of assessments, including readings, essays, dictées, poetry and projects. This program is designed for students who want to practice and improve their spoken French, while adapting their skills to varied communicative situations and addressing different contemporary issues linked to the francophone world. Students will polish their speaking skills through an array of activities games, skits as well as reading, writing and discussion.

  • The student will understand and follow directions in French, such as classroom procedures or directions for using iPad and other classroom technology.
  • The student will participate in dictations and be able to write down sentences that are said out loud.
  • The student will speak in complete sentences with correct pronunciation and intonation.
  • The student will discuss actions that involve other people and oneself applying the mechanics of the French grammar learned throughout the year with the appropriate tense (the present, near past and future).
  • The student will identify key words, cognates and some mechanical expressions when reading.
  • The student will read standardized messages once vocabulary has been learned, such as signs, schedules, newspaper headlines, advertisements, and menus.
  • The student will familiarize themselves with the Francophone countries from all over the world.The student will celebrate French holidays throughout the school year. 

Spanish 
Spanish IB is the second half of Spanish IA, as the class is taught over the course of two years. Students will continue to develop proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in the target language. Students will have the opportunity to perform skits, read novels/stories, conduct a basic conversation in Spanish, write essays, practice listening skills, study grammatical structures in the present tense, and various projects. They begin to show a greater level of accuracy when using basic language structures, and they are exposed to more complex features of the Spanish language. They continue to focus on communicating about their immediate world and daily activities. They read material on familiar topics and write short, directed compositions. Emphasis continues to be placed on use of Spanish in the classroom as well as on use of authentic materials to learn about Spanish-speaking cultures.

  • Themes covered: ordering in  restaurant, hosting a quinceanera and celebrations, house (rooms and items), household chores, shopping in a clothing store, clothing, descriptions of clothing and sizes, vacations, helping out in the community, means of communication, technology, movie and television.
  • Grammar topics covered: present tense verbs (regular and irregular), possessive adjectives, difference between ser vs. estar, making comparisons, the superlative, present progressive, affirmative tu commands, demonstrative adjectives, direct object pronouns, preterite tense verbs, the personal a, ,indirect object pronouns, acabar de + infinitive, saber vs. conocer.  
  • Projects: house, skits, shopping project, restaurant project, flip books, show and tell, video mystery series “eres tú maria”.  
  • Spell accurately using accent marks, proper capitalization, and punctuation; write questions and answers  
  • Gain an appreciation for Hispanic traditions, holidays , and pastimes;  acquire knowledge of the cultural history of various Hispanic countries, their cuisine, diversity of lifestyles


Music
Under construction - coming soon.

Art 
Sixth Grade artists are introduced to as many mediums, movements and ideas as possible with the goal of enhancing their appreciation of various forms of art and exploring a multitude of ideas. There are three main components to the middle school art program, classical techniques, technology integrated arts and traditional global arts. 

In classical techniques, we explore introduction to drawing utilizing a variety of media including pencil and charcoal while drawing from life and imagination.  In technology integrated arts, 6th Grade explores, Computer Aided Design / 3-D printing and Animation.  In traditional Global Arts, 6thGrade artists explore the Art of Australia where they create a unique project every year inspired from the indigenous people of the continent. Possibilities include dot paintings or Mimih (small sculpture carvings of mythological impish creatures.)

Middle School students go beyond the practice of art with a study of the history of art. Typically prior to each unit, a short slide lecture is given to introduce the project within a historical context.  To further their study of art, Congressional students may also take a field trip that includes visits to the Freer-Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of African Art, among others.

Other units in art include:

  • Fantasy fiction pop-up books 
  • Ceramic bird feeders
  • Conceptual maquettes
  • Artist Sketchbooks
  • Cubism

Physical Education 
Physical Education is a daily class for Sixth Graders. There is an emphasis on team sports while fostering a love of lifelong fitness. Focus on competence in movement skills and skill combinations during complex movement activities. Students in fifth grade focus on individual contribution to team play for common goal, support of others during game play, increasing personal fitness levels based on feedback from fitness testing.

In addition the students have the opportunity to join the following teams:

  • JV soccer
  • Cross Country
  • Basketball 
  • Lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Track and Field 


Speech & Drama 
Through Speech & Drama, Middle School students are developing critical skills that they carry forward into high school, college, and career. More than just speeches and improvisational scenes, this class represents an opportunity for students to build confidence speaking in front of their peers, developtheir appreciation for drama as an art form, and to channel the emotions that are readily accessible to most children in this age group.  

In sixth grade, students incorporate visual elements into public speaking and gain experience giving a demonstration to their peers. Students also transition from fully-scripted speeches to notes and bullet points as prompts for their presentations. In broadcast journalism, students begin collaborating with classmates and contributing to the script for news reports. Drama work turns to scripted scenes, allowing students to take on the personas of new characters while exploring how to stage their performances effectively.

During sixth grade, students will also:

  • demonstrate active listening strategies
  • analyze organization of content, language, and word choice in oral presentations
  • continue to use self-evaluation to improve speaking skills
  • focus on gesture, movement, projection, inflection and articulation in acting
  • utilize technical elements in drama work
  • begin exploring script analysis
  • participate in a readers theater performance with classmates
  • attend a live theater performance

Grade 7

Increased academic expectations in Seventh Gradecontinue as we prepare students for the rigors of high school. Leadership opportunities are more abundant beginning in this grade as the students develop their individual sense of identity, and confidence. Many experiences are available to broaden their horizons; Student Council, Varsity team sports, the school musical, a 7th Grade team building retreat, Middle School international travel opportunities are among the many choices presented. 

Language Arts

English 7 develops skills in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. The literature curriculum includes instruction in close reading and analysis of story elements, including plot, setting, character, point of view, and theme. Students read choice books, short stories and the following texts:

  • The Adventures of Ulysses 
  • The Giver 
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

Students learn strategies to improve the writing process, with detailed instruction in brainstorming, outlining, editing, and revising. Writing types will include creative pieces, expository essays, and an introduction to analytical writing through quotation identifications. Class grammar study focuses on improving writing through accurate mechanics and richer sentence structure. For vocabulary, students compete in the WordMasters Challenge and practice using context clues to define unknown words in novels.

Math

The algebra units of study are complex and exciting.  Recall of past math facts will be essential to move forward with the exploration of the concepts this year.  The focus is to utilize their existing information to support new algorithms while developing solution strategies.  Students will be encouraged to think in more abstract terms in order to explore material at a variety of levels and from more than one perspective.  In our seventh grade mathematics class, students move away from the expectation that there will always be a single “right” answer.  Rather, they will be expected to create more than one solution path to more open questions that focus on the understanding of the concept and the solving process.  They will be encouraged to develop justifications in supporting their opinions, ideas and conclusions.   Technology is integrated as appropriate for concept exploration procedural practice and skill enhancement.  The one-to-one iPad program allows each student to have consistent access to their Khan Academy account, as well as enriching math Apps.

Students will take part in creating a safe, supportive classroom atmosphere where taking academic risks is celebrated and mistakes are utilized as opportunities for learning.  Students will practice communicating their mathematical ideas effectively through large group discussions, partner shares and written work.  Students will develop an appreciation for the beauty of math, as well as an appreciation for their own individual problem solving strategies. 

Topics covered include:

  • Solving equations and inequalities 
  • Polynomials; combining and factoring 
  • Linear Equations; solving systems and graphing  
  • Quadratic equations; solving  
  • Simplifying expressions with variables and exponents 

Science

Life science strives to develop in each student a basic understanding of and appreciation for the diversity of living things in our world, while also reinforcing understanding and utilization of the scientific method.  Emphasis is placed on the fundamental concepts of living things with in-depth exploration of the five kingdoms of organisms and their interactions with ecosystems.  In so doing, students will gain a deeper understanding of human impacts on global ecological systems while also becoming more aware of the microscopic world and its implications on the world around them.

Instructional strategies such as group collaboration and lab activities will be used to classify living things, including bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals.  General knowledge will include the cell and its organelles as well as their functions.  Time will also be devoted to understanding genetics and its unique role in evolution.  Students will also investigate ecology, including populations and ecosystems.   Various instructional strategies such as lecture and note taking, audio-visual aids, inquiry based learning, group collaboration, and hands on lab activities, will all be used to facilitate different student learning styles.

Topics in life science include the following:  structural and functional organization of living things; cell structure and function; genetics, including early history of DNA, probability and inheritance, mutations and heritability as explored through genetic disorders; theory of evolution and natural selection; environmental issues; the five kingdoms of organisms and their diversity; human body systems and stages of development.

  • Potential term projects:  STEM Day experiments, student choice
  • Sample Labs:  Cell modeling, creating slides of human and plant cells, DNA extraction, Punnett squares, blood typing, dissection of one or more preserved or fresh specimens, plant or fungal cultivation, water quality and effects on microscopic organisms

Social Studies/World History

The seventh grade curriculum is a survey of world history, beginning with the rise of humankind and covering significant historic eras up to and including the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Age.

Students examine where the earliest civilizations took root and how the elements of culture and civilization spread around the globe. From the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to the Middle Ages, Exploration and Colonization, and ultimately the Age of Reason, students learn to analyze events and evaluate their impact. Concepts such as democracy, republic, legal codes, economic systems, and political, scientific and religious revolutions are examined with an emphasis on their effect on later American history.

During the course of the year, students will research and write a report on significant movements in world history. Specific instructions are given for structure and content of the report. An oral report and visual presentation accompany each report. In addition, students will work with time lines, maps and ancillary readings to aid them in comprehending the most significant aspects of the periods of history covered. Specific emphasis is placed on but not limited to the following:

  • ancient kingdoms
  • Greek democracy and Roman republic
  • Middle Ages economy and society
  • Renaissance and Reformation
  • Exploration and Colonization
  • Enlightenment, Absolutism and Revolution

French

In Middle School, the French program meets five times a week.The program continues to support language acquisition through context and real life experiences. During this upcoming year, Students will improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in French while exploring the language and culture of France and the Francophone countries all over the world.

Students begin to develop communicative competence in French and expand their understanding of the culture(s) of francophone countries. A key aspect of learning French is using the language in the actual world outside the classroom setting. At Congressional, technology is integrated with iPads and SmartBoards, enabling students to access authentic information in French  and to offer students the opportunity to interact with other French speakers. Students will continue to work toward mastering the important knowledge, skills and understandings of French conversation, grammar, and cultures. This will be demonstrated through a variety of assessments, including readings, essays, dictées, poetry and projects. This course is designed for students who want to practice and improve their spoken French, while adapting their skills to varied communicative situations and addressing different contemporary issues linked to the francophone world. Students will polish their speaking skills through an array of activities games, skits as well as reading, writing and discussion. All students will take the National French Exam- level I in the Spring.

  • The student will recognize present, past, and future tenses by regular and irregular verb forms and time expressions.
  • The student will recognize more sophisticated vocabulary and grammar structures, spoken by native speakers at a natural conversation speed.
  • The student will sustain a short conversation on a familiar topic.
  • The student will give a short presentation entirely in French about a famous French person.
  • The student will create and recite a French poem.
  • The student will perform and record a skit in French with peers.
  • The student will write short paragraphs applying the mechanics of the French grammar learned throughout the year.
  • The student will write material, using structures that reflect present, past, and future time.

Spanish

Spanish II A will focus on  further developing  the four primary communicative skills in Spanish: listening, speaking, reading and writing. They begin to show a greater level of accuracy when using basic language structures, and they are exposed to more complex features of the Spanish language. They continue to focus on communicating about their immediate world and daily activities. They read material on familiar topics and write short, directed compositions. Emphasis continues to be placed on use of Spanish in the classroom as well as on use of authentic materials to learn about Spanish-speaking cultures.  Students will work toward mastering the essential knowledge, skills and understandings of Spanish conversation, grammar, and cultures.  This will be demonstrated through a variety of assessments, including readings, essays, and projects. In order to fully understand the impact and the influence of the Spanish language on today's society, we will also study the rich cultures, customs, current events and geographies of several Spanish-speaking countries in the target language. In the Spring, all students will take level I of the National Spanish Exam.

  • Themes covered: daily routine, classes, clothing, shipping, town and community, means of transportation, family traditions, and childhood.
  • Students will learn how to use the present and past tenses, commands, reflexive verbs, direct object pronouns,, imperfect vs. preterite, cardinal numbers, possessive adjectives, prepositions, and reciprocal actions.
  • Students will gain an appreciation for Hispanic traditions, holidays , and pastimes;  acquire knowledge of the cultural history of various Hispanic countries, their cuisine, diversity of lifestyles, and influence on the U.S
  • Projects: essays/compositions, skits, pen pal letters with another school, daily routine project, childhood project, design a town and give directions, preterite flip books, show and tell,video mystery series “en busca de la verdad” and blogs.
  • Students will read novelas that are written in Spanish.

Latin

In seventh grade, students use Unit I of the Cambridge Latin series. The major grammar topics include three cases for three declensions, direct and indirect pronouns, four verb conjugations in three tenses and irregular verbs. All grammar topics are introduced in an evenly paced manner so that students can competently master basic skills before progressing to more sophisticated structures. Vocabulary expansion occurs as emphasis is placed on the Latin origins of English words. Students become familiar with both grammar and cultural topics in a story format. Throughout the year, they follow the family of Caecilius and daily life in the Roman city of Pompeii in the year 79 CE. The story ends with the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the mystery of who has or has not survived this tragic event. All seventh grade Latin students take the National Latin exam each spring. Other areas covered during the year include:

  • day-to-day life in Roman society 
  • Roman mythology and history 
  • Roman numerals 
  • ancillary readings on various topics related to the Latin language, and Roman culture and history

Music

Under construction - coming soon.

Art

Seventh Grade artists are introduced to as many mediums, movements and ideas as possible with the goal of enhancing their appreciation of various forms of art and exploring a multitude of ideas. There are three main components to the middle school art program, classical techniques, technology integrated arts and traditional global arts. 

In classical techniques, we explore introduction to drawing utilizing a variety of media including pencil, charcoal, and conté while drawing from life and imagination.  7th Grade artists also begin to explore figurative gesture drawing and self-portraits.  More so, students are introduced to fundamental painting techniques in acrylic.  In technology integrated arts, 7th Grade explores, Computer Aided Design / 3-D printing and stop-motion.  In traditional Global Arts, 7th Grade artists explore the Art of Africa and the Middle East where they create a unique project every year inspired from the indigenous peoples of the continents.  Possibilities include Adinkra symbol paintings and arabesque ceramics. 

Middle School students go beyond the practice of art with a study of the history of art. Typically prior to each unit, a short slide lecture is given to introduce the project within a historical context.  To further their study of art, Congressional students may also take a field trip that includes visits to the Freer-Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of African Art, among others.

Other units in art include:

  • Botanical Ceramics
  • Artist Sketchbooks
  • Found Objects sculpture

Speech & Drama
Through Speech & Drama, Middle School students are developing critical skills that they carry forward into high school, college, and career. More than just speeches and improvisational scenes, this class represents an opportunity for students to build confidence speaking in front of their peers, develop their appreciation for drama as an art form, and to channel the emotions that are readily accessible to most children in this age group.  

Seventh grade students continue developing and improving communication skills while incorporating figurative language, giving and seeking information in discussions, and supporting a position while acknowledging opposing viewpoints in full-class debate. Speeches are persuasive and inspirational in nature. Students take full creative control in broadcast journalism as they research, write and film a special news report on a school-related topic. Memorization is incorporated into drama work as students act in two or three person scenes.

During seventh grade, students will also:

  • analyze ideas and opinions to determine relevancy 
  • identify relationship between verbal and nonverbal messages in presentations 
  • continue to use self-evaluation to improve speaking skills 
  • incorporate unscripted comments with fluency 
  • identify dramatic elements of plot, character, setting, dialogue and conflict 
  • learn to break down a script/scene for rehearsal and performance 
  • attend a live theater performance

Athletics
Physical Education is a daily class for Seventh Graders. There is an emphasis on developing proficiency in one or more team sports while fostering a love of lifelong fitness. Students focus on continuing to improve individual performance on physical fitness tests, ability to articulate achievement of goals. Students in seventh grade focus on individual contribution to team play for common goal, support of others during game play or recreation activities. 

Additionally, students in seventh grade are required to participate in one team sport during the school year. The choices include:

  • Soccer
  • Cross Country
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Track and Field 

Grade 8

Eighth Grade students are the senior class at Congressional, and this milestone in their educational journey is celebrated all year, starting in the fall when they received their coveted graduating class jackets. The high school application process begins in this grade, and students and parents are guided through, step by step from the initial school search through application and interview process. Academic expectations in Eighth Grade continue to be high, and students continue to be encouraged to have a well-rounded approach to their education through participation in Varsity sports, after school activities, extra curricular programs, and leadership opportunities.  

Language Arts

English 8 continues the focus on developing skills in reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. The literature curriculum includes instruction in close reading and analysis of theme and character development. Students read poetry, short stories, articles, essays and speeches, in addition to the following texts:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Animal Farm
  • The Book Thief
  • Macbeth

Course writing consists of regular analytical responses and detailed instruction in analytical essays, including crafting a compelling introduction and conclusion, and detailed, thesis-driven body paragraphs. Students fine-tune writing skills through guided peer editing and revising multiple drafts. Grammar study focus mainly on common sentence errors and writing style, which will provide instruction for enhancing student writing. For vocabulary, students compete in the WordMasters Challenge and practice using context clues to define unknown words in novels. 

Math - Geometry

Geometry class follows an algebraic based Geometry curriculum; this is a non-proof based geometry program that serves to create strong connections between algebra and geometry. Formal theorems will be introduced, and students will begin to write justifications for each of their solution steps. Technology is integrated as appropriate for concept exploration, procedural practice and skill enhancement.  The one-to-one iPad program allows each student to have consistent access to their Khan Academy account, as well as supporting math Apps (such as GraphIt and Educreations).  We will begin the year solidifying our understanding of Euclidean Geometry, and move right into Geometric Reasoning.  Strong recall of previously learned algebra processes will be essential for this course as we explore topics such as Line Relationships, Properties and Attributes of Triangles, Quadrilaterals and Circles.  Critical thinking skills, complex reasoning and strong work ethic will be relied upon as we tackle concepts such as Triangle Congruence and Similarity. 

Students will learn in a safe, supportive classroom atmosphere where taking academic risks is essential; mistakes are shared, explored and utilized as opportunities for learning and improvement.  Students will explore and discuss mathematical concepts, demonstrate tenacity while working through possible solutions, collaborate to work towards a common goal and articulate their solution paths verbally and through their written work. Students will develop an appreciation for the beauty of math, as well as an appreciation for their own individual problem solving techniques.

The depth and complexity of each of these additional topics will also be explored:

  • Pythagorean Inequalities
  • Applying Characteristics of special Quadrilaterals to solve problems
  • Similarity between polygons
  • Exploring Perimeter and Area in the coordinate plane (including irregular shapes)
  • Introduction to Trigonometry
  • Three dimensional figures; dimensions and their properties

Math - Complexities of Algebra with an Introduction to Geometry

This curriculum allows students the opportunity to further solidify and deepen their existing knowledge of Algebra, explore the more complex concepts of Algebra, and devote the remainder of the year to begin our exciting journey with Geometry.  Challenging applications of both previously covered topics and new topics are offered; the depth and complexity of each of these topics will be explored.  The geometry portion of the class will be formally introduced as a non-proof based geometry curriculum, creating strong connections between algebra and geometry.  Formal theorems will be introduced, and students will begin to write justifications for each of their solution steps.   Technology is integrated as appropriate for concept exploration procedural practice and skill enhancement.  The one-to-one iPad program allows each student to have consistent access to their Khan Academy account, as well as supporting math Apps (such as Explain Everything, GraphIt and Educreations).  

Students will learn in a safe, supportive classroom atmosphere where taking academic risks is celebrated and mistakes are utilized as opportunities for learning.  Students will explore and discuss mathematical concepts, brainstorm possible solutions, collaborate to work towards a common goal and articulate their solution paths verbally and through their written work. Students will develop an appreciation for the beauty of math, as well as an appreciation for their own individual problem solving strategies.  Topics covered will include:

  • Linear equation relationships and their solutions 
  • Quadratic equations 
  • Rational Expressions 
  • Fundamentals of Geometry 
  • Inductive and deductive reasoning 
  • Complex Angle Relationships 
  • Triangle Exploration

Science

Physical Science is inquiry-based and designed to teach students to explore various principles of chemistry and physics.  Students will learn and implement the scientific method, perform experiments, collect and analyze data, and pose explanations based on evidence, both in writing and presentation.  Experiential learning is an important part of this course; students participate in laboratory investigations and select field trips.  

Students will further refine their scientific literacy by developing an understanding of scientific theories and laws.  Students will also improve their critical thinking skills as they research topics and present information, both orally and by constructing models.  

Chemistry invites and challenges students to further their understanding of the physical and chemical properties of matter.  Topics covered include the following:  atomic history and modeling; organization of the elements in the periodic table; ionic and covalent bonding and chemical reactions; understanding scientific theories and laws, specifically the law of conservation of energy and matter; identifying and working with acids, bases, and salts.

  • Term project planned:  element research paper and modeling
  • Sample Labs:  properties of matter, density columns, ionic & covalent bonding puzzles, rock candy or other crystal growth, acid/base indicators & reactions

Physics provides an opportunity to understand processes within the physical world and our interactions with it.  Topics covered include the following:  forms of energy and their conversions, including potential, kinetic, and thermal energy; forces and motion, including mass, inertia, momentum, friction, gravity, speed, and acceleration; power and work; electromagnetics including wave characteristics and magnetism; electricity, including charge, current, and circuits.

  • Term project planned:  STEM project, student choice
  • Sample Labs: paper airplane speed and acceleration, egg drop, potential/kinetic energy ramps, power/work & horsepower, momentum & collisions, construction of circuits

Social Studies

In eighth grade, the students take a comprehensive study of the history of the United States. Basic concepts and themes from the seventh grade history class are build upon and enhanced. Beginning with the settlement of Jamestown, students learn the initial causes of what will later become the Civil War between the agrarian South and industrial North. In addition to the study of the country’s history, students will spend several weeks studying the Constitution, and as the year progresses, they will apply their knowledge of the Constitution to analyze and evaluate later historic events. Primary source reading is an essential aspect for the students to understand better the historic events they read about in their textbooks. Additional activities include but are not limited to:

  • Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) essay contest
  • Research report on a twentieth century president
  • Field trip to Monticello and Montpelier
  • Overnight trip to Jamestown and Williamsburg
  • Other field trips have included tours of the Capitol, Supreme Court, Smithsonian Institute and the Archives

French

In Middle School, the French program meets five times a week.The program continues to support language acquisition through context and real life experiences. During this upcoming year, Students will improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in French while exploring the language and culture of France and the Francophone countries all over the world.

In French 8, students continue to develop their communicative and cultural competence by interacting orally and in writing with other speakers of the target language, understanding oral and written messages in the language, and making oral and written presentations in  the language. They begin to show a greater level of accuracy when using basic language structures, and they are exposed to more complex features of the language. This will be demonstrated through a variety of assessments, including readings, essays, dictées, poetry and projects. This course is designed for students who want to practice and improve their spoken French, while adapting their skills to varied communicative situations and addressing different contemporary issues linked to the francophone world. Students will polish their speaking skills through an array of activities games, skits as well as reading, writing and discussion. All students will take the National French Exam- level II in the Spring.

  • The student will identify main ideas and pertinent details when listening to materials such as live and recorded conversations, brief lectures, short news videos and so forth.
  • The student will comprehend and reply appropriately to directives presented in more complex informational materials.
  • The student will contribute in oral exchanges that reflect present, past, and future time frames, and will describe a sequence of events in the past tense, using the near past and imperfect tenses.
  • The student will express feelings, opinions, and hypotheses using subjunctive and conditional structures.
  • The student will read and comprehend articles in magazines, and online French news sites.
  • The student will read authentic and level-appropriate materials to learn about the French language and francophone culture(s) and respond to comprehension questions. 
  • Students will work toward mastering their French writing skills emphasizing the importance of  grammar mechanics, and French cultures. This will be demonstrated through a variety of assessments, including readings, essays, dictées, poetry and projects.

Spanish

Spanish IIB is the second half of Spanish II. In Spanish IIB, students will continue to  focus on developing further in depth the four primary communicative skills in Spanish: listening, speaking, reading and writing.  Students will also and make oral and written presentations in Spanish. They begin to show a greater level of accuracy when using basic language structures, and they are exposed to more complex features of the Spanish language. They continue to focus on communicating about their immediate world and daily activities. They read material on familiar topics and write short, directed compositions. Emphasis continues to be placed on use of Spanish in the classroom as well as on use of authentic materials to learn about Spanish-speaking cultures. Students will work toward mastering the essential knowledge, skills and understandings of Spanish conversation, grammar, and cultures.  This will be demonstrated through a variety of assessments, including readings, essays, and projects.In order to fully understand the impact and the influence of the Spanish language on today's society, we will also study the rich cultures, customs, current events and geographies of several Spanish-speaking countries in the target language. In the Spring, all students will take level II of the National Spanish Exam.

  • Themes covered:talk about accidents and storms, television and movies, food and cooking, tourism, traveling, booking a trip, airport, professions, improving the world and the environment, legends and stories of Latin America, present, past and future events, preparing and describing food, ordering meals in a restaurant, talking about hypothetical situations, expressing wishes and obligations, · Listen and infer actions and motives from  narrated passages and dialogues · Make a persuasive argument; interpret the feelings or values of others and give advice, make recommendations.  
  • Students will learn how to use the preterite vs. imperfect tenses, future tense, present tense, present subjunctive, usted and ustedes commands, present perfect, and uses of por and para.
  • Students will gain an appreciation for Hispanic traditions, holidays , and pastimes;  acquire knowledge of the cultural history of various Hispanic countries, their cuisine, diversity of lifestyles, and influence on the U.S.
  • Projects: write a fairy tale story, show and tell,  future website project, blogs, pen pal project, cooking show, tourist guide project, newscast project, and various skits.
  • Students will read novelas that are written in Spanish.

Latin

Eighth grade Latin students use Unit II of the Cambridge Latin series. While a thorough review of the basic skills continues throughout the school year, new topics are introduced, including: the genitive, ablative and vocative cases, the two remaining declensions, the pluperfect tense and present and past participles and their uses, relative and reflexive pronouns, and prepositions and the cases they govern. The story line continues with some familiar characters from the previous year, but the venue changes to Roman Britain and, later, to ancient Alexandria. All eighth grade Latin students take the National Latin exam each spring. Other areas covered during the year include:

  • Use of a foreign language dictionary
  • Ancillary readings on various topics related to the Latin language, and Roman culture and history

Music

Under construction - coming soon.

Art

Eighth grade artists are introduced to as many mediums, movements and ideas as possible with the goal of enhancing their appreciation of various forms of art and exploring a multitude of ideas. There are three main components to the middle school art program, classical techniques, technology integrated arts and traditional global arts. 

In classical techniques, we explore introduction to drawing utilizing a variety of media including pencil, charcoal, and conté while drawing from life and imagination.  8th Grade artists also begin to explore figurative gesture drawing and self-portraits.  In technology integrated arts, 8th Grade explores, Computer Aided Design / 3-D printing and website design.  In traditional Global Arts, 8th Grade artists explore the Art of Asia and India, specifically Rangoli and Chinese brush-painting. 
                                                                                                           
Middle School students go beyond the practice of art with a study of the history of art. Typically prior to each unit, a short slide lecture is given to introduce the project within a historical context.  To further their study of art, Congressional students may also take a field trip that includes visits to the Freer-Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of African Art, among others.

Other units in art include:

  • Ceramic Self-portrait silhouettes 
  • Artist Sketchbooks 
  • Installation Sculpture

Speech & Drama

Through Speech & Drama, Middle School students are developing critical skills that they carry forward into high school, college, and career. More than just speeches and improvisational scenes, this class represents an opportunity for students to build confidence speaking in front of their peers, developtheir appreciation for drama as an art form, and to channel the emotions that are readily accessible to most children in this age group.

Eighth grade is the culmination of the students’ work in Speech & Drama. Public speaking assignments call for impromptu speaking, paraphrasing, clarifying and expanding on topics, and incorporating visual media. Students conduct an on-camera interview and conceive, film, and edit a public service announcement as part of the work in broadcast journalism. Drama study turns to more in-depth script and character analysis before concluding with a solo performance of a monologue by each student. 

During eighth grade, students will also:

  • ask probing questions to elicit information
  • analyze credibility of information and messages
  • participate in formal team debate (using Middle School Public Debate Program format)
  • write and deliver unbiased, as well as editorial news reports
  • continue to use self-evaluation to improve speaking skills
  • explore dramatic elements of mood and theme
  • attend a live theater performance

Athletics

Physical Education is a daily class for eighth graders. There is an emphasis on developing proficiency in one or more team sports while fostering a love of lifelong fitness. Students focus on continuing to improve individual performance on physical fitness tests, ability to articulate achievement of goals. Students in seventh grade focus on individual contribution to team play for common goal, support of others during game play or recreation activities. 

Additionally, students in seventh grade are required to participate in one team sport during the school year. The choices include:

  • Soccer
  • Cross Country
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Track & Field

More Information on Each Division: