Wilkes students in Grades 2 – 5 travel to the classrooms of specialist teachers for Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies, Science and Engineering, Coding, French, Music, Classics, and Art. Wilkes teachers have a passion for the material they teach – and for imparting that to our students. Our teachers design innovative curricula and form relationships with each student that grow over several years.
Thematic Units spark student engagement and provide the mental glue for increased retention. Learning about the same theme in different classes helps students make meaningful connections and identify patterns.
Mixed-grade homerooms encourage social development and leadership opportunities. Starting and ending the day in homeroom, students enjoy opportunities to build friendships with students in other grades.
Programs of Study
Our goal is that students in second through fifth grade deepen their love of reading and improve in their ability to decode print. Through the study of phonics, independent reading books, read-aloud books and class literature books and passages, students develop the skills they need to understand and appreciate literature and to use print material to find information.
They have opportunity to reflect on what they read and to respond both orally and in written form. Spelling and vocabulary study are also important components of Reading class.
The four-year writing program includes a sequential approach to composition, grammar, and handwriting. Sentence development, paragraph structure, vocabulary study, and writing mechanics are all emphasized, as students work through the steps of the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, revising and editing, and publishing).
Inspired by thematic topics, students write in various formats, including informative, persuasive, narrative, and creative writing. At Wilkes, our students learn both cursive handwriting and keyboarding skills.
The math curriculum is based on the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Our learning objectives include extensive skill development (grade level appropriate) in these areas:
Numeration; Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division; Time and Money; Geometry; Fractions and Decimals; Measurement; Probability and Data Analysis; Mathematical Reasoning and Problem Solving; and Algebra.
Hands-on learning and the use of manipulatives helps young learners cement these concepts and gives our students confidence in their mathematical abilities.
Students go to the science room to observe, experiment, analyze, discover, learn facts, and develop their understanding of concepts and principles. Through science inquiry and active hands-on investigation, students develop a positive attitude toward life-long science learning. Our annual Science Fair allows students to explore individual interests in depth.
Engineering and Coding
Exposure to coding in elementary school helps children to understand that computers are valuable tools and not just entertaining. Grades 1 – 3 participate in weekly coding classes. In Grades 4 and 5, these skills are practiced and utilized as part of Engineering class. Coding instruction uses a combination of “unplugged” lessons and time with iPads.
Through our Engineering program, students in grades one through five develop logical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, persistence and communication skills. Students might be constructing models of ancient Roman aqueducts or wooden excavators, but they always approach this class with enthusiasm.
Wilkes students begin their participation in conversational French in kindergarten. Through songs, games, stories, and drills, students become increasingly proficient and confident in their language skills. Our students develop an appreciation of French culture and language.
Additionally, fifth graders explore Ancient Rome and beginning Latin. The links of ancient Roman culture abound in our Mount Vernon neighborhood, and students learn to recognize Roman influences in the design of buildings and parks. They explore the roots of our language through Latin vocabulary study and simple translations.
The Wilkes School respects and honors the religions and cultures of all its families and their diverse backgrounds. Wilkes students in first through fifth grade have the opportunity to learn about the Episcopal Church and its traditions from the priest at Grace and St. Peter’s Church and to attend and participate in services specially designed for our students.
To prepare students for a diverse world, these services are supplemented with a course in World Religions. Students in grades 3 through 5 are exposed to the history and traditions of current world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Time is also devoted to learning about religious traditions and stories from the ancient world.
Creative expression flourishes within The Wilkes School and throughout our Mt. Vernon neighborhood. The visual arts program provides opportunities for children to develop self-expression, personal communication, and divergent thinking.
Students work in a variety of media and acquire technical skills and aesthetic judgment. They collaborate with classmates to solve problems creatively. In a course called Art/Math, they recognize and appreciate interdisciplinary patterns and connections. Beginning in kindergarten, students attend art class with a subject specialist.
Music classes at Wilkes celebrate the joys of music participation and appreciation. Children learn about music history and about the tools of music, including rhythm and melody. Children enjoy many performance opportunities, including chapel services, the annual Arts Festival, and performing for community audiences. A short walk from the school doors leads students to the magnificent performances of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore School of the Arts, and the Peabody Conservatory.
Students in third, fourth, and fifth grades each focus on a different culture in their Classics classes.
Third graders learn about ancient Egypt. They experiment with hieroglyphic writing, use Egyptian numbers and timelines, and listen to and rewrite Egyptian myths.
In fourth grade, it’s off to Greece. Students study the Greek civilization by preparing their own scripts, costumes, props, and scenery for an original mythology play.
The fifth grade focus is the study of Roman culture and beginning Latin. The proximity to the Walters Art Museum and other cultural institutions add to their classroom learning.
At the nearby Eubie Blake National Jazz and Cultural Center, Wilkes students enjoy yoga and physical education classes. Our goal is that students gain the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Sportsmanship is emphasized.