The program of studies at Marion Cross School include art, English, language arts, French, environmental education, health, library, math, music, physical education, science and social studies, as well as technology integration across the curriculum.
- English/Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Physical Education
- Social Skills
Addition and Subtraction (one digit, combinations of 10, two digit), Count to 120 by 2s, 5s, 10s. money (naming, identifying, counting), gather & organize data, make & read graphs and diagrams (line graphs, bar graphs). # patterns, time to the hour and half-hour, place value (1s, 10s, 100s), shapes (2D/3D), fractions
Number Puzzles & Multiples Towers (multiplication, division, relationships, factors) Computation and Estimation (appropriate methods and strategies to solve problems, math facts, add and subtract 4-digit numbers, multiply whole numbers and decimals, divide 3-digit by 2-digit numbers, word problems, estimation and rounding) Measurement (standard and metric measurements, convert units, coin values and making change) Geometry (terms (point, line, parallel, etc.); classify angles and polygons; identify the center, radius, diameter and circumference of a circle; understand area and perimeter; use a compass) Data Analysis, Statistics, & Probablity (mean, median, mode, range, bar and line graphs, simple probability experiments, use calculators and computers to process data) Problem Solving (strategies, flexibility, confidence, perseverance, persistence) Problems, Functions & Algebra (patterns, algebraic expressions, order of operations, variables in equations)
Numbers and Number Relationships (inverse relationships, place value, rounding, properties of numbers, odd, even, prime, composite, square numbers, factors and multiples) Computation and Estimation (add, subtract, multiply, divide with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions; find equivalents; percents; word problems) Measurement (length, perimeter, area, volume, circumference, surface area, and time; estimate and measure angles; convert units) Geometry (identify and classify polygons; identify the center, radius, diameter, and circumference of a circle; identify pyramids, spheres, cubes, cylinders, and rectangular prisms; use protractor and compass) Data Analysis, Statistics & Probablity (collect, organize, represent and interpret data; mean, median, mode and range; simple probablity experiments; process data) Problem Solving (develop flexibility, confidence, perseverance, persistence; use strategies) Problems, Functions and Algebra (patterns, order of operation, symmbolic rules, variables, simple algebraic equations, Cartesian grid)
To build the foundation for scientifically literate citizens who will be able to:
- respond to and create change
- act wisely, ethically, and effectively in an increasingly complex and technological world
- participate in sustaining the health and well being of our global ecosystem.
We strive to nurture students to ask questions, explore challenges, and develop the
essential understandings they will need as citizens who can do their part in supporting
and enhancing the systems which sustain all life on this planet.
We work to ensure that students who graduate from Marion Cross School will have an
embedded understanding of their responsibility as citizens, a sense of joy and wonder
for the world we live in, and the foundations of scientific knowledge to pursue more
questions and more challenges.
We introduce our students to the process of becoming scientists by supporting them in their natural sense of curiosity and wonder. We design science classes to foster hands-on exploration and direct experience.
Science is practiced in the context of human culture, and therefore, dynamic
interactions occur among science, technology, engineering, and all the many disciplines
of human society. We believe it is imperative that we approach our science education
with attention to these dynamic interactions. It is imperative to teach our students how to think with an awareness of systems and the the interdependence of all system
The following philosophical underpinnings guide us:
- Building on knowledge through natural curiosity: We provide repeated opportunities, beginning at the youngest grades, for hands-on exploration of the natural world and natural phenomena. Students should have many opportunities to investigate relevant topics and those experiences should be in-depth over a significant period of time. Investigations are scaffolded to help children build their understanding in a way that integrates new information with what is already known and supports mastery of appropriate concepts, process skills, and use of scientific tools.
- Synthesis of Knowledge: We aim to build childrenʼs knowledge from a holistic integration of the various perspectives of art, engineering, mathematics, music, language arts, and the social sciences. Instruction in new uses of technology is an integral part of the total picture.
- Evaluation of Knowledge: Scientific knowledge and skills are cultivated through inquiry, reflection, collaboration and action. We ask our students to communicate with each other, with the community, and with the larger world in the language of science. We ask our students to be thoughtful and evaluative in their acquisition of knowledge, to consider an unexpected result as an opportunity for new questions, and to learn from each other and from their experiences.
- Application of Knowledge: Science is a way of thinking about the world which can guide our personal, ethical, and technological decisions. We believe that a sustainable and just world is possible to achieve via the learned abilities to recognize and define a problem, to generate and evaluate alternatives, to choose a course of action, and to make sound evidence-based judgments and actions. Competence in science gives individuals the foundation to respond intelligently to events of nature and society, and to be effective stewards of our shared environment and collective destiny.
The English Language Arts program at Marion Cross School seeks to create a community of learners immersed in reading, writing, speaking and listening throughout the curriculum. Through engagement with a variety of developmentally appropriate literature, students develop fluency, exercise analytical skills, build vocabulary, practice comprehension strategies, and make meaning. Across grade levels, ongoing writing instruction and practice provides opportunities for students to develop confidence and skills as they generate ideas, draft, revise, and edit original works in a wide range of genres. Discussion-based classrooms, project based learning, and presentation opportunities, within and beyond the classroom, encourage students to develop and hone communication skills, promoting active participation in the school community and larger society.
Wilson- fundations, lower case and upper case letter awareness, c-v-c words, 27 high frequency words, basic sentence structure. Retelling familiar stories, identify character, setting and major events. Identify informational text and fictional texts. Identify jobs of Author and Illustrator Concepts of print
Wilson- fundations, lower case and upper case letter awareness, c-v-c words, c-v-c-e words, vowel teams, r-controlled words, 100 high frequency words, basic sentence structure. Retelling familiar stories, identify character, setting and major events. Identify informational text and fictional texts. Identify jobs of Author and Illustrator. Concepts of print
Writing: Response to Literature; Expressive Narrative; Developing a Paragraph; Expository Essay; Memoirs; Environmental Issue Essay. Vocabulary/Spelling/Word Study Reading: Short Stories; Poetry; Seedfolks, A Study of Character and Voice; Classics Literature; Selkie Folklore; Historical Fiction, Salem Witch Trial Era; Science Fiction; Biography, An Impact on America; Historical Fiction, Revolutionary War. Shakespeare: Performing Arts
MCS SS Philosophy:
Children must understand their past and present in order to make intelligent decisions for the future. Indeed, it is the role of the public school to enable children to think critically, to develop their social and academic skills and to expose them to the complexities of their world, so that they are able to participate actively in society.
For many years, social studies has been at the core of children’s learning at the Marion Cross School. Social studies is interdisciplinary by nature and lends itself to varied and creative investigation. For example, as part of the study of a culture, students may research an aspect of personal interest. Since children learn in different ways, projects allow them to demonstrate their learning through their passion. Perhaps this explains why these units are among those which former students remember most vividly. Teachers are attached to these social studies units as well. For many years our faculty has developed challenging and age-appropriate, integrated curricula, centered on a personal passion or expertise. In order to maintain this high degree of excitement and involvement, it is essential to allow for individual initiative.
Above all, the aim of our program is to make social studies come alive for students. Throughout the grades, students are involved with a variety of experiences, including field trips, exhibits, drama, music, dance, creative writing, audio-visual presentations, group projects, simulations, interviews, cuisine, map-making, and original research. They glean and evaluate information from a variety of sources, such as guest speakers, primary documents and artifacts, maps, art, architecture, material culture, and historical fiction. This varied program provides children with diverse experiences to prepare them for participation as citizens in a democratic society.
1. How does my knowledge of the past connect to how I understand my present and inform my future?
2. How are people a product of their time and place?
3. Who writes history? What does perspective and/or bias play in interpreting history?
4. Whose story is included and whose is left out?
1. Everyone’s history is important.
2. We are all the products of our past, time and place.
3. There are many different sources for learning history.
4. Sifting through various historical perspectives is necessary to grasp truth.
U.S. Regional Studies
Civics and Current events (U.S. & International)
Europe of the Middle Ages
Epic Cycle coverage: Homeric & non-Homeric (comparing and contrasting Achilles, Odysseus, Hector as “heroic” figures)
U.S.: landforms, regions, states, landmarks, capitals & demographics
Europe and Mediterranean:
I. Historical Perspectives and Sources:
A. What’s in a name?
B. Forensic anthropology
C. Interpreting material culture
D. Analyzing primary source documents
E. Reading art and architecture
18th-century domestic architecture
II. World History: Atlantic World (1500-1800)
A. Expansion of world view (exploration maps)
B. Cultural and ecological encounters (Colombian Exchange brochures)
D. West African kingdoms & the slave trade
E. Historical & cultural geography of the Americas
III. U.S. History: “From Colonies to Country”
A. What happened in Jamestowne?
B. Salem Witchcraft Trials *
C. French Connections:
The Acadian Odyssey
French & Indian War
D. History and Legacy of Slavery
E. Causes of the War of Independence (colonist diaries)
F. War of Independence * (newscast presentations)
G. The aftermath
American systems of government
Legacy of victory/defeat
* includes historical fiction component
LEEEP stands for: Learning about the Environment through Experiential Education Projects.
In addition to life science classes noted by grade level: school-wide instruction in gardening techniques, theory and practice of sugaring, invasive plant ID and removal, orienteering and map reading (with Physical Education classes and math classes), and stewardship of the natural world. In most classes: nature photography, journaling, community service projects (e.g. Blood Brook water quality study; riparian tree planting).This enrichment component seeks to engage children in appreciation, understanding, and inquiry about their local natural world, and our collective responsibility towards it. The coordinator, Lindsay Putnam, directs these environmental science inquiry studies and assists classroom teachers with related curriculum development.
Forest habitat study through the seasons, via support of Forest Friday program; gardening and harvesting; sugaring
Exploring the natural world using your five senses provides a rich and wondering setting for learning. Nature provides a range of purposeful contexts that the children can really become involved in. We are grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the world with amazing natural resources right behind our school!
The Milton Frye Nature Preserve has so much to offer including, natural streams to explore the properties of water, trails with a wide variety of trees that change with the seasons, and wildlife that depend upon both. These resources give children tangible ways of working with and in nature to increase their connection to it. Some investigations might take the whole school year as we explore the changes that occur in nature over time. With that in mind, our goal for the MCS kindergarten program is to spend most of our Fridays outside exploring the natural world and make connections with stories, counting, and recording observations.
Stream Habitat Study: exploration of stream organisms, identification and grouping, micro-habitats in the stream, attributes and adaptations to underwater life. Blood Brook "Source to Mouth" watershed exploration field trip. Watershed modeling. Riparian plant investigation; introduce concept of erosion, importance of wetland areas for flood and erosion control. "Leave No Trace at the Stream" class. Winter photography at the stream. Sugaring! Spring nature studies as requested. Planting, weeding and harvesting the garden.
In-depth Forest habitat study: diversity of plant and animal life, tree and flower ID, forest floor organisms. Evolution of a forest, soil formation and soil ingredients, decomposition. How plants grow; photosynthesis investigations; pollination and pollinators; tree life cycles. Traits, heredity, and the influence of environment on survival and evolution. Animal tracking in winter, data analysis and graphing. Forest food chain and energy pyramid. Sugaring theory and practice! Gardening, planting the "3 Sisters" in conjunction with Native American study. Nature photography. Scientific illustration.
Wetland habitat study: Beavers and beaver ponds; structures of cattails and other wetland plants; nature photography and journaling. Vernal pool studies: amphibian reproduction strategies, obligate and facultative vernal pool species identificiation, water chemistry (pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature) and its effects on vernal pool fauna. Sometimes included: Pond organisms, single cell, invertebrate, macro species, pond plants. Water chemistry of a pond and how it affects fauna.
River habitat study: benthic macro-invertebrate species ID; water quality analysis of Blood Brook and report to Conservation Commission; River Day field trip, including learning about wastewater management, natural and cultural history of the Conn R., nature journaling, comparative BMI study at Mink Brook; Physical analysis of Blood Brook: "Is Blood Brook Fit for Trout". Sometimes included: soil chemistry analysis in connection with gardening and 5th grade chemistry unit. Electives include snowshoeing, outdoor winter skills, nature photography, animal tracking, gardening, projects to increase community awareness of invasive plants, rock climbing.
Community service through gardening, Nature Area invasive plant management, trail mulching. Electives include snowshoeing, outdoor winter skills, nature photography, animal tracking, gardening, projects to increase community awareness of invasive plants, rock climbing. (6th grade Habitat study is Ocean. LEEEP not directly involved.)
Continued emphasis on oral language: places in a town and jobs, animals, vegetables and other foods, location of objects, high frequency verbs, describing characters' emotions and their state of being (hungry, thirsty, etc.), body parts; videos (Muzzy and Pocoyo), writing stories and learning songs to use the language
Music is a very important part of the MCS Culture. Here are the things that we value the most:
- learning to sing and play music from as many different places and times as possible, and learning to approach that music with curiosity and an open mind....
- learning to read music, so that they can find the songs that speak to them and teach them to themselves...
- learning to compose music, so that they can express that which cannot be expressed in words alone…
We sing music in music classes, in homerooms, and in the halls. We sing one at a time, we sing in groups, we sing all together. We sing about the holidays, about spring, about coming together. It’s my goal as music teacher to broaden the students’ experience so that they leave sixth grade with an open mind and a broad repertoire of songs learned.
For our older students, we also sing in chorus from January through April. The third and fourth graders sing together, learning to perform two or three songs. The fifth and sixth graders sing five or six songs.
Every student at MCS learns how to read music. This learning begins simpy in kindergarten with just three symbols. By sixth grade, the students are capable of reading and interpreting dozens of different rhythmic values, common indications for tempo and dynamics, and music in several different keys on the treble and bass clef.
Many people believe that only a select few have what it takes to be a composer. At MCS, we believe that all students can be composers. Our learning begins in Kindergarten and First Grade with students adding their own ideas to songs and making up new verses to familiar tunes. By the time students leave MCS in sixth grade, they will have composed an Animal Facts Rap (gr. 2); an art song based on a poem (gr. 3); a fiddle tune in the style of a jig or reel (gr 4); a verse of Gregorian chant and an instrumental piece about a character in Greek mythology (gr.. 5); and a piano solo and a duet for two percussion instruments (gr. 6). Some of these compositions are performed by the students themselves while others are performed by visiting guest artists.
MCS students also learn to play an instrument. In all grade levels, students try out a variety of drums and percussion instruments. Third and fourth graders learn to play the recorder, beginning with simple tunes and progressing to very challenging ones. Fifth and sixth graders are strongly encouraged to study a band instrument and perform in our school band. There is also a school chamber orchestra, comprised of students in grades 3-6 who play violin, viola, cello, bass, or classical guitar.
Fifth and sixth graders are allowed to take music electives. These vary from year to year but often include: playing the ukulele (no instrument or experience required!), building and playing handmade instruments from nature (knotweed flutes and gourd instruments), and composing for piano.
Rep, short for repertory or repertoire, is a time for students, teachers, and community members to share presentations, ideas, and performances. During the “average” Rep (they are all unique) we might hear two or three soloists sing or play, hear an entire grade sing a song together, watch a funny play, view a short film made by students, listen to a poetry recitation, and hear announcements from teachers or students about upcoming events. Students often visit me at recess time to practice for upcoming performances. Rep is held most Thursday afternoons (exact times vary). Family and friends are always welcome to drop in!
Hi. I’m Travis Ramsey. I’ve been teaching music at the Marion Cross School since 2015. Before I came here, I taught in another small Vermont town for two years, in urban Massachusetts for seven, and in coastal Maine for one year. I went to Hanover High School and am so happy to be back here in the Upper Valley with my family.
Along with teaching, I’m also a composer. Local groups sing my songs and commission my music, as well as artists in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.
Looking at shapes, combining shapes to make recognizable images, Art Simon Says, Painting our feelings, exploration of different materials, Helping Heart Pins, The Very hungry caterpillar- printing with balloons, pinch pots, 2D vs 3D- turning paper into sculpture (rainbow unit), Jasper Johns Alphabets, Cave paintings
Mary Azarian-Inspired -Vermont Block Prints, Mixed Media Solar systems, Egyptian Cartouches on handmade papyrus(writing their names in Heiroglyphics), King Tuts Third coffin OR Scarab beetles (copper sheeting), Mummified Cats (Paper Mache), Heart Art (sometimes skipped if time is an issue), Japanese inspired art (reduction printing), and this year we are going to try to create a Japanese-themed claymation. Pottery
Self Portraits- exploring the different parts of the face (tie-in with i-poems or personal narratives), 3D art (this year Forest Shadow boxes), Wayne Thiebaud-inspired food pantings, Pop art (Campbell's soup cans), Ancient Greek Statue self portraits, Paper Mache Spartan Helmets, Medieval art, Pottery
Technology is integrated across the curriculum and in the different subject area in Kindergarten, to support student learning. That includes regular use of iPad apps for Reading and Math. Kindergarten also includes units on Internet Safety to include topics such as safe use of the computer and personal privacy online.
Technology is integrated across the curriculum and in the different subject area in 1st grade, to support student learning. That includes regular use of iPad apps for Reading and Math. 1st grade also includes units on Internet Safety to include topics such as safe use of the computer and personal privacy online.
Technology is integrated across the curriculum and in the different subject area in 2nd grade, to support student learning. That includes regular use of iPad apps for Reading and Math practice. 2nd also includes units on Internet Safety to include topics such as safe use of the computer and keeping things private.
Technology is integrated across the curriculum and in the different subject area in 3rd grade, to support student learning. That includes regular use of iPad apps for Reading and Math practice, including Symphony Math and iXL. 3rd grade also includes units on Internet Safety to include topics such as safe use of the computer and preventing Cyber Bullying.
Technology is integrated across the curriculum and in the different subject area in 4th grade, to support student learning. That includes regular use of various iPad apps, including Symphony Math and iXL, plus creation of student projects using iMovie. 4th grade learns to keyboard using the ISTE touch typing program. 4th grade also includes units on Internet Safety to include topics such as safe use of the computer and preventing Cyber Bullying.
Technology is integrated across the curriculum and in the different subject areas in 5th grade, to support student learning. That includes regular use of various iPad apps, including Symphony Math and iXL plus creation of student projects using iMovie. 5th grade also regular uses Excel to analyze and graph data. 5th grade also includes units on Internet Safety to include topics such as safe use of the computer and preventing Cyber Bullying.
Technology is integrated across the curriculum and in the different subject areas in 6th grade, to support student learning. That includes regular use of various iPad apps, including Symphony Math and iXL plus creation of student projects using iMovie. 6th grade also regular uses Excel to analyze and graph data. 6th grade also includes units on Internet Safety to include topics such as safe use of the computer and preventing Cyber Bullying.