Core Academics

Sylvester Elementary (grades 3-5) continues to build on the academic foundation preparation done at the earlier levels of education. In addition to a clear, academically focused curriculum that stresses 21st Century skills, students at Sylvester Elementary are also encouraged to develop and use problem solving skills that may arise in the social domain. It is the goal of our staff to teach students to do their best, treat others with respect, and take an active role in their education. At this level of public education, state testing becomes an area of focus. All students are administered M-STEP (Michigan Student Educational Test of Progress) and test in the areas of math and English Language Arts. 4th graders are also tested in the area of science, while 5th graders are assessed in social studies. Various district level assessments and national assessment are also administered to ensure that students are progressing academically. Sylvester Elementary students, parents, and staff are also encouraged to participate in community and nation-wide events such as; March of Dimes, Jump Rope for Heart, Holiday Care Program, Safe-Routes to School, United Way and other activities that allow students to develop healthy living habits and take an active role in the community.


  • Reader's Workshop format used to develop independent reading skills at level sufficient to understand grade level content; strong focus on building reading stamina.
  • Making Meaning materials are used to develop the following comprehension strategies; visualizing, wondering/questioning, inferences, understanding text structure, determining important ideas, making connections and summarizing.
  • Social Skill interactions built into the structure of the reading program include; taking turns, appreciating and respecting others ideas, giving reasons to support thoughts and opinions, talking and listening to one another, using prompts to add to others thinking, clarifying questions, reaching agreement, and discussing opinions respectfully.


  • Writer's Workshop format utilizing MAISA units developed by Oakland Schools.
  • Mini-lessons, small group strategy sessions, and conferences with teachers help students to build and expand their writing skills.
  • School-wide publishing days are celebrated throughout the year to recognize student's personal narratives, persuasive, fiction, non-fiction and poetry works.


  • Bridges in Mathematics is used in grades 3-5.
  • Bridges focuses on developing students' deep understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems.
  • Blends direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration.
  • Taps into the intelligence and strengths of all students by presenting material that is as linguistically, visually, and kinesthetically rich as it is mathematically powerful.


  • Project Lead The Way used in grades 3-5.
  • Provides a comprehensive approach to STEM Education. Through activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum, PLTW gives students a chance to apply what they know, identify problems, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning.
  • Students become problem solvers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process, and employ critical thinking. They apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, learning that it is OK to take risks and make mistakes.

Social Studies:

  • A combination of MAISA Units and Social Studies Alive materials are used to meet grade level content expectations
  • Interactive approach to teaching about community, state and world (history, geography, government, economics) delivered through classroom activities, field trips, and textbooks.
  • Multicultural perspectives and appreciation of diversity bring social studies instruction alive within our classrooms.
  • MAISA Units combine cross-curricular activities to provide more in depth learning opportunities for students.

Safe Schools & Behavioral Expectations:

  • All students are entitled to a safe and civil school environment.
  • Safe and Civil Schools programming implanted at Sylvester Elementary.
  • Positive school-wide behavior supports and MTSS (Multi-Tier System of Supports)
  • Effective classroom management procedures.
  • Fosters respect and accountability in all students and improves school climate and culture.
  • Data driven decision making as it relates to behaviors.

Beyond Academics:

  • The following classrooms are also a part of the daily schedule at Sylvester: Physical Education, Art Education, Music Appreciation, Keyboarding, Library, and Computer/Media Skills.

Additional Programs:

  • Hearing Impaired and Audiology Center
  • ESL (English as a Second Language)
  • Title I- School-Wide targeted assistance program that focuses on needs of at-risk children in the area of reading (Title I lab equipped with Read Naturally and Lexia).
  • Beyond the Bell- Before school program targeting students needing additional instruction in mathematics.
  • T.E.L.L- (Teaching English Language Learners)- Program that works to enhance English language skills for ESL students.
  • Sylvester Singers/Vocalaires-Student performance group featuring singing, dancing, and theater experiences.
  • Young Rembrandts- After school art program that teaches the drawing skills children need while developing learning skills that provide students and academic advantage in the classroom.
  • Girls on the Run- (GOTR) After school program that focuses on character development and educates girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.
  • Science Olympiad & Science Club
  • Student Council-Student government/service group.
  • Conflict Managers- Training to help students solve their own problems.
  • Peer to Peer-Training that helps each student understand the needs of their peers with disabilities.
  • Books Clubs
  • A variety of athletic programs are offered through the Greater Berrien Springs Recreation Dept.

Michigan Dept. of Education:

Common Core State Standards:
State Academic Standards

In June 2010, the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as the new standards for K-12 Mathematics and English Language Arts. These standards improved upon Michigan's current standards (the Grade Level Content Expectations and the High School Content Expectations) by establishing clear and consistent goals for learning, and allow Michigan to work collaboratively with other states to provide curricular support to schools and educators.

Bridges to Mathematics Parent Guides:

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

Curriculum Guides:

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

Classroom Supply List

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