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Validating and Encouraging Inquiry

At the Intermediate Level, Falk students are increasingly able to take a direct hand in their learning.

They ask questions, conduct research, and take responsibility for sharing their discoveries with others. Falk’s Intermediate-Level teachers embrace the sense of inquiry that comes so naturally to students at this age, and believe that learning should be both fun and engaging. By validating and encouraging inquiry and student input, Falk's Intermediate teachers guide students to become passionate, lifelong learners, intrinsically motivated by their search for knowledge and understanding.

Social and Emotional Development

Social and emotional development is an emerging focus for students at this level. Understanding that peer relationships and a sense of community are crucial to healthy development, teachers utilize activities and projects designed to encourage collaboration, communication, and compromise among students. As children build relationships, they become more aware of social dynamics. They need time, guidance, and environments in which they can practice the skills necessary for navigating the complexities of co-existing with others. Teachers consider these important factors as they develop lessons, activities, and opportunities that foster the ability for students to be self-reflective, becoming aware of who they are both as people and as learners. As this awareness increases, students are able to develop their strengths and advocate for the help they need to overcome their challenges, ultimately increasing the self-confidence necessary for them to learn and grow. 

Program of Studies

Language Arts at the Intermediate Level emphasizes independent reading, enlisting a range of activities that help students develop higher-order thinking skills and strategies to enhance comprehension and move students from a literal to an inferential and then to a critical and evaluative level of understanding. 

Writing also takes a central role: writing to learn, writing across the curriculum, and the physical act of writing all are key activities that Intermediate students practice, recognizing that the best way to learn anything is by doing it. Writing instruction is aimed at cultivating the art and craft of written expression to communicate for a variety of purposes such as demonstrating understanding, creatively narrating a story, and logically stating and defending an opinion or proposition. 

Falk’s Intermediate mathematics program seeks to refine students’ thinking by fostering their ability to solve problems and play with concepts. Additionally, students develop understanding and fluency with multiplication and division, fractions, and place value, as well as describing, analyzing, and classifying two- and three-dimensional shapes based on their properties. By developing a repertoire of methods to tackle the mathematical situation in front of them, students formulate their own comprehension of mathematics, grounding them in a deep understanding of why such methods are effective and how to apply them in a variety of situations.

Intermediate level at Falk Laboratory

Intermediate level at Falk Laboratory School

Intermediate science courses challenge students to conduct more sophisticated analyses and data collection. Through journaling and discussion, students bring new levels of accuracy to their observations, measurements, and reasoning. By maintaining science journals, students not only collect and record data but reflect upon concepts and processes and develop new questions. Outdoor explorations of Falk’s environment help to support classroom lessons in ecology, biology, and environmental studies.


Social Studies at the Intermediate Level marks the beginning of a more formal introduction to history, with students exploring key concepts like cause and effect, change and continuity, periodization, how to interrogate evidence, and how to construct and support an argument. Intermediate students also begin an in-depth examination of geography, with an emphasis on exploration, observation, and how to represent their observations on large-scale maps.

Intermediate students continue their Spanish studies, with classes now falling on alternate days for 35 to 45 minutes at a time. Students continue to gain in speaking and listening comprehension while beginning to read and write larger amounts of text. Thematic units such as “Family and Home” and “Community” connect Spanish to topics students are exploring in other classes, while other units allow them to explore the products, practices, and perspectives of Spanish-speaking people and cultures.

In addition to these core subjects, Intermediate-level students continue to engage regularly and intentionally with humanities subjects including library, music and performing arts, physical education, yoga and mindfulness classes, WonderLab, digital citizenship, the visual arts, and Falk Woods.

Looping Model

Falk’s Intermediate Level includes students in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Students spend one year in a 3rd-grade classroom, which assists them in acclimating to new responsibilities and routines. Fourth and fifth grades are spent in the looping model, providing students with a consistent environment in which members of the class have ample opportunity to develop and maintain strong relationships, bolstering their comfort and confidence. In the looping model, teachers can form a deep understanding of students’ individual needs and learning styles, and monitor their longitudinal development. As a result, both students and teachers thrive.