Subject Specialization—A Deep Dive Approach
DEEP DIVE PROGRAM—Upper Grade Subject Specialization:

Our Fourth and Fifth Grade teachers and students launched and piloted our Deep Dive program in 2017. This program was designed to allow teachers to specialize in the specific curricular areas where their talents and passions lie, create extended blocks of time for learning within those curricular areas, and grant students a richer learning experience. The program allows students to dive more deeply into the learning, to question more, to engage in higher-level thinking and in-depth critical thinking, and to make deeper personal connections with the learning. The result of more in-depth project, problem, and inquiry-based learning is increased student engagement and success. The program is heralded by students, teachers, and parents, in equal measure.

Based on the success of the pilot program, the program was officially adopted into the Fourth and Fifth Grade Learning Model at Serendipity. Fourth and Fifth Grade learners have the pleasure of spending whole days focusing on Language Arts, Math, Science, or Social Studies, respectively. Below are some sample projects listed by grade for each of the core curricular areas.

Sample Deep Dive Projects

Language Arts:

  • Fourth Grade: Explorations in historical fiction–connecting and/or extracting historical facts from narratives, separating truth from fiction, analyzing point of view, grammar and vocabulary, analytical discussions and critical thinking exercises, writing and sharing historical fiction
  • Fifth Grade: Researching and debating controversial topics—research and writing techniques, weighing the reliability of sources, analytical discussions and critical thinking exercises, persuasive writing, speech and debate skills, active listening and openness to differing points of view,

Social Studies:

  • Fourth Grade: Experiencing the Pioneer Life/California history and the Gold Rush–
  • Fifth Grade: Discovering “The Past Is a Foreign Country” through preparation for Age of Sail expedition—research strategies, engaging in simulations and reenactments, creating models, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leadership and self-reliance


  • Fourth Grade: Understanding fractions through cooking, properly doubling and tripling recipes
  • Fifth Grade: Building a scale model of the Pacific Ocean including changing features such as the Pacific Garbage Patch

Science and Engineering:

  • Fourth Grade: Using understanding of waves and wave transfer to predict when to hold a big-wave surfing contest
  • Fifth Grade: Investigating the problem of plastics in our world’s oceans and water systems—research and reporting, collecting and interpreting data, practical labs, engineering solutions and designing prototypes, field trips, service learning projects
Investigate the plastics problem with Ms. Sonia and her Fifth Grade students:

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