Grade 5 Curriculum

Mathematics
In grade five, students use the McDougal Littell math series, which is used throughout the Upper School. Students use real-life experiences, physical materials, and technology to construct meanings for numbers including:

  • All integers
  • All fractions as part of a whole, as a subset of a set, as a location on a number line, and as a division of whole numbers
  • All decimals

They also explore the use of ratios and proportions in a variety of situations; understand and use whole numbers as percents between 1 and 100; and use whole numbers, fractions, and decimals to represent equivalent forms of the same number. They also develop and apply number theory concepts in problem solving situations including: primes, factors, multiples, common multiples and common factors. Fifth-grade students select pencil and paper, mental math, or a calculator as the appropriate computational method in a given situation depending on the context and numbers. They also find squares and cubes of whole numbers, and apply the standard algebraic order of operations. And they continue to use estimation to determine the reasonableness of an answer.

The students at this level learn that study of geometry and measurement includes concepts involving lines and angles. They also identify, describe, compare, and classify polygons and circles; identify similar figures; understand and apply the concepts of congruence and symmetry; and compare properties of cylinders, prisms, cones, pyramids, and spheres. The students also identify a three-dimensional shape with given projections. They select and use appropriate units to measure angles, area, surface area, and volume; use a scale to find distance on a map; and convert measurement units. Fifth-graders begin to use protractors to measure angles and they apply formulas for determining the area and perimeter of polygons and the circumference and area of circles.

Fifth-grade students use the commutative, associative, and distributive properties to show that two expressions are equivalent. They evaluate expressions and they understand that variables represent numbers whose exact values are not yet specified. They construct and analyze tables and they use equations to describe simple relationships, e.g., (3x = y) shown in a table. Grade-five students continue to study with hands-on equations to provide a solid foundation for algebra readiness. Students are grouped by ability using results of the ERBs, the end of grade four final math assessment, pre-test scores, and teacher recommendations.
Course text: Math Course 1, McDougal Littell Publishers

Language Arts
In the fifth grade, students read a minimum of two independent books per trimester and a minimum of twenty-five minutes per day independently. This enables them to augment their understanding of and appreciation for a variety of texts. It also enables them to develop, refine, and apply an extended vocabulary through listening and exposure to a variety of texts. Through reading, students hone their ability to make inferences, understand the use of literary devices, such as simile and metaphor, and draw conclusions in their discussions and writing. Students are expected to address increasingly complex questions (related to interpretation, application, and evaluation) when reading texts. They also provide evidence to support their conclusions about a text and identify and synthesize critical events and details in fiction and nonfiction readings. And they demonstrate an understanding of how point of view influences a story’s meaning and structure and they understand transitions in writing.

Students at this level also write expository and multi-paragraph essays, synthesizing information from a variety of sources. As part of the writing process, students are expected to take notes effectively (bulleting, paraphrasing, and abbreviating); provide a logical sequence by refining organizational structure; develop transitions between ideas; revise drafts; and understand how to construct work that is mechanically accurate and meaningful. Students identify and correct sentence fragments and run-on sentences and distinguish among action, linking, and helping verbs. They also use the pronunciation key of a dictionary to decode new words, use increasingly complex sentence structures, and syntax to express ideas and identify direct objects and prepositional phrases.

Fifth-grade students achieve keyboarding proficiency of twenty-five words per minute, producing work with proper punctuation. They also write cursive fluently and speak effectively and comfortably in front of the class. They use organization, efficiency, and presentation aids, such as props, note cards, and computer-based tools, to persuade an audience of their ideas and to represent a point of view. Student audiences demonstrate an understanding of discussions by paraphrasing or adding information. They also listen politely and criticize or ask questions constructively.

Information Literacy and Technology
For fifth-grade students, the use of the library, technology, and media continues to be integrated with classroom projects and lessons. Students at this level use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas to multiple audiences. They locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and use information from a variety of sources and media with even more independence. They continue to process data and report results using an increasing variety of sophisticated tools.

In the fifth grade, students learn to apply guidelines for bibliographic citations. And their use of technology and media expands to include the selection and use of diverse applications, including word processing functions, graphing, multimedia presentation platforms, as well as collaborative learning environments, such as wikis and blogs. Fifth graders also learn to work with multiple applications simultaneously. In addition, students learn and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology by understanding of the meaning and impact of plagiarism and the importance of copyrights, network etiquette, and Internet safety. As fifth grade students, they are also poised to discern the validity and/or discrepancies of information found in a variety of sources and they learn to recognize the implications of copyrights and plagiarism in technology.

Social Studies: World Cultures
The fifth-grade social studies course focuses on world cultures and is designed to address the following overarching essential questions:


  • How do we define culture?
  • What are the forces that shape a culture?
  • How does studying different cultures provide an opportunity for self-reflection?

Latin America, Asia, and Africa are areas of focus. Fifth-graders engage in various integrated project-based learning experiences that are designed to enable them to delve actively into world issues and to hone their reading, thinking, and writing skills. Students will examine the geography and cultural history of these areas as well as understand that geography impacts the development of culture.

The study and interpretation of political, physical, and economic maps are integral parts of this course. Furthermore, students will know the location of major cities, countries, and geographical features of the target countries. In addition, they will explore the economic, social, and political aspects of these areas. Throughout our study, students connect the understanding of world problems to current events. A variety of teaching methods, projects, and assessments are employed throughout the course.

Science
Applying the scientific method, fifth-grade students acquire the vocabulary associated with controlled experimentation as they study and understand the concept of variables. They do this by designing and conducting controlled experiments and by recording and graphing data concretely, pictorially, and symbolically to discover relationships and to make predictions.

Students at this level also learn the fundamentals of basic chemistry through the study of mixtures and solutions. They measure solids and liquids with precision, compare the solubility of materials in water, understand the concepts of saturation and concentration, and compare materials before and after a chemical reaction occurs. Students study simple machines to gain an understanding of the relationships between the components of lever and pulley systems; recognize the concept of advantage as it relates to simple machines; and use spring scales to measure the force in newtons.

In their unit on marine studies, fifth-grade students learn the origin, names, location, and composition of the earth’s oceans, know the percentage of the earth’s surface area that is covered by oceans, and the properties of ocean water—its density and salinity. Students also gain knowledge on the characteristics of marine organisms and can identify their adaptations. They also learn to recognize the importance of ocean resources and exploration.

All fifth-grade scientists are expected to answer given questions using multiple resources, to take notes focusing on main ideas, to organize information into coherent sentences, and to present that information using current technology. As a capstone to their development as student researchers, fifth-graders attend a three-day field trip to Cape Cod, where they will participate in a whale-watching expedition as well as marine field studies. Many faculty members and administrators join the students on this trip, conducting community- and leadership-building experiences as other integral aspects of the fifth-grade excursion.

World Languages: Chinese (Mandarin) and Spanish
After reviewing last year’s lessons, students learn to identify numbers from eleven to ninety-nine in Chinese. They also study how to ask and respond to questions relating to dates, birthdays, and ages. Cultural facts on Chinese calendars and birthday traditions are discussed. The reading and writing of new characters are introduced, as well as more Pinyin pronunciations. Students learn about the structure of Chinese families and learn how to identify their own family members by studying how to ask and respond to questions relating to the number of siblings in their families.

Fifth-grade students review previously learned materials in Spanish, such as numbers, days, months, and time, with greater emphasis on visual recognition and writing. Further development of oral skills are also targeted. In preparation for upper school study, basic grammatical concepts, such as subject-verb and noun-adjective agreement, are formally introduced.

Music
Fifth-grade students continue to build on their note and rhythm reading skills through playing the recorder and keyboard. Using the Midi keyboard lab, students perform simple melodies using their recorder music and at the same time learn the correct hand position. Students complete their final year of the recorder and demonstrate their proficiency in playing in two-part harmony as well as performing individually. In addition, students perform in their grade-level play, the Holiday Concert, and the Closing Exercises. Students study pianist, Franz Liszt during our composer unit.

Fine Arts
A variety of repertoire is studied throughout the year and makes cross-curricular connections to the fifth-grade students’ study of whales. Students also explore improvisation, composition, and movement. Students understand and use symmetrical, asymmetrical, linear, and radial composition to create balance, rhythm, and motion in their artwork. Their projects demonstrate balance, complexity, and simplicity as they begin to use linear perspective, understand and apply contour, and use symbols to express moods, feelings, and ideas. Students recognize relationships between stylized and naturalistic shapes and forms and learn to differentiate between accidental and intentional processes in the creation of art.

Performing Arts: Theater
Fifth-grade students write, memorize, and perform their own original works with a special focus on the skills of vocal projection and inflection. They also portray a variety of emotions using proper diction, eye contact, and fluid stage movements.

Physical Education
Students in the fifth grade exhibit self-confidence as they master all locomotor skills and continue developing manipulative skills. In games and sports, fifth-graders identify the fundamental concepts and strategies used in games and sports as they continue practicing skills learned in the fourth grade. Students continue to focus on physical fitness as they identify and perform exercises to improve muscle strength and endurance, to strengthen their upper body, to stretch for flexibility, and to engage in cardio workouts. They also learn to identify their resting heart rate, pulse, and working heart rate and assess their level of fitness through participation on our challenge course.