5th Grade

The Fifth Grade year is a bridge between two very different student experiences: the self-contained classroom of the primary grades and the subject-specific classrooms of middle school.

Systems are a unifying thread tying together our explorations of the world. Students use a systems analysis approach to examine many realms: How do vacuum cleaners work? What is our solar system like? Where does our water come from? If numbers are infinite, how is it possible to use only ten numerals to represent any quantity? How can I use my assignment calendar to manage my study time? How do paragraphs help me organize ideas in my writing?”

Using systems as a vehicle for learning offers many opportunities for students to learn by doing, and to learn at many levels at once. For example, students physically take apart a simple machine like a bicycle, and use diagrams to document their discoveries. They use measurement tools to collect information and photograph parts from multiple perspectives. They do research in non-fiction texts such as The Way Things Work and they write descriptions of the interactions of parts. Students culminate this series of activities by delivering a poster-illustrated presentation to their classmates.

  • Learn more about our 5th Grade curriculum:
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    Language Arts

    • Writing
      The Fifth Grade writing program is implemented with a keen eye toward the developmental leaps a student must make when entering the middle school years. Reinforcing the idea that the process of writing is a system, and encouraging the class to see composition as construction, fifth graders are creating a “toolbox” with which they can use to access and hone their writing craft. Approaching our written work with an eye on process and the notion of revisiting and revising allows us to be more productive, organized, and in control of our finished product. 

      Most importantly, our fifth graders become more independent and fluent writers, confident that they are communicating their interior thoughts clearly and with intention. 

      The overarching questions that we pursue include:

      1. What tools can I collect this year to add to my writers toolbox?
      2. How can I access my toolbox to become a more creative and independent writer?
      3. How can I best communicate through my writing?

      Writing practices are explored through various genres including:

      • Essays: Persuasive, response to literature, five paragraph with thesis statement
      • Poetry
      • Memoir
      • Free writing
      • Short story
      • Expository writing: Note taking, paraphrasing, summarizing
      • Journal writing
      • Letter writing
      • Picture/Word Prompt writing

      Grammar and mechanics are addressed within the context of daily writing assignments through mini lessons that are generated from authentic student work. This direct teaching method keeps the information relevant to the writers, allowing the students to embed grammar lessons into their work as they are creating it.


    • The Fifth Grade math program equips students with the foundational skills and dispositions necessary for future success in mathematics.  The core curriculum resource is TERC’s Investigations 3.  Supplemental resources are used to ensure that students have rich opportunities to work on topics including Number Sense and Operations, Algebraic Thinking, and Geometry and Measurement. The curriculum is full of engaging problems that allow students to construct their own understanding about important mathematical concepts and to build connections between big ideas. Classroom tasks focus on discovery and insight rather than lecture and rote memorization. Problem-solving experiences are carefully balanced with opportunities to develop understanding of procedures and computational fluency.

      Number Sense and Operations in Base Ten

      • Fluently solve multi-digit multiplication and division problems using a variety of strategies including the standard algorithms
      • Solve multi-step word problems using all four operations
      • Represent decimals on grids and number lines
      • Compare and order decimals to thousandths
      • Identify fraction and decimal equivalents
      • Round decimals to the nearest one, tenth, or hundredth
      • Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals
      • Recognize and use place-value relationships to explain patterns when multiplying or dividing by powers of 10 including placement of the decimal point
      • Develop estimation strategies for multi-digit whole number and decimal operations

      Number Sense and Operations with Fractions

      • Represent fractions using area models (rectangles), rotation models (clock), and linear models (number lines)
      • Compare and order fractions by using strategies including landmarks and equivalents
      • Add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers with unlike denominators
      • Multiply fractions, mixed numbers, and whole numbers
      • Compare the size of factors and the size of the product and explain their relationship
      • Divide a unit fraction by a whole number and a whole number by a unit fraction
      • Develop estimation strategies for fraction operations

      Algebraic Thinking

      • Reinforce familiarity with factors and multiples
      • Classify numbers as prime, composite, or square
      • Learn and apply divisibility rules to problem solving situations
      • Use order of operations to evaluate computation problems
      • Write and interpret expressions involving grouping symbols
      • Write simple expressions to record calculations
      • Use tables and graphs to compare two situations
      • Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the coordinate plane and interpreting the graph in the context of the situation 

      Geometry, Measurement, and Data

      • Use attributes to classify triangles and quadrilaterals
      • Understand concepts of volume and solve problems involving the volume of rectangular prisms and figures composed of rectangular prisms
      • Make line plots to display data sets involving fractions and interpret line plots to solve problems
      • Solve measurement conversion problems within a given system of measurement

    Project Time (Science & Social Studies)