5th Grade Philosophy
Fifth grade is a year where students integrate all of their learning experiences at WCSS and demonstrate leadership, as they prepare for the transition to middle school. Our workshop approach to teaching means that fifth graders spend most of the day working partnerships, small groups, or independently and that instruction is differentiated. We spend considerable time developing strong classroom communities and work hard on social and emotional skill development.
Reading & Writing – Teachers conduct ongoing and interim assessments in literacy, sitting side by side and listening to each student read, discussing books, assessing high frequency words and spelling, noting what skills they have and which they need, and looking closely at their writing. Running records help teachers track student progress toward benchmarks and guide instruction. Our curriculum emphasizes deep inferential comprehension. Consistent with the Common Core Standards, we have increased the amount of nonfiction/ informational text in both reading and writing. By the end of fifth grade, children are expected to be able to read with understanding level T books such as Abel’s Island by William Steig, The Great Brain by John Fitzgerald, and the Sammy Keyes mysteries.
Math – In math, we are strongly committed to a concept-based, problem-solving, hands-on approach to mathematics. We believe children need to be involved in constructing meaning in math, deciding on which strategies to use as they solve complex problems. We also know that children need to learn and practice basic math facts so that they can calculate quickly and efficiently, and so we do that as well. The Common Core Standards outline end of year expectations in math on each grade, and our pacing calendars are designed with that in mind. We draw on GO MATH, units developed by Metamorphosis, and emphasize differentiating math instruction.
Some of the key end-of-year 5th grade math benchmarks include:
- Can multiply 2-digit by 3 digit whole numbers
- Understands equivalents between fractions, decimals, percent’s
- Beginning to understand multiplication and division of fractions and decimals by whole numbers.
- Can calculate volume.
Social Studies – In Social Studies, students study U.S. History with an emphasis Westward Expansion. Also included are Comparative Cultures, US Government and Economics and European Exploration and its effects. The curriculum incorporates inquiry and engaging trips throughout the year.
Science – Food and Nutrition: The purpose of this unit is for students to learn how food, which is the main source of nutrients and energy, affects their growth and development. This unit follows up in the study of healthy foods and nutrition. Exploring Ecosystems: The purpose of this unit is for students to identify components of ecosystems, classify organisms by how they obtain energy, and how living and nonliving things depend upon each other for survival and life processes. Through explorations, students will analyze data, explain using models, and draw conclusions about ecosystems and how human decisions impact life within the ecosystems.
Other Activities – All fifth graders have STEAM, visual art, music, physical education, drama, and dance. In addition, fifth graders participate in Disney in Schools for enrichment and will create and perform a show at the end of the year. The day incorporates many opportunities for movement during transitions and recess.