Grade 5

Reading

Once the students have reached 5th grade, they are skilled at interpreting texts from a reader’s point of view and have begun to simultaneously consider the author’s point of view and impact on a text. Reading Workshop continues to build students’ reading stamina while teaching them to move from concrete reading practices to more abstract analyses. The units of study expose them to a variety of fiction and informational genres while giving them the tools they need to navigate more complex structures and examine themes and point of view. Using the workshop model, students listen to a read aloud story that demonstrates comprehension strategies that they then apply to their independent reading lives. Extending their work in 4th grade, students investigate the ways in which an author uses characters to convey universal themes. This character analysis then becomes a means for understanding the biographical subjects and perspectives in narrative nonfiction. In studying expository and hybrid nonfiction, students examine the different text structures authors use to convey ideas and how writers communicate main ideas and supporting details. Gathering in book clubs for an historical fiction unit, students collectively confront and discuss challenging themes presented in books during a historical time period, while analyzing how authors’ perspectives affect style, structure and other literary elements. Students then read and compare nonfiction text sets, using both articles and opinion pieces, about a global issue. Students end the year with independent reading project, during which they choose a reading goal and a book to help them achieve it.

As the children continue to develop as readers and their stamina builds, they learn to go beyond the concrete storyline and appreciate text on an increasingly abstract level. In their study of various genres, students develop the skills to comprehend increasingly complex texts and to recognize and contemplate the larger ideas communicated through literature. Students learn to summarize the main points of what they have read and use textual evidence to make logical predictions and insightful inferences. As they read, students are able to recognize the structure of a text and to understand the relationship of different parts of the text to each other and to the whole. They identify main ideas and are able to synthesize multiple ideas to arrive at original thinking. In addition, students learn to describe the theme or the author’s purpose and to cite supporting evidence in their explanations. They are also able to show how an author chooses information and employs a certain style and tone to serve his point of view.  Students learn how an author uses specific reasons and evidence to support each idea in a text and precise words to create tone. When reading narratives, students also pay special attention to how and why individuals, events and ideas change. Students learn to compare and integrate information from multiple sources. Throughout the year, students continue to use decoding and context clues to read and understand unfamiliar words.

Writing

The Writing Workshop aims to teach students to communicate their ideas in a variety of written forms. In all units of study, the students follow the writing process of idea generation, planning, drafting, revising, and editing. They begin the year by writing a personal narrative that draws on their prior experience using descriptive and dramatic details, and now requiring the development of a theme. Turning their focus to research, students choose a topic of interest that they investigate using multiple sources and then use that information to write an expository research report. A persuasive essay assignment linked to social studies challenges students to convince others to visit a country they have invented or studied. A literary essay unit teaches students how to create a theory about a work of literature and use evidence from the book to prove their thesis. They also work on a second essay in which they compare two books on a similar topic. Building on their persuasive essay writing skills, students develop a research-based argument essay on either a topic of their choice or on the Touchpoints topic of poverty. For the year’s final project, students write a memoir about one event that happened to them at school during 5th grade.

In 5th grade, students build on their experience writing narratives and research reports to produce more complex and varied compositions. In their narrative writing – personal narrative, memoir and fiction – students enhance their writing with rich details that enliven the story while also conveying point of view and theme. Research skills take a major role during the year, as students focus on expressing ideas that they support with evidence. Students learn to produce short research projects that stem from focused questions and branch out to explore different aspects of a topic. In writing opinion pieces, they hone their ability to express a view in a thesis statement and support it with solid reasons and evidence. In addition to printed texts, students independently use technology to conduct research on the Internet. Seeking out multiple sources on a topic, they learn to assess the reliability of each one and work on taking effective notes. Then they either paraphrase or quote the information, always citing their sources. When planning and drafting, students learn to always keep their purpose and audience in mind. Finally, they strengthen the potency and clarity of their writing through revision and editing. They place particular emphasis on sentence fluency, word choice, grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Mathematics

Throughout the year, students become fluent with formulas, algorithms, and problem-solving strategies through teamwork and self-exploration. The overarching themes of 5th grade math include fluency with numbers and numeration, operations and computation, data, measurement, geometry, and algebra. They develop an understanding of formulas and algorithms to solve problems involving whole numbers, fractions, and decimals using the four operations. Measurement concepts involving data, capacity, area, volume, and coordinate systems, as well as geometry concepts, including finding surface area, perimeter, density, and volume are explored throughout the year. Students are introduced to the concepts of variables, equations, and expressions as well as plotting functions on a four-quadrant coordinate plane.

Students are encouraged to apply a variety of strategies to solve problems as they practice problem-solving skills in independent, small group, and large group configurations. Throughout the course of study, students demonstrate their ability to read and write whole numbers and decimals, identify place value, and use expanded notation. Students also learn multiple strategies to multiply and divide whole numbers, decimals, and fractions.  After developing an understanding of fractions, they begin to discover the relationships among fractions, percentiles, decimals, rates, and ratios. They solve equations with one variable, and move away from basic input/output charts to begin using function charts to graph basic equations. Students investigate geometric properties to describe, compare, and classify plane and solid figures and apply formulas to find surface area, circumference, area, and perimeter of both regular and irregular shapes.

Science

The 5th grade curriculum explores science through discovery and a process based on fact and support. In addition, the curriculum has an emphasis on nonfiction reading in the sciences and writing to record and analyze experimental observations. Students begin the year exploring the scientific method, measurement, and what it means to be a scientist before embarking on a study of earth science. The earth science units include an exploration of meteorology, and the forces that shape the earth, with an in-depth look at plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, the rock cycle, and rock and mineral properties and identification. The year ends with a discovery of how earth science and life science interrelate.

Students reinforce the basic principles of the scientific method while learning the difference between observation and inference, and the identification of the different variables used during a scientific investigation. Students learn proper experimentation, reading and following instructions, using proper safety procedures, recording data, and proper cleanup of materials. They organize their data and develop the proper technique for drawing conclusions. Students learn the use of the tools necessary to obtain metric measurements of distance, volume, and length in order to determine density of regular and irregular objects. As an extension of metric measurement, they learn to perform conversion of units. In the meteorology unit, students explain and analyze different weather patterns in order to create a weather report. During the exploration of our earth, the characteristics of each layer of the earth are studied. Students investigate the theories of plate tectonics to explain the effect the movement has on various landforms. Students study rocks and minerals in order to compare them based on their properties and characteristics. Students finish the year learning how the plants and animals of the earth depend upon each other and adapt to their environment.

Social Studies

Students gain a deeper understanding of the forces that shape countries physically and culturally by creating their own country from scratch. During their exploration of the five themes of geography the students divide themselves into small groups. Each of these “countries” then selects an absolute location on which to build their country, draws an outline for their continent, and fills it with a variety of landforms. They then come to discover how the absolute location and physical geography of a landmass determine their climate zone. The groups are then tasked with discovering the natural, human, and capital resources that are available based on the climate and landforms.  This information affects the goods and services they are able to offer and impacts the industry and jobs upon which their country relies. Once the countries have determined what is available naturally on their continent, they create a travel brochure to describe the culture of their country, describing the cultural characteristics that define the people, their beliefs, shelter, clothing, and traditions. Up until this point the students have learned the ways in which countries are able to meet the needs of their citizens using the resources available within their own country, but now they have the opportunity to explore the potential for trade. They create catalogs for advertising their goods and services, order forms to assist with bartering, and maps and shipping manifestos to dictate trade routes. Invariably the students learn the difficulties of doing business with other countries, and so they discover the need for laws and governing bodies. We then explore some of the major forms of government that have existed throughout history, and the groups decide on the form that best suits their needs. They also choose an economic system to match that will help their country to prosper. The unit ends as the students reflect on the process, citing in particular the way in which each decision they made was influenced by previous decisions that had come before.

Once the students have experienced this development of culture for themselves, the second half of the year is spent analyzing cultures from the ancient world by the same principles. These cultures may include Ancient Mesopotamia, the Aztecs, Inca, and Maya, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient Africa, Ancient Korea, and Ancient Japan. Each year one or two cultures are selected for study by the class as a whole, and then students select one or two cultures to focus on independently. They explore how their climate, resources, and geographical location have influenced events in their history, and characteristics of their culture. The students explore how an individual’s identity is shaped by these characteristics, and the impact that different factors can have on that identity. They also delve into conflicts that have arisen, their causes, and the effects that these have had on the world since.

Mandarin

The main focus of this year is on developing confidence in communicative skills for students, while helping them to advance their reading and writing. Students should feel more comfortable speaking in the target language. As a class, we work on reading and constructing dialogues; interactions and conversations between classmates are encouraged and are part of the classroom experience. Students in 5th grade think critically comparing customs and mannerisms between the United States and Mandarin speaking places, as more cultural mannerisms are presented.

Spanish

Students begin the semester reviewing previous themes and basic verbs and begin to conjugate regular and irregular verbs like “to be” and “to go”.  The main focus this year is on developing confidence in communication skills, often achieved through role-play to encourage each student’s self expression. Students become more familiar with the particular structures, expressions, and vocabulary in various types of conversation and develop more complex writing and verbal skills to reinforce their communication abilities. Students spend the majority of each class interacting with a partner in Spanish and participating in a variety of activities. They learn about the culture, food, and traditions of Spanish-speaking daily life researching on the internet and by watching interactive learning series. 

French

Students begin the semester reviewing themes that they worked on in 4th grade and basic verbs. They begin to conjugate regular and irregular verbs like “to be” and “to go” this year as well. The main focus in 5th grade is on developing confidence in communication skills through role-play to encourage students to express themselves freely. As students become more familiar with the particular structures, expressions, and vocabulary in various types of conversation, they develop more complex writing and verbal skills to reinforce their communication abilities. Interacting with a partner and participating in a variety of activities in French is the basis for each class meeting.  Students also learn about the culture, food, and traditions of people in Francophone-speaking countries using the internet and by watching interactive learning series. 

Visual Art

Students in 5th grade Art are encouraged to develop their ability to create and respond to meaning in visual imagery, to experiment and problem solve, to express their own ideas, and to reflect on their finished work and works in progress.

Our focus in 5th grade is Public Art. This unit begins with contemplating the definition of public art. The students explore public art throughout civilization, ancient labyrinths, medieval gargoyles, 20th century artists, Louise Nevelson and Alexander Calder. An example of a project for this unit involves creating artwork for our school elevators. This project was inspired by the MTA’s Poetry in Motion. Students create an artwork and a poem for the riders of the elevators.

Each year the 5th graders are inspired in different ways and students work out methods to spread art throughout the public spaces of Léman Manhattan. Past projects have included a Matisse inspired paper cut out mural and hidden sculptures throughout the building.  

Music

Our 5th grade musicians continue to progress in either Band or Chorus class. Within these ensembles, the students work to refine their musical literacy, musicianship skills, and collaborative skills in preparation for their continued studies in Upper School Music. 

Band

While most students in the 5th grade Band will be second year players, new students with no experience are also welcome. With differentiated instruction and a commitment to practicing, beginners can be very successful in the 5th grade Band. Instruments offered for instruction are: flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, euphonium and percussion. This course encompasses ensemble rehearsals as well as weekly group (no charge) or private (for a fee) lessons. 

In this class, students review and reinforce prior musical knowledge and technique through familiar tunes and basic sight-reading. They learn new rhythmic ideas and notes through new scales including Eb Major, F Major, and C Major in different patterns. Band members also learn basic conducting patterns in 4/4 time, the terms “up-beat” and “down-beat” in relation to conducting and the ensemble skill of following the conductor. The students in this class are able to distinguish between melody, harmony, and bass line and define the role each part plays in music. Fifth grade Band students also begin to identify tuning problems and their solutions, and discuss how tuning is related to harmony in music. They learn and define different musical styles in preparation for challenging new repertoire. The 5th grade Band studies and performs grade 1–1.5 concert band literature and performs at least twice per year. 

Chorus

Students continue to develop their vocal range utilizing healthy vocal techniques from their previous year of training. However, new students are welcome in this class regardless of prior choral music experience. With differentiated instruction, beginners can be very successful. In 5th grade Chorus, students learn new physical warm-ups and more complex vocal warm-up exercises. They strengthen their aural skills by critically assessing their vocal performance as a group and identifying areas for improvement. Students demonstrate the ability to maintain their own independent part while singing in 2-part harmony. Fifth grade Chorus members also complete a song-writing unit creating original lyrics and melodies. They continue to read, write, and dictate tonal patterns, identify notes on the staff, read melodies and describe different types of advanced intervals.

Physical Education

Fifth grade students participate in both competitive and cooperative activities. Our curriculum offers a balance that allows each student to be successful throughout the school year. 

Warm-up games and activities allow students to work on basic fitness concepts both individually or in a small group setting. Students participate in a variety of team sport units, which include soccer, basketball, floor hockey, diamond games, and pickle ball. During these units, students review the rules of the game and discuss offensive and defensive strategies. Students are reintroduced to positions for each team sport and how to play those positions. Small-sided games are played so that students can discuss and apply those strategies with their teammates. Fifth graders also participate in an extensive fitness that promotes strength and endurance. Basic fitness concepts are introduced throughout the unit, including taking and monitoring your heart rate through and after an activity. Our cooperative units include Tinikling, scooter and adventure/strategy games. The highlight of our year is the circus arts unit, which incorporates eye-hand coordination, balance and manipulation. Students practice juggling balls, manipulating devil sticks and yoyos, walking and balancing on a slackline and stilt walking. The culmination of the school year is our Lower School Field Day. On this day, students compete in relay races and activities, displaying good sportsmanship and respect for classmates. 

Swimming

The year begins with a quick review of pool safety rules and routines. Once in the pool, students review skills learned previously and build upon those skills to enhance their stroke development, endurance and strength needed for lap swimming. Each lesson allows for practice of these skills and the time to develop the endurance needed to be a capable swimmer.

Each class lesson includes elements of distance and drill work that helps improve coordination and strength. The first stroke we break down into phases is the front crawl. Students participate in drill sets to help develop technique. Lessons include pull buoys and kickboards to help strengthen both the pulling and kicking phases of each stroke. Students also learn backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly in the same manner. We emphasize the value of long, relaxed strokes as well as patterns and rhythms. Swimming is promoted not only as a competitive sport, but also as a lifetime sport.

Fifth graders love our junior lifeguard unit. Students learn the basics of being a junior lifeguard which includes treading water, surface diving, stride and compact jumping, assessing a scene, preforming a reaching assist and most importantly, learning how to keep themselves safe while helping others. Our last unit of the year is games and activities, which includes relay racing and water polo.

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