The fifth grade Language Arts program builds on the reading and writing skills of the previous grades and prepares students for the rigorous critical reading and writing demands of middle school. Students work on developing a foundation of skills grounded in thinking critically about the ideas and information they encounter. As students analyze information, they can best determine its relevancy and strive to understand it better. Students read a variety of genres including novels, short stories, poems, essays, plays, biographies, and nonfiction.
Writing instruction focuses on descriptive paragraphs, articles, pantoums (a form of verse), poetry, memoir, expository paragraphs, essays and short stories. Students publish a class newspaper. Journaling, note taking, and study skills are part of students’ daily work. Students also learn script writing and make short films. In grammar and vocabulary, students hone skills of usage, synonyms, and analogies. Students continue to use the writing process learned in earlier grades, with a particular focus on transitions between paragraphs and use of specific detail to support assertions and key ideas. Student work is kept in portfolios and assessed using rubrics. They learn to use Keynote, iMovie, Google Drive, and Pages.
In fifth grade Mathematics, students are taught operations with whole numbers and decimals, reading and creating graphs, operations with fractions and mixed numbers, integers and rational numbers, introduction to algebra, ratio, proportion and percent, geometry, probability and statistics. Special problem solving opportunities (Problems of the Week) encourage working in teams, using a variety of strategies, writing out thought processes during problem solving, and presenting solutions to the class. Students use an online math program to practice their mathematics skills at different levels.
Fifth grade begins with a focus on Life Science. The students’ study starts with reports on animals, after which students learn about classification, ecology and oceanography, with particular emphasis on whales. Authentic learning happens in Bentley’s garden and pond, through a variety of hands-on activities and experiments, including designing water quality tests. Each student does an extensive report on a specific cetacean. In the second half of the year the students study earth science, which includes solar radiation, natural resources, the rock cycle—igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, plate tectonics, volcanoes and earthquakes—and Earth in space. In addition, students participate in a multi-disciplinary field trip, during which they engage in hands-on study of many scientific topics. Students also participate in programming and design projects.
The fifth grade Social Studies course focuses on ancient civilizations beginning with pre-history, the dawn of civilization, Mesopotamia, and Babylonia through the fall of Rome. This includes the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, and Greeks as well as their ancient religions and gods and goddesses. As the year progresses the students come to a deeper appreciation of the rise and fall of the cultures, civilizations and nations of the Mediterranean region.
The program’s main objective is help students understand the depth and richness of history when civilizations were first formed and how those cultures are both similar and different from life today. The cross-curricular approach utilizes literature, mathematics, science, art, language and computer classes to create a well-rounded unit. History comes alive by tapping in to new discoveries that occur throughout the world that impact students’ understanding of time from the dawn of history to present day. Class cultural events, such as re-creating a Greek “Museum,” are held highlighting students’ research and creation of artifacts for viewing. The year ends with the Festival of the Gods and Goddesses event in which each student becoming an actual god or goddess, allowing them to highlight and present their extensive understanding of the ancient world.