Fifth Grade is a culminating year as students put together all previous skills and experiences to enhance and strengthen their personal abilities. They write and publish their own literature, raise money for a year-end educational class trip, and "travel" back in time in Social Studies. There are increased opportunities for individual projects, greater responsibility, and organization as students ready themselves for the challenges and excitement of middle school.
They act as a de facto Student Council, and show school spirit and a sense of community through the tasks they perform for ECS, including morning carpool assistance, serving as ambassadors to the younger grades for school assemblies, and other jobs. They are environmental leaders in charge of the composting program and in developing individual environmental research topics.
Learning methods used in the Fifth Grade include small cooperative group work, teacher-led or student-led discussions, whole group instruction, one-on-one assistance, discovery activities, collaborative and independent projects, and the use of role playing, original skits, games, poetry, and emergent learning responsive to student interests. Homework is regularly assigned. Field trips have included The Baltimore Symphony, a two night overnight visit to Echo Hill, and a multi-day, educational finale to such places as St. Mary's City, Williamsburg, New York City or Harper's Ferry, West, Virginia.
The students also have the use of personal iPads throughout the year. The iPads are given to the students toward the end of their 4th grade year. They take them home to use over the summer, then use them as a normal part of their school day throughout their senior year. The school allows students to lease their iPads and return them at the end of the year, lease them to own by the end of their 5th grade year, or to bring their own iPad to use in class.
The students use the iPads as a normal part of their academic day, taking notes, writing reports, doing research, and creating presentations, as well as learning essential computer use and maintenance skills. They use the desktop pc's in the computer lab as well, thus becoming technologically savvy about both kinds of devices.
Language Arts: Reading and Literature
Students read a variety of literature based on themes that are coordinated with subject areas taught. Emphasis is placed on vocabulary development and on comprehension and critical thinking skills. Genre studies include adventure, mystery, historical fiction, realistic fiction, and biography. These studies are carried over into their writing process. There are times when the novel being read also coordinates with Social Studies. (Texts: Treasury of Literature, Harcourt Brace; various trade books such as Mr. Tucket, Walk Two Moons, Out of the Dust, The Egypt Game, Julie of the Wolves, and various novels in the Dear America series)
Language Arts: Writing
The students use the writing process to develop their thoughts. We use POWER: Plan, Organize, Write, Edit, Rewrite. Each child has an opportunity to work individually and with the teacher. In addition to specific skill building work, grammar is reinforced and enhanced in the context of student writing.
Language Arts: Spelling
The spelling program is based on student growth and maintenance and advancement of spelling ability. The program can be individualized and coordinates with high utility words that are incorporated in their written efforts. (Text: Useful Spelling, Useful Learning)
Language Arts: Handwriting
Cursive writing is expected and D’Nealian cursive is practiced throughout the year.
We emphasize mathematical process and strategies, developing reasoning skills, and problem solving. Skills covered include addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers, and fractions and decimals as well as geometry and measurement, statistics, and ratios. (Text: Mathematics, Scott Foresman)
We begin the year with a globe and map study to gain a sense of locations of future units of study for the year. Students go back in time to study the immigration of cultures and peoples to this country. We also review American history starting with the colonization and going through to the American Revolution. Research skills are emphasized as important foundation work in preparing projects and presentations. Projects, special "days", and written and oral reports enrich units of study. (Core Knowledge, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., USA Studies Weekly; various other resource materials from the library and classroom)
The art curriculum focuses on a review of the principles of art and elements of design, and provides further opportunity for the encouragement of the imagination. Students create a self-portrait using photography as a compositional aide. Printmaking using soft-cut printing plates is introduced. Traditional perspective drawing is introduced, and students are required to create an art history project. Emphasis is placed on individual interpretation, good technique or craft, and attention to detail. Correct Art vocabulary is incorporated into all lessons.
Students continue to practice keyboarding and file management skills and now begin to work with spreadsheets as well. They regularly use non-print sources to locate information, copy, paste and multi-task on their own, and use their knowledge of software programs’ generic similarities to explore, navigate and use new and unfamiliar software packages.
The students review and use multiple informational sources, recognize and communicate specific information needs, choose sources and locate information to meet those needs, skim for information, and are introduced to the arrangement of certain Dewey Decimal subclasses. The Internet is used to find information, and students learn to evaluate websites and their authority. Book talks continue to be used often to promote interest in books and a lifelong love of reading.
Students continue exploring music elements such as pitch, tempo, complex rhythmic patterns and music notation. They learn songs with two parts and others offering solo opportunities. Another major focus will be the reinforcement and expansion of the four major instrument groups and exposure to different music genres through composer of the month and multicultural music. The fifth graders are required to take notes on these famous musicians. There are many performance opportunities in this class: during the December Holiday Program, through Assembly Programs, and performing a class show. The scenery for such events is prepared in the art class, and research or writing is done in language arts class.
Students participate in activities that reinforce skilled movement and enhance skillful performance. They give their best efforts through vigorous physical exercise, sports, games and dance. The Physical Assessment is administered in the fall. We concentrate on promoting lifetime health-related fitness. Students may participate in classroom and field lessons on paddling and canoeing skills. The physical fitness unit is expanded. Sportsmanship, cooperation, and safety are reviewed and enforced.
The major topics studied are the human body, healthy choices, nervous system, nutrition, earth science, weathering, solar system, Bay studies, matter, motion, and energy. Students use previous knowledge and experience in developing inquiry-based questions and content learning goals. They build upon these authentic questions using the appropriate steps of the scientific method. Emphasized are: thinking skills, forming hypothesis, interpreting data, and problem solving. Animal studies include invertebrates and those of the deep sea. Possible field trips are to Echo Hill Outdoor School, Bay Boat Studies, Maryland Science Center, Wetlands, and National Aquarium.
The students will conduct a research project in collaboration with the Maryland Association of Saltwater Sportfishermen and Maryland Association of the Environment. They will be performing a fishing survey off our pier to test the effects of the seven reef balls that were placed under it at the end of the 2005 school year. Fifth Graders learn to write grants for culminating class restoration projects at the end of the year. (Text, Science Horizons, Silver Burdett)
We continue to expand all areas of vocabulary and culture. We continue to use the textbook, Spanish is Fun, Book A (Amsco School Publications, Inc.), and learn more vocabulary, regular and irregular verbs, and more grammar. We become more familiar with the Spanish speaking world through maps, books, and class discussions. Students also present a report on a Spanish speaking country of the world.