Our fifth graders are the recognized leaders of our Lower School. They lead our Lower School assemblies and serve as our Honor Guard, helping their younger peers during drop off and pick up times. Fifth graders take an overnight trip to Richmond to visit the Capitol, the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and several other landmarks in our state's capital. The Science Invention, Poetry Tea, and Honor Guard are all special fifth grade traditions
The Everyday Mathematics program culminates in the fifth grade. This year introduces advanced concepts like prime and composite numbers, divisibility, and factorization. By the end of fifth grade, students should have a firm mastery of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers. To build the students' math vocabulary, word problems are woven in throughout the year and students discuss strategies used to solve them. Writing variable equations to demonstrate the word problem is another skill which is introduced this year.
The year is anchored by two hallmark fifth grade projects that help the students bring their math learning to life. In the spring, the students design a 750-square foot apartment and analyze each room’s square footage to enhance their understanding of formulas and scale drawings. In the fall, the students do a project learning how the Stock Market works and explore the American economy. They create a portfolio for a stock that is listed either on the NYSE or NASDAQ, using charts and graphs in an Excel spreadsheet. This interdisciplinary project brings Art, Computer, English, History, and Science classes together to assist the students in their research and work.
As in fourth grade, the students keep an interactive notebook and are expected to use their notes in preparation for assessments. Activities in the classroom involve games, study centers, and learning to speak and write mathematically.
To further the goal to prepare “effective communicators," fifth grade students have the opportunity to explore many different genres of writing across the curriculum. Compositions inform, describe and explain their understanding of history and science, and a persuasive writing project involves research on current issues. Students learn to narrate personal experiences, and to form and provide evidence for opinions and interpretations of literature. This year's writing projects are thorough, challenging, and entwined with students’ true interests.
The vision of the program is supported by means of a spiraling Lower School writing program and is enhanced through collaboration and teacher modeling provided by the use of Google Documents. The writing program also gives us an opportunity to apply — as opposed to studying in isolation — English grammar, sentence structure, and writing mechanics. Additionally, we have a vocabulary acquisition program which uses Greek and Latin roots to begin building a better understanding of word history and word family recognition. Certain vocabulary words become “Words of the Day”and are used to enhance the students' writing and grammar expertise.
The literature course in fifth grade uses a study of short stories and novels to expand students’ intellectual depth of thinking, reading, writing, and discussion. We expect students to become increasingly comfortable with the terms and common elements of literature. In addition, we spend time and energy learning important reading skills, supported by work designed to increase reading comprehension through exposure to different types of text and question formats.
While learning about world geography, students select a country about which they complete an in-depth, interdisciplinary, research project. Students focus on a particular country’s type of government, resources, population, religious beliefs, and culture (languages, traditions, and customs). They learn to gather information using on-line resources; to write a business letter to a country’s embassy requesting information; to follow directions in prescribed assignments; to prepare graphs drawn by hand and using computers; to create a brief PowerPoint presentation; and to combine the pieces of the project into a final, polished report.
Fifth grade students begin the year with a review of the scientific process thinking skills and the scientific method. An interactive notebook is used for this class. In Physical Science, students investigate work, power, and the six simple machines. A culmination of this year's work is a project in which students create their own Rube Goldberg invention, incorporating the six simple machines and activated using one hand motion. Students also examine the chemical/physical properties and structure of matter. In Life Science, students classify organisms and delve into cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems. In class, they use a microscope to look at cells and plant/animal tissues; dissect a chicken wing to learn about the connection between muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bone; and dissect a turkey heart to investigate the four chambers and how veins and arteries work with the heart and lungs in the processes of respiration and circulation. In Earth Science students investigate the structure of earth, the Pangaea, plate tectonics, and volcanoes and earthquakes around the Ring of Fire. Students also learn about stars, stars’ life cycles, and black holes.