Renaissance Fifth Grade Overview

Fifth Grade at Renaissance School is an exciting time of growth and transition. Students love being the oldest students in school! They are paired with Kindergarten students as Book Buddies, a role that allows them to feel and understand what it means to be a role model. Fifth Graders are incredibly receptive to new knowledge and skills, and take great pleasure in solving complex problems.

Our small class sizes ensure that all students are well-known by their teacher--this creates a safe and respectful environment for learning and growing. Our Fifth Grade teacher is acutely aware that students are beginning the important phase of pre-adolescence, and she strives to help students always be kind to themselves and others. It is a joy to see our Fifth Graders explore their own identities and embrace the differences in their peer groups. Peaceful conflict resolution and peer mediation are skills that are taught and practiced as students become more aware of their own voice and opinions. Fifth Graders are given abundant opportunities to work together, and display a great deal of industriousness when allowed to do so.

The challenging Fifth Grade curriculum acknowledges that these students are more able to think abstractly about information and concepts. During the annual hike up Snake Mountain in Addison, students become archaeologists, studying the landscape for clues about the people who used to live there; this activity brings to life the study of prehistoric people and their societies. A wonderful tradition in Fifth Grade is the annual spring overnight camping trip; students and teachers work together to plan and carry out the details of the trip.

Students continue to study the Scientific Method in Fifth Grade, and they employ this concept in the study of physics and the properties of matter. They enjoy producing works that showcase their increasing competence, and often see their finished products displayed in the school. Students practice public presentation skills in preparation for the annual Science Fair, during which they present their original scientific research to parents, peers and invited guests. 

The Fifth Grade teacher works closely with the Sixth Grade teachers of Endeavor Middle School to ensure  students’ smooth and successful transition to the middle school curriculum and environment.

Literacy

The natural excitement and passion that Fifth Graders bring to the classroom is evident in discussions with peers and their teachers. Students engage in a range of discussions for different purposes, learning to listen respectfully and attentively while others are speaking and to state their opinions clearly while respecting those of others. Fifth Graders write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting their point of view with reasons and information. Students participate in book groups to  deepen their ability to think critically about literature while expanding their appreciation for new genres and texts. Students continue to develop their ability to read more challenging texts with fluency to support deeper comprehension. Students explore how point of view impacts how story events are perceived by the reader. They often work in cooperative groups to collaborate in a positive manner with peers on a specific project or product. While working in groups, the teacher helps students develop life skills such as empathy and flexibility. Fifth Graders do a great deal of original writing, with an emphasis both on creativity and demonstrating a command of the conventions of standard English. Students frequently submit original pieces for publication in the Burlington Free Press through the Young Writer’s Project. Spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization are reviewed and corrected within the editing process.  

Mathematics

Fifth Graders deepen their understanding of pre-algebra concepts and skills. They become more fluent in computation skills and solving word problems using the order of operations, and master the multiplication tables. Students tackle increasingly complex problems involving fractions and decimals, including solving real world problems that include multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers. Students learn to express equivalence between fractions, decimals and percents, and begin to explore rates and ratios. Students often work with Shelburne Farms educators to explore real-life applications of mathematical concepts; for example, students observe and study the mathematical equations and conversion needed in the cheesemaking operation. They work with the cheesemakers to calculate surface area and volume of the walk-in coolers in order to determine the most effective way to store cheese.

Fifth Graders are introduced to probability and statistics, and learn to express the probability of a given event as a fraction, percent and decimal. Students delve into more complex concepts of data and graphing, exploring mean, median, mode and average when dealing with a set of data; they learn to create and analyze line graphs.

Fifth Grade students become more proficient in geometry, learning to compute surface area and volume for geometric shapes including cones, cylinders, prisms and pyramids. They come to understand that attributes belonging to one category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that figure. The cognitive growth that happens in students of this age allows them to enjoy more developed concrete organizational skills, which translates into their greater enjoyment of complex math projects completed in cooperative groups with their peers.  

Science

Students delve deeply into the scientific method in Fifth Grade; they follow the steps of the scientific method to create experiments from hypothesis to analysis, including dependent, independent and controlled variables. Data from their experiments are collected, organized and analyzed, and often displayed in school. Students develop their ability to think scientifically about problems and issues; this type of thinking will be reinforced and stretched as students move into middle and high school. The school spring science fair is an exciting opportunity for Fifth Grade students to showcase their new knowledge and skills through a self-designed and executed science project. A great example of a recent Fifth Grade science project was an experiment to test the effect that various types of ski wax had on speed of racing skis on snow. From hypothesis to conclusion, our Fifth Graders undertake impressive projects that highlight their learning.

Fifth Graders explore the scientific concept of properties of matter, including its three states and how physical and chemical changes affect matter. Students are introduced to the Periodic Table, and learn how to read and interpret it. They begin to study the anatomy and function of each part of an atom, using creative projects to express and display their new understandings. Students continue their exploration of engineering and physics in a spring unit, studying the relationship between magnets and electricity, and how electricity flows through various types of circuits. Guest engineers come into the classroom to expand on these topics and help bring them to life. Students gain a deeper understanding of the laws of motion, and design experiments to investigate how force affects motion. Fifth graders finish the year with a strong foundation in scientific thinking, knowledge and skills.

Social Studies

Fifth graders become immersed in the world of ancient history, from earth’s earliest humans through ancient Egypt and Greece. Students explore what life for early humans was like; they venture out into the farm lands and with the guidance of a farm educator students experience building a simple fire. Many art projects and cooperative group activities enhance learning. For example, students produced a research report on hydria pots, then etched their own pot. They also explored Greek architecture and then created one of three types of columns. The experiential nature of these units helps ancient history come alive for students.

Students learn major geographical features such as the Nile River, and how they were important to early civilizations. Students compare and contrast the governments of these ancient lands, looking at ways these early governments became the foundation for modern democracy. Various types and forms of literature such as myth, legend, folklore and fables are read and discussed; students always enjoy studying the development and use of hieroglyphics, as they create their own hieroglyphic code to tell a story.  

Social, Emotional and Life Skills

Fifth Grade students tend to be receptive to learning new ways of doing things, and have a cooperative nature that helps them in group situations. The Fifth Grade teacher recognizes that friendships and peer interactions are very important to her Fifth Graders and she gives them lots of opportunity to work together in cooperative, flexible groups.  The teacher models and provides opportunities for students to practice social skills like compromise, respectful negotiation and conflict resolution. The Fifth grade teacher knows that even as students get older they still appreciate being noticed for their efforts, so she gives positive feedback to students who persevere through a challenge or exhibit a growth mindset when stuck on a problem.

The teacher notices students when they behave in ways that are consistent with the Renaissance philosophy, thus reinforcing the values about which we feel so strongly, including kindness, empathy, resilience, respect, etc.  Fifth Graders are given opportunities to reach out to others through community service or helping the younger children in school. Throughout the Fifth Grade year, the teacher gently guides students to become more independent in their problem-solving skills, thus preparing them for transition to middle school.