Based on the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), the curriculum provides a framework for inquiry-based learning that focuses on the development of the whole child, both in the classroom and in the world outside.
Grade 5 students learn to understand and apply the Six Traits of Writing: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions. The Word Study program is designed to enhance understanding of word patterns and word origins and to develop vocabulary. The Guided Reading program consists of multi-leveled novels, short stories, poetry and plays that foster reading comprehension skills. The Junior Great Books program encourages students to build shared inquiry skills, supporting their ideas with evidence from the text.
In Grade 5, students continue to learn mathematics through the Math in Focus® curriculum. Students learn math daily, working independently, in small and in large groups. The Grade 5 curriculum focuses on fractions and decimals, operations with whole numbers, fractions and decimals, using models to help solve real-world problems, ratio, percent, measurement, time, geometry, graphs and probability.
Both integrated within Units of Inquiry and as stand alone units, glaciers and the water cycle; chemistry and chemical reactions; cells and genetics; and culminate the year with a study of Puget Sound. Students focus on the scientific process, measurement, note-taking and study skills. Inquiry-based experiences both in the classroom and in the Science Lab engage students in discovering science concepts and in applying science process skills. The science culminates with the PYP Exhibition where students investigate a research question about how humans impact the environment. Through their research, students take inquiry visits to the community to learn how we affect the environment, reach out to experts who can offer information, conduct experiments, and report their findings as well as a call to action.
Grade 5 students continue to use computers as an important educational tool. Using a variety of application and productivity tools, students learn to make decisions on the appropriate way to communicate information using technology. They apply word processing, presentation, spreadsheet and drawing software, and they can also use multiple functions within applications. When accessing information from the Internet, Grade 5 students evaluate information for validity and usefulness and use scanners and digital cameras to insert graphics into their projects. Students also learn basic troubleshooting procedures and begin to solve routine hardware and software problems without the assistance of a teacher.
Through the units of inquiry, the Grade 5 social studies curriculum explores such world issues as revolutions, economics, and the role of citizens in bringing about change. Through structured inquiry students experience engaging, relevant, challenging and significant activities and tasks that develop skills such as formulating questions, planning and collecting relevant data and information, and communicating findings orally, in writing and through presentations. Collaborative as well as individual work is valued and celebrated, as students engage in the attitudes as well as skills to become lifelong learners.
The Grade 5 visual arts curriculum focuses on art as a method of inquiry and gathering knowledge. All of the projects make broader connections, probing topics in science, nature, history, identity and cultures of the world. Students practice techniques in two-dimensional drawing and painting, three-dimensional sculpture, and fourth-dimensional time-based art. All fifth graders are responsible for an artist’s investigation workbook, comprising a sketchbook, journal, and research field book all in one.
Teachers recognize students’ unique learning styles and assist them in reaching their full potential by helping them develop strategies for success. Learning resources are also available from Learning Specialists, who provide both extra challenges and extra support with specific skill work as necessary. Social/emotional resources are also available from the Lower School Counselor, who offers parent education; meets with teachers, individual students, small groups and entire classes; and provides the social/emotional support that helps children feel secure, successful and happy.
Grade 5 goes to the library once a week for stories, books and activities. Students continue developing research skills introduced in fourth grade, utilizing a wide variety of resources, both physical and virtual, for curricular projects. Students also further familiarize themselves with high-quality literature including Newbery and Coretta Scott King award-winners.
Grade 5 has Spanish lessons every day. Students practice the language in various activities grouped as pairs, small groups or the whole class. The curriculum is thematic and includes such topics as mealtime, parts of the body and clothing. Students utilize the Internet as a resource for language learning and practice by accessing online dictionaries and other resources. After engaging in various unit-based dialogues throughout the year, students culminate the year by performing original skits that encompass all units.
The Grade 5 music program is a culmination of the skills they have worked on throughout their Primary School musical studies. The focus is on tying together instrumental and vocal reading and dictation skills to make music together. Composition, improvisation, dancing and movement are integral to the program. Orff instruments are used Kindergarten - Grade 5.
The primary goals of Grade 5 PE are to continue learning and applying skills, improving fitness, and understanding team tactics. Students engage in a variety of challenges and games that promote individual growth, as well as team-building. Students hone specific skills such as kicking, throwing, catching, shooting, dodging, dribbling and passing.
Many Grade 5 students are very strong swimmers and possess a vast array of swim skills including advanced strokes, flip turns, diving and treading water. They understand a great deal about water safety and can demonstrate correct methods of safe water rescue. For many students the year is spent refining their skills and continuing to build endurance. After-school swim clubs are offered for Kindergarten - Grade 5.