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Grade 5

Fifth graders at St. John’s are a part of the Upper School and are asked to take on new responsibilities and be more independent. They travel to multiple classrooms for their different subjects and are taught by different teachers. This requires students to be reasonably self-sufficient. Fifth grade students are well-supported through small advisory groups and a scaffolded educational process that challenges students in meaningful ways and ensures that their hard work results in academic success.

Fifth grade English serves as an introduction to the Upper School English program and builds upon the skills learned in the Fourth grade. Classes are held 6 periods each week. The main focus is on reading and comprehending literature, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Students read short stories, novels, and poetry designed to allow them to see the world through the eyes of different characters and to relate their own lives to the characters. They study the elements of literature represented in each work and learn the techniques that authors use to write creatively including dialogue, character development, and setting.  At least one novel is integrated with the students’ study of American history in social studies class. 

The writing program emphasizes the six traits of writing:  ideas, organization, style, word choice, voice, and conventions. Students are guided throughout the writing process as they pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and publish pieces. Students engage in a wide variety of writing activities. Direct grammar instruction takes place throughout the year with emphasis on parts of speech and sentence structure. Students build vocabulary in the context of the literature they read and we use Wordly Wise to enhance vocabulary acquisition and usage.

Students continue to develop computational skills with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, as well as a broad range of mathematical concepts including data, statistics and probability, geometry, measurement, integers, and algebra. Fifth graders apply these concepts to everyday problem-solving situations. While they are taught various strategies, students are also encouraged to develop their own problem-solving strategies and critical thinking skills. Ongoing assessment and feedback enables teachers and students to pinpoint areas of growth and efficiently address learning gaps.  In the fifth grade, students also have the opportunity to place into an accelerated curriculum that will prepare them for a 7th grade algebra class and an 8th grade geometry class. 

In fifth grade science, the units covered center on life science, Earth science, space, and physical science. With a focus on hand-on learning, we explore the ever-evolving world of science. We learn about cells and the organization of living things,Earth systems, climate change and biomes, and Earth’s place in the universe. Students end the year by learning about human growth and development.

Fifth grade social studies covers topics in American history starting with Native American settlement and early European exploration. Subsequent units of study include the colonization of the Americas, the Revolutionary War, the Constitution, American expansion as a young republic, and the Civil War and Reconstruction time periods in U.S. history. Emphasis is placed on organization and reading comprehension strategies, in addition to the nurture of a growth mindset. Fifth grade ends the year with a field trip to the Gettysburg battlefield that enriches students’ study of the Civil War.

In fifth grade, students' goal focuses on introducing them to Spanish grammar and increasing the vocabulary, discovering new vocabulary related to professions, transportation, health, traveling, etc. Fifth grade grammar includes forming plural, and subjects-verbs agreement in present tense. Students learn how to express feelings. Students are assessed on their participation in class by class assignments, tests, and some homework. Exercises and games are tools used to improve their vocabulary and spelling skills.

During fifth grade, students develop an age-appropriate understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations, building on their previous years’ experiences. By the end of fifth grade, we expect St. John’s students to be able to work independently in all programs that we use throughout the year. Fifth graders are expected to be able to create advanced Slideshow presentations and embed videos, as well as any necessary bibliographic references to cite resources used.  Fifth graders are also expected to explain the meaning of copyright as it applies to various media, as well as copyright infringement. 

Fifth Grade artists explore a variety of art mediums which can include: graphite and ink drawing, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, ceramics, and more. Students also spend this year focusing on observational drawing, perspective drawing, proportions, and compositional design. Visual art demonstrations and step-by-step verbal explanations are utilized to promote comprehension. Students engage in cross-curricular projects to promote connections between academic subjects, as well as art homework sketches that display students' creative design and technical drawing skills.

All Upper School students sing in Chorus and play an instrument in the Concert Band. Students can choose either a brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Additionally, students also have the option to play keyboards, guitar, and electric bass in the concert band as well.

Christian values and ethics are two of the cornerstones of education at St. John’s Episcopal School, which is exemplified in the Religion program. Throughout their academic and spiritual career at St. Johns, students are exposed to all aspects of the Bible. In Grade 5, students learn Biblical notation and examine the Bible basics, both structure, and context. Students study the Pentateuch in-depth and explore the relationships between The Great Commandment and the Ten Commandments, as well as the Passover and the institution of Communion at the Last Supper.

The goal of the St. John’s Physical Education program is to facilitate the development of skills to enable students to safely and successfully participate in team, individual, and life sports. Students learn the traits for success while participating in a variety of cross-curriculum-integrated activities. In fifth grade, students are introduced to the basic rules, skills, and tactics of the planned activity.  We start at a beginner’s level and progress depending on the group’s understanding and proficiency. At all levels, physical fitness activities encourage the children to challenge themselves to set individual goals in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.