On any given day, fifth grade students can be seen doing a variety of things. Students may be engaged in a reenactment of the Revolutionary War, designing and building their own simple machines, debating over literature, programming robots, playing games to sharpen their math skills, or enjoying instructional time with content experts in the visual and performing arts, languages, and physical education. They may even do all of those things in one day! We strive to make learning come alive for our students and to create a classroom culture that promotes a sense of community, academic risk-taking, and perseverance.
At least once a week, my 5th grade class takes time out to work on their individual Genius Hour projects. The idea comes from Google's practice of giving employees 20% of their working time to focus on what’s interesting to them. My students fill out project proposals for what they want to learn and how they will share their discoveries with the class afterward. The flexibility of our curriculum allows them to be curious, explore their chosen discipline, and reach their learning or creation goals.
Nina Hernandez is a graduate of Fort Lewis College with graduate work completed at UC Berkeley, Mrs. Hernandez moved to Tucson in 1994 and brings 19 years of teaching experience to The Gregory School. Mrs. Hernandez most recently taught 5th grade at Manzanita Elementary School in Catalina Foothills School District. She has been active in the Tucson Area Reading Council and has extensive teaching experience in both primary and intermediate grade levels.
Katie Patt graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in History and from the University of Massachusetts with a MA in history. Though she is a recent Tucson transplant (only 3 years in the Old Pueblo), Katie has taught middle school history for over a decade in independent schools in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Ohio. Some of her favorite professional development opportunities have been participating in a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmark Seminar on Hoover Dam, attending Columbia University's Klingenstein Institute, and studying East Asian culture and history with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.
At The Gregory School we believe in educating the whole child. The values of character, leadership, and innovation, along with scholarship, are an important aspect of student development and are cultivated throughout the year. Curiosity, critical and creative thinking, and effective communication skills are developed throughout the disciplines during students’ time at The Gregory School. Student interests and passions are integrated into the implementation of curriculum to help foster engagement and excitement about learning.
English in fifth grade concentrates on building a strong foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking. In reading, fifth graders will read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts. Through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths and exposure to visual media from diverse cultures and different time periods, students will gain literary and cultural knowledge, as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements. By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas.
In writing, fifth graders will use writing as a tool for learning and communicating to offer and support opinions, demonstrate understanding of the subjects they are studying, and convey real and imagined experiences and events. They will learn to appreciate that a key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to an external, sometimes unfamiliar audience, and they begin to adapt the form and content of their writing to accomplish a particular task and purpose. They will develop the capacity to build knowledge on a subject through research projects and to respond analytically to literary and informational sources. To meet these goals, students will devote significant time and effort to writing, producing numerous pieces over short and extended time frames throughout the year.
Mathematics curriculum for fifth grade focuses on developing a solid mathematical foundation for students. Fifth grade builds upon prior student knowledge, extending multiplication and division to multi-digit numbers and developing understanding of decimals in the place value system and in operations. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions are covered in depth, and student knowledge of geometry is extended to creating an understanding of volume. Problem solving with real-world scenarios is woven throughout the curriculum. Students will be immersed in the following mathematical practices: making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, modeling with mathematics, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing viable arguments, critiquing the reasoning of others, using appropriate tools strategically, looking for and making use of structure, and attending to precision.
History curriculum for fifth grade will cover geography, American History from the American Revolution through the Civil War, American documents, and current events. Throughout these units, students focus on the skills of note-taking, reporting, processing information, thinking critically, making decisions, solving problems, interpreting charts/graphics, analyzing research, and communicating information. In addition, students will determine the differences between facts and opinions and answer data-based questions using primary and secondary sources to support their findings.
Science curriculum in fifth grade focuses on the scientific inquiry process across all units. Students will use systems’ thinking, technology and tools, critical and creative thinking, and teamwork throughout the year, and these concepts will be integrated into various units of study. Applications of scientific thinking will enable our students to strengthen skills that successful people need and use every day: solving problems creatively, making decisions, working cooperatively in teams, using technology effectively, and valuing lifelong learning. Students will be actively connected to the scientific community in Tucson via classroom visits and field trips. Units of study in fifth grade science include the interaction of science and society, biology of the human body and the systems it contains, structure and processes of the Earth and objects in space, simple machines, and effects of forces (gravity and friction). Students also work with computer programming and engineering and design thinking.
Spanish classes are attended twice a week. The Spanish program in fifth grade allows for differentiated learning based on prior skill sets. If your student is a native speaker, he or she will be in a different classroom than those who are novices. While there is collaboration across the Spanish team to ensure that students are getting similar experiences, student needs are met in terms of where they are in their language development. Students are also exposed to Latin once a week.
Arts classes meet twice a week as well. Fifth graders at The Gregory School rotate through three different arts experiences in a survey course. Students have a trimester of music, a trimester of drama and a trimester of visual art. This allows students to have a wide range of experiences with various faculty members they may choose to work with as they progress through The Gregory School.
Physical Education meets for an hour each week. Students are not required to wear PE uniforms in fifth grade. Students participate in team and individual sports, learn about health and fitness, as well as build community.