On any given day, 5th 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, building bridges, 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 along with physical education. They may even do all of these 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. Students will have the opportunity to learn, create and explore through project based learning and a STEM enriched environment.
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. Students are encouraged to develop personal and social responsibility skills as well as pursue academic endeavors through the 6 C’s: Community, Collaboration, Compassion, Critical and Creative thinking, along with effective Communication. These skills are developed throughout each discipline during a student’s 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 among a broad range of high-quality and increasingly challenging literary as well as informational texts. Through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths including 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 stronger readers in all content areas.
Fifth grade writers 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 across all disciplines. They will learn that a key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to an external, sometimes unfamiliar audience. Additionally, they will begin to adapt the form and content of their writing to accomplish a particular task or purpose. 5th grader writers will develop the capacity to build knowledge on a subject through research projects and learn to respond analytically to literary and informational sources. To meet these goals, students will devote significant time and effort to writing and publishing numerous pieces over short and extended time frames throughout the year.
Mathematics curriculum for 5th grade focuses on developing a solid mathematical foundation for students. 5th grade math instruction builds upon prior student knowledge, extending multiplication and division to multi-digit numbers and developing understanding of decimals in the place value system and operations. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions are covered in depth, and student knowledge of geometry is extended to develop 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 will focus on geography and American history beginning with the American Revolution through the Civil War and Reconstruction period. The study of these events will include historical documents and current events.
Throughout these units, students focus on the skills of useful and accurate note-taking, reporting, processing information, thinking critically, making decisions, solving problems, interpreting charts/graphics, analyzing research, and communicating information. 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 5th grade focuses on the scientific inquiry process across all units. Students will use systems thinking, technology and tools, critical and creative thinking, and collaboration throughout the year. 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, Google chats, and field trips.
Units of study in 5th 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, effects of forces (gravity and friction), and the structure and properties of matter (relationship between atoms and molecules, differences between mixtures and compounds, and changes in matter).
Spanish course is designed so that a fifth grade student will be actively involved in learning of the language. At the completion of this course students will be able to perform the following tasks at a novice level: introducing themselves and others, describing someone, asking someone's age and birthday, giving the time, the date, and the day, expressing likes and dislikes, talking about pastimes and sports, saying what they have and what they need. We will emphasize pronunciation and vocabulary. Also, we will study the culture of Spanish--speaking countries.