The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Lower School

Grade Five

Grade Five

In fifth grade, students continue their journey of understanding who they are as learners and what it takes to be a successful student at Fay. Fifth graders transition from the homeroom model of fourth grade to Homevisory. Homevisory combines the best elements of homeroom and an advisory program, offering a home base for fifth and sixth graders that supports their academic and social-emotional needs. Academics are departmentalized in fifth grade, and students participate in a rich academic program that includes reading, English, mathematics, science, social studies, world language, music, art, principles of design, digital literacy, and library. Instructional routines and practices are aligned with the developmental, cognitive, and emotional strengths and needs of each particular group of fifth graders, and teachers encourage increased independence and responsibility for one’s learning as the year progresses. Highlights of the year include the transition to interscholastic athletics; expanded options for music classes, and grade-level experiences that help establish, solidify, and celebrate the class community.

List of 13 items.

  • Mathematics

    The goal of Lower School mathematics is to encourage and support students as they develop number sense, computational fluency and efficiency, strategies for problem solving, and a beginning understanding of the connectedness of mathematical topics and procedures. The curriculum offers opportunities for self-discovery and exploration of concepts and personal strategies as well as exploring and understanding traditional algorithms. Visual models are used at every level to provide concrete examples of abstract concepts.

    Grade five expands upon the goals and objectives of fourth grade mathematics. Students practice computational skills and application of whole number operations, and they build their conceptual understanding of fractions, decimals, and percents. Writing and proof are significant components of the fifth grade program, and students are frequently asked to clarify, justify, and support their thinking in their mathematical writing. Students continue to develop and extend mathematical proficiency in the following areas: number and operations; fractions, decimals, and percents; measurement, geometry; data analysis and probability; and algebraic thinking.

    Students who successfully complete the grade five mathematics program will have a fundamental understanding of topics in the following categories:
    Number and Operations
    • Demonstrating fluency in basic multiplication facts
    • Solving multiplication problems using the traditional multiplication algorithm
    • Solving division problems with partial quotients and “traditional” long-division algorithms
    • Demonstrating understanding of order of operation
    • Determining factors of numbers and finding the greatest common factor of two numbers
    • Generating multiples of numbers and finding the least common multiple of two numbers
    • Classifying numbers as prime or composite; as even or odd; and as abundant, deficient, or perfect
    • Determining factorizations including prime factorization of a whole number and using prime factorization to find common multiples and factors
    • Understanding the place value system and powers of ten
    Fractions, Decimals, Percents
    • Understanding fractions as parts of a whole, as measures or quantities, as quotients, as decimals, and as percents
    • Determining equivalent fractions, decimals, and percents
    • Comparing and ordering decimals, fractions, and percents
    • Developing benchmarks for estimating with fractions, decimals, and percents
    • Reading and writing decimals
    • Adding and subtracting fractions and decimals
    • Solving problems involving adding and subtracting fractions
    Geometry & Measurement
    • Developing and applying strategies and formulas for calculating area and perimeter
    • Exploring relationships between area and perimeter
    • Solving problems involving area and perimeter of rectangles
    • Graphing points on a coordinate plane
    • Converting like measurement units within a given measurement system
    • Representing and interpreting data
    • Understanding concepts of volume
    Data Analysis & Probability
    • Visually representing data to use as an analytical tool
    • Summarizing numerical data sets in relation to their contexts
    • Defining ways data can be collected
    • Investigating, creating, and interpreting scatter plots
    Algebraic Thinking
    • Understanding equality as a relationship of equivalence between two expressions and using the relationship to find missing values
  • Reading

    Literature is a tool for understanding the world and the people in it. Exposure to a broad range of literary styles and subject matter in grade five encourages students to develop their own interests, tastes, and critical skills. Teachers select books because their content parallels material studied in other classes, they relate to a larger theme, they are part of an important body of literature, or they support a community of learners. Finally, selected titles provide important connections for the reader: to themselves and peers, and to other generations, cultures, time periods,  philosophies, and worlds.

    Strengthening the sense of being a part of a community of readers is an important aspect of the reading program in grade five as students are encouraged to share their interests in books. Students read a variety of material and develop an in-depth appreciation of language and style. Fifth grade reading classes emphasize a more complex literal and interpretive comprehension of plot, character, and theme. Students analyze reading for meaning and value, critiquing an author’s intent and synthesizing and exploring information. Students are encouraged to develop critical standards and awareness of the richness of language.
  • Writing

    Through the Lower School writing program, students learn what it is to be a writer working within a community of writers. The fifth grade writing program is workshop-based. Students write during class and practice expressing their ideas in a range of creative and expository genres. One-on-one conferences with the teacher provide students with the appropriate individualized guidance to improve their writing skills. Students use Google Docs, a platform that facilitates writing instruction through collaboration and feedback.

    The fifth grade writing program builds on the objectives established in fourth grade. Students develop their writing skills and stamina by consistently writing for long periods of time. Students also develop their ability to read like writers. Students learn how to notice, name, and then apply the strategies that they find in presented texts. At this stage of their writing study, students have learned to use a variety of strategies to generate ideas and plan their writing independently. Students explore new literary genres by developing pieces that follow the distinct structure and purpose of each genre. Rewriting is a focal concept of the fifth grade curriculum. Students learn how writers continually re-evaluate, revise, and rewrite their pieces—a process supported by the use of Google Docs.

    Integrated grammar and vocabulary instruction supports the students’ development as writers. Grammar lessons are woven throughout the curriculum as students directly apply new rules to enhance their writing. The objective of the grammar program is to provide students with an increasingly sophisticated understanding of language conventions to continuously hone their craft. Through instruction in Greek and Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes, students expand their vocabulary base and are better able to infer the meaning of unknown words.

    A hallmark of the Lower School writing program is the tradition of public speaking. As in grades three and four, students develop ideas, draft, and revise speeches on character traits and philosophies that are meaningful to them. Delivering their speeches to an appreciative audience encourages students to develop confidence and comfort with public speaking. Students grow into poised public speakers, sharing and celebrating their writing with peers and other members of the Fay community.
  • Social Studies

    Fifth graders focus on the exploration of and migration to America. Students study how, when, and why people explored and migrated to America before the founding of the United States, learning about the social, economic, and political development of the thirteen colonies and the causes and conflicts that led to the American Revolution. Students learn how the movement of people, their ideologies, and their ways of life impacted the growth of American society and culture over the three centuries of our nation's existence. During this study, students learn history through storytelling and are introduced to historical thinking skills, such as context, perspective, and cause and effect, to deepen their understanding.

    Students who successfully complete the grade five social studies program will be able to:
    • Interpret, analyze, and synthesize information from both primary and secondary sources
    • Recognize and apply historical thinking skills
    • Organize and articulate their understanding of the topics studied both verbally and in writing
  • Science

    The Lower School science practices have been adopted from the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas  and build on skills and material covered in Primary School. Students who demonstrate success in Lower School science courses will be able to:
    • Ask clarifying and extending questions
    • Apply the scientific process to creative real-world projects
    • Create and follow a written plan for an investigation
    • Understand how to gather, organize, and explain data
    • Predict the outcome of an investigation and analyze the results
    • Collaborate effectively to complete investigations and solve problems
    • Use evidence from real-world observations to demonstrate conceptual understanding
    • Communicate concepts and observations through writing and drawing
    Students in fifth grade ask, “How can we as scientists explain the world?” Fifth graders begin their year with a study of energy and electricity, during which they explore the properties of renewable energy and the uses and forms of energy. This focus prepares students for design challenges that encourage the application of these understandings. During a unit on ocean ecosystems, students learn about ocean life, investigate how humans and the ocean are interconnected, consider how our oceans are changing, and identify the driving forces that are behind that change. In a related hands-on design challenge, students learn how to balance buoyancy and pressure as they design, build, test, and redesign submersibles. In a unit on inertia, students apply their knowledge of Newton’s Laws of Motion and the properties of air to the mechanics of air-powered vehicles, as students build balloon-powered race cars, hovercrafts, and water rockets to help them see these principles in action.
  • Digital Literacy

    Digital Literacy provides students with key technology skills that they need to be successful both in and out of the classroom. Students learn how to leverage technology to achieve their goals; they also learn how to be responsible digital citizens by using technology in safe, legal and ethical ways. Digital Literacy also focuses on learning how to use technology as a tool for productivity, with a focus on critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. The Digital Literacy curriculum is based on the International Society for Technology in Education Student Standards. In grades 4–6, students participate in a Digital Literacy Badging program where students learn discrete skills that they can apply both in school and at home.

    Each Lower School student has access to a Chromebook for use in all classes throughout the day, and students use a range of Google Education tools, including Gmail, Google Classroom, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, Sites, Jamboard, and Keep. Students also participate in activities that utilize tools including Seesaw, Adobe Spark, Common Sense Media, and a range of coding and keyboarding practice applications.
  • Principles of Design

    Principles of Design classes meet once per rotation in grades five and six. The course is designed to create a solid foundation for Creators courses in grades seven and eight. Materials and skills that are covered in Principles of Design include ideation, iteration, brainstorming, hand drawing and CAD design, environment and design, sustainable design, logo design, and the connection between culture and design. Students learn how designers use technology to impact their environment. By the end of fifth grade, students are able to identify different relationships between technology and environments; describe ways in which designers use technology positively and negatively impact the environments around them; apply their knowledge of the relationship between technology and environments to ideate and design solutions to a problem; and construct, test, and evaluate their solutions.

  • World Languages: Spanish and French

    Fifth graders choose one language–Spanish or French–to study throughout the year; most students continue their study of the language they selected in third grade. Fay’s Lower School French and Spanish program is based on F.L.E.S. (Foreign Language in the Elementary School). The F.L.E.S. methodologies are based on the developmental progression of first language acquisition, which involves the active use of and exposure to the language being learned. Teachers emphasize listening and speaking skills through interactive activities such as games, choral repetition, TPR (Total Physical Response), acting out dialogues, and music. Through the use of Francophone and Hispanic children’s literature, students develop basic reading and writing skills. The study of culture continues to be a highlight of the program, as it allows the students to learn and appreciate French and Spanish speaking communities. The students are encouraged to use French or Spanish to express basic ideas and to participate in brief conversations.

    In grade five, students apply their knowledge of the language acquired in previous years to more advanced written and visual projects, skits, and class performances. While oral communication in the foreign language continues to be important, there is more emphasis on the development of basic reading and writing skills, as well as on basic grammar in preparation for a more formal study of the language in grade six. Authentic children’s literature is employed along with age- and level-appropriate music, videos, and games. Cultural proficiency and knowledge of basic historical events continue to be an important part of the curriculum and offer an opportunity for students to learn and apply new vocabulary and grammar. At this level, the class is mostly conducted in the target language, so that by the end of the year, students demonstrate a basic ability to understand, read, speak, and write basic Spanish or French.
  • Music

    Beginning in grade five, students elect to participate in Beginning Band, the Lower School Chorale, or Beginning Strings.

    Beginning Band is open to students in grades five and six. Students learn how to assemble, hold, play, and care for their instruments. No previous instrumental experience is necessary. During the year, students learn note reading, fingering, rhythm, articulations, intonation, dynamics, posture, and appropriate music symbols. By the end of the year, students play beginning-level music as a band. Success in this course requires practice as homework. Instrument choices include flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and baritone horn. Students wishing to play oboe or French horn are required to seek additional support through private lessons.

    The Lower School Chorale is open to students in grades five and six. The chorus is a treble choir that sings pieces in unison and two parts. Students also practice music reading and listening skills through the use of movable do solfege and rhythm syllables.

    Beginning Strings is open to students in grades five and six. Students learn how to assemble, hold, play, and care for their instruments. No previous instrumental experience is necessary. During the course of the year, students learn note reading, fingering, rhythm, bowing, intonation, dynamics, posture, and appropriate music. By the end of the year, students play beginning-level music as an ensemble. Success in this course requires practice as homework. Students may choose either violin or cello; students wishing to play viola are required to seek additional support through private lessons.
  • Art

    Grade five students build on their existing skills. They focus on portraiture and the proportions of the figure. They draw studies of hands, feet, and shoes, and they learn simple anatomy. They work in the ceramics studio to create and glaze a hand-built vessel.

    Students who complete the fifth grade art program will be able to:
    • Use media and tools appropriately
    • Listen to and understand multi-step directions
    • Understand the basics of portraiture and drawing from life
    • Understand the slab method of clay construction
    • Understand the proper technique of glazing ceramics
    • Care for their materials and maintain a clean workspace
  • Drama

    In this year-long course, fifth graders work as an ensemble to explore the key elements of theatrical storytelling. They learn how to use elements of theatrical design to enhance storytelling, such as props and costumes. Students practice playwriting, create complex original characters, enhance their performance skills, cultivate effective habits of a theater artist, and discover the connection between theater and empathy.
  • Athletics

    The fifth and sixth grade athletic program at Fay is designed as a bridge from the physical education curriculum taught in Kindergarten through grade four to interscholastic athletics in grade seven. The focus of this program is to introduce students to a variety of activities, provide sport-specific instruction, foster appropriate levels of competition, and provide opportunities for individuals to learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, and fair play. The program creates a fun and challenging environment where players have the opportunity to learn and grow as athletes. Coaches focus on technique and skill development and, as competency increases, tactical elements and game situations.
    The three primary components of the program are:
    • Instructional: Sport-specific instruction focused on skill development, technique, knowledge and understanding of rules, team concepts, and fair play
    • Intramural: Competition against peers to build teamwork and camaraderie within the sport setting
    • Interscholastic: Appropriate levels of competition against peer schools to provide a fun and positive experience
    Sports offered:
    Fall: cross country, field hockey, flag football, soccer
    Winter: basketball, multi-sport, squash, wrestling, dance
    Spring: baseball, lacrosse, softball, multi-sport
  • Wellness

    Throughout the year, students in grade five participate in a Wellness class that meets once per rotation. Students explore issues relevant to pre-adolescents such as bullying, conflict resolution, stress management, decision making, physical health, peer pressure, puberty, respect, and honesty. They also continue to expand their repertoire of mindfulness techniques.

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