Fifth Grade Overview

Fifth Grade Curriculum Overview 

English/Language Arts
RTSD addresses the PA Core Standards in English Language Arts in Second Grade in the following ways:

Reading Comprehension: The core resource for comprehension instruction is the Making Meaning program. This program uses literature and informational text from texts read-aloud to teach students nine different comprehension strategies while also creating a supportive community of readers. In the classroom students receive direct instruction through teacher modeling, time to practice, an opportunity to share and, most critically, an opportunity to apply at their level what was learned.
The Making Meaning units of study in Fifth Grade include:
  • The Reading Life: Fiction and Narrative Informational Text
  • Analyzing Text Features, Structure, and Character Analysis in Fiction
  • Analyzing Text Features, Structure, and Questioning in Expository Informational
  • Determining Important Ideas and Summarizing and Synthesizing in Fiction
  • Determining Important Ideas and Summarizing and Synthesizing in Informational Text
  • Making Inferences and Visualizing with Poetry and Drama
  • Making Inferences: Expository Nonfiction
  • Analyzing Text Structure and Synthesizing Expository Nonfiction
  • Close Analysis of Short Texts
  • Genre Book Clubs

Vocabulary: The Making Meaning Vocabulary supplement teaches high-utility words found in the Making Meaning read-aloud texts along with strategies students can use to unlock word meanings when they are reading independently. By using words from the books taught in the program, students learn words in context. The goal vocabulary instruction is to have students, without prompting, accurately using new vocabulary words in their everyday speaking and writing.

Writing: Written language instruction is based on Being a Writer. This core program uses trade books for genre immersion and author studies that encourage young writers to consider author’s craft. It also integrates writing instruction with regular community-building elements and guided partner work to develop in students a sense of autonomy, belonging, and competence. Being a Writer combines the use of explicit strategy instruction with student empowerment, cooperative learning and reflection to create a writer’s workshop that is engaging and powerful for the learner.

Units of study in Fifth Grade include:

  • The Writing Community
  • The Writing Process
  • Personal Narrative
  • Fiction
  • Expository Nonfiction
  • Persuasive Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Functional Writing
  • Writing for a Test

Revisiting the Writing Community

Guided Reading and Small Group Instruction
: Regular guided reading and other small group instruction allows students to practice and apply what they are learning in language arts. The purpose of guided reading is for students to have time to read and apply strategies and skills that were demonstrated by the teacher during read aloud and shared reading instruction.

Foundational Skills: Grades K-5 include direct instruction in the area of word study.Students in grades 4 and 5 use Dr. Richard Gentry’s Spelling Connection program. A wide variety of instructional resources including online game and activities, connections to writing and the content areas offer students multiple opportunities to transfer and apply learned skills. 
(Word Study Brochure)

Handwriting: Issues with legibility are addressed on an as needed basis using differentiated instruction whole class, small group or one-on-one. Resources from the Zaner Bloser Handwriting program are available for this purpose.
Math in Focus is a K-8 comprehensive mathematics program published by Marshall Cavendish.  Math in Focus provides rich and engaging resources based on 20 years of Singaporean success as a world leader in mathematics education. The framework presented in Math in Focus follows the same framework developed by the Singapore Ministry of Education.  The instructional approaches emphasize real-world, hands on experiences through a concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression.


For more information about Math in Focus, please click here.



5th Grade Mathematics will be guided by the following course objectives:

  • Whole numbers can be written in different ways.
  • Numbers can be compared and rounded, according to their place value.
  • Patterns can be used to help you multiply and divide numbers.
  • Numeric expressions can be simplified using the order of operations.
  • Multiplication and division can be used to solve real-world problems.
  • Add and subtract unlike fractions and mixed numbers by rewriting them with like denominators.
  • Whole numbers, fractions and mixed numbers can be multiplied or divided in any combination.
  • Algebraic expressions can be used to describe situations and solve real-world problems.
  • Base and height are measure find the area of a triangle.
  • Two numbers can be compared by subtraction.
  • Two or more numbers or quantities can also be compared by divison and the comparison expressed as a ratio.
  • Thousandths can be represented with three decimal places or as fractions.
  • Decimals can be multiplied and divided in the same way as whole numbers.
  • Percent is another way of expressing a part of a whole.
  • Percent means ‘out of 100.’
  • Displaying data in a graph highlights some features of the data.
  • Probability measures the likelihood of an even occurring.
  • The sum of angle measures on a line is 180 degrees.
  • The sum of angle measures at a point is 360 degrees.
  • Vertical angles have equal measures.
  • Properties of geometric figures sate relationships among angles or sides of the figures.
  • Triangles and four-sided figures have their own special properties.
  • The volume of cubes and rectangular prisms can be expressed as the number of cubic units they contain.
  • The surface area of a solid is the sum of the areas of all its faces.
For more information about the 5th Grade curriculum, please click here.

General Overview

RTSD uses Science and Technology Concepts (STC) program modules developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center, a division of the Smithsonian Institution.  The STC Program is a set of inquiry-based science curriculum kits that cover life, earth, and physical sciences.

Young children are naturally interested in everything they see around them. During the elementary years, students are encouraged to observe, note properties, and develop explanations. As children become more familiar with their world they can be guided to observe changes and make predictions. Each year, students will use three hands-on modules that provide for opportunities to develop abilities of doing and understanding science. The students will focus on a four stage learning cycle:

                 focus on what they know about a topic and what they want to learn

                 explore a scientific concept (this is usually done in groups of four)

                 reflect on their findings and record the information in science notebooks

                 apply their new learning to real-life situations and other areas of the curriculum

Fifth grade students will be using three science modules which focus on three content areas of science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Life Science.  Descriptions of the modules are below and are excerpted from


In Microworlds, students explore magnifiers, learning that tools like lenses and microscopes can be used to extend the sense of sight to view objects in greater detail. By observing everyday objects with a variety of lenses, students learn that a magnifier must be transparent and curved. Students use a microscope, learn the functions of all its parts, and practice proper lighting and focusing techniques. Preparing their own slides, students are able to view onion skin under magnification. Students turn their attention to living specimens and view several microorganisms. Observing the structure of these microorganisms, and how they move, feed, grow, and multiply, develops the students’ sense of microbial life and interactions among living things and between living things and their environment.

Motion and Design

The Motion and Design unit combines the physics of forces and motion with technological design. Students use plastic construction materials, weights, rubber bands, and propellers to design and build vehicles, then test how those vehicles respond to different forces of motion, like pushes, pulls, or rubber band energy. They explore, through experiments and multiple trials, how forces like friction, gravity, and air resistance work against motion to slow their vehicles down. Students must apply the concepts they learn to a design challenge, designing a vehicle that can perform to certain specifications, but also meets certain “cost” requirements. Collaboratively, student teams must design a vehicle, calculate the cost, test it, and refine their design. This unit develops skills in recording design through drawing, making accurate measurements, completing and analyzing data tables, making and testing predictions, and communicating results and experimental data.

Floating & Sinking

In Floating and Sinking, students begin by simply making and testing predictions about whether a set of objects will sink or float. This investigation serves as an introduction to inquiries regarding the effect weight, size, and shape have on whether an object floats or sinks, which challenge most students’ conceptions. Students are introduced to a spring scale, and use it to measure the weight of their objects and the buoyant force on fishing bobbers. Students explore the effect of shape on buoyancy in depth by manipulating a ball of clay and testing multiple times to determine whether it sinks or floats. This prepares them for a design challenge in which they design a clay boat that will float and hold a specific capacity of marbles. By recording and analyzing their own data, students become aware of surprising phenomena—some "floaters" are heavier than some "sinkers", and large objects are not always heavier than smaller objects. Students are challenged to apply prior knowledge to the inquiries in each lesson to make predictions and solve challenges. 

Social Studies


In Grade 5, students learn about citizenship by investigating significant periods of United States history from its foundation to the present. Historical content includes American ideals and the Revolutionary War; establishment of the United States government; the Civil War; and an overview of major events and significant individuals of the 20th century and today.  Students will identify the roots of representative government in this nation as well as the important ideas in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution; examine fundamental rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights; examine the importance of effective leadership in a democratic society, and use critical-thinking skills.  Students will analyze primary sources and make connections between history and their lives today.   


Major Units of Study:


Unit I: The American Revolution 


Unit II: Civics and Government


Unit III: The Civil War


Unit IV: 20th Century and Today



Social Studies Alive! America's Past
Fifth grade art students attend art class once in every 5-day cycle for 50 minutes.   Art classes introduce the vocabulary that is intrinsic to producing and talking about art. The elements of art are imbedded in lessons that demonstrate how to use a variety of media, techniques, processes, tools and materials to createart.  Major understandings include: artists make thoughtful choices when creating works of art and often repeat a task many times to learn a new skill; visual art is created for a variety of purposes; art can communicate ideas, express emotions and relate experiences; visual art is displayed; and art elicits a response from the viewer.
Major Topics::
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of how to create art work using the elements art: line, shape, color and texture, with a variety of materials and tools.
  • Students will demonstrate their use of basic visual art vocabulary when talking about art.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding that visual art is exhibited.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding that art is part of everyday life.
Units of Study:
  • One-Point Perspective
  • Ceramic project incorporating all techniques used over the past 4 years.
  • Introduction of Mixed Media art such as collage

Uncle Andy's: A Faabbbulous Visit With Andy Warhol by James Warhola
Wassily Kandinsky(Young Explorer: The Life and Work of...) by Paul Flux

Health & Physical Education


The goal of 5th grade physical education is for children to moveefficiently and to achieve success and satisfaction in movementexperiences.  Students will engage inmore advanced sport-related skills and activities.  The 5th grade PE program is basedon meeting the needs and interests of the upper elementary school children andis geared toward their holistic development. Inherent in our sport activities are many physical, educational,personal, and social values.  The programstimulates skeletal growth, improves muscle strength and coordination, increasesflexibility, promotes cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, introduces newskills, teaches the enjoyment of a variety of sports and reinforces theconcepts of good sportsmanship and teamwork. Students continue to expand their understanding of fitness concepts andhealthy life styles through games, dance, movement challenges, teambuilding/cooperative activities, and fitness testing. Students will participatein their development to be positive role models, reinforce cooperation, sportsmanship,and leadership skills, understand the concept of class/team control andorganization, and show empathy toward different student needs and behaviors.  

All students in fifth grade take part in health classes that expand on the knowledge that was gained in wellness. There are four core units:

  • During the introduction to health unit, the students define health and identify ways to take responsibility for their own health status. The content includes choosing healthful behaviors, making responsible decisions, using refusal skills, and practicing life skills.
  • The emphasis of the personal health care unit examines the responsibility of the students in maintaining good health. The students begin to identify the ways in which the body changes during adolescence and the importance of taking responsibility for their own hygiene. This chapter provides an easy transition into the human growth and development unit.
  • The human growth and development unit familiarizes the students with the changes that take place within the body during adolescence. Emphasis is placed on the physical changes the students are experiencing now and in the near future. Social and mental development is also covered. The basics of human sexuality will be introduced.
  • The correct use and potential abuse of prescription drugs and non-prescription drugs is the focus of the drug prevention and abuse unit. Alcohol and tobacco are two of the substances covered. The students will be introduced to ways in which drugs can affect mental, physical, and social health. A significant portion of the unit focuses on refusal skills and ways in which students can choose healthful behaviors when faced with decisions concerning drugs.
In order to truly learn about healthful living and educate the whole child, the students must apply what they have learned in the classroom to their own lives. For that reason, the students are encouraged to share information with their parents/guardians that was covered during health class.

Elementary students receive instruction in Library once in every 5-day cycle for 50 minutes, with the exception of Kindergarten classes which are 30 minutes in length. The library curriculum is closely aligned with the English Language Arts Pennsylvania Core Standards and the American Association of School Librarians.

Students in library learn to:

1. Ask questions to find knowledge

2. Work with others to create new knowledge

3. Work as a cooperative library citizen

4. Read widely and make personal connections

Fifth Grade Units of Study

Life of a Reader
Selecting and Evaluating Informational and Literary Text
Preparing and Publishing Multimedia Presentations
Responsible Library Citizenship
Digital Citizenship


Elementary students experience music by singing, playing,moving and improvising. The skills of matching pitch, steady beat and rhythmic notation are taught and assessed regularly throughout all grade levels.Children explore the musical elements: melody, harmony, rhythm, form and timbre, as well as expressive elements through a varied repertoire of music from diverse cultures and genres. Students regularly have the opportunity to perform music using Orff instruments and multicultural instruments. There are frequent opportunities to connect music to cultural and historical events as well as other subject areas through class discussion. All students participate in a grade-level chorus concert in the winter. Chorus instruction is imbedded within the general music classroom instruction during the fall semester.Students typically learn and perform a wide variety of musical styles such as Spirituals, multicultural and folk music, and novelty pieces, often incorporating movement and instruments as well.


Silver Burdett’s Making Music, Grade 5. 2002 edition.
Second year strings students meet for a small group lesson once every cycle during the Intervention/Enrichment period for 25 minutes.  Orchestra rehearsals begin in October and are held one day per week before school. Students participate in at least two concerts per year.  Major Topics of Study include reinforcement of posture, bow grip, rhythm, dynamics,tempo, note reading, tone production, intonation, balance, blend, articulation. Emphasis on major vs. minor tonality; dotted rhythms; sixteenth notes; syncopation; scales up to three sharps and two flats.

Beginning band students meet for a small group lesson once every cycle during the Intervention/Enrichment period for 25 minutes. Full band rehearsals before school are held once per week, beginning in January. Students participate in at least once concert in the Spring. Major topics of study include posture, embouchure/stick grip, note reading, rhythm, dynamics, tempo,tone production, intonation, balance, blend, and articulation.