Change. Fifth Grade revolves around change. For the first time since Nursery, all the fifth graders are together in one class with three teachers. This provides a great amount of flexibility in terms of grouping and working with students. The class will most often be found divided into thirds, halves, or even smaller groups to work on various projects.
Change is also the central theme studied throughout the year, with this
question: “What motivates people to change?” Students delve into this, personally, globally, and historically. In social studies, much of the year is spent studying the westward expansion in the U.S., and all the factors of change for the various constituencies involved. The culminating activity for the expansion study is an extensive musical production called “Heading West,” which the students help write.
They are writing constantly – essays, personal narratives, research papers, creative stories, and poetry. They read constantly. Some favorite books from this year include My Brother Sam is Dead
, The Cay
, Phantom Tollbooth
, and Under the Same Sky
. One method teachers use to build excitement about upcoming books is a “book launch” party. For example, before reading My Brother Sam is Dead
, they re-create “Ye Olde Community Tavern” in the classroom for lunch one day, complete with candlelight (electric), bread, meat, cheese, and ale (root beer) in order to give students a sense of life in Early America.