Grade V Central Subject: Modern & Ancient China
Naturally embedded in any academic curriculum are human themes. In keeping with Shady Hill traditions, in all subjects we integrate themes regarding character, values, respect for self and others, and the responsibility children have as members of the community. Some of the topics include: taking ownership of one’s actions, resolving conflicts without focusing on blame, understanding other points of view, listening skills, and working cooperatively with others.
We address these topics in the Grade V curriculum in several ways. In the study of literature, we look at how protagonists’ choices shape their lives and the story as a whole. In Central Subject, we look at the Chinese culture from multiple perspectives. Group work is a constant exercise in being responsible for both one’s own work and that of the team. In addition, we conduct exercises and activities designed to develop fifth graders’ abilities as members of a community and as lifelong learners.
Mathematics in Grade V
(Five periods/260 minutes per cycle)
The Middle School mathematics program at Shady Hill School guides students in constructing new mathematical knowledge built upon deep understanding and prior learning. The program provides students with meaningful learning experiences through discovery and exploration, complemented by the formalization of requisite algorithms and skill work. Students work both independently and collaboratively in class. They develop skills in problem–solving, and further their ability to communicate and justify their reasoning. They are encouraged to represent their thinking in both oral and written form. Students make connections to mathematical ideas and to real-world experiences. The use of manipulatives and technology allows students to move from concrete to abstract thinking in the ongoing development of mathematical ideas.
The Fifth Grade math curriculum includes all five of the major content areas in math: number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and probability/data analysis. Students are involved in cooperative and independent investigations that encourage estimation, reasoning, and deduction. Number work focuses on the further development of computational skills through a problem-solving approach. Some highlights include the formalization of standard algorithms for multiplication and division as well as an introduction to the connected topics of decimals, fractions, and percent. The geometry strand introduces a real-world application of multiplication by asking students to investigate area and volume of 2-D and 3-D shapes and provides for exploration of shapes using rulers and compasses. Students are provided the opportunity to strengthen their logical thinking through puzzles and challenges. Within every unit, algebraic thinking is required. Students use informal algebraic notation and explore the beauty of the repeating patterns found in mathematics.
Science In Grade V
Fifth Grade Science begins with a study of simple machines. Students perform experiments, complete engineering design challenges, and investigate models and simulations to understand the essential question, "How do machines change the nature of work?" Students explore different forms of energy, focusing on energy transfers and how simple machines can make things more efficient. Engineering projects, like designing a catapult and 3D printing wind turbine blades, are included in many of the units to give students hands-on experience solving real-world problems with scientific concepts. Later in the year, students study crayfish, and complete a unit on experimental design, learning how to ask investigative questions, create experimental procedure, collect robust data, and use data to draw conclusions. Next they investigate acids and bases, segueing into a unit on water chemistry, learning about the unique properties of water and looking critically at common pollutants. Students study different water resources and complete an in-depth investigation of the wetlands here at Shady Hill by looking closely at the living things in the ecosystem, providing clues about the health of the wetlands. Fifth Grade science also includes a unit on puberty and human reproduction. Before this unit begins, families are provided with an overview of the topics studied, as well as a bibliography of possible resources. Throughout the year, students focus on science skills such as collaboration, quantitative reasoning, and experimental design.
Art Studio In Grade V
(One 60-minute period per cycle)
Fifth Graders have studio instruction with either Kirk Goetchius or Aparna Agrawal. While the classes complete different projects, students receive continued instruction in painting, drawing, ceramics, relief printmaking and sculpture, working from still-life, nature, and the imagination. Several projects incorporate the central subject of Ancient China, such as Chinese ink painting and clay models of bronze vessels. Through drawing and painting studies and experimentation with different media, students strengthen their observation and recording skills and gain familiarity and competence in many mediums.
Library In Grade V
(One 50-minute period per cycle)
Students meet with a librarian to explore and discuss a wide-range of genres and themes in literature, to practice their library skills and to learn library research strategies. As a group, librarians and students share books that they have enjoyed reading. Students also come to the library on a flexible schedule to work on research projects as needed.
Physical Education in Grade V
(Four 60-minute periods per cycle)
The Grade V physical education program places emphasis on the development of both movement skill combinations and knowledge within the framework of games, individual, and team sports. A “Teach, Choose, Play,” curriculum is introduced for both team and individual sports as a transitional step towards interscholastic athletics. Character education, critical thinking, and teamwork support the entire physical education program. Students are encouraged to use and expand their skills and understanding in increasingly complex and challenging situations.
Technology In Grade V
Today’s technology is well suited to support Shady Hill’s emphasis on creative, student-centered, project-based learning. Using the shared laptop cart, class sets of iPads and campus-wide wireless network, Fifth Grade students employ a range of software and internet-based programs that enable collaboration, research, data collection, digital storytelling, and mastery of skills. Examples of the types of software that students use over the course of the year include: Inspiration, iMovie, Garage Band, Comic Life, Keynote, Google Earth and Google SketchUp; as well as Internet-based programs such as Voicethread, Quizlet, Google Docs, and Sheppard Software. By integrating technology into the classroom and the existing curriculum, as opposed to teaching it as a stand-alone course, students are able to learn new ways to demonstrate their knowledge while gaining an understanding of the practical application of the tools themselves.
Woodshop In Grade V
(One 60-minute period per cycle)
In Grade V, students move into the middle school shop. A design course prepares each student to create a piece of furniture, either a table or a bench. Students are required to consider both functional and decorative aspects of their designs as they bring their projects to life, and they are encouraged to collaborate and assist each other with their work. They are trained in the use of a wide variety of hand and power tools including jig saws, drill presses, and the lathe. The furniture unit is followed by a bird carving project and free choice activities at the end of the year.
Music & Performing Arts
(Two 50-minute periods per cycle)
Each fifth grade class meets twice each cycle for General Music. In addition, students may elect to participate in the school orchestra, chorus, jazz band, or drama club, which rehearse after the regular school day has ended.
The General Music curriculum is an active, Orff-based curriculum that draws on a wide range of popular, folk, and art music traditions and literature. In connection with their Central Subject work, students learn several songs in Mandarin, learn about Chinese classical instruments, and perform Chinese percussion ensembles. As a culminating event, students perform a dramatic and musical production in celebration of a major Chinese holiday, such as the Chinese New Year or the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Students develop musicianship through active participation in performing and creating music: they sing, play instruments, move, dance, listen, analyze, create, read, and notate. Their music-reading and ear-training skills are built through frequent singing and use of solfege (a method used to teach pitch and sight singing).
Middle School Community
Middle School Assembly
(One 50-minute assembly per cycle)
Assembly is a regular time designated for Middle School students, faculty and staff to build and maintain community. A variety of activities are scheduled during this time, from large group games and icebreakers, to classroom sharing and performances by visiting artists and outside speakers. Assembly is typically punctuated by community singing.
Morning Meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Weekly meetings of Grades V-VIII are student-led opportunities for school and division-related announcements, class sharing, and brief performances. This informal blend of news, information, and entertainment builds community spirit and Middle School unity. In addition, these meetings feature Eighth Grade “declamations” of original written compositions.