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Students’ fifth-grade year at Good Shepherd Lutheran School is challenging and exciting. Project-based learning, both as individual and in groups, becomes central in our fifth grade class instruction. The students will have many opportunities to grow and mature academically, emotionally, and socially.  The goal by the end of the year is for each student to be prepared for a successful transition into middle school. 


Fifth graders continue to develop and refine their language arts skills in reading, writing, thinking, speaking, listening, and viewing. Students demonstrate learning through a variety of methods. They work individually as well as in small and in large groups to produce oral and written reports, technology-based presentations, debates, and demonstrations. Students learn new vocabulary and apply it in reading, speaking, listening, and writing activities.

At this grade level, students understand new words through their study of context clues; root words, prefixes and suffixes; and synonyms and antonyms. Children develop comprehension by listening and reading for specific information. Identification of main ideas, sequencing of events, recalling details, making predictions, drawing inferences, comparing and contrasting, and understanding cause-and-effect relationships are emphasized.

Fifth graders also examine the story structure of different genres, analyze the author's viewpoint, and identify topic sentences, main ideas, and supporting details. Activities are also used to stimulate ideas for focusing and organizing student writing across all curriculum areas. Emphasis is placed on using a variety of sentence patterns, developing clarity and individual style, and refining paragraph skills. Students experience a variety of writing activities such as reports, journals, learning logs, persuasive writing, and poetry. They also refine their proofreading skills to produce a quality document.


In fifth grade, students continue to investigate naming numbers in a variety of ways, including factors, exponents, fractions, and decimals. They continue to practice with the division algorithm and apply their strategies for whole-number computation to decimals.

Fractions are used in measurement, equivalent forms, ratios, and addition and subtraction situations. Decimal and percent concepts are extended to equivalent forms, number lines, grids, probability, and circle graphs. Fifth graders use manipulatives to explore negative numbers and simple algebraic expressions and problems. They link their measurement and algebra skills by using formulas to find perimeters, areas, and volumes of shapes and solids. They continue their study of geometry, working with angles, 2-D and 3-D figures, and corresponding math tools.


The science curriculum in fifth grade continues to develop the physical, earth, and technological sciences. The Mixtures and Solutions Kit introduces students to the fundamental ideas in chemistry. Chemistry is the study of the structure of matter and the changes or transformations that take place in it. Students experience the concepts of mixture, solution, concentration, and saturation. They also experience the concept of chemical reaction, apply an operational definition to determine the relative concentrations of solutions, use problem-solving techniques to plan investigations, use measurement in the context of scientific investigations, and apply mathematics in the context of science.

The Environments Kit gives students the opportunity to create, observe, and control a variety of environments such as a terrestrial and an aquatic environment. Through the study of isopods, brine shrimp, water and darkling beetles, students learn how to devise controls and variables in a scientific investigation. Reasoning and technology skills are developed through the study of the Variables Kit.

The Water Planet Module consists of five sequential investigations, each designed to introduce or reinforce concepts in earth science. The investigations start with Earth in the solar system, and then focus on the dynamics of weather and water cycling in Earth’s atmosphere.

The Living Systems Module consists of three sequential investigations, each designed to introduce students to transport systems in multi-cellular organisms. Students use investigations, readings, and videos to study the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and excretory systems in humans and the vascular system in plants. They conduct and analyze controlled experiments related to these systems and to the production of food by plants.


Students in fifth grade study the historical development of the United States, from the settlement by native peoples through colonization, and, later, the American Revolution and events leading up to the Civil War. They focus on the major events and people that have impacted our country's development. Fifth graders are introduced to ways in which business and industry have affected the economy over the years. Through interactive lessons, geography, and problem solving, study skills are expanded. Students also increase analytical skills by taking a position on an issue, and writing persuasive arguments on topics of social relevance. Fifth grade students further their knowledge and understanding of core democratic values upon which our government is based.


Fifth graders go on three outdoor education trips during the year.

The first outdoor education happens at Camp SEA Lab.  Students travel to Aptos, CA, to attend a three-day, marine-based science school. The real-time marine exploration lessons are tailored to reflect and enrich the Water Planet module that they learn in the classroom.  The students bond and gain confidence, which sets a positive tone for the rest of the year.

Mount Hermon Outdoor Science School is a five-day science school located in the Santa Cruz mountains. It’s an experiential education program that parallels the Living Systems curriculum that they have been learning in the classroom.  During the program they will also have opportunities to further develop teamwork, self-confidence, stewardship actions, respect for others, and the wonder of nature. 

The final outdoor ed is an overnight stay on Angel Island.  This is part of the Angel Island State Park Living History program.  The program takes place at Camp Reynolds where the students have the opportunity to live as a soldier would have lived during the Civil War.  The skills and information they learn and experience have a direct relation to what they studied in social studies.  In addition, they gain leadership skills, confidence, and an overall feeling of accomplishment.