5th Grade

Fifth grade is a time for transition. Students build upon the skills and content developed and learned in the Lower School, while establishing their own identities as members of the Upper School community. Fifth grade at Cathedral lays the foundation for continued growth and ensures that even the youngest members of our Upper School learn to advocate for themselves and others.

List of 5 items.

  • Mathematics

    The 5th grade investigates the following mathematical concepts: applying operations to fractions, decimals, and percentages; order of operations; Students investigate area, perimeter, and volume. Students complete two major projects: the Survey Project during our statistics unit and the Income Tax Project during our percentages/financial literacy unit. The curriculum uses hands-on activities, games, problem solving, projects, and in-class homework review as teaching tools.
  • English

    In 5th grade, students continue to build on the work they have done in the Lower School to deepen their reading skills and hone their writing skills. Students analyze fiction by reading, discussing and writing about a variety of novels, which spotlight diversity and inclusion. They continue with an expository writing focus of elaborating single sentences to outlining and writing clear and cohesive paragraphs. Students strengthen their basic writing skills by writing cogent essays, with a comprehensive editing and rewriting effort. Grammar is consistently embedded in the fifth grade English writing curriculum.
  • Science

    In the Upper School science lab, 5th graders begin the year by learning the fundamentals of lab work including careful data-collection, observation, and writing objective lab reports. They practice applying scientific inquiry skills, measurement, and the scientific method to experimentation. Additionally, they complete a unit where they explore animal adaptations, food webs, symbiotic relationships, ecosystems, and biomes. In the second trimester, 5th graders shift their focus to matter, atoms, and physical versus chemical changes. During the final trimester, we dive into a unit covering earth’s dynamic surface and earth in space.
  • Social Studies

    In 5th grade, students gather and interpret evidence and ask questions about historical events.  Fifth graders learn about world history from the Industrial Revolution through World War II, and explore the United Nations as a jumping-off point into world geography. After exploring the roles of nations in modern-day world civilizations, students go back in time to the early human roots of civilization itself. Through an overview of early cultures and civilizations, students address the central question of what it means to be a member of a society, what present and past civilizations do well, and where they fell and still fall short. In doing this, the students are able to examine how their own experiences shape our understanding of other cultures, traditions, and beliefs.
  • World Languages

    In the 5th grade, students continue their study of French or Spanish. They use listening activities, pronunciation practice, and beginning reading and writing to increase their proficiency. French or Spanish instruction includes basic grammar study: articles, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, regular and irregular verb conjugation in the present tense, and forming simple sentences. Vocabulary continues to be built by exploring French- or Spanish-speaking cultures and encouraging beginning conversational skills.

Curriculum in Action

An essential question of fifth grade social studies is, “How do objects define us?” In the multifaceted Artifact Project, students look at objects that define them in their own lives before expanding that concept to objects that have defined cultures throughout history, either from necessity or cultural expression. In English, books like The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis and Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai allow fifth graders to discover the way characters relate to objects as symbols of greater goals and aspirations. In social studies, students are assigned a significant object from history–for example, movable type–and research why it was important and why that importance has endured. As they come to the end of their research, students construct Joseph Cornell-style shadow boxes to place the object and other related materials in their proper context.
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