Grade 5 Overview

Fifth Grade Curriculum Overview

The middle school years represent the biggest growth period in a child's life, other than birth to two. It is a period of many "firsts", including having more than one teacher, changing classes, and assuming more responsibility for learning and additional homework.

In order to provide for a smooth transition from grade to grade during this time, teachers, administrators, and support personnel are invested in providing a safe and healthy school environment which is imperative for the growth and development of each child. Our middle schools are staffed with teachers who are experts at teaching young adolescents. They use instructional methods that prepare all students to achieve high standards and a variety of assessment methods for students to demonstrate what they know and understand. By working in partnership with each student and his/her parents, every child is involved in rich and successful learning experiences that support student learning, healthy development and the Mission Statement of the Newington Public Schools.

The following information about the middle school curriculum describes the student's journey through the middle school years, grades 5 through 8. Based on State and National Standards, the middle school curriculum provides a comprehensive, diverse and challenging curriculum to meet the learning needs of all students.

This curriculum overview articulates by content area and grade level what students will know and understand (concepts) and what they will be able to do (skills) as a result of what they know and understand. As you view this middle school curriculum brochure, read it "looking through the eyes of the learner" to frame a picture of the blend of high expectations and exciting learning experiences.

Language Arts

Students will know and understand that:

  • reading a variety of genres (fiction and nonfiction from different sources) is essential to becoming a well-rounded student

  • responding to literature leads to a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the author's message

  • effective communication with others occurs through reading, writing, and speaking

  • rules of Standard English are used to effectively communicate

  • oral and written responses to reading require support from background knowledge and/or text

As a result of what students know and understand, they will be able to:

  • use before, during and after reading strategies to construct meaning of texts and develop vocabulary

  • respond to text in a variety of ways including journals, open-ended questions, projects and discussion groups

  • demonstrate comprehension through a variety of activities (projects, book talks, discussions, etc...)

  • interpret, analyze and evaluate text in order to enhance understanding, make connections and appreciate the written word

  • identify and analyze the author's style and how it contributes to the meaning and appeal of text

  • form opinions and make judgments about the author's style and message of the text

  • consider their audience when developing writing styles to communicate

Using a variety of tools, strategies and technology, students will know and understand that:

  • geometric relationships and measurements help us to solve problems and make sense of the geometry that exists in our world

  • a solid foundation in number sense and the ability to estimate and compute accurately are necessary to solve real-world problems

  • real-world data can be collected, represented and analyzed in a variety of ways to make reasonable predictions and informed decisions

  • problem solving in the real-world involves recognizing and understanding patterns and relationships

As a result of what students know and understand, and by working with real-world problems through an inquiry-based approach, they will be able to:

  • estimate and compute using whole numbers, fractions and decimals

  • collect, organize, graph and interpret data in a variety of ways including point, bar, line, circle and coordinate graphs

  • recognize, describe, classify, draw and measure 2-dimensional geometric shapes

  • identify, rename, compare and reduce fractions using common denominators, multiples and factors

  • recall and use basic facts to solve a variety of problems

  • estimate and measure length, angles, mass and volume of 2-and 3-dimensional geometric shapes

  • develop and use a variety of strategies for finding the area of rectangles and triangles and the perimeter of various shapes

  • explore transformations with geometric shapes and designs


Students will know and understand that:

  • sound and light are both forms of energy that travel in waves through several mediums, including air

  • organisms use their sensory organs to perceive stimuli from the environment and send signals to the nervous system; this response is critical to an organism’s survival

  • the Earth, the sun, and the moon are part of dynamic system that affects day/night, the seasons, and lunar phases

As a result of what students know and understand, they will:

●  search out, describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena  through thoughtful and coordinated observations and data collection

●  use mathematical thinking and problem-solving to describe scientific phenomenon

●  read, write, speak, and present about scientific topics and scientific phenomenon

Social Studies

Students will know and understand that:

  • historians use and assess a variety of information to study the past

  • Native American nations were thriving, highly civilized societies which came to be a major influence on American culture then and now

  • the search for a better life in the New World came with advantages and disadvantages

  • land and culture influenced life in the Original Thirteen Colonies

  • the French and Indian War affected the relationship between England and its colonies

  • Americans sought right and liberties, which led to the fight for independence from Britain and some of these same rights are protected by the US Constitution

As a result of what students know and understand, they will:

  • differentiate between primary and secondary sources

  • explain how cultures influence the way people adapt to their environment

  • explain how human settlements and movements relate to the locations and use of natural resources

  • compare life in specific historical periods to life today

  • explain how human settlements and movements relate to the locations and use of natural resources

  • explain connections among historical contexts and people’s perspectives at that time

  • explain how groups of people make rules to create responsibilities and protect freedom

  • use evidence to make a claim about the past


Students will know and understand that: In order to be well rounded, it is essential to engage in learning experiences in the areas of art, STEM, health/wellness, library/media, music, wellness, and instructional technology.

As a result of what students know and understand, they will be able to: Demonstrate their learning through projects, activities, discussions, and performances in the Encore classes.


S.T.E.M. education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.

In Grade 5 (Bridges), students study the history, function, structural design, geometry and strength of bridges. They will also investigate concepts related to the physical properties of materials and their application in the placement, design, and construction of bridges. The grade 5 curriculum focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts taught through problem-solving, discovery, exploratory learning and critical thinking. Students will be active participants in their learning experiences. Inquiry-based lessons will challenge students as they build, investigate, problem solve, discuss, and evaluate scientific and design principles in action.


The fifth grade art curriculum is designed to provide students with an understanding of the relationship between art concepts and visual expressions of ideas. Projects include:

  • exploration of line

  • negative space drawing

  • contour/still life drawings

  • symbolic ritual masks

  • architecture

  • sculpture assemblage

  • Impressionist landscapes

  • stamp prints/tessellation


A healthy body and mind maximize children's ability to learn. During the Wellness experience in fifth grade, students will learn about the four areas of physical fitness including muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance. Students will also develop their motor skills to play in a variety of games. In a more traditional classroom setting, students will learn about maintaining a healthy body by avoiding substance use and abuse, maintaining good nutrition, and learn about their developing bodies in a brief human growth and development unit. Students will also participate in the ROPE course.


All students participate in General Music each year. All students in grades 5-8 have the opportunity to participate in performing groups including chorus, band, and orchestra. Students who choose to participate in 5th grade chorus, band, or orchestra meet one day per week during recess as a whole group. Small group instrumental lessons are available to students for ½ hour per week. Concerts throughout the year showcase the accomplishments of each ensemble.
The General Music curriculum seeks to develop within students a medium for self-expression and a life-long love of music.

Areas of study in fifth grade include:

  • harmony

  • rhythm

  • fundamentals

  • tone color

  • art song

  • opera

  • folksongs/culture (African, Asian, Hispanic, European, American)

Library Media

The library media program provides instruction, resources, and services to assist students in becoming critical thinkers and problem solvers in the pursuit and use of ideas and information. The library media program strives to ensure that all students have the skills and opportunity to access, evaluate and use information effectively and responsibly. Direct instruction in the steps and process to conduct research is provided in grades 5, 6, and 7 during the twenty-five-day Encore cycle rotation.

Students learn how to use critical thinking and research skills to identify, locate, evaluate, use, apply and communicate ideas effectively and responsibly. Students also learn Internet safety, note taking techniques, citation guidelines, and presentation skills integrating the use of technology.

The library program supports academic and recreational reading for students in grades 5-8.

Educational Technology

Fifth graders will have one 26-day cycle of educational technology. Students will explore what a network is, how to create and organize files both on the network and on Google Drive, practice keyboarding skills, review and learn the proper use of new tech tools and products, and collaborate on mini-projects that showcase their new learning as well as their presentation skills. Students will utilize a digital portfolio to showcase their learning.