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Curriculum guide - Grade 5

The elementary school program is designed to develop students’ confidence in themselves as learners, to instill a love of learning, and to help them develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to communicate effectively, understand the world about them, and participate fully in a democratic society.

This web page outlines the major content areas and skills taught in grade five.

Students will engage in integrated or thematic study that requires them to read, write, investigate, converse, design, create, analyze, share and present data and opinions as they pursue solutions and understandings.
While all students will study at least the topics indicated here, there are also opportunities for students to choose other areas of study based on their interests and needs.

Parents can support their children’s school learning by using the vocabulary and discussing the concepts identified here as they share reading, discuss current events, or explore new places with their children.

Please click on any link below to learn more about that topic:

Language Arts
Social Studies
Library Media
Physical Education


Language Arts

The Language Arts--reading literature and informational texts, writing, speaking, listening and language--are a major part of students’ elementary school program. The goal of Guilderland’s Language Arts program is to adhere to the K-12 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and to develop literate students in the 21st century.

Students read and write every day for various purposes and receive frequent written and oral feedback from their teachers and peers. Instruction occurs individually, in small groups and in whole class settings.

Students are expected to read and understand more complex material and write and speak with more sophistication as they progress through the grades. Attention to Language Arts skills and strategies is integrated into student learning throughout the day.

The purpose of reading is to make meaning from written material. It is a highly complex act of communication requiring active involvement. The overall objective of reading instruction is to develop motivated readers who process written language efficiently and derive meaning from what they read.

In grade five, reading instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on:
Both literature and informational texts
Self-selecting appropriate level texts for independent reading
Building reading stamina
Comparing or contrasting two or more characters, settings, or events using specific details from texts
Quoting accurately from texts when explaining or drawing inferences
Effectively engaging in a range of collaborative discussions (for example, in partnerships, book clubs, whole group)
Comparing and contrasting the points of view from which different stories are narrated
Comparing and contrasting overall structures of two or more texts
Reading increasingly more complex texts with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension
Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in texts

Progress in reading is assessed formally and informally throughout the year. In addition, students will take the New York State ELA Assessment.

The goal of Guilderland’s writing program is to develop students who can write competently and with confidence. Guilderland recognizes that writing is a complex process, and its writing program addresses the following student learning objectives:
Use of writer’s notebooks
Students need frequent opportunities to write and receive a great deal of appropriate instruction and feedback
Students need to realize that their lives, ideas and interests are worth writing about
Students need to know that audience and purpose will influence decisions they make about their writing
Students need to know the qualities of good writing and how to evaluate their own work
Students need to increase writing stamina

In grade five, writing instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on:
The Writing Process (with an emphasis on development and organization appropriate to task, purpose, and audience)
Informational writing using research and various text structures
Opinion writing
Narrative writing
Responding to literature
Using evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research
Producing and publishing using technology (including the internet) with some support

Students are expected to produce a variety of writing pieces throughout the year. They will complete their work with attention to the qualities of good writing, correct spelling and mechanics. Progress is assessed by individual conferencing and review of the students’ writing folder with attention to specific areas of instruction. In addition, students will take the New York State ELA Assessment.

Students will demonstrate legible, well-spaced and well-organized handwriting that does not interfere with the completion of classroom assignments and assessments in a time efficient manner.

In grade five, students are expected to spell most high-frequency words correctly and use basic spelling principles to help them spell difficult words. They will use resources such as a dictionary and a thesaurus.
Students will engage in a word study approach that includes the development of phonics, spelling, word recognition and vocabulary.

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The New York Common Core Standards for Mathematics became mandated in the 2012-13 school year. The purpose of these newly developed learning outcomes is to create math instruction that is much more focused and coherent for students. In essence, children become more deeply familiar with math skills and concepts with a projected goal of mastery. The sequence of the standards allows our students to become more competent math learners by applying their math knowledge to everyday, critical math topics. The long-term goal of the Common Core initiative is to better prepare all students for college and the opportunities they will face in the future.

Students at the primary grades will develop a solid foundation from which future math concepts and skills are built upon. At the fifth grade level, a stronger emphasis is put on the conceptual understandings of more difficult mathematical operations with multiplication and division as well as computation with fractions. Fact fluency expectations in fifth grade require that students now know their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts with automaticity and use operational procedures fluently.

Go Math! by Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt Publishing Company is specifically written to support the Common Core State Standards. The critical areas and mathematical practices outline in the New York state curriculum are integrated into Go Math! chapters. Student tools allow children to engage in context-based mathematical situations that build to more abstract problem solving. Students use models, manipulatives, quick pictures and symbols to build deeper mathematical understandings. Instructional methods focus on the use of literature and technology as well as encourage students to talk and write about math.

Mathematical Content
Fifth grade Common Core Standards are organized into the following domains:
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Number and Operations in Base Ten
Measurement and Data
Number and Operations—Fractions

Pervasive throughout the domains are several key mathematical practices. These are:
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Reason abstractly and quantitatively
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Model with mathematics
Use appropriate tools strategically
Attend to precision
Look for and make use of structure
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Required Fluencies in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
When it comes to measuring the full range of the Standards, usually the first things that come to mind are the mathematical practices, or perhaps the content standards that call for conceptual understanding. However, the Standards also address another aspect of mathematical attainment that is seldom measured at scale either: namely, whether students can perform calculations and solve problems quickly and accurately.

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In the 21st century a person must be armed with a science overview to adapt to the extraordinary changes that will occur, to be employed by the new industries that will emerge, and to participate in the decisions that society will make. The key is education and programs such as Science and Technology for Children (STC) to give every student science content and science process needed to develop scientific literacy.

Our elementary science program places an emphasis on acquiring skills, knowledge and attitudes toward science through active involvement in hands-on activities. Students are actively engaged in situations which begin with their questions and take them through the process of inquiry. Students gather information to help them find answers to their questions using the data they have collected. They experience problem solving in units that come from many of the scientific disciplines. The activities in the units direct student inquiry to conceptual understandings of the topic studied yet provide for individual interests.

Because many of the ideas being studied have direct relation to other disciplines, students are encouraged to make connections. We provide literature and other resources to foster such connections and supplement units with a wide range of materials including trade books, Internet resources, videos, and guest speakers.

Teachers are encouraged to enrich science instruction with topics of interest to their students and themselves. The catalyst for such studies may be student-generated questions, teacher or parent interest or current events. Problem solving is the common thread which ties these topical studies to our core curriculum.

Teachers assess student progress by observing their development as observers, hypothesizers, careful data gatherers and generalizers and by watching them work, reviewing their journals, and assessing their written and oral responses.

Our core program includes a series of units of study that include hands-on activities, specific scientific skill development, problem solving, and assessment.

The grade five curriculum consists of a year-long study of the HUMAN BODY. The HUMAN BODY is a 7-unit program exposing students to the complex body systems including the digestive, circulatory, excretory, nervous and endocrine, skeletal/muscular, and respiratory. Students will investigate how the systems operate independently and together through a series of inquiry-based activities.

Through engagement in this curriculum, students will continue to develop science skills including:

Always building upon prior knowledge and understandings, students will use the following vocabulary words in the study of science in grade five:


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Social Studies

The ten key concept goals of the K-6 social studies curriculum are:

basic alterations in things, events, and ideas

membership in a community (school, state, nation...) with its accompanying behaviors, rights, and responsibilities

the way of living any society develops to meet its fundamental needs

the ability to understand others through being able to identify in one’s self responses similar to the experiences, behaviors, and responses of others

surroundings, including natural elements and elements created by humans

awareness of one’s own values, attitudes, and capabilities as an individual and a member of groups

reliance upon others in mutually beneficial interaction and exchange

a geographic/political organization uniting people by a common government

the conflict between unlimited needs and wants and limited natural and human resources

the tools and methods used by people to get what they need and want

social studies graphicThrough social studies experiences in the elementary grades, students will develop mental categories which provide a foundation for social studies learning in grades seven through twelve. As a result of participating in the social studies program, students should demonstrate steady growth in the following abilities and the skills which contribute to them:

The ability to obtain, organize, process and communicate accurate social studies information and ideas.

The ability to identify and investigate issues, generate and test hypotheses, and take and support positions persuasively.

The ability to make appropriate decisions, to identify and solve problems effectively and to initiate appropriate action.

The ability to form or acquire a set of standards and apply them to the evaluation of assumptions, sources, evidence, reasoning and arguments (critical thinking) and to the evaluation of beliefs, qualities and behaviors (valuing).

The ability to determine and understand their rights and responsibilities and decide how they should be exercised as contributing citizens (citizenship competency).


The grade five program focuses on an economic and geographic look at the United States, Canada, and Latin America and the role of these areas in the global world. Social/cultural, political, and historic elements of these areas will receive a secondary emphasis. A continued stress on the development of self-identity, social interaction skills, and participatory citizenship will pervade.

Central Themes Content Direction Skills Emphasis
History Development of nation-state identity within the hemisphere Information collection
and presentation
Cultural/Social Cultural diversity within the hemisphere Empathy
Political U.S. Constitution demonstrates that governmental structures respond to social dynamism Comparative analysis
Economics Trade relationships Comparative analysis
Geography Western Hemisphere Environmental analysis


The New York State grade five social studies assessment is administered in November.


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Health is a condition of well-being that is required for the development of each individual and for society as a whole. Health instruction at the elementary level builds a strong foundation to promote the health and well-being of our students. The health education program works in partnership with the home, school, and the community. To support this partnership with the parents, a list of videos that may be used is posted on our district website, and, prior to instruction of any personal safety lesson or video, a parent notification letter is sent home with students.
The elementary program provides accurate, age-appropriate information and builds upon prior learning. The curriculum consists of six strands and is taught by the classroom teacher and sometimes the support of other school staff or guest speakers. The six strands are:
Personal Activity and Nutrition
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs
Family Life and Maturity
Violence Prevention
Unintentional Injury Prevention

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The elementary art curriculum in fifth grade continues with a sequential learning process that exposes children to a variety of techniques, concepts, and skills in both the two-dimensional and three-dimensional arts. The fifth grade visual art curriculum is aligned with the NYS Learning Standards in Art. It allows the art teacher to guide children through hands-on learning activities in a studio like setting that integrates art history from both past and present cultures, art criticism, aesthetics, technology, visual and digital literacies and careers in art.

Elementary art teachers work closely with classroom teachers to promote a positive, exciting learning experience. Connections are made across subject areas while simultaneously allowing children to express themselves as unique individuals. Each learning experience includes both a process and/or a product that may conclude over a period of several classes. All students meet once/week in the art room for 40 minutes.

In addition to the skills and content already learned, the fifth grade artist is introduced to and will experiment with but not limited to the following; measurement/straight edges, expansion on the three-dimensional form, drawing and painting with value to create a three-dimensional form; reinforcement of appropriate use and manipulation of materials and tools.

Student artwork is displayed throughout the classroom and building on a regular basis. An annual K-5 student art exhibition is held in the spring at the Guilderland Public Library.

*The K-12 Visual Art Sequential Curriculum is built upon the fundamental principle that the Arts assists in the development of the whole child as it supports the child’s emotional and intellectual growth through sensory experiences that promote creativity, imagination, innovation, problem solving, critical thinking and artistic expression.

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Library Media

The Library Media Program plays a vital role throughout all aspects of the curriculum. The mission of the Library Media Program ensures that all students and staff effectively generate questions, access resources and create and share their new knowledge. In addition to managing the book collection and library web page, the Library Media Specialist provides instruction for individuals, small groups and whole classes of students. Areas of instruction include library orientation and circulation, literature appreciation, information skills and utilizing technology and digital media. Our fifth grade students further develop and reinforce skills through participation in a variety of library experiences, such as:
Expanding their use of the OPAC (library catalog) and Interlibrary Loan, becoming independent library users (Orientation and Circulation)
Classifying and experiencing various genres, appreciating award-winning books, acquiring visual literacy skills (Literature Appreciation)
Identifying parts of a book with emphasis on nonfiction features and conventions, expanding research processes emphasizing inquiry, evaluating print and online resources (Information Skills)
Utilizing online resources for research, such as databases and ebooks, creating digital products, evaluating websites, citing online resources and digital images (Utilizing Technology and Digital Media)

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The purpose of the Guilderland music program is to advance the cognitive and cultural development of every student through active participation in music. Sequential class activities:
Promote critical thinking and listening skills.
Foster creativity through musical improvisation and composition.
Advance innate musical aptitude through class and public performances.
Encourage an understanding of world cultures.
Aid neural development of the brain benefiting literacy, spatial reasoning, verbal memory and problem solving skills.
Allow for a shared community experience by teaching music literacy (pattern structure recognition).

The elementary general music program is offered to students in grades K-5 twice a week for 30 minutes. The emphasis in music class is on the development of each child’s tonal, rhythmic and movement skills through a sound before sight approach. Similar to the way children acquire language skills, music is taught as an aural art. Students build a solid foundation of aural and performing skills through singing, rhythmic movement, and tonal and rhythm pattern instruction before being introduced to notation and music theory. The voice is a natural instrument for all children and emphasis is placed on the singing of a variety of songs from many cultures. Movement activities support dexterity, rhythm skill development, and beat coordination. Creativity, composition, and improvisation are encouraged at every level of music instruction. All students have opportunities to perform on classroom instruments including xylophones and rhythm instruments.

The curriculum utilizes Dr. Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory. Children are evaluated for music aptitude in both tonal (melodic) and rhythm skills. The movement portion of the curriculum is based on Phyllis Weikart’s Education through Movement developed as a result of her study of the body as the center of learning for children.

In fifth grade the essential elements of the curriculum focus on:
Music Literacy. Students move from recognizing familiar patterns to the beginning stages of decoding to reading musical notation for meaning. Beginning improvisation or the ability to spontaneously create music within the framework of patterns and harmonic function coupled with music literacy are the basis of a budding independent musician.
Fifth grade students continue to develop instrumental skills and rehearse with the band or orchestra a minimum of once a week, and perform concerts in the winter and spring.
Fifth grade students also have the opportunity to join chorus, which rehearses once a week after school. For students who like to sing, chorus is an enriching experience giving students vocal executive skills combined with cooperative team activities. Chorus members perform in several evening concerts throughout the year gaining self-confidence through public performances.

Advanced opportunities are available to students who excel in music in fifth grade. Students may participate in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Solo and Ensemble Festivals, the Guilderland All-District Concert, grade level plays, and other performance opportunities. Students are encouraged to participate fully in the music program and work hard to achieve a high level of skill and enjoyment.

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Physical Education

The fifth grade physical education curriculum represents a gradual transition from the concept approach to a more formal sport skills program. Children are introduced to a variety of sports units and are assessed in the following: basketball, circus arts, floor tennis, gymnastics, physical fitness, and rhythm and dance. In addition, a variety of other units will be taught throughout the year.

The students are also fitness tested twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring. At this level, students are introduced to the process and importance of setting realistic goals. With this knowledge, students then apply personal goals to the fall fitness test results for ideal aspirations for the spring fitness testing. After the fall results have been recorded the students write a goal on their fitness card and this gives them something to strive for.

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