Grade 5

Grade 5 2016-10-25T15:01:45+00:00

Grade 5

Teaching Tolerance: Malala, Islam, and Human Rights

The fifth grade history course is not only an exploration of ancient civilizations, it is also an introduction to world religions. This week, we began to take a closer look at the world’s second most popular religion, Islam. We read not only about the origins and development of Islam, but also the basic beliefs and practices. Understanding Islam is essential to provide a context for our literary companion, I Am Malala by the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Youfsafzai. Malala, currently a student at Oxford University, survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Pakistan when she was a young teen. Malala and her father were targeted for speaking out to the press about the right for girls to attend school. I felt it important for students to understand the values of Islam in order to provide a context for the fundamentalist views held by the Taliban and described so candidly by Malala in her book.

We also viewed the documentary, He Named Me Malala in which we saw Malala’s difficulty recovering from the shooting, and her challenging transition to life in the UK. This film also portrays some of Malala’s ongoinng activism including bringing to the forefront the plight of Syrian refugee children and the desperate families of girls who have been abducted by the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram. This documentary, produced by the National Geographic Society, is intended for students and uses both animation, interviews with Malala and her family, and media clips.

Many students had not heard of the Taliban and Boko Haram. Some even found difficult to believe that these groups continue to thrive today in 2018, and that the rights to practice one’s religion (or no religion at all) or even to attend school are freedoms that we take for granted here in the US. It is not easy to hear Malala’s story, the details of the shooting, the violence inflicted by the Taliban, and the oppression and enslavement of women. Hopefully, the fifth graders will continue to ask thoughtful questions at home with you, and at school with me. I want them to feel that they can make a difference in the world, and it starts with tolerance and compassion.

By | March 7th, 2018|Categories: Grade 5|Comments Off on Teaching Tolerance: Malala, Islam, and Human Rights

Breakout Box Challenge: Growth Mindset with Grades 5 & 7

Fifth Grade continues to explore aspects of Growth Mindset, not only in our weekly Brain Game sessions, but also in our academic subjects as well. This past Friday, we visited the 7th grade who had spent the past few weeks developing a Breakout Box challenge to help us review for our test on India.

If you’ve never heard of a Breakout Box, it’s an activity inspired by escape rooms—those group challenges that have popped up everywhere and can be done with multi-generational groups of relatives or friends. You’re trapped in a room (literally) and given a series of challenges, a few clues and a ticking clock to remind you that you need to step it up! Sometimes the escape room is a room, but it can also be an empty apartment or even an Egyptian tomb you need to excavate!

The Breakout Box is similar in that it’s an immersive collaborate learning experience where groups of students work together to solve puzzles and codes that allow them to unlock several padlocks, and ultimately, the box itself.  The challenges encourage critical thinking skills and teamwork, and help to develop perseverance, along with giving an opportunity (in our case) to review concepts and themes of ancient India.

After providing 7th grade with the content I wanted to review, advisors Sue Benner and Sarah Pitcher mentored the students to create the challenges. And on Friday, we finally got together. I’m happy to say that 5th grade managed to unlock the box by the end of the period, and we loved the opportunity to spend time with the 7th grade. Ad added bonus was the surprise treat inside the locked box. Thanks to the Upper School students and Mrs. Benner and Mrs. Pitcher for their tremendous efforts  to create this simply stellar brain game!

Hope you enjoy these photos from our Breakout Box session!

By | February 13th, 2018|Categories: Grade 5, Grade 7|Comments Off on Breakout Box Challenge: Growth Mindset with Grades 5 & 7

Grade Five Winter Update

Hello Parents!

Last week was filled with excitement as we squeezed in some filming of our video..I could not have been more proud of the positive attitudes and boundless enthusiasm of the class. Special thanks to Jake and Henry for their custodial work, and for Ben’s expertise with the filming. And just a tip…silly string is not for indoor use….just wait and you’ll see…

It was not all fun and games, however. As you know in fifth grade, we play hard and we work even harder. Here’s an update on our academic endeavors:


In our study of ancient India, we are currently learning about the origins and traditions of Hinduism. This week students will take a closer look at the mythology of Hinduism by exploring the gods and goddesses of Hinduism, as well as the Ramayana, an ancient epic poem with the classic theme of good vs. evil. Students will soon be creating a religion for their year-long civilization project as well.


We are now working with concepts in geometry. Some of these are review from 4th grade and some are new. Students are learning how to classify triangles by both length of sides and types of angles. They will also be taking a closer look at quadrilaterals this week, learning to sort and classify them based on various traits.


We have started a new novel—Linda Sue Park’s Newbery-Award-winning book, A Single Shard, which takes place in 12th century Korea. In our weekly grammar class this week, we’ll take a look at how irregular plurals are formed, and students will have a quiz on what we’ve covered so far in our text book. While this week we won’t have a spelling test, next week we will. In the second trimester, word lists are taken from history concepts as well as Latin roots.

Writer’s Workshop

We are currently in unit on Word Choice. Students heard a “scary” story last week in the boiler room (!), and are now crafting their own narratives based on a personal experience. We will be zooming in and stretching out key details, and honing in on specific evocative language to give these stories the proper evocative feel.


In Lederman Life Skills last week, we practiced using chopsticks and sampled kimchee, one of the Korean specialties mentioned in A Single Shard. This week, we will plan to use use MLK Day as a springboard for a discussion about the Civil Rights and Ruby Bridges, and then learn about bi-racial musician, Lenny Kravitz, and listen to some of his music. (If we have a snow day, this will bounce to next week!)

Here are the links to Lenny and Ruby:

And here is a slideshow of the past few months:

Let me know if you have any questions!


By | January 16th, 2018|Categories: Grade 5|Comments Off on Grade Five Winter Update