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5th Grade Team Page

Two students discussing their writing
Fifth grade students work with writing partners to help each other revise and grow as a writer.


English Language Arts

The English Language Arts program at Marion Cross School seeks to create a community of learners immersed in reading, writing, speaking and listening throughout the curriculum. Through engagement with a variety of developmentally appropriate literature, students develop fluency, exercise analytical skills, build vocabulary, practice comprehension strategies, and make meaning. Across grade levels, ongoing writing instruction and practice provides opportunities for students to develop confidence and skills as they generate ideas, draft, revise, and edit original works in a wide range of genres. Discussion-based classrooms, project based learning, and presentation opportunities, within and beyond the classroom, encourage students to develop and hone communication skills, promoting active participation in the school community and larger society.

The 5th grade English/Language Arts curriculum is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop and apply skills, find relevance and meaning, explore various genres, express themselves thoughtfully, and find enjoyment in reading and writing. 5th graders read, discuss, think critically about, and respond in writing to literature from a variety of genres during small and whole group literature circles. Literature units focus on Classics, Greek Mythology, and Medieval Legends that align with the 5th grade Social Studies content. Written expression is developed through composition skills, revision strategies, and stamina as students regularly engage in creative and analytical writing opportunities in writing workshop. Genres include narrative, literary essay, and persuasive writing. Students build vocabulary, grammar, and mechanics through authentic exposure and direct instruction.


Numbers and Numeration

  • Add, subtract, multiply and divide and demonstrate the inverse relationships between them
  • Read, write, and compare whole numbers, fractions, and decimals using <,>,=
  • Know place value to a million, decimals to hundredths
  • Round whole numbers to 10,000, decimals to hundredths
  • Use the distributive properties, and the identity properties of zero and one
  • Recognize odd, even, prime, and composite numbers
  • Use the divisibility rules for 2,3,5,9,10
  • Understand the concept of factors and multiples
  • Continue work with fractions (add, subtract, multiply, divide, improper fractions, mixed numbers)

Computation and Estimation

  • Use appropriate method for computing (mental math, paper and pencil, calculator, computer)
  • Use appropriate strategies to learn math facts
  • Add and subtract 4-digit whole numbers and decimals with regrouping
  • Multiply whole numbers and decimals with regrouping (3-digit by 2-digit)
  • Divide 3-digit numbers by 2-digit numbers
  • Solve one, two and three step word problems
  • Use estimation and rounding when appropriate


  • Review, use and apply standard and metric measurements (length, weight, volume, temperature)
  • Convert units within a system of measurement (in., ft., mm., cm., sec., min., etc.)
  • Understand coin values and make change


  • Identify and understand various terms of geometry (point, line, parallel, perpendicular, arc, sphere, etc.)
  • Classify angles
  • Identify and classify polygons
  • Identify the center, radius, diameter and circumference of a circle
  • Understand area and perimeter
  • Use a compass

Data Collection and Analysis

  • Gather, organize, analyze data
  • Interpret data using the mean, median, mode and range
  • Read, interpret and construct bar and line graphs
  • Predict, and perform simple probability experiments
  • Use calculators and/or computers to process data

Problem Solving, Reasoning and Communication

  • Approach problem solving systematically and creatively
  • Apply various strategies in the problem solving process
  • Develop flexibility, confidence, perseverance, and persistence both independently and in groups
  • Use concrete, informal and formal strategies to solve mathematical problems in real-world situations

Patterns, Functions and Algebra

  • Recognize and create a wide variety of patterns
  • Translate simple English phrases into algebraic expressions
  • Use order of operations to solve equations
  • Understand the use of variables in equations


The Language of Science introduces students to their lab environment by exploring different units of measure, how to best use lab equipment, and regularly using a lab notebook. Labs require students to do mathematical conversions, apply algebraic thinking, and use the metric system. These skills are developed through designed activities that allow them to work at their own pace, often with a lab partner. In addition, students answer questions during class (whole group, small group, 1-1), test theories, and are quizzed when appropriate.

Our density exploration is an investigation into the nature and attributes of density (solids and fluids). Many of our labs and readings will center on how different materials interact when they interact with one another. We continue with extensive labs that finally calculate the densities of various liquid and solid objects.

Our Structural Engineering study begins with a project-based study in design engineering, introducing them to some of the basic design principles of structures, made by man and found in nature. The second part of our unit, bridge building, puts students into small groups to construct a truss bridge. Bridge testing will focus on structural efficiency, pitting the mass of the bridge vs. amount of load held.

Our chemistry unit focuses on the structure of matter by identifying atoms, elements, molecules, and compounds. We classify elements and look at how matter goes through different changes, chemical and physical reactions. Learning was aided through informational readings, conducting numerous experiments, and in-class demonstrations.

The fifth grade river study focuses on the health of our local rivers/brooks. Students participate in water quality testing of benthic macroinvertebrate, dissolved O2, pH, turbidity, etc. There are two significant experiential opportunities that culminate this unit. The first is River Day, with a visit to the Hanover wastewater treatment facility, BMI testing on Mink Brook, and hearing about the importance of river ecology and history through Abenaki stories. The second a visit to Vermont Law School with the emphasis of how laws are created to help protect our environment.

Social Studies

Ancient Civilization: Greece

Major components of study:
  • The Odyssey
  • Greek geography and mapping
  • Ancient Greek culture - architecture, drama, rise of democracy, athletics, philosophy, way of life
  • Listening, speaking, reading and writing (creative and expository)
  • Research, including use of library
  • Higher-level thinking skills

Middle Ages: Europe

Major components of study:
  • Historical timeline
  • Geography of Western Europe
  • Culture - pageantry, way of life, castles, knights, warfare, church/clergy, coat of arms
  • Religious and social climate of the time
  • Poetry, Ballads, Heroes, Legends
  • Listening, speaking, reading and writing (creative and expository)
  • Research, including use of library
  • Higher-level thinking skills


Major components of study:
  • Map Skills
  • U.S. Regions
  • Geographic terms
  • Imaginary Worlds
  • Rivers
  • Greece
  • Europe in the Middle Ages
  • Map reading and making

Social Skills

Civic and Social Responsibility

  • Make informed decisions
  • Be of service to community


  • Contribute to discussions
  • Give and take feedback

Personal Development

  • Exhibit organizational skills
  • Label and communicate feelings


In fifth grade, students are developing an awareness of the world around them. They are increasing their skills, and they are given the opportunity to experiment with more advanced processes, tools and materials. Among the many art projects are: Japanese writing journals, “Impressionist” water colors, ceramic self-portraits, personal coats of arms, Polish paper cutting, star books, contour drawings, stencils and action designs, Matisse inspired cutpaper action figures, wire sculptures, Valentine boxes, ancient Greek pottery, LEEEP habitat artbooks (rivers), and ArtStart.


The school counselor, Katie Cormier, visits with the 5th grade classes during elective time. Each class meets five times throughout the year, for an hour and fifteen minutes. The health based curriculum is designed to help students learn about themselves as well as how develop positive relationships with others. The school counselor co-teaches with the school nurse, Pam Hausler during these lessons. They use the Life Skills health/guidance curriculum to teach fifth graders about self-esteem, decision making, positive and negative stress, verbal/ nonverbal communication, advertising, peer pressure, assertiveness, tobacco/drug/alcohol use, HIV, and puberty. Students use class discussions, role-playing, videos and writing to express themselves and practice their skills. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety during two 45 minute study hall times based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program.

Information Technology

Best practices in education show that technology is best incorporated into a student’s education as an embedded “tool” used to support learning in the major curricular fields. This means that tech isn’t something just to “do” for students; rather it is used where appropriate to help students succeed in their other subject areas.

Accordingly, 5th grade students use word processing skills (using the programs, MS Word and Google Docs) to write, edit, format, save and publish a variety of written assignments. They learn basic word processing formatting skills such as double spacing, alignment, and tabbing, bulleted lists, Inspector Properties. These skills are facilitated through our Google accounts and students log onto hanovernorwichschools.org accounts and access Google Drive for creating and storing their documents. To reinforce typing skills learned in 4th grade, the 5th grade students practice both at school and at home using the online typing program, Typing Club.

MCS uses the assessment software, Track My Progress, and 5th grade students are testing 4 times per year in Math and ELA using a computer adaptive test that can help teachers and parents understand the student’s strengths in various areas of these subjects. 5th grade students also are using Symphony Math to help improve their math concepts and understanding and are also given subscriptions to iXL mathematics to improve their math skills. These programs can be used both at school and at home to improve math skills.

Along with Katie Cormier, our school counselor, we also teach a select group of lessons with 5th grade students about the topic of safe computer use. These include such areas as computer safety, privacy, Gender Bias, and the prevention of Cyberbullying. The lessons come from the highly regarded I.S. site, Common Sense Media.

5th grade students have a computer elective 6 times per year on Wednesday afternoons, and the focus is on the Maker Movement. They use the Maker tools, Makey Makey and Little Bits to learn both design and inventing. Finally, MCS is strongly committed to the Hour of Code and in school and at home, students work through a 20 hr. class on beginner computer programming.


The Marion Cross community sings. We sing silly songs and mundane songs, great classics and new “pop” songs with surprisingly profound meanings, songs written by the students and songs in other languages from across the world, and just about everything in between.

MCS students learn all about music in other ways, too. They listen to it, talk about it, write about it, move to it, and dance to it. They learn it “by ear,” they read it on the staff, and they write a fair bit of it on their own, too. They learn to play instruments in the school’s chamber orchestra, band, and electives.

Music in Fifth Grade

Fifth graders learn to read, write, sing, and play music in three different key signatures. They accomplish this learning with a little help from The Beatles and keyboard apps on iPads. Fifth graders are allowed to take a music elective, such as Ukulele or Knotweed Flutes.

5-6 Chorus

The Grade 5-6 chorus, with the help of our wonderful accompanist Victoria Dobrushina, puts on an annual program of 5 or more songs. Their music is selected by the sixth graders and includes songs with historical significance, songs from other cultures, familiar songs, songs by contemporary composers, and songs that they feel send a powerful message to the community. In chorus they learn to be contributing members of a large ensemble. They sing challenging literature in two and three parts with precision and expression (every year they amaze me a little bit more!).


Each fifth grader composes two works. In the fall, they write Gregorian Chants about a person they admire; in the spring they write a short piece of instrumental music about a favorite character in Greek Mythology.


Most of our fifth graders choose to learn a band instrument, too. Lessons are held weekly. (Band is so much fun, six of the grown-ups decided to join, too!)

Library Skills

The main objectives of the library program in 5th Grade are to:

  • learn through research, about various US National Parks
  • practice taking efficient and appropriate notes from website resources
  • organize and synthesize information found in their research on their National Park, to put in the required format - an imovie - to share with their classmates
  • learn about issues of copyright surrounding the use of images found online and learn how to find images that are copyright free
  • learn how to use the Green Screen app to embed in their iMovie about their National Park
  • learn the purpose of the Dewey Decimal System,what the general categories are within the system and how to use this in finding a book
  • learn how to use an online website to create a video of a book they recommend
  • listen to book talks given by the librarian as well as fellow classmates


The goal of the fifth and sixth grade physical education program is to help students enhance their physical skills and awareness, refine skills learned in grades 3 and 4, and practice good sportsmanship and team play. Students learn about and begin to take personal charge of the following: personal fitness and wellness (fitness tests, fitness activities and warm-ups), sportsmanship and social interaction (New Games, cooperative learning situations, problem solving skills, recognizing own strengths and strengths of others, accepting differences), locomotor skills (dance, gymnastics), non-locomotor skills (high and long jumping, balance activities), striking skills (volleyball, pickleball, paddle tennis, badminton, whiffleball), movement concepts (general and personal space, speed, force and flow of movement, o!ense and defense), and manipulatives of circus arts activities (juggling scarves, balls and clubs; spinning diabolos and plates). In addition they are introduced to and play modified games of lacrosse, whiffleball, volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, and soccer. Track and field events are taught and practiced, and we continue to occasionally play some large group games.