Fifth Grade Curriculum


The reading curriculum provides students opportunities to read texts across many different fiction and nonfiction genres, develop their critical thinking skills, apply comprehension skills and strategies, respond to texts, read with greater fluency, and expand their vocabulary. The reading instructional time is divided between direct instruction using Reading Street by Scott Foresman and a workshop model. During the workshop time, students work in small groups with the teacher, make written responses to texts, and read independently.

Each reading unit focuses on a "big idea" and an essential question that connects learning. Students explore a new aspect of the unit concept every two weeks, acquire new vocabulary, and read related texts. The fifth grade reading units include:

  • Meeting Challenges - What kind of challenges do people face and how do they meet them?
  • Doing the Right Thing - What makes people want to do the right thing?
  • Inventors and Artists - What do people gain from the work of inventors and artists?
  • Adapting - How do people and animals adapt to different situations?
  • Adventurers - Who goes seeking adventure and why?


The writing curriculum encompasses instruction in the writing process, grammar, and spelling. The fifth grade writing units allow students to explore narrative writing as well as continue to develop their skills in academic writing. Through explicit teaching, practice applying strategies, studying mentor texts, and sharing writing, students engage in deep and thoughtful writing experiences. They produce numerous pieces of formal writing that involve the full writing/revision process. Additionally, in each unit students apply their new writing skills to respond independently to a writing prompt under a given time constraint, usually about 45 minutes. The Units of Study Program by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project serves as the core resource. The fifth grade curriculum includes the following core units:

  • Narrative Craft: This unit helps students write more significant, focused personal narratives. They will be expected to increase levels of writing productivity and work more independently as they take their ideas through the entire writing process.
  • The Lens of History - Research Reports: Students draw inspiration and understanding from mentor texts, historical accounts, primary source documents, maps, and timelines to write focused research reports that engage and teach readers. Students begin by studying Westward Expansion and then they research and explore specific related topics that they find personally engaging.
  • The Research-Based Essay: Fifth graders learn to build powerful arguments that convincingly balance evidence and analysis to persuade readers to action. Students begin by writing about a class topic and then choose a personal topic to research and develop into a final opinion piece.


District 27's K-5 math curriculum emphasizes deep mathematical understanding and reasoning through real-world problem situations. In addition to learning and practicing important math skills, students invent, question, model, represent, and explore math strategies to solve problems and deepen their understanding of math concepts. The mathematical concepts, skills, and strategies connect and build across the grade levels. In grades K-5 students explore math topics through Math Expressions by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The fifth grade units include the following:

  • Addition and Subtraction with Fractions: Students add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers. They represent the addition and subtraction of fractions with unlike denominators as equivalent problems with like denominators.
  • Addition and Subtraction with Decimals: Students extend their understanding of the base-ten system to decimals.
  • Multiplication and Division with Fractions: Students learn to multiply and divide fractions. Visual models and real-world situations are used throughout the unit to illustrate important fraction concepts.
  • Multiplication with Whole Numbers and Decimals: This unit emphasizes multiplying with decimals and teaches the traditional algorithm.
  • Division with Whole Numbers and Decimals: Students extend their understanding of division to include 2-digit divisors. They also explore dividing with decimal numbers. They solve real-world problems and interpret remainders in the contexts of the problems.
  • Operations and Problem Solving: This unit focuses on interpreting problems and representing them. It emphasizes the problem solving process and problem types using whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.
  • Algebra, Patterns, and Coordinate Graphs: Students read, write, simplify, and evaluate algebraic expressions using the Order of Operations. They explore patterns and relationships as well as plot and locate points in the coordinate plane.
  • Measurement and Data: Students convert units within the same measurement system using both multiplication and division. They review perimeter and area and explore the concept of volume of a rectangular prism. Students also classify and draw polygons according to properties.


District 27’s K-5 science curriculum emphasizes scientific processes/skills and builds students’ conceptual knowledge in biology, physics, chemistry, and earth science. The science program deliberately attends to students’ existing scientific ideas, provides authentic science experiences, encourages science exploration, and develops students’ science literacy. The fifth grade curriculum includes the following units:

  • Astronomy: The unit focuses on the sun-earth-moon relationship, star patterns, planets, and astronomy models. Through simulations, models, and observations of the night sky, students will deepen their scientific understanding of earth’s rotation and revolution that causes day, night, and year. Students will experiment with light, which is critical for understanding the phases of the moon. Students will be introduced to earlier theories in history related to astronomy and understand how those theories were revised as scientists learned more about earth and space.
  • Body Systems: The first half of the unit is devoted to the study of the skeletal and muscular systems, which emphasizes the relationship between structure and function in living organisms. Students are first introduced to “mystery bones” extracted from an owl pellet, which they use as a tool to investigate their own skeletal and muscular systems. These “mystery bones” offer an inquiry-based approach to studying the skeletal and muscular systems. During the second portion of the unit students investigate the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems to build an understanding of how the body gets the things that it needs for life. Once students have an understanding of each system, they then investigate the interconnectedness of the systems.

Social Studies

District 27’s K-5 social studies curriculum addresses five key themes of social studies: Geography, history, government, economics, and culture. Certain themes are addressed in more detail at certain grade levels. Social Studies Alive by TCI serves as the core resource. The fifth grade curriculum covers American history from the first migrations into the Americas through the American Revolution. Intense interaction with the personalities, places, and events that structured our nation leads students to be both keen observers of and informed participants in U.S. history. The curriculum includes the following three units and subtopics:

  • Unit 1: Exploration.
    • American Indians and Their Land.
    • How and Why Europeans Came to the New World.
    • Route of Exploration to the New World.
  • Unit 2: Colonization.
    • Early English Settlements.
    • Geography of the United States and Colonial Simulation.
    • Comparing the Colonies.
    • Facing Slavery.
  • Unit 3: Revolution.
    • Tensions Grow Between the Colonies and Great Britain.
    • To Declare Independence or Not.
    • The Declaration of Independence.
    • The American Revolution.
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