Thomas Edison Charter Academy A public non-profit TK-8 school in San Francisco

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Overview of What Students Learn

English Language Arts


Fifth-grade students read wide range materials, including literature from different times and cultures and informational text on grade-level topics in all subject areas. They practice the foundational reading skills learned in previous grades to read accurately and fluently, but the emphasis in fifth grade is on students’ comprehension of complex narrative and informational texts. Students read two or more texts on a topic and use a variety of comprehension strategies to compare, contrast, and integrate information from the texts. They analyze how structure, point of view, visual elements, and figurative language contribute to the meaning or tone of texts. As their text-analysis skills deepen, students are able to determine the main themes or points of text, understand how the author’s evidence and reasons support the theme or argument of the text, and draw inferences or conclusions supported by details from the text. They learn academic language and domain-specific vocabulary through their reading and use it in their writing and speaking.


In their writing, students learn to group related information logically; use words, phrases, and clauses to link opinions to reasons and to connect ideas to related ideas; and use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop the story line or characters. They revise, edit, and rewrite their compositions and learn to try new approaches to improve their writing. Students conduct research projects that provide them with practice in gathering information, using print and digital sources, and summarizing information in notes.


Students engage effectively in collaborative discussions on fifth-grade topics and texts, identify and analyze logical fallacies in speakers’ presentations or from media sources, and learn to deliver speeches in which they state an opinion and support it with a logical sequence of evidence. They also learn to use gestures and expressions to convey meaning when they recite a section of a speech or poem or read from a historical or scientific document. To support their writing and speaking, they learn the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation, such as commas and quotations to set off dialogue and correctly indicating titles of different kinds of documents and sources. Students learn to use print and digital reference materials to determine the correct pronunciation and meaning of words and to identify alternate word choices in all fifth-grade content areas.




Students in fifth grade apply their understanding of fractions and fraction models to represent the addition and subtraction of fractions with unlike denominators. They develop an understanding of the multiplication of fractions and, in limited cases, the division of fractions. Students develop fluency in multiplying and dividing decimals to hundredths and finalize fluency using the four operations with whole numbers. They find the volume of right rectangular prisms and classify two-dimensional figures into categories based on their properties. Students graph points on a coordinate plane to solve real-world problems and interpret the coordinate value of points in the context of the situation.


Social Science


The course for grade five presents the story of the development of the United States, emphasizing the period up to 1850. This course focuses on one of the most remarkable stories in history: the creation of a new nation peopled by immigrants from all parts of the globe and governed by institutions influenced by a number of religions, the ideals of the Enlightenment, and English traditions of self-government. This experiment was inspired by the innovative dream of building a new society that would realize the promises of the Declaration of Independence.




Grade-five students are expected to learn both the content and process of science. Effective science programs reflect a balanced, comprehensive approach that includes the teaching of investigation and experimentation skills along with direct instruction. Key elements of a balanced science program include explicit teaching of science content and concepts, identifying students’ prior knowledge, and addressing student misconceptions. Investigation skills should also be highlighted, with students encouraged to find answers or reach conclusions using their own experiences or observations High-quality science instruction should also develop students’ command of the academic language of science and use standards-based connections with other core subjects to reinforce science learning.


During fifth grade, students learn to develop testable questions and plan their own investigations, selecting appropriate tools to make quantitative observations. In the physical sciences, students develop the ability to distinguish between molecules and atoms and chemical compounds and mixtures and learn about the organization of atoms on the periodic table of the elements.

Students in grade five also deepen their understanding of the hydrologic cycle, the process by which water moves between the land and the oceans.


Grade-five science topics are organized into six standard sets: Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth Sciences (Earth’s Water), Earth Sciences (Weather), Earth Sciences (The Solar System), and Investigation and Experimentation.


Visual and Performing Arts


Having dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts in the classroom can provide students with a broad background in the arts and with experiences to support learning throughout the curriculum. Using their increased knowledge and skills, students can now improvise, create, and perform in all the arts. Having dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts in the classroom can provide students with a broad background in the arts and with experiences to support learning throughout the curriculum.

Students use variety, contrast, and unity as they create, learn, and perform dances, applying their knowledge of dance and performance skills to analyze possible solutions and strategies for specific problems with movement.

Students analyze how different elements are used in music of various styles and from many cultures as they increase their musical skills by singing and playing instruments.


Students describe theatrical experiences with an increased vocabulary, using such terms as protagonist and antagonist. They identify more complex structural elements of plot in a script, discover universal themes in the theatrical literature they are studying, and recognize more fully how theatre, television, and films play a part in their daily lives.

Principles of design, such as composition, emphasis, unity, and the depiction of space, become part of the visual arts vocabulary and are applied as students create original works of art with traditional and new media.




In grade five, students learn to read and understand food nutrition labels and to use the information to select healthy food. They also research age-appropriate guidelines for healthy eating and physical activity to determine if changes in their eating habits and level of physical activity would improve their health and fitness. Students learn about the human reproductive cycle, the changes that occur during puberty, and how to prevent the transmission of blood borne communicable diseases. They analyze the influence of media, peers, and culture on their food choices, physical activity level, perceptions about gender roles and body image, and personal health practices. They recognize reliable sources of information and learn and practice effective communication skills to obtain information from others. Grade-five students learn about and adopt health practices and behaviors that promote their own health. They monitor their health behaviors and their progress toward personal health goals.


Physical Education


In grade five, students learn manipulative skills with an emphasis on improving accuracy and distance while efficiently manipulating objects by using body parts or implements. For example, they stop a kicked ball by trapping it with a foot and strike a dropped ball with a racket or paddle. They learn and practice offensive and defensive skills. Students create and then perform dances with intentional changes in speed and direction and rhythmic routines that involve manipulating an object. They learn fitness concepts, such as the principles of training, and how to increase their aerobic capacity. They demonstrate how to set and monitor achievable short-term and long-term goals for improved physical fitness. Students assess their health-related physical fitness and increase the amount of time and the intensity of their physical activity. They learn to work cooperatively with and respect others with differing abilities.