Grade 5

Whiting Lane's Grade 5 Teachers

Karen Bridges

Kimberly Hannan

Grade 5 Curriculum in a Nutshell

Dear Families,

It is a pleasure to share our Curriculum in A Nutshell, a brief overview of all areas of the Kindergarten through Grade 5 West Hartford Curriculum. This brochure outlines the curriculum for your child’s respective grade in school. West Hartford’s comprehensive program is based on the Connecticut Core Standards and provides instruction on the essential literacy and mathematics skills and understandings necessary for success on both district and state assessments. The West Hartford curriculum also includes integration of visual and performing arts, science, social studies, physical education, world language (grades 3-5) and library media services.

This curriculum comes alive in the hands of our talented teachers who are committed to ensuring that our students reach their highest potential. We are dedicated to accommodating children’s diverse needs, the way they learn, their experiences and interests, and to facilitating continuous educational growth. If you should have any questions about your child’s curriculum, your classroom teacher is the best source of information.

No single document can fully explain the rich and complex nature of the school curriculum and instructional goals. We know that learning is optimized in a partnership with families, teachers, and schools. Working together, we can use your experiences as a family and our work in the classroom to create a respectful climate of academic success and joy for lifelong learning.


Paul W. Vicinus, Jr.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment


Language Arts

This year your child will be working to develop his or her understanding and mastery of Grade 5 Connecticut Core Standards in English-Language Arts. These standards integrate all aspects of Language Arts development and are categorized under Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language. Your child’s teacher will use a wide variety of instructional strategies and formats to help your child learn these standards by the end of the school year.


  • Apply Phonics and Word Recognition Skills
    • Know and apply grade level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
    • Use knowledge of letter-sound correspondence, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to accurately read unfamiliar multisyllabic words.
  • Read with Fluency
    • Read on level text with appropriate accuracy and fluency to support comprehension
  • Identify Key Ideas and Details
    • Quote accurately from a text when drawing inferences and explaining what the text says explicitly.
    • Determine a theme from details in the text including how characters respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic.
    • Compare and contrast how characters interact drawing on specific details.
    • Determine two or more main ideas of a text and supporting key details; summarize the text.
    • Based on specific information in a text, explain the relationships or interactions between individual, events, etc.
  • Understand the Structure of Texts
    • Determine words/phrases used in a text including figurative language (e.g., metaphors, similes).
    • Explain how chapters, scenes or stanza fit together to provide structure of a story, drama or poem.
    • Describe how the narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
    • Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text.
    • Compare and contrast the overall structure of events, ideas, information in texts.
    • Analyze multiple accounts of the same event noting similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
  • Integrate Knowledge and Ideas Within and Across Texts
    • Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning or tone of a text.
    • Compare and contrast stories in the same genre on their approaches to similar themes and topics.
    • Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources to locate an answer or solve a problem quickly and efficiently.
    • Explain how an author uses evidence to support particular points in a text.
    • Integrate information from several texts on the same topic and write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • Read and Comprehend a Range of Texts with Appropriate Grade Level Complexity
    • Independently and proficiently comprehend a variety of texts at the grade 4 – 5 complexity range.


  • Demonstrate Command of Conventions of Standard English
    • Appropriately use conjunctions, verb tenses, and correlative conjunctions (e.g.,either/or, neither /nor).
    • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation and spelling when writing.
  • Use Knowledge of Language
    • Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading or listening.
  • Understand and Use Grade Appropriate Vocabulary
    • Determine and clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases using a variety of strategies.
    • Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings (e.g., similes, idioms, proverbs).
    • Use general academic and domain-specific words/phrases that signal contrast and other logical relationships (e.g., similarly, nevertheless).

Speaking And Listening

  • Participate in Collaborative Conversations with Understanding
    • Come to discussions prepared and explicitly draw on information known about the topic under discussion.
    • Follow agreed upon rules and contribute to the discussion.
    • Review key ideas and draw conclusions based on information and knowledge shared.
    • Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats.
    • Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how the reasons and evidence are supported.
  • Present Knowledge and Ideas Clearly
    • Report on a topic or present an opinion with logical sequence and descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
    • Include multimedia components and visual displays when appropriate.
    • Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks.


Teachers use the Writers’ Workshop model to plan the following narrative, information, and opinion writing units:

Narrative: Narrative Craft

Information: The Lens of History

Opinion: The Research-Based Argument

Each writing block includes a short mini-lesson focusing on the writing process, writing conventions, and/or craft. Students then work on assigned or self-selected writing pieces as teachers confer with students either individually or in small groups. The workshop lesson closes with sharing time during which students celebrate and reflect on their writing and the writing process.


  • Review and practice Zaner Bloser cursive alphabet.


The fifth grade Keyboarding Without Tears program develops the accuracy and speed necessary to handle the demands of schoolwork and testing in higher grades.Formatting and typing skills are reinforced with engaging and changing themes: Start the Music, Super Words, People Power, and Water, Water! Spot Checks within the program are used to gauge student understanding of specific skills. Each Spot Check measures speed and accuracy. The end of Grade 5 keyboarding benchmark expectation is 20 words per minute (wpm) with 90% accuracy. Proper technique and posture are emphasized at all grade levels.

All students in Grades 2-5 have access to the Keyboarding Without Tears (KWT) program for keyboarding practice at home and school. Information on home access will be provided by your child’s classroom teacher and school LibraryMedia Specialist during the first month of school.


Our mathematics curriculum is based on the Connecticut Core Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) that define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of the year at each grade level. The Connecticut Core Standards for Mathematics have two key components:

  1. Standards for Mathematical Practice – eight practices in which students engage at all grade levels
  2. Standards for Mathematical Content – conceptual understandings and procedural knowledge and skills

The Content Standards at each grade level are grouped into domains (e.g. Geometry) and clusters within each domain.

Our instructional focus in Grade 5 is on three critical areas: (1) developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, developing understanding of the multiplication of fractions, and of division of fractions with unit fractions and whole numbers (2) extending division to two-digit divisors, developing understanding of operations with decimals to hundredths, and developing fluency with whole number and decimal operations; (3) developing understanding of volume. To provide you with an understanding of your child’s mathematics learning, we have highlighted the domains and clusters of standards for Grade 5 below. A comprehensive description of the Connecticut Core Standards for Mathematics is available at

Mathematical Practices

  • 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.

Key Fluency

  • Multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

  • Write and interpret numerical expressions.
  • Analyze patterns and relationships.

Number and Operations in Base Ten

  • Understand the place value system.
  • Perform operations with multi-digit whole numbers and with decimals to hundredths.

Number and Operations – Fractions

  • Use equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions.
  • Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to multiply and divide fractions

Measurement and Data

  • Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.
  • Represent and interpret data.
  • Geometric measurement: understand concepts of volume and relate volume to multiplication and to addition.


  • Graph points on the coordinate plane to solve real-world and mathematical problems.
  • Classify two-dimensional figures into categories based on their properties.

Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum was developed with guidance from the Connecticut Social Studies Framework passed by the State Board of Education in February 2015. This Connecticut framework provides a foundation for teaching history, civics and government, geography, and economics in all grade levels. A summary of the Civics and Geography skills studied in Grade 5 are below:


  • Determine the purpose for rules and laws.
  • Understand the foundations of government and the difference between state, local, and national government.
  • Instruction about Religion: Discussion of how religion shaped the development of the 13 original colonies.


  • Explore maps and their purpose.
  • Identify where one lives and locate important places on current and historical maps.
  • Use maps to identify important information using symbols, legends, and keys.
  • Give and follow directions.
  • Create a variety of maps.

In addition, as part of the English/Language Arts and Writing units, fifth graders will participate in a study of exploration and colonization. Students first consider the question, What impact did the early explorers have on shaping the development of the New World? Students then study the 13 original colonies in an effort to answer the question In what ways, and for whom, was America a land of opportunity during the colonial period? Students determine the similarities and differences among the early American colonies through the study of a variety of primary and secondary sources and electronic media.

World Language

Aiken, Braeburn, Bugbee, Charter Oak, Duffy, Morley, Smith, Webster Hill, Whiting Lane and Wolcott-Spanish; Norfeldt - French; Charter Oak - Chinese

  • Learn to communicate in French, Spanish or Chinese through oral expression
  • Learn the correct pronunciation of specific French, Spanish or Chinese vocabulary

  • Learn the nuances of verbal / nonverbal communication in French, Spanish or Chinese

  • Develop cultural awareness and cultural knowledge

A theme related to travel focuses on transportation, airports, hotels, time, directions and currency. The cultural focus centers on regional France, South American countries, and China.


The newly re-designed Grade 5 Science curriculum is based on the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) passed by the CT State Board of Education in November, 2015. This standards-based framework emphasizes learning experiences that provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens, to be prepared for college and careers, and to understand and appreciate the essential role of science in our community and our world. 

In fifth grade, students develop an understanding of matter and its conservation through experimentation and create models to show their knowledge. They are able to interpret data about the distribution of water on Earth as well as describe ways in which the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and/or atmosphere interact. Fifth grade students also identify the movement of matter and energy transfer among plants, animals, decomposers and the environment. Finally, fifth graders are able to understand the patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky. 

To demonstrate their understanding of the core ideas indicated above, fifth grade students engage in the following science and engineering practices:

  • Asking questions and defining problems

  • Developing and using models

  • Planning and carrying out investigations

  • Analyzing and interpreting data

  • Using mathematics and computational thinking

  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions

  • Engaging in argument from evidence

  • Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Department promotes artistic development, fosters development of visual literacy, critical thinking skills, intellectual risktaking and lifelong learning. The curriculum is currently being revised using the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) as a guide. The program is grounded in developing student-centered experiences that promote meaningful discourse.

Understanding The Creative Process through the Visual Arts

Connecting / Exploring Culture through Concept and Skill

  • Learn about autobiographical art, portraits and self-portraits; creating space
  • Learn about the elements and principles of art such as shape, line and color as well as color theory and line directionality
  • Learn about styles of art such as Pop Art, Abstraction, Cubism, Surrealism
  • Learn about landscape, still life and creating space ( foreground, middleground, background)
  • Explore meaning and symbolism related to a variety of art, art forms and cultures
  • Exploration of a wide variety of cultures drawing from art history as well as current artists
  • Discover connections to other subject matters such as science, math, history


  • Exploration of a variety of mediums in creative expression and use of composition
  • Drawing: a variety of techniques introduced in use of crayon, oil pastel, watercolor pencils
  • Painting: possible exploration of resist, watercolor, acrylic, tempera
  • Three-dimensional art: introduction of techniques used in sculpture such as relief, paper sculpture, found objects, clay, mobile/stabile

Responding / Critique and Aesthetic Discourse

  • Participate in collaborative discussion about art using appropriate vocabulary; develop opinions and judgments about art
  • Develop Visual Literacy skills about art and process in written artist’s intent, journal, or creative writing (poetry, story)


Vocal Music

Singing is the foundation of all music skills in the elementary vocal music curriculum. Music skills are sequentially taught and divided into five content areas: melody, rhythm, reading and writing, part work and form, using grade appropriate songs, singing games and rounds.

Instrumental Music

The instrumental music program provides intensive instruction to develop music skills and is a natural extension of the classroom music curriculum. Students in grades four and five have the opportunity to study a band or orchestra instrument. Small group lessons occur during the school day. Large ensembles rehearse weekly before school.


  • Sing songs independently; in tune, accurately, including partner songs and rounds.
  • Sing expressively, with the appropriate dynamics, phrasing and interpretation.

Instrumental Music

  • Play songs independently; in tune, accurately, including partner songs and rounds.
  • Play expressively, with the appropriate dynamics, phrasing and interpretation.


  • Read and write simple rhythmic and melodic patterns; e.g., dotted quarter and eighth; pentachordal melodies.
  • Identify symbols, traditional terms and standard music notation.
  • Identify simple form, e.g., theme and variations.


  • Listen to and recognize basic form, styles, meter and tonality.
  • Use terminology in describing and analyzing music, e.g., theme and variations.
  • Devise criteria to evaluate music performance, e.g., ensemble, intonation, balance and blend.

Understanding Culture/History

  • Identify ways in which other disciplines are interrelated with music.
  • Sing songs and play games that explore cultural diversity.
  • Put music into a cultural and historical context.

Physical Education

The Elementary Physical Education department strives to create physically literate students. At the elementary level, we ensure that students are exposed to foundational skills that they will build upon throughout their Physical Education experience in West Hartford Public Schools. Our curriculum is aligned to SHAPE AMERICA’s National Standards. Concepts that students will be engaged in are:

  • Perform more complex combinations of locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills, including specific sport skills and educational gymnastic routines.
  • Apply movement concepts (e.g., space, force, acceleration) to a variety of activities and games.
  • Perform more complex rhythmic patterns involving creative or cultural dance movement.
  • Participate in a variety of activities to improve their health-related fitness.
  • Participate in games and activities and solve tasks that require creative or critical thinking.
  • Participate in competitive and cooperative activities that require effective interpersonal communication, individual skills, and teamwork to achieve success.

Library Media Services

The library media program in the elementary school provides the foundation skills for students to become critical users of information, and readers for lifelong learning. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner published by the American Association of School Librarians provides the framework for instruction. By the end of grade 5 students will:

Standard 1—Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

  • Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
  • Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.
  • Make sense of information gathered from diverse sources by identifying misconceptions, main and supporting ideas, conflicting information and point of view or bias.
  • Demonstrate mastery of technology tools to access information and pursue inquiry.

Standard 2—Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.

  • Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge.
  • Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
  • Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.

Standard 3—Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.

  • Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning.
  • Use information and technology ethically and responsibly.
  • Contribute to the exchange of ideas within and beyond the learning community

Standard 4—Pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

  • Respond to literature and creative expressions of ideas in various formats and genres.
  • Show an appreciation for literature by electing to read for pleasure and expressing interest in various literary genres.


  • Describe physical, social and emotional changes that occur during puberty.
  • Identify cognitive, emotional and physical effects of alcohol, drug use or misuse. Practice refusal skills to ensure healthy lifestyles.
  • Work cooperatively to develop positive attitudes, problem solving and coping skills while respecting the differences, similarities and the rights of others.
  • Make healthy eating choices, particularly at breakfast.
  • Analyze techniques the media uses to influence our choices.
  • Practice effective communication skill, including how to start conversations, ways to use assertive strategies when necessary, and how to use etiquette when on the Internet.
  • Practice using problem-solving strategies in social situations, such as dealing with gossip; resisting impulses to cheat, steal or lie; or dealing with peer pressure.
  • Demonstrate self-regulation techniques and anger management strategies in a variety of situations, including resisting revenge and dealing with consequences.
  • Identify ways to access help or support when needed from trusted adults, including when on the Internet.
  • Explain what to do if cyberbullying occurs.

West Hartford Community Relations police officers assist in teaching some of these objectives.