Grade 5 is a special year at SPA. As the capstone year for Lower School students, the Grade 5 experience prepares students for Middle School by emphasizing personal responsibility, organization, time management, more rigorous intellectual inquiry, leadership, and service to the larger community. Students in Grade 5 are expected to be leaders and models for the younger grades, and they live up to those expectations.
The Grade 5 curriculum is intentionally more challenging and prepares students for the increased rigor of Middle School. The continuation of two-person teaching teams and small class sizes means that faculty can be thoughtful about how best to encourage each individual student.
- Language Arts instruction in Grade 5 builds upon the strong foundation built in earlier grades. Students continue their work in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, refining their skills and strategies, and further developing their ability to use literacy as a tool for learning. Fifth graders work closely with teachers and classmates as they investigate, discuss, and respond to texts across content areas and genres. Students have ample opportunities to practice writing for different purposes. They regularly collaborate with teachers and peers as they develop independence and fluency with their craft, finding and celebrating their voices as writers.
- Mathematics instruction in Grade 5 continues the Math in Focus curriculum with an emphasis on differentiation since the cohort's mathematical ability often diverges widely at this age. Students are grouped for appropriate challenge and development. When appropriate, Middle School math courses may be offered in Grade 5.
- In social studies, students explore the cultures of Native American nations before, during, and after contact with Europeans; colonial and revolutionary America; and the U.S. Constitution and structure of government. Students delve into a wide variety of both primary and secondary sources and take on more independent work through a range of simulations, projects, research, and presentations. Throughout the Lower School, social studies units are interdisciplinary, deepening and developing literacy, research and writing skills while also integrating science, music, art and technology skills and concepts.
Grade 5 students continue to participate in "Minis." Minis are four-six week electives for students in Grades 3-5 taught by Lower School homeroom and specialist teachers. Minis offer students an opportunity to learn new skills outside the classroom and collaborate with different students and adults in the community. Minis offered in recent years include basic coding, stop-motion animation, laser cut printmaking, basketball, drums around the world, and mindfulness. A Spanish mini is also offered for students in Grades 3-5 who are new to SPA and need extra time with the Spanish faculty to work on foundational Spanish language skills.
Throughout the course of the Lower School years, students look forward to Grade 5 because of the unique leadership opportunities it brings.
- A highly anticipated rite of passage in the Grade 5 year is each student's "Emcee Day." Every Grade 5 student leads one of the Lower School's twice-weekly all-school assemblies. In a preview of the Grade 12 Senior Speech, Grade 5 students prepare with a teacher in the weeks leading up to the Emcee Day on their presentation, and to work through the inevitable apprehension of being on stage in front of hundreds of people.
- Students in Grade 5 serve as Admission Tour Guides for prospective Lower School families who visit the Goodrich Campus. Tour Guides work with SPA's Admission staff on public speaking skills and learning to answer the questions that prospective parents may have.
- Grade 5 students also take on important leadership roles within the school: they run the recycling and lost-and-found programs; they visit classrooms to work with younger students; and they assist Lower School faculty and staff with a variety of tasks in "Grade 5 jobs" throughout the year.