Curricular Highlights: Fifth Grade


Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 utilizes a balanced literacy approach. A balanced approach uses a variety of reading, writing and word work instruction, and practice opportunities for students in order to expose them to the rich world of literacy. An essential component of balanced literacy is called “workshop”. Our understanding and implementation of workshop, in District 65, is grounded in the research and practices of Lucy Calkins and her colleagues from the Teachers College, Reading and Writing Project who have developed the Units of Study in both Reading and Writing to guide us.

Reading and Writing Workshops are conducted daily to allow for students to receive personalized learning by engaging with and producing high volumes of both fiction and nonfiction texts of their choosing.  Because all lessons begin with explicit, direct teaching points, workshop prioritizes time for students to be immersed in independent reading and writing work, while teachers provide focused, differentiated instruction in smaller groups. As a result, workshop challenges students to develop the habits and dispositions of lifelong readers and writers.from multiple sources to distinguish between fact and opinion to determine credibility. Students focus on the history and beginnings of our nation.

5th Grade Reading

In Reading, fifth graders are exposed to stories and texts across genres. Student learning will be focused on:

  • Investigating the ways nonfiction texts become more complex, and learning strategies to tackle these new challenges. 
  • Conducting research on a debatable topic, considering perspective and craft, evaluating arguments, and formulating their own evidence-based, ethical positions on issues. 
  • Developing higher-level thinking skills to study how authors develop characters and themes over time. 
5th Grade Writing

In Writing, fifth graders will produce 3 types of texts:

  • The narrative unit asks for students to write, making purposeful choices about the techniques, structures and language they use to convey their meaning.
  • The informational unit has students write through historical lenses and from primary sources, using multiple writing structures to build focused research reports.
  • The opinion unit asks for students to build powerful arguments using carefully-weighed evidence, analysis, and rebuttal of counterclaims.


Mathematics instruction in District 65 provides the opportunity for all students to have a rigorous, engaging, and accessible curriculum which focuses on developing students’ deep understanding of mathematics concepts. In order to achieve this, students engage in a high level of discourse and are exposed to multiple strategies in order to solve complex problems. The backbone of this instruction comes from Bridges 2nd Edition which has been developed by the Math Learning Center after years and years of research in the field of elementary mathematics instruction.

5th Grade Math

In fifth grade, students focus on computing with fractions, dividing with larger numbers, calculating with decimal numbers, and finding the volume of rectangular prisms. Throughout the year they: 

  • Add, subtract, and multiply fractions
  • Divide unit fractions by whole numbers (1/4 divided by 3 ) 
  • Divide whole numbers by unit fractions (3 divided by 1/4 ) 
  • Calculate with decimal numbers 
  • Find the volume of rectangular prisms (boxlike shapes)
5th Grade Science

Fifth grade students explore mixtures and solutions. This unit introduces students to the properties, behaviors, and changes in substances fundamental ideas in chemistry. Students also develop models to explain how something works.

Fifth graders take a look at life at every level of organization as they study living systems.  Understanding living systems ecosystems, populations, and individual organisms is a critically important perspective, leading toward an appreciation of the diversity and wonder of life on Earth. As they do this 5th graders acknowledge that life is complex, involving multiple parts working together in systems to maintain the viability and vigor of the system.

Fifth graders discover types of interactions that occur between the Earth’s surface and gravitational force. They learn about the universe and its stars. They examine patterns to understand more about the Earth and the Solar System.

5th Grade Social Studies

In fifth grade, students argue the importance of their questions and gather relevant information from multiple sources to distinguish between fact and opinion to determine credibility. Students focus on the history and beginnings of our nation.

Fifth graders explore the diverse cultures of Native American groups that inhabited what is today the United States. As students investigate, they will discuss how the location and surroundings of different groups played a role in how the groups adapted and grew their civilizations.

Fifth graders investigate the relationships between early European settlers and Native Americans. They will also analyze how competition for land and resources in North America led to conflicts and alliances among Europeans and Native Americans. Students learn more about what life was like in early settlements, including how religion and economics shaped culture and customs.

Fifth graders investigate the early decisions that lawmakers made and how those decisions shaped the new nation. They will analyze how inventions and innovations launched in the United States into the nineteenth century and created new possibilities for travel and expansion. They will explore how different groups living in the United State interacted They will investigate conflicts and compromoses around the issue of slavery.

They investigate the course and consequences of the Age of Exploration in the Americas. They will learn about the European explorers who came to the Americas, why they came, what they did, and what the consequences of their expeditions were.

Students investigate how the United States Constitution was developed and ratified. They will learn about the people who created the government, their opinions about how it should be run, and the pressures that drove them to compromise on important issues. Students will examine how the Constitution has changed over the course of U.S. history to protect the rights of all people.

Students explore a divisive period of American history: The Civil War. Students will follow the ideas and events that widened the division between the North and the South and eventually caused part of the country to secede. They will see how the war was fought and how the country began to heal after the dust settled.