In their first year of middle school, students are adjusting to a newfound independence and responsibility. Our fifth-grade faculty allows them to explore their academic and social environment, but new boundaries are introduced in our effort to develop good students and good citizens for the future.
Book-Alive in Christ. We will be exploring and learning about the seven sacraments of our Catholic Faith. We will also continue to explore the Saints. We will emphasize community service and Random Acts of Kindness in our daily life as we grow in our Faith.
Our science curriculum is on a two-year cycling schedule. The fifth and sixth grade students work on the same unit simultaneously to accommodate this structure. Units are adapted and further supported for the learning needs of fifth graders.
a. Earth science units are covered in the first trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Planetary Systems unit "helps students clarify and expand their knowledge of our solar system, and Earth as a planet, through a series of activities, discussions, presentations, and reading selections" (Carolina Science, 2014). Students learn about planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. In Cycle B (2017-2018 school year), the Ecosystems unit "students set up terrariums for crickets and isopods and aquariums that contain duckweed, algae, elodea, guppies, and snails. Connecting the two habitats to create an 'ecocolumn,' students observe the relationship between the two environments and the organisms living within them" (Carolina Science, 2014).
b. Physical science units are covered in the second trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Mixtures, Compounds, and Elements unit "explores the three basic types of matter and the chemical and physical properties that distinguish them. Students are challenged to determine whether samples are pure substances or mixtures" (Carolina Science, 2014). In Cycle B (2017-2018 school year), the Motion and Design unit "combines the physics of forces and motion with technological design. Students use plastic construction materials, weights, rubber bands, and propellers to design and build vehicles, then test how those vehicles respond to different forces of motion" (Carolina Science, 2014).
c. Life science units are covered in the third trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Respiration and Circulation unit allows students to study these two systems that help sustain life. Students analyze breathing and examine the design and model of the respiratory system as well as investigating cellular respiration and how the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, among other topics. In Cycle B (2018-2019 school year), the Plant Growth and Development unit provides students with the opportunity to grow their own plants.
"Using plants that complete their life cycle in 35 days, students are able to watch germination and maturation while learning about the specific parts of a plant and the function each serves" (Carolina Science, 2014).
d. In December and January, students participate individually in the science fair. Students come up with original ideas that follow either the scientific method. Students first research the concepts and then perform an experiment in order to solve the problem or scientific question that they have stated. Students are judged, and those with the top projects have the opportunity to move on to a diocesan-wide STEM fair, and others will qualify for the statewide fair at Mankato State.
e. The main field trip for fifth and sixth graders happens every other year so that each class goes once. Students spend two days and nights at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro, accompanied by teachers and parent chaperones. This is an awesome opportunity for students to bond while participating in outdoor education! In addition, we go to the Minnesota Science Museum.
Middle School Technology Consists of the following:
- One-to-One computing with iPads (grades 5 & 6) and laptop PCs (grades 7 & 8)
- Keyboarding Skill Development via typingclub.com
- Course-specific technology skills (word processing, spreadsheet, power point, etc.)
- Progressing through the Smart Lab curriculum.
- Use of cloud-based computing via Office 365 and Google G-Suite.
- Coding via the CS First Curriculum, which incorporates the Scratch programming language.
- Units in contemporary technology areas such as VR (virtual reality) and AI (artificial intelligence).
- Technology analysis thing regarding topics such as:
- Which Cloud is Best: Office 365 or Google G-Suite
- Mac v PC
- Database v Spreadsheet
- Dangers of screen time: what is enough and what is too much
Defined STEM or Project Based Learning(PBL) is C-STEM, the 2.0 version. The projects our students work on are as close to real life projects as you can get but without being on site!
PBL allows us to activate and apply the 4 C's of learning; Creativity, Communications, Critical Thinking and Collaboration in meeting 21st century learner needs. More importantly, our students are learning how to work together in groups to achieve a goal. Students learn to take responsibility for the group's performance.
The Design Challenges us to go even further in preparing our students for the future. They learn how to create awesome presentations, organizational dynamics, operational design, budgeting, marketing, and the role our Faith can play in our process.
Book-Math Expressions. Our curriculum centers around the student learner. Extending from 4th grade concepts that were introduced, we will explore further Fractions, Decimals, Word Problems, Algebra, Data Analysis, Measurement, Geometry, Volumes, Perimeter, Area, and both Two and Three Dimensional figures. Technology is used within the class to support the student’s growth.
At this grade level, students are building literacy skills as they develop knowledge about the world. Students are reading both fictional and nonfictional texts with an increasingly critical eye to find the main ideas and supporting details. They use examples from the text when completing graphic organizers used to begin to write five-paragraph essays for the first time.
The module in the first trimester is Stories of Human Rights in which students become a close reader and write to learn. "Students read closely the introduction and selected articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), paired with firsthand accounts of real people facing human rights challenges. They then study Esperanza Rising, applying their new learning about human rights as one lens through which to interpret character and theme. Finally, students revisit the text and themes of the UDHR and Esperanza Rising as they prepare and perform a Readers Theater" (Engage NY, 2013).
The module in the second trimester is Inventions that Changed People's Lives in which students research to build knowledge and teach others. "Students learn about new or improved technologies that have been developed to meet societal needs and how those inventions have changed people’s lives. They conduct authentic research to build their own knowledge and teach others through writing. Students read the graphic novel Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom, Super Scientist as well as several informational articles about inventions in order to write a short opinion paragraph about which of the inventions they learned about has been most important to people and why. Students conclude the module by conducting research about one of two inventions, Garrett A. Morgan’s traffic light or the Wright brothers’ airplane in order to develop a narrative in the form of a graphic novelette about the invention they researched" (Engage NY, 2013).
The module in the third trimester is Sports and Athletes' Impact on Culture in which students consider perspectives and supporting opinions on given topics. "Students learn about the importance of sports in American culture. They read the challenging biography Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America, focusing on Robinson as a case study of an athlete who broke societal barriers. They also analyze how Sharon Robinson provides evidence to support her opinions. Next, students research either Althea Gibson or Roberto Clemente, both of whom broke cultural barriers. Finally, students write an opinion letter to a publishing company explaining the need for a biography about that athlete given his/her impact on society" (Engage NY, 2013).
Additional supplements to the curriculum include an English textbook with exercises in grammar and mechanics; two vocabulary systems: weekly word lists based on the same Greek and Latin roots in the first half of the school year and weekly words based on context clues, synonyms, and antonyms in the second half of the school year; independent reading assignments and goals; and an online practice system called Study Island that allows students to refine their skills in the areas of Literature, Informational Text, Writing, Conventions of Standard English, and Knowledge of Language.
In 5th grade, students use the American Journey Early Years textbook. Students will have the chance to dig deeper into launching the Republic, nationalism, sectionalism, and the Civil War by engaging in classroom activities that include technology and collaboration.