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The Woods Academy

Where curiosity and confidence thrive.

Grade 5 Curriculum

Discover Grade 5

From Lego Mindstorms Robotics to The Watsons Go to Birmingham Museum, outdoor education and team building overnight trips, and Discovery Education's Social Studies and Science Techbooks, discover what is uniquely Grade 5 at The Woods Academy.

English Language Arts

Students are introduced to skills and concepts that enable them to work towards becoming invested, independent, critical readers, writers, and thinkers.

In Grade 5, literary selections are arranged in thematic units. All three units explore the themes of friendship, tolerance, coming of age, equality and social responsibility. As a basis for their literary study, students read The Cay, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, The Breadwinner, as well as poems by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Robert Frost, and short stories and plays, that follow similar themes. During April, students are exposed to Shakespeare, as they engage in Literature Theater, and re-enact "Midsummer Night’s Dream” to gain an appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare during his birthday month. While setting a foundation for literary elements and devices including: character, setting, plot, point of view, imagery, foreshadowing, and symbolism, students are introduced to reading strategies that facilitate active reading and better comprehension. In addition to the class novels, students enhance their reading interests by exploring various genres outside of class. They reflect, respond, and share their thoughts and insights about their selections on a regular basis through journals, formal papers, and exciting, differentiated oral book reports involving multi-sensory projects, to fine tune public speaking skills and to cultivate a love of books and presenting in front of others.

Grammar concepts are sharpened during morning Daily Grammar Practice, as students work with one sentence per week and developing an understanding of how the parts of a sentence work together and affect one another to form a cohesive thought in words. Concepts studied during Daily Grammar Practice include identifying: parts of speech, specific parts of a sentence, clauses, sentence types, punctuation and capitalization, as well as diagramming. Using Membean, students continue their studies of spelling patterns and word sorts while being introduced to more complex prefixes and suffixes, as well as beginning an exploration of Greek and Latin roots. Vocabulary is also developed and acquired through the use of Membean, as well as through targeted vocabulary introduced through the various texts that are read from the class novels and independent genre books, in order to improve and elevate language skills.

During Writer’s Workshop, students investigate various types of writing, including but not limited to: narrative, expository, persuasive, and descriptive pieces. For example, students write narratives on a personal place of importance, short stories which include the main character who has a specific virtue to be shared with prayer partners, persuasive pieces, and in the spring, students complete poetry books on the variety of poetry they have learned throughout the year. With each assignment, students must consider the purpose and the audience in order to define the appropriate structure. An understanding of the writing process is developed, and taught deliberately, with an emphasis on revising and editing in order to help students incorporate accurate, precise vocabulary, and improve sentence construction.


Grades 5 and 6 use GO Math! curriculum. GO Math! is a program that focuses on math for the 21st century student.

In Grade 5, students are challenged to apply previously introduced concepts to new types of problems and they confront new topics which prepare them for a continued emphasis on mathematical reasoning and innovating. Importance is placed on mathematical understanding beyond the process used to achieve the correct answer.

Through hands-on activities and systematic processes, students review and expand upon mathematical concepts from Lower School. In addition, the following mathematical skills and concepts are newly introduced: fluency with whole numbers and decimals: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of decimal numbers; operations with fractions: addition and subtraction of fractions with unlike denominators, multiplication and division of fractions; geometry and measurement: algebra, patterns and graphing, convert units of measurement, geometry and volume.


The Upper School religion curriculum prepares our students to lead lives of “significance.” We encourage our students to draw closer to God through the study of the faith as proclaimed by Jesus Christ in the Gospels and by the Roman Catholic Church. We welcome students from all faith traditions and honor and respect those traditions as we study the Catholic faith. We encourage and expect our students to leap into the mystery of their faith. We hope our examination of faith compels us to positive action in our world.

In Grade 5, students focus on the Church's sacraments. What's a sacrament? Short answer: an outer sign of an inner grace. The students explore the context, meaning, and liturgies for Baptism, First Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. They also devote time to studying the life and times of Mother Teresa, the nature of heroes, along with examining the “significant” movements devoted to bringing about social justice. Students also read Heaven Is For Real and The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

In their four years in the Upper School, students:

1) Students will be asked to do a 3 – 4 hour project of their own choosing outside of school. Called “A Smorgasbord of Significance and Spirituality,” students have several options: Watching a film or reading a book with spiritual content; doing service work; visit to a religious site; dedicating time to individual prayer; attending a lecture on character, virtue, or spirituality; interviewing a person of “significance” in the student’s life.

2) Critically view excerpts of films with spiritual content including Race, Mother Teresa, Amazing Grace, Evan Almighty, Les Miserables, The Ten Commandments, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, Seabiscuit, Groundhog Day, Pleasantville, Son of God, Pope John Paul II, The Blind Side, Miracle, Noah, Heaven Is For Real, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Invictus.

3) Memorize prayers of major figures in Church history including Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

4) Attend Monday morning chapels where the Upper Schoolers reflect on issues of faith, morals, and virtue.

5) Participate in service opportunities. Each Upper School grade has a charity partner and supports this partner through work, financial support, and/or drives for goods or clothes.

6) Offer petitions during the first few minutes of each religion class and participate in the examen prayer promulgated by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. In this structured form of meditation created by the founder of the Jesuit order of priests, students sit quietly and allow God into their lives to affirm the students’ deep goodness and allow students to give thanks for God’s gift of their lives and talents.


Students in Grade 5 experience a balance of traditional scientific inquiry and online coursework, as well as collaborative projects designed to inspire creativity and critical thinking. Students achieve both individually and as members of a team, and have the opportunity to hone their presentation and public speaking skills. The structure of the class is separated into three hands-on units: Discovery Education’s Techbook Earth and Life Science Unit, Lego Mindstorms Robotics, and Science of Structures.

The Earth and Life Science Unit focuses on Earth’s place in our Solar System and the importance of our Sun and its importance to life on Earth. Students use this knowledge as a foundation for a study of Earth’s ecosystems and how life on Earth flourishes. Students begin to carry out investigations and answer questions by citing sources, gathering evidence and analyzing data.

The Lego Mindstorms Robotics curriculum forms the core of the computer programming and robotics unit. Students are challenged to design and program robots that will accomplish a variety of tasks. The unit culminates with a robot design competition.

The Science of Structures explores architectural and engineering concepts. Blueprints and engineering drawings are studied along with the forces of tension, compression, and torque. The students work in cooperative groups to design bridges and other structures that are both strong and economically constructed.

Social Studies

In Grade 5 social studies, students study ancient Egypt, ancient India, and ancient China. The focus of social studies is to tell stories about people, places, and events in history, and to put those stories into a context. Exploring and studying these stories provides important background knowledge in geography, economics, arts, and culture as they relate to both ancient civilizations, as well as modern society. By using the hands-on, interactive program of History Alive!, as well as the Discovery Education Techbook, students gain knowledge of these stories and apply them to our lives today through creativity and self-discovery, as well as through a more traditional approach. While exploring the ancient world through both methods, students develop skills such as analyzing evidence, drawing conclusions, note taking, using an atlas, and reading non-fiction text. In addition to learning the stories and lessons of the ancient world, students also consider the importance of understanding the stories of today by keeping informed of current events by reading, summarizing, and presenting timely newspaper articles.


Grade 5 students learn about The Science of Robotics. The Lego Mindstorms Robotics curriculum forms the core of the computer programming and robotics unit. Students are challenged to design and program robots that will accomplish a variety of tasks. The unit culminates with a robot design competition.

Scenes from Upper School