Class Overview & Curriculum

A big focus of our class is organization, study skills, and making healthy choices.  While most of our day is focused on literacy, math, science, health and social studies, we will also be attending numerous field trips and enjoy lots of special fun events.   We spend a lot of time and energy creating a classroom community that thrives on:

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Homework Overview

  • Weekly Assignment Sheets are a key resource for you to keep track of what homework is due. Occasionally classwork that is unfinished may be sent home to complete on the student’s time.
  • Each week your student will complete homework that is explained on Friday and is in the Take Home Folder. It is also listed on the link to the left under the Weekly Reports and Homework tab.
  • Homework should be done without parental help, so please keep in touch if you feel your child is spending too much or too little time or effort on weekly homework.  By 5th grade we expect students to spend 100 minutes  reading each week AT HOME.
  • For online homework, PLEASE help your child make good screen time choices!  Dreambox will be a recurring homework expectation.

Weekly Reports & Take Home Folders

  • Each Friday a weekly report comes home updating you on what’s happening in our classroom. This will also be emailed.  
  • Take Home folders are marked with different pockets to identify which papers need to be brought back.
  • PLEASE review your child’s work every Friday and send the folder back to school EMPTY of graded work.  Some papers will need to be returned to school
  • PLEASE check for any forms needing a parent signature!

Fun Friday

Each Friday most 5th graders get to participate in a special recess (called ‘Fun Friday’) from 2:35-3:00.  Students who have missing assignments OR who need to spend some time solving problems they've had over the week will instead attend a study hall complete late work or a Restorative Circle if the problem they need to solve involves others.


  • Each morning students may eat a HEALTHY snack in class while we work.  You are welcome to contribute something to the entire class if you desire.  If a student comes with candy/pop/or other non-nutritional snack they will be asked to take it back home. 
  • Only water is allowed on desks throughout the day. Please send your child to school with a reusable water bottle!


  • If your student would like us to celebrate his/her birthday please let me know your plans as early in advance as possible.  I welcome treats for birthdays at the end of the day (after 3:00).  No nuts please!

Parent Volunteers

  • We are partners in your child’s learning.  I appreciate any time or resources you are willing to contribute to making this year your child memorable.  Please sign-up for classroom and field trip opportunities at Curriculum Night.


  • Please check with the office for permission forms to ride to school.
  • Students are welcome to play with balls they bring from home provided the game doesn’t present a problem for the playground supervisors.
  • Students who wish to stay indoors during recess may do so at my discretion.


Being a 5th grader means you get to go to spend two nights and three days at Camp Colman.  The cost is $150 but we have fundraising opportunities for you to offset that cost.  Some scholarships are also available as needed.  Much more information will be coming home soon.


At Sierra we have extended day learning opportunities that teachers choose to lead.  I have Yoga Club on Thursday mornings, for example.  As these clubs get going you will get notices in your child’s folder about how to sign up.


I believe that discipline is a learning process.  We all make mistakes and I foster a system of behavior management in the classroom that helps your student to understand and WANT to follow the norms of school and society.  I believe that when students are involved with setting behavior expectations the ‘rules’ are easier to follow and more respect is shared among us; which leading to a safe learning environment.  Our class norms will be sent home for you to sign acknowledging them but will closely align with the Sierra Heights behavior expectations: Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Your BEST!

If a rule is forgotten/broken, and no one is hurt (physically or emotionally): The first warning is a verbal reminder. The second warning in the same day is a final warning.  The third offense is a loss of recess.  I will conference with the student and assure that the behavior will not be repeated.  If two daily recesses are lost in a week, the student misses out on Fun Friday.

If the same rule is broken repeatedly a referral will be given.  The consequences for a referral may be detention, loss of privilege, a letter of apology, or other natural consequence.  The referral is documented by the school.  Positive incentives are given monthly for students NOT receiving a referral.

If a major rule is broken and/or someone is hurt (physically or emotionally): There is no warning, only a loss of recess or a referral form is filled out.  Depending on the severity of the offense, a parent call home or a principal office visit may be necessary.  If there is repeated misbehavior we will set up a conference to establish a behavior plan. 

By 4th & 5th grade Sierra Heights expects students to be respectful and responsible.
We are partners in your child’s learning and I look forward to teaching respect, acceptance, and emotionally healthy behaviors in addition to academics.  


Get ready to read just what 5th grade is ALL ABOUT!  In addition to the academic areas below, I teach social/emotional lessons as needed throughout the year; every interaction with others can be a learning opportunity for healthy relationship behaviors and emotional well-being.  4th grade concepts and skills are integrated into the units below.  There are specific science and social studies units that are taught separately from the 5th grade lessons.  See the curriculum night handout for more information.

I believe in project based learning whenever possible.  We will do many multi-media presentations and group projects to make learning come to life.  I use computers daily to support student learning and I LOVE IT when students ask a question I don't know the answer to; 'Google it' is a phrase heard very often in my room.  Students learn to use CREDIBLE web sources and how to give credit to others.  Other technology skills will be taught in the context of our ongoing projects and reports based on the software or program we are using.  We will use an online typing program to instill good habits for word processing.


Students engage in close and purposeful reading of complex texts independently and proficiently.

Students use textual evidence to support careful analysis, well-defended claims, and clear understandings. 

Students regularly engage in meaningful literary discourse and apply academic language.

Students build knowledge by reading content-rich nonfiction.

Students write routinely in response to text to show comprehension and personally react to new information or fiction stories.

Students set, monitor, and adjust individual goals as they engage in ongoing literacy activities.


There are three main writing projects (in addition to the daily writing in content areas).  They are narrative (story writing), informational (writing to teach about a topic) and opinion (persuading the reader to take action or change a belief).  For each of these projects students engage in self-assessment, peer conferencing, drafting, revising and publishing.

When writing projects come home they will have a detailed rubric attached that evaluates how well your child did in very specific areas.  If you'd like a copy of these writing indicators, just ask!  They are too long to summarize here :-).


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.

Mathematical Practices

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.


Our first unit is Ecosystems and these are the kinds of questions we answer as we investigate how living things interact:

Concept 1:  Model ecosystems may be used to learn more about the relationships that exist on Earth.

  1. Thinking About Ecosystems   

In the riverbank ecosystem, which things are living and non-living?

Which things need others in order to survive? How does energy flow in this system (what eats what?) How do living things depend on each other? How are the organisms in the Riverbank environment connected?

  1. Setting Up the Terrarium    What goes into a terrarium? Which parts are the non-living (abiotic)? Which parts are living (biotic)?
  2. Setting Up the Aquarium  What goes into a terrarium? Which parts are the non-living (abiotic)? Which parts are living (biotic)?

Concept 2:  Organisms in ecosystems have dependent and independent relationships.

  1. Observing the Completed Aquarium    What relationships (interactions) occur in the aquarium?
  2. Adding Animals to the Terrarium   How are crickets like isopods, and how are they different? What is the relationship (interactions) between plants and animals in the terrarium?
  3. Joining the Terrarium and Aquarium   What is the impact organisms have on one another? How do organisms influence each other? How could something that happens in your terrarium affect your aquarium?
  4. Adding Animals to the Aquarium  What affect do animals have on the aquarium? How will each animal get what it needs in your aquarium?

 Concept 3:  Nature and human activity may affect an ecosystem in beneficial or harmful ways.

8         Upsetting the Stability   What might happen if an ecosystem was polluted?

9         Reporting on Pollutants    How does your pollutant affect the ecosystem?

10     Planning Pollution Experiments  How do different pollutants affect ecosystems? How might scientists solve problems by studying the natural world?

11     Setting Up Our Pollution Experiments  What do you think the effects of your pollutant will be and why?

12     Observing Early Effects of Pollution   How do different pollutants affect ecosystems? Which pollutants have caused damage?

13     Where Do the Pollutants Go?   How do different pollutants affect ecosystems? How would the animals be affected by the pollutants?

 Concept 4:  People can develop solutions to mitigate the effects of pollutants.

14     Drawing Conclusions about Our Experiment   What are the main problems in the Puget Sound? How are the Puget Sound's problems similar to the problems you are experience with your team’s eco-columns?

15     Examining a Real Environmental Problem    What could your group do to help solve the environmental problems?

16     Holding the Mini-Conference: A Look at Trade-offs   What can you do to help the ecosystem that may be in danger in your own hometown?

17     Post-Unit Assessment: Sharing What We Know about Ecosystems   In the riverbank ecosystem, which things are living and non-living?Which things need others in order to survive? How does energy flow in this system (what eats what?) How do living things depend on each other? How are the organisms in the riverbank environment connected?



Our health units are taught throughout the year and we use our Health textbook as the starting point for exploring these topics:

Physical Health: 

  1. Health Habits 
  2. Dental Care  
  3. Growth and Development  
  4. Human Reproduction  Family Life Unit 
  5. Nutrition  
  6. Exercise & Your Body 
  7. Illness and Communicable Disease    HIV/Aids Unit
  8. Sexual Abuse Prevention   Family Life Unit
  9. Physical Abuse Prevention   Family Life Unit

Mental/Emotional Health: 

  1. Personal Development    
  2. Relationships  
  3. Stress  

Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Use & Abuse: 

  1. Medicine/Drugs & Tobacco    Chapter 8, Lessons 1, 3, 5, 6



United States History

We use cause and effect relationships to study the development of the United States up to 1791.  By applying what they know from civics, economics and geography, students learn the ideals, principles, and systems that shaped this country’s founding.  We conclude fifth grade by applying understanding of the country’s founding and the ideals of the nation’s fundamental documents to issues of importance to us today.  We will conduct several current event reports throughout the year based on student interest. 

Units of Study

Memorize fifty states and capitals

Research a specific state and its unique cultural, geographic, economic, and other characteristics

Development of the USA: Encounter, Colonization, and Devastation (1492 – 1763), Independence (1763—1791), Founding the Nation ((1776 – 1791), Legacy for Us Today


Assessment drives instruction.  I assess students daily on all the learning targets set forth but there are many other layers of assessment that communicate how well your child is doing relative to age-based standards.  

Each person is, however, unique and I strive to provide specific feedback on schoolwork that acknowledges effort and individual progress toward personalized learning goals.  Scores on tests and report cards are helpful to understand what areas are a struggle for your student but should not be used to define who your child is and especially should not be used to create a 'fixed mindset' about what s/he is good at or not good at.  A 'growth mindset' makes lifelong learning truly joyful.  Failures or struggle should be viewed as opportunities for growth!

The MOST important thing is for you and I to communicate frequently about your child's progress.  If you are not getting enough information about academic achievement, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!   Thank you!