Fifth grade is about helping students practice, refine and grow their skills, and is a year where they are encouraged and expected to be more independent in their learning, requiring less guidance and support from adults and teachers. Students try on new roles, explore themselves and how they fit in with their peer group. They start identifying with peers more than adults and are becoming aware – and making sense of – a complicated world. Our fifth grade program tries to recognize this as it helps students navigate their social, emotional and academic worlds.
At fifth grade, classroom dynamics begin to change and the first elements of choice emerge. Students have a homeroom teacher and a “switch” teacher, each one of the pair teaching either math and science, or humanities and social studies.
The curriculum cover topics of continuity and change, and looks at colonization and the Revolutionary War. Core components also include PE (including swimming), outdoor education, Hawaiian studies, music and art, as well as once-per-cycle chapel, drama (incorporated in chapel) and SEEL curriculum that explores resilience, personal learning styles, relationships, and human growth and development (male and female). Students continue to build proficiency with their laptop computers.
Music offers students a choice of band, orchestra or music exploration, with an option to add choir. Students also start to see more opportunities for co-curricular activities like drama club, lunch basketball or Lego robotics.
After the winter break, students experience the much-anticipated three-day Hawai'i Island trip, as part of the outdoor education program. The spring features an experiential math/science project, where students participate in a Challenger (space shuttle) simulation at Barber’s Point. The spring also brings performance opportunities for band, orchestra and choir, followed by an all-student performance in Punahou’s schoolwide May Day celebration. The summer following the year offers some travel opportunities, including an east coast historical exploration and a trip to partner school Keio Yochia Elementary School in Tokyo, Japan.