Grade 5 Social Studies Curriculum

  • 5th Grade Social Studies Curriculum

    Grade 5 Social Studies


    Social Studies in 5th Grade is a far cry from that which you likely remember.  It is more than remembering dates, names and locations of famous events or places. 

    Our present curriculum focuses on the Western Hemisphere with somewhat of a focus on the United States.  We will explore anthropology and the development of the cultures in the hemisphere and the various factors that effected that development.  We will explore the problems and solutions of economy, geography, history, government and social/ cultural interaction. 

    The students will follow a historical progression but learn far more than the history.  For each time periods we study, all of the above will be explored.  We will begin with the first migrations of people to the hemisphere and progress to the founding of the United States.


    The "Common Core" requires a more thorough examination of things and higher levels of thinking.  Students will be presented with a series of problems to work through in each unit.  The culminating activity will be a series of 4 or 5 "Compelling" Questions to which they must respond.  The questions are open ended and require a deeper analysis of the topic and are not typically simple responses.  Students are expected to create a thesis in response to the prompt and then defend their thesis with organized and explained facts and examples learned during our studies. 

    An example question might appear as follows:

    ex: Choose which of the three branches of the US government is most important and explain.

    The simple answer that they are all equal will not apply since that is about divided power.  Students will need to explain which is most important to ensuring that the government does its job.  The answer could vary but the student will need to examine the function of each branch and present his/ her opinion.

    While it might appear somewhat daunting at first, the students truly can do the thinking.  Actually, the conundrums provide lively discussions in class and very thought provoking interaction.  We will have a lot of fun because the curriculum is far more interactive that memorizing from a text.

    Students are assessed on their participation during lessons.  Generally this can be interpreted as their ability to respond thoughtfully or contribute to class discussions.  It is NOT a measure of how often they raise their hands but rather if they are aware and involved with the lesson.

    Occasionally there are homework assignments or online quizzes which are graded.  Homework includes includes being prepared for class.  Please see the Homework Policy for my classes which is posted on the Resources page.

    Seatwork includes assignments completed primarily in class.

    There will be occasional quizzes and/ or tests that are multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching etc.

    Long term projects will be assigned periodically.  These are typically done over a few weeks and involve research and presentation of a poster, slideshow, PowerPoint etc.

    Students will soon be beginning Social Studies Journal Responses.  We will provide a response book for them.  On select nights there will be a quotation to copy on our web site and the students will respond to that quote in their journals.


    Grading will be done through a variety of methods.  In the Middle School your child will receive numeric grades, not the letter grades you have typically seen in elementary school (a-F or B,D,S).  Grades will come from the following sources:

    Class Participation
    Compelling/ Essential Question Responses

    I almost always allow students to improve their grades by staying after school to complete missing assignments, rewrite or improve poor grades, prepare for, or retake tests, and get extra help when they are confused- PROVIDING they are putting in the effort.  Students who do not make an effort to complete the assignments to the best of their ability forfeit the chance to get extra help.

    The middle school's policy prohibits a grade below 50 on the report card.  If your child's average is below 50, I will have had contact with you already and the teacher comments will reflect that the grade is below 50 and has been raised.

    In June there will be a final test for each subject during test week.  In 5th Grade it is NOT a cumulative exam!  It will be a unit test on our last unit of study.

    Our report card is published 4 times per year which is different than the Elementary schools in West Seneca.  However, you do not need to wait.  Using Parent Portal will allow you to have the most up to date information regarding your child.  I strongly urge Parents AND Students to continually check the portal for up to date grade information.

    Textbook/ Materials:

    Our 5th Grade Social Studies text is severely out of date, is too heavy and is too difficult to read for most students.  For that reason I will only use parts of it in class and will not be using it often.  We rely on notes, discussions, selected readings, and other presentations such as videos etc. for information.  I have texts for students who need to have one at home but otherwise you will rarely see our text book coming home.  For these reasons it is imperative students have their notebooks in class every day and need to keep up with them.  If they miss notes or class for any reason, it is up to them to make arrangements to get them from another student or stay after class to copy mine.  As often as possible, I will attempt to post the notes on line but cannot guarantee that will happen every time.