Fifth Grade: The Foundation of Specialization

Fifth grade marks a transitional year for students at BASIS Independent Schools. Not only are they exercising more autonomy, as they no longer have the Learning Expert Teacher with them all day, but they are beginning intensive studies in new subjects such as Classics and Latin.

What does fifth grade look like for students and teachers? We asked students and teachers at BASIS Independent Fremont to find out!

“Teach until you understand”

“The teachers teach well,” says Sophia R., a student. “Mr. Betcher teaches until you actually understand.”

Mr. Betcher, the Subject Expert Teacher for English, says, “I love teaching fifth grade. It’s them figuring out how to be independent and start to be a teenager. They’re moving to classes on their own, are responsible for their own studying, and you’re able to help them figure out how to build a strong foundation of being the person they’re going to be. We read a lot of stories that are generally taught at the high school or college level that we engage with in an authentic way. Our theme this year was self-acceptance, or how you can come to be the person you are.”

Selena P., a student, says, “We have more tests, but the teachers help us learn and you can ask as many questions as you want until you understand.”

Jessie L. agrees. “I like how Ms. Lopez gives us review days before a test. I like that because it’s good practice.”

Ms. Lopez, the Subject Expert Teacher for Science, appreciates her students as well.

“I like teaching fifth grade because I never have a dull class with them,” she says. “They always make each lab activity entertaining and exciting.”

“It’s very interesting,” says Karissa T., when asked about the fifth grade student experience. “The combination of the different teachers and classes makes it interesting.”

“It’s a year where they learn how math relates to the sciences, and how math relates to their everyday life,” says Dr. Dixit, Subject Expert Teacher for Math 8/7. “In the sciences in grade five, they get exposed to physics, chemistry, and biology to prepare them for the middle school curriculum. The curriculum for all classes is perfectly structured to build to middle school, with difficulty taking a leap towards the end of the year to gear up for sixth grade. And their Classics/Latin course gives them a fantastic tool set to appreciate the sixth grade history class!”

Ms. Sagal, the Classics and Latin Subject Expert Teacher, couldn’t agree more.

“Classics is the last history class before comprehensive exam history courses in sixth grade,” she says. “So it’s the first chance to learn and apply knowledge in a specific way, through projects and exploratory learning. Sixth grade is World History, but since you’ve already done two early civilizations in fifth grade, you can get deeper into the course material.”

“And Latin in fifth grade is great for a bunch of reasons,” she continues. “It’s a grammar most of the students haven’t encountered before, and exposes them to the actual language of a civilization we are learning abut, so it adds context. Plus, Latin is fun!”

“All my teachers make sure we have fun and build up our weaknesses so they become strengths,” says Saniya P., student.

Visit our blog on the Middle School Program to learn more about what comes after fifth grade in the BASIS Curriculum.

This post originally appeared on the BASIS Independent Fremont Eureka! blog.

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