5th Grade Handbook



           Mrs. Connell’s Fifth Grade

            Classroom Handbook



  • Introduction
  • Classroom Expectations
  • Schedule
  • Snack/Time/lunch/Birthdays
  • Communication
  • Homework and Organization
  • Curriculum


5th grade is wonderful year filled with growth and exciting new learning experiences for your child. I am grateful for this opportunity to work with your child. 

Classroom Expectations

Students can achieve at their highest level in a positive environment where they feel safe, and can enjoy learning while challenging behaviors to be positive for all. This type of environment can be achieved when there are firm classroom expectations in place. These are the four behavior expectations required in our classroom at all times:

  • Help Others
  • Set a POSITIVE example
  • Take care of others, the environment, and yourself
  • Support EVERYONE’S best learning 

**These four expectations follow the vision of our SMS School’s SLE’S:

  • SERVE: How Can I help?
  • LEAD: How can I set a positive example?
  • LOVE: How can I show respect for others, the environment, and myself?
  • LEARN: how can I support my best learning(academically, socially and spiritually)?

**I strongly believe that positive reinforcement is the most effective tool in behavioral classroom management. Positive consequences may result:

  • Teacher Praise
  • Marble Jar (class party when full)
  • Growth Mindset Reward Punch Card (redeemable prizes)
  • SLE Award (at the end of each month)

With that being said, there are also consequences for making negative choices:

  • Verbal Warning
  • 2nd Warning/Student Reflection Sheet & Action Plan w/Mrs. Shepp
  • Parent Contact
  • Conference with Administrator(Principal, Vice Principal, or Inclusion Director 


Weekly schedule

  • Please find a copy on the Daily Schedule link on my website.

 Snack Time/Lunch/Recess

  • We will have a short snack time each day before our morning recess from 9:45-10:00. **Band this year is on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:45-10:45, so the students will have their snack before Band.  Please send a healthy snack with your child each day. Your child is also encouraged to bring a water bottle to school that they can refill, and make sure their name is clearly marked on the water bottle. **No pop is allowed at school.
  • Recess will be from 11:30-12:00, with Lunch following from 12:00-12:25. Students have the option to bring a sack lunch from home, or purchase their lunch at school. The options are: hot lunch for the day, a salad, or a bagel lunch.
  • We eat lunch in the school social hall each day with the whole school. 


  • We will celebrate your child’s special day in our classroom. If they would like to share treats with the class, please let me know in advance so we can arrange what day/time would be best for them to be shared and celebrated. Please also bring the treats completely prepared and ready to eat, as well as bringing enough in for the whole class. If your child’s birthday falls on a non-school day or during the summer, we can arrange a day throughout the school year to celebrate as well. (Please let me know in advance if possible.)
  • Also, remember, if you are not inviting all of the students in the class, or all boys or all girls to a birthday party, please do not send the invitations to school. Make sure your child also does not discuss their party at school. 


  • E-mail is the most efficient way to communicate with me throughout the year to answer any questions, concerns, or to set up an appointment to discuss any information that will help to ensure your child having a successful year in 5th grade.  I will have information and additional resources available on my teacher Website, and will also continue to keep you updated throughout the year to keep you informed.

Power School

  • Power School is the on-line that SMS uses for our grading program grades Pre-k to 8. Parents have access to Power School to check their student’s grades and missing assignments. Students have access as well, having their own access cod and log-on information.  I update Power School regularly each week, so by each Friday, feel free to log-on and check your child’s updated progress.  **Please refer to Power School for updated grades and any missing or incomplete assignments. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding grades and assignments. 

Homework and Organization

  • We will be using a homework planner to help students organize their homework and become more responsible.  Your child is expected to use his/her planner to keep track of upcoming assignments, projects, and tests. The planner should help students plan things out.  Students should also list their extra-curricular activities in the planners to help them see how to allocate their after-school time.  
  • The homework planner does not need to be signed by parents (or myself), but if you feel like this or something else may be helpful for your child in gaining organization skills, I would be happy to help in this area.  Please assist your child at home by helping your child review his/her homework planner each night.  Homework will be assigned as the week unfolds, and everything will be due in their “File” in the classroom on Friday mornings.  Homework will be posted in the room and on the teacher’s website to assist parents in checking their child’s planner. Please keep in mind that the expectation for fifth graders is to be actively using their planners, and that the website is really intended for parents, not students.
  • Students in 5th grade will be learning a great deal about organization this year. They will be learning to organize their lockers, binders, and other important items. You can help assist them by helping them keep things organized at home, checking planners, and their binders regularly. It is important to have all papers, etc. remains in their binders, as we may refer to them in the future. ***We will clean binders out periodically throughout the year, subject by subject, as we finish a theme or unit. Thank you for your assistance in this area!

Wondering what a typical night’s homework should look like? 

  • Language Arts- practice spelling, read 20+ minutes
  • Math-Around 15 minutes of a worksheet or workbook sent home. Practice multiplication facts with flashcards or app. For online math, try using Front Row for at least 20 minutes! (Mrs. Shepp can track your progress, and see all your hard work!)
  • Religion-practice review 4th Grade prayers (St. Francis in T1, Memorare in T2)

(Below are other activities to do… not necessarily every night)

  • Writing-Encourage your student to practice their creative writing or paragraph writing skills. A great way to do this is to have students write about their artwork or write a letter to a family member.
  • Social Studies-Stay up to date on current events. Subscribe your child to an appropriate magazine or website that includes articles for and about kids! Check out Time News for Kids, Muse or National Geographic Kids. Articles are a great way to get reading practice, and can lead to amazing conversations!
  • Science—Enhance your child’s learning by trying some experiments on the concepts we are studying each week.


Fifth Grade Curriculum

Language Arts

In grade five, students will continue to build important reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. They will read more challenging literature, articles, and other sources of information and continue to grow their vocabulary. Students will also be expected to understand and clearly summarize what they have learned from readings and classroom discussions, referring to specific evidence and details from the text. Students will write regularly and continue to develop their ability to gather, organize, interpret, and present information. 

To best support our K-5 students at SMS, our reading program, “Walk to Read” is designed to allow students to move fluidly throughout the year between reading groups taught by various teachers.  This will help teachers reach students best, and provide them individually with the skills they need at their level.  We will be using our STAR Assessment Program to help us, as a staff, make decisions regarding reading.

We will be reading selections from the Houghton Mifflin Reading series, hardbound book, which includes Units of study that includes: short stories, biographies, autobiographies, historical non-fiction and fiction, poems, drama, folk tales, fantasy, and subject based articles.  **Students are also expected to read for 20 min. at home each day, and they will be held accountable for their reading.

A new part to reading this year will include following a point system through the Accelerator Reading Program (AR). The students will choose books of their own to read, and each book is given points based on the reading level. When the student has finished the text, they will take a short quiz through the AR Program. The points needed for each student will vary depending on a goal set based on their personal reading needs.  

Book Reviews and Book Talk Visual Projects.

  • Each month, your child will also be required to turn in a written book review. Book Review Formats for each month will be given out in class at the beginning of each new month. Due dates are at the end of each month…see calendar above for September’s due date. **All books read at home and in class will also count towards AR points, once your child finishes the book and passes the AR test for that particular book.   **15 AR points will be required each new trimester, including the three class novels we will read. (**See below)
  • In addition, from these monthly book reviews, your child will have the opportunity to choose an individual book they have read for that trimester, and present it as a Book Talk Visual Project to the class. These Book Talks and Visual Project will be due towards the end of each trimester, and the dates will be known way in advance, so the students will have plenty of time to prepare.  **The format for the Book Talk will be given out in class at the beginning of each new trimester, as well as an idea handout for the Visual Project for their chosen book.  **These outlines will also be posted on my website.

We will also read several novels this year as a group, in addition to the novels that each student chooses to read on their own.  The activities we will do in class are part of the study of the group novel, as well as individual book report projects that will be part of your child’s homework assignments. These will vary from month to month, and specific information about the scope, style, and grading of each project will be given with the introduction of each project.

For spelling, we will be starting with the Rebecca Sitton 5th Grade spelling curriculum, designed to match common core standards, build spelling skills through weekly patterns, and help students learn to spell using spelling patterns.  This program will include daily activities as well as a weekly spelling assessment.  Following each week’s activities and focus points, we will complete an assessment either in the form of a spelling test or activity to demonstrate understanding or improvement of the current week’s skill.  **As time progresses, we will use our Spelling words from the Wordly Wise lessons each week. **See below.

For vocabulary, we will be using the Wordly Wise Online 3000 course, which teaches students to identify the meaning of a word based on the definition, context clues, synonyms, antonyms, and reading passages. The workbook provides multiple ways for students to practice their new vocabulary.  We will be taking tests at the end of each WW lesson.

 For writing, we will be using a few ideas from the Lucy Calkin’s writing program, (as well as supplement the program)for the intermediate level, which has several units of focus including paragraphs, 5-paragraph essays, literary essays, personal narratives, biographies, research and short stories. The program teaches students how to look at writing creatively, the structure of writing, how to generate ideas on their own, and techniques to edit and revise their work.

***This year, your child will have the opportunity to order books from three various Book Clubs: Scholastic, Arrow, and Tab.  Order sheets will go home at various times throughout the year.  These books are intermediate and middle school level books.


Social Studies

In fifth grade, students use their understanding of social studies concepts and 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.

They conclude the fifth grade by applying their understanding of the country’s founding and the ideals in the nation’s fundamental documents to issues of importance to them today. This learning forms the foundation and understanding of social studies concepts that will provide students with the ability to examine their role in the community, state, nation, and their world.

Our Social Studies’ text is Building a Nation, published by Scott Foresman. Students will learn about American History, with a special emphasis on the American Revolution, foundation and expansion of the United States, the Civil War, and Reconstruction of our country.  There will be individual and group projects for each area of study.


Fifth grade science will use our new Science program from Carolina, which incorporates the Next Generations Science Standards.  Fifth grade science curriculum focuses on four main anchor standards.

  • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems
  • Earth’s Systems
  • Space Systems: Stars and the Solar System 

The former FOSS science kits may also be used to teach these science skills, if the need arises.   Many of the classroom themes integrate science topics as well.  Fifth grade also places a strong emphasis on the environment and respect for the earth, that is woven throughout all curriculum.  

We will finish the year by preparing for and participating in our Environmental Education trip May 7-10 at Camp Hamilton.  **Information about this trip is on my website under the links, “Important Information for 5th Grade, and “Environmental Education Camp.”

  • Earth And Space System: The investigations in this module explore our Earth’s place in the solar system, and then focus on the dynamics of weather and water cycling in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Topics that will be covered are: The Universe and Its Stars; earth and the Solar System; Earth Materials and Systems; The Roles Water in Earth’s Surface Processes; Human Impacts on Earth Systems and Types of Interactions.

Overall, students will learn how to record data, observe, make connections, and work on description.

******Each trimester, your child will be required to turn in a Science project or experiment, and a Social Studies project. I will let your child and you know each trimester what the 4 or 5 choices are for each subject. It will also be in each month’s newsletter, included with the due date for each project.

****All projects are to be done at home, and then presented at school on the due date. The choices for the projects for both subjects will be centered on what we are studying for that particular month.


In grade five, students will build their understanding of the place value by working with decimals up to the hundredths place. Students will also add, subtract, and multiply fractions, including fractions with denominators. They will continue to expand their geometry and measurement skills, learning the concept of volume and measuring the volume of a solid figure.

Our Math text is Math Connects by MacMillan McGraw-Hill.  Students will be working from Workbooks, and will also supplement our work from various other sources of Math references. Fifth graders are expected to achieve mastery in basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, so they may develop skills for work advance work in fractions and decimals.

This year we will review place value, multiplication and division in multi digit numbers, geometric figures, measurement, and fractions and decimals to name a few.

Fifth graders also learn about exponents, order of operations, decimals, fractions, rate/ratio/percent, graphing, and geometry concepts.

**If your child is in Math F with Mrs. Ensminger, she will go over information with your child the first week of school, as well as a handout to give to you that explains her class curriculum.


In Fifth-grade, our religion curriculum helps students grow in faith through prayer, study, and service. A strong emphasis is placed on the Sacraments and how we live them in our lives.  Students learn to navigate through the books of the Bible and learn how to cite Bible passages. Fifth graders also study the Saints, develop their own prayers, and create their own images of God. Through their religion classes, prayer and their experiences in this strong faith community, students have the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with God.

The Blest Are We 5th Grade program goes through the Seven Sacraments, how they are applied to our lives, and how they are gifts from God to live a Catholic Christian life. We will also focus our development of morality from the 2nd step Program, with special attention to the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments (Christian Morality), and finally a focus on Prayer.  There are two prayers that students need to review from last year: The Memorare and The Prayer for Peace (Prayer of St. Francis).  

In addition to reviewing and mastering prayers from previous grades, students in 5th grade begin learning and memorizing different aspects of the Rosary, beginning with the Joyful Mysteries. Students are also invited to take on leadership roles in school liturgies as choir members and altar servers. Additionally, our class is responsible for preparing school Masses in December.

In religion, we will also focus on the seasons of Advent and Christmas and Lent and Easter. In addition, we will use the Fifth grade Steps to Respect program, which enables students to find their voice and feel confident in solving conflicts on their own.

During the third trimester, the fifth grade students will begin studying the family component of our religion curriculum, called “Family Life”. The subject themes will include: God’s gifts of family, self, love, and community, which fit in nicely with our SLS’s of: Serve, Lead, Love, and Learn. In March, parents will be invited to attend an information session hosted by the parish staff and myself before beginning the program.

Here’s to a great year of learning…together!!:):):):)