Fifth Grade with Ms. Vantrease 


We continue to build upon prior knowledge of Numbers & Operations, Algebra, Measurement & Data, and Geometry.

Using the Blended Learning Centers approach, the students are being met where they currently are and receive a more personalized learning experience. The centers have at least these three stations:
  • Technology Station: The students typically use the i-Ready software during this station. After taking a diagnostic test to determine their level, the students are assigned lessons and quizzes to help each individual improve or go ahead based on their results.
  • Teacher-led Station: This time is invaluable because the students learn the same content they would have otherwise, but it is presented to a much smaller group. Students are more comfortable to ask questions and receive much more attention and support.
  • Collaboration Station: Students collaborate with one another supporting and learning from each other.           


Curriculum includes activities, demonstrations, and labs centered around the Next Gene ration Science Standards (NGSS). These standards are very student-centered, allow them to collaborate with one another, and enhance student interest in science fields.

The Engineering unit particularly engages the students. The innovation is palpable in the room as the students apply scientific reasoning while competing in a paper airplane contest, design a boat with limited supplies that will stay afloat, and while completing science fair projects with their group members.


English Language Arts

Aside from the books the students will read independently, we will read three novels as a class (one each trimester). We begin the year with the novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio; its themes of inclusivity and empathy are felt throughout the year as a result. We continue by channeling their imaginations with the novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. We conclude the year with Book Clubs; the students choose one of the books that focuses on social justice and equity.

The 5th grade students really look forward to the leadership opportunity of being a Reading Buddy to a kinder and/or 1st grade student. About once a month, they are able to practice their fluency by reading to their partner while growing in the school pillar of Community.


Religion & Social Emotional Learning

We focus heavily on the 7 Sacraments. The students also learn how to navigate the Bible, focusing primarily on Jesus’ Miracles.

We are also growing in the pillar of community together during Religion class with our weekly Second Step classes. The students are able to practice what they learn in the class about bullying prevention, empathizing with others, and social emotional development during Peace Makers sessions and Class Meetings.

If the students have an issue they would like to work through with an individual or small group, they will schedule a Peace Makers session. This is essentially a peer mediation opportunity in which the students will apply Second Step terminology and practices to help solve problems with one another.

If the students have a concern they would like to work through with the entire class, we discuss that during our biweekly Class Meetings. The beauty of these meetings is that we are not only there to work out issues; rather, we begin by praying together, sharing compliments about one another, and setting goals to address the class and teacher concerns.

The Certified Kind Classroom Challenge:  

The students participate in a competition with schools from around the country based on the themes of our first novel, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The “Certified Kind Classroom Challenge” requires the students to document times when the class does kind deeds for one another. We add a rock to the jar every time someone sees a kind deed; as soon as the jar is full, we submit pictures and reflections about the novel. Our class can then become “Certified Kind” and has the chance to win several prizes. More importantly, they are able to grow in the pillars of Service and Community and sets the tone for a year rooted in kindness.


Overnight Retreat

To prepare the students (and their families!) for their 6th grade overnight CYO Camp experience, we host a 5th grade overnight retreat. During this  overnight retreat,   the students reflect on the year, affirm one another, and build as a community. Their families are invited to a dinner that the students help to prepare; after the dinner, there is a meeting in which the students and families are introduced to some of the expectation shifts they will experience as they transition to middle school. As their families leave for the night, the students remain at the school to play games and set up to “camp” overnight, s’mores and tents and all!

Fifth grade is such an important year! The students are given more responsibility as they transition upstairs, and it really helps to set the tone for the type of student they will be in middle school. Therefore, while it is very important to ensure that they are prepared for the more challenging content in middle school, we focus on a lot on character development in 5th grade to ensure that all students will embody the four Dominican pillars (Study, Prayer, Community, and Service) during the remainder of their tenure at St. James and beyond!


Saint James Catholic School

321 Fair Oaks St.
San Francisco, Ca 94110

Call: 415-647-8972
Fax : 415-647-0166
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