Supervising Assistant Principal for Fifth Grade: Elizabeth McCormack,


Fifth grade is a year where students integrate all of their learning experiences at 321 and demonstrate leadership, as they prepare for the transition to middle school. Our workshop approach to teaching means that fifth graders spend most of the day working partnerships, small groups, or independently, and that instruction is differentiated. We spend considerable time developing strong classroom communities and work hard on social and emotional skill development.

Reading & Writing

Teachers conduct ongoing and interim assessments in literacy, sitting side by side and listening to each student read, discussing books, assessing high frequency words and spelling, noting what skills they have and which they need, and looking closely at their writing. Running records help teachers track student progress toward benchmarks and guide instruction. Our curriculum emphasizes deep inferential comprehension. Consistent with the Common Core Standards, we have increased the amount of nonfiction/ informational text in both reading and writing. By the end of fifth grade, children are expected to be able to read with understanding level T books such as Abel’s Island by William Steig, The Great Brain by John Fitzgerald, and the Sammy Keyes mysteries.


In math, we are strongly committed to a concept-based, problem-solving, hands-on approach to mathematics.  We believe children need to be involved in constructing meaning in math, deciding on which strategies to use as they solve complex problems.  We also know that children need to learn and practice basic math facts so that they can calculate quickly and efficiently, and so we do that as well. The Common Core Standards outline end of year expectations in math on each grade, and our pacing calendars are designed with that in mind. We draw on TERC investigations, Math in Context replacement units, units developed by Metamorphosis, and more, and emphasize differentiating math instruction.

Some of the key end-of-year 5th grade math benchmarks include:

Social Studies

In Social Studies, students study U.S. History–Civil War to the Present. Shared studies include Introduction to Government, Civil War, Immigration, First half of Twentieth Century with emphasis on the Depression and the New Deal, and the Civil Rights Movement). The curriculum incorporates inquiry and engaging trips throughout the year including the FDR Museum in Hyde Park.

Science – information to come

Other Activities

All fifth graders have computer, art, music, science, physical education, drama, and dance. In addition, fifth graders participate in the Service Corps, working to improve the PS 321 community through student council, peer mediation, and a variety of other activities. They also have enrichment cycles and participate in a pre-adolescent curriculum. The day incorporates many opportunities for movement during transitions and recess.

Report Cards

Teachers are always informally assessing students to guide their instruction. Report cards are distributed in November, March and June.

State Testing

All fifth graders take state math and ELA tests in the spring.We believe that the best preparation for these tests is great teaching every day, and we are not a school that emphasizes test prep to the detriment of instruction in a wide range of subjects. We provide children with many varied experiences in the arts as well as in the tested subjects and we teach children to be critical thinkers and problem solvers.  We do some explicit test prep in the two weeks before each statewide test so that children are prepared for the format and type of questions.

Middle School

Beginning in the fall, fifth graders are informed about middle school options and given middle school books.  Children who attend PS 321 are eligible to attend District 15 middle schools, as well as some citywide programs.  Our guidance counselors coordinate the middle school application and articulation process, with a lot of support from our parent coordinator.  Feel free to direct parents to the Parent Coordinator, Deb Orr, who has a great deal of information about middle schools.  She establishes an e-mail list for parents who want to regularly get middle school information.

DOE Office of Middle School Enrollment –

ARIS Parent Link

The New York City Department of Education’s Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) provides a single place where our educators can go to find and study important information about your child. Principals and teachers use this information to find out how best to help your child.

ARIS Parent Link makes this same important information available for you, so you can work together with your child, principal and teacher to help your child learn. ARIS Parent Link uses secure login procedures to be sure that a child’s information can be seen only by authorized members of his or her family. The system gives you the ability to monitor your child’s academic progress and attendance records.

Please email our Parent Coordinator to request your user ID and password.

Common Core Standards

For a detailed listing of the Common Core Standards for ELA and Math, please click here.

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