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Rachel Paul teaches fifth grade and is assisted by Luke Politte, classroom aide. The class meets from 8:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. except on Wednesdays, when students are dismissed at 1:00 p.m. Independent study students attend school on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays only, while five-day students attend Monday through Friday.
Fifth Grade Curriculum
History We will study US History starting with the indigenous cultures of the Americas and ending with the ratification of the US Constitution. Along the way, we will learn about explorers, settlers, colonies, slavery, democracy, revolution, migration, and the fantastic 50 United States of America. Get ready for State Reports!
Science Our science curriculum includes a blend of field-based and laboratory studies. Using the newly updated FOSS curriculum, we will be focusing on Earth Science, including local and state-wide study sites such as San Vicente Creek, Davenport Beach, Waddell Creek and Beach, Big Sur, Lassen Volcano National Park, etc. For example, we will participate in the LIMPETS program, in which students collect data, which is used by research scientists, on sand crab populations at Davenport Beach. In addition, the Coastal Watershed Council will guest teach the class about the ecosystem and environmental issues pertaining to San Vicente Creek. Groundswell Coastal Ecology will also lead a multi-week unit on native plant restoration on the school grounds and at local beach sites.
Engineering Our studies of Engineering will be project and problem based with the overarching theme of making a positive impact on our society and world. Student projects will follow the engineering and design process in its entirety while also integrating as many subject areas as possible through STEAM to guide student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking for future-focused learning. Engineering will be taught in collaboration with Ms. Milette, our Tech and GATE teacher.
English Our English studies will include the four language arts domains: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. We will incorporate literary classics, informational texts, poetry, creative writing, and grammar instruction into our studies of all topics. Students will read, analyze, and respond to texts, cite from texts, write in various styles, and work both independently and collaboratively on projects and presentations. Respectful listening, tolerance of differing opinions, and peaceful coexistence will be practiced.
Math The main 5th Grade math topics include calculating with fractions and decimals using the four basic processes (+/−/×/÷) and developing an understanding of volume. 5th Graders will also continue to build their understanding of place value, algebraic thinking, geometry, systems of measurement, and use of data.
Honors Math Students are evaluated and placed in leveled math groups as appropriate. Previous graduating 6th grade honors math students have placed in Mission Hill's Accelerated Math Program at 8th and 9th grade levels (which can lead into Santa Cruz High School's Math Academy Program).
Language Ambassadors This county-wide program encourages students to become multilingual. Each of student will choose a language to study, either individually or in a small group. They practice interacting, creating, and presenting in their chosen language and can earn their certificate of recognition from the county. They will have the option to participate in the Santa Cruz County Language Ambassadors Student Expo.
This list acknowledges the accomplishments of the 2019-20 Language Ambassadors.
Homework will be assigned Monday through Thursday and will be planned to involve one hour of study. Occasional projects or writing assignments may require weekend attention. Creative and academic endeavors will be offered in which students may elect to invest more time according to their personal inclinations.
Media Literacy and GATE
All students participate in weekly media literacy classes, and students meeting appropriate criteria participate in weekly GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) classes. Both classes are taught by our expert instructor, Wendy Milette.
Students in fifth and sixth grade participate in our award-winning FoodLab program. FoodLab is a weekly class in which students participate in the planning, preparing, and serving of school lunches as part of the integrated school lunch program headed by Emelia Miguel, Food Services Director. Students learn about nutrition and food science and practice math skills such as fractions and ratios while developing expertise and confidence in a commercial kitchen.
Other Subjects and Activities
Students also receive instruction in art, drama, and PE. They visit the school library to check out books that are of interest to them and/or support their studies. Every year, students are encouraged to make a short film for Pacific School's annual Student Film Festival.
We hope that health guidelines will allow us to resume our Reading Buddies program, in which each student is paired with a younger student and they read aloud to each other. We also hope to resume instruction in music, whenever conditions allow.
In addition, normally during their 5th and 6th grade years, students participate in field trips, camping trips, drama and musical productions, the "Age of Sail" program on the historical ship Balclutha, and multi-night science camping trips to Lassen Volcanic National Park and Big Sur. Students work with their families and teachers to fundraise for these trips. Pacific School will continue all of these traditions as soon as the public health situation allows.
Introduction to Rachel Paul
Hi Pacific Elementary Community,
I’m so delighted to be joining the Pacific community as the fifth grade teacher next year.
I grew up in a suburb outside of Los Angeles where I attended my neighborhood’s public schools. When I was a fifth grader, I was passionate about writing mystery stories starring a platypus detective, drawing colorful undersea scenes, and making fashion statements with my patterned sock collection. I look forward to learning all about what interests the future fifth grade class!
My education continued with my Bachelor’s in English at Yale University. I stayed in Connecticut and taught in a progressive, exploratory kindergarten classroom for the next three years. In that setting, I discovered how much I loved being with children in the classroom every day. I went on to pursue my Master’s in Art and Art Education at Teachers College in Columbia University where I designed curricula and conducted research while throwing pottery and weaving in the studio.
After graduating, I decided to leave New York and come home to beautiful California. This Spring I moved to Santa Cruz. Outside of my work in a local art studio, I enjoy caring for my home’s three cats and two goats, walking in Neary Lagoon and along West Cliff, and searching for my new favorite restaurants (always looking for recommendations!).
My experiences have led me to teach with students’ exploration and joy at the center. After working in a variety of settings, I can see how unique Pacific is and how well it aligns with my values. I am excited to share with and learn from you and your children at Pacific.
Emails: rpaul @ pacificesd.org | lpolitte @ pacificesd.org
"FoodLab is better than recess."
- Fifth grader