You likely know me as a middle school math teacher. But before that, I taught both 4th grade and 5th grade math. I always thought that teaching 4th grade was the sweet spot of upper elementary. It was a grade where the students were still pretty innocent. I could also easily joke around with them and they were able to be independent for the most part. Then, I moved to the world of 5th grade for a while, and wow, what a game changer!
You wouldn’t think one year would make much of a difference, but a lot of growth takes place between 4th and 5th grade. This growth adds to what you can do in your classroom. You can switch up your instruction based on certain characteristics of most 5th grade students. We are going to chat about some of these 5th grade characteristics and how my popular Math Doodle Wheels can help in your 5th grade math classroom.
Characteristics of a 5th Grader
Each grade level exhibits its own characteristics that show how they are developing as people and learners. Between 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, it’s common to see an increase in questioning how things are connected, why we do the things we do, and becoming more independent.
As teachers, we can use what we know about child development to help us plan the most effective classroom activities. While kids all grow and develop a little differently, there are some general characteristics that we can see prominent in age groups. Let’s dive into those characteristics that are commonly found in 5th graders.
1. Increasingly Independent
This is a big one for 5th grade students. Many 5th graders find themselves at the top of the school ladder. They are in their last year of elementary school before transitioning to middle school.
They start to develop a sense of independence and want to take on more responsibility. As teachers, we can use this in the classroom. This controlled setting is a great way to give them opportunities to develop stronger skills. You can give your 5th graders a lot of independence by letting them work on assignments and tasks on their own with less direct supervision. You’ll be there monitoring, but you don’t need to hover over them and guide them on every step. It’s also a great way to teach them how to speak up and ask for help.
2. Advanced Cognitive Abilities
By 5th grade, students typically have begun developing higher-level thinking skills. They can think about scenarios from different perspectives, problem-solve and exhibit critical reasoning. Their responses go beyond a yes or no (hopefully) and they give evidence in their responses explaining their thinking.
3. Expanded Vocabulary and Language Skills
Fifth graders have a more unique, descriptive vocabulary in their collection. This helps them to express themselves clearly. As a result, they strengthen their speaking with others and their writing. This includes their ability to explain their thinking about math.
4. Increased Attention Span
As kids get older, their attention span gets longer. The average attention span for this age range is 20-35 minutes. Add to that some activities that capture their engagement and their attention can go even longer. This allows you to present students with activities and projects that draw them in for extended periods of time.
5. Interest in Exploring New Concepts
5th graders are curious and open to exploring new ideas and concepts, especially those that interest them. They are eager to dive deeper into subjects of interest and engage in more complex learning experiences. By connecting math topics to topics that interest students you can increase buy-in to the learning process. And. . . students can see just how often math connects to real life.
6. Increased Organizational Skills
Fifth graders are developing better organizational skills, such as managing their time, materials, and assignments. They can follow routines and handle multiple tasks. . . for the most part! Fifth grade is a year of preparation for middle school.
5th Grade Math Notes Your Students Will Love
Now that we have a better understanding of 5th grade students, let’s look at how we can use that to plan math activities they will love.
Typically, the least favorite part of math is taking notes. It’s so boring! Their words, not mine. I wanted to change that, so I created doodle notes on math wheels to help with making note-taking a more effective tool.
What are Math Wheels?
Math Wheels are one-sided note pages that organize and chunk our class notes on the focused math concept. You and your students can refer back to these note pages all year!
The math wheels are designed so that the topic appears in the middle of the wheel. Then the surrounding sections provide students with the key vocabulary, strategies, and/or visual models they can use.
Students write down the definitions or steps and then complete some practice problems that relate to the step or concept. This provides them with guided instruction but also mastery examples to return to throughout the unit.
We also use the power of color and drawing to help bring these notes to life and increase memory. This also allows each student to individualize their notes leading to them taking more ownership in the learning process.
Once completed, students add these math notes to their notebooks. I teach my students that these math wheels are a tool they can refer back to again and again as needed. I have found them to be an engaging and effective 5th grade math tool. This one-page math wheel has all the notes and reminders they need. Keeping everything together on one page allows them to easily keep their math notes organized, a skill they are developing at this age.
In my post, Using Doodle Wheel Graphic Organizers for Math and ELA, I dive deeper into the reasons why I chose to make the switch from traditional interactive notebook pieces to the Math Doodle Wheels.
Where Can I Find 5th Grade Math Wheels?
I have you covered! In my 5th Grade Math Doodle Wheel Bundle, you will have access to math wheels for 20 different 5th grade math concepts and skills! The concepts included in the bundle are:
- Adding Decimals
- Adding Fractions
- Area (with fractional sides)
- Decimals: Reading and Writing
- Comparing Decimals
- Coordinate Plane
- Customary Measurements/Conversions
- Dividing Decimals
- Dividing Unit Fractions
- Dividing Whole Numbers
- Grouping Symbols
- Metric Conversions
- Multiplying Decimals
- Multiplying Fractions
- Multiplying Whole Numbers
- Polygons and Quadrilaterals
- Properties of Addition and Multiplication
- Subtracting Decimals
- Subtracting Mixed Numbers
Your students will be taking efficient notes while creating memory triggers for themselves to help them master these important math skills. They will also complete practice problems for each section to refer back to. This instructional method allows students to grow in their independence and organizational skills in a practical way.
Using Math Wheels in Your Classroom
Everything you need to get started with math wheels in your classroom is in the 5th Grade Math Wheel Bundle. You will receive a math wheel with the sections organized into the definitions or steps appropriate for the specific math concept. A key is provided for each one for you to refer to if needed, as well as a colored sample. Additionally, there is an editable PowerPoint file with a blank wheel that you can use to create your own math wheel with specific sections specialized to what you and your students need.
Try Math Wheels for Free!
I know just what an amazing tool math wheels are because I have used them and seen the results. I want you to do the same thing! So don’t just take my word for it – try them out in your classroom. Just like we test drive a car, I want to provide you an opportunity to “test drive” math wheels in your classroom! Math wheels can be used in upper elementary or middle school with your whole class, in small groups, or in centers.
When you sign up for these Free Math Wheels, you will receive a Fractions Operations wheel to review all fraction operations with your students, and you will also receive 3 blank wheel templates to create your own on whichever topics you want! Click the image below to grab your Free Math Wheels and try them out in your classroom.
Save these 5th Grade Math Notes!
Remember to save this post to your favorite math or teacher Pinterest board to return to when you are ready to take these math wheels for a spin in your classroom!