Updated: May 16
Teaching fifth-grade math comes with a lot of responsibility. You are not only teaching math concepts but also preparing students for high-stakes testing used to summarize the entire elementary school experience.
While this can be daunting, it is also an exciting time to see what students have retained and how they have grown as learners.
Because fifth-grade math is a culmination of third, fourth, and fifth-grade math learning, there is a great deal of importance that goes into analyzing the student's foundation and assessing for learning gaps. For special education teachers this is crucial and the most important we can do.
With 65 to 85% of the class time focused on five primary areas, it is important to understand how the learning targets work together, know what they include, and all the prerequisite skills needed to meet them.
Without this information, teachers are left not knowing a clear path to support students with special needs. In this article, we will walk through each of these skills to help shed some light on how the grade level so let's get started by talking about the five major learning targets students will need to master by the end of fifth grade.
Five Major Learning Standards and Targets for Fifth Grade Math
Understand the place value system
Convert between standard and expanded form
Place values in decimal numbers
Relationship between decimal place values
Operations with multidigit whole numbers and with decimals to hundredths
Multiply by 2-digit numbers
Multiply 2-digit numbers by 2-digit numbers
Multiply 2-digit numbers by 3-digit numbers
Multiply 3-digit numbers by larger numbers
Multiply by 3-digit numbers in word problems
Add and subtract fractions
Add and subtract fractions with like denominators
Add fractions with unlike denominators
Subtract fractions with unlike denominators
Add 3 or more fractions with unlike denominators
Complete addition and subtraction sentences with fractions
Add mixed numbers with unlike denominators
Multiply and divide fractions
Multiply fractions by whole numbers
Fractions of a number word problems
Multiply two unit fractions
Multiply two fractions
Multiply a mixed number by a whole number
Multiply a mixed number by a fraction
Multiply two mixed numbers
Volume and relate volume to multiplication and to addition
The volume of rectangular prisms
Relationship between volume and the area of the base word problems
Required Fluency for Fifth Grade Math
Fifth-grade math has many learning standards but the most important one is multidigit multiplication. Multidigit multiplication is what is referred to as a required fluency according to Common Core State Standards. This learning requirement started in 3rd grade with the concept of multiplication as a form of repeated addition. In fifth grade, the students were expected to fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm. This skill will be used in future 6th-grade math when the number will include decimals up to six digits. Teachers should continue to model, scaffold, and provide opportunities for students to practice this skill with increasing complexity so that they can be successful in future math courses.
Without a solid foundation in each one of these skills, students will struggle with the more advanced thinking required for six grade math.
With that being said let's analyze each one of the learning targets and list out prerequisite skills necessary for student success. First, let's start with problems involving understanding the place value system.
The two most dreaded phrases for students in 5th grade math... Divide fractions and Divide decimals
The Place Value System
The understanding of place value systems was practiced extensively in third grade where students are expected to convert between standard and expanded forms. Typical activities would have been where a student was given a number in written form, one hundred ninety-five equals ____ hundreds + ____ tens + ____ ones and will be asked to fill in the missing numbers based on their knowledge of place value. Many students performed hands-on activities with the use of base ten blocks to help solidify the concept of multiplying by ten for each place value.
Now taking a jump into fourth grade where that knowledge was expanded too much larger numbers including up to a million. Students took the previous year's knowledge of what place value represents into rounding multidigit whole numbers to a given place value. This includes estimating and word problems as well.
Finally on to fifth grade where fractions of whole numbers are practiced. Students must now understand tenths, hundredths, and thousandths and the concept that a digit in one place represents ten times as much as in the place to its right. Conversely, they must also understand that a digit is also 1/10 of the number represented in the place to its left.
By far, understanding and applying the place value system is the largest struggle point faced by fifth-grade students. Without a firm concept of decimals and place value, students will continue to struggle in sixth grade where decimals and fractions are an integral part of entry-level equation solving.
However, there are some key strategies that teachers can use to help their students master this difficult concept. For example, providing plenty of concrete examples and hands-on activities can help students to visualize the place value system in action. In addition, regular practice converting numbers between standard and expanded form and assessment opportunities will give students the chance to solidify their understanding of the concept. With patience and perseverance, fifth grade students can master the place value system and be well prepared for success in sixth grade math.
For a list of six grade math IEP goals please refer to the Teach Tastic IEP goal bank to find the most relevant skill gap entry points for your students.
Operations with Multidigit Whole Numbers and Decimals to Hundredths
This target includes a review of the four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with whole numbers from fourth grade. The big new skill for fifth grade is using these operations with problems involving decimals.
As in fourth grade, when adding or subtracting multidigit whole numbers, students line up the digits in columns and align them according to place value before performing the operation.
In fifth grade, students extend this understanding to decimals and learn to line up digits in columns according to place value when adding or subtracting numbers with different decimal places. This is an especially important skill as it relates to the lifeskill of money math.