Fifth grade at Norwood School is a time of transition and transformation, as students make their way across the threshold into the Middle School. There they find new classrooms, art studios, and science labs; lockers; and state-of-the-art tablet computers they can call their own for the whole school year. They enjoy a delicious and nutritious hot lunch program, and have the option to begin playing interscholastic sports for the first time, in addition to their regular P.E. classes. Most importantly, fifth graders find their advisors. Like homeroom teachers in the Lower School, advisors serve as a home base for middle school students, providing guidance and support. In fifth grade, students’ advisors are their social studies teachers, and together they journey around the globe, immersing themselves in ancient Greece, Rome, and Baghdad as hubs of learning and commerce before ending the year with a study of medieval Europe. Along the way, they learn to take notes on their reading, to cite sources, and complete their first comprehensive research project. In all their classes, fifth graders learn to plan for and execute long term projects, and they start to employ higher-order thinking skills, making connections from one class to the next and from their own lives to the work before them. They also hone their collaboration and problem-solving skills, such as during the “Contraption Challenge,” a Super Science Week project in the simple machines unit in their science class. Fifth graders take on increasingly complex problems in math while integrating their understanding of fractions and decimals, geometry, volume, and graphing. In world languages, they choose from Spanish, French, and Mandarin and begin to add a formal study of grammar to regular oral and auditory practice. They also choose choir, string orchestra, or concert band and perform in a series of beautiful seasonal concerts, as well as the annual fifth grade show. In the spring, as their first year in middle school draws to a close, fifth graders have the opportunity to challenge themselves and support one another in a number of outdoor adventure activities during the fifth grade overnight camping trip.