Grade 5 Social Studies

We Are ACS Model Citizens and Learners

Unit Sketch

This cross-disciplinary mini-unit launches the year with a short focus on the ACS Core Values and Approaches to Learning while building classroom community, routines and rules/expectations. All grades will be exploring these ACS foundational documents as well as the essential Responsive Classroom practices of Morning Meeting, Energizers, Closing Circle, Hopes & Dreams, and Teaching Discipline.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Communities of learners rely on everyone's responsible participation.

  • Groups of people (families, classrooms, institutions, etc.) make rules to create responsibilities and protect freedoms.

  • People benefit from and are challenged by working together.

  • Model ACS Citizens demonstrate core values and approaches to learning when interacting with one another.


Students will be able to...

  • Identify purpose, create and adopt classroom rules

  • Review and demonstrate classroom routines (bathroom, transitions, lining up, walking in the hallway, raising a hand to ask a question)

  • Follow the sequence of a morning meeting (greeting, sharing, group activity, morning message)

  • Follow the sequence of a closing circle (quick share, song or chant)

  • Use deliberative processes when making decisions or reaching judgements as a group

  • Identify ACS Core Values and develop scenarios that demonstrate them

  • Identify ACS Approaches to Learning and develop scenarios that demonstrate them

  • Identify "if...then" scenarios and actions that reflect core values and approaches to learning

  • Identify rights and responsibilities of themselves as "classroom citizens" and "ACS citizens"

We Are Social Scientists

Unit Sketch

We are Social Scientists is not a stand alone unit, but the lenses will become tools to use in the Global Interactions and Environmental Stewardship, Human Movement: Migration, Immigration and Expats, and the Slavery Then and Now units. All Social Studies units will incorporate the social scientist lenses: What tools would a geographer use to look at this issue? How would an economist look at this issue? What would interest a political scientist about this event or issue? What connections would a historian make?

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Inquiry is an authentic process used by social scientists to solve authentic problems.

  • Social scientists study people and how they interact in the world.

  • Social scientists consider discipline-specific questions, use discipline-specific tools and follow specific processes when studying an issue, an event, or a problem.

  • Social science is a multi-disciplinary subject that relies on multiple perspectives and ways of thinking.


Students will be able to...

  • Identify questions, tools and processes of various types of social scientists

  • Follow discipline-specific processes when addressing issues and solving problems

  • Work together to create action plans

Human Movement: Migration, Immigration, and Expats

Unit Sketch

This 4-week geographical, cultural and economics inquiry explores the intersecting concepts of population, migration, and expatriate life.

The inquiry begins with an exploration of World Population Density maps as a way to integrate map analysis skills and historical thinking into the study of population change. While there are many reasons for population change, the inquiry looks at changing population as a result of human migration.

After students determine what human migration is and the various types of voluntary and involuntary migration, they address the supporting question "Why have humans migrated in the past and why do they migrate now?" An historical study of migration events leads to the use of UAE as a case study, and students discover multiple reasons for the sharp population increase and influx of people to the UAE and determine the costs & benefits to individuals, communities, and culture.

Before constructing their evidence-based arguments, students consider the cause and effect of human migration on themselves. Reflections related to the pros and cons of human migration on their lives is an important part of the inquiry.

The inquiry concludes with evidence-based arguments that address the compelling question, "Should people move around the world?" and peer critiques. An engaging extension might be one in which students compile a collection of oral histories from ACS students, families, staff and faculty about their own experiences with human migration.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Human migration is the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling, permanently or temporarily in a new location.

  • Human migration is a response to challenges and opportunities.

  • Humans have migrated throughout history.

  • Human migration affects communities, cultures, and individuals in the world.


Students will be able to...

  • Analyze the world's population density in the past, present, and predicted future

  • Analyze human migration data for countries around the world

  • Determine push and pull factors for migration over time and around the world

  • Analyze the causes and effects of human migration in various communities and cultures

  • Analyze the pros and cons of human migrations for communities, cultures, and individuals

  • Reflect on the impact of human migration on self and family

  • Develop an evidence-based argument related to the question, "Should people move?", providing source-based evidence and reasoning

  • Conduct self and peer critiques on evidence-based arguments

Slavery Then and Now

Unit Sketch

This unit is a companion unit to the Reading/Writing unit: Advocacy: Modern Day Slavery. This inquiry needs to be launched at least a couple of weeks before that unit can begin though, so that students can have some background knowledge about the Atlantic Slave Trade. In addition, the social scientist lenses from the unit We are Social Scientists will be incorporated into this unit, looking at the Atlantic Slave trade through the lenses of a geographer, economist, historian and political scientist.

This unit begins with a look at the Atlantic Slave Trade to give students some background knowledge they might not have about slavery in the western hemisphere, using the textbooks, History Alive. This inquiry then provides students with an opportunity to evaluate the relationship between the dramatic increase in European sugar consumption in the 18th and 19th centuries and the reliance on the labor of enslaved persons to produce sugar in the Western Hemisphere. In examining the compelling question-“How did sugar feed slavery?” - students explore the environmental, economic, and social consequences of increased sugar production. Students work with featured sources focused on sugar production and the treatment of enslaved workers on sugar plantations. The goal of this inquiry is to provide students with an opportunity to examine the human costs of consumer behaviors through the historical example of sugar production in the Western Hemisphere. Such knowledge may help students as they make economic decisions of their own.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Slavery is a violation of human rights.

  • Slavery throughout the history of the world (and in particular, in the Western Hemisphere during the 17th - 19th centuries) was the result of multiple economic, historical, geographical, and cultural perspectives and decisions.

  • Modern-day slavery is a global problem with multiple causes and impacts.


Students will be able to...

  • Identify modern-day products that are a result of slavery

  • Describe the environment of the North and South of America prior to the slave trade

  • Identify conditions that led to the beginning of slavery in the 1600's in the US

  • Consider multiple perspectives related to slavery

  • Describe the process by which sugar was produced in the 1600's

  • Describe the conditions of enslaved Africans on sugar plantations

  • Identify compelling reasons for slavery from the perspective of the plantation owner

  • Make a claim and provide evidence-based support related to the compelling question "How did sugar feed slavery?"

Global Interactions

Unit Sketch

This unit focuses on the Water Crisis which is linked to the Science unit, Watery Planet and the read aloud, "A long walk to water" by Linda Sue Park. In this unit students learn about he water crisis primarily through the Science unit, Watery Planet, using

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Humans continually interact with their environment and are dependent on it.


Students will be able to...

  • Explain how scarcity of resources impact economic decisions that are made

  • Explain the following terms: water crisis, fair trade, exploitation of people and resources

  • Draw on disciplinary concepts to explain the challenges people have faced and opportunities they have created, in addressing local, regional, and global problems