5th Grade Water Unit—2015 onward

Inspired by the Connecticut River Conservancy's work with 5th graders in Holyoke on water, we have been supporting Greenfield's 5th grade teachers both financially and professionally in expanding their 6-week water unit.  Today each year over 140 5th graders participate in Green River Cleanup, raise trout, learn about the importance (sacredness) of water, and become champions and stewards of clean water and our rivers, marshes, lakes and oceans throughout their lives.

The children learn through experiential science, art, and community service in and out of the classroom about ecosystems, watersheds, the concept of “sustainability,” and how we can all make a difference through stewardship of water and our world.

GG members have also been offering professional development to 5th grade teachers.

PHOTO essay of a successful year of raising trout 2018-19


To see Greenfield Middle School students talking about their green initiatives: Composting and Trout in the classroom project, click here.

2015 Water Unit

The water unit was kicked off by an assembly and a Community Service project:

Andy Fisk of the CRWC and David Boles, a Friend of the Green River kicked off the unit with an assembly for the 140 5thgrade students and teachers. The next week all 140 students went on a field trip to help with the Green River Cleanup, and making lists of what they picked up. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment also visited and engaged students in a hands-on activity with a table-top sized watershed that demonstrated the impact of point and non-point pollution.

Report from Anna Marchefk, 5th grade teacher about the unit:

Students learned about the water cycle, watersheds, water quality (riparian buffer zones, wetlands, forests), and human impact on the natural world – specifically related to our impact on water. Students engaged in hands-on activities that demonstrated the process of water through the cycle from liquid to gas, gas to liquid, and from solid to liquid to gas.

At the end of these lessons students were asked to demonstrate and apply their understanding of how the natural world helps to protect waterways and the ways in which humans impact their environment by participating in a culminating project titled “Dream-A-Stream.” Modeled after the Dragonfly Pond activity from Project Wet, students were asked to work in groups of three to design a community that met the needs of the humans living there, but also protected the river/stream that traveled through their town. Relying on what they had learned in class; observed during the Hitchcock Lesson (Enviroscape); learned from the visit by the Connecticut River Watershed Council; and from the Green River Clean-up experience; students brainstormed all the things that they thought humans need most in a town or city and what wildlife might need to thrive and be healthy. Using this information and a rubric, students created a rough and final draft of their community. Students presented their towns to one another and the project was completed when the entire fifth grade joined communities in our hallway, showing how one community can impact many more downstream.

2016 The 5th grade teachers again kicked off the school year with the water unit. They repeated the previous year’s efforts and expanded the unit to social studies and art. In social studies students read “A Long Walk to Water,” a story about a child in Africa who spends her day fetching water for their family.

Following is Anna’s report about these additions.

We have been spending so much time reading, writing, engaging in the Green River Cleanup, making art, etc. around water these past few months - it's been awesome!

We just had our Taste of World Cultures event at GMS and after reading "A Long Walk to Water" our students have been making bracelets to sell to raise money to support the Iron Giraffe project, which builds wells in South Sudan so that remote villages have access to clean water.  

Karen Gaudette, our art teacher, is doing an art project using clay. They have been discussing water (how it erodes rocks into smaller and smaller materials - eventually making clay), how clay holds moisture, and how removing water changes its texture. 


Following are Grade 5: Earth and Space Sciences as recently proposed for adoption:

5-ESS2     Earth’s Systems

5-ESS2-1. Use a model to describe the cycling of water on Earth between the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere through evaporation, precipitation, surface runoff, condensation, transpiration, and runoff.  [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include explanations of mechanisms that drive the cycle.]

5-ESS2-2. Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of salt water in the ocean; fresh water in lakes, rivers, and ground water; and fresh water frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps to provide evidence about the availability of fresh water in Earth’s biosphere.  [Clarification Statement: Nearly all of Earth’s available water is in the ocean; most fresh water is in glaciers or underground.] [Assessment Boundary:  Assessment does not include the atmosphere.]

5-ESS3     Earth and Human Activity

5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways communities reduce the impact on the Earth’s resources and environment by changing an agricultural, industrial, or community practice or process. [Clarification Statement: Examples of changed practices or processes include treating sewage, reducing the amounts of materials used, capturing polluting emissions from factories or power plants, and preventing runoff from agricultural activities.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include social science aspects of practices such as regulation or policy.]

5-ESS3-2(MA).Test a simple system designed to filter an impurity out of water and propose one change to the design to improve it.*[Clarification Statement: Examples of impurities could include particulates or bacteria.]


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