November 22, 2019
We have just wrapped up our first grading period of the year and it has been a doozy! We finished our VOLUME unit today, in which students learned about finding the volume of a rectangular prism. Many thought about the concept by finding the number of cubic units in the base layer and multiplying that by the number of layers, while others thought of it like a loaf of bread and they could take the number of cubic units in the front slice and multiply that by the number of slices. Either way, they soon figured out that they could multiply the three dimensions to get the volume, hence stumbling on the formula V = l x w x h. The next part of the unit involved finding the volume of shapes that were not rectangular prisms, but could be broken into rectangular prism and combined (think the letters T and L, or a rectangular building that has a portion that is a smaller rectangular prism as the top portion). Most students were very successful finding the volume of these more complex shapes. Our next unit will be on finding equivalent fractions and adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators. These fraction skills are so much easier for kids who know their multiplication facts well. If your child is still struggling to memorize the facts, please consider playing Math War (a card game your child knows) as a means of practice. It is more fun than flash cards, as it's more social and involves quality family time.
The class has just finished writing their first 5 paragraph essays! We have taken the Trashion Show experience and written about the planning, designing/creating process, and the performance. They essays turned out great! We were able to talk about the 5 paragraph essay structure, make informal outlines, draft paragraphs from those outlines, talk about how introductions and conclusions are similar, engage in the revision process with peers in order to improve our message and word choice, and learn about some word processing tools (spellcheck, center, tab to indent, cut & paste, etc.). They kids are pretty proud of their work!
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
October 4, 2019
I was so proud of the class this week as they really worked hard in math. For the first month of school I heard a lot of complaining about how they hated math (dagger to my heart...it's my favorite subject) and there was lots of eye rolling and groaning, along with low energy during math time. This week, several students have said they are beginning to like math and I saw some serious perseverance with some challenging work. We have been working on flexible thinking with numbers, specifically around multiplication and several different strategies. Our focus this week was different starting points and then working to be sure we got all the parts. For example, for a problem like 32 x 24, we might do one of the following:
Start with: 30 x 20 = 600 Start with: 32 x 10 = 320
30 x 4 = 120 32 x 10 = 320
2 x 24 = + 48 32 x 2 = 64
768 32 x 2 = + 64
Each of these scenarios requires students to analyze the problem and decide how many groups have already been accounted for and how many are left to do. This really stretched their understanding of what multiplication really means (groups of) and what part their calculations represent. It wasn't easy and they didn't all get the right answers each time, but they all tried really hard and improved their understanding of what it means to have multiple groups. We will build on this in the weeks and months to come. At any rate, I was so happy with the students' positive attitudes and sustained effort with a challenging idea.
You may have heard we have our annual Trashion Show coming up! The show will be Thursday, October 24th at 8 am in our gym and you are all invited! We met with all 5th graders this week to start our planning process for costumes. The goal is to upcycle materials and spend exactly $0 on creating a fun, creative Halloween costume to then show off to the whole school in a fashion show. The planning will continue next week and then the building begins! The creation of the costume will take place at home and we will be writing the Trashion Show scripts here at school, with a focus on voice and audience. This is always a fun project and a really fun assembly starring the 5th graders!
We have a super busy fall and our first overnight field study of how the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere interact (this will be a year-long focus) is coming up Oct. 17-18. Please be sure to let me know if you have questions we haven't answered with paperwork yet. We will send home an updated packing list (we left the swim gear off the one we sent) and final itinerary on October 14th. Please look for that. If you haven't paid the trip fee yet, please pay next week so we can get our funds accounted for and some bills for the trip paid. Thank you!
Speaking of a busy fall, we will be going to JA Biz Town on November 1st. This is a day long simulation of our economy. Each child will get a checking and savings account, a job at a business, a checkbook, and a debit card. Students earn paychecks at their job, then need to deposit those checks and keep track of their spending as they write checks and use their debit cards at other businesses. It is a really fun day and we need lots of volunteers to make it work. Please consider volunteering with us. I have sent an email with details about volunteering, so please check it out.
That's it for now. I look forward to meeting with you and your child next week for goal setting.
September 20, 2019
We had a nice week and focused a lot of our time and energy on Order of Operations (PEMDAS) and refreshing our multiplication facts through games. Next week we will dive into multiplication of multi-digit numbers and look at several strategies for solving problems. We also worked on some geography/mapping skills this week, looking at and learning how to read thematic maps (growing seasons, population, precipitation, elevation, etc.).
In writing this week, we played around with how to "show, not tell" how a character is feeling. We wrote first person poems about emotions that really show the reader how the writer feels through action words and without simply stating it. Here is the group poem the students wrote as their first attempt:
I'm bed laying,
video game playing,
deep sleeping kind of zen.
I chilled, but I chilled too long.
Now I have to rush to school.
Students then wrote individual poems about their chosen emotions. Many tried to have an ironic ending. It was a fun activity and one we will refer back to as we begin more in depth writing in which we need to show, not tell about how a character or the narrator is feeling.
Have a great weekend!
September 6, 2019
It was a short week due to the holiday, but we got a lot done! Most students have completed their MAP testing in the areas of Math and Reading this week. These are district tests we take on the computer two or three times a year and are intended to measure progress over time. A few kiddos will need to finish up next week. We also got our Reader's and Writer's Workshops established and student composition books set up with all the sections set up for the year. Today we did a "Power Write," which is an exercise intended to help kids combat writer's block and just learn to let ideas flow. Ask your child about the activity (you can remind them that the two words were "pickle" and "rain" if they look at you like they don't know what you are talking about).
Today we had an activity called "Save Fred!" Students had to work in partners to get Fred (a gummy worm) off the top of his capsized boat (a upside down plastic cup) and into a life preserver (a gummy ring) that was stuck under the boat, using only four paperclips. There was no touching with fingers allowed and if Fred fell into the water (the tray) he would drown. Before we started, students had to write up a plan or procedure for how they planned to accomplish the task. Once they had a specific plan, the started to try to save Fred. Once they finished, they had to draw and label each step of the mission and tell about ways their plan changed as they worked. In the end, they came up with lessons they learned that could help them solve problems all year. Here is their list of lessons:
- Keep trying, even when things get hard.
- Some things may be too hard to accomplish alone, so ask for help.
- Plan ahead.
- When in doubt, help each other out!
- Persevere and look at the problem a different way.
- If you get an idea, go with it and try it out.
- Communicate with your partner or team.
These are great lessons and ones we will return to and discuss all year. In addition, the entire activity was set up like a science experiment with hypothesis, materials, procedure, data, and conclusion, so it was a good initial science activity for the year.
Next week we will begin some work with mapping and geography. More on that next week!
Have a nice weekend!
September 2, 2019
We had a great first week of school, but it was hot and we were really tired by Friday. Thank you to all the families who brought us popsicles each afternoon all week. It was a nice way to end each day as we tried ease into school during the hot weather. The class knows they were spoiled last week and that they don't get treats every day!
We worked to establish positive relationships with each other and to develop our class routines. As we get used to a new schedule and new expectations, we are working as a group to come to consensus on our "rules" and how we will treat our classmates. I was very impressed with the kindness and insight this group showed as we had those conversations about how we wanted the year to go and how they wanted to be treated/treat others. What a nice group of kids! They are pretty chatty and social, and we will work on listening skills, but overall, I am really excited to have such a great, kind group of students.
We worked to create posters about ourselves, by the numbers, as a way to get to know our classmates and show off some math knowledge. These posters will be up at Back-to-School Night on Thursday for all to see. We also worked on a team design challenge using spaghetti noodles and marshmallows to build a free-standing tower with a marshmallow balanced on top. Students had private planning time, shared those ideas with their group and then developed a group plan of action. Teams built their towers and we had a "gallery walk" to see the different designs, what worked, what didn't, and to talk about how the teamwork went. Another day, each team got to use what they figured out the day before to improve upon their design and teamwork. It was a fun activity and provided us with an opportunity to be engaged, problem solve, work as a team, communicate ideas clearly, and to be good listeners. Ask your 5th grader about his/her team's design and how it went. :)
We did some spelling assessments and made sure everyone had books to read, too. We also established our Homework routine. Hopefully you have seen the pink homework planner page and your child's homework folder. We will record homework assignments, including nightly reading, each afternoon before we head home, and make sure students have all the materials they need to complete the assignments. Please ask your child to see the homework folder and assignment sheet each night, especially the first couple months of school, in order to help him/her develop a consistent homework habit. Thanks!
I have started my annual first-two-weeks-of-school phone calls to each family. Don't panic if my name comes up on your caller ID! I like to do a quick personal check-in with each family to make sure the transition to 5th grade is going smoothly and hear from you about anything you think I need to know about your child as we start our work together. I got through about half the class last week and will be calling the remaining families this week.
Back-to-School Night is this Thursday, September 5th from 6-7:30 PM. This is an adults only event and we don't provide childcare. Get that babysitter now and join us to hear about our upcoming year! We are starting with a short session in the gym with our new principal, followed by two short sessions in classrooms. I will be using a PowerPoint presentation for the information I will share and will post the link to that presentation here on this page after the event for anyone unable to attend.
I am looking forward to what I really think will be a great year! We have lots of work to do and I know we can all work together to get it done and have some fun along the way. Let me know if you have questions. You can always contact me via email or through the Remind app.
August 19, 2019
Hello and welcome! I hope you have been having a wonderful summer and are ready to head back to school soon for a fun and exciting year of learning together! I've been busy planning with Ms. Jones and Mrs. Maxwell, and preparing the classroom for the start of school next week. I look forward to seeing everyone soon! Supply drop off and Popsicles on the Playground will be on Thursday, August 22nd from 2-3 PM. Stop by the classroom to drop supplies off, say hello to me and to Bunny Foo Foo, and then head to the playground to have a popsicle and reconnect with friends. If you can't make it or don't have your supplies yet, it's OK - you can bring your supplies on the first day of school. Enjoy your last few days of summer!
We will add to this page as the year progresses, so check back often!