Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New School Year

The first two weeks of school have flown by! Students have been involved in team building skills with both grades 4 and 6 which concluded with students writing a common behavior expectation contract. A top priority of our classroom is to provide a safe, working environment where everyone is valued and respected.

In reading students have been reviewing and practicing comprehension strategies using different texts. Students are keeping individual Reading Logs and I have set an expectation for students to read a minimum of 20 books this year from a variety of genres! Books that we read in our literature groups will be included in the tally. My goal in doing this is to increase students' reading as well as broaden their exposure to different genres. Please encourage your child to read every night so they will reach this goal or even better exceed it!

Fall writing prompts have just been completed. Once these prompts have been scored by two teachers students will use the prompt to set an individual writing goal for the first quarter.

Constitution Day is September 17th. Both fifth and sixth graders will be studying the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Three Branches of Government as their first unit of study. Although the topic of these lessons will be the same the lesson itself may vary according to the classes' needs.

I look forward to seeing all of you at our Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 20th at 5:30. This will be a time for your child to show you around our classroom and explain what a typical school day looks like. Parent conferences will take place at a later date where you, your child and I will discuss goals for the upcoming year.

See you on the 20th!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vacation Break

Wow! It is hard to believe we are now in the fourth quarter. Students have begun a long term project in Social Studies, Design a City-State. Project descriptors have been handed out and students were given large pieces of oaktag to use. The due date for the project is May 2nd although it may be turned in earlier.I have emphasized to the kids that they need to put time and effort into this project both in the writing and illustrating. We discussed techniques to use to enhance the visual presentation such as using guide lines,shading or coloring neatly, labeling items, etc. Students are also working on making individual power points in writing class with Ancient Greece being the topic.

Students have a study guide due in Science on Monday, April 25th(they were given this on Monday April 11th). They will have a test over this information on Thursday, April 29th.

Calla, a sixth grade student,shared a letter and photos from a family friend living in Japan. We discussed the impact the tsunami and earthquake is having on the Japanese people's daily lives and were also able to view close up the incredible physical impact on buildings, an airport,roads and train cars.

Please look in this week's Friday Folders for an information letter and permission slip about our upcoming trip to the Fine Arts Museum in Boston on May 18th!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Extra Credit on Wiki

Currently I have a wiki which students may access in order to earn extra credit in social studies as well as take a math challenge. Students may earn an extra 10 points for each correct answer about Ancient Greece(our current unit of study). The student may answer all of the questions or as many as she or he wants. They have been shown the wiki and the extra credit opportunity has been explained to them.

Expository writing is the genre we are working with right now. Students are currently researching an energy source of their choice and taking organized notes. The final project will be a brochure which will be written and formatted on the computer. Students were given a descriptor of the five main subtopics they need to gather information on and are organizing their notes accordingly. They are also expected to complete a bibliography.

Adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators, simplifying fractions and adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers are the concepts we have most recently covered in math class. Students are persevering with these challenging, multi step problems.

Remember that next week is School Spirit Week! The newsletter as well as our school homepage has information on how we are "celebrating" every day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Week Without Snow :)

Finally, we have a week of school with no snow days, late starts or early dismissals!
On Monday we will have a brief Valentines Day Party. If students wish to give out Valentines they may do so, but they should give one to everyone in the class and not a select few.
Students have been working on an Egyptian Scrapbook in social studies classes. This project will be graded and students have a descriptor of the requirements for this project. We have had the last social studies class where students worked on this project. The scrapbook now needs to be completed outside of school as homework. The due date for is Thursday, March 3rd.
One of our activities for the national Read Across America Day will be skyping with another fifth grade class in New Jersey. We will participate in a "Battle of Dr. Seuss Books." On March 2nd we will be celebrating this day with a guest reader, Jim Peavy, reading to our class. Students are also encouraged to dress up as their favorite book character on this day.
Expository writing is our focus for the third quarter. Currently students are working on an essay explaining a scientific process. They were given three topics to select from, and all three topics are ones they have covered in science class. Gathering factual information(note taking), using precise vocabulary(scientific terms) and writing a strong lead with a "hook" and a clear focus statement are writing skills we have focused on.
Adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators and simplifying them(lowest terms) have challenged the students in their thinking. Please remember your child and you can access the Everyday Math Student Reference Book from the student resources link on the school's homepage. This resource can be very useful when helping with homework.

Friday, January 14, 2011

End of Second Quarter

Grades closed today and report cards will be sent home on Friday, January 21st. Please sign the last page of the report card and return that page to school On Monday, January 24th. Behavioral Checklists are also sent home to every student each quarter. Please be sure to check the effort grade under each content area as this is an important aspect of your child's assessment. It reflects his/her work ethic.

Fifth grade sixth grade students visited the Albany Institute of Art and History today via technology(virtual field trip) :). Students analyzed artwork, artifacts and mummies from ancient Egypt. They participated in discussions about the importance of the Nile River, symbolism used in art work and artifacts and the process of mummification. I was pleased that 99% of the class answered more than one question! Wednesday students have a homework assignment due on this virtual field trip where they are to list connections they made with the presentation and list new information they learned.

Next week students in grades 3-6 will be taking the Winter Writing Prompt during writing classes. These writing pieces will be scored according to a six trait of writing rubric by two teachers. Students will use these scored pieces to set writing goals for the third quarter and the pieces will also be used as a grade for the third quarter. We have worked hard in class on identifying and writing strong leads, using transitions to help organize a written piece, using words to show and not tell and varying short and complex sentences in our essays. I have seen a lot of growth in pieces students have worked on in class and I am hoping their prompts will reflect this growth.

We are just starting our sixth unit in Everyday Math. At the end of this unit students will be taking a "Mid-Term" to access concepts/skills taught thus far. My plan is to offer math interventions(during our activity period) to any students who have not mastered secure skills.

Students have started to get a little lazy about writing down their nightly assignments and several have not been completing work on time. I have had to go back to checking all their assignment books before they board the bus at 3. They are given time earlier in the day(11:25) to write down assignments and gather materials needed and have told me the assignments were written down, but when I have checked this was not the case. Therefore, I would ask that you remind them of the Homework Contract we all signed in September. They agreed to write down all assignments nightly and I need to hold them accountable for this. Developing and maintaining strong organizational skills is a priority. Thank you for your help with this.

I hope many, if not all of you, are able to enjoy a three day weekend. Let's all remember and talk with the children about why Martin Luther King is celebrated.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Virtual Field Trip

Fifth and sixth graders took a virtual field trip(via video conferencing) to the New York Hall of Science located in Queens, New York. This museum is an interactive hands-on museum you may want to visit if the opportunity arises. The focus of our conference was demonstrations involving chemistry with the objective of observing and identifying phases and changes of matter. Ask your child about the experiments they observed and what the cause and effects were. After vacation students will begin a unit on Matter in science class.

The theme of our reading after vacation will be prejudice. Students will read novels sharing this common theme. Students will be involved in higher level thinking as they analyze actual events in history dealing with civil rights and comparing them to events in a realistic fiction novel.

Working with fractions will continue as well. Students will be practicing converting fractions to decimals and percents and vice versa. Problems involving finding a percentage will also be covered. Try to point out how determining percentages can be useful to you as a consumer. Examples may be sales with a certain percentage off or buying food items and checking percentages of certain ingredients such as sugar.

Egyptian scrapbooks have been started and students will continue with this project for a couple of more weeks after the break. In addition to working on note taking and research skills we have been working on "tools" to use when creating a written and visual project. Examples of the tools are the use of guide lines and straight edges, centering, letter size, color/space, spell checking, font style and size, etc.

Spelling and Daily Language Review will begin when we return to school on January 3rd. Students will once again have graded spelling homework on Thursdays.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mid Quarter Reports

Mid Quarter reports have been sent home in your child's Friday Folder. Please review it,sign and return it. If you have any questions or concerns please call me here at school. I am available to take calls mornings at 8 (except for Wednesdays) and after 3.

On Monday students will be given a descriptor of a social studies project, Egyptian Scrapbook. We will work on it during class time but after the holidays there may be some work done at home to complete the project. If this should be the case I will send home a written note with a descriptor of the project and the final due date. Students will be researching information using a variety of resources. We will be working on note taking skills, siting sources for a bibliography, paraphrasing and visual presentation.

In math we are working with fractions. Whenever possible please point out how you use fractions in your daily life(cooking, measuring , etc) as it helps the students to understand the need to learn these concepts in every day life. If your child likes to cook, and so many of us are cooking a lot this time of year, have him/her calculate the fractions in a recipe when you might be doubling the ingredients.

Persuasive writing used in advertising has been our latest topic in writing. Students have learned about different persuasive techniques used and have analyzed adds to find examples of these techniques. Students have just started creating an advertisement for their favorite toy( present or past). One requirement in their selection was that they were to choose a nonelectric toy! Wow!! So many children were dismayed by this requirement but they rose to the challenge.

Nina Roth-Wells visited the classroom on Wednesday and did a presentation on Hanuka. She shared a beautiful picture book with us and discussed the meaning behind this celebration. Eli recited a Hebrew prayer that is used as part of the celebration. Children played a dreidel game and were given their own dreidel to take home and play with their families. We all learned something new about Hanukkah !

Remember, our winter concert is Thursday, December 16th! Come and enjoy the beautiful music.