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.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Short Week

Due to the fact that it is a two day school week students will not be having their usual weekly spelling and daily oral language review assignments. However, we are still had lessons involving these concepts. Students will not have assessments in these areas until Friday, December 3rd.

Have you checked out the Everyday Math site yet? You can get to it easily by going to the school's webpage and clicking student resources. If your child misplaces their login or password please let me know and I will reissue it. We have been working on the partial quotient algorithm for division. At first many students were resistant to this algorithm but now many are finding it "easy" and are choosing it as thier division algorithm of choice!

Students completed persuasive letters to Mrs.Lash with the fictional topic of, "Should our school have a soda machine?" These letters are posted outside the classroom. Plese take a second to read them when you are at school. some of the opinions expressed amy surprise you! Please note, the prompt is not a real question being pondered just a topic that I beleived would generate student idea development in writing. Students are now working on their second persuasive piece with you, their parent, the identified audience. Once these pieces are completed they may bring home a copy to share with you.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Report Cards

Report cards are being sent home today along with a behavior checklist. Behavior checklists are completed for every student. Both of these items are in a manila envelope in your child's Friday Folder. Please sign and return the last page of the report card in the envelope provided so I may reuse it.

In social studies students are working on a project( Four Door Book) of Ancient Mesopotamia using their notes and social studies text as resources. The grade for this project will be the same as a test grade.

Everyday Mathematics has a great online source for students and parents. Your child has been given a login and password for this site. I have placed your child's information in a white sealed envelope in his/her Friday Folder.

Students are completing the unit on narrative writing with a five journal entry project,"Reliving Life Outdoors." Students have a descriptor of requirements and have been working on this for a couple of weeks. The completed project needs to be passed in on Friday, November 12th. There will be no more class time to work on this project. Students were made aware of this on Monday, Nov. 1st, and were allowed to work on it outside of class as well. I have also posted this assignment on the homework board and told them to write it in their assignment book. Persuasive writing will be the second quarter unit of focus.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Second Quarter Begins

Wow! It is hard to believe that we are now in the second quarter of the school year. Friday, November 5th, students will bring home their report cards. Please review them, sign, and make comments (if you wish) in the space provided and then return them to school.

On Wednesday my reading students watched a live webcast, "Read Now with Taylor Swift"(held at Scholastic headquarters in New York City). We listened to her answer questions from both the host and students in the audience about reading. She focused on how reading from a young age has impacted her life as a song writer. She told the audience that reading and writing go hand in hand because her reading of her favorite genres(poetry and historical fiction) motivated her to tell stories through her song writing. She emphasized the top reason she feels people should read every day is it makes life more"colorful" and helps one to develop more awareness and view events from other perspectives. We had a rich group discussion after the webcast and students had many thoughtful responses to my question, "What do you think my purpose was to take 30 mins. of reading class to watch this webcast?"

Next week we will be wrapping up our study of Ancient Mesopotamia with hands on small group activities, a project and a test. Students will be allowed to use their social studies notes for this test. The test will be made of fill in the blank questions and some short essay answers. Students will need to apply their knowledge to answer the essay questions.

Wednesday we celebrated Halloween with a costume parade, songs and a few refreshments. I know Halloween means lots of candy but I would ask that you not send candy in for their morning snacks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Parent Conferences

Parent Conferences are scheduled for next Thursday and Friday. If you have misplaced your appointment time please call the school office. I am looking forward to meeting with all of you to discuss your child's progress and set goals. Grades close on Oct. 29th so report cards will not be reviewed at the conference. Report cards will be sent home on Friday, November 5th.

We have completed our NECAP testing!! Students will return to their normal daily schedule and will once again be having math homework every night except for Friday. Please remind your child they may bring home their Student Reference Book to help them(and you) as long as they bring it back for class the next day.

We have started our unit on Ancient Mesopotamia in social studies. Students are practicing their note taking skills by using highlighters to determine key words and phrases and organizing their notes using a provided main idea organizer. They will be using these notes to complete a project(not yet assigned) and to study for a test. Students will be given a week's notice prior to the test and we will review and model study strategies as well.

Students that I teach reading to are finishing their first novels and next week will be introduced to a new genre, fantasy. We will practice identifying the elements of fantasy by reading short stories as a group. Students will then be given novels of the fantasy genre and work in literature groups.

Letters of introduction following the friendly letter format have been completed in writing class. Students are currently writing ten entries in a journal format from the point of view of a person lost in the wilderness using a descriptor of requirements. These journals will then be "bound" by the student in a creative way(this part will be done outside of class). Students were shown an example of this project so they have a visual of what a quality finished product might look like.

See you next week at parent conferences :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The First Civilizations

Fifth grade students participated in hands on activities in Social Studies this week with the goal being that students would learn why humans formed societies. On two different days the students participated in activities at three different stations set up in the classroom. These stations were: Food, Shelter and Water. The first day of activities students worked as individuals and were given thirty minutes to complete all three stations which they needed to accomplish to be "survivors". Not surprisingly, we had no survivors! The second day of these same stations the rules changed a bit. Students worked in groups of four to accomplish the same tasks and because they worked as a group("society")the results were more positive! As a follow up we had a discussion of how working as a "society" enabled them to accomplish more tasks successfully. this exercises are the lead in to our next unit of study, Ancient Mesopotamia.

Next week we will be discussing Columbus and his impact on the natives he first encountered. We will talk about different points of view from his perspective and that of the natives after a read aloud of the beautifully illustrated book by Jane Yolen, Encounter.

Fall writing prompts have been scored and students are looking over their scores and generating a writing goal along with specific strategies to help them improve their writing. Students are finishing up their narrative pieces on their Dream Vacation by publishing them on their laptops. The piece will be put in their portfolio which you may look at during parent conferences later this month. The next project in writing will be a business letter for sixth grade and a friendly letter for fifth graders. Sixth graders are writing letters to area businesses requesting donations for their coffee house fundraiser.

NECAP testing continues next week on Tues.,Thur., and Friday with math being tested. Students should get plenty of sleep the nights before testing(especially after a long and perhaps busy weekend :) )

Enjoy the long weekend. I know I will!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

NECAPS Are Starting

We will be staring NECAP(replaces the old MEAs) testing on Monday, October 4th. All tests will be given in the morning and students will take one test per day,every day except for Wednesdays. Testing will continue until October 19th. Please make sure your child is well rested so they can perform to their fullest.

State Plates are the project students are completing as homework to conclude our brief mini unit on the Five themes of Geography. Projects are due Wednesday, Oct. 6th. All students were given a rubric which describes requirements for the project as well as how it will be graded. Please review the project using the rubric as a guide prior to your child passing it in on Wednesday. Our next unit will be the introdution of ancient civilizations. Next week we will do hands on activities to simulate the ways people worked together to provide themselves with basic needs of food and shelter.

Ask your child about the "toy box stations" they have been working with in science. Mrs. Farnsworth has told me they are having a lot of fun and applying their energy knowledge as well!

Book Talks have begun for students in my Reading class. Fridays four students will present a book talk on a book of their choosing. Students are given a rubric(descriptor of elements that should be included) a week before their assigned book talk. They may take notes on index cards to use during their presentation and they should practice prior to presenting in class. book talks will be recorded using a flip video camera so students may do a self assessment of themselves.

Chewing gum is allowed in class(except music) as it has proven to help students focus as well as relax during academic instruction. However, students need to provide their own sugar free gum. Some students are asking me or their classmates for gum on a daily basis and I have told students after this week they need to provide their own gum in fairness to me and their classmates. Please discuss this issue with your child .

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harvest Lunch A Big Hit!!

On Thursday students were treated to a delicious lunch made from Maine products. Students in each grade helped with the food preparation in some way. Our class had the task of husking corn. As children husked the corn they solved oral math problems related to the task. We have great thinkers in fifth grade !

The students that have me as their ELA teacher started their first narrative piece this week. They were given the choice of two prompts, "My Dream Vacation" or "My Favorite Vacation." The steps of the writing process are followed with their writing piece. Students began by brainstorming events and organizing them on a graphic(visual) organizer. Next we had a lesson on writing leads. I wrote and shared four different leads to model different strategies authors use. Students were then asked to rate each lead as weak or strong and to explain their reasoning. All students then wrote their lead for their story and shared it with a peer for feedback. I was pleased to notice all students giving and receiving helpful and thoughtful suggestions in a positive manner. We all learn so muchfrom each other by sharing our ideas and thinking.
Weekly letters are due on Thursdays for fifth graders and Wednesday for sixth graders. Students were given a descriptor of letter requirements and an explanation of the grading system for letters. Students should look at these befoe they pass their weekly letter in to make sure they have met the requirements.
Students are using research skills to find specific information about a state of their choice. Our class discussion prior to individuals researching included identifying text features and how they are used of nonfiction books(headings, index, captions,etc.). Their information will be used to complete a visual project.
The first week of October marks the beginning of NECAP testing( replaces teh MEAs). Tests will be given in the mornings and only one test a day will be given. Please make sure your child is well rested so he/she will be well prepared to perform to her/his ability. The NECAP testing continues through October 19.
Reminder: Open House is Tuesday at 5:30. I hope to see you !

Friday, September 10, 2010

Second Week of School

We have started to settle in this week and students have been very responsible for returning their completed homework on time. A great way to start the school year!
In math we are practicing multiplication facts and writing number models for rectangular arrays. If your child is a little "fuzzy" with some facts please practice with him/her a few minutes each night. Memorizaton of basic facts is the foundation for many skills we will be working on this year.
This week students I have for reading have been reviewing types of genres and their individual characteristics. Next week students will be working in literature groups with the common theme of outdoor survival using  different realistic fiction novels. Every Thursday my reading/writing students need to pass in a friendly letter written in their Reading Response Journal. The topic of the letter should be about a book he/she is reading for self selection. The Reading Response Journal has a specials section for letters and includes the friendly letter format as well as  prompts.
This week students reviewed the parts of maps and types of maps in social studies. Students were assigned a current event to read and a paper to complete. We practiced this assignment with a current event about solar panels so students are familiar with what is expected. I am bringing my newpapers into the classroom so if you do not purchase newspaers your child may take one from the classroom to use for hi/her assignment. This assignment is due on Friday, Sept. 17th.
The fifth and sixth grade had a presentation today from MEEP(Maine Energy Education program) to kick off their first unit of study, Energy. Students participated in three hands on activities: apple battery, wind turbines and solar fans.  MEEP will return next Friday for one more hands on presentation.
As you can see we have had a very busy and productive week.  I know I am going home at the end of the day tired so I am sure your child is tired as well. Please make sure he/she is getting plenty of sleep as being well rested helps keep one focused and performing to his/her maximum best.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcome Back to School!!

I hope everyone has had a restful and refreshing summer.  What  beautiful weather we have had to get out and enjoy our wonderful state.  A highlight of my summer was staying at a light house keeper's cottage in Prospect Harbor(near Acadia National Park) with my husband and my daughter's family.
Our fifth grade class of eight consists of three girls and five boys. Students will have either me or Ms.Ayers as their language arts teacher, Mrs. Farnsworth as their science teacher, and myself for all other content subjects. The first three days of school grades 3-6  will be spending the afternoon participating  in team building activities. On Friday we will all meet to write a common Full Value Contract. I will send home a copy of it  next week.
Fridays students will bring home a Friday Folder with corrected work from the week as well as their weekly newsletter. Please take out their papers, review them, and sign and return the empty folders on Monday.
In place of a weekly newsletter I will write a weekly blog that you can read by going to our school's home page. If you do not have access to the internet please let me know and I will send home a paper copy of that week's blog.
Homework for the first week of school is to read, sign and return the Homework Contract and any other paperwork sent home.
We are going to have a great year :)