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!!