Grade 5

Grade 5

Fifth Grade Focus on Writer’s Workshop

This week in Fifth Grade, we transitioned to an exploration of Word Choice. This is the third of 6 traits of good writers which are the cornerstone of our Writer’s Workshop in Grade Five. Each unit of study is comprised of myriad activities and mini-lessons that are grouped around one of the 6 traits: organization, ideas, word choice. sentences fluency, voice and conventions.

Using Vicky Cobb’s picture book, Blood and Gore Like You’ve Never Seen, students took a closer look at the scientific definitions and vivid lexical choices that the author uses to bring her story of the human body come alive. Students worked in pairs to create a flyer highlighting a specific body system or part, extracting passages from the book that they felt were especially descriptive, and adding in artistic flourishes and humor.

Next, in order to demonstrate the importance of selecting words carefully, student participated in a block challenge. Two students were placed with a border between them (we used an easel stand) so that they could not see each other, but could hear teach other. Students were given an identical set of wooden building blocks of various shapes and colors. One student was instructed to build a sculpture or tower out of his blocks, and as he constructed it, to instruct the other student. Upon completion of the second student’s tower, we removed the barrier so that the class could view the results of the “good communication”—two radically distinctly composed towers. This led to a lively discussion about how important it is to say what you mean and mean what you say! Students noted the importance of precise descriptions in order to carry out the task successfully. Next week, we will use these two mini-lessons as scaffolding for some writing exercises that focus on word choice!


We are more than halfway through Chapter 7, and are working with concepts relating to mixed numbers and fractions. Students have been practicing converting from one form to the other, noting the use of inverse operations. At the end of the week, we began to take a closer look at the way percent relates to fractions and decimals. We will be finishing up Chapter 7 this week.


We used our history classes this week to review for the test on India, Hinduism and Buddhism. Students worked in groups to generate notes for the essay that compares these two religions, and many wrote practice essays to show me. Some students have offered their suggestions for making flashcards and review guides.

Our class has decided to put on a play, based on the ancient Buddhist stories called the Jataka Tales. They have begun to learn their lines, and will be preparing for a performance in early March. Stay tuned for the date and time! We plan to invite you, as well as some of the other grades. This week, students will begin to create their religions for their year-long civilization project.

On Wednesday, students tried their hand at a 2,000 year old Indian art called batiking.. This process uses a layer of hot wax on fabric which is then covered with dye, creating a resist. The wax in then removed (by me with an iron!). Each student created a small square that will be part of a prayer flag for our class to hang at the end of the year, as well as a tapestry to hang at home.


Many students were surprised by the ending of our book, Bridge to Terabithia, and had the opportunity to respond in their reading journals. Next week, they will be taking a short assessment on the book, as well as beginning to write an essay. We will also begin a short unit on Creation Myths from various cultures.

Thanks for your all your support!



Helpful hints:

  • PTR is due March 1.
  • Trip to Kripalu is March 16. Please send in $20 cash when you can.
  • Don’t forget snowpants, hats, gloves and boots!
  • Valentines Day is Tuesday!
  • Please have your student review his/her 12s if necessary. A few kids are still rusty on these!






By | February 12th, 2017|Categories: Grade 5|0 Comments

Fifth Grade Explores Diversity


This week, Fifth Grade explored diversity through the lense of social activism. In History, students participated in a weeklong project called “We are the Peacemakers.” In pairs, they researched a famous activist (Rosa Parks, Elie Wiesel, Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman) and created an informational poster to present to the class. They also reflected in writing on their person’s contributions to a peaceful society, and the process of learning about these activists.

Our diversity studies also focused on the present, as we met an activist of their own generation, Malala Youfsafzai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Together we shared and discussed the young readers’ edition of “I am Malala”. Next week, we plan to watch the National Geographic video, “He Named Me Malala.”

In conjunction with our study of Hinduism and ancient India, on Wednesday, Preeti Kedia visited our classroom to answer our questions about the religion.  Mrs. Kedia, a Pittsfield resident and former BCD parent, came to the US in 1994. We enjoyed learning more about Hinduism, and Indian culture.

In Advisory, we looked at the role that music can play in heightening social awareness. Lenny Kravitz grew up in a bi-racial and bi-religious household in the 1970s. Through watching his video, “Black and White America”, the class learned about how his parents defied social norms in the 1960s, and were able to encourage him to pursue his talents and celebrate his heritage. This talented musician who plays all of the instruments found in his music, is also an actor and peace activist. David Bowie, who died just last year, left a legacy that spanned decades and like Kravitz, he incorporated many types of music influences into his work. We viewed the video, “Space Oddity”, as well as lots of photos of Bowie over the years. Many found his sense of style provocative which facilitated a positive conversation about stereotypes and expectations about gender and appearance. Both Lenny Kravitz and David Bowie have used their music as a platform for a message of diversity.

It is my hope that families will continue to discuss diversity week at home. Our classroom was rich in discussion of those we studied, and hopefully it can inspire our kids to make a difference in the world by continuing to be curious and have a voice.

By | January 21st, 2017|Categories: Grade 5|0 Comments

Amazing (Winter Music Concert)

Weren’t they great? I am still recuperating from being blown away by our talented young musicians in grades PreK-9. From “Peace is the World Smiling,” to “White Winter Hymnal,” each student really brought their best self to the stage and to all the rehearsals before as well.


Looking forward to seeing what our performers do at Arts Night 2, Spring Concert, Private Lessons Recitals, Arts Night 3, and LS Spring Musical in the New Year! Until then, time for us all to bundle up by our hearths and enjoy some seasonal festivities…

Thanks to each and every BCD community member, you all helped bring our 2016 Winter Concert to life. Special shout-outs to Mr. Lee and the Facilities team, Mr. Spitzer for mounting Student Art, our ebullient co-M.C. Ms. Doherty, and our creative team of parent and student Elves who helped setup the beautiful concert space last night.

Lucky me to teach these amazing young musicians. Lucky us to enjoy listening to the final product of their efforts! You can access some Audio from our Winter Concert and Arts Night performances available on SoundCloud! Thanks Ms. DelCarpine for recording.

Musically Yours,

Mr. Martin