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Grade Five Update

 

Dear Parents!

Happy 2019! It is great to be back at school. We are off to a busy and exciting start. We welcome new student Danny and his parents, Elise and Jim,  to Fifth Grade. Hopefully, you will all have a chance to meet the family at Ski Fridays.

Here’s an update on all of our adventures!

History: We have left Egypt in the dust, so to speak, and have moved east to the Indus Valley. Here we are learning about the origins of the Harrapan civilization and the birth of Hinduism. Students have been taking a closer look at the geography of this region along with how archeologists have been excavating the ancient cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa which are located in modern-day Pakistan. This week we examined the Harrapan writing (still not deciphered), as well as the mystery surrounding the demise of the Indus Valley cities. Students were asked to read independently on a topic using a BBC website and write a summary of the facts in their own words. They also had a quiz on the geography of the region. We will be learning about Hinduism and its origins next.

English: Our newest novel is Linda Sue Park’s Newbery-Award-winning novel, A Single Shard. Set in 12th century Korea, this book ties in directly with our upcoming study of Buddhism and the class’ current arts offering, ceramics. Students will be doing more reading and writing on their own this term, using this book as the point of departure. Our weekly spelling tests have resumed. Please remind your student that parts of speech and meanings are also required. I have been encouraging everyone to use Monday nights to make flashcards for this reason.  In Grammar, we are working on the concepts of direct objects and categories of verbs.

Writer’s Workshop: We now honing on the trait of VOICE in writing. Last week, we shared Sharon Teague’s humorous and lively story, Dear Mrs. LaRue. This led to a discussion of the strategies that can be used to convey a range of literary voices. Students had the opportunity to participate in 3 different creative writing activities to showcase voice in writing:

Math: Last week was our introduction to double-digit divisor long division. Students will be practicing this skill, as well as learning to divide with money this week. In addition, they have begun the Math Mall project. Each student will be creating a “store” in a virtual mall with items to sell and a set of math questions. This project is meant not only to be a creative and engaging way to develop math skills, but it also serves to allow the student to be in the role of teacher by crafting math problems and an answer key. If you would like to child to review, we are in Chapter 5. There will be a test next week on this chapter.

Some students are still quite rusty on their 12s and 11s. Before the break, I asked everyone to brush up on these facts. These should be automated. On Tuesday, I gave a timed short quiz. Students that have not yet mastered their facts will be asked to stay on top of this, and I will requiz again next week.

Advisory: We used our first advisory of the year to reflect on our report cards, and set some personal goals for the next trimester (academic and social). And this week, we took an opportunity during advisory to get to know our newest member of the Fifth Grade Family, Danny!

Helpful Hints:

  • PTR is due February 7.
  • Please try and have your child here at 7:55 each day. Our homeroom opens at 7:50 and the students need time to get organized.
  • Some students have been forgetting to print their papers at home. Please help them by making sure that you have toner/paper ready to go.
  • Students need boots and snow pants in order to play in the snow at recess, so please send these in.

 

Thank you for all that you do to support your student. I really appreciate it.

Let me know if you have any questions!

 

Best,

Jilly

 

 

 

 

 

By |2019-01-09T16:20:27+00:00January 9th, 2019|

Grade Five Update

 

Dear Parents,

Here’s an update on all of our academics!

History: We’ve transitioned from the Middle Kingdom the New. This week we will be taking a closer look at Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh who had a lasting impact on Egyptian culture. We will also present the research projects that the students complete in pairs last week.  These projects involved researching a god or goddess and learning how to complete a bibliography and to rephrase facts to avoid plagiarism. The students showed cooperation and creativity in crafting their posters. Each group will be graded using a rubric provided at the beginning of the project.

Math: We have been working with multiplication concepts. Students are expected to know their 12s. Some students need to be practicing at home; please check in with your child or with me if there is a concern. We’re building upon our previous lessons in estimation and decimals by learning different strategies for multiplying across decimals and working with digits up to three numbers. In class, students have been spending a lot of time working on word problems and math puzzles that help them to develop their problems solving skills and foster a growth mindset. These puzzles are not designed to be solved in a single step or even during a single attempt and require students to play around with concepts and organize their data. I am encouraging them at home to work on problems independently and without parent instruction of algebra. It is important that they learn to try different strategies and struggle a bit on their own. Thank you for your support.

English: In grammar, we have been exploring basic syntactic structures of subject and predicate. Students learned to distinguish between simple, complex and compound variants. They are all improving in their understanding and ability to identify elemental parts of speech (verb, noun, adjective, and adverb). I am emphasizing in their weekly spelling test that the definitions of the words need to be ones that the students actually understand. In class, I am teaching them how to highlight and use sticky notes to mark important passages in Where the Red Fern Grows.

Writer’s Workshop: While the first half of the trimester was devoted to the Ideas trait, we are currently working on ways to organize paragraphs. This past week we took a closer look the components of a well-written paragraph: topic sentence, details, and concluding sentence. We discussed the distinction between topic and topic sentence and we practiced writing topic sentences as well. The students are becoming more familiar with the form and function of transitional words and phrases, and their importance to paragraph cohesion.

Integrated Studies: We try to devote one period per week to Typing Club. Some students may need additional practice at home; I will begin to assign some students practice this week.

Helpful Hints:

  • Please let me know if your child is not here for Thanksgiving Soup.
  • PTR projects are due on November 20.
  • Now that it is cold, please be sure your child wears a coat and brings a hat and gloves to school for recess.
  • Many of the students are complaining of hunger in the afternoon. Thanks to Arlin for sending in a bag of healthy snacks. We would love to have occasional donations of similar snacks, clementines, bananas or apples to have on hand.
  • Thank you to all of you for coming to conferences. I enjoyed sharing the successes and challenges of the kids with you, and appreciate all of your support and help.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers!

Jilly

By |2018-11-11T14:15:56+00:00November 11th, 2018|

Grade 5 Nature’s Classroom Day 3

Greetings from Wakefield!

I’m not going to try and mask my enthusiasm for Day Three: Nature’s Classroom.

Blue skies, crisp England air and sunshine—check!

More opps for crab catching and coastal exploration—check!

Hamburgers, mac and cheese, hot chocolate with whipped cream…and Kool-Aid—check!

It’s all the hallmarks of a successful day with my amazing class in Rhode Island.

This morning after breakfast, students learned about sea turtles and their environmental challenges through an environmental simulation. “We tried to keep our sea turtles alive by surviving different endangerments like plastic bags, sharks, birds, and pollution,” explained Libby. After lunch, students had a choice of doing yoga and meditation with Luna and doing a creative civilization exploration with AJ. The field groups went exploring again out in the woods and along the shore. They also prepared for tonight’s big event…Thursday Night Live!—a variety show in the vein of SNL starring…the 11 of them! Each field group will have a chance to write and perform their own skits. Tim and I know from past years, this is one of the most memorable parts of the NC experience. Weather permitting, we’ll conclude tonight with a campfire and making s’mores.

Tomorrow we plan to arrive back at BCD by dismissal. Please be prepared to encounter wet and soggy belongings. It’s likely you might end up with some things that don’t even belong to your child—so do us a favor and wash them and send them in to me and we’ll have a lost and found fashion show in homeroom.

This has been such a tremendous week of growth and new experiences. At lunch the students at my table were talking about how much closer they feel to each other and to me and Tim. Once you’ve all stood around in pajamas together (girls and boys separately, of course), and combed out the knots in your friend’s hair, you can never go back, right? Even though it’s only been a few days, relationships have evolved and each person will be able to see his/her peers in some new way. I’ve loved being with them, and want to thank you for sharing your insightful, curious, and fun kids with me.

Best,
Jilly

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/KfPid8J1goMSt75m7

 

By |2018-10-25T16:25:27+00:00October 25th, 2018|

Nature’s Classroom Day Two!

Greetings from misty Wakefield, Rhode Island!

Day 2 of the epic Nature’s Classroom trip has been an exciting one. This morning we enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bagels, cereal and yogurt before our dissection labs. Students had a choice of individual squid dissections with Kelly or a group shark dissection with Luna. In the end, the groups came together to share and notice the similarities and differences between these two creatures. Luna’s group discovered 8 shark babies inside their shark—4 boys and 4 girls. It even beats the Brady Bunch! Next, we headed to the boathouse and docks for some quiet time. Students were able to sketch the waterfront with colored pencils or write about their observation of the trip thus far.

At lunch, we devoured the grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, pretzels and salad prepared by Chef Derrick. And then back to the cabin, we headed to get ready for the afternoon sessions which would be outside and down by the shore.

Field group was a combination of crabbing and exploring the edge of the salt marsh. We used bits of sausage left over from breakfast, a clothespin, some string, and a stick to make low-budget, high-yield crab catching devices. And as you can see from the pictures, we caught a variety of types of crabs and lots of them!

For the afternoon electives, students chose between a creature camouflage activity, and making “spa” style facial masks from edibles.

Hopefully tonight the weather will hold for our outdoor night hike….

The staff here at NC have shared with both Tim and me what a kind and curious bunch of kids we have. It is such a pleasure to be with them on this trip and enjoy the downtime making string bracelets, playing gaga and hanging out in our cabin at night. When I was writing this, a few of them asked to be included in the blog:

“The food facial felt smooth and rough at the same time,” remarked Ellie, after the exfoliation stage of her oatmeal and honey mask.

“There were the biggest crabs we’ve ever ever EVER seen and the spider crabs have a rounder body. The green crabs are more of a classic crab shape,” shrieked Orli!

“My skin is seriously glowing,” shared Niyah.

“I feel fabulous,” insisted Ashley.

Stay tuned for more NC adventures!

Fondly,
Jilly

https://photos.app.goo.gl/wft9L4FnKaBEVPpC7

By |2018-10-24T17:06:39+00:00October 24th, 2018|

Grade 5 Nature’s Classroom Day One

Nature’s Classroom Day One!

Not a tear was shed by the parents or the kids as the Fifth Grade jubilantly embarked on their 4-day adventure to Nature’s Classroom in cloudy, Wakefield, Rhode Island. After a brief tour of the Charlton rest stop mid-way through the bus ride, we arrived at Nature’s Classroom where we unloaded the bus, ran around to get out some transportive ya-yas, and headed to our cabin, fondly called “Aspen” by the nature-y staff here at Nature’s Classroom. Aiden, Neal and Ethan have happily nicknamed their trio, “The Three Cookie Monster Cats”, while the girls have chosen,” The Eight Herculette Hawks.”

The girls and I “settled” into our side of the cabin, learning the mysteries of fitted sheets, and discovering that Ashley doesn’t use a pillow, even at home!

Lunch was a masterful presentation of festive corn dogs, alternative tofu pups, salad and French fries catered by Chef Derek. At my table, Niya was the responsible waitron who organized the dispensing and cleaning up of nourishment, while Kara took on the role at Tim’s table. The meal concluded with the Ort Report Dance and the announcement of the ort–that is the amount of non-compostable, non-recyclable waste from the meal. We weighed in at 3 pounds. I’m optimistic about dinner!

 

After lunch, the students split into field groups with their counselors, Kelly and Luna to do a variety of team building activities down at the salt marsh. They discovered all the organisms that reside in both the woods and the estuary and learned how they interrelate. “It’s so excited to work with BCD students this year because they always eager to learn and already have such a kind community in place, ” remarked Luna, a veteran NC staff member since 2015.

 

Enjoy these low-quality pictures from my phone and know there will be more to come. Your kids are spirited, fun and keep me and Tim laughing all the way. Now, go have a kid-free dinner and use that time you are not making tomorrow’s lunch or signing that planner to do something for yourself!!

Cheers!

Jilly

 

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/4kD1g3eEDbcXRNae8

By |2018-10-23T15:03:36+00:00October 23rd, 2018|

A Literacy Lightbulb Moment!

In Fifth Grade, there’s been a lot of talk about literacy. Last week, we took a closer look at literacy statistics around the world. Students have started to consider all the myriad factors that contribute to illiteracy including economic, social, financial and cultural influences. Through stories, articles, videos and discussions, our class is exploring how reading can impact one’s life.

Today in our Reader-to-Reader session, our class viewed a short documentary about literacy concerns right here in the United States. This episode of Unreported World, a current affairs program produced by the United Kingdom’s Channel 4, focused on some of the challenges faced by the Detroit, Michigan community, and how schools, kids, and families across the generation are trying to raise the literacy rate and stop a cycle of poverty, prison and unemployment there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTOe9CDNHGs

(Please note, I skipped a middle part that discussed Secretary of Education Betsy De Vos’ shortcomings as it strayed from our focus.)

The lightbulb moment came in our discussion following the documentary. The students had many insightful comments about the individual stories portrayed in the video, and several students said that they found the video hopeful and inspiring. Many asked me to follow up about the lawsuit that students brought against the state of Michigan for its failing schools and low literacy rates. Eventually, the students suggested that perhaps there were things that we could do to help communities where illiteracy rates are high and support is needed. While a few suggestions were thrown out, I urged the class to take a bit more time to learn more about literacy issues before diving into some ways to help.

Naturally, I am excited that our class is motivated to learn more and inspired to take action. Stay tuned as our service learning plan unfolds throughout the year!!!

 

 

 

 

By |2018-10-11T16:27:11+00:00October 11th, 2018|

Reader-To-Reader: Fifth Grade Explores the Theme of Literacy

Each week in Fifth Grade, we have period called Reader-to-Reader. This is a time for us to participate in a literacy-based activity that is not necessarily connected to what we are doing in English class. Although we have only had 3 Reader-to-Reader classes, we’ve started to already develop a sense of what literacy is and its importance. In week one, fifth graders shared and discussed their favorite books and made short video commercials for them. We also viewed the following literacy video featuring both non-hearing and hearing students.

Our Kindergarten friends joined us for the first of many peer-reading sessions in week 2. Each student was paired with a younger student to read to. This past week, our class shared two stories. The first, The Wednesday Surprise, by Eve Bunting, tells the tale of Anna, who teaches her grandmother to read as a family surprise. The students were surprised to learn that not all adults in the United States can read. We imagined what it might be like to be in the grocery store or the airport if you can’t read the labels or signs. In our second book, The Day of Ahmed’s Secret, authors Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland craft their story in modern-day Cairo with its myriad sights, sounds and textures. Ahmed is a young man who works delivering bottles of fuel to customers around the city. He is excited to finish up his day’s work and reveal a secret to his family. In the end, we realize that Ahmed’s secret is that he has learned to write his very own name! Again, our class imagined how proud Ahmed must be of this accomplishment, and what it might be like to live in a country where students work instead of attending school. We agreed the process of learning how to write one’s name is a milestone. Slowly, our class began to unravel the idea that not everyone everywhere learns to read the way we do here in the Berkshires.

I anticipate that these periods will continue to encourage lively and thoughtful discussions about reading across times and cultures. Stay tuned for more literacy adventures in weeks to come!

Happy Reading!

Jilly

 

By |2018-09-28T12:06:39+00:00September 28th, 2018|

Teaching Tolerance: Malala, Islam, and Human Rights

The fifth grade history course is not only an exploration of ancient civilizations, it is also an introduction to world religions. This week, we began to take a closer look at the world’s second most popular religion, Islam. We read not only about the origins and development of Islam, but also the basic beliefs and practices. Understanding Islam is essential to provide a context for our literary companion, I Am Malala by the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Youfsafzai. Malala, currently a student at Oxford University, survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Pakistan when she was a young teen. Malala and her father were targeted for speaking out to the press about the right for girls to attend school. I felt it important for students to understand the values of Islam in order to provide a context for the fundamentalist views held by the Taliban and described so candidly by Malala in her book.

We also viewed the documentary, He Named Me Malala in which we saw Malala’s difficulty recovering from the shooting, and her challenging transition to life in the UK. This film also portrays some of Malala’s ongoinng activism including bringing to the forefront the plight of Syrian refugee children and the desperate families of girls who have been abducted by the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram. This documentary, produced by the National Geographic Society, is intended for students and uses both animation, interviews with Malala and her family, and media clips.

Many students had not heard of the Taliban and Boko Haram. Some even found difficult to believe that these groups continue to thrive today in 2018, and that the rights to practice one’s religion (or no religion at all) or even to attend school are freedoms that we take for granted here in the US. It is not easy to hear Malala’s story, the details of the shooting, the violence inflicted by the Taliban, and the oppression and enslavement of women. Hopefully, the fifth graders will continue to ask thoughtful questions at home with you, and at school with me. I want them to feel that they can make a difference in the world, and it starts with tolerance and compassion.

By |2018-03-07T19:53:38+00:00March 7th, 2018|

Breakout Box Challenge: Growth Mindset with Grades 5 & 7

Fifth Grade continues to explore aspects of Growth Mindset, not only in our weekly Brain Game sessions, but also in our academic subjects as well. This past Friday, we visited the 7th grade who had spent the past few weeks developing a Breakout Box challenge to help us review for our test on India.

If you’ve never heard of a Breakout Box, it’s an activity inspired by escape rooms—those group challenges that have popped up everywhere and can be done with multi-generational groups of relatives or friends. You’re trapped in a room (literally) and given a series of challenges, a few clues and a ticking clock to remind you that you need to step it up! Sometimes the escape room is a room, but it can also be an empty apartment or even an Egyptian tomb you need to excavate!

The Breakout Box is similar in that it’s an immersive collaborate learning experience where groups of students work together to solve puzzles and codes that allow them to unlock several padlocks, and ultimately, the box itself.  The challenges encourage critical thinking skills and teamwork, and help to develop perseverance, along with giving an opportunity (in our case) to review concepts and themes of ancient India.

After providing 7th grade with the content I wanted to review, advisors Sue Benner and Sarah Pitcher mentored the students to create the challenges. And on Friday, we finally got together. I’m happy to say that 5th grade managed to unlock the box by the end of the period, and we loved the opportunity to spend time with the 7th grade. Ad added bonus was the surprise treat inside the locked box. Thanks to the Upper School students and Mrs. Benner and Mrs. Pitcher for their tremendous efforts  to create this simply stellar brain game!

Hope you enjoy these photos from our Breakout Box session!

By |2018-02-14T12:47:30+00:00February 13th, 2018|