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Fifth Grade Marks Earth Day with Kindergarten!

Fifth Graders joined their Kindergarten friends last week in a celebration of Earth Day.

The classes have been meeting monthly since September to participate in a peer reading experience. Each fifth grader is paired with a Kindergarten special friend. In addition to peer reading, we’ve exchanged bookmarks and valentines, and last week, each student crafted his/her own necklace from an assortment of Earth-themed beads. Mrs. Patel shared one of her favorite new stories, Stacy McAnulty’s Earth: My First 4.54 Billion Years. Anyone who has had Mrs. Patel knows what a great storyteller she is, and her reading of this funny, yet scientific approach to the Earth made us all smile.

By |2019-04-29T10:40:08-04:00April 29th, 2019|

Fifth Grade Winter Update

Dear Parents,

Hope you are all enjoying Spring Break!! Here’s an update on our activities!

History: We completed our study of China this week by taking a closer look at Taoism and Confucianism, and by trying hands at painting on silk. We also began to explore the origins and practices of Islam as a way to provide context for reading I am Malala by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai.

English and Writer’s Workshop: Students enjoyed reading and discussing Bridge to Terabithia as well as viewing the film. We have completed our mini-unit on Word Choice, one of the 7 traits that good writers use. Each student outlined and wrote a process essay with a focus on word choice.

Math: Fractions have been the topic of conversation in math class. We’ve been working with mixed numbers and learning to regroup in order to subtract. Students will continue to explore operations using fractions in April, as well as begin to play with measurement conversions. We had some fun before vacation using fractions to bake chocolate chip cookies. However, in the consumption of these, I must admit there were no fractions of cookies left uneaten!!


Enjoy the slideshow and have a restful break!




By |2019-03-17T08:32:01-04:00March 17th, 2019|

Hinduism Exploration in Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade students have been studying the rise of civilization in the regions of the Indus and Ganges Rivers. This week, we focused on the beliefs and practices of the world’s oldest religion, Hinduism. We welcomed Preeti Kedia to our classroom to share with us her practices and beliefs, and to answer our questions. While each student prepared at least 2 thoughtful questions, her visit sparked so many questions that we ran out of time to ask them all.  Students were interested in topics ranging from life cycle rituals of birth, marriage and death to what gods are favored in Mrs. Kedia’s family,  what a Sanskrit prayer sounds like and where she buys all those spices she brought for us to smell!

By |2019-01-26T15:09:30-05:00January 26th, 2019|

Diversity, Ruby Bridges, and Lenny Kravitz’ Black and White America

Dear Parents,

In our advisory this week, and in the spirit of Martin Luther King, we approached the topic of diversity. We began by learning about Ruby Bridges, the brave first grader who was the first black student to be integrated into a public elementary school in 1960 New Orleans. We shared Robert Coles’ The Story of Ruby Bridges and then watched a short documentary. Next, we listened to the music of biracial musician/actor Lenny Kravitz and watched a short interview with him about his experience with discrimination in elementary school.  Students also made the connection with some of the discussions we have had about literacy and fair access to educational resources in our Reader To Reader class. We talked about the need for sensitivity around race and diversity, and about how we want to be careful about not judging others based on skin color or other superficial criteria.

Here are the links:







By |2019-01-23T13:45:04-05:00January 23rd, 2019|

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!









By |2019-01-09T16:20:27-05:00January 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.



By |2018-11-11T14:15:56-05:00November 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.





By |2018-10-25T16:25:27-04:00October 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!



By |2018-10-24T17:06:39-04:00October 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!!






By |2018-10-23T15:03:36-04:00October 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.


(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 |2018-10-11T16:27:11-04:00October 11th, 2018|