Thursday, December 10, 2015

Immigration Simulation 2015

I have quickly put together a movie of our Immigration Simulation 2015. Hope you enjoy. The kids put a lot of time and energy into preparing for this simulation.

If you open the video on YouTube, you will get a higher quality video than what is showing on the blog.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Gathering

I have uploaded the three movie trailers from today's gathering. I recorded the whole gathering, and will upload that later.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Getting Ready for Our Ecosystem Share Fair

Students brought in their poster boards for the ecosystem share fair tomorrow. The share fair is from 11:40 - 12:30. If you are unable to make it, they will have their board available during Curriculum Night on Thursday, December 3rd. Also, don't forget, students are working on the annual 5th grade Thanksgiving gathering. That gathering is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 23 at 2:20 pm

Here are a few pictures of students' poster boards:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Notes for this Week ...

This week we have several big assignments that will be due.

  • On Thursday, students must turn in a final draft of their personal narrative. Students and I created a rubric so that they understand what is expected in their personal narrative. Each student has a copy of the rubric

  • Next Monday, November 23, students' Ecosystem Expert Project is due. (I chose Monday so that students can have the extra weekend to work on it.) Students will need to bring in their presentation board to class so I can check them off. Then Tuesday, November 24, students will have a brief share fair. If you are unable to make it, we will share them at our next Curriculum Night on Thursday, December 3. We will try to do most work in class, but some assembly of their project will need to take place at home. I have reduced this week's homework to working on their expert project and their personal narrative.
    • Each student has a small packet that shows what students must include on their presentation board. We have gone over this packet extensively, and students wrote additional notes about each part of the project. 

  • The Curriculum Night on Thursday, December 3 will be an important one to attend. We will be discussing the 5th grade overnight trip to Camp Kanuga on March 16-18.

  • Next week will be the annual 5th grade Thanksgiving gathering. Both 5th grade classrooms are responsible for doing "The Night Before Thanksgiving" and other Thanksgiving themed reader's theaters. This is a fun one you'll want to try to see. Hopefully we can get this one taped if you are unable to make it.

  • We are already collecting cans for Passing of the Cans. We have received a few cans so far. Because of the floods, there are many more needs. Please consider bringing in cans to help the community.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Expert Project . . . and Other Pieces of Information

Beginning Monday, November 9th, we will begin working on an expert project on ecosystems. This project is due Friday, November 20, and the school wide share fair will be on Tuesday, November 24th (this is the same day 5th graders are in charge of the Thanksgiving Gathering). While most of the work will be done in class, there will be many times when students are expected to work on parts of their expert project at home.

This project consists of two parts:
  1. The Written Portion
    1. The written portion is double-spaced
    2. Size 12 fond
    3. Arial or Times New Roman
    4. We will create an outline of what this paper should look like next week
  2. Presentation
    1. Students will need a presentation / display board for their presentation so they can display their research such as food chains, food webs, pictures, title, etc.
    2. If you have a presentation board, please feel free to reuse it from an older presentation
Students will be selecting an ecosystem (terrestrial or aquatic) and identifying the various types of factors (biotic and abiotic) that live in that ecosystem. They will be creating various diagrams, food chains, and food webs to go along with their presentation.

As the week continues, I will continue to send out information pertaining to the project.


  • Remember that Grandparent's Day is this Wednesday. If your child's grandparent plans of coming, could you please let me know? I like to get an estimate number so that I can plan accordingly.
  • The school wide Zoo Trip is this Friday. If you plan on chaperoning, please let me know as I do not have a list of those chaperones who plan on coming. If you are chaperoning, remember you are meeting us at the zoo. Once there, I will give you our itinerary. We usually take one of the classes the zoo offers.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Information for this Week . . .

As you know this week is a shortened week (No school on Thursday and Friday). Because of the shortened week, I will not be sending home a homework packet.

For homework, students need to work on their Kahn Academy accounts for at least 30 minutes. I will be checking on their progress each day. If working on a computer is an issue, please contact me. I mainly would like students to work on math for at least 30 minutes. Students should also be reading for at least 30 minutes as well.

I have also been in contact with a few representatives from NASA and ScienceStarter, a website that promotes citizen science. They asked us if we were interested in a citizen science project they were promoting. Our job is to measure soil water content and upload the information to NASA. We are in need of a few items for this project:

  1. Old hot pads or oven mitts
  2. Empty, clean metal cans such as cat food cans, tuna cans, or pineapple cans
  3. A role of plastic wrap
  4. Trowel
  5. 3 plastic liter bottles

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tests . . .

One of the things that differentiates 4th grade from 5th grade will be sending home tests the students take. While I'm not a fan of test giving (or test taking), students need to develop an awareness that as they enter middle school, tests will be used to evaluate and grade them on a regular basis. When I grade tests, there are a number of things I do:

1) I go over the test answers and provide as much feedback with students as possible. I also go over test answers in case I made a mistake and incorrectly marked an answer wrong or correct. I make mistakes too and am well aware of this!

2) Students add up their points to see if they match the number of points I gave. If not I adjust.

3) I have students calculate their own percentages of how much they got correct. Then they compare the percentage with the South Carolina grading scale.

4) I asked students to reflect on why they did or did not do well. The typical response was "I could have participated more" and "I should have asked more questions when I did not understand."

Today I will be sending home a social studies test. Up at the top is a point value out of 90 points. Then in pencil somewhere, your child calculated their percentage and grade. Please talk over the test with your child. Then sign and return the test back to school by Friday. Students should be able to articulate how they did because we reflected on this together in class. 

Remember, tests are a snapshot of how your child is doing - it's not the whole picture. It is impossible to sum up the knowledge of a child (let alone anyone) based on one test. Too many variables come into play when a someone takes a test (e.g., didn't I eat, I am tired, I had a rough morning) that can affect the outcome. I believe that tests, in conjunction with daily classwork and observational notes, provides a better assessment of how your child is doing. If your child brings home a test, and they didn't do well, it does not mean they are failing. But it is important to discuss how they could do better.

At the same time, I'm a realist and know that at some point, children will need to realize how the use of tests will be used to judge their academic performance. Since I don't give grades, I consider my class a safe environment for my students to learn about the intricacies of test taking such as studying for a test, dealing with the stress and anxiety associated with test taking, and reflecting on the results of test taking to improve further test taking. So as the year continues, we will take tests on occasion and use them as opportunities to improve test taking strategies in preparation for middle school.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to respond.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Update . . . Before Opening Picnic

I wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow night is Opening Picnic from 6:30 to about 8:00. The first hour of Opening Picnic is all about the picnic and reacquainting with friends. 5th grade is responsible for bringing paper products such as plates and napkins.

After the picnic, you are welcomed to stop by the classroom and have your child give you a brief tour. Not much has changed but your child may be excited about sharing something with you. I will also be in class talking with everyone. I have a brief slideshow that points out some of the differences between 4th grade and 5th grade that I will be emphasizing. If you are unable to make it, I will post the slide show for you to see.

Also, don't forget that next Thursday, September 24th is a half day / early release.

See everyone tomorrow!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Updates for the Week

I hope everyone had a restful Labor Day weekend. As a note, I have updated the class calendar. You can access the calendar on the right side of the blog. I have added some new dates including dates for our 5th grade trip to Camp Kanuga. I have also added our Twitter feed on the right side of the blog. We use Twitter to keep in contact with the citizen science community, the maker community, and we post things we make during explorations. There is also a link to follow us on Twitter if you are interested.

Each week we slowly get back into the thick of things. We have begun our latest DBQ on the Reconstruction Period. You will be seeing these DBQs at home since I will be asking students to work on some of it at home for homework. At the same time, in social studies, we finished collecting information on the Reconstruction Period and are focusing on synthesizing this information.

In math, we are taking a slower, yet more direct view of problem solving and this seems to be working. Students seem a little less anxious and more focused. We have been working on number puzzles in which students have to find a specific number based on clues. These clues involve students having to understand terms such as multiples and factors, prime numbers, square numbers, and composite numbers.

I do want to take the time to emphasize the importance of making sure everyone has their multiplication tables memorized and recall them automatically. Those that seem to be less confident in math at this point are struggling with automaticity of their multiplication tables. As I have emphasized with students, 18 out of 25, 5th grade math standards involve multiplication. I will be sporadically testing kids on their multiplication tables. If they are unable to pass these tests they will be using their explorations time to memorize. You can help by working with your child on their multiplication tables or allowing them to use, or another website. Any extra help is appreciated.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Full Week

We had an enjoyable yet, busy first week. Much of our time was getting ready for our first 5th Grade Gathering. Our class decided to spend our gathering time talking about the CFI's Rights and Responsibilities and our school-wide expectations, which we felt fell under those Rights and Responsibilities. Students decided to discuss recess expectations, gathering expectations, carpool expectations, and general expectations. They wanted to discuss these expectations because they felt if everyone was in the same boat concerning these expectations, then this school-wide unity will help contribute to an enjoyable and learning-filled school year.

I have uploaded the video we created.

But our time has not been all gathering. Our time has also been spent on getting used to our new schedule and getting back into the routine of things. For instance, some students and I made a hologram, and this week we should have our citizen science projects chosen. We have also jumped head first into social studies by focusing on the Reconstruction Period.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Welcome Back

Welcome back 5th grade families! It's sounds a bit funny but it's something I look forward to getting used to. Here are some reminders for tomorrow.

1. Drop off will be normal time (7:35 or later). If you have any supplies feel free to drop them off in the classroom. I will be in the gathering area hanging out with the students but you are free to drop them off.

2. Our class does not have to worry about safety patrol until the second quarter.

3. Our first Friday learning celebration is next week - Friday, August 28. Since we are the first gathering, we will be spending most of the time discussing safety patrol rules, CFI rights and responsibilities, gathering expectations, etc.

4. We also have a new MAT. His name is Mr. Smith. He will introduce himself to the students tomorrow.

I have had some parents ask if there are other supplies they can get for the class that is not on the district supply list. We can alway use MORE pencils (you've seen my bucket of pencils on each table), anti-bacterial wipes, and spiral bound notebooks for writing. 

I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow morning.