Tuesday, December 3, 2013

      I hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving.  As we enjoy the last of the leftovers it's full speed ahead into another holiday season.  The much anticipated Winter Concert will be on Thursday, December 12 at 9:30 am.  I hope to see you there!
     Our learning continues in ELA.  Before the break we began looking at how nonfiction text is organized.  This is an important strategy for understanding, note-taking and ultimately summarizing.  As we do close reading of more complex text,  students need to demonstrate their ability to identify structures such as sequence, cause/effect, problem/solution, description, and compare/contrast.  This will also help students organize their informational writing, which will be a focus throughout the second term.  Students will not only be writing in ELA classes, but in Science and Social Studies as well. Writing across curriculum gives our students plenty of opportunity to practice the traits of writing we have always stressed: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.
     We have begun our fourth topic in math this week: division.  It is imperative that students have automatic recall of multiplication facts in order to be successful in this area.  The Reflex Math program is a great way to ensure this.  Good old-fashioned flash cards also work.  Please support your child in this fundamental skill!
     The Pilgrims have landed!  In Social Studies this term we explore how colonization began in North America and what effects that had on the Native peoples.  We will be viewing excerpts of a PBS series called "We Shall Remain".  This depicts the beginnings of the Pilgrim/ Wampanoag relationship, how it evolved, and how it eventually deteriorated into King Philip's War.  Another big part of our curriculum is the establishment of English colonies and how they developed and eventually fought for their independence from Great Britain.
     On a personal note, my knee surgery went very well.  Though I am walking a bit slowly, I am back, and the kids have been wonderful.  Their cards were a delightful distraction as I recuperated last week.
     I look forward to seeing many of you at parent/teacher conferences this week.
Best Regards,
Mrs. Lee

Friday, November 15, 2013

Parent Conferences Dec. 5

If you haven't signed up for a conference with your child's ELA teacher, please do so soon.  We are able to accommodate you if you need to meet on another day, but please contact us soon.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Veterans Day

Our Social Studies class made poppies in remembrance of veterans. Ask your fifth grader about the significance of this flower, and about why we have this holiday.  To all who serve our country, we thank you!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Our creativity was at work today!
 I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.. Don't forget to trick or treat for UNICEF!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Craft Items Needed!!

Hello Families,
We are planning a fun pumpkin-decorating activity for Halloween and could use a few items that you may have on hand.  If you could send in any of the following by Wednesday that would give me time to get whatever else we may need.  We have the pumpkins, so we just need various items to decorate them:
glitter glue, googly eyes, cotton balls, yarn, pom poms, beads, buttons, pipe cleaners, fabric remnants, etc.
Thanks!    Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The Chapter 3 Social Studies test is on October 29 for room 14 and October 30 for room 13.  Use the study guide and Quizlet to prepare!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Literature Circle Roles

1.  Summarizer- summarize chapters before meeting (Fab Five)
                      - take notes
                      - participate in discussion
                      - report to larger group

2. Connector- write about connections before meeting
                    - share connections
                    - participate in discussion

3. Discussion Director  -create open-ended questions before meeting
                                   - keep discussion focused
                                   - monitor participation

4. Word Finder- find and define interesting or new words before meeting
                        - participate in discussion
                        - share definitions
                        - with other Word Finders, select words for Word Wall after meeting

5. Literary Luminary- find figurative language and vivid descriptions before meeting
                              - list or sketch before meeting
                              - participate in discussion and share images

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Room Parent Needed

Hello Room 13 Families!
Even though fifth graders are pretty independent, we could still use some support with PTO related activities and classroom celebrations.  If you have some time and wouldn't mind calling and organizing other parents to donate items for a gift basket (this will happen in the spring), please email me. Thanks so much!

Mrs. Johnson is having a parent volunteer orientation scheduled for Tuesday, October 8th.  There are two sessions.  Anyone planning on being a volunteer must attend one of these scheduled orientations.  The first one is at 9:30 am.  The other time is 6:00 pm.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Back To School Night, One More Thing...

Thank you to all the parents for coming to Back To School Night last night!  The fifth grade team is delighted to work with you this year. One thing we forgot to mention was that there are many opportunities to help the Fox Hill Community both in and out of the classroom.  Mrs. Johnson is having a Parent Volunteer Orientation program on Tuesday, October 8 at 9:30am and also at 6:00 pm if you can't make it during the day. This meeting is required even if you volunteered last year.   Again, many thanks for your continued support.  Enjoy the beautiful weekend ahead!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Science Adventures and More

It appears that Camps Bournedale and Foxy were both greatly enjoyed by all!  We have lots of parents and teachers to thank for all their support and organization, especially Mr. Lisano and Mr. Norman!  The science adventures both here at Fox Hill and at Camp Bournedale engage us and inspire us to think about our environment and to learn what we can do to make our world a better place for everyone!

Coming Up...
The fifth grade teachers look forward to meeting with parents on Thursday evening at  6:30 for Back To School Night.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

First Week

     Our first week was simply great! I can tell already it will be a wonderful year.  We are getting to know each other and the routines and expectations.  It is a pleasure meeting with families and hearing how I can best ensure a successful fifth grade experience. Students are sharing their hopes and dreams and the entire fifth grade team has worked on creating a class constitution to help us all be accountable to ourselves and each other. We met two new fifth graders at our Belonging Assembly.  I was proud of their courage as they stood in front of their new classmates, and I was also proud of the way they were welcomed and embraced by the students.
      I look forward to continuing to meet and work with all of my students' families.  Here's hoping you can join us on Back to School Night, September 26.  The fifth grade team: Mrs. Jaffe, Mrs. McDowell, Mr. Norman, Mr. Lisano and I will be happy to talk about the curriculum and answer your questions.
Thank you for your continued support!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Welcome To A New School Year

Welcome to my blog!
I hope you are as excited to begin the year as I am.  It's a fresh start, and I can't wait to meet you and begin learning with you.  There are many changes at Fox Hill.  The office was remodeled and Mrs. Moules and Mrs. McCall have new offices! We have a new guidance counsellor and a new reading specialist. Of course being in fifth grade is the biggest change for you.  You will have many more responsibilities, and opportunities to show your growth.  One way we are all going to grow is in our use of technology.  Fourth and fifth graders will have Ipads to use along with the more familiar tools like whiteboards, notebooks, and pencils.  I spent the morning learning about some very cool apps, so I tried one to make a movie to give you a peek into our classroom.  I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to seeing your movies as we learn about explorers, cells, fractions, great authors,The Constitution, poems, and most important: each other!

Click on this link to meet me and see our homeroom:      Welcome to 5th grade! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Something Special Happened... fifth grade!  You worked so hard, and I'm so proud of all of you!  I hope you will come by and visit, and let me know how life in the sixth grade goes.

Silly me, I forgot to give you your "Something Special Happened" books that I put together from your monthly paragraphs.  If you would like this keepsake (perhaps your parents would) just stop by Fox Hill.  They are in a box on the counter in the main office.  Be sure to look through them, the names are on the inside.
School is open from 9-3.

Have a wonderful summer, and keep reading!!!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

News from Room 13

Can it really be June already?  We still have much to accomplish, but we have certainly made the most of the months behind us.  May saw a great Social Studies culminating activity that actually spread into two days.  Students spent April and May reading and researching the people, places, and events of the American Revolution.  They shared their knowledge in writing and in presentations to each other.  With a focus question in hand every student listened as classmates told about Nathan Hale and Thomas Jefferson, the battles at Saratoga, Bunker Hill and Yorktown, and women and weapons of the Revolution.  In learning about these people, places, and events the children began to learn about the ideals upon which our country was founded.  We continue this month looking at the documents that brought focus to our emerging government: The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights.

As I mentioned, research has been a focus this term, and our writing assignments are the result of careful research and note taking.  We are currently writing reports on planets using books, encyclopedias and various web sites.  

As you know your child now has a google account, which has an email and google drive.  They have also established a blogger account to which they will be posting examples of their work. This will certainly be a wonderful addition to the "box in the attic" filled with priceless school memories we all keep for our children (and for ourselves).  It is also a great way to view your child's growth over time, as this account will continue through 12th grade!

Our final unit in math is measurement.  Most classes are looking at area, perimeter, volume, standard and metric units of measurement, and polygons.  Problem solving in these areas requires not only good reasoning and computation, but clear and concise notation- all parts of math that we have continued to highlight as the year progressed.  There has been some educational research that suggests "summer slide" as a phenomena that occurs with school children.  I have certainly experienced this with my classes over the years, but I think we can minimize it if we involve kids in everyday math that we do such as estimating amounts needed for recipes, calculating tips at restaurants, counting change, measuring for projects around the home, etc.  Using the math they practice in class will bring a facility that can't be achieved by just classwork and homework.  

The same advice holds true for reading and writing.  The more experiences students have with literacy  the better they will do in school.  This is obvious, and probably most every student's intention (or at least their parents') is to read over the summer.  The summer goes by very fast!  I would suggest making a weekly visit to the library a part of your summer routine.  BPL has great activities planned for middle schoolers (yes- your fifth grader is soon to be a middle schooler!) Please take advantage of these!

See you at the fifth grade reception on June 20 at 7pm!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Survival Day

Tomorrow is Survival Day.  Here is what you need to know:


You will not go out if you are not properly dressed.
If you have PE you can wear sneakers and shorts to school, but bring boots and long pants with you!

  • Bring extra water and a snack.
  • Insect repellent is a good idea, but not mandatory. 
  • Bring a good attitude and be ready for teamwork and fun!

Friday, May 3, 2013

MCAS next week

     The fifth grade Math MCAS is Tuesday and Wednesday. (Science MCAS will be administered the following week.) You have worked very hard to prepare, and I know you will do your best!
     Also coming up is "Independence Day", a celebration of our learning about the American Revolution, (The date is to be determined.).
    On May 16 our fifth graders will put their survival skills to the test, as we remember the lessons learned from Brian Robeson in Hatchet and the lessons to be learned about first aid, shelter building, attitude, and problem solving.  You should have received information about this yesterday as well as a permission slip.  Any parent wishing to volunteer is welcome to join us.  Refer to the notice for information or call your child's homeroom teacher.
    I want to congratulate all the singers and dancers who participated in this year's spring musical.  It was a wonderful performance.  Mrs. Coroniti and Ms. Calihou did an amazing job with all those pirates!!!
Again, many thanks for your support to make that evening a great success for the kids!

We are still collecting for Boston's One Fund should you wish to send in your donation.  Thank you!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Field Trip

There was a mistake on the field trip notice that went home Monday.  The date of the trip is April 22, which is the Monday after our April vacation.  Sorry for any confusion!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Goodbye Snow, Hello Spring!

     It looks like we are finally able to put the snow shovels away and take out the gardening trowels. That also means we are well into our third and final term of the school year.  It is now that students will be expected to put their efforts into showing what they know in each subject area. We continue to learn new content, so students need to apply the study skills, and reading and writing strategies we have practiced all year.
     Research projects in homeroom and social studies will provide students with the opportunity to read nonfiction from both print and digital sources, take notes, paraphrase,  organize details, cite sources, and share information through writing and oral presentation.
     Regular routines established throughout the year will help students complete assignments and be ready for MCAS and district assessments.  Not only will we write informational pieces, but we will also explore more creative writing, such as poetry, stories and scriptwriting.  Of course, grammar, spelling and vocabulary lessons continue weekly.   Students are expected to use the skills and concepts effectively in their writing.
     Guided reading classes will now meet four days a week, and will include reading a class novel, Bud, Not Buddy, as well as continuing with nonfiction reading skills.
     While we continue learning new concepts and skills in math, we will also review earlier standards to prepare for the Math MCAS.  Please check the weekly bulletin for the schedule.  They will also hace a science MCAS.  Speaking of MCAS, I was extremely proud of my homeroom students' effort and stamina during the ELA test.  They worked very hard!
     The Loyalists and Patriots continue to compete in socials studies classes, as well as in other classes and during unstructured times and transitions..  Students will select a topic from the American Revolution and work with a partner to research and present information.  This will be done in school.  We are lucky to have the use of the newly arrived Crome books, as well as four classroom computers, I pads and the computer lab and library to conduct this research.  Students are learning and practicing skills that are essential as they move into the next phase of  their education.
     Our field trip to Concord Museum is on April 22. More information and permission slips will be sent home this week.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March Newsletter

February was another busy and productive month, though short!  I hope you enjoyed the February break. The Monday back was a bit slow and sleepy, but we were well into the groove by Tuesday, and before we knew it March blew in and here we are!

In my Math class we continue working with fractions.  Students are enjoying the games and lessons using whiteboards.  They are also showing an improvement in multiplication facts which helps them know when and how to simplify fractions.  The Reflex Math program is a success!  Many students have achieved great results and have earned certificates indicating their achievement!  I am continuing Thursday morning math help, and I will begin using that time to work on MCAS prep which will also be a focus in class and for homework.  
We finished up Hatchet  and had a final assessment.  The next book we will read together is Bud, Not Buddy which we will probably start in April.  This month, being Women’s History Month, I will ask students in my homeroom to select a biography about a woman they would like to learn about.  They should have this book approved by me by this coming Thursday, and I will assign a book project so they can share what they learn.  In Guided Reading we continue MCAS preparation so that students will be familiar with the format and reading level of the text they will meet.  Some of these selections and open response questions may be sent home, so be sure and take a look so you can support your child's learning.  The Grade 5 ELA MCAS is March 20 and March 21.
In Writing Workshop we are finishing persuasive essays, and though we have some fine tuning to do, students had some very interesting opinions to share. Many did research that led to even more questions.   We will continue learning research skills as we move into another type of writing: informative.  This term in Social Studies students will write a short research paper on a topic pertaining to the Revolutionary War.  Speaking of which, be sure and ask your child if he or she is a Loyalist or a Patriot.  A perennial favorite activity of fifth graders is upon us.  The study of The American Revolution involves mixing rooms 12 and 13 for Social Studies as Loyalists and Patriots.  This allows for a different dynamic and a little competition.  Classes compete for points in quizzes, homework, games, and then in a culminating activity we spend an entire day sharing research projects and competing in trivia games that demonstrate all they will learn.  Who will be victors this year: Loyalists or Patriots?  Stay tuned!

Important Dates:
ELA MCAS - March 20, 21
Report Cards- March 13
Family Math Night- March 21
Parent Coffee Night  hosted by Principal Johnson- March 5 @ 6:30

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Snow Day

Stay warm and safe and have some fun!
I will be hanging out with my cats reading chapters 13-16 of Hatchet.

See you all on Monday!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 2013 Newsletter
January was a busy and productive month!  We are about halfway through the school year, and it's time to remind ourselves that we need to keep our effort and engagement high.  There's much to do in the coming months.

Students have begun a perennial favorite book, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.  This novel of self discovery and survival has generated some very thoughtful insights from fifth graders as they read about a boy stranded in the Canadian Wilderness.  All that we have learned about reading: strategies such as visualization, inferring and questioning, author devices such as foreshadowing, and vocabulary will be discussed and practiced through this novel.  You can support your child by making sure they read and understand  chapters assigned for homework.
We have also begun MCAS preparation so that students will be familiar with the format and reading level of the text they will meet.  Some of these selections and open response questions may be sent home, so be sure and take a look so you can support your child's learning.

We are writing persuasive essays this term.  Students have brainstormed issues that are important to them, researched these issues and developed opinions.  We have had mini lessons on leads, conclusions, choosing reliable websites, and using expert quotes to persuade the reader.  Your children have selected topics ranging from women in sports to the flu epidemic to gun control and school security.  Of course there are many writing opportunities throughout the day in all subject areas, even math.  Please encourage your child to bring a high level of quality to all writing tasks.

Students in Social Studies are learning about living in colonial times.  Teams read different sections of the chapter on the British Colonies, and illustrated and presented the information they learned. I added a few notes of my own to make sure all the key points were shared. We have a quiz this week based on the notes that were given.  From there we will move on to causes of the Revolution.  We are also planning a field trip to the Concord Museum in April to learn about the first battles of the Revolution.  More information will be coming. In January we watched parts of President Obama's inauguration, and discussed the oath of office.  Since February is African-American History Month, we will explore the contributions of African Americans from colonial times to the present including the enormous sacrifice of enslaved people and their rich culture that Americans have only begun to understand.

We have finished our study of cells, and for a period of time we leave the world of life science to explore topics in physical science. This week, we begin a unit on electricity. We begin by reading about current and static electricity, discussing and demonstrating the structure of an atom, and learning about the history of the light bulb and the battery. We also will examine improvements in the efficiency of electrical energy. This is a hands-on unit, including experiments building simple circuits. This will test students’ patience and persistence as they discover proper ways to assemble simple, series, and parallel circuits. We also will build a small electromagnet.

In Math we are also preparing for MCAS as well as continuing with our curriculum demands. Each math class is either working on or about to work on fractions.  There are many math websites that can help support their understanding.  If your child needs a little extra help, please remember I am available on Thursday mornings at 8 for extra math help.

In other school happenings we have had a successful Code Blue Drill, and the new dismissal plan for children who are picked up by car is working very well.  Our Post Office Activity is in full swing, so if you are in school stop by the lobby and write your child a letter!  Room 13 students will be postal workers this week.   School store continues with Mrs. Jaffe's class at the helm this month.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January Newsletter

Happy New Year!  I hope you enjoyed a relaxing and peaceful holiday.  I was happy to have some time to be with my son who was visiting from California and my daughter who will be away at college next year.  It is amazing to me how quickly time is passing.  Every year seems to go by faster and faster.  I'm sure you are experiencing that feeling as well, so let me catch you up on what we have been working on in school and what's to come.

As you can see we had a great time on Mismatch Day before vacation.  The children's creativity and sense of humor was in abundance!  It was so wonderful to watch them just having fun, after all their hard work, and after the sad events of the previous days.  On that note I want to inform you of an upcoming drill we will have.  As you must know, every school has needed to look at its security and crisis plans.  I believe that Fox Hill is a safe place, and to make sure that it remains so we will have a Code Blue Drill at some point in the next few weeks.  You will most likely be getting some information from Mrs. Johnson about this, and she has encouraged us to communicate this to you as well.  A Code Blue Drill simply allows us to practice where to go and what to do in the unlikely event of an intruder.  We will lock doors, draw shades, and cover windows, and students will be asked to move away from doors and windows and sit quietly.  All measures will be taken not to frighten or cause children any worry or discomfort.  I will discuss the drill with students before and after in general terms, but I will not talk about anything else.  I leave any discussion of the events of December 14 to your parental judgment, but please know that support staff and  I are here for your child and for you if you desire any assistance or further explanation.

Our classes continue to be busy.  We have picked up where we left off in Social Studies.  The topic remains colonization and its results on the Native population of New England.  This week we took a look at an American Experience video which related events  about King Philip's War.  Students were fascinated to learn of the religious intolerance of the Puritans, a group that came to Massachusetts for their own religious freedom. As we continue to prepare for the American Revolution I will assign a map project for children to complete at home.  

In Science, we will complete our unit on plants. Students know a lot about plants from their everyday lives, as well as prior science instruction in earlier grades. We build on this knowledge base in fifth grade by focusing on the traits of the three major groups of plant life: flowering plants, cone-bearing plants, and no-seed (or spore-producing) plants. We have a test on this unit the week of January 7, and a take-home project on plants will be due on Friday, January 11. Our next unit of study is the structure of the cell and focuses on cell parts and the differences between plant and animal cells.

This term in Math we continue division practice and move on to fractions.  I will also begin assigning MCAS  test questions so students will be prepared. (It's never too early!)  I hope your child has had the opportunity to try Reflex Math at home.  This program is a fun way to practice math facts, and atomicity with facts is essential to success in math.  Please let me know if your child has had trouble getting online to do the program.  

We begin I Ready testing in Reading this week, and in December we administered DRA2 tests.  This data informs our future instruction in guided reading groups. We also will begin MCAS practice in Reading as the test is right around the corner in March.  Homeroom teachers are also reading a great book to classes.  Ask your child to share their thought about Wonder.
It is an inspirational story of a boy dealing with a severe facial disfigurement and coming to terms with how the world sees him.  

In Writing this term we will concentrate on persuasive writing. Fifth graders have very definite opinions about longer school days, homework, cell phones, and dress codes.  I'm looking forward to some lively writing workshop sessions! 

Our school store continues successfully, as does student council, fifth grade tutoring, and Mrs. Jaffe's Lunch Bunch Book Club.  Coming soon will be another longstanding Fox Hill tradition: the Post Office!  Feel free to use the "mailbox" in the lobby to send your child a letter, and help them practice writing skills!

It's going to be a busy winter!!