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!!

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