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.