Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Newsletter

Hello Families,
Hopefully March will bring sunnier skies and warmer temperatures!
February, though short, was a busy month. Students in my ELA class began researching topics of interest to write brief research compositions. Topics ranged from Alaska to Neptune! As I read these, some common needs were revealed and will continue to be addressed this term. Most students still need support, understandably, in taking notes in their own words to avoid copying text directly from their sources. Revision and editing are also areas which will continue to be a focus in our writing workshops. Since March is Women's History Month, our informational writing this term will take the form of a diary. Students will read a biography about a woman that they would like to learn more about and then create a diary. Directions for this will come home this week.
In Social Studies we are beginning to study the War for Independence. As we learn from text, primary source documents and images, and some video clips, students will again be asked to write from a different point of view. After exploring different topics such as the Boston Massacre, the Stamp Tax, and the Boston Tea Party students will take a position and write a letter expressing and supporting their opinions. "Loyalists" and "Patriots" will "compete" for points during this unit, bringing some novelty and excitement to our class sessions! Later in the term, I am hoping students will be able to create glogs, online interactive posters, to publish and share their learning.
In math we have finished Topic 5, which focused on division, and I will continue to support students who need further remediation. Though I have missed a few Thursday morning help sessions due to snow days and illness, I have met with my math students at HELP or in class in small groups or individually, and I will continue this practice to make sure they have the remediation they require. The first lessons in Topic 6 focused on multiplication of decimals by multiples of ten. Most students grasped the "short-cut" of simply moving the decimal point to the right. More difficult for them to comprehend is the idea that the product of a whole number multiplied by a factor that is between 0 and 1 is less than the whole number. For example: 26 x .5 = 13. The series of lessons in this topic builds on this essential understanding so we will be spending considerable time establishing this. 
Finally, but equally important is our continuing focus on creating and maintaining a nurturing and supportive classroom environment. The fifth grade team presented a video at a recent assembly that showcased not only our students' talent and fun-loving nature, but also their understanding of what it means to "Be The One". Clips included students sharing, working together, including everyone, and standing up to bullying behaviors. I am very proud of their effort, as is Mrs. Johnson. In our morning and closing meetings each day we share stories and hopes and concerns in order to become more closely connected to each other. This is such an important time in our day. I treasure this brief moment in our day when we can all enjoy each other and have a fun activity or just share a laugh.
Lastly, report cards will be sent home soon. Though no day is set aside for conferences, I am always available to meet or talk by phone to discuss your child's progress.
Please continue to check the blog for updates, and feel free to contact me directly anytime! Thank you for your continued support!

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