Thursday, January 7, 2016

January Newsletter

Happy New Year!!

I hope you all enjoyed the break from school!  Now we are ready to jump into the new year, and some new learning, but first I'd like to mention the wonderful the winter concert performance.  I was moved to hear the amazing voices of our chorus, and delighted by all the wonderful songs and spirit they conveyed.  I know parents and the rest of the Fox Hill family thoroughly enjoyed the performance.  I can't wait for the spring concert!
December also had us working on explorer projects which are just about ready to be shared in Social Studies classes.  This week students are using the rubric to evaluate their own work, and make any revisions they see.  I am proud of how hard all my students have worked on these projects and I am excited to see the finished product!  As we move forward in Social Studies we will be looking at colonization as a result of European exploration. One of the unfortunate effects was the displacement and death of many Native Americans.  King Philip's War is one example of the conflict between Europeans and Native People, so we will be watching an American Experience program called "We Shall Remain; After the Mayflower."

We continue writing informational pieces in ELA.  Students had many lessons and conferences to help guide them through the explorer piece, so now they are going to try an informational piece on their own.  We have many varied interests in our ELA class, from octopus to geothermal energy! I am looking forward to learning about all these topics from my fellow writers! My own piece is about Iceland and how it is has become such a popular vacation destination.
To support this work in our writing class, now that we have finished Number the Stars, we will spend some time reading about and researching our topics in reading class. We will hone our note taking skills, and turn notes into running text. Each writer will also decide what form his or her writing will take.
Our next novel will be Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and I expect to start that by the end of January.  In the meantime please continue to encourage as much outside reading as possible.  Since we discussed theme, plot structure, setting, characters, mood, figurative language, and foreshadowing, I have asked students to read their independent books with some of these elements in mind.  As they read they should be jotting thinking on a post it, so they can write informed and thoughtful weekly reflections in their Reader's Notebook.  This is a major component of our reading work, and it gives me a clearer idea about what, how often, and how deeply students are reading on their own.

In Math we are finishing Topic 6, multiplying decimals, with a test on Friday, January 8.  Topic 7 is about dividing decimals.  Please take a look at the Home School Connection sheet that will come home at the start of the unit.  This resource can help explain the concepts and skills being taught in this topic.

As you know our student council Kindness Committee got things rolling in December with two successful fundraisers.  They are at it again and have some wonderful ideas.  I have also been impressed by the number of children willing to give of themselves in other ways.  Our tutoring program will begin soon.  Student council members are working on a survey that will help place fifth grade tutors with younger kids who need a little help in their schoolwork.  Other student council members are working on a poster to help make our Recess Rules clear, and still others are working to organize a Fox Hill clean up crew. We are working together at Fox Hill!

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