Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March News

I hope everyone had a relaxing February break. We are back at work in all of our subjects. In math we are adding and subtracting fractions, and will be focusing on fractions for the next few units. My fifth grade colleagues and I are always looking for ways to keep kids engaged in math , so we are trying a fun new idea. Every Friday for 30 minutes during math we have SUM Club (Students Understanding Math). This is a chance for kids to experience focused math instruction with a different teacher and in different groupings each week. The work done during SUM club is designed to help kids who need extra practice, as well as kids who need to explore beyond our core curriculum.
In ELA we celebrated African American History Month by reading the work of great poets like Eloise Greenfield and Langston Hughes. Students discussed themes and language and then worked on their own poems using the ones we shared as inspiration. Their work is very moving and genuine, and shows an understanding of the cruelty of segregation. As they work to revise and edit their poems I hope to share them on this blog. This month is Women's History Month so students will read a biography and create a "journal" sharing the life and contributions of a famous woman. The directions and rubric for this project, which is due March 31, are on the blog. 
In addition, this month we will begin to read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. This core book is always a favorite with students. In the book, 13-year-old Brian Robeson's plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, beginning his harrowing survival experience. Survival is the central theme; students will explore the ways in which the human spirit survives, not only physically, but emotionally. There are sequels to this book, (The River, Brian's Winter, and Brian Returns) so I would encourage students to continue reading independently about Brian after we finish Hatchet.
ELA students did a great job writing informational pieces and presenting them to classmates. In this month's writing workshop we will focus on persuasive writing. We have already done some weekly essays in this genre, so I hope to use those pieces as a starting point for our instruction, building on what students can already do!
Social Studies classes are finishing the study of settlement and colonization of America, and will soon move on to the causes of the American Revolution- another favorite topic! As part of this work we will visit the Concord Museum in April. More information about that field trip will come home at the end of this month.
Members of the Student Council have been hard at work raising money and awareness! We had a very successful Yard Sale before February vacation and raised over 900 dollars for the World Wildlife Federation to help with efforts to save the Amur leopard from extinction. Thank you to parents who supported this cause with donations of items and money and time!
Fifth grade students are also hard at work being tutors to younger students in many grades and subject areas. We are very proud of these responsible volunteers who give their time to help others!
Finally, all fifth graders will have an opportunity to run our very popular Fox Hill Post Office. Thanks to Mrs. Jaffe's facilitation, this annual activity supports our writing goals as well as our strong Fox Hill community spirit. There are writing supplies and a mailbox in the lobby for parents who want to write to their children. If you are at Fox Hill in the next few weeks feel free to write a letter and participate in this fun activity!

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