Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yahara River Writers Contest

December is dedicated to working on our submissions to the Yahara River Writers Contest.  All students will be submitting a short story to me and then they will be able to pick one other type of writing to submit: poetry, editorial, or political cartoon (to be discussed and taught the week of December 12th).

The first draft for the short story is due to me by December 7th and the Final draft is due the 16th of December.  Students are encouraged to work on this outside of school as class time will be limited.

Formatting Requirements for short story:
Maximum 850 words
Font is Times New Roman, 12 point size
Margins:  1 inch on all sides
Title:  Times New Roman, boldface; 14 point
NO NAME should appear on the final version

Formatting Requirements for editorial:
Maximum 475 words
Font is Times New Roman, 12 point size for body
Margins:  1 inch on all sides
Title:  Times New Roman, boldface; 14 point
NO NAME should appear on the final version

This is a county-wide contest where 33 school districts in the area send submissions. All entries will be judged and the top ten in each category, per grade level, will be selected.  From each top ten group, a first and second place entry will be identified.  All top ten entries will be published in the Yahara River Writers Anthology. and all authors of top ten entries will be invited to attend a workshop on the UW Campus.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some Late Pictures from Our Harvest Party

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Newsletter November 22, 2011

November 22, 2011
As Thanksgiving approaches, I have much to be thankful for.  The incredible students that are so eager to share their learning, the support of parents for all of our adventures, a team that meets every day and puts the kids first, and a school where we feel like a family.  Thank you for everything that you do for me and for us.
MathWe are almost done with unit 4 and the test is scheduled for Wednesday November 30th.  New groups therefore start December 2nd.   This unit is all about division and those math facts are important.  The next unit is my favorite topic; fractions!
Science I absolutely loved seeing the students’ thinking in their research paper.  Some really hit the mark where others missed a couple of things.  Since learning is a process, all students have the opportunity to resubmit missing components to me on Monday.  We continue science with our dry mixture challenge on Monday.
Social Studies – This week we discussed whether Christopher Columbus was a hero or a villain and it was wonderful to see the nuanced perspectives that started to show up.  Perhaps history isn’t as clean-cut as we would like it to be?  Students also had a chance to create a route using a compass outside with a video to be posted soon.
Reading Harry is getting to Hogwarts and the kids are disappointed every time I turn it off. We have also been using reading for our How To presentations, which have been wonderful.  We have learned so many things this week.
Writing Writing has been focused on the How To presentations this week but we have started a longer writing piece on whether teachers should assign homework or not.  The first paragraph is under revision and we continue with it next week.
Special Notes
* Please make sure you get our website updates or check the website regularly.  This is where I post extra directions, information, and videos for the classroom.  If a new project is introduced it often has a post attached to it on the website.  
* Congratulations to Sophia’s, Priyanka, and Kyra for representing us in the school spelling bee on December 9th.  Matthew would also have been a representative but will have moved before then.  We are very sad to see Matthew go and will miss his creative spirit.   
* Also congratulations to Jacob, David, and Sophia Bo. for representing our class in The Thinking Cap Bowl.  Their team took 1st in the state and now move on to nationals!  This is the first time a West Middleton team has placed first.
*Thank you for all of the box tops, we were in first place last week by about 200 but Mrs. Hannam’s fourth grade is gunning for us.  Rumor has it now it might be the top 3 classrooms that get to throw a pie, we shall see.  
* The students are creating snowman holiday cards to send around the world.  We have 29 cards we have to make and send to other classrooms before December 9th.  
* Thea thinks Santa is coming every day and has discovered that you can put x’s in toy catalogs and Santa may bring it.  She has also discovered Christmas music on the radio and has gotten quite adept at Jinglebells.  We are now not allowed to listen to anything but Christmas music in the car.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: CRT Early Release Wednesday, November 23rd, No school (Happy Thanksgiving) November 24th and 25th, First Trimester ends Nov. 30th, Human Growth and Development is Nov. 30th, Dec. 7th and December 14th, the Winter Tea is Wednesday, December 7th 10:35-11:00, Winter Party is December 21st at 1 PM (we are hoping it will be a sledding party) and winter break is from December 22nd through January 2nd.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Starling Murmuration

Another amazing video we watched today

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Cool Time Lapse of the Earth

We watched this video at the end of the day

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday Card Exchange

We will be taking part in a holiday card exchange with 29 other classrooms in the world.  The students will each be creating a snowman themed holiday card by December 7th, so that we may mail them by the 9th.  The students can choose what to write in the card and then we will sign all of them.  then we just wait and see what we get in the mail, it will be great fun for the stduents to see what shos up and how toehrs celeberate their holidays.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Newsletter November 10, 2011

We survived WKCE week with flying colors.  The students did their best and then we went on with our explorations.  Results will be sent home some time in the spring.  Thank you to all who donated brain food for us, the kids were so excited and felt very spoiled.
MathWe finished unit 3 with ease and then took a break from math class this week.  Today we did math challenges all day, see the video on our website, and it was incredible to step back and let the students work though problems.  We have some very creative thinkers in here.  We start math again on Monday with new groups and the test will be Tuesday, November 29th.
Science We started mixtures and solutions and are working on separating a saltwater solution.  I love all of the background knowledge they students share as well as the inferences they make throughout the process.  They are true scientists.  I have also checked in with students regarding the upcoming science research paper.  It is due next Friday.
Social Studies – This week we built background knowledge as we did a simulation on the Explorers.  I love hearing the rich discussions on which choices the ships should make as well as reading the daily journals.  We did lose a few students to scurvy unfortunately.  We start switching for reading again on Monday.
Reading I introduced conflict this week as it ties in with Harry Potter and we also discussed the roles of protagonists vs antagonist.  It is wonderful to see the added layer of perception this adds to the book and the students hate when I turn off the read aloud.   That J.K. Rowling is a genius.
Writing I love seeing the creativity on the students’ blog posts and especially how these students inspire other classrooms around the world with their ideas.  I am leaving private comments for students to tighten up their spelling and ideas.  We also briefly discussed the Yahara River Writers Contest which we will start on in December.
Special Notes
*  Thank you so much for your participation in conferences.  So far, the discussions have been rich and I love seeing the student ownership of their learning goals.  Please keep me informed if there is anything we still need to discuss or anything I can do to make 5th grade an even better experience for your child.
*  In-class spelling bee has started with the top names going to Ms. Weber by Thanksgiving.  This is voluntary n the room but I do love seeing how many students are giving it a go.  They are also challenging me to come up with definitions.   
*  We will be watching “Singing in the Rain” on Wednesday, November 23rd.  Partly because it is my favorite movie but also because Will greets us every morning with the song “Good morning” from there.   Students may bring in pillows and blankets if they would like, as well as a snack.
*  Congratulations to Jacob, David, and Sophia Bote for representing us at the Quiz Bowl.  We wish them all luck when they compete on Tuesday.
*Thank you for all of the box tops, we were in first place last week and the kids are already winding up their throw arm for that pie in the face I may get.
*  As part of our global awareness, I play holiday music from around the world in my classroom starting after Thanksgiving.  If this concerns you, please let me know.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: swimming is 14th, 16th, and 18th, , CRT Early Release Wednesday, November 23rd, No school (Happy Thanksgiving) November 24th and 25th, First Trimester ends Nov. 30th,  Human Growth and Development is Nov. 30th, Dec. 7th and December 14th, and finally the Winter Tea is Wednesday, December 7th 10:35-11:00.

Students Do a Math Challenge

I love these opportunities to share the way the students think - I want to find more opportunities like this!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quiz Bowl Info

Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl Participants and Practice Schedule!
Sophia Bo
Jacob NJ
David S.
Liam N.
Jack M.
Sophie W.
Jason Y.
Erik S.

Tomorrow (Thursday) - during math
Monday, November 14 - 9:30-10:00
Tuesday, November 15th - Actual Quiz Bowl (9:30-10:30)

How To Presentations

One of the goals in 5th grade is to get students ready to present on topics, which definitely counts as a lifelong needed skill.  We have therefore decided that the students need to teach each other something through their presentation.

Here are some guidelines:
  • The presentations can be either filmed and shown to the class or done live in class.
  • All of the presentations will occur during the week of November 21st (Thanksgiving week)
  • Presentations do not have to be longer than 2 to 3 minutes
  • Students will be evaluated on how loud and clear they spoke to their audience, how they presented, and whether they kept itn interesting (rubrics will be provided).  This will be a combination of peer evaluation and teacher evaluation.
  • Topic is student's choice, as long as we learn something.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Introducing Our Lunch Time Book Club

The 5th grade team is excited to announce our lunch time book clubs starting the week of November 14th.  The idea is simple; a book club during lunch recess one day a week.  This is a wonderful way for the students to read or re-read a wonderful book and discuss it with their friends.

Mr. Meinholz will be reading The Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan and meeting on Thursday's

Mrs. Ripp will be reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and meeting on Thursday's

Mr. Getz will be reading Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book One The Capture by Kathryn N Lasky and will meet on Friday's.

Students do need to have their own copy of the book to participate!  If you have any questions, please contact one of the teachers.

The 5th Grade Team

Newsletter November 4, 2011

November 4, 2011
MathWe finished unit 3 and did the pre-test for unit 4 today.  Unit 4 is all about division so the students need to keep practicing their math facts.  Many are tested out for the trimester, which helps them greatly during class.  We will start unit on Monday November 14th and the test will be November 29th.  This is only a 7 lesson unit.
Social Studies – We finished chapter 2 yesterday and are doing our awesome simulation right now on the explorers.  Students have to travel the sea to get to the Americas for either Portugal or Spain; survival is not guaranteed.  We start groups again on November 14th with chapter 3 that has to do with the Explorers.  We also finally did a mystery Skype call with the whole class.  It is an incredibly engaging way for the students to use all of their geographical knowledge of the world to determine the mystery place. 
Reading We continue our discussion of main idea and details and have also started listening and reading along to Harry Potter.  The narration is impeccable and the students are having fun figuring out the hidden meaning of names, which then transfers into their writing.  We work a lot on inference in all of our subjects and have many discussions on what we do as great readers; it is wonderful to hear the kids speak of their reading skills, thus developing their metacognition.
Writing This week we finished the examples of types of topic sentences we can use and are moving into transitions sentences.  The students have repeatedly shown me that they know what a paragraph consists of.  However, when asked why they don’t then use that knowledge in their writing, they replied, “Well, we get so excited that we forget!”  Fair enough, I love excitement any day.  We will continue with our back to basic writing to get them ready for middle school.
Science – We finished our variables unit with the Flipstick Olympics; talk about science thinking in action. The team representing Japan ended up taking the gold.  We are in the midst of our first science research paper where we are trying to answer which bubble gum is the best.  The students are performing the experiments and trying to either prove or disprove their hypothesis.
Special Notes
* These kids make me so proud.  I am still getting to know them better and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.  Through the blogging challenges they are giving me their opinions and feedback, which are duly noted so if you haven’t seen their writing take a moment to check it out.
* Thank you to everyone who will be donating snacks and drinks next week, it really helps us get through WKCE.
*  Conferences have started and these are student and teacher led so your child has to come to it.  If you would prefer a meeting without your child present, let us schedule another meeting.
* Also, thank you to all of the incredible parents that made our Harvest Party such a success.  It was a great time for the kids and the food was wonderful.  I am humbled by all of the parent support I get.
* Don’t forget to practice for the in class spelling bee taking place November 7th through the 10th.  The top 4 spellers will represent the classroom at the school spelling bee on December 9th at 8:40 AM.
* Dates for your calendar:  swimming is November 7th, 9th, 14th, 16th, and 18th.  Conferences Tuesday, November 8th through Friday, November 11th, CRT Early Release Wednesday, November 23rd, No school (Happy Thanksgiving) November 24th and 25th. 
*  On a personal note, my brother is finally coming from his tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Some of you may remember he came to speak to the kids last year about being a trauma nurse over there and I am hoping I can get him in again.  It was a riveting hour long discussion with the kids.  To say that we are thankful he is coming home is an understatement.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to Survive a Zombie Attack

In honor of Halloween, we watched the following video yesterday.

The Next 2 Weeks

We have a lot of exciting events happening here in our room the two next weeks so I thought a nice list of dates would be helpful. Almost all of this information can also be found on our website.

Box Tops for Education is happening at the moment, I have volunteered to have a pie thrown in my face if we win. Students can bring in box tops to us until December 2nd.

In class spelling bee will take place all next week with the top 4 going on to represent us at the school spelling bee.

There will be no math and no social studies/reading switches all next week.

Friday Nov 4th - we start our simulation on the Explorers during social studies/reading time 1:40-2:40 PM. For the next 5 days the students will be staying with me during this time.

Monday Nov. 7th - WKCE testing starts and runs through Wednesday November 9th
Below are our testing times:
Monday Nov. 7th
8:30 - 9:30 AM (Math)
1:40 - 2:40 PM (Reading)

Tuesday Nov. 8th
8:30 - 9:30 AM (Math)
1:40 - 2:40 PM (Reading)

Wednesday Nov. 9th
8:30 - 9:30 AM (Math)
1:40 - 2:40 PM (Reading)

Swimming also starts Monday Nov 7th. The dates are November 7, 9, 14, 16 , and 18. the students leave at 9:40 and return around 11 AM. They need to have their bathing suits, towels etc with them.