Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Biome LiveBinder

The students are using this LiveBinder as their resource for biome reserach.  Here it is

Friday, April 27, 2012

Newsletter April 27, 2012

MathWe started unit 11 this week and it is a very short unit reviewing geometric solids as well as volume.  So far the test is scheduled for May 10th.  This unit highlights many concepts that were introduced both in 4th grade as well as earlier in the year. 
Social Studies – We wrapped up the timeline of the Revolutionary War.  Poor Nathanael Greene who died of sunstroke after refusing the post of Secretary of War.  I love seeing how the students’ overall knowledge of American history is really playing into their discussions and inferences.  Well done!  The final chapter of the year focuses on our Constitution and government. 
Science – We continue to observe our terrariums and the students have become quite adept at fixing any small issues that may arise.  Today we also get to explore what happens when you overwater your plants.  We are also working on our biome projects where the students have to research and present their biome to the rest of the class in some way.  Many creative ideas have been floating around the room.
Reading The biography project is moving along smoothly with a lot of time dedicated to it in class.  We decided that this Monday all students have to be ready to start typing their first draft of their report.  We are hoping for a due date of later in May.  We have also discussed what the students would expect from a successful report, I love when they add their teacher perspective.  
Writing We are working on writing scripts to create informational plays for the incoming 4th graders on how to succeed in 5th grade.  We are hoping to use our new Adobe software to edit the movies, thanks Adobe for the donation!  We have also been learning about pronouns and journaling this week.
Special Notes
* Talent show letters go home later today.  We had to cut more than half of the acts this year, there are just so many talented kids at West Middleton!  We cannot wait for the show at the PAC on May 11th, a parent letter will be sent home with details.
* Track meet is next week Thursday (hopefully) and students need to bring a BROWN BAG lunch.  We simply do not have rooms in our coolers for any fancy bags or anything like that.  Also, all items in their lunches need to be disposable or students will have to carry them in their backpacks.  Please check the weather forecast the night before to make sure your child has enough warm clothes or sunscreen if need be. 
*  As I was tucking Thea in, I reminded her of what she is good at such as painting, being kind, singing, and being nice.  She interrupts me to add, “…And watch TV!”
*Huge congratulations to Nate who not only took second place with his team at the math meet but also moves on in the competition!
* The egg drop is coming and we are still looking for someone to donate eggs or Ziploc bags, let me know if you are interested.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Map testing Wednesday, April 25th 1:30 – 2:30 PM and Friday, May 4th 1:10 – 2:10 PM, Morning sub Wednesday, May 2nd, Glacier Creek Visit 12:40 PM – 2:40 PM Wednesday, May 2nd, 5th grade track meet Thursday, May 3rd, Innovation Day Monday, May 7th all day, Junior Achievement Tuesday, May 8th 1:00 – 1:50 PM, Talent Show Friday, May 11th 12:30 PM,  Egg drop Friday, May 18th 1 PM, Junior Achievement Tuesday, May 22nd (final one), No school Monday, May 28thSub in the afternoon Wednesday, May 30th, Lock Out Wednesday, June 6th , 5th grade graduation Friday, June 8th 1:30 PM.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Great Site to Use For Citing Sources

As we continue to work on out biography reports we discussed how to cite sources today.  I therefore showed the kids the site EasyBib which not only is a wonderful reference website on how to do proper citations, but will even create their bibliography with them.  They will thus be using this site to create their bibliographies for their biography reports.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another Great Math Website

This one comes from PBS and was brought to my attention by a colleague; Richard Byrne.  I am hoping to have the students play some of these in the lab and there are even offline activities for them to do.

PBS Cyberchase

Monday, April 23, 2012

Caine's Arcade

We watched this wonderful short documentary today during journal time and then discussed the lessons learned from it.  If you haven't watched it, you should!  Great inspirational story about problem solving, creativity and perseverance!

The Biome Science Project

As part of our science unit on environment, we are studying the 6 different biomes.  Students have therefore been split into groups focusing on their chosen biome.  They will be reasearching their biome in class and then present their knowledge to the class, so act as the teachers of that biome.

Suggested ways to present their biome are mini-terrariums, dioramas, tri-fold posters, papers with a creative elements, Animotos, prezis, Stop-motion movies, clay models etc.  they can also present their biome in more than one project.

More details will be discussed and given on Wednesday and we foresee the deadline being late May either the 18th or May 25th depending on everything else we have to do in science.

How To Access Everday Math Games Online

If you would like your child to play the Everyday Math Games from home all you have to do is to go to the district website, and click the following links:
                 CURRICULUM GUIDES
                                      (specific grade curriculum guide)

On the last page of the curriculum guide, there is link for edm online games. It simply needs to be clicked, and then the student just needs login name.

Login names and passwords were sent home at the beginning of the year but can be re-issued if need be.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Super Tube Challenge!

This was such a great way to learn more about structures and variables.

Newsletter April 20, 2012

MathUnit 10 wraps up next week with the test scheduled for Tuesday.  Unit 11 goes into more detail with volume which will be somewhat of a familiar territory.  I have been excited to see great gain in math facts as well as good note taking skills being developed for vocabulary definitions.
Social Studies – We finished the simulation this week and have been referring back to it as we discuss this chapter in our social studies curriculum.  I do love having all of the students for social studies as it lends itself well to deeper in-class discussions as well as more flexibility.  I checked in with all students regarding their biography project and most are still reading and taking notes, while some have started their first drafts.  Drafts and papers can be typed here at school but projects can be worked on at home, particularly if it requires a lot of materials.  Next week we will discuss a more definite timeline for completion but I am leaning toward the middle of May.
Reading The students are busy reading their biography books and we have been using our compare and contrast skills in social studies.  We have also been working on our skimming to search for information.
Writing Another great round of blogging challenges being posted this week concerning school rules.  Thanks Keller for the great challenge!  So far most students would change recess to be longer, I am not surprised.  Final writing project will be script writing to focus on a specific audience, working on fluency, as well as word choice.  More details to come next week.
Science We planted terrariums this week and the students have been very observant as to the welfare of their plants, monitoring variables and changing conditions as much as needed.  Some are definitely having more success than others.  The super tube challenge takes place today; I am so excited to see what the students will create and will definitely film their process and final product.  Who can beat 6 social studies books on top of a toilet paper tube?
Special Notes
* Schedules get really wonky in April and May for 5th grade so I have posted a handy list of upcoming events on our website.  The calendar is also continually updated with information, deadlines as well as other events so do check it out.
*  If your child signed up for the talent show audition please make sure they are ready to perform.  They should be well-rehearsed and ready to shine.  Also, if your child is singing they need to have a karaoke version of the song.  Auditions take place this coming Monday and Tuesday.
*  The Egg Drop is coming!  But not until May… The students are thrilled they get to partake in this 5th grade tradition.  We are looking for people to donate a box of ziplock sandwich bags, as well as 4 eggs.  If you would like to donate one of those items (such as one dozen eggs) please let me know as it will be used for the gg drop.  Eggs will not be due until May 12th.
*  Yes, it’s true; there will be another lock out this year.  This year’s event will take place June 6th and more information will come in May.
*  A parent letter with information about the talent show will be coming home soon, please take a moment to read it.
*    Final (I think) book orders for the year go home today, they are due back to me next Friday.
* Innovation day planning slips are due next Friday with parent signature.  All materials needed for the day needs to be brought to school by May 2nd.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Talent show auditions April 23rd and 24th 3 PM in the music room, Map testing Wednesday, April 25th 1:30 – 2:30 PM and Friday, May 4th 1:10 – 2:10 PM, Morning sub Wednesday, May 2nd, Glacier Creek Visit 12:40 PM – 2:40 PM Wednesday, May 2nd, 5th grade track meet Thursday, May 3rd, Innovation Day Monday, May 7th all day, Talent Show Friday, May 11th 12:30 PM.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wonky Afternoon Events Coming Up

We have a lot of 5th grade events coming up in April and May, here is a breakdown of those that change our schedule

4/19 - Tornado drill 1:15 PM - 1:45 PM
April 24 - Junior achievement 1:00-1:50 PM
April 25th: MAP testing 1:30-2:30 PM
May 1st Junior Achievement 1:00-1:50 PM (note this day may be changed)
May 2nd: Glacier Creek visit 12:40 - 2:40 PM
May 3rd - 5th grade track meet all day
May 4th: MAP test 1:10 - 2:10 PM
May 8th:  Junior Achievement 1:00-1:50 PM
May 11th: Talent show 12:00 - end of day
May 18th:  Egg drop 1:30PM - end of day

because of this we will no longer be switching classes for social studies, we would not have enough time to get through the last two chapters if we did.  Social studies will therefore be taught in our room the rest of the year.

Amazing Solar Flare Video

Friday, April 13, 2012

Newsletter April 13, 2012

MathWhat a math unit this is; lots of pre-algebra happening and the students are definitely putting on their thinking caps before putting answers down.  I will continue to stress the need for secure math facts as 6th grade approaches; it is simply a lifelong skill that needs to be emphasized.  With only two more units to go, the test for unit 10 will be April 24th.
Science We planted radishes, carrots, peas, corn and flowers today as we started our environment unit.  Now we observe the growth as well ad start to discuss biomes.  Almost all of the students’ Goggle Sketch Up’s are on display in the hallway; it has been great to see other students stop by and check them out.
Social Studies – We are in the middle of the Revolutionary War!  Our simulation started this week with three groups of citizens; Patriots, Loyalists, and the undecided citizens.  We have discussed the shot heard around the world and the Declaration of Independence and even fought in a battle.  
Reading We are getting a lot of work time on the biography projects with almost all students through their subject’s childhood.  This is not homework but can be worked on at home.  No deadline has been set for completion but it will be in the later portion of May to ensure a stellar product.  I am doing weekly check-ins with students to ensure they are on task.
Writing Great blogging challenge this week as students ponder what the purpose of education is.  I love how they have been thinking about it and not just saying, “to learn…”  These are due on Sunday and Keller has given us our next one; what is one school rule you would change and why?
Special Notes
* We are at such a fun stage of the year where we get to have lengthier discussions as well as long-term explorations of topics.  The students have the stamina and the tools needed to research with some guidance from me and I love seeing how invested they get.  Also, the feedback given to me at various stages in invaluable.
*  Lots of 5th grade events coming up; Visit to Glacier Creek, track meet and Innovation Day.  There is even a rumor of an egg drop!  May will go by very quickly!
 *  I am thrilled to see how many students signed up for talent show auditions.  Next week the order of auditions will be posted on the music doors and in the entryway for parents to see.  Ms. Bodell and I cannot wait to see what talent they bring.
* Innovation Day is coming!  On May 7th, students will get a whole day to do whatever project they choose.  Some students are researching and building models, others are thinking of making movies, whatever they would like to learn more about.  Planning sheets were sent home yesterday and are due to me next Friday.  This day promises to be another fantastic learning opportunity for these amazing 5th graders.
*  Bob Weitzel, the guidance counselor from Glacier Creek pays us a visit today.  I look forward to hearing more about the middle school experience.
*  Thank you for the kind condolences in the death of my grandmother.  The day after she passed it would have been 66 years since my grandparents had met and fell in love; it was only fitting that she got to go home to my grandfather that night again.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Early Release CRT Tuesday, April 17th , Talent show auditions April 23rd and 24th 3 PM in the music room, 5th grade track meet Thursday, May 3rd, Innovation Day Monday, May 7th all day, Talent Show Friday, May 11th 12:30 PM.

From the mouth of Thea

Thea was studying my maternity jeans obviously confused as to the function of the large elastic band attached at the belly.  She asked, "Mommy, what's this for?"  When I answered it was for the babies, she thinks and then says, "To hide the babies?"  I said, "Yes."  She then looks at me very seriously and says, "That's a good hiding place..."  I agree!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Diary of a Revolutionary War Soldier

Note: This project is only for my large group in our social studies switch - not my whole class.
Diary of a Revolutionary War Soldier
Mission:  To produce a 10 entry diary from the perspective of a Revolutionary War soldier with at least one letter from home.

Goal:  A book that looks and reads like a diary from a developed character.

  1. You must develop a soldier character - you decide whether he is fighting for the British or the Colonists
  2. This character will keep a diary of their trials with at least 10 entries in it.
  3. Each entry should be at least 2 paragraphs.
  4. You should also write and include one “letter from home” to be put in the diary.  You may choose whom this letter came from.  You may include other things such as drawings, maps etc, whatever you want to to make it more realistic.
  5. Diary entries can include:  where they are fighting, outcomes of battles, how your character is feeling, tidbits about home, plans for further battles, hopes and fears etc.
  6. The diary needs to be bound in some way to look like a diary - be creative.
  7. This should be handwritten and the spelling should reflect the background of the soldier.  Really develop your character through brainstorming before you start to write these entries.
  8. Due on May 9th.

  • Time will be taken to fully develop your character before you start writing.
  • Each entry should be grounded in history, meaning you use the knowledge you are learning in your entries.
  • Creativity matters, try to make it look like a diary.  Paper can be supplied by Mrs. Ripp

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spaghetti and Marshmallow Tower Challenge

In science we had another small challenge in teams. Here is a video depicting it.

Mrs. Ripp Gets a Pie in the Face

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thea speaks to Bucky Badger

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Newsletter April 5, 2012

MathWe finished unit 9 this week and next is a unit on pan balances, circles and getting ready for algebra.  The biggest obstacle many students face in math is slowing down to read the directions and then following them.  We have discussed this at length in class and I hope to see those discussions pay off in their work.  Overall, I am very pleased with their progress and dedication in math.
Social Studies – With only 18 lessons left we have finally reached the Revolutionary War.  We will still switch classrooms for our instruction until the end of the year; however, in here we will also embark on another simulation as well as dedicate time to work on our social studies/reading biography project.  I realize that the biggest obstacle has been to find good books for the students to use as sources; thank you for your help and patience in this.  I am keeping am aster list for coming years for suggestions for people.  Also, the students were given a handy packet to day providing tips for their biography as well as steps to take.  No deadline has been set for this project as we are still waiting for some students to get their books, however, ample time will be given in school to work on it.
Reading A lot of our reading ties in with social studies and students are excited that they get the time to read in class.    
Writing   Students are presenting their super hero books and also to answer any questions their peers have.  What wonderful imagination and detail work that went into many of these projects.  A lot of writing will be focused on the biography project as this is a culminating end of year project.
Science The Grand Canyon challenge was wonderful with the results of the students’ work being displayed in the hallway.  My favorite part has been when the students present and their peers ask them challenging questions.  The ability to think on one’s feet and answer questions that one has not had time to prepare for is a life skill, and the students are doing incredibly well at it.  On Monday our final unit starts; environments.
Special Notes
* Thank you for all of your congratulations on the twins; we are very excited to have a boy and a girl as well.
* What a great week it has been, the students are invested and dedicated and providing me with such wonderful feedback to lessons and ideas.  It is a thrill to be their teacher.
* I run the West Middleton talent show along with Ms. Bodell and auditions are April 23rd and 24th.  I encourage all students to audition, there is no act too big or too small to audition with and we are always in need of joke tellers etc.  The actual talent show will be Friday, May 11th at 12:30 PM at the PAC.
* We continue working on grammar with a great need to figure out what constitutes a verb and what doesn’t.
*  A new blogging challenge has been posted, it is due NEXT Sunday.
*  Innovation Day is coming on May 7th!  This is one of those days the students ask about all year and more information will be sent home soon.  You can see more about it on our blog from last year.
*  All student presentations using Prezi are posted on our website, please take a moment to view some if you are interested.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Mrs. Ripp pie in the face Tuesday, April 10t 8:40 AM (Assembly), 3rd Grade Market Wednesday, April 11th, PTO Bowling Saturday, April 14th, Early Release CRT Tuesday, April 17th , Talent show auditions April 23rd and 24th 3 PM in the music room, 5th grade track meet Thursday, May 3rd, Innovation Day Monday, May 7th all day, Talent Show Friday, May 11th 12:30 PM.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tips on Biography Report

Tips On Biography Report
A biography is a written account of the series of events that make up a person's life.
Each biography will include the basic details. The first information you should gather in your research will include biographical details and facts. You must use a trustworthy resource to ensure that your information is accurate.
Using research note cards, collect the following data, carefully recording the source for each piece of information:
Basic details include:
  • Date and place of birth and death
  • Family information
  • Lifetime accomplishments
  • Major events of life
  • Effects/impact on society, historical significance
While this information is necessary to your project, these dry facts, on their own, don't really make a very good biography. Once you've found these basics, you'll want to dig a little deeper.
You choose a certain person because you think he or she is interesting, so you certainly don't want to burden your paper with an inventory of boring facts. Your goal is to impress your reader!
You'll want to start off with great first sentence.  It's a good idea to begin with a really interesting statement, a little known fact, or really intriguing event.  You should avoid starting out with a standard but boring line like:
"Meriwether Lewis was born in Virginia in 1774."
Instead, try starting with something like this:
"Late one afternoon in October, 1809, Meriwether Lewis arrived at a small log cabin nestled deep in the Tennessee Mountains. By sunrise on the following day, he was dead, having suffered gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
You'll have to make sure your beginning is motivating, but it should also be relevant. The next sentence or two should lead in to your thesis statement, or main message of your biography.
"It was a tragic end to a life that had so deeply affected the course of history in the United States. Meriwether Lewis, a driven and often tormented soul, led an expedition of discovery that expanded a young nation's economic potential, increased its scientific understanding, and enhanced its worldwide reputation."
Now that you've created an impressive beginning, you'll want to continue the flow. Find more intriguing details about the man and his work, and weave them into the composition.
Examples of interesting details:
  • Some people believed that Lewis and Clark would encounter elephants in the western wilderness, having misunderstood the wooly mammoth bones discovered in the United States.
  • The expedition resulted in the discovery and description of 122 new animal species and subspecies.
  • Lewis was a hypochondriac.
  • His death is still an unsolved mystery, although it was ruled a suicide.
You can find interesting fact by consulting diverse sources.
Fill the body of your biography with material that gives insight to your subject's personality. For instance, in a biography about Meriwether Lewis, you would ask what traits or events motivated him to embark on such a monumental exercise.
Questions to consider in your biography:
  • Was there something in your subject's childhood that shaped his/her personality?
  • Was there a personality trait that drove him/her to succeed or impeded his progress?
  • What adjectives would you use to describe him/her?
  • What were some turning points in this life?
  • What was his/her impact on history?
Be sure to use transitional phrases and words to link your paragraphs and make your composition paragraphs flow. It is normal for good writers to re-arrange their sentences to create a better paper.
The final paragraph will summarize your main points and re-assert your main claim about your subject. It should point out your main points, re-name the person you're writing about, but it should not repeat specific examples.
As always, proofread your paper and check for errors. Create a bibliography and title page according to your teacher's instructions. Consult a style guide for proper documentation.

Baby News

We are delighted to share that the twins are a boy and a girl. when Thea was told the news she was very mad so we are not sure what she was hoping for, probably a cat and a dog instead.



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Capture in Africa

Students Define Volume and Capacity

Perfect Monday for a math scavenger hunt trying to define volume and capacity

Monday, April 2, 2012

SS Biography Report Components

After discussion with the students, these are components that are necessary for a complete biography project:

  • Report is written as a story with a beginning, middle, end, and no bullet points.
  • Length is between 2 and 5 typed pages, double spaced, font is Times New Roman, size 12.  Title needs to be size 14 and underlined.  
  • Final report should be a mini biography of the person, not a question and answer paper.
  • Students must read at least one good sized biography (at least 200 pages) or books can be added up.  Some students have very narrow topics and we have discussed the possibility of finding more books or even adding internet sources to their page count.
  • The internet can also be used but most details should come from book.
  • Students will cite all sources using MLA citation - to be taught by Mrs. Ripp.  For now students should just keep track of their sources in their notes.
  • Other important detail to possibly includes:  
    • Why are they famous?
    • Why did you pick them to study?
    • What are their accomplishments?
    • What is their connection to America?
    • When were they born and when did they die?
    • Connections between other famous people?
    • Family history?
    • Education?
    • Important events that made them who they are?
    • Title page instructions to come but a picture of the person (if available) should be included.

Extension Project:
  •  Can be a multimedia project, such as : Prezi, Animoto, PowerPoint, Video, Stop-motion,  Digital story, Podcast, digital scrapbook etc.
  • Or it can be an artistic project, please no posters, but a model, invention, 3-d sculpture,or something else you create (check with Mrs. Ripp)
Students will be turning in their typed report to me, no deadline set yet, and will be presenting their extension project to the class.  So along with their project, they should prepare an explanation of that project.

We will be giving a lot of work time in school to work on this project and steps will be outlined for students based on the infographic posted below.

Image from here

Thank you Kelly Tenkelly for the great source!


Life on the Plantation

Slaves in the Revolutionary War

Underground Railroad

Slave Journey on the Ship

Freed Slaves' Lives

Slavery Laws

Slave Rebellions

Slaves in the Civil War

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Life of a Slave

Frederick Douglass

Runaway Slaves