Friday, November 30, 2012

Newsletter November 30th, 2012

MathWe finished unit 4 and this so far this is the most laborious test with plenty of opportunities for the students to have silly mistakes.  We were thrilled to see how many kids felt more secure in division and know that we will continue to keep an eye on all the skills.  So far the test will be December 21st.   Since the trimester ends today, all students have to test out of fact tests again.  We will start these on Monday.
Science We have started variables, however, with the extreme loss of my voice we couldn’t do more experiments this week.  So next week, we are back on it with more swinger experiments based on student predictions.
Social Studies – We debated whether Columbus was a hero or a villain to much success and excitement.  We also then started our student created project exploring particular explorers and did our very first mystery Skype.   I love hearing kids say that they love social studies! 
Reading We started our blood dripping gruesome fairytales unit this week to discuss moral, themes, story elements and just have a great time in reading.  My favorite part is tearing the original fairytale apart and having the kids think about the lesson it teaches kids,, such as that the prince married Cinderella solely based on her looks and that mothers only have two parts in the fairytales; either they are dead or greedy and evil. 
Writing We have been working on creating thesis statements and coming up with reasons to support them.  We have started writing our mini stories today to support our reasons and have also done our first blogging challenge, in which I asked the kids to be very honest about the first trimester.  Blogging challenges are posted every Friday and always due the following Friday at 8 PM.
Special Notes
*  Swimming continues next week Tuesday and Thursday.
*  Thank you for box tops brought in, the contest ended this week.
*  We are almost at 50 Pride paws for our walking in the hallways, finally!
*  Snow gear is a necessity at this time of the year.  Please help your child bring in everything they need to stay warm.  If students need help acquiring gear please let mw know or contact Mrs. Simms-Mormino.
*  Our winter break celebration is scheduled for the 21st of December so far.  We are hoping to have pizza lunch and then go sledding after recess.  It will, of course, be snow-dependent.  Mrs. Johnson will be contacting those who signed up to volunteer/donate food.
*  Winter tea is this Wednesday; do join us if you can!
*  Spelling bee is December 10th.  Graham, Buddy, Noah E, and Billy will be representing our class at 8:30 AM in the multipurpose room, parents are welcome. 
*  Report cards will be sent home the week of December 10th.  It will be the new report cards with the new rubrics.  Please contact me with any questions.
*  We started creating our holiday cards today, can’t wait to get them in the mail.
*  Thank you for all of the scholastic book orders, they have all been submitted and should be here soon.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Swimming  December, 4 and 6th,   Winter Tea Wednesday, December 5th at 9:35 AM, Spelling Bee Monday, December 10th at 8:30 AM, Sub in the morning December 11th, Winter Party is December 21st at 1:30 PM (we are hoping it will be a sledding party) and winter break is from December 22nd through January 2nd.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Best of Today

The students loved these things:
  • Reading the original Rapunzel
  • The extra 10 minutes of read aloud while I rested my voice
  • Doing well on the math review
  • And continuing our independent social studies projects  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our Very First Mystery Skype

The students got to show off their geography skills today as we did our very first Mystery Skype with mrs. Young's class.  We guessed correctly with California and then discussed how to get even better at our questioning skills.  I was very proud of how well the students ran the call and the thoughtful discussion that resulted of how we can be even better at it.

I am hoping to set up another call next week.

The Best of Today

  • We did our first mystery skype
  • We also started a new student-led social studies project
  • Extra read a loud time
  • The math problems were fun
  • Getting to make holiday cards

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Best of the Day

 Here are what we liked best about today:
  • The debate over whether Columbus is a hero a or a villain
  • Our blogging challenge and getting to go to the computer lab
  • Listening to Harry Potter
  • Hearing Rumplestiltskin - he was torn in half in the end!
  • And here are the students preparing for the debate....

Monday, November 19, 2012

The School Spelling Bee is Coming

The school spelling bee will be December 10th at 8:30 AM in the multipurpose room.  We are very excited to have Buddy, Graham, Noah E, and Billy represent our class and will be there to cheer them on!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A little slice of my family

And Ida pretty much looked like that on every single picture.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Newsletter November 15, 2012

November 15, 2012
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 working our way through unit 4 with the test now on Thursday November 29th.  This unit is all about division and those math facts are important.  The next unit is my favorite topic; fractions!
Social Studies – The students have been busy in the explorer simulation.  Several students have died in the simulation from dysentery and typhoid.  I love the background knowledge we are building through this activity and how excited the students are to learn about the explorers.
Reading Harry just got his letter from Hogwarts and the kids are disappointed every time I turn it off. We have discussed how to listen to our inner voice, how to ask better questions of our text and just started with inferring this week.  I am thrilled to see the students using their strategies in their reading books, as well as seeing them build stamina.  We are currently at 12 minutes!
Writing Writing has been all about what we are passionate about as we create our big ideas.  I am seeing lots of great thoughts being put down on paper in literacy block.  Have you visited our Kidblog yet?  More than 10,000 people have this week!  Aimee’s post on her ninja cat has more than 30 comments as we speak and we are excited to start mapping all of our connections.  Please leave a comment on our blog but make sure not to leave your last name if you identify yourself as someone’s parent.
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. 
* Spelling bee will be next week in class so get practicing!   
*Thank you for all of the box tops and donations to Hurricane Sandy.
* The students are creating snowglobes holiday cards to send around the world.  We have 29 cards we have to make and send to other classrooms before December 9th
*  The students did amazing at the STEP presentation.  Way to go Aimee for leading the Pledge of Allegiance in front of everyone.
*  Conferences continue on Tuesday.  Connie and I look forward to sharing your child’s success with you.
* I encourage students to bring in their swimming gear before Thanksgiving since swimming is that first Monday right after the break.  They can just leave it in the classroom.
* Thea thinks Santa is coming every day and is waiting eagerly for the snow to come since that means her birthday is next.  With the recent snow fall we have had one disappointed little girl when the next day is not her birthday (she is a New Year’s Eve baby).
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: , Parent Teacher Conferences tonight and November 20th, No school Friday, November 16th, Harvest Party Wednesday, November 21st at 9 AM AM, Early Release Wednesday, November 21st at 11 AM, No school Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23rd – Happy Thanksgiving!  Vision screening Thursday, November 29th, Swimming November 26, 28, 30 and December 4 and 6th,   Winter Tea Wednesday, December 5th at 9:35 AM, Winter Party is December 21st at 1:30 PM (we are hoping it will be a sledding party) and winter break is from December 22nd through January 2nd.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Newsletter November 9, 2012

MathWe finished unit 3 today and will be pre-testing unit 4 on Monday.  The next unit is all about division, math fact tests are vital for success in this unit so please keep encouraging practicing of these.  The test for unit 4 is so far scheduled for Wednesday, November 28th.
Science We did not do any science this week as we stole the time instead to prepare us for blogging and do some community building.  Our next unit will be variables.
Social Studies – Next week we build background knowledge as we do a simulation on the Explorers.  Which leads us into chapter 3 that is indeed all about the explorers of the Americas
Reading We started Harry Potter this week and have so far discussed the importance of picking just the right names for our characters.  Did you Know J.K. Rowling meticulously picked almost every single name in her book to convey a hidden meaning?  We have also discussed activating our prior knowledge to further comprehension in reading, as well as worked on our reading stamina.  We have 6 minutes on the clock so far!  
Writing I love seeing the excitement the students have for blogging and am excited to have them write their first blog post today.  Please check out our classroom blog to read their introductions as well as leave them a comment.  We have also started really living like writers in our units of study where we are working on learning how to write essays.  It was wonderful to hear one student exclaim how much fun this was!

Special Notes
*  What an incredible week it has been with these students.  I know Mrs. Johnston kept telling me just how great they were and she was right; I already love coming into class to see what we can do next.
*  In-class spelling bee starts the week of Thanksgiving with the top 4 going on to the school spelling bee.
*  We are will be part of an Emergency Preparedness preparation featuring our lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch on Wednesday at 10:30 AM.
*  We got a new student this week; Marquez.  We are thrilled to have him join our class.
*  Congratulations to Buddy, Graham, and Noah E. for representing us at the Quiz Bowl.  We wish them all luck when they compete on Wednesday.
*Box Tops are still happening, I don’t think we got any this week, so if you have any do send them in.
*  Swimming permission slips go home today, please send them in.  Also, I encourage students to bring in their swimming gear before Thanksgiving since swimming is that first Monday right after the break.  They can just leave it in the classroom.
*  We can be found on the district Facebook page with news of our mock election.  I was incredibly proud of how energetic and efficient the students were.  We guided more than 300 students through our room that day!
*  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: Human Growth and Development Tuesday’s November 13 and 20th 9:20 – 10:05 AM, I SPY art event Monday, November 12th 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Parent Teacher Conferences November 15th and 20th, No school Friday, November 16th, Harvest Party Wednesday, November 21st at 10:15 AM, Early Release Wednesday, November 21st at 11 AM, No school Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23rd – Happy Thanksgiving!  Swimming November 26, 28, 30 and December 4 and 6th.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Some Pictures from #KidVote

I was so proud of the students as they helped 309 students vote in today's mock election.  Every class took less than 10 minutes to get through, all because of how effectively the students worked.  Way to go 5th graders!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Newsletter November 2, 2012

Math  As we continue to expand our math brains we are gearing up for unit 3 test this coming Friday.  The students in my group have also been introduced to our tessellation art project, a wonderful extension that they work on whenever they are done with their math.  Fact tests will also return every morning, they are vital for math success in the coming years.
Science  Science takes a break next week as we will use the time for some community building.  However, once science starts it will be my favorite unit; variables, that we get into it.  This is where we really see the students feel like scientists and it is amazing how the concepts of variables bleeds into the other subject areas.  The unit will wrap up with our bubble gum research paper which previews a skill needed for 6th grade, while working with bubble gum. 
Social Studies – The explorers are coming!  We start the next ss unit with a simulation to expand the students’ background knowledge.  I love this unit because it allows us to use our debate skills when we discuss Columbus as well as tying it into our current immigration debate.
Reading  Mrs. Johnston sure has been bragging about these students and their reading.  I cannot wait to see what they have been reading, start book talks and also start our next read aloud.  We have a lot to explore in literacy.
Writing  Just from the snippets of writing I have seen, we have some wonderful creativity in the room.  The next unit we start is opinion essays, a brand new genre for the kids.  We will also discuss Yahara Writers contest more and re-do our spelling assessment.
Special Notes:
*Human Growth and Development starts this Tuesday at 9:20 AM to 10:05.  It will run three Tuesday’s in a row.  Please send n the signed permission slip this Monday, I know many students are nervous about this so I have encouraged them to speak to you about any nervousness they may have.
* We sent off Mrs. Johnston is style but it is actually not goodbye yet.  She slips into the role as a special education substitute teacher on Monday and will still be part of our room, albeit in a different capacity.
 We run the mock election this Tuesday with many classrooms signed up for their students to vote.  Each student has picked their job and we will do a dry run on Monday.  I am excited to get the students invested in the election since we cover government at the end of the year.  We have also discussed the possibility of running an election for class president later in the year, we shall see.
*  We have won a grant this year from the Meemic Foundation providing us with our very own digital cameras and video cameras.  Although we do not know when these will arrive, we are very excited to start using them.
*  The harvest party will be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  More details to come closer to the date.
*  The Harvest Meal is this Thursday at 12:20.  We hope to see you then, but if you cannot make it, I always invite students whose parents could not come (and who want) to come back and have lunch in the room.
*  I am continuously updating our calendar that can be found on our website
 I am thrilled to be back.  I love my job, which I hope is apparent, and I have heard nothing but great things from Mrs. Johnston.  I have a feeling this will be a very special year.
 I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Mock election all day Tuesday, November 6th, Human Growth and Development Tuesday’s November 6, 13, and 20th 9:20 – 10:05 AM, Harvest Meal Thursday, November 8th 12:20 PM, Math test unit 3 Friday, November 9, I SPY art event Monday, November 12th 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Parent Teacher Conferences November 15th and 20th, No school Friday, November 16th, Harvest Party Wednesday, November 21st at 10:15 AM, Early Release Wednesday, November 21st at 11 AM, No school Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23rd – Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mrs. Ripp Reviews Out of My Mind

This book by Sharon M. Draper has an incredibly interesting concept; an 11 year old girl with cerebral palsy is the narrator telling us the story of her life.  The kicker to the story is that through her disability she is not able to speak amongst many things, so the outside world does not know just how smart she really is.  Although labeled as mentally incompetent her parents believe in her smarts and this book follows her mainly through 5th grade and her mission to show the world her thoughts.

I loved the concept of this book but soon found the story got a little too caught up in 5th grade drama and lost some of its heart.  I want to root for this girl, but after a while, the writing became repetitive, but still; the story is worthwhile and definitely makes you think about how we see people who are differently abled and how quickly we can judge.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to think about the book they are reading.

Excerpt from the book from Amazon:
Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom—the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged, because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow. In this breakthrough story—reminiscent of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly—from multiple Coretta Scott King Award-winner Sharon Draper, readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability.

Mrs. Ripp Reviews Trackers

This book had a lot of promise for me and I was eager to start reading it and hopefully recommend it to my students for easy winter reading.  The premise is great; 4 kids who work as a tracking team solving a major internet crime, and yet it just fell flat.  There was hardly any character development, a lot of loose terminology and random names thrown at you.  As we will discuss in 5th grade a lot; you have to develop the characters and create a lot of interest for them so that your reader feels invested.  I could not wait to finish the book and not because I cared, but because I wanted to finish reading it.  The series has potential but you can tell that the author is trying to so hard to be vague that it just gets annoying.  I give it one 5th grade cheer.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon. com
In the 21st century landscape of bits and bytes, everyone leaves a digital footprint … even the most advanced cyber criminals. And that’s where the Trackers come in. Four tech-savvy kids armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills, the Trackers can find almost anyone, anywhere. Told through a collage of videos, text, and websites, Trackers #1 follows Adam, Finn, Lewis, and Emily as they become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with Shantorian, the world’s most dangerous hacker. At least, that’s who they think they’re tracking….
As the four dig deeper into the shadowy world of online crime, they soon learn that things aren’t always as they seem.

Mrs. Ripp Reviews The Red Pyramid

So I promised the students that I would review the new book from the master behind the Lightning Thief series, Rick Riordan.  His first book The Red Pyramid, in what he is calling the Kane Chronicles starts out exciting and really does not slow down for more than a couple of pages.  In fact, my mother finally had to ask me which book I was reading since I was not hanging out with my family like I was supposed to.
For those people disappointed that the Lightning Thief series ended (which I certainly was) this is a new series to get into.  It is historically interesting, fun characters, and it once again invites its readers to participate.  This is an easy book to read even though it is long, but trust me it does not seem long once you start reading.  I highly recommend all of my 5th graders read this book if they love history mixed with a great story.
Here is Mr. Riordan’s synopsis of the book (copied from his website):
Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled
the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them—Set—has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings
embark on a dangerous journey across the globe—a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has
existed since the time of the pharaohs.

Mrs. Ripp Reviews Hunger Games

Another book that I had eagerly awaited for was the "Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. This book has been all over the news and bestseller lists and I noticed that fellow teachers were starting to read it as well so when Scholastic offered it cheaply in their catalogue I jumped at the chance to put it in my classroom library.  I am so glad that I read it first.  
This is an incredible book.  I am a sci-fi geek, which my students will attest to, and found the presented society very thought provoking.  However, this is a violent book.  When you read the synopsis  you will understand what I mean.  This book is riveting, great story, some emotions, and a lot of action;  The action happens to be killings.  So although I loved this book and have already ordered number 2 and 3 for myself, I will not be placing this in the classroom library.  I think many of the students would also love this book; however, I think it needs to be discussed with parents first.  I would let my daughter read it at the age of ten but I don’t feel comfortable making that decision for everyone.  So many of the students had already expressed their desire to read this book so I highly encourage you to look at it with them.  If you are alright with your child reading this book, please have them ask me for a copy.  I have them in the classroom, just not in the library.
Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Mrs. Ripp reviews Enders Game

A while ago I read somewhere that all fans of science fiction should read "Enders Game” by Orson Scott Card. While I am a huge science fiction and fantasy fan and thus am biased in this book review, this book has become one of my new favorite series. It is a young adult book and is not a hard read at all, although it does boast more than 300 pages. The action grips you right away and never lets up as you get sucked into this utopian world where children are trained to become commanders of the Earth’s fleet to fight aliens. There is violence in this book, however, it is not graphic and not for the sake of having violence but rather to push the storyline. I would recommend this to my more mature readers that like science fiction, so if this sounds like your child, I hope you pick up a copy for them. A for me, I have just ordered the whole series in paperback from Amazon and cannot wait to read what happens next.
Here is an excerpt form Amazon
Intense is the word for Ender’s Game. Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses — and then training them in the arts of war… The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of ‘games’… Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games… He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?

Mrs. Ripp Reviews Guardians of Ga'Hoole

I got hooked on the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series after a great recommendation from a student.  At first, I must admit, I was rather skeptical since I am not super into animals that talk but since I love fantasy, I thought I would give it a try.  I am so glad I did.  This series hooked me right away; you can actually relate to the owls and you certainly want to know what will happen next.  I got so into the series that I managed to read 3 of the books in 3 nights, which meant less sleep for sure, but it was worth it. The books are easy to read for all students, funny, and action packed.  I would recommend them for any of the students in my room!
Excerpt from Amazon:
Deep in the Forest of Tyto the adventure takes wing! Soren is born in a forest kingdom where Barn Owls have lived in peace for eons. But evil now lurks in the owl world, an evil that will shatter Tyto’s peace and change Soren’s life forever. In the first four books of this popular series Soren and his band make their way to the Great Ga’Hoole Tree where they will join with like-minded owls - honest, brave, wise and true - to boldly face danger and be tested in ways they never imagined.