This week’s MAP testing took up some of our writers and readers workshop time, but we plowed ahead with our weekly spelling/vocabulary study with Words Their Way. I’m impressed with the way students are recognizing patterns from their word lists in their reading; this shows they’re internalizing spelling patterns! Yeah! After their introductory sort on Mondays, students write their words in their agenda along with the week’s homework. The best way to study is 5-15 minutes a day, rather than cramming it all in on Thursday nights.
Also, we tackled perfect verb tenses this week; the fifth grade standard covers past, present, and future perfect verbs. This is a tricky one, but I was so proud of the fifth graders for sticking with it and recognizing that with practice, even tough skills get easier. We’re going to continue practicing this standard next week, and have a quiz next Friday to check for mastery. Also next week, we’ll be continuing with our personal narrative unit. This entails reading well-crafted mentor texts and drafting our own personal narratives.
This week we took advantage of the many personal devices that were brought to class and the students signed up for their own (free!) Khan Academy accounts. This enabled them to start the “5th Grade Math Mission”, a great way to preview and review 5th grade math skills and earn points for it. Khan Academy will be assigned for homework one night most weeks.
Next week we’ll be zeroing in on multiplication with whole numbers - starting by multiplying by one-digit factors and building up to 2- and 3- digit factors. This is an important foundational skill that will set them up for success when we tackle multiplication of fractions and decimals later this year.
We had so much fun this week practicing the experiment and conclusion steps of the scientific method with this week’s experiment, “balloon kabobs.” We learned that scientists not only conduct experiments, but also share their results in engaging, detailed ways. To practice this, we used technology to create a Google Slideshow of the experiment, complete with student photos! Check them out on our website! My favorite part of the week was seeing how well the students collaborated on this assignment. Working with groups is fun but can also be challenging and like any skill, takes a lot of practice and support. I was proud to see students divide tasks and compromise in order to complete the project. Not only does this prepare them for collaborative projects in middle school and beyond, but gives them a sense of shared accomplishment by completing assignments with their peers.
Next week is a social studies week - we alternate between social studies and science weekly. We’ll start off the week studying primary and secondary sources - a standard that will be reinforced many times throughout the year. Then, we’ll kick off our unit on Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs with an introduction to Mayan life and culture.
This is my fifth consecutive year teaching fifth grade, but as some of you know in my past life I was a middle school teacher. So I’m very aware that success in middle school entails not only academic skills, but also social and executive functioning/organizational skills. To support the students’ social-emotional growth, we’ve been focusing on using positive language to talk with and about one another. One example of this is our Appreciation Board in the back of the classroom, where students record something they feel grateful for about a classmate. Also, we introduced Class Dojo this week, which allows students to earn points for positive behaviors. This week, we’ve been especially focused on on-time transitions, teamwork, and helping others. You can follow along as a parent by using the class code on the letter students brought home last week - there’s also an app for phones, iPads, etc. Need another copy of the letter? Just email me and let me know!
Student Blogger: Rachel!
This week in fifth grade was a great experience. So far in science we've done ballon kabobs. It’s about putting a skewer that was just dipped in vegetable oil to go through a balloon. And also we finished our Map Testing. We are all proud of our grades. And the ones that just arrived are getting used to the class very smoothly. This week has been device days so people are having fun. We also do this thing called Class Dojo, parents can sign in as well and students earn points by doing good actions.