September Check In 2017


Where did the month of September go? It was gone in a blink! However, the weather is reminding us daily that Fall is indeed here and we are well into the new school year. Here is what we have been up to in class.

Science has found us exploring our Solar System. Some of the concepts we have engaged with include learning why our shadows shift positions and change size throughout the days. We have explored the phases of the Moon and understand why there are so many of them. Did you know that the first four planets in order from the Sun are known as terrestrial or rocky planets and the remaining fuor are made of gas? And just why is it that the Earth does not go flying off into space in a straight line? Well, it has to do with a little thing called gravity. This week we begin exploring our atmosphere. What is it made of? Is air matter? Does it have mass? Check in with your student in a few days to find out the answers to these questions and more.

We have been working on writing our first piece for our State Text Book. It is a State Poem. The students first researched different facets of their chosen state and then have worked to share what they learned in descriptive in a descriptive poem. As we have worked, we have been using the Writing Process. First we researched using a graphic organizer. This is the pre-writing step. Next, we began drafting. The first two are done without assistance and doing self-revisions. Today, we began the third step, which is getting feedback from a peer. Mrs. Keeney and I demonstrated for the class what this would look and sound like. We will continue this step in our next lesson. Once the peer reviews are complete, the students will revise and print a third draft, taking into consideration all the feedback they received. At this point, the drafts are turned into me and I review them making sure all required information is present, asking questions, offering suggestions for improvement, and editing for conventions. When this is done, the students are ready to complete their final draft. This is a long process, but a worthwhile one. The more we repeat it throughout the year, the more adept the kids become and it is less labor intensive.

We have begun a new unit in Word Voyage. Over the next month, the kids will be working with vocabulary from our Science Unit. The first lesson was assigned today, Wednesday, and it is expected that it be completed by Wednesday morning of next week. Working on WV a bit each night is highly recommended. Waiting until the last night or two does not bode well for the quality of the work. The last step in completing the lesson is to write a sentence for each of the words. When possible, the sentences should reflect the scientific meaning of the vocab words since they are from our Science Unit. There are directions given for what criteria is needed to complete each sentence. For example they must have no fewer than a particular number of words and certain parts of speech or other grammatical features are clearly identified. If a student competes the lesson ahead of time, he should email me and let me know. I can then review the sentences and send back any that may need some more work. Each time a sentence is sent back for correction, there is a comment from me letting the student know what needs to be fixed. With each revision, the comments become more explicit. The kids get two tries at editing the sentences correctly themselves before I meet with them to give one-on-one instruction on what needs to be done for each sentence.

At the end of the unit, there is a comprehensive test on all of the words. As each lesson is completed, the students are able to download and print a copy of the words and definitions for that lesson. It would be a great idea to include spending time with these definitions each week along with completing the online work.

Finally, each Monday morning, the 5th grade gathers in one of our two rooms for our Second Step Lesson of the week. We have great discussions and by working as one large group we build community. At the end of each lesson is a Home Link. The purpose of these is to engage you, the parents, and your child in the skills we are working on in class. We will be sending these home for most of our lessons throughout the year. It is expected that your child come to you and ask when a good time to complete the activity together would be. When you have completed the assignment, we ask that you sign the bottom of the page in the appropriate space and have your child return it to school by Friday of that week.

It has been a wonderful first month of school and I am excited for all the learning that is to come in the weeks ahead!





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