Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Camp Parent Meeting Presentation

9:31PM   April 12th, 2018

For your reference, click here  for the Google Slides presentation from the parent meeting. If you still have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher!


5th Grade Camp

3:25PM   March 14th, 2018

What is special about early May in 5th grade? Environmental Camp! Mark your calendars for

What did you find?

What did you find?

May 2nd through May 4th as we look ahead to this extraordinary opportunity.

As an enhancement to our hands on, scientific process and inquiry based science curriculum, the fifth grade will be visiting the Nature Bridge: Olympic Park, an overnight camp and field science facility outside of Port Angeles.  Nature Bridge’s mission is, “To provide educational adventures in nature’s classroom that inspire a personal connection to the natural world and the responsible actions to sustain it.” Nature Bridge instructors lead students in a variety of field and laboratory Next Generation Science Standards based activities where participants have a unique opportunity to explore, observe, describe, and discover the natural world.  We are delighted to make this inquiry-based learning opportunity available to Villa 5th graders.

How does this experience connect to Villa’s fifth grade science curriculum?  Over the course of the spring, we spend time engaged in activities that deal with the environment.  The students participate in a simulation called “Environmental Detective.”  In this unit the students explore the mystery of why the fish are dying in the “Gray Area.”  Through the activities the students make connections on how we can positively and negatively affect the environment by our actions.

At camp, the students will conduct real-life tests on Barnes Creek, Lake Crescent, and the Elwha River to determine each is healthy or not. The data we collect is reported to the National Park as part of the ongoing monitoring of the area. These experiences not only provide the students with scientific knowledge of the environment, but instill a sense of stewardship, a pride in caring for the beautiful resources God has given to us.

Fifth grade camp is the first of 4 years of outdoor education field experiences here at Villa. In 6th grade the students attend North Cascades Institute, 7th they go to Eastern Washington for a Geology/rock climbing experience, and in 8th grade the students spend time away from school developing their leadership skills at Leadership Camp. These are all distinct and varied trips.

As we look ahead to April, here is some important dates and information to keep in mind:


  • Tuesday, April 10th: all forms returned to school (the earlier the better!!!)
  • Thursday, April 12 th: Mandatory parent informational meeting in the Parlor; 7:00 pm
  • Wednesday, May 2nd –Friday, May 4th : dates of camp

               •Leave school at 8:00 am Wednesday morning

               •Arrive back at school Friday between 6:00 and 6:30p.m.


  • $365 per student. This amount includes all lodging, meals, curriculum instruction and field experiences, and transportation to and from camp. Scholarship money is available to any family. Please do not hesitate to contact Angela Dugan in the Admission Office if you would like to find out more. You can reach Angela at:

    • 206.729.0219 ext. 260

Your tuition accounts will be billed in April, 2018.

Below, you will find links to several forms that you MUST complete and return to school.

  • Nature Bridge Registration, Medical Information and Assumption of Risk Form (4 pages)
  • Student Contract
  • Villa Field Trip Authorization Form (This form will authorize the Business Office to charge your tuition account the $355 fee for camp)

If you anticipate that your child will be bringing ANY medication to camp (prescription or over-the-counter) you must complete and return the Authorization to Administer Oral Medication form linked below. NOTE: If your student already has medication that is housed at school (ie. epi pen; inhaler; etc.) and the office has the paperwork for it already, you need NOT send in another form. The one we have suffices!

  • Villa Academy’s Authorization for the Administration of Oral Medication form for each medication. This form is signed by the parent/guardian AND the prescribing physician. Medication must be in its original container and labeled with the student’s name. The medication and the accompanying form must be brought to Anne Terry in the office no later than Monday, April 23rd. NOTE: To insure that students enjoy the richest experience possible, we require that any meds students take on a regular basis be sent along to camp. If you have any questions about this, please contact Mrs. Elsner directly!

An overview of what to expect at camp and more specific “nuts and bolts” type of information will be shared at our April 12th Parent Meeting. We are looking forward to an exciting adventure!


Nature Bridge Forms:

Participant Registration/Risk Form 2018

Nature Bridge Field Trip Permission Slip-2018

Student Contract 2018

Authorization For Medication at Nature Bridge 2018

Packing and Equipment List 2018

Note: the packing list will be discussed at length at our Parent Meeting. However, just a heads-up…we do require all of the students to have waterproof pants and waterproof jackets with hoods. The school has a limited supply of these and boots that may be borrowed for camp. Please contact Norma Jenner (ext. 239)

January 2018

2:59PM   January 25th, 2018

130_1_for-christmas-cards-church-posters-ornaments-and-other-creative-holiday-sweet-snowman-clipart-christmas-clip-artAs we move toward the end of January, there is much to share about what we have done in the weeks since returning from Christmas Break. It is hard to believe that it has only been three and a half weeks. Here is a run down of what we have been doing.

In Religion Class, we have completed our Homelessness in Seattle Project. Research was completed, scripts prepared and voice recordings done in the weeks leading up to break. When we returned the first of January, we finalized the project by adding photos to the video. This was a very thought provoking project, one that got the kids discussing the problem of homelessness and the challenges that go along with it. When looking for solutions, it was heartwarming to listen to the ideas being generated. If only adults could problem solve through the lens of a child. Perhaps our world would be in a better place.

A huge thanks to Ms. Alessi for assisting us with all the technological aspects of the project. The links to both 5A and 5B video are at the end of this update. I am very proud of the kiddos for what they have accomplished. Our hope is that our work will raise awareness and spur others to action! As one student concluded in the video….just GO DO IT!

We are just wrapping up our first unit of study in history. During the last couple of weeks we have been learning about the first inhabitants of the North American continent, the Native Americans. We have learned that these peoples shared many things in common as well as unique characteristics dependent upon the region in which they lived. In addition, we learned that much of what we have or do today has its beginnings in Native American culture. For example, our form of government is rooted in the Iroquois Confederacy and the formation of the Grand Council. Five nations joined together to bring about peace in the northeastern region of our country. The clan mothers from each of the Iroquois peoples chose representatives to the council. They met to make important decisions, affecting them all, through discussion and compromise. This model was the first form of democracy.

As a culminating project, the kids were divided into groups to become experts on the culture of one nation from each of the regions of the United States. Once the research was completed, the groups created talk shows as a way to share their information with the class. A host welcomes and interviews both an archeologist and a descendant of the Native American nation being discussed. These talk shows are being video taped for sharing. As soon as the process is completed I will share the links to these videos with you. It should be very soon. Finally, the kids all got a chance to make a game board that incorporated information they learned when studying their particular nation. Yesterday, they got a chance to play each other’s games. Great fun was has by all. We next move on to the early European Explorers and the impact, both good and bad, they had on our world.

Our current reading work is integrated with our history unit, as we are working through the novel Children of the Longhouse. This story “conveys how democracy, respect, and justice are integral components of the Native American’s religion and government.” Along the way the students get an in-depth look at Native American life centuries ago. The novel become a vehicle through which we teach such comprehension skills as seeing relationships between characters or things found in the story or analyzing the characteristics of these characters and how they impact the story.

When we have completed our novel, we will begin a new writing project. This piece will be a newspaper article about an historic event that has occurred in each student’s chosen state. The article can be written as a modern day “anniversary” piece that recalls the details of the event, or can be written from the perspective of a reporter telling of the event a few days after it happened. When working on these pieces, we focus a lot on the writing process. This will be an expository piece. Expository writing is writing that attempts to explain something to the intended audience. It differs from other forms of writing, such as fiction and poetry.

Most expository “essays” have an introductory paragraph in which the topic of the writing is introduces and made clear. This is followed by several main body paragraphs that explain what is in the introduction, and a concluding paragraph in which everything is summed up.

When writing an expository essay, it’s important to write with the assumption that your audience has little to no background knowledge about the main topic. Your duty as the writer is to provide the reader with as much information as you can. The reader should feel as if he or she has learned something after reading your essay.

All of these skills will be practiced when writing our articles.

Next week is Catholic Schools week. The theme for this year is “Catholic Schools:  Learn, Serve, Lead, Succeed.”Each day we will focus on one of the groups that form our community; parents, students, faculty and staff, and neighbors. We will also look at one of the characteristics listed in the theme. The week will culminate in the celebration of Mass at St. Bridget led by the 6th graders, and the Talent Show on Friday. Read the Villa Weekly for more specific information about this special week.

Time is flying by and we continue to move forward! Where is the time going?


Have a good week!


5A Jones (total running time 11:12)

Click Here


5B Richey (9:02)

Click Here

Advent: A Time of Waiting

8:42PM   December 4th, 2017

What are we waiting for?” So begins our Advent journey. Advent is our time of waiting and preparing. The word Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means “coming.” It is the beginning of a new

Savor the Flavor of Advent

Savor the Flavor of Advent

liturgical year in the Church, beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasting until the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated. It will typically fall somewhere between November 27th at the earliest and December 3rd at the latest. This year, we began this past Sunday, December 3rd. The liturgical color for this season is violet, the color of royalty.

During the season of Advent we are looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of Christ’s birth, and for the time when, as promised, Christ will come again.

In the classroom, we celebrate this holy time of year daily with two very special activities. The first is our Advent Wreath. This wreath is part of our waiting each year.  As Christians, each part of the wreath has meaning. We begin with a circle.  A circle has no beginning and no end. It represents God, who has no beginning or end.  God has always lived and always will live.  God lived among us through Jesus, and God lives with us now.

Evergreens that stay green all year are added, symbolizing God’s love and care, which never changes. This symbol reminds us that people who love God will live forever.

Four candles finish the wreath. Three of them are purple and one is rose colored. The first candle is called the Prophecy or waiting candle.  It symbolizes the years of foretelling and waiting for the Messiah. The second candle is the Bethlehem candle, symbolizing the preparations being made for the coming of the Christ child.  It is the candle of giving…we give ourselves to Jesus. The Shepherd’s candle comes next. It symbolizes sharing Christ joyfully.  It is the pink candle, the color of joy and hope. Finally, we have the Angel’s candle. It represents love and the savior’s final coming.  It is the candle of promise, the promise of Jesus.

Each day we light the appropriate number of candles. Following the lighting of the Advent wreath, we hear readings taken from the bible. Together, the readings tell the story of the birth of Jesus, beginning with the angel’s announcement to Mary that she has been chosen to be the Mother of Jesus and ending with his birth. We turn out the lights and let the light of the lit candles remind us that Jesus truly is “the light of the world.”

Finally, we mark the days of Advent with an Advent Calendar. Ours is located on the bulletin board outside of our classroom. Each day, a student pulls off a card covering the representation of a symbol. The symbols help us to see our connection to God and Jesus and to see that as Christians, the path to true happiness lies in believing in and trusting God. These simple, everyday objects can remind us of the love God has for us.

The first symbol on the board is a key. It reminds us that Jesus is the key to a successful and happy life. The second day reveals a band-aid. The love of Jesus helps heal life’s little hurts and disappointments. Next we have a clock…it is always time to follow Jesus. What about a magnifying glass? Jesus helps us to take a good look and see the goodness in everyone. Each day brings a new surprise and a new way of looking at an everyday object!

As the days fly by and we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, take time to reflect on the meaning of Advent. What traditions does your family have? Invite your child to tell you what his/her Advent experiences for the day has been. There is a lot to share with one another during this special time!

Happy Advent!

September Check In 2017

6:18PM   October 4th, 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!





Authors, Authors, Everywhere

8:18AM   September 28th, 2017

In fifth grade, I like to introduce the students to a wide variety of authors. It is very easy to become “stuck” reading the same author or genre over and over again. To help broaden the kids’ eLidod974Txperiences, two times a year, in the fall and again in the spring, I provide them with an opportunity to explore authors that they may not be familiar with. I also provide an “out” for those that want to read a book that is not by an author on the list. Instead they may choose a Newbery or Young Authors Choice Award book to read.

Today, I introduced our fall book project in class.  The students will have an opportunity to begin looking for their chosen book. In addition to reading the book, they have been given a packet to complete. I have suggested to them that they use post-it notes to mark the places of pages they want to come back to when working on the packet. The book and packet are due to be completed on Friday, November 17.

Once this portion of the project has been completed, the kids will be given directions for completing a Google Presentation that will be used to present the book to their classmates. This part will be due on December 11th. They will then sign up for a day to present during the week leading up to Christmas Break.

In addition to the two book project, it is expected that the students are reading at home. I do not require a particular number of minutes per week. Rather, each student has a Reading Passport. The expectation is that every time the kids have finished a chapter book, it is recorded in their passport. At then end of the trimester, I will collect this for review. The trick is remembering to record the books when completed. I have encouraged the kids to make a note in their planners each Monday throughout the year to help them remember to record their books!

Reading is one of my passions. No other vehicle can take you on so many adventures, to so many different places and meet so many different people than a book! I hope to continue to instill that love of reading in all of the kids.

For a complete list of authors, ask your child to see their document or take you to Google Classroom.

Happy reading!! :-)



Lent: A Time of Refelction and Preparation

9:21AM   March 5th, 2017

Grow roots of compassion, empathy, kindness, patience, charity, and love!

Today we begin the next holy season of the Liturgical Calendar as the fourth graders lead us in our liturgy for Ash Wednesday. This important day marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of refection and preparation for Easter Sunday when Jesus demonstrated love’s life-giving power in his death and resurrection. The color we use to cover our prayer table during this time is purple, symbolizing royalty!

At our Ash Wednesday Mass, our foreheads are marked with ashes to “humble our hearts” and remind us that life passes away on Earth, but our journey does not stop there. Ashes are a symbol of penance and help us develop a spirit of humbleness and sacrifice. The ashes that are used to make the sign of the cross on our foreheads are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebrations the previous year. They are sprinkled with Holy Water and are scented with incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and repentance, they are also a reminder that God is merciful to those who ask for true forgiveness. Just as a mighty oak grows deep roots in order to withstand the strong winds or harsh conditions it may encounter, we too, must grow strong roots. These are roots grounded in the knowledge that walking in the footsteps of Jesus and knowing that we can depend upon God will help us weather the challenging times we may face and thrive in His love. As we grow stronger and our roots spread, we grow the Kingdom of God here on Earth.

It does not go unnoticed that the season of Lent begins as winter is drawing to an end. Trees are beginning to bud as crocuses, daffodils, and tulips start to push their way thorough the softened earth bringing new life to the dark landscape. Birds begin to return and chirp happily as they listen for worms beneath their feet.

People, too, begin to blossom as the days grow longer and the temperatures become warmer. Jackets and coats are replaced by shorts and t-shirts. Last year’s old leaves and grass have become compost for a new year. Earth is beginning to stir after its winter’s sleep.

Lent is a time for old ways to give way to new. The change of seasons calls us to change our hearts, to cultivate a new life within our family, work, neighborhood, and Church. What in our life can we nourish? Where can we lead others to do what is right rather than look the other way?

Each Lent, we are invited by the Church to awaken our spirit and seek to deepen our faith in Jesus’ promise of a new life. We are asked to focus on three different life-giving actions; fasting, praying, and alms giving. We fast to break away from those habits or behaviors that take us away from God. We commit to replace them and feast on more Christ-like actions. Alms Giving helps us to go outside of ourselves and focus on the needs of others. We are asked to prioritize our resources and contribute to the well being of those whose needs are not being met. Praying is our personal connection to God.  Through prayer, we bring him our hopes, our disappointments, our needs, and our gratitude for what we have been given. It is a time of quiet reflection.

Lent lasts for 40 days. The number 40 has always had special spiritual significance regarding preparation. The great flood of the Old Testament lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Moses stayed on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments. The prophet Elijah walked for 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years. And Jesus himself fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert before He began His public ministry.

In our Religion Classes , the fifth graders have reflected on a Lenten promise that each will work hard to keep. Rather than “giving up” the usual things such as candy or use of electronics, they are encouraged to decide upon an action or behavior they are going to fast from, feasting instead upon a more life-giving action. We will continue our daily prayer in the classroom, adding a Lenten component, and the students will have an opportunity for alms giving when they participate in our “simple Lenten meal” during lunch later during Lent and contribute to our Lenten Rice Bowl.

Finally, on March 30, Good Friday, the 5th graders will be presenting Shadow Stations to our Villa community. This is a very moving portrayal of the hours leading up to the death of Jesus on a cross and how we are connected to these events still today. There will be two presentations that morning, one at 10:05 and one at 11:15. We hope that you are able to join us for one or both!

Lent is a season for “winter hearts to melt, regenerate, and turn to our commitment as Easter people. We believe that like Jesus’ love, our love gives life.” What are you going to fast from and feast on during the next 40 days to grow your roots deep and strong?

Food for Thought During Lent:

Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on unity of life.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on words that bring joy.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude for what you have.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from self-centeredness; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayers that calm.
Fast from the shadows of sorrow; feast on the gift of serenity.

Community Service Project

11:29AM   November 14th, 2016

This next week, the fifth grade students have an opportunity to serve the greater Seattle community. Our

Feed My Hungry

Feed My Hungry

Cabrinian tradition compels us to educate out students to be compassionate people and to live the principles of our Catholic Social Teaching. As a way to actively engage in these goals, the students will baking pies to be served at a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Saturday to those who are in need of a good meal and companionship. The Catholic Social Teaching we will be living out is Called to Live in Family and Community.  Jesus knew that people need other people. We all need our family, friends, and neighbors. He tells us it is right that in our lives we should have these important people in our lives to help us. And, Jesus says, we must work to help them and those who do not have these same important people in their lives​, too. The pies are being baked​ for the Matt Talbot Center, an organization​ in downtown Seattle, offering hope, services and support to individuals who may be homeless or suffering from addictions and are ready to commit to change. ​

Each year, the Knights of Columbus of Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Edmonds, call upon the parishioners to cook and provide all of the trimmings for their annual Thanksgiving meal, serving more than 300 people next weekend.For the past 13 ​years, Villa 5th graders have been baking pies to be served at this meal and our name is well known within the parish! It is quite endearing to see the looks of accomplishment and pride as the assembled pies make their way to the oven to be baked!  The students truly demonstrate compassion and service, two core Villa values, through this project!
​ 5B will bake their pies on Thursday afternoon and 5A on Friday afternoon.​

Each student will be working with a partner and will meet early this week to decide who will be bringing which ingredients and utensils to make the pies. I will provide the pie tins, pumpkin, eggs, dough, extra supplies, and enthusiasm for our project!

For more information about the Matt Talbot center, navigate to the “Fifth Grade Student” tab on
​this website and go to “Community Service.”

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me!

September 2017: Nuts and Bolts

10:37AM   August 16th, 2016


September 2017

Welcome to a new school year! As a fifth grader, your child is well into his/her intermediate education.  I am so delighted that he/she is in my class. Together, we will work to make this an engaging and exciting year.  I am confident that you will be amazed by what you see the students are accomplishing during the next 10 months!

fall-leafThis year, your child will build on academic skills from previous years, as well as learn many new concepts and skills.  We will also concentrate on the responsibilities and independence needed to prepare for middle school. To help facilitate this, we will be focusing on particular organizational and study skills throughout the year.

Fifth graders are entering a special, preadolescence time in their lives.  Many 10-11 year olds experience changes in their bodies and attitudes.  Friends become a more integral part of their lives.  The 5th grade child might begin to exert more independence from adults.  Guiding your child through this time is important.  Keeping the lines of communication open and non-confrontational is crucial.  Remember, you are the parents!! Your guidance and tough decisions will help your child know what acceptable behavior is. For more information about the 10-11 year old child  click here.

One of the ways that I will get to know your child is with a student profile for your 5th grader that is completed by you.  The information that you record helps me to come to know your child’s unique qualities and hear your perspective on his/her academic, social, and religious journey thus far.. And, as I view our relationship as being a partnership, hearing from you about the goals and priorities you have for your child allows me to plan and monitor for growth in these areas. Please take the time you need to complete the form and send it back to school with your child. I will look for it to be returned by Friday, September 11.  To download a copy of the Student Profile click here

The first week of school will be spent learning procedures, routines, and getting to know each other.  I have activities planned that will help us to share a bit about who we are. We will begin getting into our academic subjects right away as well.  This year, we are using a program called Word Voyage to teach vocabulary. This program allows us to create words lists specific to the novels we read as well as any of our content areas. For example, as part of our Social Studies unit, we will be reading Children of the Longhouse. An entire unit of vocabulary and grammar study has been created based on the book. As the year progresses, we will create units specific to the work we are doing in class. We are excited for this change and feel it will better fit the needs of our 5th graders.

In addition to vocabulary study, there will be a weekly spelling component to our Language Arts program. The words studied are based on words that are used most often in writing. The students will be given a list of 9-12 words to study each wee in preparation for a 4 sentence dictation test. The following week, words missed should be added to the list of core words. These words are being constantly repeated in the dictation sentences throughout the year. Thus, the students are responsible for knowing them long after the test is given.

Our Social Studies focus is the study of the United States.  As part of this study, the students will choose a state to research through the coming months.  One of the first writing assignments will be a poem about our states that contains facts that the students will have gathered from a variety of sources.

Over the course of the year we will be concentrating on the geography of the United States. We begin with a general overview of the 5 distinct geographic regions of the United States followed by a more in-depth study of each region throughout the year.  Mr. Richey will be teaching the geography component of our studies to both classes.

Next, we will dive into the early history of the United States, which will be our focus during the first semester.   We begin by looking at several native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. We will discover that much of what these civilizations developed within their cultures was adopted by early Europeans and later influenced how our cities and government were shaped. We will also look at the connection between early native groups and European explorers who set sail for North America. Our history study will begin following the completion of our first unit of science with the study of the properties of energy, weather, and water cycle in our Earth and Sun Unit. We will also begin to introduce the steps of the Scientific Process as is appropriate to the work we are doing. This science unit depends somewhat on the sun being out and our best bet it to get through it while the getting is good in September!!

Later, in the second semester, we continue our science curriculum. We will continue to delve into the scientific process, learning what it takes to conduct controlled experiments. Forming questions and observing is just the beginning. From there we make predictions and hypothesize about what we believe might happen. We conduct tests and draw conclusions based on the evidence we discover. All of this lays the foundation for the many investigations we conduct throughout the Spring. To begin to prepare us for what the students will be learning at camp in April, they will become detectives and try to discover the environmental cause to thousands of fish dying in a fictitious land known as the Gray Area. We will look at a variety of causes such as acid rain, chemicals in water, alga blooms, oil spills, and clear cut logging. To end the year, we will be dabbling in some chemistry in our Mixtures and Solutions Unit as our final unit. Science is definitely alive and well in 5th grade.  For your convenience, you can download our daily schedule here.

Communication is key to your child having a great year.  You can expect regular updates from me via this website.  At times, I will recap what we have been doing and let you know where we will be going next.  Mostly, I will be keeping you abreast of what is currently happening in the classroom and assignments that your child should be working on at home. Should your student be experiencing a particular challenge, I will contact you personally by phone or email. Likewise, should you have any questions or concerns, you are most welcome to phone me at extension 235 or email me at . I will get back to you within 24 hours if not sooner.

Remember, your child has many of the answers to your questions. To foster a greater sense of independence, I would ask that you be sure to include him/her in the loop by checking with your child first before contacting me.  Also, if your student is frustrated or has a question about an assignment, encourage him/her to email me directly for clarification. I will be checking my email regularly each evening until 9 p.m. and will answer promptly. This helps to hold your student accountable for the information and works toward preparing for middle school. Should it happen that I do not see the email until the morning, we can deal with the situation when your child arrives at school. No worries!

Speaking of accountability, independence, and responsibility, during the first weeks of school, the students will be introduced to Google Classroom. Google Classroom with the students in a modified way. Google Classroom is a blended learning platform developed by Google for classroom use. Google Classroom combines Google Drive for assignment creation and distribution, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for writing, gmail for communication, and Google Calendar for scheduling. Students are invited to classes created by the teacher and accesses it using their student logins.

Our goal in using Google Classroom  is to provide the students with a “backup tool” should they lose an assignment, forget a due date, or any number of organizational needs. Any assignment for which I provide written directions, worksheets, packets, etc.  will also be posted in the appropriate Topic Folder in the class 5A 2017-2018 to which all students will have access. The intent is to continue to develop a sense of student responsibility whereby, if a student forgets an assignment at school, or loses it all together, it will their responsibility to track down the assignment in Google Classroom. Most assignments will be in a PDF format for easy printing.

As assignments are placed in Google Classroom, if there is a specific due date associated with the work, the date and assignment name will appear on a calendar for easy tracking. If there is no due date associated with the assignment, it means that this is an ongoing activity and I track our progress toward completion in class.

Because it is an expectation that all students use Google Classroom, there will be no more excuses for why homework isn’t completed due to not having it, and I will be running to the copier less due to recopying lost worksheets!

Google Classroom provides a great tool for communication between school and home as it related to assignments. I invite you as the parent to secure your child’s login information and periodically check the calendar so you have visibility of what is flapping in the wind and may need attention from your student. In addition, when your child says, “I can’t find my spelling list for this week,” you can gently remind him/her to go find it on Google Classroom. The stress level will be greatly reduced as students learn to rely on this tool more and more! Academic independence and being responsible for one’s own learning becomes much more attainable! Exciting!

Your child will spend approximately 45-60 minutes each night completing homework. Homework comes in many different forms; completing an assignment begun in class, studying for a test, working on a project, or reading. The time spent will vary depending on the assignments and your child’s learning style.  Keep in mind that most assignments allow for a couple of days to be completed, waiting until the night before to begin the work is never a good idea! Good management of time is a must so as not to get behind. Providing your child with a study area that is quiet and has the necessary tools and materials will maximize his/her progress. I will be spending a great deal of time working with the class on efficiently and effectively writing down their homework. However, if they don’t look at the planner when they get home, it is of little use. I would ask that you encourage your child to routinely review the daily planner at the beginning and end of homework time to minimize the “I forgot” syndrome.

Knowing that there may be the occasional family circumstance that prevents your student from completing homework, a note from you letting me know this will be appreciated. Though generally the assignment will be due the next day, I will work with your child on negotiating an alternate due date should the circumstances warrant it. Should your child come to school without having completed an assignment that is due and there is no note from you, you will be asked to sign a slip notifying you of the missing assignment. I would ask that you discuss ways to prevent a repeat of not getting work done on time. To review a copy of the 5th grade Homework Policy click here

To continue to encourage independence, let your child seek you for assistance.  When asking for help, suggest to your student that he/she ask specific questions rather than simply say, “I don’t get it!” Often times, just talking it through is all that your child needs to trigger a memory that will allow her to complete the assignment. Be the role of “supporter“ rather than “doer.” Giving too much assistance may send the message to your child that he is not capable of completing the task successfully without you! We will be spending a lot of time developing growth mindsets this year, changing the “I can’t” attitude to “I am capable of figuring this out!” I am excited to share this concept more fully with you at Curriculum Night and am looking forward to seeing all of you at Thursday evening, September 14th.  In the meantime, here are a few bits and pieces that will tide you over until then.

This year, the students will be keeping special binders for Science, Social Studies, Reading and Writing. Many of the things we do will be incorporated into these portfolios. I invite you to stop by at any time to leaf through your child’s work or ask that one of the portfolios be brought home over a weekend to share. However, it is important that these binders come back to school right away as they contain work that is in process as well.

Completed work that does not go into these portfolios will be sent home approximately once a month. Your child will have a folder with assignments that he/she has completed.  I invite you  to review these assignments together.  Ask your child to explain what he has have been learning. Celebrate successes and discuss how to handle challenges in the future. Note the written comments, if any.  They can be informative. These assignments may stay home unless otherwise noted.  If there is a “Please Sign and Return” stamped on any paper, please send that assignment back to school after signing it. Finally, if you would add your signature and date on the front of the folder, I would appreciate it.

At any given time, a student or parent is welcome to talk with me about the child’s progress in any area.  If you have questions about a grade or an assignment, I would encourage you to first speak with your child to get his/her perspective. If he/she is unable to answer the question for you, have him/her ask me for an explanation. If after this, you still have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask me about it. We will be working on “advocating for ourselves” this year and this is a great place to get practice.

Should your child be absent due to illness or vacation, I will work with him/her to get caught up on missed assignments.  However, because much of what we do is experiential and hard to duplicate outside of the classroom, I will not be able to provide all assignments that your child will miss while away from class. In general, I do not provide assignments to be done while away on vacation. I will be happy to meet with him/her upon his/her return and negotiate what needs to be completed and by when. Remember, any planned absences must be documented on an Absence Form which can be found on the school’s main website. For your convenience, I am attaching a class schedule for those times when planning for an absence during part of the day is unavoidable. Just click here to download. Here’s to a healthy year!

Assessment of your child will take place in a variety of ways.  Informal observation occurs daily in a variety of ways. How is your child feeling on a given day? What is the content of casual conversations? How does your child perform in a group or individually? Can he/she stay on task? Does he/she contribute to the group effort? Individual and group assignments are evaluated for different purposes. These might include knowledge of content, creative problem solving, or clear presentation.

Formal assessment in the form of tests and quizzes give students an opportunity to demonstrate and/or apply what they have been learning.  It is not enough to just memorize facts. Can the students clearly communicate what they have learned or possibly relate it to the “larger picture?”

The students will be provided with ample notification of tests and quizzes that are forthcoming.  In many cases a study guide will be provided as well.  It is my goal that your student, with adequate preparation, finds success on these tests. Research suggests that smaller bits of time preparing over an extended period is apt to produce more positive results than simply cramming for a longer length of time the night before. As the scouts say…Be prepared!!!

Another piece of the puzzle includes normed referenced testing. As in the past, the fifth graders will be taking the CTP IV test in the fall. The dates are tentatively scheduled for October 23rd through the 27th. The information we get helps to inform our decisions about program to better serve each of our students. We ask that you please NOT schedule any appointments or vacations during this period of time. While we will make every effort to make up tests missed, students will not be pulled from other classes during the day to take them. They will be administered after school on dates TBD at a later time.  After a long day of classwork makes it difficult to duplicate the ideal conditions that allow for maximum success, so being present in class is extremely important. If you have any further questions regarding testing, please do not hesitate to contact me!

SNACKS are important for some students and not so much for others. To meet everyone’s needs, we will have a set snack time in the morning each day. All students are invited to bring a healthy snack to give a boost of energy mid morning. Food suggestions might include fruits, vegetables, crackers (particularly whole grain), energy/protein bars, and the like. Sugary snacks such as candy, cookies, and brownies are discouraged. REMEMBER: Students are to avoid bringing snacks that may have peanuts or tree nuts as we have students in our  class and school with severe allergies. Please read labels carefully, especially for ALL snack bars and such!!  This is particularly important since we are eating in the classroom. Students should also avoid sticky snacks, as often we are in the middle of an assignment when snack time comes upon us. If your child finds that he/she gets hungry at other times of the day,  snacks are allowed on an as needed basis. These snacks are to be “invisible” in that they cause no disruption for the student or the flow of the class. For a  list of allergy friendly snacks click here.T hank you in advance for monitoring your child’s snack selections!

Everyone loves celebrations!  If your child is planning on sharing his/her birthday fun with friends, school policy allows that party invitations may be passed out at school only if everyone in the class or of the same gender is invited.  If this is not the case, we ask that invitations be mailed to the homes of those invited. We will celebrate birthdays individually with the birthday child receiving good wishes from the class and a couple of special little “gifts” from me on the day of his/her special day! Summer birthdays will be celebrated on the half-birthday date. We ask that no treats be sent to school to celebrate birthdays.

Halloween and Valentine’s Day will be celebrated with our Buddy class. This year. Fifth grade will be responsible for Halloween and First grade will plan Valentine’s day! More information will be forthcoming!

I look forward for sharing with you more about your child’s 5th grade experience on Curriculum Night which will take place on Thursday, September 14th at 7:00 pm beginning in the Theater.

Finally, mark your calendars for the Italian Dinner, scheduled for Friday evening, September 29th  and for class and individual pictures to be taken on September 28th and 29th. Ciao!

Fifth grade is a year of change and preparation for Middle School. So sit down, hold on, and get set for an exciting ride. I am looking forward to partnering and sharing this year with you!


Karen :)