Friday, August 28, 2015

August 24th - 28th

News of the Week:  Week of August 24th - August 28th, 2015


This week was the first week we really dove into the curriculum and it went very well!  It is wonderful to see the students hard at work and to begin to know them as learners and thinkers.  Here is what we've been working on this week in each subject.

Reading:  We started a whole group novel called The Kid in the Red Jacket by Barbara Park.  It is a realistic fiction book about a 10 1/2 year old boy who moves from Arizona to Massachusetts and has to start at a new school.  Many of the 4th and 5th graders can relate to that scenario!  We are focusing on making inferences (reading between the lines) to discover what the author is really trying to tell us.  Whole group class time is used to understand reading strategies and see them in practice as well as to have a shared experience with a high-quality novel.  Some key words from this week were: muffled, dread, and dismal.  See if your child remembers what they mean and can use them correctly!

At the end of the week, we began Café Reading, a time for students to build their stamina reading a good-fit book to themselves and practice on particular strategies that they need to improve upon. Meanwhile, both the teacher and the teacher assistant are conferencing with individual students about their reading skills. 

Writing:  We have reviewed the six traits of good writing and discussed how they all work together. Like our class reading book, our first writing unit is realistic fiction.  We practiced two strategies for finding ideas for our stories.  First, we practiced taking small, significant moments from your life and adding some fiction to increase interest and add a lesson or theme.  After that, we thought of stories we wish existed.  If we could find a book that we could really relate to, where we felt like we were reading about ourselves, what would that book be about?  Students are encouraged to continue brainstorming for ideas at home and writing them down so we don't forget them!

Math:  In both grade levels we have begun with place value

In grade 4, we worked with numbers up to the millions and wrote them in standard form, expanded form, and word form.  We discussed and investigated our base-ten number system and practiced ordering and comparing numbers.  Rounding is coming up next!

In grade 5, we started with whole number review and quickly moved into decimals.  We are working with numbers to the thousandths and focusing on writing them in various ways.  Up next we will be comparing and ordering decimals.

Social Studies:  The students are working with their table groups on a region of Africa (North, South, East, or West).  Each student has chosen 2 or 3 countries to research specifically.  We researched in the library for one session and have used chromebooks for two days now.  Students are learning various research skills including determining importance and how to choose the right site for condensed, effective information.  As soon as the research is done, the students will be creating a theme park of their region - they are very excited to begin!  Your child is welcome to continue researching at home.

A Note about Homework

Monday-Thursday evenings your child will have homework in both reading and math.  Occasionally, there will be something extra on top of this.

For reading, your child is expected to read his/her silent reading book for 30 minutes and to write one response in their Reader's Response journals.  There are specific directions on how to do this.  Each student should have a copy of them, please feel free to email me for a soft version in case your student cannot find their copy.  I collect their journals on Fridays to check how they've done and to write them a response.  

For math, your child will have IXL homework.  Their log-in information is stapled in their planners. As they practice each skill, they are expected to reach 90% mastery.  If he/she cannot do this in a reasonable amount of time (10 minutes or less), they can stop and see me to clear up any confusion the next day.  It is very important that your child does not reach "frustration level".  Math should be enjoyable and effective, not a headache!  Please note, if the internet connection is not working, they will have a piece of homework from the textbook that can be used instead.  They do not have to do both.  

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email me at

Upcoming Dates

August 31st:  Q1 After School Activities begin.
September 3rd:  Back-to-School Night, 7pm at AISB
September 5th:  Back-to-School BBQ, 1pm - 3pm at AISB

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