December Update

Dear Fifth Grade Families,

We are continuing our fractions unit, we finished up addition and subtraction of fractions with unlike denominators as well as mixed numbers (including regrouping and simplifying when necessary) and will begin multiplication and division of fractions.  Fifth grade students will be expected to multiply whole numbers x fractions, fractions x fractions, fractions/whole numbers, whole numbers/fractions and fractions/fractions. Using rectangular models (rather than circular models) supports the work of this unit and provides strong support for students to visualize the work that we are doing.  

We will be finishing our first science unit, Patterns of Earth and Sky in the next two weeks and our trip to the Museum of Natural History provided more examples and information about the universe and fun facts about the big bang theory, dark matter and black holes.  It’s always nice to get out of the classroom and enjoy some museum exploration! Our next unit, Modeling Matter will begin in January. Students will work with physical and chemical changes using food and cooking.

Last year I recommended this book to the class and many students enjoyed reading it and found it helpful when preparing for National Science League (the multiple choice competition for 4th and 5th graders) in April.  Maybe a holiday gift idea?

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need more information.

Your fifth grade writers brought our Journalism unit to a thrilling conclusion by publishing their own feature articles inspired by the issues they noticed while reporting on school news. These hybrid texts taught information on a topic while (mostly) subtly communicating the author’s perspective through careful word choice and quote selection. They leveraged the most important journalistic moves they learned from Lab Parent and professional reporter Silvina Sterin Pensel, who came to share an exciting presentation on her written and filmed news reporting of major US events. After finishing the feature articles, the fifth graders enjoyed an “in class” publishing party where they rotated, read, and responded to their classmates’ articles. Their comments will transfer directly into goals for our next unit: literary essay writing! (Feature articles and literary essays – more alike than you think!) We expect this to be a challenging, enlightening, and fun – yes, fun – unit for these already skillful writers about literature.

As readers, the fifth graders have tangled with some very complex informational texts in their research into European exploration. While our nonfiction reading unit has drawn to a close, this work will continue through our Social Studies curriculum to culminate in multimedia presentations that address facets of our focus question: How do issues of power, wealth, and morality influence exploration and colonization? Meanwhile, during our reading workshops, our attention is shifting back to fiction as we work in partnerships and clubs on our literary analysis. This reading work won’t only support our writing of literary essays, it’ll also challenge use to think in deeper and more nuanced ways about how authors develop characters and themes across texts. We’ll be reading both short stories and novels for this work, and we expect to see evidence of this raised level of interpretation in our reading journals as well as in the literary essays we’ll workshop and publish!

On the subject of books, we’d like to express our gratitude to all of the families who generously made it possible to add some exciting new literature to our fifth grade library! The students have been eagerly shopping through our “New Book Fair Books!” bin, and we hope that all of them get the opportunity to read these fantastic new additions. Thank you again, and please remind your fifth grader to return these books to our library as they finish so that everyone can enjoy them!