January Update

Happy 2019!  As teachers, this is always our favorite time of the year.  The ‘new school year’ jitters have worn off, the students are in a really nice groove with each other and the systems and routines of the classroom are automatic for everyone.  Everyday feels productive and yet we can find some time to laugh and enjoy senior year!

The fifth graders have been working hard to lift the quality of their thesis statements and choosing the richest quotations to unpack in support of their ideas. We are challenging ourselves to make insightful inferences about the short stories we read and unpack the craft techniques authors employ as we analyze how craft can support a text’s theme. As we wind down this unit and publish the best of our work, we plan to jump right into another powerful essay unit – the research based argument essay. This unit will leverage the skills we are building in choosing and unpacking text evidence to support strong claims about topics in the world. Students will learn to suspend judgment as they read critically and note take before building reasoned arguments in support of their viewpoints. We’ll even appeal to our audiences and incorporate counterarguments to make our essays as convincing as possible. Prepare to be swayed!

As readers, we are taking our analysis of fiction texts to the next level. We’ve been analyzing motifs like loss, poverty, and friendship and will finish by connecting them across short stories and independent novels to explore how different authors reflect these motifs in their writing. Our next stop will be developing meaningful conversations around nonfiction texts. This informational and argument reading will even spur flash debates that can provide opportunities for rehearsal for our argument essays! This work will require analytical reading and analysis as well as exploration of the author’s craft moves to determine her unspoken perspective on the topic. Readers will also synthesize across multiple texts on a topic so that they can write essays in Writing Workshop that are heavily researched and fully informed. There’s no debating that this will be a powerful unit for the fifth graders!

In other news, our debate enrichment kicked off today with an engaging introduction to a debate’s purpose and structure with our guest teacher, Whitney, from the Leadership Program. She’ll be joining us weekly across the next few months and you’ll be invited in to see your students debate in person in March! Stay tuned.

We are finishing up our fractions unit in the next week and then we will move to our fifth unit, place value and decimals.  Place value in fifth grade involves multiplying and dividing by powers of ten (without using the standard algorithm), knowing how to rewrite each place value as a power of ten and being able to convert units within the metric system.  The work with place value helps students understand decimals in a more sophisticated way. As the month continues, we will cover rounding, ordering, comparing, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals.

We started our second science unit, Modeling Matter last week.  During this unit students will act as food chemists for a fictional food manufacturing company.  Throughout the first or three chapters, students learn that molecules can have different shapes, sizes, weight, and attraction to other molecules and that these properties are important in understanding how the process of chromatography works to separate mixtures of molecules.

Lastly, we’re putting out an APB on missing books. Our libraries are feeling emptier than usual and we notice we are missing some of the newest and most high-interest books. Most books from Laura’s room will say “5-220” across the top of the pages and Claudia’s say “COIA” on the front cover. In your winter cleaning, please keep an eye out for these and send them back to us! In addition, if you have any age-appropriate non-fiction or fiction titles that you are looking to donate to make room on your shelves, we will welcome them.