Fifth Grade March Update

March has roared in like a lion, and we aren’t letting a little snow get us down.

We are preparing for the fifth grade ELA test through a mixture of guided practice, partner work, and small group instruction. The students are already experienced after all their hard work in fourth grade; this year’s job is to maintain that level of focus while fine tuning our written responses for fifth grade expectations. We’ll discuss more at parent teacher conferences so that you’ll know the specific goals we’re addressing with your child.

In Reading Workshop, we’ve been learning how to do “leaner, meaner” annotation that codes the important elements of stories and narrative non-fiction texts without wasting unnecessary stamina. These quick jots allow us to look back at the text more effectively as we think about how parts relate to the whole of the text and consider the best answer options for multiple choice questions. At the same time, students are keeping their independent reading work going strong because this is an important time of year to maintain strong reading skills.

In Writing Workshop, the fifth graders spent the first week of March studying, scoring, and writing short response answers that fulfilled the question being asked without going into unnecessary tangents or redundant unpacking work. As in Reading Workshop, we’ve been trying to work efficiently, saving the bulk of our writing energy for the extended responses that we started to study today. As the month draws on, students will have many opportunities to transfer all of their hard-earned literary essay skills as they skillfully incorporate and unpack text evidence in their thoughtfully crafted extended responses.

In Social Studies this month, fifth graders will be exploring the forces that have shaped Canada’s geography, culture, and government. They’ll be able to leverage their growing debate skills in a debate about the changing language of Canada’s national anthem, and they’ll also be researching and developing their own Buzzfeedesque listicles about Canadian provinces. This unit of study will also incorporate a challenging STEAM project about Canadian environmentalism. After learning so much about the impact of French exploration on Canada, students have jumped into this unit with enthusiasm.

As mathematicians, we have completed our decimal operations unit and will spend the month of March focusing on 2D geometry and the coordinate plane.  Students will study triangles, quadrilaterals and circles as well as measuring angles with a protractor and calculating complementary and reflex angles.  Fifth graders are expected to understand and use quadrant one of the coordinate plane, but many of our lessons will provide opportunities to explore in the other quadrants as well.  Students should be able to describe triangles and quadrilaterals based on their characteristics (angles, side lengths, parallel lines and perpendicular lines).

Last week we completed a practice math test and I will be sharing the results at our parent teacher conference next week.  Students will be given the opportunity to see their results and take some time to reflect on any errors prior to our meeting.  During the month of March we will also be reviewing skills and strategies that have been covered during this school year in preparation for the state test in May.  The geometry unit and test prep will go on at the same time so you may see a slight bump up in homework.

The next chapter of our Modeling Matter unit will have students continuing to work toward making a salad dressing with particular properties, but shifting their focus to creating a salad dressing that will not separate into layers.

Science Fair 2019 ideas are due Friday (thank you to many who used the snow day to get the work done).  I have commented and responded to all of the projects that have been submitted as of Tuesday 3pm. Please encourage your scientist to submit their ideas and check back in 24-48 hours to read and respond to my comments/feedback. Next due date: Proposals, Wednesday, April 10th.   

In other news, we wanted to let you know about some interesting things going on in the city over the next few weeks. On Tuesday, March 12, NYU will host its annual Brain Day. It’s a free event in which students can learn about neuroscience and meet real scientists! For more information, check out and let Laura know if you’re going! She’s got some very brainy connections at this event.

Additionally, the New York Children’s Film Festival is going on, and Lower Lab’s author laureate, Suzanne LaFleur, recommends checking out the movie “Supa Modo” airing this Saturday at the SVA Theater. The director will be there to answer audience questions about this film about a superhero-loving Kenyan girl whose passion helps her to overcome hardships. Find out more about the film at and from there you can find your way to many other amazing films in the festival, which runs for two more weekends. Remember to select Lower Lab on the school partner list before you purchase your tickets, and the school will get a cut of your ticket sale.