Grade 5: October Update

Here’s what’s been going on and a peek into what’s to come…

Reading: As readers, the fifth graders have jumped into their book clubs with gusto. Our goal for the unit has been the interpretation of our texts, so we have been pushing ourselves to look for deeper themes and messages within our novels and then reading on with those big ideas as a lens for collecting further evidence or shifting our thinking. In our clubs, our discussion goal is to build bigger ideas by adding on to each other’s thinking. Rather than simply waiting for a turn to speak and changing the subject, we’re using small ideas like Lego bricks to build towering theories together. As our novels draw to a close by the end of this week or early next week, we will be looking across different texts to find similar themes. In this way, students will make connections across texts and explore how different authors can convey the same message or theme using entirely different characters, plots, and techniques. 

As a part of their book club work, all students should be reading and jotting for 35 minutes each night. These jots can range from a short paragraph exploring a specific scene to a longer musing about how a big idea or theme appears across many chapters. By this point, this work should be a natural part of students’ homework routine so that they are always prepared for the next day’s Reading Workshop and book club meeting. Please support students in remembering to bring their reader’s notebooks back and forth between home and school every day. 

When our book club work draws to a close, we will shift gears to start on a nonfiction reading unit that centers around tackling complex texts. We’ll be teasing out more accurate main ideas from these texts and analyzing the author’s craft. Our comparative text work from this unit will come into play as we compare and contrast nonfiction texts, as well. 

Writing: As writers, the fifth grades have made monumental strides in the difficult work of revision. Our personal narratives have grown from hastily dashed off flash drafts into works with layers of meaning that evoke larger truths about life. Students have completed multiple versions of their drafts while writing for vastly different purposes, whether to bring out the deeper meaning of the story, play with structure, or rewrite it from the point of view of an expert storyteller. 

Over the past week, we have been experimenting with elaboration by finding key moments in our narratives and teasing them out into longer, more meaningful scenes through the addition of small details and gestures, dialogue, inner thought, and developing tension. We have also been playing with the addition of flashback and flash-forward to transport the reader through time to a specific memory that supplements the true goal of writing the personal narrative. 

Before this unit is over, we will recapitulate these steps with a brand new personal narrative, leaving us with two thoughtfully revised drafts ready for publication. We look forward to sharing this writing on our bulletin boards!

Looking ahead, our writers will eagerly tackle the art of journalism next. Our revision work will carry through as we explore the use of various text structures to convey our intended messages, and we will lift the level of our writing through the use of expert vocabulary. Get ready to read all about it!

Math: The fifth grade mathematicians have been working on order of operations and strategies for the multiplication and division of whole numbers.  One of the goals of this unit is for the students to be able to look at the numbers that are being multiplied or divided and decide what strategy is the most efficient.  I often ask the students to solve in two ways, it’s a great habit to check your work in a different way to assure accuracy.  

Our next unit focuses on their knowledge of multiplication and factors to think about packing boxes of peaches in rows, columns and layers.  This work will lead us into our next unit of 3D Geometry and Measurement.  

The fluency practice routine is well underway and the students really look forward to the opportunity to improve over the week.  Having your math facts solid really supports the work when solving a more challenging problem, and let’s face it, knowing your facts quickly is just cool!  😉 If you’re looking for a way to practice, quizlet.com provides students with a chance to make their own flashcards or use sets that have already been made and posted on the site.   

Science: As student astronomers we have been focused on a our unit question: Why do we see different stars at different times? Using books, a computerized simulator and models students are gaining an understanding of the universe, the stars and their placement throughout the year.  We booked our first trip for November 20th to visit the planetarium and Hall of Universe at the Museum of Natural History (we will need some chaperones, please see the memo sent home to sign up).  

Reminders: If you haven’t already, please send $17 to cover the cost of the Science World & Scholastic News with a check made out to the Lower Lab School.

Students should keep a pair of earbuds in their pencil bag for Tech class, or be sure to bring a pair to school on Thursday and Friday.

We are lucky enough to have a student teacher, Kim Tolksdorf, from Hunter working in our classroom this fall and winter. Kim is also a teaching assistant at Lower Lab and will be working with students in 5-220 (Jordyn’s homeroom) one morning a week for literacy and social studies support. Please make sure to return a signed permission slip from Hunter, allowing Kim to work with your student.