Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Camp Pendalouan Here We Come!

Well, it's finally here ... the highly anticipated overnight fifth grade camp experience. We have a jam-packed schedule that involves mostly outdoor activities. For example, students will be a part of orienteering, bird watching, ice rescue, survival skills and cross country skiing. We can promise you that when your kids come home, they will be tired and worn out. You're welcome, in advance! We are going to have a blast!

An important note went home today with last minute reminders. Please be sure that students have extra clothes, outdoor gear and overnight supplies. They will also need a sack lunch for Thursday. I cannot stress enough how important it is that the kids come prepared. Ready or not, here we come!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Second Semester Spectacular

Congratulations! We've made it half way through our fifth grade journey. Before we know it, June will be here and I will be begrudgingly crying my ugly cry.

But for know, we are very busy in Social Studies understanding the social impact of two historical leaders: Wilberforce and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is amazing how many similarities these two seemingly different men actually have. Today, students organized their ideas about how these two compare. Tomorrow we will be writing compositions with their ideas and supporting every idea with at least two details. Soon, we will be moving into the colonial period of our nation's history. It is my hope to integrate economic concepts with our knowlege of historical content.

As usual, in Language Arts, we never seem to have enough time. We recently finished our New Year's Resolution essays and our TEAM letters. We will be going to the library tomorrow. We are always working on integrating writing, reading, conventions and strategies that make a difference.

Remember camp is at the end of next week. Be sure to pack warm clothing and extra layers. My philosophy is that you can never have enough.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The End of the 1st is the Beginning of the Second Semester

Friday is already the end of the first semester. We have a lot going on in the next couple of weeks. Report cards will go home on January 25th. Our overnight stay at Camp Pendalouan is January 31st and February 1st. And we are finalizing our candy order in an effort to sell World's Finest chocolate to raise money for our upcoming Chicago trip in May. Continue to watch for information coming home about these events.

In Social Studies, we continue to study the institution of slavery. We are currently watching specific scenes from the movie Amazing Grace that highlight issues concerning slavery. We discussed how after decades and hundreds of years of trading people, slavery became "normal" to Europeans and hence widely accepted. Most just accepted the practice of people as property especially if it meant gaining a profit. Amazing Grace illustrates William Wilberforce's efforts to end the British slave trade. This is a great historical fiction movie to watch with your children. It is rich with history and based on true events. Although it is rated PG, I would caution you to watch it first in an effort to better explain specific scenes and language.

As always, time is my nemesis in the Language Arts department. We are desperately trying to cram in as much vocabuary, writing, reading and comprehension as we can in our short one hour period each day. Students just finished their New Year's Resolution essays and are currently working on their TEAM letters. In these, students are writing to themselves in eighth grade reminding themselves of one of Officer Luce's lessons. Students are struggling to incorporate their own voice into this format. Additionally, they have been given a slew of writing strategies to sprinkle throughout their letter. Some of which are: repeat a word for emphasis, alliteration, transitions for smoothness, smilies and adjectives to add detail, vocabulary to add depth and exaggeration to stress a point. I must admit this is difficult for most adults to do; however, I have complete faith in their writing abilities.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

History Isn't Always Pretty

We've started to move into an ugly part of our history: slavery. Students are often shocked at many of the details that we discuss. I can see in their faces during some of our discussions that they cannot fathom being a part of a society that would endorse slavery as an institution. Already students have asked intriguing questions that prove to me that they are very much interested in finding out more. Remember, there will be a test over the 50 states on Tuesday, the 15th.

In Language Arts, we are writing our New Year's Resolutions essays. The introductions that I saw thus far were dynamite. I couldn't ask for better! I was very impressed by students' creativity as they searched for ways to draw in the reader. I can't wait to read the essays in their entirety.

Friday, we will be sending home information about our Chicago trip. It is important that we receive these back by the middle of next week. Have a wonderful weekend.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy New Year!

I can hardly believe that is it 2008 and we are nearly halfway through the school year. The first semester ends on Friday, January 18th. Please check your students grades online at the district website.

We will have one last test in Social Studies before the end of the marking period. Next Tuesday, the 15th, students should be prepared to identify where all 50 states are located. We have been working up to this all year! I'm sure it will be more of a celebration than a test. Most know our country's layout quite well. In an effort to get in a few last practices, students have homework tonight and tomorrow over the states.

In Language Arts, we started Unit 2 of our Vocabulary workbook. There are 12 words that students should spend time becoming familiar. We will probably have a test next week sometime. Today we started a mini lesson on writing introductions that start with some action. Tomorrow we will color code the parts of these paragraphs and then dive into our own attempt.

We are still in need of a couple more parent volunteers to attend camp with us on January 31st and February 1st. Also, in the next week, there will be important information about our upcoming Chicago trip coming home.

I hope everyone had a fab-u-lash holiday break. We are gearing up to have an impressive 2008!