Sunday, May 4, 2014
Newsletter April 29, 2014 Important Dates April 30 Swim Ends May 9: Pejebscot Historical Society: tours of the Joshua Chamberlain House; Whittier Scholfield House Welcome back to the last seven weeks of the year. We always find that this seems like a sprint to the finish. Here are some of the plans. Writing: We are finishing up the unit on essays. Children had been working on literary essays before the break. Our schedule was set up for them to be done well before vacation, but, between tests, swim, and a variety of other events, we lost many writing blocks. So we will be looking over the drafts that did get done, analyzing them, and setting goals. At the end of the week children will write an “on demand” essay. This will use the structure we’ve been practicing, but children will choose an opinion to defend. We will be working on another research piece for our last unit. We study the period in history know as the Gilded Age. This period is sometimes called the Age of Inventions, sometimes the Age of Immigrants. Children will choose something about this era to study: for instance: the railroads, the steel industry, the banks, Ellis Island, immigration, child labor, the tenements of New York, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge. We are very lucky to have the Curtis Memorial Library as a source of books. Word Study: We have sent the “No excuse word” list home several times this year, and we have worked on it and given the assessment in school. The final chance to learn these words is coming up in a few weeks. The list is included one more time. Please help your child to practice. We have gone over these words in class, practicing the differences between your and you’re, and between there, their and they’re. Now there are no more excuses not to know them! We will also give the inventory, a set of words grouped by spelling patterns, that we give at the beginning and end of each year in order to keep track of children’s growth. Social Studies: Children have been working on a flip book featuring Famous Mainers. Children chose 4 people from a long list; they are making the most wonderful drawings on the cover flap, and writing information inside. They must site their sources [class books and Maine Studies Weekly newspapers] on the back of each section. Science: It’s been a challenge to squeeze in wave lessons and activities. Our last session focused on transverse waves; we diagramed and discussed the crest and trough of a wave, wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. In the coming weeks we will use the slinkies, and also make a wave model using elastic and straws, in order to demonstrate that wave energy is transferred from molecule to molecule. We will examine sound waves, which are somewhat different from water or seismic waves. And we will move into empty space to learn about the electromagnetic spectrum. We learn about the many kinds of electromagnetic waves, with their different wavelengths: waves that we can and cannot see, and which are radiated from the sun. Math: we are finishing up Unit 7. In this unit students learned to: • Describe fractions • Find the fraction of a particular number, • The basics of probability, add and subtract fractions with common denominators • Determine whether fractions are equal • Compare and order fractions • Express probability of an event as a fraction • Predict the outcomes of an experiment and then test the experiment to see what actually happens Students will be assessed on this unit at the end of the week. Look for a review sheet to come home as homework. The review sheet includes all of the skills students will be assessed on. We are continuing to work on multiplication facts using rocket math. I know our lives are busy, but if you have a couple minutes of down time to quiz your child on their multiplication facts, that would be very helpful in supporting their math needs. The Dollar Tree is a good place to find flashcards, or you can make your own! Our next unit focuses on area and perimeter. Students will be learning skills such as finding the area of rectangles, triangles, and parallelograms, as well as finding the approximate area of irregular objects. Reading: We are working in the Historical Fiction: Tackling Complex Texts unit. Students have chosen a time period they would like to read more about and we did a little background research on that time period before picking up books that are set in that time period. Students are really enjoying this unit. I have some groups starting their second historical fiction book! Along with reading, students are also doing a lot of thinking as well. We are learning different strategies to truly understand and deepen our thinking of our historical fiction books. So far, we have discussed: • The setting and how it effects the mood • The elements of the story (who, what, where, when, why) because it is set in a time we have not experienced • Holding on to time when there are flashbacks and foreshadowing • Thinking about our characters: the choices they make and why, the type of person they are and why, and how they are feeling Reading at home if very important for every student. This is one of many things they can do to make themselves an even better reader. Lately, less then 50% of students are reading the expected amount. Many students do hand me in a log, which is GREAT, but I want to make sure they are working towards reading more and more. A great way for students to push themselves even further is to write their thinking on the back of the reading log. I have put prompts at the top to help them grow their thinking.