Reading: Students began reading books from the mystery genre for our latest literature circle study. Students are reading either The Mysterious Benedict Society, Chasing Vermeer, or The Westing Game. The main focus of this unit is to help students learn to make inferences. They will be working in their groups to solve the mysteries of their books by using these inference skills. Your child will have an assignment for each section of the reading. Some sections students will be given two days to complete, but other sections they will only be given one.
NaNoWriMo: Students should continue to write and edit their novels. Parents, please help them with their editing. Remember, the book needs to be finalized and ready to publish by April 4th. No exceptions. In the next few weeks, students will begin using CreateSpace to format their books; they will create covers, dedications pages, or anything else they want to add.
Students began chapter 11. This week, students will begin making and interpreting line plots and double bar graphs. Later in the week, we will begin reading and plotting points on a coordinate grid, as well as graphing equations. As always, please take time to review the weekly math skills by practicing problems from the textbook and the workbook.
Last week, your children conducted a lab where they analyzed how the height of a ramp would affect the average speed of a car. Make sure you ask your students how tall their ramps were! This week, we will tie this skill into our math unit. Students will be combining the data from the lab and creating graphs to represent how height affects speed.
Students will finish writing their essays on the plight of the early Jamestown colonists in class, using their outlines. They received help with their outlines and thesis, but we will look at the final piece of writing as an independent assessment. Afterwards, we will start learning about the geographical and economic differences between the colonial regions.
Science: Chemistry with Mrs. Klaren
This week we spent most of the week reviewing for chapters 11 and 12 test which take place on Tuesday, January 26. The study guide they’ve been working on is an excellent tool to help them prepare for this exam. Please review their study guides with them over the weekend. The test will cover the following topics: atoms and subatomic particles, properties of matter, ionic and covalent bonding, physical and chemical changes, chemical equations, and chemistry labs. Following this assessment, students will begin their study of forces and motion including speed, velocity, and rates of acceleration.
Social Studies- With Mrs. Meinke and Ms. Svedin
Students will wrap up their “What Happened to Roanoke” analysis. We have modeled multiple times what we are looking for in the analysis and effort in the write up and there should be no reason for students not to earn a three or four if they put in their best effort. We continue to stress the importance of explaining ideas clearly. When we are finished with Roanoke, we will go in depth with Jamestown and students will write an essay explaining the failures of early Jamestown using the primary source documents provided for them.
January 4, 2016
Student Teacher: Karise Svedin, a Master’s student from NIU, will be joining our classroom on January 18th. Having completed all other required coursework for her teaching degree, she only has student teaching remaining. Student teaching is the only on the job training that teachers receive before being handed their very own classroom. She will start by observing me teach, learning the schedule and procedures, and getting to know the kids. She will help students as they work and learn the ends and outs of paperwork from me. Gradually, she will begin planning lessons with my guidance and presenting lessons, supervised by me. As she develops her classroom stride, she will start taking over the classroom and my role will gradually lesson into more of a supportive role. This will give me the opportunity to devote my time to working more individually with students who need help or who need additional challenge. If you have any questions regarding this wonderful opportunity for your student to receive help from TWO teachers instead of one, please contact me at email@example.com.
Student Led Conferences: The conference sign up form has been sent home. Please sign up as soon as possible.
Music Field Trip: On Friday, January 15th, the students will be attending the “Music Petting Zoo” at Riverfront Museum. Students will explore various instruments available for band and orchestra. On the 20th, the Marshall counsellor and band and orchestra teacher will be coming to Washington to discuss elective options for middle school. The goal of the “Petting Zoo” is to give students an idea of whether or not they want to participate in band or orchestra as an elective and get them thinking about what instrument they would like to play.
We have been reviewing key terms in geometry and exploring the concepts of base and height in triangle area formulas. It is important to stress that the height is the distance from the base to the opposite vertex and forms an imaginary (or in the case of a right triangle, real) perpendicular line to the base. When in doubt, look for the right angles to find base and height.
Vertex- point where two line segments meet to form an angle.
Side- any one of the line segments that form a polygon
Base- any line segment on a shape
Height- the perpendicular distance from the base to the opposite vertex
Perpendicular- two lines are perpendicular to each other if they intersect at right angles.
Area- amount of surface covered
Right triangle- a triangle with exactly one right angle
Acute triangle- A triangle with all angles measuring less than 90 degrees.
Obtuse triangle- a triangle with one angle measuring greater than 90 degrees.
NaNoWriMo: Students should continue to write and edit their novels. Parents, please help them with their editing. Remember, the book needs to be finalized and ready to publish by April 4th. No exceptions.
Reading: Historical fiction stories are the next literature circle genre. Students chose between Blood on the River, A Murder for her Majesty, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It is imperative that the students keep up with their nightly readings and do not fall behind.
Students are continuing their study of chemistry. This week they will analyze types of chemical reactions, and identify signs that indicate a reaction is happening. Additionally, they will watch several chemistry demonstrations. As we move forward, students will begin balancing chemical equations!
In social studies, our current unit is Exploration and the Early Colonies. Students will be developing critical thinking skills by analyzing what happened to the Roanoke colony by analyzing theories and relevant information based on the source. Did the source have reason to lie? Is the cause and effect association valid? Is it hearsay? We will then launch into a research essay on the possible reasons for Jamestown’s struggles using primary sources that will be provided to the students.
November 21, 2015
Multiplying and Dividing with Fractions: We continue to work on fraction operations. Solving multi-step word problems involving fraction multiplication and division is the goal for this unit. The algorithms to multiply and divide fractions are simple, but mastering solving the word problems is the tricky part. Identifying all parts of the problem, solving each piece, bringing it all together, AND being accurate will take time and practice. At home, you can help with making sure the kids are accurate in their computation and having them read problems out loud to you if they are having trouble. Ask them to state in words what they need to do before they start computing. For example, “First I need to find out what fraction of a gallon he used, then I will need to calculate how much he has left.” Avoid telling them how to solve it. They need to be able to figure it out on their own. Sometimes there are multiple ways to solve the problem. Also, it is really important your student works on their Rocket Math facts nightly. They only need to master 2-4 facts a night. That isn’t hard to memorize. But every night they don’t memorize their new facts, they fall further and further behind. All students should have mastered all of their multiplication facts by now. It is too hard for them do the basic skills necessary (cross cancel, simplify fractions, convert mixed numbers to improper fractions, and find equivalent fractions) to operate with fractions without knowing their facts.
NaNoWriMo: Students should be near or past their goal by this point. We will continue to give substantial class time to this project throughout the month of November, however, after that, it will be up to them to keep going and finishing up their novels. Remember, the book needs to be finalized and ready to publish by April 4th. No exceptions. Parents can and should help kids edit, but please be positive in your suggestions and focus on grammar and clarity. Don’t try and change their ideas or story.
Reading: Students are continuing to work on their realistic fiction novels in small groups. We are working on identifying themes in stories and using text evidence to support why that theme was chosen. Students all are using Junior Scholastic magazine to work on non-fiction text skills, such as reading and interpreting data and making inferences based on data.
Information for second trimester reading logs and book reviews has been sent home. Please help your child set up some short term dates to help them complete the project on time, such as a date to have the book finished by, a date to start the first draft of the review, and so forth. Students have lots of time to work on this and long term project planning is a key work habit for middle school success. I will not accept late book reviews this trimester. Kids should plan on having book reviews done early in case things come up at the last minute that prevent them from doing it.
This week we finished up the density lab. Make sure you ask you child about how salinity affected the density of water. After layering different levels of salinity, we then measured the mass and volume of each liquid and calculated the densities. After next week’s long break, we will continue with our study of chemistry; specifically how molecules form, covalent and ionic bonding, and types of chemical reactions.
Students have wrapped up their book research for their Native American research and are finishing up their slideshow presentations. Students have access to wonderful online resources through the school’s library to help them if they need to gather more research while they are putting the presentation together.
November 9, 2015
Literature Circles: Students were divided into four different novel studies last week. Mrs. Klaren and I broke literacy time apart and met with each novel to discuss characterization and comprehension regarding your child’s novel. This week we will continue the same procedures, but we will also introduce the skill of “literary theme”.
NaNoWriMo: Students have been working diligently on writing their first novels! Some have already reached their goals! Please remember that they must reach a goal of 3,000 words by the end of November in order to publish in the spring. Students have had time in class nearly everyday to type their novels. When November ends, most of their typing will need to be done at home. They will have several additional months to keep working. I’m excited to read the exciting works of fiction they’re creating!
Fractions. On Friday, Students took the Chapter 3 assessment on adding and subtracting fractions. The most difficult part of the exam for fifth grade class as a whole was the application portion; putting the skill into action with real-world problem solving. The fifth grade teachers work consistently and diligently to pull students to give them one-on-one assistance when necessary-during lunch AND math class. I cannot emphasize enough the positive benefits of spending time each evening going over daily math concepts with your children. There are practice problems in the math textbook and workbook.
This week we are beginning the multiplication of fractions. Students will multiply proper fractions. Then, we will immediately being applying it to real-world problems.
Chemistry with Mrs. Klaren-Last week students learned that air has mass by completing an inquiry based lab. Most students hypothesized that air does not have mass. After constructing a balance and blowing up balloons, they learned that it does. This week, students will be studying the structure of atoms. Students will study the atomic number, atomic weight, and mass number of elements. Additionally, students will calculate the number of protons, electrons, and neutrons in each element. WHY? Elements are the basis of everything! I want them to understand why things react the way they do!
Native Americans with Mrs. Meinke-In social studies, students are in small groups researching Native American tribes by region and will prepare a presentation and museum display to teach the other students about their tribes, concentrating on how geography and resources affected the growth of their civilizations. Students will be taking home their Lost Island projects on Wednesday. Some kids put forth stellar effort and paid close attention to detail and instruction. Most kids who didn’t score a 3 or 4 left major things out of the project and therefore were unable to demonstrate their understanding of the graded skills.
October 19, 2015
Persuasive Essays: In class, we have been organizing research for the arguments for or against using animals for scientific testing. Students will build a 5-paragraph essay on the topic, using traditional essay format. They have already chosen which side of the argument they will defend in their essays. Throughout the week we will be constructing introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions. The will cite their research by stating the name of the article the information came from in either parenthesis at the end of the sentence it was used in (example: "Lash Lure") or in the sentence itself (example: In the article "Lash Lure", the….) Students will have time to peer edit using a checklists which list all the requirements. They will be editing other student's papers for things like: main idea, supporting details, transitions, and grammar.
Characterization and Inference Making: This week, students will read “The Tail” in their Pearson textbooks. We will focus on how authors develop character (characterization), and how readers make inferences. There will be a short selection assessment about the story on Friday. After that, we will launch into our literature circle books on realistic fiction.
Fractions: We began unit 3 in math today. This week, students will be studying how to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators, as well as estimate the sums and differences of fractions. At the end of the week, they will begin looking at relationships between fractions and mixed numbers.
I recommend students bring math workbooks and journals home each day to review during the evening. It is easy to mimic problems to make sure your child understands current mathematical concepts. Any immediate problems can then be addressed quickly
Map Skills: In social studies, students are applying research and citation skills to write an essay on how various business proposals will impact a community environmentally, socially, and economically. The goal is for students not only to examine how resources impact settlements, but to critically think about how to make informed decisions about complex issues
Ecosystem and Chemistry with Mrs. Klaren: The Atwood journals are in the process of being graded. Most students really did a beautiful job and put in lots of effort. On Thursday, students will take the final assessment on ecosystems. We have been reviewing in class. Please make sure students use the STUDY GUIDE to help them prepare for the test. At the end of the week, we will begin our study of atoms!
September 20, 2015
The Peace Plaza performance was amazing! Thank you Mrs. Butt-Hanif, Mrs. Doepke, Mr. Foreman, and Mrs. Kuhar for helping with supervision, and Mrs. Crowell for filming! Mrs. Taraff did an incredible job preparing the students. She put in a lot of hours getting that ready!
Science: Students are continuing to study ecosystems in preparation for the studies at Atwood. We finished examining several specific biomes, and are now beginning to analyze symbiotic relationships among species. Ask your child to discuss commensalism, parasitism, and mutualism this week! A chapter text will be coming in the next few weeks. Help your child by looking over the science outline a few minutes each day
Candy Sales: We have sold enough product that our profits are going to be 50%. Please turn in your candy money ASAP so we can get your final trip to you. If you sold multiple boxes, please turn in the money as you sell each box. It takes a lot of stress off of me to have the money counted and deposited quickly! A big shout out to Mrs. Durkin for all of her help getting the chocolate in.
If you are an overnight chaperone and have not yet been contacted by human resources about finger printing, please let me know ASAP!
The packing list was sent home with the forms. If you do not have one, the Atwood Forms link on the left navigation bar of my web page has a list on page 3. A few packing notes:
Write your student's name on the tags inside clothing and on anything you want back. Some kids are very careless with where they leave their stuff, and 52 kids together can really have stuff all over the place. I cannot tell you how many hoodies, shoes, jeans, etc. we have found in the dorms after they cleared out and brought back to school that no student ever claims as theirs.
Have your child work with you to pack so he or she can actually see what all is being brought and know what to look for. Also make sure your child knows how to pack the sleeping bag and items back up again. It is not possible for two adults to pack 52 sleeping bags and keep track of everyone's socks!
There is a recommendation on the list to bring camo pants for the predator prey game, but it is NOT necessary to have them, please do not go out and buy them.
Weather and water permitting, we might wade into the water to catch some critters and examine biological indicators of healthy ecosystems. I recommend sending a pair of water shoes, fishing boots, or an extra pair of shoes that they can get wet, as well as a reused shopping bag that they can carry them to and from the river in.
I also recommend sending a poncho or a custom tailored garbage bag if the forecast looks like there is a chance of rain.
The center does require a pair of shoes/slippers/flip flops for indoor use only. They are not permitted to run around the center in their outdoor shoes. They have cubbies that they leave their outdoor gear in near the doors.
Please so not pack medication in the overnight bag. They will bring the medication directly to me in the morning when they report to class. When I get to Atwood, I hand it over to the Park District staff, which has very tight protocols for safely administering the medicine.
There are souvenirs available for purchase. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, stuffed owls, and water bottles are the most popular items with the kids. If you want to send money for these, please put it in an envelope with your child's name on it and don't pack. When the kids arrive at school, they will turn in the money to me and I will lock it in the safe at Atwood until the last day when the items are available to purchase.
The morning of the field trip, you can either drop your student off or he or she can bring the luggage on the school bus in the morning. Students will drop their bags in the auditorium before they go upstairs to class.
When we return, students will put the luggage in the auditorium until school gets out. Please write a note in your child's assignment book as to whether or not he or she should take the bus or are getting picked up. Please make that clear to your child before the trip and only change the plans if there are unforeseen circumstances. It is impossible for the office to get dozens of messages out to the 5th grade when we come back from the trip.
Also, never tell your student that you MIGHT pick him or her up. I know it sounds silly, but I can tell you from years of experience, it really confuses them and they spend the day worried as to whether they will be picked up or not, or if they missed a message, and all of a sudden, after the bell rings, they announce they don't know if they should get on the bus or not. There is not time at that point to contact parents and get kids on the bus if needed.
Social Studies: Students continue to learn about the relationships between geography, resources, and the economy. They are working in groups to build an island community and use geography and resources to determine population patterns and analyze the impact a business proposal will have on the community as a whole and determine, ultimately, if that proposal will be accepted or rejected. This project will involve mapping and research skills, along with critical thinking.
Mathematics: Multi-digit multiplication and division are being reviewed with an emphasis on the role base ten plays in the algorithms as well as exponent use. Students who are not strong on their multiplication facts will struggle with this unit. It is imperative that kids memorize their facts. Finger tricks, adding up, and other various strategies really slow students down. The facts should be as accessible in their head as the answer to the question, "What is your name?"
Literacy: Students continue to read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.IM.H. We have been working on point of view, character traits, and figurative language within this story, as well as citing text-based evidence as support for answers.
We worked on structure and citing evidence for an argumentative essay with the article, "Common Cents." Using this initial essay, I am going to coach the students to improve areas of weaknesses and how to elaborate their ideas further. We are then going to take this skill a step further with writing an argumentative essay using multiple articles on animal research. This ties in directly to our Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H book. It is a very complex topic and our wonderfully idealistic fifth graders tend to simplify it. That is to be expected, they are ten and eleven after all. What I am really looking for in this essay is a clear structure (thesis, body paragraphs, conclusion), properly citing information from articles, and elaborating on the information by explaining how this supports their opinion.
The first book review is due on October 2nd. Criteria and directions were sent home with the students the first week of school and copies are available on the assignment due date in Edmodo calendar and on the navigation bar on my website. The summary needs to summarize the main events of the whole book. Typically, the summary section is two or three pages, typed, double-spaced, in 12 point font. There are additional questions, specific to the type of novel that are given in the directions as well, that typically take and additional one or two pages. Typical mistakes made in this endeavor is students not looking at the criteria and making sure each question is answered fully and completely or trying to summarize and entire novel in one paragraph. I will be showing students how to use our available technology to turn things in electronically if they do not have printers at home.
August 31, 2015
Puri Peace Plaza
On September 18th, we will be performing at Puri Peace Plaza for the Peace Day celebrations. Rehearsals will take place in music class. Students will be writing about peace in homeroom with public readings of strong pieces at the peace celebration.
We will need volunteers to help herd students around the different booths at the celebration. Each volunteer will take a group of kids (the more volunteers, the smaller the groups) through the exhibits and bring them back to the meeting place at the designated time. If you can help out that morning, it would be appreciated. Watch for permission forms to come home.
Math Base: 10 Operations
We will be wrapping up our first unit on understanding Base 10 concepts on Friday. Completing homework nightly is the best way to ensure skill mastery. There will also be ongoing work on automaticity of math facts through Rocket Math starting this next week..
Science: Ecosystems- with Mrs. Klaren
Students are learning how populations in an ecosystem interact in preparation for Atwood. We are teaching non-fiction reading skills through the text readings- including using text features and outlining main ideas and supporting details.
Social Studies: Map Skills- with Mrs. Meinke
The students will be learning how longitude and latitude lines relate to math. Students will measure and draw latitude lines as they are related to degree angle measure from the equator. They will also examine angle changes in shadows hour by hour to determine the degree change in an hour. This relates directly to the measure of degrees longitude.
Students will start the fantasy unit. We are reviewing literary terminology as it relates to fiction and fantasy. Students will begin a novel study Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. We are going to be focusing on depth of comprehension and analysis of readings. In writing, we will review parts of speech, sentence patterns, and focus on generating ideas in writing.
Atwood is rapidly approaching. October 5th-7th will be the most memorable experience of 5th grade.
Forms and clerical Please turn in your registration packets ASAP. Atwood will be contacting us any day to get information to plan accom0dations for students needs and I need to have all of the information on hand.
Medical If your student needs to take medicine while at Atwood, we have packets for you to put the medicine in. In order to ensure safety and proper dosing, each dose will need to be individually packaged with med name, date, and time. Just let Mrs. Meinke know how many envelopes you will need. The day of the field trip, pack your child’s meds in a place easy to get to. They will need to turn it in to the teacher as soon as they get to school
Packing Lists have gone home of things to bring and NOT bring. I recommend labeling things of value. You do not know how often the kids get their things mixed up with a friend’s and how many unclaimed clothing articles we wind up with after the dorms are deserted at the end.
Volunteers All volunteers must fill out volunteer packet. Overnight volunteers will also need to get fingerprinted at RPS Human Resources. Please see timeline I sent home at Orientation and on Friday.
- Bags: Meet at designated location, pop your trunk, and allow students to put things in it. Drive to the destination, pop the trunk, and allow kids to fetch belongings!
- Line Enders: Bring your hiking shoes and follow your assigned group through the trails. Don’t let anyone fall behind.
- Overnights: Arrive at center, drop your overnight gear on a bunk, and go on a night hike with us. When we return, get the kids through bed time routines and settled into their bunks. Any problems, get the teachers, who will be less than 40 feet away. In the morning, you can clean up and go to work!
Bags-9:30 Meet at school.
Trial ender 12:00-11:00
Trial ender 8:00-11:00
Trial ender 12:00-5:00
Trial ender 8:00-11:00
Bags-Wednesday, 12:15 Meet at Atwood
I really appreciate how parents have been writing after school pick up plans in the assignment notebook and informing the office early of any emergency transportation changes. It really lessens the classroom disruptions from calls and notes for transportation issues. THANK YOU!
August 7, 2015
Welcome to Fifth Grade!
I hope everyone had a terrific break! I spent time with family in Michigan and Iowa, learned how to crochet, and cuddled with my pets (the cats were not that helpful with my yarn and did interfere with the crocheting part). The first day of school is around the corner and I am looking forward to meeting you. One way I communicate with families is through the web. The class web page at http://www3.rps205.com/Schools/AS/WashingtonAcademy/TS/jmeinke/Pages/Links.aspx On the site, you will find links to online resources. We are going to be using Edmodo to post homework and other class information this year. Students will receive a passcode when they login after school starts and then a parent login will also be generated for parents to access the site.
I will work very hard to help all of you have a great year. Fifth grade is such a big step; I really want it to be a successful one for everybody. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about anything that goes on in the classroom. The easiest way to get a hold of me is email. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, I am also available by phone at (815) 966-3370.
Once you purchase your folders and notebooks, you can label them as follows:
Writer's Notebook Black
Social Studies Purple
Reading Journal Blue
Leaving for the drinking fountain frequently does take up a lot of class time, so please bring bottles of water so you can stay hydrated without having to leave as much. Label your name on it. Even if it is a disposable, students tend to leave their bottles in clusters and it gets confusing to know whose is whose. It is pretty gross to drink out of the wrong bottle!
Donations and Extras
Our classroom is always in need of extra cleansing wipes, such as Clorox, and paper towels. We appreciate any donations.
Also, we use individual dry erase boards as part of classroom work. I do buy markers for kids, but many kids like to have their own markers and colors. Purchase of dry erase markers is therefore optional.
We will have P.E. the first day.