Newsletters

12/8/14

Welcome to the beginning of week fifteen. Report cards went home with your children on Friday. I forgot to send home the Self Assessments that the students filled out at week six and week twelve; those are coming home with your children today. In general, I am impressed with the honesty and maturity of the students in completing their Self Assessments. In many cases, you will see (on the report card) that I have agreed with them in how they scored themselves.

Last week, on Thursday and Friday, we also reviewed reading comprehension tests for "Our Song" and "From Miss Ida's Porch". Each of those will have a half-page grading slip. Kindly notice that I am grading your child's progress in terms of the Common Core State Standards. This is true for English/Language Arts and Mathematics. However, our current report card does not utilize those standards. Thank you for being patient with me as I have not been as quick to get graded assignments back to the students as I would have liked. Now I have a better understanding of the report card and how I can translate progress towards mastery of the Common Core State Standards to our report card. Moving forward, students - and you, their parents - can expect more timely feedback in terms of grades. Students get feedback from me on a daily basis, but not always in the form of grades; that will improve.

Comments are on the back of the report card.

English/Language Arts:

We have now begun our next writing unit, Opinion Piece. Students have already written an in-class opinion piece as an assessment. Some of them have decided to continue to work on those opinion pieces as their assignment. Other students will soon begin drafting their opinion piece.

This week, I am teaching spelling using some resources from our Imagine It! curriculum materials, rather than the Word Study menu you have been seeing. You will see these spelling worksheets as homework this week.

Mathematics:

We are concluding our unit on Place Value, which sets us up for computation with decimals. We will be adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing with decimals.

If your child did not do well on the Computes Accurately part of the report card, then they need more practice on multiplying and/or dividing. I recommend having your child use Front Row at home to practice the skills they are having difficulty with. Students know how to access Front Row from the Computer Lab page on my website. While we use Front Row in the computer lab most Fridays, it would be good if students also used it at home. I can't require it as homework, because there are equity issues, but if you have internet access at home, please have your child work on Front Row.

History:

This week we are concluding our study of The Age of Exploration. We will also begin our study of the fifty states and fifty capitals of the United States.

11/17/14

Welcome to the beginning of week twelve. This is the last week of the first trimester. This Friday is the cut-off date for the first trimester.

English/Language Arts:

I have scored all student narratives and conferenced with all students. Most students have passing grades for their narratives. A few have until this Friday to make revisions to bring their story up to a passing grade, that is, doing work that we expect of a fifth grade student. Please refer to the Narrative Writing Rubric to see how your child has done.

A rubric is a way of grading complicated assignments, those that have a lot of parts. The first part of the rubric deals with Structure. This includes scores in the following categories: Overall, Lead, Transitions, Ending, and Organization. A score of a 2 represents work at the 4th grade level, a 2.5 would be bridging between 4th and 5th, and a 3 would be work at the 5th grade level.

The second part of the rubric is the Development section, which includes Elaboration and Craft. These two sections are worth double points, so a score of 4 here represents 4th grade work, a 5 is bridging, and a 6 is at grade level for 5th grade.

The last part is Language Conventions, which includes Spelling and Punctuation. These are scored the same as the Structure section.

You will see number scores in each box for how well your child did on his or her narrative. At the end of each section, there is a sub-total, and at the bottom their total score. A overall score of 28 or higher is needed to represent work at the fifth grade level.

Mathematics:

Last week, most students took a re-test on Multiplication. This week, they will take a pop quiz on Prime Factorization, as well as a re-test on Division.

We are currently in our second unit, studying place value.

Please encourage your child to work on Front Row for mathematics if they have access to a computer and the internet at home. In the computer lab on Friday, I noted that many students are not working at grade level in Numbers and Operations in Base Ten, which is the primary math strand that we have been studying this year.

History:

Last week, we concluded our study of Native Americans before Columbus. This week, we are starting our next unit, The Age of Exploration.

Report Card:

I am in the process of grading many assignments. As you know, I am teaching according to the Common Core State Standards, and you will see these reflected on grades on tests. However, the report card is not a standards-based report card. Please look for more graded assignments to come home with your child over the next few days, both this week and next, before the first report card comes home in early December.

11/3/14

Welcome to the beginning of week ten.

English/Language Arts:

Last week, we focused on Writer's Workshop in class and for homework. The due date for turning in the narratives for grading was Friday, October 31. I am in the process of reading those now. If students do not yet have a passing grade, they will need to continue revising and/or editing their narratives. Six students did turn in their narratives before the due date, and all of them did earn passing grades. We've seen a lot of progress since the assessments I gave the first week of school, and which I discussed with you during parent-teacher conferences.

This week, we're using Writer's Workshop time to learn about editing narratives, particularly the many ways we use commas in English.

The Reading Log is back this week, and I am asking students to read stories from Time for Kids as homework before we read them together in class and have discussions about them. I am also going to begin using some of the comprehension worksheets that come with Time for Kids. You may see some of these as homework or students may be completing them in class.

Students will have a reading test on "From Miss Ida's Porch" on Friday.

Mathematics:

Our focus now is on division. I hope you are seeing the Math Steps homework I have been assigning, as the practice in California Math simply isn't sufficient.

We are also working on problem solving/mathematical reasoning. The majority of this work is being done in the classroom, with my guidance, and with the students helping each other. We're focusing on solving these problems and coming up with the correct solution. However, more (two-thirds) of the problem solving grade reflects the students showing their work, even if they come up with the wrong solution, and explaining how they arrived at that solution. At the same time, I'm teaching students strategies with which they may be unfamiliar. And we're giving students opportunities to utilize the Mathematical Practice standards of the Common Core State Standards.

P.E.:

We're already working towards preparing students for the fitness test that all fifth graders in California will take in the spring. Please make sure that your child is doing a little bit of P.E. homework on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They should be working on flexibility, both upper body and lower body, and practicing plank position in preparation for push ups.

Please remember that students have P.E. every Tuesday and Thursday. Students see Ms. Wong only every other Thursday, but I teach P.E. on Thursdays when they don't see Ms. Wong, those days when they have computer lab with Mr. Wachs. Some students will do better if they have appropriate shoes for jogging on those days.

Conferences

Thank you again for making the time to meet with me to talk about your child's progress so far this year in fifth grade.

10/24/14

First of all, thank you for a great week of parent-teacher conferences. For those of you I have met with this week, thank you for making the time to meet with me to talk about your child and how he or she is doing in school so far this year. I look forward to meeting with the rest of you next Monday and Tuesday.

Don't forget, early dismissal next week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We will return to full days on Thursday and Friday.

English/Language Arts:
1) Students took their first reading test today. We read "Our Song" together and used it as a mentor text for Writer's Workshop. We've read it again this week, and students took a reading comprehension test on it today.
2) We've been focusing on reading informational text (non-fiction), as we've been doing in History/Social Science and with Time for Kids. Along with that, I've given students short informational texts to read with five multiple choice answers. Today, they should show you one that we reviewed together in class: "The Mystery of Stonehenge". One on side you'll see their score, out of five, for the number of questions they got correct. On the other side, you will also see a score, out of five, for the evidence they found in the text to help them answer the questions. Students were instructed to highlight text that was helpful and to make a note of which question it helped them answer. I scored these just for completion, not for accuracy.
3) Writer's Workshop. We write four or five days a week. Students are working on their narratives. I have set a deadline of Friday, October 31. We have been working on these stories for seven weeks now; next week will be the eighth. A student today suggested that I assign this for homework next week; I agreed. Next week, students will be assigned homework to revise and proofread their final drafts.

Mathematics:
1) Multiplication. Last week, we reviewed the first multiplication quiz. This week, I have been showing it to parents during conferences. If your child did not do well, they will be retested before the first report card.
2) Prime Factors Project. Most students have finished this, but a handful are still working on it. Please talk to your child about this and find out if they have finished it or not. I will hand it back as soon as all students have finished the project.
3) Division. We are in the midst of our studies of division. We are working on whole number division, so many of the materials that come with California Math do not match what we are doing in the classroom. Accordingly, I have begun using other sources of curriculum materials to provide students with the practice they need to master division. I teach according to the Common Core State Standards; I do not follow the textbook.
4) Front Row. I have started giving students some individualized math practice from Front Row, but many students have not worked outside of Numbers and Operations in Base Ten. Today, in the computer lab, I specifically instructed students to begin working in Numbers and Operations - Fractions and Operations and Algebraic Thinking. If you have internet access at home, I encourage you to have your child work in Front Row. The Adaptive Practice will give your child practice at their level; the Assigned Practice will give them practice with what we are working on in the classroom.

My apologies for the length of this email. Moving forward, I will email you every other week with shorter updates on what we are doing in class. I will email you again next Friday with more information.

I hope the Friday Letters have been keeping you somewhat informed about what your child is doing in class every day.

9/22/14

We're starting our second week of Word Study. There were some bumps in the road last week, but every student who turned in work got full credit. This week, students must turn in the work and it must be done correctly. I am going to be more strict about enforcing following the directions.

Please talk to your child about the story (narrative) they are writing in class. At this point, students should be done with their first draft and be in the revision stage. We work on writing every day during Writer's Workshop.

Leadership Club has begun earlier this year than in previous years. Students from our class are leading the morning pledge this week. And students from Leadership in both fifth grade classes will be running the treat sale this Friday. Many students are training or have trained with Ms. Beltrami to help the TK and K students during their morning recess. Thanks.

Thanks for everyone's participation during the Coastal Cleanup we did on Friday. We've got some helpful and conscientious volunteers here at Lomita Park!

9/19/14

Second family letter is coming home with your child today. Please read it, sign or initial it, and remind your child to bring it back to school on Monday.

We're working on our narratives and today have begun thinking about writing goals using a checklist.

We started Math with work on multiplication, and have now shifted to working with prime factors.

I hope you've seen the Word Study/Spelling homework, as we are studying commonly used words, including their parts of speech.

We are at the end of another great week here in Room R at Lomita Park!

Thank you to those of you who were able to attend Back to School Night. If you were not able to attend, please review the handout I sent home with your child. If you have any questions, please contact me.

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