• # Testing for the next few weeks

Posted by Jen Kravitz on 5/7/2019

Dear Parents,

Yes, you read the subject line correctly. For the next three weeks on the mornings of Tuesday-Thursday we will be working on completing the ela, math and science state assessments.  Friday will be set a side as a day for make-ups or for students to finish the testing for the week if they need more time.

We have done some practice sessions in the previous weeks and the students are very comfortable with the test format. The biggest preparation for the test has been all of the learning that we have done this year up until this point. The best thing that we can do as adults is offer encouragement.

In addition to testing, the students are working to finish their games based on a book that they recently completed. The games need to meet certain criteria and this assignment sheet can be located in their reading section of their binder.  The kids are looking forward to sharing and playing on Friday.

We have begun our final Bridges Math Unit for the year and this unit is focused on division of fractions and whole numbers, powers of ten, and decimal multiplication and division.  In the fifth grade we are building the concept of division and use strategies other than the standard algorithm to divide numbers. The use of models, a modified algorithm and the ratio table help to build the understanding. In the sixth grade, students will learn and use the standard long division algorithm.

In science we are currently using airplanes to conduct scientific experiments using the scientific process.  The students are are asking a question, changing one variable and collecting data.  The data is then graphed and used to help write a conclusion about their discoveries.  We will use catapults for the next investigations. You should ask about your student's experiments.

Last but not least I have been thinking about an end of the year class trip.  I think the class would really enjoy a trip to the Little River State Park in Waterbury.  There is lots to do there!  Some of the highlights are swimming, boating, hiking, sessions with a park naturalist and the park even has machine built trails designed for beginner mountain bikers.

I know the kids would love the park and all of the activities.  Here is the big question...Is there support for this trip from you and what are your thoughts on an overnight???  I am very open to this and would need a handful of other adults that were on board to make it happen.  Please reach out you are interested in getting involved.

Andrew

Posted by Jen Kravitz on 4/1/2019

Dear Parents,

There is lots of news to share from the fifth grade classroom!  The first bit is concerning the upcoming conferences that will occur on Thursday, April 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M.  The class began preparing for the student led meetings today and they will continue reflecting on their work throughout the coming days.  This will be an opportunity to share recent work samples and more importantly celebrate all of the progress and learning that has been made so far this year.  You will receive an email from Classtag shortly with an opportunity to sign up for a half hour conference slot.  I look forward to seeing you next week.

Last week, we began a new geometry unit that focuses on graphing, the hierarchy of shapes and volume. We have come across some challenging problems in this unit already and the class has enjoyed discovering and writing equations to match a sets of arrangements.  These equations or rules were then graphed on a coordinate grid. Your student should be able to show you these equations and graphs located in their "thick" Student Math Book.

Our current reading books are well under way and one group is likely to finish this week.  The books have been captivating and have been the basis for many rich discussions.  The students have come prepared for these discussions with their reading notes in the form of a "grid."  These Literature Circle grids allow the students to record the main events of the chapters, vocabulary words, discussion questions, connections, key passages from the text and even an illustration.  Feel free to ask your child what they are currently reading.

We have read so many great stories this year and it is the students' turn to write a story.  We are currently studying the narrative form and each student has begun writing a creative story.  They will consider character development, setting, plot development with minor and major problems and a realistic solution.  Many of the students are already thinking of writing a book!  Stay posted on the developments of your child's story and inquire about a character or challenge that the character will face.

Last week we presented our final projects for the IB unit that we recently completed. The kids were asked to create a fictitious country complete with a functioning government and bill of rights. You will see these projects at the conferences!  Before our next IB unit we will explore how the scientific process works. This will be done with a whole host of experiments using pendulums, boats, planes and catapults.  The kids will have many opportunities to set up and conduct controlled experiments that isolate one variable at a time.

Last but not least, we are in the midst of a double elimination cribbage tournament where the winner will receive a pint of ice cream of their choice. There is quite a bit of luck involved in the game and a few kids have been eliminated already. The kids have handled the losses and wins well and should all be very proud of their game play!

One more thing...  Bingo and the spaghetti supper have been rescheduled for this Friday evening.  I hope that you will be able to come and support these two initiatives that will help fund the Farm To School Program and the intermediate level field trips.

As always, thank you for your support,

Andrew

• # Ski Celebration

Posted by Jen Kravitz on 3/12/2019

Dear parents,

Next Tuesday we are scheduled to ski at the Snow Bowl in the afternoon for a class celebration.  The plan is to arrive in time to eat and be on snow by 12:30.  Students that do not have equipment will have a chance to rent gear.  A lesson will also be provided for kids who are new to the sport. While the lesson is happening, the others will be skiing with an adult chaperone. As this is a class celebration, it is my hope that at some point in the afternoon we can all ski together too.

Are you able to help with this project? Here is what we need....

-a few drivers
-snacks. (I am picturing a table set up in the lodge with some snacks to graze on throughout the afternoon).
\$5 per kid
A completed rental form is this applies to you and a permission slip.  (These forms coming later).

Thanks for supporting this exciting outing.  Later in the month on March 22, we are are also in need of help.  There will be a Bingo fundraiser at the school followed by a spaghetti supper. We will need prizes to award for Bingo winners.  In the past, parents have sourced gift certificates from local businesses, purchased interesting prizes or re-gifted like new items from their homes.  Feel free to get creative with the prizes!

Thank you for your help with both of these projects!
• # Hello, Class News, and Valentine's Day Plan

Posted by Jen Kravitz on 2/7/2019

Hi everyone,

We had a good week with a strong showing at the school board meeting; thanks for supporting the project.  This week we have been working on multiplication of fractions by a whole number and just today we transitioned to the multiplication of a fraction by a fraction using the area model.

This week, we have also put attention toward our current human rights/ government themed literature circle books and we will increase the length of reading assignments next week with the goal of finishing the books before break. We are also working on developing our human rights argumentative essays and have written at least three of the six required paragraphs. You should ask your child what human right they are focusing on.

The Cornwall fifth grade was in charge of creating the master Essential Agreements that will be used as the accepted behavior expectations at next week's summit.  The other fifth grade classes in the district brainstormed ideas and our class synthesized them into the official summit agreement. The students are excited about the summit and the seminar choices that they made. They will receive their schedules next week.

Today,  Some of us got to ski on what were surprisingly very good ski conditions while another group practiced for tonight's band and choral concert.  We will ski two more times in the coming weeks!

Lastly, the kids have expressed an interest in having a Valentine's Day exchange next week. Hopefully you will be able to help and support your child in generating a card or token of appreciation for each kid in the class.  This is always a fun event  and I am excited to play D.J. at this year's party. The past two Fridays during lunch,  we have had dance parties, and these kids can boogie!

Have a great weekend,

Andrew
• # January Update

Posted by Jen Kravitz on 1/11/2019

Dear Parents,

Happy new year to all of you! It was great to return the classroom after the winter break and see the students rested and ready to work hard. We are involved in many projects and there are lots of class happenings to report.

We have begun a new IB unit where the central idea is “governments can promote or deny human rights.”  This past week we were learning about many different forms of government that exist and we carried out a role play with democracy.  Next week, groups of students will try a simulation with a different set of problems staying true to the dictatorship and oligarchy forms of government. These simulations allow the students to understand how different governments function.  Later in the unit we will explore citizen’s rights and responsibilities. There is an exciting summit on government and human rights in early February that all fifth graders in the district will have a chance to attend at Middlebury College. You will learn more in the coming days.

In math we have been exploring the multiplication algorithm to help solve double digit multiplication problems.  The kids have been looking forward to learning this skill and have added another multiplication strategy to their repertoire.  When presented with a multiplication problem, the fifth graders can also choose to use the double and half strategy, ratio tables, quarter strategy, partial products, or the over strategy.  Having all of these strategies is not dissimilar to a carpenter coming to a job with a variety of saws. Feel free to solve a multiplication problem with your child and see what strategies lend themselves well to the problem.

We have been busy writing as well.  The students are writing a practice argumentative essay supporting the idea that Cornwall should have a town pool. We brainstormed the possible arguments and counter arguments together using a web. A graphic organizer is helping the writers to get their ideas to flow logically. Later this month we will transfer these writing skills to a new essay and the students will choose a topic of their own related to human rights and government.  I know the kids are excited about the idea of choosing their own topic.

We have been reading three different group literature books and the focus has been on selecting the main events of a chapter and writing a concise summary.  Initially, many of the students struggled with the concise part and attempted to rewrite the chapter. Carefully selecting the main events and balancing the summary with enough detail has been a real learning experience. These current books are close to completion and we will begin new literature books as soon as this coming week. The students will be writing chapter comments based on a menu of choices that I will provide them.  The choices will include response prompts related to everything from author's craft, connections to the text, character development and predictions just to name a few.

I taught cribbage to the class last week and we have had an opportunity to play a couple of times since. This is a game that I love, play regularly and have taught to each of my classes since becoming a teacher. The fifth graders have picked up the game very quickly and I can’t wait to see them develop their game play. Many of the kids have expressed an interest to play at home too.  Boards can be purchased very inexpensively and there is a free app called Cribbage Classic that I highly recommend.

This coming Friday, January 18 at 6:00 P.M. we have a winter concert in the high school auditorium.  The kids have made props, have been practicing their songs and will have a dress rehearsal Friday morning.  These concerts are always a hit and I look forward to seeing all the students on stage.

See you Friday, if not before, and thank you for your support,

Andrew

Posted by Jen Kravitz on 10/8/2018
Hi everyone,

We have had an excellent start to the year and are close to operating on all cylinders. The first weeks are really devoted to creating the climate for an effective learning community.  As I mentioned at the parent night, I am really impressed with the level of respect that these students show towards one another. In early September the class created a list of Essential Agreements that included the following traits: respect, self control, empathy, goal setting and integrity. The class has been recognized for meeting these agreements over time and has earned their first celebration. They should feel proud of their hard work! On Friday, October 12th we will go for a hike on the TAM in the Belden Falls area.  Al Thalen has agreed to join the class and transport the class.  Thanks Al! Look for a permission slip on Monday.

The students are practicing many skills each day and I have been assigning homework to help extend and solidify their learning.  The class writes the assignments on a homework sheet that is in their binder.  At the end of the day we also check to make sure that each student leaves with the necessary materials. Thank you parents for checking in with your student as it does make a difference. I am mindful that homework can be challenging for some students and families.  Hopefully this has not been the case so far and feel free to share your experiences. When homework is done well it can be a very positive experience with the potential for amazing growth.

We have a major writing project in progress and the kids were recently inspired by seeing an autobiography written by a current sixth grader.  We have set the goal to complete the first draft by October 17th.  This is a soft deadline as I do not want to stress anyone out.  As the kids finish their first drafts we will begin the editing and revision process. This will take some time and many writing skills will be explored and developed in the process. It would be great if we could be publishing the books in early to mid November. Feel free to check in with your child about their progress.

We have just begun our second math unit that focuses on fractions.  We are currently using money and clock models to help understand the concept of equivalent fractions.  Kids have been able to make conjectures about adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators as a result. This week the students will design a recreational river trail using their new found skills.  The kids took an assessment based on the unit one material last week and were able to reflect on their learning.  You should check in with your child about the recent math assessment.  This week we will work on another group of multiplication facts.

In addition to the Harvest Fest on Wednesday we will also begin our work around the Shakespeare play.  Each week we will meet with a group of actors leading up to a December 13th performance at the Town Hall Theater. This will be very exciting for the class and you will be hearing much more about the experience in the coming weeks.  Make sure to check in with your child after school on Wednesday about the Harvest Fest and Shakespeare.

There has been so much growth and learning already and there is far too much to share all at once.  Look for more updates in the future and please don't hesitate to reach out if you feel the need.