Issue 35-May 1, 2015


General Winfield Scott proposed a "slithery" plan for squeezing the South into submission! Its details--and so much more--were the focus, this week. Keep reading:

1. Math: We worked to understand that attributes belonging to a category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that category. Games of "Polygon Capture" and "Angle Tangle" helped students to become fluent in this skill!

2. Reading: Our emphasis was on fiction as we worked to quote accurately from the text as well as make inferences. The potpourri of stories included "Remembering Guthrie," a realistic fiction story about a gorilla and a girl and their unusual bond; "Rustytoes," a fantasy tale about a giant with a toothache; and "Surprise Sunday," historical fiction about the eruption of the Mt. St. Helens volcano in 1980. We also delved into "The Forgotten Man of Gettysburg," about Edward Everett's eloquent--but not memorable--speech. And, visualizing skills got a work out as we sat glued to the "radio," listening to "The Visiting Corpse," a riveting tale with a ghoulish twist.

3. Writing: Persuasive writers anticipate the counterclaim to an argument and acknowledge that counterclaim. They might use more “set-up” language, saying: “Skeptics may think…” or, “Some will argue…” Then writers rebut the main counterargument. Some reasons and evidence are better than others. Some reasons and evidence are stronger and lead to valid arguments, and some are weaker and can create invalid arguments. To be sure you provide the strongest possible reasons and evidence, it helps to keep asking the question, “How do I know” and be sure that you can give precise, exact answers.

4. Social Studies: Our goal was to describe the strategies of the North and the South in the Civil War as well as to describe the early battles. Students created their own newsletters using Smore (See article below, to access these newsletters!) We also learned about "Winfield Scott's Great Snake" and discovered the origin of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," by Julia Ward Howe. From there we sought to understand what life was like during the United States Civil War. This involved learning about the role of black soldiers as well as the actions of Robert Smalls, a former slave who sailed for the Union. Our next Jigsaw Tournament is scheduled for Friday, May 9!

5. Science: How do plants produce food? We conducted an investigation, "Using Carbon Dioxide," featuring elodea plants in test tubes--as well as delving into plant structures. We also learned about photosynthesis and that the food chain starts with plants.

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Spelling, Unit 33

On Friday, your child will take the Unit 33 spelling test--and the Unit 34 spelling pre-test. Therefore, he/she should bring home his/her Unit 34 spelling list. Here is a link to the words in the event that you need an extra copy:

More Smarter Balanced Testing Next Week!

We will be testing every day, MORNING AND AFTERNOON, Monday through Friday, next week,

May 4 through 8.

It is IMPERATIVE that your child be at school, if at all possible, each of those days, all day long. If at all possible, please schedule appointments for 3:00 P.M. or later!

Understanding Time/Planning Ahead

Article excerpted from

"I'll be off the phone in two minutes," you tell your child. Before you've even turned around, he asks, "Has it been two minutes yet?" Many children don't yet have the skill of estimating how long activities will take. And they're only beginning to come into contact with the devices we grown-ups use to track time. (Did I really just spend an hour and 45 minutes on the computer?) Here are some ways to help your kids become more patient, handle long waits, and prepare for the next activity.

Make time visible. Turn time into something kids can see. A timer or clock will help. "When the big hand is on five . . . " or "as soon as the digital clock says 2:30 . . . " makes time more concrete. For longer waits, create a chart to mark off hours—or post a calendar and mark off days.

Be specific. Kids need familiar points of reference regarding time. For instance, you can say, "Dinner will be ready in the time it takes to tell three riddles and sing a song" or "Grandma will visit after your nap." Introduce kids to the sequences of time: the hours of the day, days of the week, and months of the year. Truly mastering these time references takes years.

Help your kids develop a realistic sense of how much time is needed for different tasks. If they seem to be unaware, encourage older kids to jot down what they have to do and estimate how much time is needed.

Help them plan. Kids are not famous for their planning skills. Help them anticipate what's next and decide how to get ready. If they're old enough, use appointment books or digital planners. Show your child a calendar, and talk about the fact that tomorrow will come, and that it’s so much easier tomorrow, when you have taken the time to do what you need to do today. Show them how you plan, and talk about steps involved in your planning process. Remember, it's just a matter of time until kids become more time-conscious. And while you wait for that, know that one of the joys of childhood is the capacity to enjoy the way time simply flows.

The Success of Failure

Article excerpted from The Kansas City Star, March 7, 2009

For as long as anyone can remember, America has embraced such pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap maxims as “failure breeds success,” learn from your mistakes” and “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. People are still willing to learn from their mistakes. But something has happened to failure. A growing number of conservative social critics worry that a society obsessed with fairness and self-esteem has forgotten the true value of falling on your face. Such aversion to failure is hardly new, critics say. Just look at the trends. Some schools have stopped giving F’s. Some T-ball and soccer teams don’t keep score, and self-esteem programs make sure young ones feel good about themselves no matter how bone-headed their performance. Trophies, given out like cups of water, are more meaningless than ever… Lawrence Kudlow, an economist and syndicated columnist, says we’re on the wrong track. “Is it possible in America today that no one is allowed to fail?” he wrote. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Or learning from your mistakes? Or going through transformative difficulties that just might change your life and your behavior. But it seems like failure is off the board nowadays. Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote in National Review online: “Our culture forgot that there was once a utility in failing. Failing reminded us of what works and what doesn’t—and how we must learn to avoid the latter.” As tough as it is, critics say, outright failure may be the only pill bitter enough to shock us into changes necessary for ultimate success. And so what if someone fails. Abraham Lincoln failed, many times. So did Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (says), “…Imagine a kid, no matter how hard he works to succeed, image what happens to his motivation if he always has the same results of somebody who doesn’t work as hard as he does. It’s going to sap it. So what are you doing? You’re conditioning motivation out of people who would be the high achievers and teaching others that they

don’t have to work hard to get what they need.” In other words, failure is not an option. It’s a necessity.

It's Okay to Fail

Article excerpted from

So it was with many of the greatest inventions we enjoy today, from automobiles to the Internet, we have at our disposal many great conveniences due to men and women willing to accept failure and not give up.

Children need to know that it is okay to fail. In fact, in order to build up their self-esteem and not allow them to get down on themselves is a parent's primary responsibility while the children are still at home. It is critical that we instill in our children a sense of wonder about their world and encourage their interests by joining them in exploring new things and ideas. Who knows, your child could be the one to come up with a permanent cure for cancer or discover a new, non-polluting energy source. Every child has the potential to succeed in where their interests lie; without exception, that success will most likely be built upon a foundation of failures. It is our responsibility to help them realize that this is normal and okay, as long as they get back up and stay with it. Mistakes are most certainly an important building block upon which great discoveries are made. When we as parents are able to help our children learn from their mistakes, no matter how large or small, in our own way we are preparing them to be successful in whatever they choose to do with their lives.

Making Lists Can Help Keep Your Child Focused

Excerpted from

Once, you had a child with a razor-sharp memory.

You couldn’t make empty promises. He would remember and remind you at every turn.

Then your child entered the middle school years. And suddenly he can’t seem to remember anything!

Does this sound familiar? You are not alone. The emotional and physical changes of this age can make many children forgetful and disorganized. This is usually a temporary phase.

In the meantime, urge your child to keep pen and paper with him as much as possible. Give him some colored pens and cool-looking notebooks. And get him into the list habit!

Encourage him to keep lists of fun things. He could list the CDs he wants. This helps him carry over the habit to making lists of tasks, such as school assignments.

You may need to ask teachers to help here. One idea is to have him write his assignment list in class and show it to the teacher. The teacher can look it over and initial it.

At home, you can check the list and initial tasks as they are completed. After a few weeks of this habit, it’s likely your child won’t need this much supervision.

What about a child who already is writing everything down but still can’t keep track? If the problem persists, notify his school. He may need formal testing of memory skills.

Civil War-Related Websites

Your child is in the throes of Civil War-related research. Here are some additional websites for him/her to use:

Homework Hotline

Call me, anytime, if your child is has a question about a homework assignment, or if you have an inquiry about something that occurred at school. My home phone number is (816) 415-0368. I do not mind, at all, being called in the evening!

My Website

For the latest information about upcoming events and curriculum information, visit my website. It is updated regularly:

Upcoming Events


5/4-5/8- Staff Appreciation Week

5/6- Bike- to- school Day

5/6- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

5/7- Open House & Art Show, 5:30 pm

5/12- PTA General Meeting, 7:00 pm

5/12- Baskin & Robbins 4-8pm

5/14- All Pro Dads 7:00 am

5/14- 10/15- Chipotle night (4-8)

5/14- 5th Grade Picnic 11:30-12:30

5/15- Field Day

5/18- - 4th Grade Egg Drop

5/18- 5th Grade Recognition Breakfast, 8:00 am – 9:00 am

5/20 Early Release & Last Day of School, 11:50 am

Next Week's Specials

Here is the specials schedule for next week:

Monday, May 4: Art

Tuesday, May 5: Library

Wednesday, May 6: Music

Thursday, May 7: P.E

Friday, May 8: Art