Happy New Year!

January 2016

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I want to begin the first newsletter of 2016 with a big THANK YOU to everyone for the kindness you showed me the week before our holiday break. I certainly feel blessed with the best students and parents a teacher could ask for. So THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I hope you all had a wonderful two week winter break and that you were able to spend time relaxing, visiting with family and friends, and slowing down a bit to take it all in. January is upon us. At school that means the last two weeks of second quarter, preparing for the Invention Convention, Spelling Bee, and many other fun and exciting events.

As a teacher it also means a renewed sense of purpose in preparing your child not only for the second half of fifth grade, but for the next step in their academic career: middle school! Mrs. Creasy provided information in her Eagle Entries newsletter about Middle School visits and Middle School night. Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarification on anything.

I spoke to my classes a little before our break about my expectations going into third and fourth quarter. It is an exciting time for fifth graders, but it is also an important time when their teachers begin to give them even more independence and responsibility for their own learning. I will be encouraging students to spend more time self-assessing their understanding of concepts. I have included a section, below, that may help you to reinforce this concept at home. Teaching students to think about their own thinking is one of the most challenging, but rewarding, parts of my job because I know it is a skill students will use for the rest of their lives.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Here's to an amazing 2016!


Mrs. Craps

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Science Corner

As we near the end of second quarter please continue to watch and discuss the weather with your child as much as possible. We still plan to have a video chat with Tim Buckley, WFMY Meteorologist, to see the weather studio and to hear a little about how he prepares his weather forecasts. In case you missed it in December I have included a funny video, below, of Tim and the Wake Forest Demon Deacon forecasting the weather together. The second week of January we will have Quarter Testing which includes an online Schoolnet test for Science. The week we return we will be finishing our weather unit, doing a bit of self-assessing on how well we understand the concepts, and working together to fill in any information that we still need to know. I am in the process of placing the videos and websites we have used in class on our class Haiku site. All students have logged in and used Haiku several times at school now so please let me know if they have any issues accessing it from home. Much of what we do together in third and fourth quarter will be on Haiku and it will also be an invaluable resource in preparing for the end of the year. The second quarter study guide is posted now and I am asking all students to take their binder home everyday this week (and over the weekend) to look over their glossaries and their packet of Weather notes. After the Weather Unit we will jump into a very fun unit on Matter: Physical and Chemical Properties/Changes. There are numerous interesting labs that we will do together in class to get a better understanding of these concepts. Finally, we will round out third quarter science with Forces and Motion and a "Be a Meteorologist" Weather project. Please let me know if you have any questions!

The Demon Deacon Plays Meteorologist at WFMY

Reading Corner

In reading this quarter we focused mostly on informational text. We used Time for Kids magazines as a resource for this each week, in addition to Social Studies weekly and other non-fiction books that connect to our Social Studies curriculum.

In our Literature Study groups we are reading Biographies about many interesting people who have had a major impact on American History. We will be working together over the next two weeks to complete our first inquiry project of the year: What is the Real Cost of Chocolate? Students will be interacting with numerous primary and secondary sources in order to practice using the informational text skills we have been focusing on to answer the above question. We did an introduction to the inquiry before the holidays and students seem very interested and excited to learn more! This unit combines our informational text skills with part of our Personal Financial Literacy Social Studies unit.

Following second quarter Benchmark testing we will continue with our biographies in our Literature Study groups, will begin our first "round" of Book Clubs, and we will also be working together as a whole class to research the Civil Rights Movement. This research project will lead us into our next class novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963.

If you have any questions please let me know!

Language Arts Corner

We continue to use our Spelling Workout book for spelling and Worldly Wise 3000 book for vocabulary, in addition to studying Latin and Greek roots and vocabulary in context with what we are reading. Your child should have Spelling and Wordly Wise homework every Monday-Thursday night with occasional exceptions. Grades for Spelling and Vocabulary are posted on Parent Portal as soon as I can get them up after we have taken the test. We have a spelling test every week on Friday and we have a Wordly Wise test every other week on Friday. Lessons and homework for each week are on my homework board on Monday and students should have these written in their planners each night. We are approaching the due date for our second quarter writing project which was an expository paper about Food Insecurity In America. Resources, and our class Dropbox, are located on the class Writing Haiku page. Please let me know if you have any questions.

A note about homework...

Homework is posted each week on the Homework board at the front of the classroom for the whole week. Students are given time when they first come into class on Monday to write down all of their homework for the whole week in their student planners. I am in the process of also creating a homework section on Haiku for students to access from home in the event they are absent and do not have their planners (or have simply forgotten it at school). Though there are occasional exceptions, students have Reading, Math, Spelling and Language Arts homework every night. In Science, when specific homework is not assigned students are to spend 10 minutes reviewing their glossary words and notes (resources have been given to do this). If your child does not understand their homework feel free to write a note on it or send me an email. The main reason we give homework is for practice that leads to both the student self-assessing his/her understanding of a concept and for the teacher to assess where each students' understanding is at that time. Points are not taken off on homework for incorrect answers so it is most helpful if a student turns in what they were truly able to do on their own.

Self-Assessment Information

Below is the anchor chart we copied into our notebooks in class. We will be using this each day to determine where we are in our learning, and to set goals for ourselves. You can reinforce this concept at home by using the same (or similar) terminology with your child when they explain to you their homework, what they are doing at school, or anytime they are learning something new.
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Technology Update

We are using lots of technology in class now! In addition to student email, we are learning to use our Haiku Learning site, a computer programming site called Code.org, keyboarding on EduTyping, and many of the features on Google including Docs and Google Drive. We are also using a website in Reading called RazKids. If you were unable to attend the technology information night (or would like a refresher) a link to the Swivl video of the evening's presentation is below. I am also happy to answer any questions, provide any tech "cheat sheets" you may need, or to meet with you one-on-one to show you the sites. Third and fourth quarter we will be using our Haiku Dropbox, in conjunction with Google Drive, to turn in more assignments and to also have class "discussion" in a message board format. Students are already using a one-on-one discussion (only visible by the teacher and student) as their weekly reading journal during our reading stations.

Bookmark the link, below, for an up-to-date calendar of all events at Whitaker