5th Grade ~ 2014 December Update

Curriculum Overview

Your children's hard work paid off in a BIG way this holiday season! They organized and packed 25 meals so families in our area could enjoy a great Thanksgiving! We hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family, food, and fun!

Reading Workshop

During the month of December, students will continue their work on building theories about their characters by connecting what they already know about their characters with their own personal knowledge. Students will also realize that their thinking often needs to be adjusted as they gather new information. Modifying our thoughts as we read is such a critical reading skill, and our read-aloud, "Bridge to Terabithia," continues to serve as a remarkable mentor text for both our reading and writing units. Katherine Paterson shows us the incredible impact great writing can have on an audience, and her development of the relationship between Jesse Aarons and Leslie Burke allows us to feel that we have two new friends added to our class.

Students have done a phenomenal job keeping up with their Reading Response Journals, and I've enjoyed reading their thoughts and predictions very much. December will be a transition month for us, as we learn to complete our entries by using Google Apps for Education. Over the next few weeks, students will have plenty of lab time where they'll learn to create, edit, and share their own documents, as well as respond to prompts or assignments that I choose to give them. We are very excited for this new venture, and I hope your children share with you the fun assignments that we will be doing over the next few weeks!

Writing Workshop

This month, we are doing a big push on word skills. We are continuing grammar and vocabulary, but this month we are incorporating word study. Each student is in a word study group comprised of peers who have similar skills. Rather than memorize ten words a week and recite them on Friday mornings, we are learning the patterns of English language and how to figure out words that we may not be familiar with.

Are there quizzes? You bet! There should be one about every 5-7 school days. Some units are easier, some are harder, so I will give the class a "soft target" quiz day at the beginning of the unit. (12/10 is our first quiz) This may change one or two days in either direction based on snow days, assemblies or rocking spellers who are ready to move on!

After word study is up and running we will head back into the Writer's Workshop for our short unit on the personal essay. We will also use Google Apps for our final drafts! I especially like how the kids can work on their pieces from any internet connected device.


Students have been working very hard (and having lots of fun) with fractions over the past few weeks! My November plans were a bit ambitious, so we will continue to work with fractions through early December. Students will learn why we turn division problems involving fractions into multiplication problems. (An easy comparison that I use is to remind them that 40 divided by 2 is the same thing as 1/2 of 40!) We will also explore more complicated word problems that involve critical thinking and multiple steps in order to reach an answer.

We will also spend some fun-filled time on a mini-unit geared towards understanding and applying the formula for finding the area of a triangle. This geometry unit is always fun and interactive and will be referenced again when we study angles later on in the year.

Finally, students will head off to winter break with a math party to celebrate lots of hard work! Each student is contributing a recipe to our (fraction-filled) 5th grade Cookbook! Information was previously sent home, but please let me know if you have any questions about our celebration on the 18th.

Social Studies

The Bronze Age was a fascinating time for early civilization. We spent quite a bit of time exploring the human transition from nomadic Neolithic communities to walled Bronze Age city-states. We will continue this conversation through December and discuss how technology made huge leaps forward during this age. The linking of small city-states by war and treaties also created its own problems. To keep the peace, Hammurabi of Babylon brought the first codified laws for a large region into existence. His ancient laws also brought us the idea of innocence until proven guilt. By studying Sumer and Babylon in detail, we understand the foundation for what was to become Egypt.
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Important Dates to Remember:

Wednesday, December 3rd: Buddy Meeting for Worship

Friday, December 5th: Math Recipe due & Fraction Unit Assessment

Thursday, December 18th: Math Tasting Party (Students are welcome to bring in a sampling of their selected recipe)

Friday, December 19th: Holiday Meeting for Worship from 9-10am at George School

Friday, December 19th: Holiday Party in 5th grade classrooms at 10:15