5th Grade News

for the week of August 31- September 4

Grading & Assessment

Grades Grades Grades - what do they mean? Grading looks different in today's school. Standards Based Grading (SBG) was adopted by Excelsior Springs School District in 2010, but many community members are still unsure of what it "actually" means for students. To put it simply, Standards Based Grading is a way to improve student achievement by focusing instruction and the alignment of curriculum with the essential standards.

For example - if the standard we are teaching in 5th grade is knowing Place Value to the Thousandths (decimals) and you scored a 2.0 on an assessment in the middle of the unit (maybe it was a quiz or online assignment), however by the end of the unit you completely mastered the standard and scored a 3.0, your final score is a 3.0. In the old way of grading, this student would have received an average grade of the two scores, but with standards based grading - what the students know and can show at the end is the actual score. We think of Standards Based Grading as a marathon, not a sprint. It's the end goal and provides a clear snapshot at what students know.

How Standards-Based Grades Differ From Traditional Letter Grades:

Providing grades for academic proficiency and work habits gives you more information about the areas in which your child needs to improve than the traditional letter grading system. The traditional grading system combines many elements—test scores, quizzes, completed homework, classroom participation, coming to school on time, extra credit—and averages the semester’s work into a percentage that correlates with a letter grade. Whereas SBG allows students and parents alike to identify the specific skills that students have mastered and the skills still needing work. It also allows students to review and retake tests to show growth and mastery of a skill. Why would we do this - because grades aren't to punish kids - grades are simply about assessing where they are now, and what areas we need to set goals for.

Project Based Learning - PBL - Where Do We Come From?

The students have kicked off our first PBL activity for the year. Project Based Learning (PBL) is a way for students to come up with solutions to real world problems. They usually encompass cross-curricular subjects and provide opportunities for students to see the connection of the learning across all areas.

Our first PBL centers around Geography. The students started with the question: Where do I come from? After learning about maps, globes and geographic material, Mr. Chalmers from Mid-Continent Library came to speak to us about our heritage and tracing our ancestors. The students then created a list of questions to ask relatives about their ancestors. The goal for this PBL isn't tracing family lineage or making family trees, but rather to find a region that your ancestors came from and research it.

For example: If both a student interviews 2 grandparents, and they report that their ancestors came from England and Germany, students would then pick one region that they would like to study and learn more about.

Throughout this PBL - the students will be making their own informational blog post (writing), learning how to research effectively (ELA), viewing a variety of maps, charts and graphs (social Studies) and presenting their research to their peers (ELA).

We can't wait for you to see some of finished products!

Important Dates

  • Math Fact Fluency Mid-quarter 1- September 7 - 11
  • Ronald McDonald House Assembly - September 30
  • No School - Teacher In-service - September 28
  • Half-Day Dismissal 11:53 - September 29


Many of you have asked about homework. Homework in 5th grade will consists of weekly/monthly reading minutes. Assignments not completed in class or corrections may be sent home as additional homework.

Reading Logs

To log reading minutes - students will need to use www.myon.com or the MyOn app if they have books downloaded. The MyOn app does not use internet and should only be used for instances when students need to read offline. We prefer that students use the web address to read, as it allows the students many more interactive features as well as, records the number of minutes read. If students want to read books outside of MyOn.com (the web-based version requiring internet) - they will need to log their reading minutes on their form. Students will have the form electronically on their google docs, but paper forms can also made.

Students are responsible for reading 400 minutes per month. We will begin our reading logs - Tuesday - September 8, 2015. Students will only need to log 300 minutes for the month of September.

Please contact us if you need assistance.

Thanks ~ and Happy Reading!

The 5th Grade Teachers

Westview Elementary

Success for All ~ Whatever it takes!

Those are words we live by and believe in. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns. We are here to help!

Ericka Lang ~ Caitlin Lash ~ Emily Rasmussen