Language Arts
·         In writer’s workshop, we began writing new short stories with our peers.  We’re focusing on creating a mood, building suspense, and using show, not tell.
·         We also learned about 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person point of view.
·         In readers’ workshop, we wrapped up our first guided reading books, which were nonfiction.  Next week we’ll begin reading novels in guided reading.

·         We continued working on our science fair research, wrote our bibliographies, and drafted our mission plan (which includes the procedure, hypothesis, materials, question, purpose, and variables).  Once the students receive their approved mission plan back, they will be able to begin testing their experiment.

Social Studies
·         This week we began reading books in small groups called: You Wouldn’t Want to be an American Colonist, You Wouldn’t Want to Sail with Christopher Columbus, and Roanoke: The Lost Colony.  As we work with our team to read these books, we’re creating Power Maps, which help us organize the new information we learn and identify the main ideas and important subtopics of the books.


Language Arts
·         In language arts class this week, we worked more on making inferences, understanding what we read, highlighting key details, and briefly summarizing new knowledge.
·         We also worked on finishing our first drafts of our writer’s workshop stories.  Next week we’ll be revising, editing, sharing, and publishing!

·         In science class, we continued working on research skills.  We spent quite a bit of time learning to search for information and evaluate websites for quality.  We also practiced taking notes (through highlighting) when online.
·         Next week, we’ll be working on:
              o  science fair procedures
o   hypothesis
o   materials lists

Social Studies
·         We learned how Sir Walter Raleigh lost a lot of money when the colony he funded (Roanoke) failed.  In fact, the Roanoke colony is known as the Lost Colony today.
·         We learned the difference between Sole Proprietors and Joint Stock Companies.  As part of a game, we made our own colonies, decided whether to use a joint stock company or sole proprietor to fund the colony, and created colony goals.  Then our colonies learned their fate: some were attack by natives.  Some traded with natives.  Others grew lots of crops and made money, while some colonies went hungry.  In the end, most of our colonies did not make much of a profit, but also did not suffer big financial losses.  A few colonies did end the game without any money, and one colony struck it rich!  5th graders, share with your parents how your colony did, and whether or not your choice to be part of a joint stock company (or be a sole proprietor) was a wise choice.
·         We also played a simulation about Jamestown.  In this activity, we needed to select a smart settlement location, determine how to interact with the Powhatan Indians, plant crops, and decide who would do the work.  We learned how the different choices we made affected the success of our colony.


Language Arts:
·         We learned about inferences.  After discussing how and why we infer in everyday life, we practiced inferring while reading.  Finally, we wrote paragraphs that require the reader to infer.  Check out samples of our work by visiting the “Author’s Spotlight” page of this site.
·         We continued learning how to “show, not tell” in our writing.  There are also student samples of show, not tell on the Author’s Spotlight page.
·         We discussed how to find quality web sites when researching.
·         Many students finished the first draft of their writers’ workshop story.

Social Studies:
·         We continued working on our Discovery Scrapbooks during computer lab time.
·         Due to science fair activities, we did not have regular social studies this week.

·         We finalized our science investigation questions.
·         We began learning how to use keywords when on search engines.
·         We learned about the stages of the scientific method (and how even the Mythbusters follow this method)!
·         We evaluated websites according to their value as research sources.


Language Arts
·        We began the 100 Book Challenge in mid-September.  Through this program, the students try to earn 100 “books.”  Every 15 minutes they read, they get 1 book on their chart signed by an adult who witnessed them in the act of reading.  Each student should be reading 30 minutes each night; therefore, they should have 2 books signed at home.
·        For the month of September, our class had 488 books signed—that means we independently read for 7,320 minutes!
·        For October, our goal is for each student to earn 100 books.  Students who reach the goal will have read 1,500 minutes!  The best way to grow as a reader (and as a learner) is to read.  So, pick a book you love, find a cozy spot, and get lost in a great story!
·        In readers’ workshop, we also began learning Power Mapping during guided reading.  One team is reading about robots and another team is exploring a book about special effects in movies.  The last two teams will begin meeting next week. 

·        In science, we wrapped up our study on observation and measurement (although we’ll be refining these skills throughout the year).  All the students took the science quiz on Thursday and Friday.  They did a great job focusing, double checking to make sure it was their best work, and respecting others’ need for a quiet, thinking environment.
·        We also began our science fair unit.  The students selected a topic, worded it in the form of a question, and wrote a purpose for their investigation.  Our class project will be: Does boat design affect the amount of cargo it can carry?  Ask your 5th graders to explain how we’ll be testing this question.
·        Upcoming science fair due dates are:
   o   Pre-approval form: due on Thursday (The students
             will receive a copy of this on Tuesday.)

   o   Project research: due Wednesday, October 15th
            (We’ll begin science fair research this coming

   o   Variable list: due Friday, October 17th (We’ll discuss 
             variables during that week.)

Social Studies
·        We concluded our discussion on the Conquistadors.  We also worked on mastering the locations of the seven continents and the 3 main European countries that created North American settlements: Spain, France, and Great Britain (England).  We’ll continue practicing this next week.
·        The students worked on creating an Exploration and Settlement scrapbook during our computer lab time.  They will continue working on this project over the next two weeks.
·        We began discussing English settlements in the New World.  Roanoke, the “lost colony,” was the first English settlement, but it mysteriously disappeared.  Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement, and was also the setting of the real-life Pocahontas story.  Next week we’ll dig deeper into these two stories.


It's time to start discussing what makes a great science fair project, what topics will be interesting to study, and what projects will be reasonable to complete.  If you're stumped about what you're project topic might be, check out these sites for help:
The Vincent Science Fair Website
All Science Fair
The Science Topic Selection Wizard
Project Resource Guide


This coming Thursday we will have a science quiz on observation and measurement.  The students will need to measure objects using a metric ruler and a triple beam balance.  They will also need to make and classify observations as qualitative or quantitative.  Check out the study guide below for more specific details.  You can also view these sites for more help with triple beam balances:






File Size: 268 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File


Time is flying.  We've been busy in room 221--reading, studying author's tricks, comparing points of view, and learning to observe small details.  Here's a summary of our week:

Language Arts
·         In reader’s workshop, we discussed what makes a good book blog entry, how to respond to other students’ blog, how to think while we’re reading (we created a class book code), and how to create a book wish list.
·         The best way to become a stronger reader is to read more!  Each student should be reading for 30 minutes each night.  A parent or other adult needs to initial the students’ 100 Book Challenge log every day. 
·         In writers’ workshop, we discussed “mentor authors,” or authors who inspire us.  We each selected an author that we’d like to study and learn more about.  Authors have tricks (author’s craft) that they use to make their writing sparkle.  Both growing authors and published authors continually read published stories and look for author’s craft.  This week, we looked for “words that work,” or phrases that really capture our attention as readers.

·         This week we worked on finishing our observation and measurement study.  We learned about quantitative (using numbers) and qualitative (using the five senses) observations.  We also did a fantastic job learning how to calibrate the triple beam balance, how to calculate the weight of an object to the nearest gram, and how to find the length and width of an object in centimeters or millimeters.  We discussed how scientists use the metric system because it’s based on the number 10—so it’s easier to use!
·         There will be a science quiz on Thursday, September 2.  Look for the study guide to come home on Monday.
·         We’ll begin discussing the science fair next week.

Social Studies
·         We continued discussing Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of North America.  As we read the book Encounter by Jane Yolen, we discussed what the Native Americans and Columbus’s explorers may have been thinking, and how the two groups had different perspectives (view points) of the situation.
·         We began discussing the Spanish conquistadors.  Cortez was known as a great conquer, but he was also greedy.  His conquest led to the destruction of one of the greatest nations of the time—the mighty Aztecs.  Most would have thought the Aztecs were undefeatable, but the Native Americans were shocked by the horses and weapons Cortez and his men had.  Sadly for the natives, Cortez was able to conquer Montezuma and the Aztecs, and the Spanish took over all of Mexico.  The Spanish had a different perspective, of course.  They viewed Cortez as a great hero.


Language Arts
·         We began our student book blogs.  Our blog portal is a safe, secure site that requires a student password and username to login.  If you’re not sure what a blog is, check out the video below.  Then, ask your fifth grader to explain how we’re using them in class!
·         Many of the students were surprised by the ending to Frindle.  The class was fairly split between Nick winning the word war and the word war ending in a tie, but then we read the last chapter.  Mrs. Granger had a few tricks up her sleeve.  So, 5th graders, who do you think won the word war, now that the book is over?
·         In writer’s workshop, we continued learning about how authors use their writer’s notebook to gather ideas.  We reread our entries, discussed “words that work,” wrote from the heart, and goofed around with words and ideas.

·         In math, we continued to work on reading and writing numbers in standard, exponential, and word form.  We also rounded numbers. 
·         One group worked on exponential form, and practiced writing exponents as multiplication problems and in standard form.

Science & Social Studies
·         In science, we practiced recording observations in word and picture form.  Also, we learned that Murphy’s old habitat was not what a box turtle needs.  After reading a book about box turtle care, I discovered that he needs coconut husk and Cyprus bark in his habitat.  He seems much healthier and happier now!
·         In social studies, we shared our Native American mounds and began discussing Europeans who “discovered” the New World (North America).  The Vikings beat Columbus to North America, but the rest of Europe didn’t know about it at the time.  Columbus came about 500 years after the Vikings, yet he thought he was in Asia.  Ask your child to tell you the story.

Computer Skills
·         We completed our Wordles, which highlight key phrases that describe each student, and our Online Safety pledges.  This would be a great opportunity to discuss home guidelines for online activity!
·         Some students also worked in Type2Learn to practice keyboarding skills.  We’ll all be working on this important skill in the coming weeks.


Language Arts:
We’re in the midst of our first unit, “The Role of Readers and Writers,” and the students are doing a great job.  This past week, we learned:
·        What types of entries we might write in our writers’ notebooks 
(wondering lists, sensory observations, writing from the heart, etc.)

·        How to respond positively to our peers’ writing
·        How to choose a “just right” book
·        Keeping a record of our book choices
·        Genres of books
·        Fiction vs. nonfiction
·        Buzzing about books
·        Using text clues to support our ideas
·        Thinking as we read
·        Rereading with fluency and expression (prosody)

In science, we continued our problem-solving skills as we tackled an online physics-based problem.  We discussed cause and effect, and predicted the outcome of virtual structures we built.  In addition, the students modified their work based on their results.  5th graders, show off your skill at:

Social Studies:
How did the first Americans get to North America?  They walked, of course!  After discussing several possible ways the natives may have arrived in America, we learned that scientists studied artifacts and believe that:
·        The first Americans were hunters.
·        They followed the woolly mammoth across a land bridge that connected Russia and Alaska.
·        The land bridge (called Beringia) is now under a body of water called the Bering Strait.
·        As the woolly mammoth went extinct, the first Americans had to adapt.  They grew crops, hunted smaller animals, and began to build settlements.
·        A group of Native Americans, called the Mound builders, buried various objects in large mounds of earth.  By studying these artifacts (objects from long ago), we can learn about their culture.

We began switching for math this week.  All classes are heterogeneously grouped, and we will cluster group within classes based on each unit’s inventory data.  In addition to taking the place value and whole number computation inventory this week, we also began working on math fact fluency, problem solving, communication skills, and introductory place value concepts.


This week, we discussed our hopes and dreams for our lives.  Some of our classmates hope to play in the little league world series, become a marine biologist, go to Penn State, work for the FBI, become an author, and much more!  We discussed how school is a place to learn all the tools we’ll need to achieve our hopes and dreams.  Then, we talked about what our goals are for this school year.  Some people want to feel more comfortable with math, some kids want to meet new friends, and others want to become more responsible and organize.  In order to be certain that all students can reach their hopes and dreams, we create a set of expectations, or a class constitution.  We’ll be finalizing this document next week, so check back to see our final draft!

We also spent a lot of time working on our teamwork and problem solving skills.  In the highest structure challenge, one team built a tower out of ONLY straws, toothpicks, and paper that was self-standing and reached over 40 centimeters high!  More importantly, every team did a fantastic job listening to their peers, including all members, and sharing their ideas.  Those important skills will allow the students to succeed in math, science, language arts, and social studies.  Well done, 5th grade!

We also completed a math challenge called “Petals Around the Rose.”  The students kept records of the outcomes and created lists of questions as we worked on the activity.  They worked in small groups to discuss their ideas until they were able to uncover the pattern or rule for the game.  Congratulations to all the students who achieved “Ruler of the Rose” status during this challenge.  (Want to play the game with your parents?  Check it out here: 

In math we also created surveys, collected data, and made pictographs to represent our classes likes and dislikes.  These pictographs will be hanging in the hallway for parents to view at Back-to-School night on September 16th.

In language arts, we began talking about strategies readers and writers use.  This includes picking a “just-right” book, discussing what we’re reading, reading for a sustained amount of time, and telling stories orally.  We also began to discuss the purpose of a writer’s notebook.  The students personalized their notebooks, and I learned so much about their personality through this activity!  I can’t wait to read what they write inside!

 This was a great first week, and I’m really looking forward to week two!