Monday, October 29, 2012

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long." ~e. e. cummings

Hello, families!  

The wind is picking up as Sandy approaches.  We're in for a blow, as they say. For those of you who haven't heard, we'll stay home tomorrow.  Let the wind thrash and moan beyond our doors; we'll stay safe within. 

I did want to go over the planned parent conferences for this Friday, November 2nd.  Here are the students' initials for those folks who have signed up so far (if anyone has contacted Mrs. DaBica recently, please note that I don't yet have you on my list, but will look forward to seeing you!)

  • 8:15--8:30  M.D. (gr. 5)
  • 8:35--8:50  H.C. (gr. 6)
  • 8:45--9:10  M.H. (gr. 5)
  • 9:55--10:50 M.D. (gr. 6)
  • 1:00--1:15  R.C. (gr. 6)
  • 2:00--2:15  K.T. (gr. 5)
  • 2:35--2:50  C.L. (gr. 5)
  • 2:55--3:10  H.F. (gr. 5)
  • 3:15--3:30  B.M. (gr. 6)
  • 3:35--3:50  E.B. (gr. 6)
  • 3:55--4:10  V.P. (gr. 5)
  • 4:15--4:30  N.B. (gr. 6)
  • 4:35--4:50  E.B. (gr. 5)
  • 4:55--5:10  C.P. (gr. 6)
  • 5:15--5:30  R.K. (gr. 5)
  • 5:55--6:20  M, & Z.C. (gr. 5)

Language Arts, Grades 5 and 6:

Monday -- Complete finishing touches on "The Dark and Stormy Night" stories.
Tuesday -- Sandy, Sandy, Sandy . . .
Wednesday -- Peer edit stories and make corrections.  Also, do Halloween Puns activity.
Thursday -- "The Dark and Stormy Night" story share

Social Studies, Grades 5 (Tuesday and Thursday) and 6 (Monday and Wednesday)

"Wonder" travel brochure.  It should near completion by the end of the week, so if more information is needed, be working on that at home, too! (Sandy will interfere with Grade 5's time on Tuesday, so be prepared to get cranking on Thursday.  I'll provide extra time for you.

Spelling, Grade 6

Unit 2, Part 1.  Independent work or small group instruction on Wednesday.  Be sure task cards from Unit 1 are turned in and begin new task cards.

Spelling Words:
journeys, scurries, who'd, crises, doesn't, heroes, knives, scissors, radios, confesses, coaxes, alumni  

Stay safe, everyone.  I'll see many of you on the 2nd.
Halloween hurricane illustration:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight make me a child again just for to-night! ~Elizabeth Akers Allen

Halloween Dance tonight from 7 to 9
Hi everybody--

I think I've been out of the Halloween business too long.  When DO kids go out trick-or-treating these days?  Is it still on the 31st, or is there now a designated weekend day when the 31st falls in the middle of the week?  I love that our community has a family Halloween dance each year.  The kids talk about it with great enthusiasm and I feel like it's a safe, fun way to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. I found a site while browsing that looked like it had a multitude of ideas for those folks with "Halloween-age" children.  You can check it out here.

I'm doing this week's lessons in reverse this week; sorry about that. It can serve as a review of the week's work for you and your child. Hopefully he or she has been  bringing their planner home for you to look at each night.  It's a good way for you to spend a few quality minutes together and stay informed about what's happening at school.  I initial everyone's planner when it is filled in and brought to me. (We're helping move students toward being self-directed learners.)  If you notice that that isn't happening, please have a talk with your child and remind him or her that it is an expectation in grades 5 and 6; with two teachers, it can get confusing if assignments and due dates are not written down.  I check planners periodically to see if they are being filled out, and consider it a part of their Language Arts grade.

Assignments for October 22 -- October 26

LANGUAGE ARTS (using the "6 Traits" of writing): 

Trait 1: Ideas

Tuesday:  Completed "What Am I?" activity in class (looking for subtle details in common classroom objects and writing descriptively about them).  It was lots of fun! 
Assignment for tomorrow:  Story Skeleton about a food you dislike the most.  (A template for how to complete it was provided.)  Again, details is the focus.

Wednesday:  Finished the "What Am I? game. 6th grade had time to look at a mentor text about where to find ideas for writing. 
Assignment for tomorrow:  Type "My Least Favorite Food."

Thursday:  After an animated discussion about where ideas come from (sharing stories is an invaluable step in the writing process for many), we settled on a seasonal topic.  Beginning with the words, "It was a dark and stormy night . . ." students were to write a short descriptive narrative.  The focus: to create a vivid "picture" through the use of descriptive details. 

Friday:  We continued on our "dark and stormy night" narratives, sharing works-in-progress with friends and typing them in preparation for group readings next week.


Tuesday:  Continuing with our "Seven Wonders" unit, students in both classes have now chosen a "wonder" from a list of both modern and not-so-modern man-made structures.  The project will be to create a travel brochure advertising the amazing qualities of  his or her chosen wonder--to be shared with the class and later put on display for the school and community to view.  We will then vote on which ones we believe should be chosen as our personal "7 Wonders of the World."

In the template I provided to each student are seven questions that must be answered thoroughly.  The answers will be used in the writing of the brochure.  To be included as well should be "cool and unusual facts" found in the course of their research.

Ask to see your child's work.  Have them talk to you about their wonder.  The goal is that each child should produce a well-researched, presentation quality final product.


Grade 6 needs to finish up their latest packet if they haven't already done so (pgs. 19-36).  They were due today.  We will have our Spelling test on Monday and move into the next unit.

Both 5/6 classrooms have begun new Reading groups They will meet Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 1:50 to 2:45 PM. Much of what we do in Reading is informational and is also covered in Social Studies and Science classes.

Please be sure your child is reading at LEAST 30 minutes each night.  Remember, grade 6 is expected to read and respond to two books per month.  Grade 5 is responsible for 1.

Thank you, families, for all you do.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Halloween Scene:

Friday, October 12, 2012

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” ~ Robert Collier

Grade 5 = 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Grade 6 = 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Tuesday, October 9 -- Reading, Session 1
Wednesday, October 10 -- Reading, Session 2
Thursday, October 11 -- Reading, Session 3
Friday, October 12 -- Math, Session 1
Monday, October 15 --  Math, Session 2
Tuesday, October 16 -- Math, Session 3
Wednesday, October 17 -- Writing, Grade 5 only
Thursday, October 18 -- Writing, Grade 5 only

A good night's sleep, a great breakfast,
A pledge to do your personal best.
This is, in case you haven't guessed,
The way to do well on the test!
 We're half-way there!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Boy Taking Test:
Believe in Yourself:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know." ~Daniel J. Boorstin


NECAPS are fast approaching, and in case you're wondering what you can do to help your children prepare, I found some pretty good advice I thought I'd share.  According to Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts in,  "[R]esearch shows that you can help your child perform better by making sure that [s/he] gets a good night's sleep and eats a nutritious breakfast before tests.  Another important tip is to be supportive without pressuring your child.  . . . and don't be overly anxious about any test scores, but always encourage [him/her] to take tests seriously.  Finally, never judge [him/her] on the basis of a single test score."  Sometimes the simplest advice is the best.

To go along with a nutritious breakfast, I would include providing equally nutritious snacks for your child.  Kids need "brain food" to function optimally. 

If I had to choose the most important tip for academic success, it would be to "READ, READ, READ!"  Plain and simple.  Children in 5th and 6th grade should be reading from between 30 and 60 minutes every single day (--to themselves, to their siblings, and to their parents for optimal results--).  Fluency (speed and accuracy) and comprehension (understanding/ applying/analyzing/evaluating what is being read, as well as making personal connections to the reading) are a direct result of consistent exposure to literature. Create a time each evening to talk to your child about the book they're reading.  Let them share what it's about.  Better still, read together for just a little while each night.  Keep track of the books being read.  Go to the library together!  Help them, through your interest and example, to develop a lifetime passion for reading.

 OK, back to NECAPs -- Here again is the schedule for 5/6:

October 9, 10, 11, and 12:  
  • Grade 5 -- 9:50-11:30 AM
  • Grade 6 -- 12:30-2:00 PM
October 15 and 16:  
  • Grade 6 -- 12:30-2:00 PM
October 15, 16, 17 and 18:  
  • Grade 5 -- 9:50-11:30 AM

Hey, Students: 
REMEMBER--Taking standardized tests is different than taking regular tests. They aren't something you can "study" for like Spelling.  They are designed for you to demonstrate your accumulated knowledge and skills in the areas of Math, Reading, and (for 5th graders) Writing.  They're timed and have specific instructions to follow, so you need to read carefully. Here are some excellent test taking strategies to consider when taking NECAPs.  We'll continue to talk about these in the days ahead. 

Strategy 1: Process of Elimination  - Eliminate answers you KNOW are wrong, this narrows down your choices.  It's easier to pick the right answer when you have fewer options to choose from.

Strategy 2: Using Context Clues - Look for clues in the test item that will help you figure out the answer.  Clues may be hiding in the directions, the passage (reading you will be doing) or the answer choices.

Strategy 3: Read the Questions & Answers FIRST  -  Previewing the questions and answers helps you know what information to look for as you read.

Strategy 4: Unerlining Key Words  -  Underline important words or phrases in the test item.  This makes it easier to see and helps you focus on the best answer.

Strategy 5: Plug-In  -  Try out each answer in the by "plugging it into" the question.  You can then cross out answers that don't make sense and find the answer that's the best fit.

Strategy 6: Reread  -  Reread the directions, a passage, or the answer choices when you need to.  Rereading helps you to be sure what the question is asking, or find the information in order to answer the question.

Assignments for the week of October 1-4 

Language Arts, Grades 5 and 6:

Monday:  Writers Notebooks were handed back--very disappointing for many students, especially considering the amount of class time we devoted to creating the 5 September writing "shorts."  So.....we went over (AGAIN!) the requirements (what they should look like) for Writers Notebooks and students received the October Bingo page to attach.  The assignment: complete the first prompt as classwork/homework for Tuesday.

Tuesday:   Check Writers Notebooks for homework completion.  Introduce the model lesson for the month, which includes coming up with a class composite list of "words you can find in a cookbook."  Then, with the help of an accompanying informational sheet, complete the classroom activity, write a "Recipe for Thunder."  If  not completed, it becomes homework. Due Wednesday.

Wednesday:  Using individual worksheets, create a class composite recipe for thunder. Then review format for writing a recipe.  Look at "Recipe for a Perfect Summer Day" -- the model for writing a "Personal Recipe" about a special event or occasion.  Assignment:  Write a "Personal Recipe" (1st draft on another piece of paper first!) -- due Monday. Some class time will be given to get everyone started.

Thursday:  6th graders:  For those who still haven't completed "How I Learn" or "Personal Mission Statements," -- get them turned in NOW!  Otherwise, for both classes, work on Personal Recipes. (Due Monday!) 

Friday:  Tie up loose ends. 

Social Studies, Grade 6:  

Monday: Complete Seven Wonders reading prompts (2). Due Wednesday.
Wednesday: NECAP Prep.

Social Studies, Grade 5: 

Tuesday: Complete class criteria for "What Makes a Wonder a Wonder".  Assignment:  Map activity, "Everything Visual" from Kids Discover. Due Thursday.

Thursday: NECAP Prep.

NOTE:  For the next two weeks (while NECAPs are being administered), we will not switch classes.  Sixth grade will remain with me, and grade five will stay with Mrs. DaBica.

Thanks, parents, for all you do; I sure do appreciate you!