Fifth-Grade Class News

 Robin Rocans, Fifth-Grade Teacher

Thursday
Mar232017

Fifth Grade News - March 24, 2017

As I told the fifth graders this week, they are "spitting" distance from sixth grade!  I can't believe that we are in the fourth quarter of school already.  Especially because there is still so much to do.  I hope you had a chance to check your child's third quarter report card this weekend.  They were released after school on Friday.  

Overall fifth grade is doing very well.  Two areas of possible concern - Math has become harder for a lot of them due to fractions.  I have already taught the basics of fractions two times, and after giving a test last Friday, realized that some of the fifth grader math students are still not getting it.  My plan for next week is to move along those who get it, and review again for those who are still struggling.  It's funny - do fractions seem that hard to you?  My twenty-plus years of experience have proven to me that it really is a very hard concept for kids to grasp.  So we will keep chugging along until I feel confident that everyone understands.  

The other area of concern is Memory.  I only give the fifth graders the Memory verse for the week.  On Monday I use that verse for my devotion, so we talk about it and what it means.  I have the kids write their Memory Friday morning.  In the past few weeks probably a third of the kids don't really know the verses.  This is a problem for two reasons - their Memory grade has suffered, but more importantly, they don't have these verses in their heart and mind.  How many times have you thought of a particular verse when you were struggling with something?  I know I do!  I feel that this is the most important reason to memorize Bible verses - to have them available to you when you need help or you have an opportunity to witness to someone.  So if your child's Memory grade is not satisfactory, please help them to realize the importance of working on it.  

This week we worked on Religion lessons about Jesus and what He's done for us, even though we have done nothing to deserve it.  In Math we took a little side trip because the third and fourth graders weren't in Math due to play practice.  So I combined Math and Language Arts, and we did a study of fairy tales.  In Math each day we did a STEM activity, and then used various math skills to solve word problems.  One day the kids made a slide for Rapuzel to escape with.  Another day they made a house of straw, sticks, or bricks in the style of The Three Little Pigs.  On Wednesday it was replicating Cinderella's castle with pattern blocks, and on Thursday they made a better bed for Baby Bear.  On Friday we did work with maps - which would have helped Hansel and Gretel.  In Language Arts we talked about the elements of a fairy tale, compared the same fairy tale, but from different countries, and then the kids wrote their own fractured fairy tale.  All great fun!  In Reading the kids chose either a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book which they are reading in class and using for their next book project.  The plan is for all this work to be done in school.  It will be due before Easter break.  I have such fond memories of Nancy Drew from my childhood, and I think they kids are enjoying them as well.  In Social Studies we are expanding west - talking about the Louisianna Purchase, Lewis and Clark, and the War of 1812.  In Science we worked on weather - extreme weather, forecasting, and what's the difference between climate and weather.  In Computer the kids worked with Google Docs - following specific instructions to be able to e-mail me their work.  Pretty easy for some - harder for others.  It's funny - everyone can play crazy games on the computer, but typing a letter and e-mailing it was much harder.  A skill to be worked on.  In PE we are doing ping pong which some of the kids have gotten quite good at.  Next week we will have the "Sweet 15" ping pong competition.  The kids also had Art with Ms. Laska, Music with Mrs. Jurica, and Spanish with Mr. Bryant.  

We had a chance to check out the sheep at the dress rehearsal for the musical on Friday afternoon.  Kudos to the kids, teachers, and Mrs. Jurica for a job well done.  I especially liked how excited the kids seem to be to be a part of this producition.

Next week we will be doing a new unit in Language Arts in connection with our visit to the zoo on April 4th.  We will be travelling West in Social Studies and continuing to try to conquer those fractions.

I hope that many of you have the opportunity to attend the PTL Auction on the 1st.  The PTL and many others have been working hard to make this event a success, and as a teacher, I'm so grateful for all they do for the kids and me.  Enjoy this night!

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!

Thursday
Mar162017

Fifth Grade News - March 17, 2017

It has been a crazy two weeks in fifth grade!  Last week I was gone two days - one day to spend Grandparent's Day at my grandchildren's school and another day to spend in the hospital with my husband getting a procedure done on his heart.  I had a blast with my grandchildren (it was fun to be on the receiving end of the breakfast treats and fun activities), and my husband's results were good (though it did require a lot of prayers on my part). This week we had six kids gone on Monday and another six gone on Tuesday.  Most of the absences were due to various illnesses, but we also had a few gone due to the wintery weather.  As a result of all that, we did not go to Harmony House for our monthly visit because I didn't feel it would be right to bring so many germs with us, and they politely said "stay home".  I am hoping to be able to go next Wednesday, so I will let you know if you'd like to join us.

Today is unbelievably the end of the third quarter!  Report cards will be released next Friday.  Also MAP test results went home last Friday.  I hope that you had/have a chance to look all these over, and let me know if you have any questions.  I was quite pleased with the results of the MAP testing, and I will be using them to tailor my lessons so that each student can achieve their goals by the end of the year.  Report card wise, everyone is doing well on a daily basis.  We still have some troubles with turning homework in, particularly when kids miss school.  Please be sure to check with your child when they are absent to make sure they bring the missing assignments home to do.  I always either send the homework with a sibling or leave it in their desk.  

When you are checking Fast Direct in the up-coming days, please be aware that your child may have a few n/a - not applicables.  A lot of what we do in fifth grade you really have to be here to be a part of the discussion, so if your child was absent for one of those types of assignments, I mark their grade n/a.  This does not count for or against their grade.  

Did you see the fun opportunity we have on Tuesday, April 4th?  Mrs. Franklin was kind enough to arrange for us to receive a grant to spend the day at Brookfield Zoo - all expenses paid, including lunch and a free yearly family membership.  Two different permission slips came home this week - one from St. John's and one from the zoo.  Please note that you do not have to send the $5.00 processing fee, as school will take care of that.  Also be aware that we won't be returning from the zoo until approximately 5:00.  This will give us plenty of time to not only enjoy the zoo, but to participate in various classes that have been offered to us. 

Next week we will continue with our regular Religion lessons, work with mystery stories in Reading, and start a new unit in Social Studies.  The forms for the latest book project should have come home today.  The kids will be reading either a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mystery, but they will be reading it in class.  I have fond memories of Nancy Drew from my childhood, and I thought these books would be a fun way to introduce the kids to this genre of books.  I have not set a due date for the project yet because I want to see how long it takes for them to read the books.  I'm guessing a few kids will probably get through two of these books.  The project is not due in March, but rather sometime before Easter break.

Next week the fifth grade Math students will be doing a special unit because the third and fourth graders will not be joining us for Math due to play practice.  I thought it would give us an opportunity to do something a little different until they return.  The fifth graders will be attending the dress rehearsal of the play on Friday afternoon, and I know many of you will be attending the performance in the evening.  The kids and Mrs. Jurica have been working very hard, and I am looking forward to seeing this play.

The St. John's PTL Auction is on Saturday, April 1st, and I hope many of you get to be a part of this fun evening.  The PTL is still looking for donations for the classroom baskets, so if you would like to send in a fitness related item, it's not too late.

The kids and I spent time talking about St. Patrick this week only to discover that he had nothing to do with corned beef and cabbage or green beer!  The lesson we can learn from him though, besides his clever use of the shamrock to teach the Trinity, is how he took a horrible situation and turned it into an opportunity to work for the Lord.  Also his story is a great message of forgiveness - going back to minister in the same place where he had formerly been a slave.  Isn 't it wonderful that we can talk about people like St. Patrick here at St. John's - we are blessed.

Hope you and your family have a great weekend and have opportunity to worship that same Lord that St. Patrick spent his life honoring!

Thursday
Mar092017

Fifth Grade News - March 10, 2017

Another fast and busy week in fifth grade.  The kids particularly enjoyed Wednesday because Mr. Clark was here subbing for me.  I was blessed enough to spend time at my grandchildren's school celebrating Grandparent's Day.  It's been awhile since I spent time in kindergarten, and it was very fun to see the kinds of projects my grandchildren are doing.  Mr. Clark is a great sub, and an interesting man, and I knew the fifth graders would have a great day with him.

This week we were back to our regular Religion lessons talking about what Jesus did for us, including being our substitute on the cross to make us right with God.  We listened to two contemporary Christian songs, Jesus Messiah and Lead Me to the Cross, which talked about Jesus, who was sinless, taking our sin simply because He loves us.  The ultimate example of grace!  In Math we backtracked on fractions because not everyone was solid on equal fractions and simplest form.  I think we are in better shape now, so we've moved on to adding and subtracting fractions.  In Language Arts we finished up adjectives talking about the importance of using precise adjectives.  We specifically talked about the word "nice".  Isn't it better to say smart, funny, and athletic?  In Reading we finished up Bridge to Terabithia - what a great book - full of opportunities for discussion.  In Social Studies we talked about our government - the Constitution, Preamble, Bill of Rights, and the branches of government.  In Science we talked about clouds and air movement and masses.  In PE we started a unit on ping pong - quite fun - and in computer we did a webquest about different forms of government, writing a paragraph about which one would we chose if we were starting a country.  The kids also had Music, Art, and Spanish.  All and all, a good and busy week.

Next week we will be starting a new novel and a new unit in Social Studies.  I'll also be assigning a new book project.  It won't be due until sometime in April; the specifics will come home on Monday.  We are going to Harmony for our March visit on Wednesday - would you like to join us?  Also there is a half day of school on Friday so that the teachers can meet.  

Thanks for those of you who donated to either Cure JM or the PTL auction.  We are so blessed to have a school where people are so generous with their time, talents, and gifts.  We would not be the great school we are without all the help the kids and teachers receive from the staff, PTL, and all the parents of St. John's.  Thank you and blessings on your weekend!  

Thursday
Mar022017

Fifth Grade News - March 3, 2017

What an exciting week it has been at St. John's!  On Tuesday we had the opportunity to put "God's Love in Action" by walking stairs to help support Cure JM.  The fifth graders did 122 laps which equaled 12,810 steps.  We started the event by hearing from Melinda and Mrs. Ortega about JM and the work that is being done to find a cure.  After that we did our stair laps which really was pretty fun, but tiring, mostly for the kids!  A great reminder to all of us that we are blessed with healthy bodies that allow us to do this sort of thing.  Thanks to Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Radcliff and all the other folks who helped supervise the stairs.  There is still time to contribute to Cure JM and help us reach our goal of raising $3,000.  If we meet that goal, the whole school will have a Fun Fair, so thanks for your help.

On Friday the fifth through eighth graders were able to go to  Trinity Lutheran School in Roselle to cheer on our girls' basketball team.  I'm writing this Thursday morning, so I'm not sure of the outcome, but I know it's been a proud and exciting time for our kids.  Fifth grade is especially proud of Imariz who plays an important role on the team.  Thanks again to Mrs. Radcliff and all the other parents who joined us on this trip, and the moms serving hot lunch who were kind enough to save it for us until we got back.  The girls will play again Saturday morning (place to be determined), so we have another opportunity to show our St. John's pride.

Today you are able to check your child's mid-quarter report for the third quarter.  The kids are working hard, and generally doing well, but if you have any concerns, please let me know.  All the fifth graders have finished the winter MAP tests, so look for results to be coming home soon.

Next week we will be going back to our regular Religion lessons now that we have finished our sex ed unit.  I wish you could have heard the discussion that was going on the other day as the kids were working on the final worksheet for this unit.  The kids who "oohed and aahed" if I even said sex ed were comfortable naming body parts and talking about puberty.  This is one of the many things I love about fifth graders - they can share and ask questions without being embarrassed.  I hope that this unit has given you opportunity to discuss this important topic with your child.  

We will be continuing with fractions, adjectives, and Bridge to Terabithia.  We will start a new unit in Social Studies on government and in Science on weather.  We are done with bowling and will start a new sport next week.  Many of the fifth graders are actually pretty good bowlers, and I'm glad that many of them have joined the St. John's bowling team.  

We will be going to Harmony House on Wednesday, March 15th, and we'd love to have you join us, if you are able.  We will be talking about St. Patrick's Day and being not lucky, but blessed!

Again, please be sure to check Fast Direct for your child's grades.  Please send me an e-mail so I know that you've seen them and if you have any questions.

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!

Wednesday
Feb222017

Fifth Grade News - February 24, 2017

How can it possibly be the end of February, and the mid-point of the third quarter?  Wasn't it just August and I was breaking in a brand new batch of fifth graders?!  There is always mixed emotions this time of the year - the kids and I are really working well together, but I can't help but think that they are going to be sixth graders sooner than I'd like.  Please look for your child's mid-quarter report next Friday on Fast Direct.  As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  

The kids finished up the MAP testing this week, including taking the Science MAP test for the first time.  The faculty is currently reviewing our Science standards, and we wanted a benchmark to use for making further decisions about how we teach Science.  You should be receiving your child's results in the next few weeks.

This week we continued with our Sex Ed unit, finished up verbs, continued reading in Bridge to Terabithia, took a test on the Revolutionary War, and worked with the water cycle and clouds.  We also did several activities about presidents in honor of President's Day.  In Math we started our fraction unit which is always a struggle.  I have started at the beginning of fractions having the kids find fractions with M & M's that are different colors and making fractions strips to see equivalent fractions.  I am going to be going slow with this unit because it's important that the kids understand the basics of fractions before we get to the harder topics.  

Next Tuesday the kids have their February book projects due.  They need to make a scrapbook as if they were the main character of their novel.  We will also finish up our sex ed unit and start new units in Language Arts and Social Studies.  

Next week the kids will have the opportunity to put God's Love in Action by walking up and down stairs - a whole bunch of stairs.  We are again supporting Cure JM by raising money climbing stairs here at school.  We support this organization because one of our sixth grade students, Melinda Ortega, is currently dealing with JM and its effects.  Each class will have a fifteen minute time slot during the day to walk as many steps as possible.  An envelope for collecting donations will come home with this week's Parent Bulletin.  We are also looking for volunteers to supervise the stairways and count laps.  Please let me know if you would like to help.  Thank you in advance for your support of this event.

In case you haven't heard our seventh and eighth grade girls' basketball team qualified and are playing in the Lutheran state basketball tournament.  The exciting news for fifth grade is that our very own Imariz is on the team.  She is a fabulous basetball player, and it has been so fun to watch her play on this team.  Please keep them in your prayers next week for not only safe travel, but to use their athletic talents to represent St. John's and to bring glory to God who gave them those talents.  We will have a pep assembly next Thursday at 2:45 to celebrate their success this season and to wish them well in the tournament.  

Did you see the fifth graders outside on Wednesday in their gym clothes playing kickball?  How can you not do gym outside when it's in the seventies in February?!  God has truly blessed us with this spring-like weather though it seems that winter is planning on returning this weekend.  

Continued blessings to you and yours!