Fifth-Grade Class News

 Robin Rocans, Fifth-Grade Teacher


Fifth Grade News - May 18, 2018

In my twenty-five years of teaching, I have seen many fads - yoyo's, Beanie Babies, Pokemon cards, even wearing your britches way too low.  So I'm not surprised by the impact of the current fad - Fortnite.  The majority of the boys in my class are very involved in this game.  The good news is that they really seem to be having fun with it, and it definitely has become a bonding experience for them.  The bad news is it has become a major distractions because that's all they want to talk or think about.  Any chance they get they are gathered at someone's desk apparently discussing the finer points of the game or who did what last night.  I asked the kids to write an original fairy tale, and several boys wrote their "fairy tale" about playing Fortnite.  I did a little bit of research about this game, and honestly there seems to be both pros and cons about who should be playing this game and how much they should be playing.  I've attached a USA Today article that you might find interesting.  Is it driving me crazy?  No more than the usual struggle to keep everyone working hard the last few weeks of school.  Certainly the kids are not playing during the school day as mentioned in the article.  Of course, you are the one to make the decisions for your child as to what you think is appropriate for them.  Hope you find this article interesting.

Did the kids tell you that they used an on-line program to write their original fairy tales?  We would have to pay to print out everyone's stories, but the kids can easily show you their work by going to  I have to say many of them did a really great job of choosing illustrations to go along with their stories, and also to come up with the own idea for a fairy tale.  Be sure to check them out.

Thanks to those of you who checked your child's mid-quarter report last week.  Please be sure to discuss these grades with your child, especially ones that may need some improvement.  Checking for missing assignments is especially important because receiving a "0" really affects their grades.  Despite what the kids might think, there is still homework even though we are in the last few weeks of school.  So please be sure to check my daily e-mail and your child's planners.

Next week we have two special events - a celebratory lunch to thank Dr. Hendricks and the Spring Concert.  Please see the e-mail from Mrs. Franklin that I've put at the end of this note.  We are organizing a gift for him that you might want to be involved in.  The Spring Concert is Thursday evening at 7:00, and Mrs. Jurica is asking that the kids be here at 6:40.  It should be a fun evening.

The kids took three out of four MAP tests this week - we will be doing Science next Monday.  Overall everyone did well and has shown improvement.  You should be receiving the results of these test in the next few weeks.  

This week we talked about the Holy Spirit, ratios and percents, ocean animals, the Civil War, the Transcontinental Railroad, and the periodic table.  We played mat ball in PE and the kids had Spanish and Music.  We didn't have Computer with Mr. Friend due to MAP testing, and we didn't have Art since we had a half day on Friday.  Next week we are going to be talking about Confirmation, probability, persuasive essays, World War II, and mixtures and solutions.  Still so much to learn, and so little time!

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!



Fifth Grade News - May 4th

I am writing this Thursday after school, and it looks like, at least at this time, that we won't be able to go to the nature center on Monday.  I know it's a lot to ask to have people drive us for these trips, so I am hoping for enough drivers to go to Harmony House on Wednesday.  If something were to change, I'll send an e-mail with the details for Monday.  Maybe we can still go to the nature center later this month, but I'll let you know.

Words of thanks to Victoria's mom for joining us at the Shedd and to Mrs. Scifo for organizing the trip for all of us.  I was really surprised by how excited the kids were about the things they saw there, and also by how much they already knew.  I was also very proud of how well they behaved.  

Starting in the fourth quarter, the fifth graders can start wearing khakis.  We do this so you don't have to buy any new navy clothes for kids who have obviously, based on short pants and even shorter skirts, really grown this year.  It's fun to see how grown up the kids look in khakis.

A bunch of fun things are on the calendar for May - the book fair and ice cream social - the church picnic - the all-school music concert.  Please check the Parent Bulletin for specifics on all these events.

A note from the PTL is on the back of this note.  The PTL folks have really worked hard this year for our kids, and we are all very grateful.  Thanks for your support of the auction and all the other PTL events.

The kids are going to be working on a research paper starting next week about an ocean animal.  All the work will be done in school, unless they get really far behind.  We are going to have a Math test on Friday and then put those fractions behind us.  I'm hoping all our hard work on them will pay off when the kids take the MAP tests the week of May 14th.  We also started talking about the Civil War which is always interesting to teach because some of the issues of that time are still issues today.  We spent some time talking about the prejudice that is still evident today, including recent events of people being arrested by waiting in a Starbucks.  This is one of the reasons I love teaching fifth grade - they are old enough and interested enough to pay attention to what is happening in the world.  

Next Friday is the mid-point of the fourth quarter, and reports will be released the following Friday.  Everyone is doing well, though there has been a bit of an increase in not having homework done.  At this point of the year, I pretty much stop nagging kids about their work.  I do give consequences, walking laps at recess, but the real consequence is poor grades.  If you and your fifth grader are concerned about this, please check Fast Direct.  Any time you see a "0" that means the work was not turned in.  Also if you see a "50" the work was done, but not very well, and it should be fixed.  I never give less than a "50" for any work turned in, but even that negatively affects a child's grades.

As I mentioned MAP testing will take place the week of the 14th.  This is really the test that shows the progress your child has made this year.  The bad news is that sometimes the kids are pretty much tired of school, so you and I have to work hard to make sure the kids understand how important it is to do their best.  Also being rested and well fed helps.    

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!


Fifth Grade News - April 27, 2018

Huge kudos this week to Mrs. Jurica!  You probably haven't seen the musical yet, but Mrs. Jurica has done a fabulous job working with the kids, and I know you are going to enjoy the presentations both Friday and Saturday night.  The musical is fun, and the fifth graders will be reciting lines, singing, and even dancing.  Be sure to check out the airplane which our very own Jack drew.  Thanks also to you for taking time from your weekend to bring your child to school.  We are asking that the kids be here by 6:30.  

Thanks to all of you who supported the PTL auction.  I heard it was a huge success - a lot of fun, and it raised a lot of money which is going to benefit the Reading program here at St. John's.  Thanks again to Victoria's mom who made the fifth grade auction project which I understand brought in quite a bit of money.

Next week there are two special events - our trip to the Shedd on Tuesday and the conference track meet on Friday.  For Tuesday the kids need to bring a sack lunch, including a drink, and they don't need any money as there will be no time for shopping.  I am using this trip as the kick off to our next big writing project - an animal research project.  On Friday six of our fifth graders will be participating in the track meet.  Thanks to Mrs. Runge, Mrs. Franklin, and Mrs. U for all their work with the team.

Did the kids tell you that they saw Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln this week?  Mrs. U organized a visit from Abe and his wife who spoke about the Constitution and their own experience as president and first lady.  This was a great way to kick off our study of the Civil War which we are starting next week.

Please be sure that your child has completed their poetry project which is due Monday.  They should have chosen a poetry book, selected two poems to copy and illustrate, memorized one of those poems, and also found poems that contained the various elements of poetry that we talked about in class.  They have been writing various types of poems at school, and we are keeping those in a folder to come home next week.  Thanks for your help with this project.

We had mixed results this week with the Math test.  Who knew fractions could be such stinkers?!  Well, I knew because I've  been trying to teach kids fractions for twenty five years, and most years, it is quite a struggle.  Here's my plan:  I'm going to keep going with multiplying and dividing fractions, but I'm also going to go back and review with the kids who did not get the adding and subtracting of fractions.  So look for your child to have some extra Math homework.  

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!


Fifth Grade News - April 20th

What did we do in fifth grade this week?  Well we did a bunch of stuff including dragging a fallen pine tree to the dumpster (great fun), learning how to do the Charleston (hard work), playing a co-ed game of baseball (girls CAN play basebal!), learning to keep score of our own bowling game (so old fashioned), writing different kinds of poems (some kids are quite good), and reading an incredibly violent version of Hansel and Gretel (we love it).  Throw in some Religion lessons, those pesky fractions in Math, a lesson in weathering that included designing a rock and a story about the rock, and a whole bunch of musical rehearsals, and you have a week in fifth grade.

The musical will be presented by the fifth through eighth grade next Friday and Saturday.  Mrs. Jurica has worked very hard to make this a fun experience for the kids, and, while it's been fun, it is also part of our Music curriculum, so it's imporrtant that the kids are there for the presentations.  Please let either Mrs. Jurica or me know if your child can not be there.  After practice on Friday we did some looking up about the 1920's which is the time period of this musical.  The kids couldn't believe that people would actually sit on a pole for over 100 days?!  Myself I can't believe that kids would sit and play video games for hours on end!

A HUGE word of thanks to Mrs. Castillo, Victoria's mom, for making the class auction project.  The kids did their part in class with me, but she came after school many days to put the whole project together.  Big words of thanks also to all the many people who have worked so hard to make the auction a fun and successful evening.  Without the support of the PTL we would not have many of the things and experiences that are made available to our kids.  Enjoy the auction!

We are going to be going on a field trip on Tuesday, May 1st to the Shedd Aquarium.  I am going to be using this trip as the kick-off to a big research project.  The kids and I will be going by bus, but due to limited space, any additional chaperones would need to meet us there.  Of course, we would love to have you, if you are able.  I've attached a permission slip to this newsletter.  Please note that the kids will need to bring a sack lunch and drink that day.  Also there is no need for the kids to bring any money.  

I am planning on going to Harmony House one more time, and I also have a Science field trip that I am organizing, so I'll let you know when I finalize the plans for those trips.  

Next week we will be having a test on fractions on Monday.  These fractions have really been a struggle, and I appreciate all the help you have been giving them at home. 

Blessings to you and yours on what (at least at this moment) appears to be a lovely Spring weekend!   


Fifth Grade News - April 13, 2018

I hope that your family had a blessed Easter break.  It was fun to hear about the places the kids went and the things they were able to do.  

As we come back from break, we are starting the fourth quarter of fifth grade.  The third quarter report cards will be released this afternoon at 3:30.  There are no scheduled parent-teacher conferences at this time, but as always, please let me know if you would like to meet to talk about your child's report card and progress this year.  The kids are doing a fine job though I still have to do a bit more nagging than I'd like about turning in homework.  I realize that kids get tired of working, especially when the weather starts getting nicer, but that doesn't mean you stop doing your best which is the message I deliver quite often in the fourth quarter.

This week we started a bunch of new units - adding and subtracting fractions in Math - poetry in Language Arts - fairy tales in Reading - the study of Earth in Science - and bowling in Gym.  We are talking about the life of Jesus in Religion, including the calling of the first disciples.  We discussed if we would be able to leave everything and everybody we loved to follow Jesus like the disciples did.  We agreed that it would be tough.  In Social Studies we finished up the various parts of our Westward Movement project - biographies, pictures, trunks, wagon, map, and journal.  The kids also had Spanish, Music, and Computer with Mr. Friend.

We also started the group rehearsals for the up-coming musical.  The fifth through eighth graders will be presenting the musical on both Friday and Saturday nights - April 27th and 28th.  All the kids are involved, and it really is a fun story with plenty of joyful music.  Please plan on joining us.

Also coming up is the PTL Auction.  The fifth graders are working on a special class project that will be available for purchase that night.  So many people have put in so much time to make this a successful event, and it should be a great evening of fun and fellowship.  

Next Wedesday the fifth graders will be leading the school in Chapel.  They are going to be singing, playing instruments, reading, and sharing the message, and we would love to have you join us.  Chapel starts at 9:00 and usually lasts about 35 minutes.  

This Saturday is the St. John's Rummage Sale, and I know there is still a need for volunteers, especially for clean up.  No need to send a form - just stop by if you are able to help.  You would be surprised how many hours many volunteers work to make this not only a profitable event for St. John's, but also a benefit to our community.  Stop by and check out the many treausres.

Blessings to you and yours this weekend which might just feel like Spring!