Monday, December 20, 2010

History Alive

Another website we often use is the History Alive tutorial. The link is also posted on the sidebar. As we complete each chapter, students use the tutorial to study for their social studies test. They may use their textbooks at first to assist with spelling and to look up details they may have forgotten. Each time a student completes the tutorial the website scores their work and gives them a grade. Most students challenge themselves to keep taking the "test" until they receive 100%.

Students have fun doing this activity and they enjoy seeing their progress improve as they continue to study the chapter. We have had wonderful results on the final assessment using this form of study.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Online Learning Activities

This year, we will be using several online learning activities such as SpellingCity, XtraMath, and History Alive. Each of these sites provides extra practice for students in spelling, math, or social studies, and sometimes students will be asked to practice at one of these sites as a homework assignment.

SpellingCity is a website that helps students learn their weekly spelling words while having fun at the same time. As a teacher, I will put up my weekly spelling lists on SpellingCity and your children can review the words, and play spelling games with their words to reinforce the learning process. Simply go to to see how the site works. You can find our class spelling lists by simply clicking on “Find a List” and typing mrsdub (all one word in lower case letters) in the search box. OR, you can simply click on the link found in the sidebar at the right of this page. The lists will appear and your child can immediately start using them to practice his or her words.

Next week we will practice the words in Lesson 6, the first review lesson encompassing words from each of the first five units. There are fifty words in the list, but students should center their studies on the focus of each week's lesson. The focus of the first five lessons has been:

Lesson 1 - words with sk, sp, and st - the generalization is that some words have two consonant letters blended together

Lesson 2 - words with ng, nk, and th - the generalization is that some words have two consonants pronounced as one sound

Lesson 3 - words with kn, mb, gh, and st - the generalization is that some words have consonant pairs that are pronounced as one sound

Lesson 4 - adding s and es - the generalization is to add s to most base words but some words require es

Lesson 5 - adding ed, ing, er, est
- the generalization is that when adding these endings to a base word, the spelling may change in several different ways

Some students learn to spell easily but other students need much practice and benefit from using successful strategies to learn their spelling words. One strategy is to "discover the problem parts" of a word. This strategy helps students figure out what makes a particular word difficult for them to spell. It calls upon use of the visual modality by suggesting that the user focus on the problem part and commit to visual memory the correct spelling of that part.

Try this:
  • Think about the word and mark the problem part.
  • Picture the word, focus on the problem part
  • Try spelling the word again

Saturday, September 11, 2010

For Parents

Welcome to the fifth grade! It is exciting to be starting a new school year and getting to know the new fifth graders and their families. I am looking forward to meeting many of you at Open House on September 15.

Here are a few bits and pieces of information that you may find helpful as we begin the year together.

Homework Expectations:

Homework sometimes becomes more of a challenge for students as they start fifth grade. Students may feel overwhelmed at first because of the increased workload. We try to start them off gently and ease them into the new routine. Students do adjust to these new challenges, however, and within a few weeks are usually able to complete their work without difficulty.

At first working in cursive slows many students in their ability to finish written work as quickly as they may have done when printing. This is because cursive is still new to them and they are still becoming familiar with how certain letters join or are formed. Very quickly, however, students become adept at working in cursive and then find that it is even easier then their former printing efforts.

Assignment books were ordered for all of the students to use this year. Students are expected to keep the assignment in their three-ring binders so that they are available when needed. We set aside 10 or 15 minutes every afternoon for students to write down assignments in their assignment books or planners, and to pack all necessary materials. We emphasize writing down assignments and making sure that your children know the expectations such as when an assignment is due. We ask that you get into the habit of looking at the student planner each evening so that you have a sense of what work has been assigned and when it is due.

Students will usually have homework each night in reading and math. Often they will have spelling, and/or occasionally a language arts assignment. These assignments are usually due the following day.

Students will also have social studies or science assignments which may be due the next day, but may not be due for two or three days – or longer. Many fifth graders require assistance in planning their use of time in completing a long-term assignment. We discuss the need to do a bit each night so that an assignment isn’t left until the last moment.

Since most homework assignments are review and practice of skills learned in class, I do not expect parents to be teaching skills a student may need to complete homework. I do expect students to come to class with questions regarding the work that gave them difficulty. Simply being able to state where the difficulty lies is a good way to begin analyzing the steps needed to continue. If a student has worked diligently at an assignment, but has difficulty completing the work, please write a note or call and let me know. The phone number here at school is 773-6926 and I am at extension 25.

School Supplies:

Sometimes school supplies get lost, broken, or used up. Please note that these may need to be replenished as the year goes along. Students are asked to make a note of this in their planners if they need to replace supplies. It would be a good idea if you checked in periodically with your fifth grader to see if they need to stock up on certain items.


One of our school’s goals is to promote student health and to reduce childhood obesity. We are asking students not to bring candy to share and strongly encourage only healthy snacks and lunches. We know that students often like to share a special snack in celebration of their birthday’s but in the fifth grade we are asking students to please not bring food in for these celebrations. If a student still wants to celebrate with their classmates we urge you to think of a healthy snack that could be shared. Some parents have been surprised to discover that the class usually enjoys fruit and/or veggie platters with some dip.

Please remove the bottom portion of the page, sign below to indicate that you have received this notice and return the signed portion of this page to school. If you ever have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me either by phone, 773-6926 X25 or e-mail.

Monday, August 09, 2010

What to Bring on the First Day

I have already told you about our pets, and here is a photo of one of our dogs, Tavin Mackenzie. He is three years old and likes to act like a guard dog. One of his favorite activities is to lie on the back of the sofa and look out this window. He watches for wildlife and always lets us know if a deer or rabbit is in the yard.

At the end of fourth grade you received a list of supplies to bring back to school for fifth grade. I also included the list in the newsletter which you received last week. Just in case you may have misplaced the list, here it is one more time!

You will NOT need an assignment book as I have ordered them for all of you and will give them to you on the first day of school. You will need:
  • 8 plain pocked folders with horizontal pockets and that are also 3 hole punched
  • a very fat trapper of 3-ring binder that is big enough to hold your folders and paper
  • a supply pouch for pencils, erasers, scissors, etc. with holes so that it fastens into your binder
  • a 12 inch ruler which is also marked in centimeters- the flexible kind is best as they are less likely to break
  • a pair of scissors
  • a fat glue stick
  • pencils with erasers
  • a supply of lined paper that is hole punched so it will fit into your trapper or binder (not the kind that comes in spiral notebooks)
  • a set of colored pencils
  • a set of colored Sharpies or other markers
  • a hand held pencil sharpener
  • a calculator (this does not need to be expensive or fancy - I have seen them for $1.00 at the Dollar Store)
Remember, if you lose or use up something, you will need to replace it as we will be using these materials all year long!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Meet SOME of the Goldfish!

I hope that you have had a chance to read your whole newsletter by now and will plan on writing to me soon! I always like to read what my students have to say in their letters and it's a great way to start getting to know you a little bit. If you are reading this blog, please leave a message before you navigate away from this page. There is a way to do it "anonymously" so that no one can see your e-mail address if you want to remain private. Ask your parents to help!

In the newsletter, I wrote about the goldfish. When you arrive for the first day of school you will see an empty aquarium because the fish are still in the water garden. I thought you would like to see a picture of some of the adults in their summer home. You can click on the photo showing all four fish to make it larger and easier to view. If you look at them from left to right, they are Samson (the biggest orange fish), Bob (the smallest orange fish), Stripe (the orange and white fish with more orange), and Spot (the orange and white fish with more white).

This summer when I brought these fish home and placed them in the water, I had a big surprise! There was already a fish there! Apparently, last summer, there were baby fish born and I didn't see them in the fall when I was taking them all out and bringing them in for the winter! (One of the reasons I wasn't able to see them is that when they are little, the fish are a silvery greenish brown color so they blend in with the pond.)

Can you imagine how surprised I was?
WOW! Well, this little fish is now changing color and will be mostly, if not all, orange like Bob. I named the new fish Poseidon because I think he must be very powerful to have survived the winter outdoors in very little water that I thought was frozen all the way to the bottom!

See you soon,
Mrs. W.