Monday, December 21, 2015

                             Season's Reading

Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with Blessings

Friday, December 18, 2015

Our new bean bags

     Our Holiday break is just about here and our work is complete. We finished our narrative writing pieces after much revision and editing with peers. Next week, we will have a reading share of our wonderful final writing pieces. We also completed our Compare/Contrast paragraph writing about two characters from our read aloud, Animal House and Iz. The students had so much fun creating their caricatures of their character study. Please ask your child to share with you this fun website. After the work was complete, many students chose to create christmas cards, portfolio covers and more using this website.
Sample caricature and writing
     On a another note, our wonderful PTO purchased bean bag chairs for more reading pleasure in our class. Thank you so much PTO!
     As our week came to an end, we met with our 8th grade buddies to share the story, The Giving Tree. After our reading, we all discussed our "Gift of Self" project. Please ask your child to share this project with you. The students will give a gift of themselves before Jan. 22 and then do a writing activity about that experience. I will send home a reminder about this project after the new year for those students who have not completed their gift over the holiday break.
* Tuesday, Dec. 22 is our last day of school before the holiday 


Friday, December 11, 2015

Enjoying a great book!
HAPPY FRIDAY!                   

     Our holiday break is approaching fast and we are wrapping up a few projects. We finished our read aloud,  Animal House and Iz and are working on character traits with evidence of characters along with a computer caricature drawing of the character. Students will compare two character's traits using dialogue writing. 
Our next read aloud will begin after the new year when we begin a book taking place during the Jim Crow era and civil rights.
     In Writer's Workshop, the students are putting their final touches on their narrative writing pieces. During this last week, we focused on editing our work and looking at our endings. Did your ending leave your reader thinking, laughing, or learning a lesson? 
     Next week we will meet with our 8th grade buddies to discuss a project called, "The gift of self." This project will ask each student to give the gift of themselves to a friend, elderly person, family or neighbor by helping them in some way without being asked or compensated. When the students return from the holiday break, they will write about that experience and share their writing with their 8th grade buddy.
*Wed. Dec. 16th- 5/6th grade instrumental/choral concert. 6:30pm
*Wed. Dec 16th- Intramurals cancelled

Friday, December 4, 2015

Measuring live lobsters
     Our writing week consisted of mini lessons on believable and important dialogue that moves a story along, great leads that grab your reader, and the use of transition words to move a story from paragraph to paragraph. In each lesson, we looked at each of these techniques from examples out our classroom library novels. By the end of the week, we started to share our writing with classmates to help each other clarify our thinking and details. Next week we will focus on paragraph breaks, how to add figurative language to our writings, and how to write an ending that will keep your reader thinking.
Collaborating on writing
 We are nearing the end of our read aloud Animal House and Iz and note taking on character traits. We will begin to write a comparison paper on two characters along with developing a character drawing on SP Studio which is a program that teaches the students how to draw caricature cartoons for their characters.

On Wednesday we went on our field trip to The Gulf of Maine Institute (see photos below). This field trip supports the students learning of biomes in Science class. It is a wonderful trip where the students are fully engaged with technology and scientific steps to solve problems such as:
* Why is the lobster population rising in Maine even though there are more lobstermen lobstering?
* How does a fisherman make money fishing and what are his expenses?
* What is plankton? How important is it to the Gulf of Maine?


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pizza celebration for victory in the pig race
 We had a busy week!
Our week was spent deep in drafting our personal narratives.
Students creatively wrote in their writing journals and then transferred their narratives into their google drives. Once they had their stories on the computers, we could get busy with looking at details and techniques for strengthening their pieces. Students learned about thought shots(blowing up a moment in great details or looking back at a moment). We looked at ways we could use figurative language to help the reader see the moment. By Friday, we had a mini lesson talking about passive verbs such as were, is and was. We learned that overusing these verbs can make a writing more of a "telling" instead of a "showing" narrative. We will continue our narrative work after the holiday with a look at adding meaningful dialogue and strong endings. 
Figuratively Speaking Poster

We continued our read a loud Animal House and Iz and our study of character traits. Students took notes about characters based on what a character did and said. 

We also had a chance to share our "Figuratively Speaking" posters with the other fifth grade classrooms. The students all did a super job creatively writing about a picture of themselves using metaphors, similes, and personification.

Mr. Smith and I were extremely pleased with the maturity the students showed during our lockdown drill. They did such a super job, we decided to go outside at the end of the day for a class kickball game. Students laughing and the sun shining, what a great way to end our week. ENJOY!
*  5th grade Friends/Pie Celebration is next Tuesday at 1:00
*  No school Nov. 25, 26, & 27. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

     It was a short week with a lot of excitement. As most of you know, the dolphin homeroom went on to victory in the school wide pig races. With the amazing team spirit of the Geese and the Dolphins working together, victory and fun was had by all. (See photos below)
     Writer's Workshop was spent on planning personal narratives. Students used a graphic organizer to help them plan their narratives and get their thoughts down before drafting. We discussed the grading rubric for the narratives and then had a chance to read narratives from students past and evaluate and grade those rubrics together. This exercise helped the students see and hear what a strong and poor written narrative would sound like. We are off and writing.
     As the week came to an end, we continued or work on our knowledge of Figurative Language. Students brought in a photo of themselves to test their skills on writing personification, metaphors and similes about their photos. Figuratively Speaking, they were as busy as bees with their knowledge crawling across their pages. 
Have a great weekend!

     We did it!
Finish Lime and his lucky lime

Our Pig, "Finish Lime" won the pig races this year.
Congratulations to Grace for doing a great job at her pig guiding and for being our top fundraising seller. With the amazing team spirit of the Dolphins and the Geese, we went on to victory.
Congratulations to all!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Happy Friday!

I would like to thank all of our parents for the chance to check-in and share goals during conferences. Your children are a joy to work and laugh with every day. Thank you again for sending them to school each day ready to learn. 
Creativity at work!

Most of our Writer's Workshop this week revolved around "quick writes" and allowing our creativity to flow in our journals. These journal entries will help students to make the big decision on what to write about in their personal narratives. We are also continuing our study of personification, metaphors, and similes in our writing. On Friday we went outside and enjoyed the quiet morning reflecting and noticing our surroundings while writing metaphors and personification about nature. The results where Amazing! 

Example of student writing
We also started a new Read aloud titled, Animal House and Iz. After Alabama Moon, this is a humorous light read about a blended family and their quest for understanding each other and becoming one big loving family. During this book we will be revisiting the literary element, character traits and growth of the characters over the course of the reading. There are many characters in this book who go through changes in some way by the end of the story. 

Last but not least, the Dolphin homeroom class qualified to enter the big "Pig" race next week. The top sellers in the fundraiser were Mrs. Rollins' and Mrs. Jag's classes for the 5th grade. We will race each other and the winner will go on to race the upper grades. The pig race will be next Tuesday, Nov.10 at 1:40. This is the funniest thing to see. The students love it! Look for pictures next week in our blog.
* No school next Wed. Nov. 11- Veteran's Day
* Speech and Debate team-Tues. Nov.10-2:30
* 5th Math Team-Tues. Nov 10-2:30

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sharing life stories
Happy Friday!

As our week started, we moved into our second Wordly Wise lesson. Due to our 8th grade Buddy get together on Thursday,We will continue to work on this lesson with the test next Wednesday.

We prepared for choosing a topic for our Narrative writing by building a graffiti page of memories and favorite things in our writer's notebooks. Students also shared their writer's notebook family and friend photo stories. Classmates listened to each other's stories and helped their friends decide on which pictures would make for great story topics. We ended our week by completing two "quick" writes." During a quick write, students are given a topic to write about using as many descriptive words as they can. They are to write without worrying about conventions and mechanics, just get the creativity flowing. Many students could not wait to share their writing.
8the grade Buddies

Our Reader's Workshop this week focused on reviewing character traits. We discussed finding a character's traits by noticing what a character in a story does and says. We talked about the difference between internal traits and external traits of a person. Students began to look at their own characters in the books they are reading, and deciding which traits could fit their character. Students also began to write about the evidence from their books that would support their thinking.

To end our week, we spent Thursday afternoon with our 8th grade buddies drawing our creatively designed monsters. Ask your child to share the fun details. We also visited the library to listen to spooky Halloween stories from Ms. Stuhr.

* HMS Book Fair Mon. Nov. 2 - Thurs.      
   Nov. 5.
* Book Fair Family Night is Tues. Nov. 3 
   5:00 to 7:00pm
* Final Magazine Sales are Due Nov. 3

Friday, October 23, 2015

HAPPY FRIDAY!                          
Mr. Watt Key

We started our week with a continuation of "dot jot" note taking in our library lesson. Ms. Stuhr helped us with our book selections and how to take short notes in our own words.
As many of you know, we also had our first spelling list and packet to work through. We worked through the pages together during the week so that each student could become comfortable with how the the packet practices the spelling rule that is focused. In future spelling packets, the students will be responsible for finishing this work on their own for homework. We then took our spelling test on Friday. Next week we will work on Wordly Wise vocabulary lesson #2. Wordly Wise and Spelling will continue through the year alternating each week.
Evie and Nate introduce Mr. Key

This was an exciting week as we finished our read aloud, Alabama Moon. Students were riveted to their seats waiting to see what would happen to our friend Moon. As the book came to an end, the students still had many questions. We discussed and wrote about how Moon had changed as a character and why. To end this wonderful read, we had the author Watt Key visit our school from Alabama. He showed the students a slide show of when he and two friends tried to survive out in the Alabama forests as a college student. Our students were absolutely engrossed in his funny stories. In the end, the students could ask questions. I was so very proud of our kids as they asked very thoughtful questions about how the characters were created and how Mr. Key accomplishes is story writing. It was a wonderful learning event for our students.

Next week we will begin learning about generating topics for good Narrative writing. We will finish our fun paragraph writing about a Halloween character to share with our 8th grade buddies on Thursday and we will also begin a study on "Metacognition." Helping the students to understand how to think about their thinking when reading.
*  Conferences are scheduled next week for Oct. 27, 29, & 30 
    They will continue the following week, Nov. 3, 4, & 5
*  Picture retakes are next Thursday Oct. 29.
*  5th grade Intramurals is cancelled next week, Oct. 28.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy Friday!

Our short week began with more Alabama Moon reading and thinking. We are nearing the end of the book and through Moon, we have learned a wealth of survivalist techniques. Ask your child what Moon used slugs for. As we near the end, the students have been asking themselves many questions about how this story and characters will end. We still have many unanswered questions. The author Watt Key will be here next Thursday to share with the students how he came to write Alabama Moon and to answer the student's many questions. Royal River book store is carrying copies for sale and students are invited to bring their own copy to be autographed if they choose.
Mr. Roscoe and teachers

Writer's Workshop continued this week with our figurative language study and a look at "idioms." This was a lot of fun to see the students get excited about what an idiom is and realizing how many of their parents use these figurative language techniques when talking. There was a lot of, " OHHHHHHH! That's what my mom says." We also continued our paragraph practice in preparation for our narrative pieces soon to come.

Students at St. Bahkita
On Thursday, we had a guest speaker. Mr. Roscoe come to talk with us about Harrison Middle School's sister school in Uganda. He shared pictures and movies of Uganda and the children that attend St. Bahkita Primary School in Beweyale, Uganda. We learned how this is a refugee settlement with people who left Sudan for safety reasons. The students were very excited to learn about how we are going to write letters and become pen pals with these children. Your child is coming home this weekend with their letter assignment to be completed at home and returned to school by next Wednesday, Oct. 21. If you would like more information on this school, I have included the link:

* Conference sign-up email coming soon
* Thurs, Oct. 22, author Watt Key is at HMS
* 5th grade intramurals next Wed. Oct. 21 is CANCELLED

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reader's Notebook work 
Happy Thursday!

The short week just flew by! Our focus this week in our reading was the continuation of figurative Language. We discussed the difference between a simile and a metaphor and why a writer would use these techniques. We looked for examples of this in our read-a-loud, Alabama Moon. After much discussion, the students gave it a try in their reader's notebooks. After reading in their own books, they had a chance to write a simile about their main character. This was a great way for the students to see if they are really understanding and coming to know their main characters. Next week, we will work with Idioms. 
Our "Inquiry Pumpkin" donated by Sabina Coroi

Our focus in writing this week was on writing effective paragraphs. The students took an old piece of writing and began to apply the paragraph techniques to re-write their work in a more effective paragraph while using transition words to help the flow. In a few weeks, we will take our paragraph practice and our figurative language practice and put them to the test when we begin our Narrative writing pieces.

Have a wonderful long weekend!
*  No school Mon. Oct. 12
*  The first collection of the magazine/cookie orders is Oct. 14.
    The next collections will be Oct. 21 and Oct. 28.
*  Tues. 5/6 Math team 2:30-4:00
*  Wed. 5th gr. Intramurals 2:30-4:00
*  Speech & Debate team next week is cancelled.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Peer discussions and help

     Our reading week began with continual work on lesson 1 of our Wordly Wise book. We had a lot of time to work on becoming familiar with the format in the book and have great discussions about the new vocabulary. Students are already finding these words in their own reading. As you know from my email earlier in the week, the students were also introduced to This website is a great resource for your children to practice their weekly vocabulary words. Students also worked diligently on their Reading Timelines. They are eager to share next week about the books in their lives that have helped shape them into the great readers they are.
Reading Timeline
     This week our character Moon from our read-a-loud Alabama Moon, is discovering that the life he thought was wonderful, may not be so. Be sure to check-in with your child to find out what Moon will do next. Through our reading, we have been continuing our discussions about Figurative Language and how great authors use this technique in their writing. Watt key uses wonderful personification, similes, and metaphors to bring his story to life. The students are excited when they find evidence of this great writing as we read. We will continue these writing lessons next week and begin to use these techniques in our paragraph writing.
      Each of your children received the writing tools that I shared with you at our "Open House." The "Transition Words" sheet, Paragraph Rubric, and the "Writer's Checklist." Many eyes grew big with excitement to begin their writing using these tools. We evaluated samples of great paragraphs as well as poor paragraph writing. By looking at these pieces, the kids could see and hear what good 5th grade writing looks and sounds like. 
*  Tues. Oct. 6, Math Team and Speech and Debate Team-2:30
*  Wed. Oct. 7, 5th grade Intramurals
*  Teacher In-Service, No school on Fri. Oct. 9.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Friday!

Our week started with a visit to the library.
Ms. Stuhr shared a lesson on the Inquiry Process and then shared with us the details to our own inquiry project. We will soon choose any topic or person to research and learn more about. During this research, we will be learning about "dot jots," another way of taking notes on important details. Later, we will use this note taking technique with our Explorer and Great American research essays. 
As our week progressed, we continued our fantastic read, Alabama Moon. The suspense is building as Moon is planning his escape from the foster boys home. His escape is becoming complicated as he starts to struggle with new friendships that are testing his emotions. We are enjoying many thoughtful discussions and "wondering" as we continue to read. Students had a chance to complete their first written response to reading in our Reader's Notebooks and enjoyed sharing their thinking. Many students have also finished their first chapter books since school started and are on to their second and third. The energy for reading and sharing our books is infectious in class. 
MAP Testing

Your children began their first lesson in their Wordly Wise books this week. This vocabulary program helps the students widen their vocabulary usage as well as prepares them for the more difficult words they will encounter as their reading levels grow. We are doing lesson #1, which has five parts. We will work through this lesson slowly and together so the students begin to feel comfortable with the procedures and difficulty. You will not see this coming home as homework for a while.  

On Wednesday and Thursday, students took their Math and Reading MAP tests on the computer. They all worked very hard to do their best effort. 
*  5/6th grade Math Club-Tues. Sept. 29, 2:30-4:00
*  5th grade intramurals- Wed. Sept 30, 2:30-4:00

Friday, September 18, 2015

Keyboarding practice
Happy Friday!

Our week started with the organization of our writing folders. The students had an opportunity to decorate their notebooks with memories of special times and favorite things. They then shared stories about their pictures and helped each other decide which memories would make for good story writing. Next week we will start our paragraph writing.
Personification from Alabama Moon

Reading this week focused on the behaviors of good readers. We also learned about the word "stamina" and how it relates to good readers. We read the book, The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco. Ask your child to share a little about this wonderful book that shares the joy of reading and finding that special book. On Wednesday, we started our "One School One Book" project with the novel, Alabama Moon by Watt Key. During this time we also started working in our Reader's Notebooks. Our focus this week was on "personification." We read a few poems to identify personification and look at how authors use this figurative language to enrich their descriptive writing. We read from our
Reader's Notebook work
novel and Identified how Watt Key used personification many times in just the first few chapters. Next week we will try writing our own personification poems in preparation for using this this technique in our personal narratives. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

*  MAP testing- 5th grade is Wed. Sept 23 and 
    Thursday, Sept. 24th.
*  Math Team starts next Wed, Sept. 22 In Ellis' 
    room. If you enjoy math and math puzzles, come have some fun
    with practice and competitions with other schools. 2:30-4:00
*  Wednesdays, 5th Grade Intramurals 2:30-4:00
*  Writing Club will meet Sept 24th from 2:30-3:30.
     Writing Club is an opportunity for fifth and sixth grade students to focus on writing beyond classroom assignments. In the fall, students work on creative pieces of their own choosing. In the spring, the group focuses on journalism and produces The Harrison Middle School Survival Handbook, "written by fifth graders for future fifth graders." Sixth graders work on other writing pursuits.
 We meet after school on the last school Thursday of each month (until 3:30 p.m.). All students with an interest in writing are welcome. There is a sign-up sheet outside room 104. Students are encouraged to bring a notebook and their own snacks, although we will have paper and rudimentary munchies. Students may also see Ms. Agell during a drop-in time on Mondays at 9:20 AM. Writers may share writing with Ms. Agell any time, electronically or by hand delivery. The Poem Booth, for example, is always hungry! Students who are writing a great deal may be pulled out of class for a writing conference, at the convenience of the classroom teacher and Ms. Agell.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

End of week celebration!
Happy Friday!

Hello Fifth Grade Parents,

We finished our first week of 5th grade with smiles, laughter and popsicles. Your children did an amazing job this week coming to school prepared with wonderful eager attitudes for learning. Most of our days were spent learning their way around HMS and getting to the classes they needed to be in as well as learning their schedules. By day two, many were walking the halls with confidence and a spring in their step. 

In our classroom, we discussed many of the 5th grade expectations in Language Arts. We worked in groups and shared discussions about what it means to be a "Collaborative Worker," a "Self Directed Learner," a "Quality Producer," and a "Responsible and Involved Citizen." We talked about how these traits help to make successful people in school and in our world. We also spent time sharing our individual expectations for our classroom, classmates, and teachers in order to be successful students.                     

By Friday, we had visited the library and chose our first individual books to read and enjoy. We also read a book called, The Best Part of Me and had on opportunity to write about our individual best parts of ourselves.

Thank you for sending your children to school so well prepared to learn. I look forward to an amazing school year of writing, reading, laughing, thinking, and wondering.

* 5th grade Parent Open House is this Monday,     
   Sept. 14 from 5:30-7:30. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

*     School starts Tuesday, September
       8th at 7:35am.

*     5th graders should go straight to
       the 5th grade playground when
       they arrive at school.

*     Bring a healthy snack

*     Parents-5th grade "Open House" is Monday, 
       September 14th.

*     Don't forget your school supplies!

See you soon!