We have had a great second week of school so far, and we are working ourselves back into our routines. The first few weeks of a new school year are always exhausting, for everyone, and I know all of us are feeling the exhaustion now. That said, I appreciate the work you all are doing after hours to help with the transition.
I am going to try to keep this post short, but I have a few updates for you that I will list here in order of importance.
Important Dates to Remember (or Pencil In)
Our New Room Parent: Stacy Kitchens!
Stacy Kitchens has volunteered to be our room parent for the 2018-19 school year, and she is already off to a great start. Please look out for her emails, as they will always contain important calendar information and updates from the Southmoor PTO. Thank you for your volunteerism, Stacy!
Thursday folders went home for the first time today, and I realized today that there are a number of kids who kept their folders from last year and did not return them to school. If you or your kid(s) have or find a purple Thursday folder at home, can you please send it back so we can use it this year? Some of them are assuredly lost, I know, but will use all we can find.
We are going to start using our new planners next week. If you have not yet sent in $5 for a planner, please do so. The money for planners is fronted by the fifth grade budget which we will use to purchase necessary supplies throughout the year. The $5 you send in for planners is greatly appreciated, as that money frees up budget space so that the fifth grade team can buy other things as needed.
English Language Arts & Social Studies
We have begun working on narratives this year, and that work, like last year, will continue throughout the year. I love starting the year with narratives and a bit of foundational work to allow for students to build up some stamina after the summer months, and throughout the year students can and do continue the work as time allows. I encourage students to share their narratives with family members, and if you need any help with the sharing process, please let me know.
In addition, this year we are going to be moving early into evidence-based writing and research, and we started the foundational work for that at the end of last week. For our first unit, students are going to be working on individual research projects on topics of their choice that relate to U.S.-American history of the last 400 years. As I mentioned last week, much of our English language arts instruction this year will tie in with social studies content, nonfiction texts, and, specifically, U.S.-American history.
Last week we worked together to construct a timeline of major events between 1492 and 2018, and this week students selected their research topics and began preliminary research. To aid the process along and support the work we will soon be doing as a class, I began teaching citation methods this week. Though there are simpler methods of citation that are often used in the elementary grades, I decided to go all-in and began teaching the basics of the 17th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, which is one of the most widely useful methodologies of citation. Students began practicing basic CMS methods this week, and they will soon be using those methods to cite evidence in their written work. The process is going to take some practice, but I am confident that they'll pick it up.
Students are going to be working on their history projects for the next 4-6 weeks, and I'll post more information about the specifics of those projects in the next week or two. For now, all students are right where they should be.
For the first two weeks of math, we have begun with what has largely been a review of last year's content and methodologies. From here, we will begin building upon students' mathematical understanding with new themes and methods for solving complex problems (not, so much, computations). For the first few weeks, we have heavily focused on expectations for problem solving, paying attention to details, and relying on competencies when solving unforeseen problem presentations. We've reviewed multi-digit multiplication and methods for solving such problems; the order of operations; and mathematical language. Starting next week, we'll begin delving into pre-algebra, fractions and ratios, and the explanation of reasoning.
Mrs. Larson (the sixth grade math teacher) and I are going to be using similar teaching methods this year, and we will hold similar expectations. Mrs. Larson will be present at my Curriculum Night presentation(s), for those of you who are interested in hearing from and meeting her, and she will also be providing me with unit-driven updates that I will post here.
With the introduction of planners next week, I will begin holding students accountable for tracking their after school activities. I will review options for homework with the class, and I am happy to speak with any of you about homework options so that we can align ourselves in our approaches and expectations. Please, please reach out to me if you would like to talk homework. I am not tied to any one approach in particular, and I would like to work with students and families to find options that can work for all.
Thank you to those of you who have signed up for a snack week! The kids appreciate the extra calories (and break) during the afternoon hours, and I appreciate your generosity in helping us to ensure that all of our brains are fully functioning, especially in the August heat.
As always, please reach out to me if you have any questions or if you would like to talk. My door is always open to you! (Sometimes it's locked, I guess, but if you knock, I'll open it.)
All my very best,