Hello Fifth Grade HGT Families:
Welcome back to a brand new school year at Southmoor Elementary. I am honored and excited to be sharing this new year with you which will also, for a good number of you, be your last year at Southmoor. The fact that most of us moved with each other from fourth grade to fifth grade has made the start of the year my most enjoyable and exciting one yet, and I appreciate all the kindness, support, and grace you have shown me and your kids in our first couple days of school.
With that said, this year is going to be incredibly busy and packed with action. We have a few big events coming up quickly, and aside from those I am going to use this initial post to acquaint you with as much general information as I can as a backdrop to our Curriculum Night discussions which will occur on Thursday, September 6 at 6:00 p.m.
Important Dates to Remember (or Pencil In)
English Language Arts & Social Studies
This year, again, we will be using writing and writing instruction in class to drive content-based learning in English Language Arts (ELA) and, perhaps more importantly, social studies. Among other markers of success, our class' CMAS ELA scores from last year demonstrate remarkable performance and growth that place our class' students among the very highest achievers in the Denver Public Schools. Above all, we hope to build upon the momentum that we created last year.
Within the writing domains, we will again begin with a month-long unit on narratives; then we will move to a five-months long practicum on informative (essay) writing, with a focus on citation; and we will end the year with units on opinion writing and poetry.
Social studies units will drive most of our ELA work, and the primary driver will be a year-long study of American history from 1491-present. Considering a timespan of 527 years, we will focus on big topics and big events, and students will have opportunities to work on individual and small group projects related to topics that are of particular interest to them. In addition, we will complete smaller, shorter units on geography (the 50 states) and civics/economics (for AmeriTowne), and fold economic, geographic, and civic learning into the study of United States and American history.
The vast majority of whole group and small group reading this year will focus on nonfiction shorts related to social studies content, but I also expect students to read novels independently. I have challenged students to read 25 novels this school year, and I will hold them accountable to that as best I can through individualized assignments and projects related to readings of their choice. Students will have access to many books via both the classroom and Southmoor libraries this year, though I also encourage families to visit branches of the Denver Public Library and also The Bookies in order to satiate some of our students' seemingly insatiable needs for books. If you or your child would like help selecting such books at any point this year, please reach out to me. Otherwise, I will work hard to stay on top of selections through work in the classroom.
This year, in my math section, we will be working through the fifth grade Investigations curriculum for the first three quarters of the year, and then the sixth grade i-Ready curriculum for the last quarter. Fortunately, my math section this year will have close to half as many students as it did last year, as approximately half of my homeroom class will move to Mrs. Larson's sixth grade section. The spread this year will provide all students with more and better individualized and small group instruction.
Math instruction this year will build upon themes and concepts similar to those that students worked with last year, and we will again focus on a target of competence with respect to problem solving. Additionally, as we move into the fifth grade curriculum, students will interact with familiar operations but increasingly complex numbers and number schemes. Furthermore, they will use writing and oration to explain their learning and reasoning, and they will be held responsible for their pursuit of mathematical reasoning.
Stay tuned for regular family letters detailing specific upcoming units of study.
Science instruction this year will traverse three primary units of weather, heat exchange, and the human body, with the latter being the longest and most involved. In addition, we will make as many connections as possible between our primary units and our trip to Balarat, the instruction related to which will cover numerous units from students' past three years of science instruction in school.
Toward the middle of the school year, also, all students will participate in the school's science fair, mentor younger students with their projects, and learn and teach about the scientific method and its attributes. Stay tuned for more information on that.
As I've done -- or not done -- in the past, I am not going to use a formal graded homework system this year. However, I will have, and work with kids on, a homework plan that families can mold to their desires.
Generally, each week I will provide students with a list of options from which they can choose a variety of homework tasks. I will update that list on this website as it changes. To start, the list will include (1) reading; (2) i-Ready lessons in reading or math; (3) writing projects (narratives); and (4) any math completion work.
I am not going to set a certain target for time spent on homework each week, as that will vary among students. Ideally, I would like for students and their families to set targets that are appropriate and meaningful according to circumstance, and I will make myself available to support those goals by offering help with accountability and options. Most importantly, if students are doing work at home, I want them working because they enjoy the work and not simply because they feel an external sense of duty.
We will be receiving planners again this year, and I am going to focus more on those this year as a way of keeping track of tasks and accomplishments, including those related to homework options.
Planners will be $5.00 each this year, at the request of the office. As such, at your earliest convenience, please send $5.00 with your student(s) to cover his or her planner. (Thank you for that.)
We have three big field trips planned for this year, including AmeriTowne, SPREE, and Balarat. AmeriTowne and SPREE are already booked and taken care of, and we are awaiting confirmation for our Balarat dates. Stay tuned for more information about these trips, and for opportunities to volunteer!
We have long afternoons this year, and I would like to coordinate a snack system similar to the one we had last year, if everyone is up for it again. Please email me if you have any questions or concerns as to that, or else look for a sign-up.
Coming up soon, we will need a few volunteers to help with interviewing students for AmeriTowne positions, so if you are interested in that, please let me know.
There will be many opportunities for parents to volunteer this year, so please stay tuned for more options. If you have ideas as to particular things you would like or be willing to do, please email me so we can work on plans.
Room Parent Opening
Our marvelous room parent from last year, becca, is looking to hand over the reins to a new and worthy candidate this year. If you are interested in taking on the room parent role this year, please let me know. Primary duties this year will include forwarding PTO communications to parents and helping to manage or delegate sign-ups, classroom events, and parties.
It is going to be a great year! Thanks for all you all do to support our classroom and school. I greatly appreciate you.
All the very best,