The 5th graders have been hard at work learning the names and locations of the 50 states. Students are learning what tools and tricks are helpful for them as learners, and graphing their personal daily progress. For the first time ever, with the addition of our new Design Lab laser cutter, students were able to design and create a customized puzzle as a study tool. Each small group of students had many decisions to make…What material should we use? What do we want the base of our puzzle to look like? Where do we want to write the state names or abbreviations? If we want words on the backs of the puzzle pieces, how do we design a template for that? Once students created templates for their puzzle base and pieces, the amazing Kent Chapple went to work with the laser cutter, turning their templates into actual puzzles! Kids were so excited to see their designs come to life. We’re all looking forward to implementing more design thinking into our learning with the addition of our new Design Lab opening Fall of 2017!
It’s Spring time, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, the snow is finally melting, and the 5th grade has delved into the infamous Science unit covering the endocrine system. For adults, this means that the kiddos will be studying the pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, and adrenal glands.
For kids, this means we will be addressing the much-giggled-about topic of puberty. For this topic, students will learn about what changes to expect in their own bodies for their own gender as they go through puberty. Girls and boys will be separated, girls with Ms. Wenndorf, and boys with Mr. Wenger. We will watch a video that is specific to their gender, then have time for questions and answers.
Please know that it is our intention to support you as parents as your kids enter this hormone-y season of life. We will provide a basic level of information and promote a safe environment for your kids here at school, but hope that you will have continued conversations about this topic, including your own family’s values, at home. Again, we will only be addressing puberty, and not the topic of reproduction in 5th grade.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the buzz in 5th grade is all about BizTown! Students have been hard at work learning about personal finance, including how to write checks, use a debit card, and balance a checkbook. We’re learning about philanthropic opportunities to support people in our community that have unmet needs (perfect timing with our Ronald McDonald House service project!). In the coming week, students will explore what kind of job they might be well suited for, and the characteristics of a good employee. All this preparation will culminate in our overnight field trip to Portland where students will get to be grown-ups for a day. This is such a unique and memorable experience for our kids, where they will learn the importance of time management, working with a team, and why their parents are so tired and stressed after working all day!
As always, this experience wouldn’t be possible without the support of our awesome parent community! Thank you for driving kids across the mountain, sleeping on the floor at the zoo, and wearing highly unfashionable green aprons as you supervise and support our kids in their businesses. This is an experience your kids won’t soon forget!
Buen trabajo, Elementary Spanish! I am so proud of all my students this year. My greatest reward in teaching them is seeing their improvement in their conversational skills and written sentence constructions we have been working on since the beginning of the year. I am definitely witnessing it in the classroom. I know some parents have shared with me their enjoyment in having their kids help, by listening and speaking, in the Spanish-speaking countries your have recently vacationed in this past Spring Break. I expect that, and told them before they left, not to be shy. However, practicing their conversational skills with strangers is never as easy as doing it in the comfort and familiarity of our classroom at SPS. I can not begin to tell you how grateful I am for the loving atmosphere, enthusiasm, happiness and the great attitude your kids bring to class everyday. Their willingness to learn, participate, and practice with their peers always goes beyond my expectations.
I would like to witness with your own eyes the progress they have made. In the next few days you will be receiving an email from me inviting you to watch them “show off” how they are developing their gift of a second language. I know they can’t wait and I hope you can find the time to come to watch them. If you are not able to attend, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to meet with you during a time that is more convenient.
The end of the school year is quickly approaching. In the final two months, I will be gradually immersing your kids further in to the language. There will be a little confusion during the first couple of days, but I know by experience they will find it a lot of FUN. Let’s all remember that, at their age, FUN plus IMPROVEMENT is what should be about! Muchas gracias for sharing and trusting all your child to me.
As we progress through the school year, and the kids continue to grow academically, it is also important to continue to foster a strong sense of classroom and school community. Community building is something that we spend quite a bit of time on at the beginning of the year, but it is important to revisit and reestablish feelings of belonging as we transition into spring. Over the past two weeks we have been working on reconnecting and celebrating our classroom community through fun team building activities.
Our 5th grade team building activities have been centered around kids reaching out to peers who might be outside of their regular go-to friends and exploring common interests to express a sense of belonging. What brings us together is so much greater that anything that might separate us! Creative team names, group cheers, collaborative problem solving tasks and a fair amount of silliness are some of the paths that kids are taking to better relationships.
For example, in the activity “Island”, kids formed teams and had figure out how to transport their team of 4 from one “island” (gym matt) to the next “island” without touching the floor separating the matts. Each team had a scooter, small ring and two 6ft sections of rope. Discussions, plans and techniques varied, but were all supported with positive comments and often comical implementation. Kids completed the activity feeling connected, supported and excited about their community of peers!
It has been a joy to work with your students this year – they are full of creativity and enthusiasm and with the smaller group we have this year, I’ve enjoyed simply getting to know them and what makes them tick. We are having a lot of fun working this past week on a research project using Google Slides. Each student, or partnership of students, was able to choose an instrument and find out the history, the materials used to create it, look at famous musicians who play their instrument and find various videos showcasing their instrument. Additionally, we’ve all learned a few fun tricks from our resident computer expert, Tyler Haverland. It truly is an enjoyable class – thank you for the privilege of teaching them each day.
Have your student pop onto Canvas over Spring break and listen to our upcoming Spring Show as much as possible! Summer Camp is going to be a great night of celebration as we sing for the last time as 5th graders AND honor our very own Beth Basham in a Retirement Celebration. Make plans to join us on Thursday, June 1 from 6:30-8:30pm.
Fifth graders are currently working on writing memoirs. We are using mentor texts to discover that memoir authors typically write about emotional topics that give insight into who they are as a person, using a blend of reflective thoughts and small moment stories that bring their theme to life. One student is writing about how she doesn’t want others to speak for her while she remains hidden; she wants to speak for herself. Another is writing about how he often feels afraid when he thinks he shouldn’t. Several students are writing about loss…the loss of a much-loved pet, the loss of childhood friends after a move, the loss of a grandparent, and even the loss of a young friend to cancer. One of the treasures of Seven Peaks is the way that students feel safe with each other, and take risks to write about topics that really matter. Thanks for being supportive, engaged families, and raising such reflective kids!
In the art room the 5th grade has been busy finishing up their Renaissance themed buildings in the form of collagraph prints. Students started with a study of the Renaissance era and then looked at the art form of printing collagraphs. Their work is on display in the middle school hall in the display cabinet outside the art room. We hope that you will be able to stop by and check out their work. Their prints are displayed with their collagraph plates so you can see the whole process. We are now onto creating our traditional heritage ceramic heads! Students started with a homework assignment of talking to their parents and possibly grandparents about their family lineage. From there they chose a person or culture in their lineage of interest and are working on creating a bust of that person out of clay! Feel free to stop by the art room on Monday or Wednesday and have some fun with clay!
As the snow levels in town begin to taper off and thoughts of spring start to bloom, 5th grade students (and teachers) begin to think of the not-so-far-off transition to Middle School. Although the physical move to middle school only requires a limited number of steps down a familiar hallway, the mental transition can be much more involved and is often a source excitement and stress for both students and parents alike. Fear not, just check out the attached photo of our current 6th graders competing for the attention of the amazing Mrs. Mulvihill, the 6th grade Language Arts teacher!
At Seven Peaks we are intentional about making sure that kids have a smooth, fun and functional transition to 6th grade. Relationships between current 5th graders and their soon-to-be middle school teachers and peers are created and fostered through several meaningful activities, such as…
- Increased attendance of 5th graders at 6th grade culminations. For example we just watched an amazing 6th grade “Pop – Opera” performance that excited the kids about possible 6th grade performances
- Move up Day – In June we will head over to Shevlin Park for a full day of team building activities that will allow our 5th graders to get to know their Middle School teachers and 6th grade peers
- For parents, we will host several spring meetings to answer questions about what to expect socially, emotionally and academically in the year to come
- Locker Combination Training – Believe it or not, being able to easily open a locker seems to be a common source of worry for 5th graders
In short, we will make sure that our 5th grade kids feel excited and comfortable about their move to “the other hall” of the school. With caring and talented teachers like Mrs. Mulvihill and Mr Gylling, it is easy and realistic to have high expectations about the middle school years to come
In 5th grade, we value a spirit of inquiry. Every lesson begins with a question: How can investigating the actions of a character help us identify the theme of a text? How can we use objects to “act out” a problem in math? How might including quotes from experts strengthen our argument? We believe that students learn best when their curiosity is piqued, when they are empowered to discover answers for themselves, and when they receive strategic coaching from their teachers. Recently, our budding scientists explored the chemistry of diapers. Just how much liquid can one diaper hold? Which part of the diaper seems to absorb all that liquid? This spirit of inquiry and creating memorable, inspirational experiences is critical to student learning, retention, and the big fun that is 5th grade at SPS!
Elementary PE has been staying active and learning new skills. Before winter break all elementary classes participated in a jump rope unit. Within the jump rope unit students practiced different types of jumps and learned about the benefits of jumping rope. We are currently in the middle of our basketball unit practicing dribbling, passing and shooting.
It has been very comforting and productive to finally move back into a normal full-time routine after several weeks of interruptions from mother nature! This week we are finishing up our Social Studies Unit on the Maya, Aztec and Inca civilizations. Children have zoomed in on a specific civilization and self-selected a way to show what they know about that culture. Mediums for the kids to demonstrate their understanding include posters, travel brochures, skits, songs, Kahoots and Google slide shows. Ask your child what they are working on! We have been super impressed with the kids’ creativity and motivation to show what they know in unique and entertaining ways! This is a great reminder that students are more successful when they have a choice in how they are demonstrating their knowledge. This type of diversity in assessment also philosophically supports our soon-to-be middle schoolers upcoming transition to the IB program.