Thursday, February 15, 2018

Snowball Photos

Just a few epic photos from the social! It was such a blast. Thanks to all those who could make it. 

Math Update

Dear Families,

Thank you for sending in lots of wonderful breakfast food on Valentine’s Day.
The kids had a blast and enjoyed socializing with their peers over a meal.

Math Update:

5th: We have finished another unit on Multiplication and Division.
Hopefully you are seeing more and more efficient strategies being utilized on the
weekly homework.

Our latest unit is focused on using coordinate graphs, ordered pairs, tables,
and symbolic notation to model real world and mathematical situations.

By the end of the unit students will be able to:
-Read and construct coordinate graphs
-Model situations with mathematics: graphs, ordered pairs, tables, and symbolic
-Analyze and compare mathematical patterns and relationships

Be looking for the parent hand out to explain more about this mathematical content.

6th: In sixth grade we have been working hard to learn and correctly select the
appropriate operation when solving fraction word problems. We have learned how
to use different models to represent these types of equations, such as an area
model and number line. Attached is a picture to try and explain these models
further. Helping kids conceptualize these problems, and not just learn the rules, is
where the real learning takes place. It’s very easy to forget what step to complete
next in an algorithm, but relating it to a visual gives students something to fall back
on when they are feeling stuck and helps them make sense of what the question
is asking.

As always, please feel free to reach out with questions.


Ms. Grace

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Snowball RESCHEDULED to February 9

The WES Snowball has been rescheduled to February 9th, from 6 to 7:30. Please join us for games, dancing, and a photo booth. There will be light refreshments such as hot chocolate, popcorn, and cookies.  This is NOT a formal occasion, but if you would like to wear something formal, please feel free. This is primarily a social event to have fun, and hang out with friends.
-Peter Stover, Student Council

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Second Semester Ends

Report Cards: Last Friday marked the end of our second semester. Report cards will be mailed home next week. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to request a conference regarding your child's progress.

Writing: All three classrooms are working on a "research-based argument essay." After extensive research, note-taking and organization of thoughts and evidence, each student has developed a claim to the question "Should Humans Spend Time, Energy and Money Colonizing Mars?" We've had daily mini-lessons which include: how to research, take notes on nonfiction text, develop and support a claim with reasons and evidence, create a bibliography, structure informational text, introduce and explain evidence, cite evidence within the text, revise and edit! This study is in conjunction with their STEM class project: "Mars Robotics Challenge." Many have reached the drafting phase of the writing process. The final pieces are expected to be completed next week. Ask your child how their work is coming, I promise an engaging conversation!

Reading: For the most part, homework continues to be 30 minutes of reading Monday through Thursday evenings. Students are expected to record the start and end time, as well as number of pages read in their "Reading Log." Completing homework is important for 5th and 6th graders to develop study habits, as well as improve their reading. The following snippet of research ("Every Child Every Day") shows the importance of time spent reading, as well as the importance of reading an independent text at each child's level and of high interest.

"...more authentic reading develops better readers. In these large-scale national studies, researchers found that students in more-effective teachers' classrooms spent a larger percentage of reading instructional time actually reading."  "...teachers were more likely to differentiate instruction so that all readers had books they could actually read accurately, fluently, and with understanding. (",-Every-Day.aspx)

Thank you for your continued support with helping your child find a high interest, "just right book" and for assisting with finding the time to complete this important work. 

Gingerbread Houses: Although a week late due to the Friday before vacation snow day, the three 5th and 6th grade homerooms celebrated the winter holidays by making gingerbread houses. The following photo shows the creative houses of the 5/6G homeroom!

Martha Giller

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Welcome Back!

January 16th, 2018

Dear Families,

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a restful, healthy, and joyous holiday season. The weather has been a little crazy, but we are hopeful Winter Workshop will begin this week. Please remind your child to dress appropriately.

Math Update:

In fifth grade, we have just finished a unit on adding and subtracting fractions. We learned how to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators (bottom part of the fraction) by using the strategy of using a clock model, using a grid model, and lastly finding a common denominator. Once they have the common denominator, they just add or subtract the pieces. This unit has included mixed numbers (a whole number and a fraction, example 3 ½ ).

Example of finding a common denominator: ⅓ + ⅘
1/3= 5/15       4/5= 12/15

Ask your child to show you how to solve ¼ +  ⅚ or  ⅚ - ¼

We also just began a second unit on solving multi-digit multiplication and division. We reviewed strategies from the beginning of the year, and now we are working to make connections and understand the U.S Standard Algorithm. Students may use any strategy on the homework pages. Our goal is efficiency, fluency, and flexibility.  

In sixth grade, we have just finished a unit on Comparing Bits and Pieces. We studied fractions, decimals, percents, and equivalence. We have learned how to convert between these numbers and how to plot them on a number line. We also introduced negative numbers, so we could begin comparing values. We’ve been using ratio language and notation to compare quantities and solve problems. Our next unit is all about fractions! We will review addition and subtraction of fractions and move onto multiplication and division.

Homework: A review sheet is sent home at the beginning of the week and due back on Friday. It’s important to keep these skills fresh as we continue on with other units. Work should mostly be done independently and all students know they can always come see me before school or during a break to get help, if needed.


Ms. Grace

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Literacy: Spirits are high and thoughts are bright as we prepare for holiday vacation. In literacy the 5th and 6th graders are completing their poetry unit. At this week's Terrific Tuesday assembly 6 Grace presented "Arithmetic" by Carl Sandburg in speak chorus fashion, 5 Kurash presented "Casey at the Bat," by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, and 5/6 Giller presented Robert Frost's "Snowy Woods" and sang The Solstice song. Students are completing poetry gift books that contain eight of their own poems and eight poems selected with the recipient of their book in mind. We will continue to revisit poetry throughout the year keeping in mind the devices studied and how they can contribute to the effectiveness of writing. When we return from vacation we will start a nonfiction writing unit.

Our Student Council this year is a very active group of 5th and 6th graders. Their accomplishments have been great and their energy exciting. Under the helm of the sixth grade officers, events they have led or cosponsored include: "WES Family Harvest Hoedown," Hurricane Harvey support for a sister school in Houston, holiday Food Shelf drive, a "Welcome Back" assembly for Ms Mills (just this morning!) and the upcoming 5th and 6th grade social gathering "Snowball." It is a pleasure to work with them and comforting to know there are wonderful leaders in our future.
2017/2018 Student Council

Wishing you all a peaceful holiday and the best for the New Year!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Building an Empire in Social Studies

Students are currently working in cooperative groups to build an "empire" along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in a simulation that explores the development of the ancient civilization known as Mesopotamia. Individually and together, they are learning about the development of writing, government, religion, art and architecture and job specialization and public works projects in the area also know as the Fertile Crescent.

Most days begin with a challenge to complete as a group pertaining to an element of this civilization. Upon completion of the challenge, the group is awarded "moves" to use on the Fertile Crescent map. The movement of each clan's "armies" helps them to acquire resources and coins that can then be used to purchase public works projects such as irrigation systems, warehouses and city wall and additional armies. Empires grow by occupying squares on the map and defeating opposing armies.
The students in this photo are trying to write in cuniform, the first known form of writing.

In addition to the challenge, a fate is often also imposed that requires the group to use their best judgement to make a decision for their growing empire. The topics covered with each fate lead to mini-lesson and discussion on the historical aspects of this place and time period.

The Map!

6 Grace's class map of the Fertile Crescent. The squares with the most tacks are each clans home square.

And although this is a social studies unit, I've added an engineering task that requires groups to build a device using simple machines (the wheel was an invention in Mesopotamia) to move "water" from the river to the field. In the STEM lab, students are using rice instead of water.

The ultimate goal in addition to learning about this important ancient culture is for each clan to acquire as much land, money and resources as possible. We'll know which clans were most successful next week!