Saturday, September 16, 2017

Thank You

Dear Families,

It was so nice to meet you, and see many of you again, on Wednesday evening. Thank you to all who were able to come and hear about your child’s curriculum. If you were unable to make it, here are the highlights:

-On the right side of our blog you will find many important links such as:
upcoming events
class schedules
homework policy
curriculum pages

-Be sure to check them out if you would like to know more detail. If you scroll down the page, on the right side, there is a place to put in your email address; this will allow you to get an alert every time we post something new. We plan to alternate posts between subjects to keep you informed all year long. Along with this, WES also has a new blog, and you can find a link to it on the main “WES Newsletter” page.

-We also spoke about planbooks. Each child has one and will be responsible for writing in their assignments each night. Please remind your child to look at their planbook each night. The planbook also has some great resources in the back that may come in useful during assignments.

-Additionally, we spoke of the importance of collaborating with you and want you to know we all welcome questions, concerns, and strongly believe in an open door policy. Working together, and strong communication, is important to the success of your child. You will find a “Parents as Partners” handout, if you haven’t already, in your child’s binder. We ask that you please fill it out and send it back to your child’s homeroom teacher. It helps us know your child a little better and helps us work towards a collaborative goal to begin the year.

Lastly, an update about math.  Both the fifth and sixth grade classes began the year with a Week of Inspirational Math; the purpose of this week was to promote a growth mindset and to build excitement around the fact everyone can be successful and everyone can learn. People used to think our intelligence was fixed, meaning we were either smart or we weren’t, but scientists have proven again and again this is simply not true. Our brain acts like a muscle -- the more we use it, the stronger [and smarter] our brain becomes.

We begin this process by first changing [and believing] what we say; for example, instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” we try saying, “I can’t do it...yet!”

Each day, we embarked on a different challenge. Whether our focus was visualizing numbers using dot cards, graphing data without numbers, or figuring out how a pattern extends, everyone was able to engage in mathematical thinking and collaborate to find efficient strategies.

Additionally, we worked on building our math community and norms by focusing on the following four key messages:

  1. Brains grow and change
  2. Mistakes are powerful
  3. Believe in yourself
  4. Speed is not important

Ask your child to tell you more about these and how they relate to our math class.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. I look forward to collaborating with you this year.

Ms. Grace

Trying to figure out how to use only 4 fours, and any mathematical operation, to make each of the numbers 1-20.

Figuring out how many toothpicks it will take to make any size square.
What about 15X15?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Welcome Back

The fifth and sixth graders reported to school eager to get back to learning and their classmates missed over the summer. They have adjusted well to our school-wide PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention System) plan. As they navigate through their day, they have opportunities to earn "paw prints," which cumulatively earn Choice Time, a 30-minute break on Tuesday morning. We had our first earned celebration time this morning, with students choosing to play in the gym, peel carrots in the cafe, work on crafts with Mrs. Klocek, or help me sort books!

In literacy, all classes are reading Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman. This is the story of 13 narrators with diverse backgrounds that come together to build a community garden in an inner-city vacant lot. The garden brings neighbors together in an unexpected way. This is a short read but lends itself to engaging discussions about social issues, economic inequality, cultural differences and the elements of literature. As we study this novel together we're discussing and practicing the way we "Notice and Note" our reading, as well as deepen our comprehension through discussion.

Independent reading has also been a major focus of literacy class. Each student is settled into an independent book, with a "BUB" (back up book) ready to go. Currently, homework, Monday through Thursday nights, is to read for 30 minutes out of their independent book and record the start and end times, as well as the start and end page. I am checking that Planners are completed everyday homework is assigned. You can support your child by: checking that they have a quiet place and time to do his/her reading homework, helping them find an independent book, asking questions about their reading, discussing the problem(s) facing the main character, what themes are emerging from the text and checking to see that the "Reading Log" and independent book are in the backpack for the next day!

It's an exciting group of students that I'm honored to teach this year. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions or concerns you may have.

Warm regards,

Martha Giller

Friday, August 25, 2017

Welcome Back!

The fifth and sixth grade team of teachers are looking forward to a great year. Ms. Grace will be the math teacher for the sixth graders as well as Mrs. Kurash's fifth grade. Ms. Grace comes to WES from Northfield Elementary where she taught five years. She loves being outdoors and spending time with her family. Ms. Grace was fortunate to work with our very own Mr. Fisher as she completed her Masters in Mathematics through VMI, at the University of Vermont. She's looking forward to sharing her love of math with her new students. Mr. Mumford will be the math teacher for Mrs. Giller's fifth grade students.

Mrs. Kurash will teach all the fifth and sixth graders science and social studies. She's returning to WES for her 24th year of teaching. She's looking forward to exploring with her students the world, inside and out. Mrs. Giller is also entering her 24th year at WES, minus the years she was a student here! Mrs. Giller is looking forward to a stimulating year of reading and writing with the 5th and 6th graders.

Our snack policy has changed from last year. Safety of the Chrome Books, as well as the distractions the variety of snacks caused in the past, have prompted this change. We are therefore asking students not to bring a snack from home, however if needed, one will be available in the homeroom classroom. The fifth graders have the first lunch of the day, which starts at 11:00 and the 6th graders have lunch at 11:20.  A healthy breakfast is encouraged and available every morning in the cafeteria.

We are looking forward to you dropping in to meet us at "Meet Your Teacher Night," Monday, the 28th between 5:30 and 6:30.

Mrs. Giller
Ms. Grace
Mrs. Kurash

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Final Day!

What an adventure!

"Rain! What rain??" asked many 6th graders as they navigated throught the high ropes course yesterday afternoon. The rain was no obstacle for WES students as all completed the course and then ziplined to the bottom. It took real teamwork and lots of encouragement, but all felt very accomplished - and COLD at the end. Luckily, the NC staff had a nice fire going by the course and it felt great to warm hands, toes and wet bodies.

Students are packing up as I write. We have a morning full of activities before lunch. And at the is not raining!

High Ropes!

Zipline tower

On the zipline!

Wet, cold, but FUN!

Aquatic biologists at work collecting macroinvertibrates.

Huddling by the woodstove to warm-up and dry-off.

Preparing for the ropes course.