Friday, September 23, 2016

6th grader's Web of Life

                                                                                                           September 23, 2016
Dear 6th Graders and Families,
            From Sept. 26th - 29th (Mon. -Thurs), the 6th graders in the Windsor Central Supervisory Union will be participating in a unique program at Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park. The program, “Web of Life” has been developed by the district’s 6th grade teachers with the goal of exploring different ecosystems and both the positive and negative impact humans have on ecosystems.
            Each morning at 8:30, Mr. T and I will walk the WES 6th graders to the park. After a brief orientation meeting, students will divide into 4 intermixed groups consisting of 6th graders from the five elementary schools. Students will stay within these groups for all four days. On each of the four days, the group will participate in one of the following activities:
·      Pond/wetlands ecosystems
·      Forest/field ecosystems
·      Photography
·      Flow of energy across ecosystems
We will be returning to WES between 2:00 and 2:15 each afternoon.
            Each 6th grade student will be given a field journal in class. Students will be using these journals to record information, ideas, and pictures, as well as to respond to a daily journaling prompt. Responding to this prompt should be completed in class or as homework each day. No doubt, these journals will be a wonderful reminder of this park experience.
Each day your child will need the following:
                        A lunch and drink                                                                        Water bottle
                        Sturdy closed shoes (no sandals) with socks        Backpack
                        Layered clothing (it’s cooler in the woods)
                        Long pants (unless otherwise stated)
                        Bug repellent (as needed)                                            Raingear (as needed)

***Picture Day is on Thursday, Sept. 29th. The 6th graders will have their pictures taken beginning before 8:05. Clothes for the picture should be worn to school and clothes for the park brought to school. There will then be time to quickly change clothes.               
In the event that your child has an appointment during school hours next week, please let me know so that I can make appropriate arrangements.
            Please also contact me if you have questions or concerns about this program.
                                                                                                            Jill Kurash


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Choice Time to Tuesdays

Choice Time has traditionally been held on Wednesday mornings, from 9:30-10:00. In the past many students have enjoyed choosing to spend their earned time in the STEM Lab. This year Ms. Gauvin is not available on Wednesdays, so we are switching Choice Time to Tuesdays, in order to provide the STEM Lab as a choice. Parents, please sign your child's Passport MONDAY nights now, instead of Tuesdays.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Baking Bread

The 4th, 5th and 6th graders learned how to bake bread today. Ethan and Kali helped demonstrate how to mix, knead and even spin a pizza crust! All the students received a bag from King Arthur with recipes and ingredients. It is hoped that everyone will bake a loaf of bread over the weekend and bring it to school on Monday. The loaves will be donated to the Woodstock Food Shelf. There will be a donation box in the lobby Monday morning.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

During the first week of school, the 5th and 6th graders were engaged in completing an engineering design task. The 5th graders had to build a boat that could hold 25 pennies for 10 seconds from a list of materials that was provided. The 6th graders had the task of building a car from provided materials that would move on its own across a table.

From the engineering tasks, we moved onto some science experiments with M&Ms. Students investigated some of the physical properties including how fast the colors dissolved in water, what happened when two or more colors were dissolved at the same time and how temperature effected the rate of dissolving.

Last week, students explored their world (literally)by using different types of maps.  Atlases and globes were included in these activities. And the 6th graders began their first Roving Reporter assignment.

The 5th graders are now studying ecosystems. And the 6th graders are getting ready for their week long adventure participating in a unit called the Web of Life at the national park.

5th and 6th Grade Math

The fifth and sixth graders all participated in two mini units to start the year. First the students studied and created tessellations. They looked at the work of M. C. Escher, and watched videos of teachers building tessellations. They learned that tessellation begins with a shape (like a square, equilateral triangle, or regular hexagon) that will tessellate. They cut and tape pieces of the shape to create their basic tessellating piece. Their work is on bulletin boards in the hallway and Mr. Fisher's room.

The second unit was from the web site, This website was created by Stanford University researcher Jo Boaler. She has done some groundbreaking and innovative research into how people learn math and how the brain grows. They have a "Week of Inspirational Math" on the site, which is free and open to parents, teachers and students. Each day for five days we did an interesting and engaging math activity. Here is what we did:

Day 1: Four Fours - Students must use four fours and the operations (+, -, X, /)  to make the numbers from 1 to 20. For example, 4 times four plus 4 divided by four equals 17.

Day 2: Shapes - Students looked at 30 shapes built from arrangements of circles. They identified what number each shape represented, then looked for patterns. Some of the patterns they might have found included prime numbers, odd and even numbers, and multiples.

Day 3: Paper Folding - Students had to fold a square into another square with an area one-fourth the original square, and a triangle with one-fourth the area of the original square.

Day 4: Growing Patterns - Students examined a sequence of patterns of squares that increased in size in a predictable way. They had to come up with different ways of explaining the growth.

Day 5: Pascal's Triangle - Students completed a part of Pascal's triangle and looked for patterns.

You can go on the website for more info about the week of inspirational math and many other things. You can read Jo Boaler's research, find problems, get lesson plans, etc.

From here, the fifth graders will be focusing on factors and multiples, and multiplicative reasoning. Multiplicative reasoning is the understanding of when multiplication and division are appropriate operations to use in problem solving. And also to see relationships that are multiplicative (as opposed to additive).

The sixth graders will be doing a unit called "Prime Time." They will study prime numbers, factors and multiples, including greatest common factor and least common multiple, and how to use these concepts in problem solving.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Few Notes:

Congratulations to all the 5th and 6th graders for completing the first full week of school! Here are a few notes/reminders we'd like to share:

*The fall continues to provide us with beautiful weather, which makes everyone exceptionally thirsty! Please check that your student is bringing a water bottle to school every day.

*Last Monday, all the 5th and 6th graders learned about Student Council. The short essay to express their interest to join is due Monday.  Returning 6th graders are eligible to hold an office this year, and should indicate their interest, qualifications and top three office postitions as well.

*Please remind your student about the school's cell phone rule for students: No student cell phone use on campus during, before, or after school. Student cell phones are to be stored in backpacks (at students' own risk) and turned off. 

*Mrs. Giller and Mrs. Kurash are still looking for homeroom parents.

*Each homeroom is looking for one, or two (three for the larger 6th grade class) parent chaperones for the Sculpture Fest field trip on October 4. We are scheduled to arrive at Charlotte Davenport's at 9:30 and view sculptures until 10:50. Please let your child's teacher know if you're able to help.

Thank you and have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Choice Passport

This afternoon the fifth and sixth graders will meet to talk about the Passport program, which begins tomorrow.  The fifth graders will learn about the management program and the sixth graders will review it. To read a full description of the program, please refer to "Choice Passport" on the right hand side of this newsletter. Our main goal with the Passport is to allow students, teachers and parents the opportunity to keep track of the week to see how well homework, expected behaviors and being prepared for class are going. Students that meet the expectations earn a "Choice Time" on Wednesdays, where they can choose from a list of options which include, choosing a 30 minute recess, or possibly helping in a primary classroom. The big change to the program this year is the required Tuesday night Parent Signature. The goal with the signature is to allow parents and students an opportunity to celebrate successes, and discuss strategies for changes, if needed. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

Thank you for your support,

Mrs. Giller
Mrs. Kurash
Mr. Fisher

Friday, September 9, 2016


We are up and reading! Our first major unit of study in literacy is a reading unit that focuses on setting up our Workshop routines, independent reading and thinking deeply about our reading. Each class begins with a mini-lesson and follows with an "off you go" to practice. We're tracking our reading stamina in our Reading Logs and will be celebrating our accomplishments by recording completed texts in our Book Logs. Our lessons right now are focused on reading our books "knowing we're going to write about our the text, seeing more."

Our homework has been 30 minutes of reading each night, and recording number of pages read in our Reading Logs. Looking at number of pages read helps us evaluate our rate and what's affecting it: genre, level of difficulty, and environment are things we'll take into consideration. Although we're recording pages read, it's important not to confuse this with the end result. Building reading stamina is critical, but reading is not a race. Stopping to reread parts that are confusing, taking time to look up a word, or going back to reread for clarification are key to strong comprehension.

Parents CAN help with reading progress:

*Monitor the environment your child is reading in. Are there too many distractions? Is 30 minutes too long a period of time right now? If so, break it up into two 15 minute sessions. Make sure 30 minutes of reading doesn't include breaks to get a snack...

*Discuss the book! Help deepen comprehension by asking what's happening in the book. "How does it compare to another book? What is the main character like? Does he/she remind you of anyone? How is the plot developing? Are you at an exciting part? What themes are emerging? What can someone learn by reading this book?"

*Help find "just right books!" A "just right book" is a book that your child is:
           1. Interested in reading. Look at the cover together, talk about what it's about, what book it might be like, look at the author, has he/she or you read anything else by this author? Fuss about it, work to understand the beginning together by talking about it.
          2. Have your child read the first page aloud, if there's five or more words he/she stumbles over, or isn't able to retell what happened, put it on the "save for another time" list.

*Help to make sure his/her independent reading book is travelling to home and school, each day.

*Help to check he/she has a "BUB" (Back Up Book) ready to go when he/she finishes his/her current book.

*Sign his/her Homework Planner, AFTER you've checked that the log has been completed.