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.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Greetings from Nature's Classroom!

Our first day was full of activities and new experiences. Field groups spent time in the afternoon getting to know the NC campus and their field group leader. In addition, they participated in team building activities that allowed them to work on the 4 C's : communication, cooperation, commitment and caring.

Today's schedule includes a morning as an aquatic biologist and the afternoon will be spent on the ropes course. Tonight we will have a campfire. So far the weather has held with only occasional light drizzles that luckily, haven't dampened our spirits.
Kerry's field group!

Everyone has a job at meal time!

After dinner, students participated in a SILENT night adventure. At times students were blindfolded and guided by another classmate. One of our goals this week is to use 2 eyes and 2 ears and talk less. 
Night Adventure

Journaling about the night adventure

Nature's Classroom Off to a GREAT Start!

"The Beginning" by Larry. Students from WES and the Charles River School hear about the expectations and program at Nature's Classroom

Chris' field group going over meal procedures.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

6th Grade STEM Expo

Thursday, May 25th 
6:15 displays open
6:30 presentations begin
After weeks of preparation, the 6th graders will be ready to present their science and invention/engineering projects to the public. Families and friends are encouraged to attend to hear these engaging presentations from our 6th grade STEM participants. All presentations will be held in Mrs. Kurash's classroom. 

A schedule of the presentations will be posted soon. There will be eight presentations each lasting about 10 minutes. Please let Mrs. Kurash know if you have a scheduling conflict that evening and hopefully we can adjust the schedule accordingly.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

6th Grade Bake Sale

Today each 6th grader signed up to contribute one item to next Wednesday's bake sale. Please ask your child what they signed up for!

World’s Best Bake and Popcorn Sale!
 Wednesday, May 24
$1.00 per item
Sponsored by the 6th grade class, all proceeds will go to the annual 6th grade WES gift!

Yummy treats…cupcakes, cookies, pumpkin stripes, popcorn, lemon squares, brownies, cake, Rice Krispie treats and much more!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"6th Grade Inn Day"

Since 1970, the Woodstock Inn and Resort has hosted WES 6th graders for an end of year celebration! This year " 6th Grade Inn Day" will be held on Thursday, June 8. The 6th graders will walk to the Athletic Club, leaving WES at 11:00. They will be treated to a barbeque lunch, tennis and swimming. Students will need to wear good walking shoes and bring their bathing suit and towel. They'll walk back to school after swimming, arriving around 2:40. Friday, June 9 will be the rain date.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Congratulations to the 6th graders!

The 6th graders gather after their very successful mock trial. Congratulations to the attorneys and characters for presenting a tense and realistic court room trial. At the conclusion of their trial, Judge Garrity gathered with the students for a photo and "Questions and Answers" session.

                    Judge TanCreti listens to Esquire Emery question Eurylochus on the stand.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ulysses: Guilty or Innocent of Involuntary Manslaughter?

Preparations for the 6th grade mock trial are underway.  In this photo, Attorneys Will Drebitko and Trey Jones consult with Attorney Beth Rattigan. This team will be defending Ulysses in the mock trial on Tuesday, May 2 at 1:30,  in the Windsor County Superior Courthouse. Parents, please let me know if you are able to serve on the jury.  ~Martha Giller

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Nature's Classroom Meeting for 6th Graders and Parents

On Tuesday, April 4th at 9:45 in Mrs. Kurash's classroom,  Larry Chambers from Nature's Classroom at the Sargent Center in Hancock, NH ( will be visiting WES to introduce the Nature's Classroom program to the 6th graders and any parents who are able to attend. We anticipate the presentaton to take about an hour.

It is also anticipated that required medical forms and other information forms will be handed out at the presentaton.

Please contact Mrs. Kurash if you have any questions.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Literacy Updates

In conjunction with their study of ancient civilizations, the 6th graders will be studying the great Greek hero Odysseus. The students will be reading a version of the Iliad, or the Roman version of The Odyssey, Ulysses. Homework for the next few weeks will be assigned out of this unit. The 5th graders will be reading and responding to the story Tuck Everlasting. Their homework during this unit will also differ from the usual independent book assignments and will likely be from this book.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5th Grade Social Studies/States and Captialthon

Woodstock Elementary School 5th graders have been busy traveling around the globe, learning about the causes of the American Revolution and learning the location of all 50 U.S. states and their capitals.

By now, most students have completed their second Roving Reporter report. The goals for this report has been to generate several relevant research questions pertaining to a place (anywhere in the world!), use good research skills to find the answers and then present the information to a 5th grade audience. Ms. Farwell's library/tech lessons have also been focused on effective web searches and the reliabilty of websites. Overall, students are demonstrating success in all areas and are learning about some very interesting places.

Fifth graders have also travelled back in time to the 18th century. We've briefly investigated the geography and economies of the orginal 13 colonies, looking for similarities and differences between the people and places. In addition,we've learned about the French and Indian War, known also as the Seven Year War (war between France and England, 1756-1763) with the help of reenactors Wes and Dell Henning. Students are currently using the historical fiction book, My Brother Sam is Dead to explore the some of the events, people, places and sentiments that brought the Patriots to war with and then independence from England. This unit of study will then look at the formation of our government and the role of each of the three branches that uphold our Constituion.

States and Capitalthon:

Last week, students took the first of three quizzes to help prepare them for the States and Captialthon final test on March 29th. The first quiz was on the western states. Another quiz, on the midwestern states, will be given on this Thursday, March 16th. The final quiz on the southern states will be given on Thursday, March 23. We very much appreciate parental support both academically and monitarily for this project.

In class, we have been playing a state and capital bingo game and game called "I have ____. Who has the captial of ________" in which the blanks are filled in according the the capital/state on the card. Students in turn respond when the capital on their card is called.

There are many other ways that you can help your child learn the states and captials. Puzzles are a great visual aid for learning the location of each state and often include the captial on the puzzle piece as well. Songs about the 50 states can also be helpful. Additionally, there are numerous websites and apps that also can be used. In class, we sometimes practice on the website I've shown each class briefly how to navigate this website (and its easy!). Please share other tools that you have found helpful as well.

Friday, March 3, 2017

French and Indian War

The fifth graders were fortunate to learn firsthand about the French and Indian War today. Our very own Wes Hennig, and his wife Dell, participate in the Seven Years' War reenactments and gave a nice presentation which included sharing their artifacts. They encouraged the children to attend an actual reenactment this summer. For information on where and when reenactments occur log onto: Pequaket Alliance/Facebook.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

6Th Grade Math

In math we have been hard at work operating with fractions. After a quick review of addition and subtraction, we have moved on to exploring fraction multiplication. Our focus is always on making sense of the operation, and not just learning a rule. We think about fractions' relative magnitude and what strategies to use to determine that. Most of the work is in context - students solve engineered problems that illuminate the targeted concept. For example the students have been buying fractions of brownies in a pan...a pan costs $12.00, if they buy 1/3 of 1/2 a pan, what fraction of the pan do they get and how much does it cost?

We also play games that build relative magnitude understanding with fractions. With a deck of cards, deal out 4. Arrange them into two fractions that are equal or as close as possible. How close are they? For example, if the cards are 8, 4, 10, 5, you could make 4/8 and 5/10, which are equal. Or 3, 6. 2, 5. You could make...oh, maybe I'll let you figure that one out.
Fifth grade students, as part of a science unit on matter,  conduct experiments to investigate the properties of five white powders in order to identify a "mystery powder" (a combination of 2 or more of the powders).

Monday, February 13, 2017

Our Busy Student Council

The fifth and sixth graders serving on Student Council take a break after Friday's meeting for a group photo. This group has worked hard to sponsor or co-sponsor many great community events this year. Currently committees are working on: Winter Wishes, a 3/4 Pin Ball Tournament, Spirit Week and a Special Olympics Pep Rally. Thanks for your commitment and hard work!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy New Year,

During our first week of 2017,  both the fifth and sixth graders kicked off new research report units in literacy class. The fifth graders are studying Westward Expansion for their topic, while the sixth graders are researching and writing about Teen Activism. The focus of the unit is on the process of writing: planning, drafting, revising and editing; as well as the process of researching and questions researchers ask to deepen his/her thinking. During the second section of the unit each fifth grader will choose a narrower focus of the Expansion time period to research and write about, while the sixth graders will choose individual topics of interest to develop and write about from an activist's point of view. It's exciting to watch their ownership develop for their personal claims/thesis statements.  Homework during this unit will alternate between a "read 30" night and written responses to reading.

Our first week of Winter Workshops was exciting! Students were busy enjoying skiing, skating, constructing, pumping up their cardio and studying food science. With such cold weather upon us, it's important to remember our students will be going outside for air and exercise every recess the temperatures allow, so please make sure they have enough winter clothes with them to stay warm and dry.

Thank you for your continued support and please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions or concerns.

Martha Giller