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!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Welcome Back!

Dear Families,

I hope you all had a joyous holiday. We were all very thankful to meet with you during conferences! As a reminder, if you did not get to attend a conference, we are having make-up conferences on Wednesday, November 29th, from 7:15-7:55 and 3:00-3:45. Please contact your child’s homeroom teacher to schedule a time.

Math Update:

At conference many of you inquired about review and homework. I’ve thought about how I can best meet the needs of everyone and have decided to give a small review packet on Monday; it should be returned on Friday each week. I will have this available for both 5th and 6th graders and it will contain previous skills we have worked on this year, as well as prerequisites from prior grades to help be successful in our future units. It should be mostly independent and, if they need help, they can definitely schedule a time to meet with me during the week.

Additionally, there are two websites I highly recommend for extra practice: your child either has an account on Dream Box or Front Row and they can find this information on their google class webpage.

My hope is that each child can practice math for one hour a week outside of our regular class time. They can do this through the review packet, one of the websites, or a combination of both. If you have any questions about this, please let me know.

In 5th grade, we have just finished our unit on volume with a focus on rectangular prisms; we built these by using connecting cubes and constructing paper boxes. We studied patterns and eventually derived the formula of V=LxWxH and V=BxH. We even found the volume of our classroom by building models of different cubic measurements!
Our next unit will focus on fractions. We will be comparing, ordering, adding, and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers.

Ethan and Irie measuring the height of our classroom
Quinn, Edwin, and Phin building a cubic foot
Constructing a cubic meter and a cubic yard


In 6th grade, we are in the middle of a Ratios, Rational Numbers, and Equivalence unit. So far, we have explored fractions and ratios to help us write comparison statements.  These statements and the knowledge students already had about equivalent fractions has helped us develop strategies for finding equivalent ratios. One strategy we used for this is a rate table. We have been able to use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-life scenarios. Next, we will extend the number line and see how negative numbers come into play.  


Ms. Grace


Thank you for attending student conferences. Many of you asked, "How can I help at home?" The number one response I have to this question is help your child find a "just right book." A just right book is a book for their independent reading that is of high interest and at an appropriate level. To detect a high interest book start with,  "What was the last book you read that you liked?" That's a good lead to finding an author or genre that will interest your child. Searching for a series that appeals to your child is a great idea. And of course, look for books about their interests and passions.

The second part is making sure it's a good fit. Their "independent level"  is where they can read and comprehend independently. A good method is to put up five fingers and for each unknown word, put a finger down. When all five fingers are down, put the book down to save for later in the year. There are always exceptions though, as some students have such a desire for the story they're able to comprehend it. Check for comprehension by asking to retell what happened and what they thought about it.

We have an incredible library and librarian at WES, so be sure to look there, as well as the Norman Williams Public Library in town. And don't forget, our very own Book Fair will be set up in the WES lobby December 7-12, a great spot for some holiday shopping.


Mrs. Giller

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November Notes

Conferences Begin Today

Student-led conferences begin after school today. Each student will spend 45 minutes sharing completed work and learning accomplishments. Core teachers will be visit with each family with the goal of sharing first quarter successes and future goals.

All School Walkathon

This morning we came together as a school for a walkathon to raise awareness for anti-bullying. Students walked and ran laps at Vail Field, collecting a strip of paper with a suggested act of kindness written on it for each completed lap. The goal was to bring awareness to how we treat each other with kindness and students kept the earned strips in hopes of carrying out the suggested act of kindness today. In honor of anti-bullying students were encouraged to wear blue today. It was a positive and fun experience sponsored by the Safe School Committee!


In literacy class we are deep into studying how nonfiction text becomes more complex. We're studying how there are multiple main ideas in more complex text, main ideas become implicit, vocabulary is more technical and authors use various text structures. Strategies taught to aid comprehension with complex texts include: identify main ideas by reading chunks of text at a time, look for repeated nouns and technical words, study "around" challenging vocabulary, study "within words," looking for prefixes, suffixes and roots, as well as learning how to identify structures the author used. We will culminate this reading of nonfiction text after Thanksgiving break.

Coats, gloves, hats....

As we knew it would, the cold weather has arrived, brrrrrr... Please help insure that your child will be comfortable outside by checking they have enough layers on to keep warm. Unless the temperatures fall below 10 degrees, our school policy is to get the children outside for recess every day.

Here's a few pictures from this morning's event!

                                     The whole school came together to walk for kindness!
                                               Claudia walks with her kindergarten friend.
The WES Wildcat makes his debut appearance with Phoebe from Safe School Committee!

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Big Week!

              Everybody Engineering Week

Everybody Engineering Week culminated today with a great celebration. Each multi-aged group was challenged to create a device that would power a voltmeter using human energy. Needless to say there were some very creative ideas! Today we all met to share our devices, challenges faced and celebrations. Thank you to Ms. Gauvin for organizing a wonderful week of engineering and camaraderie!


If you haven't received a conference sign-up sheet, please check with your child as they have been sent home. The first quarter closes next Friday, report cards will be mailed home the week of November 6 and conferences will take place the following week. 


We completed our first writing unit this week. Each 5th and 6th grader wrote a narrative piece, blowing up a small moment of time in their life. The focus was on creating a well structured piece with elaborating strategies: dialogue, internal thinking and figurative language. The students will share their published piece during their conference in November. Next week we will focus on grammar skills and  writing responses to reading. Our next unit of study will be reading and responding to nonfiction text.  

Enjoy the beautiful fall weekend!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Updates and Math

Dear Families,

This week we launched the “Golden Paw.” This award recognizes students who consistently, across disciplines and all areas of the school, model our school rules: be safe, be respectful, and be ready to learn. This week in 5th and 6th grade we celebrate Levi Halley, Carter Willis, and Leah Kuhnert. Congratulations to our recipients! We can’t wait to see who earns it next week. Check back each week to see who earned the “Golden Paw.”

We are gearing up for a very exciting week next week, Everybody Engineering Week! Teams are composed vertically, 1-6, with 6th graders as facilitators. Teams will work together from 8:15-10:15 each day to design and build something. We are all excited to see what innovative and collaborative ideas everyone comes up with. Check back for pictures next week!

Additionally, be on the lookout for a conference sign-up. They are due back on October 27 but are first come first serve, so the sooner we receive it, the better.  We will do our best to accommodate everyone and look forward to meeting with you to discuss your child’s progress. These will take place November 14 and 15.


In fifth grade, we have been busy learning about and building on the relationship between multiplication and division. They have been solving 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication problems by using different strategies, including breaking numbers apart, solving an equivalent problem, and solving related problems. We are constantly using problems we already know to build off. In addition to this, we have also been developing strategies for solving division problems with 2-digit divisors. Ask your child to show you some of the math we have been learning about. The strategies they come up with are amazing!

In sixth grade, we have been studying the properties of numbers. We began by building on their knowledge of factors and multiples, which led to problem solving surrounding the least common multiple and the greatest common factor. These are all building blocks for future units. We also had some fun with prime factorization and have an understanding to the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic now, which states, “a whole number can be written as a product of primes in exactly one way, disregarding order.” We worked through some challenging tasks to discover these rules, and one of my favorites is the the locker challenge. Be sure to ask your child about their strategy for figuring out which lockers would be open after the one hundredth student passed through the hall. Some of the strategies we used are shown in the pictures below. Again, it’s amazing to see the strategies they utilize when problem solving.

Have a great weekend,


Ms. Grace

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Field Trip, Literacy and Updates!

Field Trip:

Today the fifth and sixth graders took a field trip to Sculpture Fest. We accompanied the kindergarteners and worked in mixed groups discussing the various works of art. It was a beautiful day to take in the wonderful setting and sculptures!


Upon the completion of our first unit of study in reading, we kicked off our first unit in writing: Personal Narrative. During this unit mini-lessons will revolve around the idea that we all have stories that are worth writing about. During the unit students will work on: generating story ideas, blowing up "small moments," writing from the narrator's view, using mentor texts, and drafting a story with structure and craft (showing character actions, determining the heart of the story, using figurative language and sentence variation). Mini-lessons will also cover the conventions of writing: grammar, usage and mechanics. 

In addition to our narrative writing unit, students will continue to read and record their independent books. It's exciting to see the accomplishments of how many books have been read this year! With a few exceptions, nightly (Monday-Thursday) homework in literacy continues to be 30 minutes of independent reading and recording it in the "Reading Log."


On October 31, the whole school will gather on the playground at 1:45 for our annual Halloween Parade. At 1:30 fifth and sixth graders will change into costumes for this much anticipated holiday celebration. 

The "Family Harvest Hoedown" is in the works! PTO and Student Council are collaborating on creating a family night of food and fun, scheduled for Friday, November 3.  If you're able to help out, please contact the PTO.

Thank you to those that have contributed to our classroom snack fund, much appreciated!

Enjoy the return of the beautiful weather!

Martha Giller

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Volunteers and Water Bottles

Hello 5th and 6th Grade Families,

Volunteers are needed! Throughout the year, the 5/6 team will be in need of a few parental volunteers to help in a variety of ways. Our first volunteer opportunity is on Wednesday, October 4 when the 5th and 6th graders will be attending Sculpture Fest.  We are scheduled to be there from 9:20-11:00. As a chaperone, you will help lead a group of 6-10 students to look at the many different sculptures on the Davenport's property on Prosper Road. No art experience is needed. The rain date is Thurs. Oct. 5th. Please let your child's homeroom teacher know if you are interested in chaperoning.

Another volunteer opportunity is to become a room parent for your child's homeroom. The responsibility basically involves being the classroom teacher's go to person to help contact parents and coordinate a few events throughout the year. Again, please contact us if you are interested.

And yet another way to support our classrooms and school is to volunteer to help with PTO sponsored events and activities. Currently, the PTO is looking for parents to bake and/or work at the up coming Bake Sale from Oct. 4-6th. Information on how you can help was posted last Friday on this blog.

Water Bottles, Breakfast and Snacks 
We are strongly encouraging all students to have and use a water bottle at school. We no longer have drinking fountains at our classroom sinks, so the lines at the drinking fountains in the school's common areas are long and the requests to get a drink throughout the day are numerous. Staying hydrated helps with learning and overall good health.

In addition to staying hydrated, we also know that eating a good breakfast before school is also essential to your child's well being and success in school. Even when you are short on time in the morning, or you know your child needs a "second breakfast" before school starts, the WES cafe is open and serving breakfast.

For a variety of reasons, we have eliminated the option of most students bringing snacks to eat during class. Historically, 5th and 6th graders haven't had a designated snack time during the day. Last year, we allowed students to bring a small snack to eat durng the day. This year, we have provided "emergency snacks" (small bags of pretzels and granola bars) in each classroom for students in need. We'd like to continue to have granola bars available as needed, and although the teachers have been purchasing these, we'd appreciate any donations to help.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Please Support WES!

Dear Parents,
The PTO is organizing a Fall Foliage Bake Sale to take place at Norman Williams Public Library on October 4th-6th from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The proceeds from this fundraiser will help support field trips and school enrichment programs. We are counting on Woodstock Elementary families to help make it a success! We are looking for donations of baked goods and volunteers to help out at the bake sale.

Each classroom has been assigned a day to provide baked goods for the sale:

Wednesday, October 4th: 1st Grade and 5th Grade
Thursday, October 5th: 4th Grade and 6th Grade
Friday, October 6th: Kindergarten, 2nd Grade and 3rd Grade

Baked goods may be brought to school the morning of your child’s assigned day. Please wrap baked goods individually and label containers with your child’s name and grade so they may be returned to you.

Please sign up for Woodstock Elementary Fall Foliage Bake Sale using

Here's how it works in 3 easy steps:
  1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on
  2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on
  3. Sign up! Choose your spots - will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!

Note: does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Scarlett McDermott at, or 802.457.7299.



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!