Happy Holidays

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday! We had a nice wrap up before break at school. Here are some highlights from the last few weeks, and some insight into what we will be doing upon our return:

We have spent much of our math time in 5th grade focused on the base-10 place value system, but in the last few weeks we have transitioned to thinking about fractions. We started by building fractions with paper strips, and discussing the meaning of the numerator and the denominator. We then applied this understanding to an extended word problem in which students needed to estimate the size of illustrated fractions, and multiply those fractions by different wholes. Students moved flexibly between visual models, story problems, and numerical representations, which is exactly what they need to be able to do when working with fractions (or any other mathematical idea).  Much of our work so far has been a review of concepts and skills students encountered in 4th grade, and this will lay a solid foundation for the work we will do with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions when we get back from the break. Fractions, and all the concepts that go with them, are one of the “big ideas” of 5th grade mathematics; students will be learning a lot in the months to come!

We have wrapped up our first big science unit on Mixtures, Solutions, and Chemical Reactions. In these last weeks, students learned to compare the concentration of different solutions, and conducted several experiments to help them learn about chemical reactions. They learned to identify some common signs of chemical reactions, as well as the concept that chemical reactions result in the formation of a new material. We will start a new unit on Heat Energy when we get back from the break. In February, students will have an opportunity to explore some of the ideas from both units in more depth through their own experiments for the Science Fair.

Our learning about Colonial America has included mapping activities, brief research on the 13 Colonies, and we are currently choosing trades to research. Students are making signs to represent their selected trade and after break they will write perspective letters as a tradesperson to their family back in their country of origin.

We have reassessed our word study program and will be taking a break from spelling quizzes to incorporate daily paragraph editing into our weekly routine. Every day students will edit a paragraph and we will correct it together as a warm up to writing time. At the end of the week students will be given a dictation from previous work to write as an assessment. The goal is that as students become more familiar with and adept at this, we will see these skills transfer to their own independent writing.

Our class is looking forward to Mr. Schmidt returning to TES with the parts to our stand that TA students made. We will assemble them together in our classroom and move Hoover to his new area! Thanks again to Chris Schmidt and his students for taking on this project with us. It has been an engaging learning experience!

Also, a belated thank you to all who brought food for our Writers’ Breakfast. Your  interest in student work and feedback were great contributions!

We had a nice time yesterday with our buddy class making ornaments out of pinecones. Today we celebrated the holiday season by sharing Secret Santa gifts. Students were very thoughtful and appreciative. It was a lovely way to end 2017 together.

Enjoy the break and we’ll see you in 2018!


Class Update


Happy December!

It was nice to have a full week back at school after Thanksgiving break. We are wrapping up our Native American study unit and are looking forward to having a special visitor help us do this. Next Tuesday, December 5th, Maurice Crandall, Ira’s dad, will come in to fifth grade to tell Native American tribal origin stories from the native perspective and address any questions that students may have. Maurice is a Native American studies Dartmouth professor and we’re looking forward to learning from him. And please remember our Writers’ Potluck Breakfast next Friday, Dec. 7th at 9:00. The students are looking forward to showcasing their work, and of course indulging in a second breakfast! Later that day we will take a fifth grade hike on the TA trails to the Thetford town forest to learn about the different native trees and observe signs of early settlement.

Fifth grade mathematicians have been hard at work this month solidifying their understanding of the base-10 place value system on both sides of the decimal point, and using this understanding to solve meaningful problems. We have also been working to build fluency with mathematical representations of arithmetic operations, including number lines, tape diagrams, and set models. In one of our most interesting projects, we processed the money TES students collected for UNICEF on Halloween. All 5th graders computed the total amount of money raised ($191.55) based on the counts of different types of coins. They needed to use their place value understanding to make sense of this situation, as well as lots of addition, multiplication, and division computation. From there, different student teams investigated different questions about this total, including “What could UNICEF spend this money on?”; “What was the average amount of money raised by each student?” and “How much money could the school raise next year if every student in the school raised this much money again?” Students were engaged and thoughtful throughout this project, and we shared some of our findings at this morning’s All School Meeting! Students completed an assessment on adding and subtracting decimals in class today. We’ll continue to practice these skills in our Daily Review sessions, and in the next few weeks before the break, we’ll shift our attention to fractions.

 In science, we have been working with mixtures and solutions; learning about saturation, solubility, and concentration. Experiments have worked with the solubility of different materials (for example, citric acid verses salt) and identifying a “mystery chemical” based on the mass of the saturated solution.

Our class will be hosting the next All School Meeting on Friday, Dec. 15th. Please feel free to join us in the gym from 10:30-11:00 if you are available.

Have a nice weekend.

Writers’ Breakfast

Please come to our

Writers’ Potluck Breakfast

When: Friday, Dec. 8th from 9:00-10:00 am

Where: both Fifth Grade Classrooms

What: Fifth graders will present their informative pieces on early Native American culture, receive and share feedback, and invite you to partake in potluck celebratory snacks.

Why: To recognize hard work and effort, and share new knowledge and take-aways with an audience.

Hope to see you then!

Ms. Kendall & Ms. Harrington

Family Letter

        Hi Families!

        I hope you have been enjoying this nice fall weather. With November right around the corner I wanted to let you know of a few upcoming events for our fifth graders, as well as fill you in on what we’ve been doing.

Coming Soon:

This Thursday, Nov. 2nd the class will walk to Thetford Academy to work with Chris Schmidt, their design and technology shop instructor. He will teach us about Sketchup, an online design program. Students will use TA computers to explore the program and draft the class design of our stand for Hoover’s habitat (class pet lizard). They will then get a laser demonstration and a tour of the shop and tools. Please Note: We will be off TES campus from 9:30-11:00 this Thursday morning.

The following week Mr. Schmidt will visit our classroom to share our digital design and revise it with the class. Our class will figure out the materials list, other than the TES elm wood that will be used. In January one of his high school classes will construct the stand. Upon completion we will be going back to TA in small groups over the course of several days to stain and polyurethane the unit.We are fortunate that Mr. Schmidt is collaborating with us on this project and I think the students will really enjoy the process.

Next Monday, Nov. 6th (or rain date of Tuesday, Nov. 7th) we will be hiking with Mr. Bugg. We will walk down the trail to TA and then up the cross country trail to the new marked section TA students built over the summer. This goes up to the top of Thetford Hill State Park, where we will check out a new nature trail and the yurt being built there. I’m looking forward to becoming more familiar with outdoor opportunities right outside of the TES backyard! Please note: We will be leaving the classroom at 8:30 and returning at 10:00.

Our class will have an upcoming visit by Nick Reo and Maurice Crandall, two parents who bring a wealth of knowledge on Native American culture. This contribution to our study of Native American regions will be very helpful as students are preparing to draft their reports. I will be back in touch with more information on the content of their presentation and the timing of their visit.

It is always powerful when we are able to learn from experts in our community. Thank you to Chris Schmidt, Mr. Bugg (Thomas’ dad), Nick Reo (Oscar’s dad) and Maurice Crandall (Ira’s dad) for donating their time and expertise for the benefit of new learning for our class!

What We’ve Been Up To:

       We had a beautiful day for Hike For Hunger last Friday! The food collection boxes in the lobby will remain until the end of the week, so feel free to send in a donation if you have not yet done so.

      Reading Logs: If your child is finding these a beneficial way to track his/her reading, then he or she may choose to continue with the blue log in the home/school folder. However, it is no longer an expectation. We have found that although it is a way to hold all students accountable for their reading, we will monitor student reading here at school in various ways; such as one on one conferences and student Book Review cards to use as a class reference. We do expect that fifth graders are reading at home every day and want to recognize the importance of that. Whether or not your child continues with the log is a choice.

      Class Buddies: This year our buddy class is Mrs. Hill’s first/second grade. Each younger student is matched with one or two fifth graders. A couple of weeks ago we read a favorite fall book together, Leaf Man, and then went on a walk to collect natural treasures for creating collages. Tomorrow we will get together to share some favorite Halloween books.

      Math: Students have spent their math time with Ms. Harrington working with our base-ten place value system. They have been exploring the system’s patterns by using Digi-blocks, a manipulative that supports students to see the relationships among the different places (100s,10s,1s, down into the hundredths). Then they moved on to learning about exponents and expanded notation. The focus of all of this work gives students lots of opportunities to talk about numbers, show their work and talk with friends about their math thinking.

      Writing for Understanding: Classes have completed several small moment narratives and will revisit this genre again later in the year, or as individuals choose if they have completed other assigned pieces. We are currently wrapping up our research of Native American regions and how the environment affected early civilizations. Students are working in their research groups to create regional models. Each group member is responsible for making items from their topic that they are becoming an expert on (food, clothing, housing, arts and crafts, or religion/beliefs and ceremonies) to contribute to the model. They will work together to create the environment. We are looking forward to a visit from Nick and Maurice, as mentioned earlier. This unit will conclude with individual informative essays.

      Word Study: Students from both fifth grade classes are divided into spelling groups. Every week each group focuses on a particular spelling pattern or idea. Students receive a lesson about the spelling feature at the beginning of the week and then review that idea through a series of practice activities throughout the week. Each group is quizzed every Friday, and these quizzes go home for you to view. Groups often change as the year goes on, as we do our best to teach each student what he/she is ready to learn next about how words work.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarification about anything mentioned in this letter. I look forward to seeing you soon for Parent-Teacher conferences. If you have not scheduled a meeting time yet, please contact me as soon as possible so we can do so.


Thank you,

Nicole Kendall

Class Update

What we’ve been up to:

As a conclusion to our first class read aloud, Save Me A Seat, we followed a recipe for a favorite comfort food of one of the protagonists and made apple crisp. It was a delicious way to end our Friday and celebrate a good story together.

We welcomed our class pet Hoover to our classroom. Hoover is a year and a half old blue tongued skink. This lizard, native to Australia and parts of Indonesia, is the largest member of the skink family (he will finish growing at approximately two feet in length). He is settling in well. The class enjoys observing him and is taking good care of our new classmate.

We have concluded our introductory small moments narrative writing unit. All fifth graders have produced several pieces, in various stages of the writing process. They will be sharing a selected piece with their peers before we move on to our study of Native American regions.

Every week students receive new word study lists and do various activities to familiarize themselves with the rules and patterns they are working on. Generally new words commence on Mondays, activities follow throughout the week and quizzes are on Fridays.

We have started class jobs, using a wheel to rotate responsibilities. Among the grocery list of daily chores, we also have taken on responsibility for helping with playground maintenance. We are fortunate to have so many outside opportunities for children at TES and our class is actively contributing to keeping these choices safe and available. Currently we are raking wood chips on a daily basis to keep them mounded under the climbing wall and out of the walk way. Needs will vary with the season, but students are happy to contribute in this manner. Many hands do make light work!

In math students have taken time to explore the use of manipulatives as tools and to solidify their approach to math questions and challenges. They are now working with place value and the decimal system. Several students have made use of the school math lab and signed up for extra math , working with Ms. Sharpless twice a week as a choice during recess block.

Coming soon:

After the long weekend we will start our investigation of Native American Regions, focusing on the question; how does environment affect culture? We created individual personal time lines and began the process of posting our class US history timeline. We will work our way from the 1400’s through end of 18th century over the course of our social studies curriculum.

Our first hands-on science unit will be working with mixtures and solutions. This is an engaging way to feel like scientists and build inquiry skills.

Hike For Hunger will be on Friday. Oct. 27th. We will leave school to hike up Mimi’s trail to the top of Houghton Hill after a brief school wide assembly in the gym.  Please pack a home lunch for our picnic at the top of the mountain. This is always a fun, thoughtful day. Feel free to join us if you are available!

We hope to see you at Open House tomorrow evening (any time between 5:30-7:00).

We are having a strong start to the school year. It is wonderful to work with such an enthusiastic, caring group of young learners!

Enjoy your long weekend!