Our Microscopes and Cells unit was a great success. Using microscopes we borrowed from the Montshire museum, students were able to look at prepared slides of insects and plants, as well as slides they prepared of their own cheek cells, onion cells, and other plant tissues. We also learned how to extract DNA from strawberries! A highlight of this unit was our trip to the Dartmouth Life Sciences Building, where we toured the rooftop greenhouse and were guided in the use of more sophisticated microscopes than the ones we used in the classroom. During our visit, students learned about cell reproduction as well as fluorescence microscopy, and were able to practice building composite photographs using the cameras and laptops connected to the microscopes.
Our work in Math has shifted from adding and subtracting fractions to multiplying and dividing them. We are using materials from a new program, Bridges, to help us with this new phase in our learning. For many students, multiplying and dividing fractions can be easier than adding and subtracting them, but keeping track of when to use which operation can be tricky. Fifth graders also need to adjust their existing ideas that multiplication should result in a product larger than the factors that were multiplied, and division should produce a smaller quotient than the dividend or divisor.I have been impressed with how quickly most students have been able to make these conceptual leaps! We started this new unit by learning about multiplying whole numbers by fractions and have recently switched to multiplying fractions by fractions. We are building our understanding of these concepts through games as well as physical models and drawings.
In Writing for Understanding, students recently completed a project in which they “translated” the Declaration of Independence into fifth-grade-friendly language. Students worked in pairs and small groups to translate short portions of this document. The class then created a film of themselves reading these portions out loud. They did a wonderful job bringing this important document to life! More recently, students have been reading historical novels set in the Revolutionary period to help get a sense of what life was like for regular people back then, as well as build their understanding of the perspectives of various groups of people during this time. They have been keeping track of their learning in a “Historical Fiction Journal.” They will incorporate some of this learning, along with upcoming nonfiction research, into essays they will write after the April break.
Conferences are coming up this week, and I am looking forward to meeting with you to discuss your child’s progress in 5th grade. Students are welcome to join us for some or all of these meetings; their level of participation is up to you. See you soon!