Monday, September 3, 2018

September 2018

Wow! The year is off to a great start! Students are putting forth their best “growth mindset” effort and our learning has kicked off. Each month I will be highlighting what we have learned and what you can do to help your student. Please ask your student about Growth Mindset and what it means. It is pretty cool to hear it from them!

Important Dates

9/3 - Labor Day! No School
9/10, 9/12, 9/14 - CoGat testing (see letter send via email)
9/20 - Digger Dash
9/21 - NO SCHOOL
9/27 & 10/4 - Parent Teacher Conferences (also I will offer other days the week of the 27th and the 4th)
10/8-10/12 - Fall Break


Hopefully by now you have seen your child’s math homework. We have been working pretty hard on solving number puzzles and refining our understanding of even, odd, prime, composite, factors, and multiples. Today we talked about the Order of Operations (PEMDAS - Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction). We have not yet introduced exponents, but it will come! Students are working on understanding how to insert parentheses and work with them along with the operations that they need to solve in order for a number sentence to be true. Students are also working on learning their math facts. They need to continue to work nightly on them as we are finding out that it can be hard to see if a number sentence is true if we are struggling to solve the problem. I have encouraged students to think of strategies to help them solve those hard facts such as using facts you know to get to the facts you don’t as well as using multiples to help figure out an answer. This week, I sent home homework helpers each night. This is great information to help you help your kiddo. We are also working on different strategies to solve multi-digit multiplication problems: array method, stacking (partial products), and traditional method of multiplication. I encourage them to find the one that works best and then use it.

To help your child in the future for math, refer them to this page, Math Words & Ideas page for Investigations. This page can help your child if they are stuck on a concept that we learned that day or if they just need a refresher on how to do the problem. They find the topic, then click on the specified link that will take them to a tutorial or video. For example, we are learning about multiplication right now. They would find the multiplication hexagon, click on it and a menu will pop up, then they would click on Multiplication Strategies from the menu that pops up. Here is another link for math games that they can play online to help enhance what we are doing in class. They are the online versions of the games that we play. This week, we are playing Multiplication Compare.

Here is more information on helping your child with math homework:


Math homework can often be a frustrating experience for children and parents.  Parents were often taught traditional algorithms and do not know the strategies students are learning today.  While these strategies promote a deeper conceptual understanding of key math concepts, it is difficult for parents to see the benefits when they are unaware of them themselves.

We have a great resource that will help!  The Math Words and Ideas site from the Investigations Math Series has links to math videos that explain how all concepts are taught at each grade level.

Watching these short videos are a great way to review how and why concepts were taught a certain way.  You may even consider watching with your child.  The presentation below provides a few additional tips to promote a love of math at home.

 Click here to access this site.

Simply click on your child's grade level on the left-hand side of the screen.  When you click on a math concept additional subtopics appear.  Each subtopic includes a short video explaining strategies taught at school.  In the example below, third grade was selected on left and arrays was chosen under the concept of multiplication.

Click on the presentation below on how to help your child with math homework.


We are finishing up our “10 questions.” Students have been working on writing a piece modeled after the Time weekly article. They worked hard to come up with questions to ask themselves and then answer those questions with voice. They are great and I can’t wait to share them with you at conferences! These articles will segway into our unit where students write their own personal narrative. You can help by talking with your child about important events that have happened in their lives or encourage them to tell stories about events that are memorable to them. We worked on mapping our hearts and writing down the most important people, events, or things to them so that students had ideas to write about. We will begin writing about small moments in our lives on Tuesday.


We have been working on metacognition (which is thinking about our thinking), synthesizing, and determining importance in reading (writing and math, too). Students have been encouraged to keep track of when they become confused and how they clear up their confusion while they read. I have also been talking with the kids about how important it is to read just right books. We learn and grow when we push our thinking, and just right books can do that. We have also been refreshing our schema on story elements that help us identify plot twists and changes, character changes, and theme. Students have studied basic story elements (setting, character, problem and solution) in prior grades; but in 5th grade, we will be expanding our knowledge of story elements to help us see how they all work together to help us interpret challenging texts.

We have also started our new reading unit this past week. Students will be working from the following rubric to help elevate their reading to new levels this year. The rubric includes responding to reading, looking at story elements at a deeper level, looking at the story whole and how the parts contribute to that, developing the idea of a theme or multiple themes, studying the author's craft, and analyzing perspective. At home, you can help your child by talking to them at a deeper level of what they are reading. Instead of asking them the basic questions of who are the characters, what is the setting, etc, talk to them about how their thinking may have changed as they were reading the story. Ask them questions that are on the list on this handout from parent night. You'll find that they will dig deeper into the story and that will help them elevate their thinking and their reading.

Social Studies

We are underway in our Geography unit. Students are learning what geography is and how they will go about studying it this year. Students will be choosing a region and completing some research on that region. They will then present it to their classmates. I encourage students to get to know the 50 states and capitals, not just the region that they are studying. Here are some fun games and songs to help them learn those 50 states and capitals:

USA Geography - capitals, states, and landscapes
USA puzzle map
Fill in the States - states and capitals
Name the state (you can pick it or spell it)
Tour the States Song