April 1, 2014

aprilWelcome to April!  We will barely get this month started when get a week off for spring break.  I'm wishing everyone a restful week and if you are vacationing–I wish you safe travels!  I am taking my oldest daughter to Bellingham for a preview weekend of WWU where she will be attending in the fall.  Later during break I will be visiting the coast with my husband, youngest daughter, and our dog.  As you know, spring time is really busy around Helen Baller.  Be sure to check in periodically with the calendar to the right.  You can also scroll down and click on "Mrs. Houle's Calendar" under Official Websites.  There is a new link titled, "The Blogger Bears" there, too.  About 20 fifth graders are contributing to a blog with their writing.  Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/BloggerBears.  

Reading: We are wrapping up a few last activities with Tuck Everlasting this week and started a new unit on Author's Purpose.  After break, we will continue with Author's Purpose if needed and begin a study of Greek and Latin roots to help build vocabulary.  The Reading Measurement of Student Progress will take place on May 20th for room 201 and May 23rd for room 205.  We will do several practice activities to make sure we are ready for this assessment of our reading skills.  The reading test is online this year so we will be practicing that format in computer labs on Tuesdays.
Writing: We are continuing our unit on the research-based argument essay by integrating our social studies focus for the required Classroom Based Assessment (CBA).  In this exercise, students are researching the issue of whether there should be recess in schools or not.  When writing their essay, students will need to relate their position to a Constitutional Right and to the Common Good.  Once this is finished, we will move into report writing.
Social Studies:  Besides working on our CBA, we will also start studying the history of the thirteen original colonies.  On April 22nd, students will be tested on all 50 state abbreviations.  We will also start memorizing the location of the thirteen colonies.
Jupiter Grades access will be turned on after Spring Break.
~Mrs. Houle

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March 4, 2014

four-leaf-cloverWhat do pancakes, Mardi Gras, and grammar have in common?  They are all celebrated today, March 4th!  With only about two weeks left in winter term and spring around the corner, it's a happening place around Helen Baller! Report cards, open house, and a spring dance down the road are a few things to look forward to.  Do take a note that Jupiter Grades will not be accessible for grades after March 12th.  Access will be turned back on after spring break.  Here's what's ahead for reading, writing, and social studies:

Reading: We just started our next literature unit on Tuck Everlasting.  Our learning targets includes defining new words using context clues, drawing conclusions using evidence and schema, identifying story elements, and writing complete responses when answering literature questions.  We are learning about S-RARE as a mnemonic to remember to write in complete Sentences, Restate the question, and Answer the question using Reasons and Examples.  It takes more time and obviously more thought to write several sentences to answer questions, but this is a skill that students will carry with them in upper grades and across all subjects. As a last note, by March 21st all students will be reviewing their winter reading goals and setting new goals for spring.
Writing: We are continuing our unit on the research-based argument essay.   We are exploring resources to build our evidence on whether chocolate milk should be served in schools.  This week we chose a side and started drafting an essay based on the evidence that we found.
Social Studies:  To wrap up our unit on explorers, every 5th grade classroom is creating an illustrated timeline of of the story of Cortez and the Aztecs.  Next, we will be looking at some early European settlements on the New World.

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