I've been so swamped with all things school related that I was too exhausted to even think about posting about what's going on. Time to play catch up!
Time flew the first full week with our Fifth Grade Parent Meeting that Tuesday. We didn't have as many parents as we have some years, but the parents who came seemed great. This was our chance to go over our expectations for each of our subject areas. We all prepare handouts about our classes for the parents to take. I then sent home a copy of the handouts with the parents who couldn't make it.
The other thing I do to help with parent communication is my Fifth Grade email blasts. The parents sign up and I add their email to a group in outlook so I can quickly let them know what's going on. Tip: Be sure to send the emails to the parents as BCC so the parents don't see everyone's email. I did see an awesome idea the other day to have parents email me instead if they want to be added. That would keep me from typing in all the emails. I'm so doing that next year!
When it comes to reading we started with some basic nonfiction text skills. The first week I did a great activity called Text Mapping that I saw on Pinterest. I did it using my Social Studies text so it was able to teach an important skill and help them get used to their book. I also did a glossary versus dictionary lesson using their math and science book. The students had to pick a word from each and look it up in the dictionary and glossary. We then compared each glossary to the dictionary, and the students voted which they felt was most useful.
We also started our "Novel" spiral. This year I decided to have the students make a Table of Contents in the front of their spiral. I can already tell they have a much deeper understanding of a Table of Contents. On Monday, we started our first novel of the year.
We are reading "Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key." I love starting the year off with this novel. It helps kids see that even though kids are different, we are all fabulous in our own way! As part of our Reading Rotations we started this week, I got to sit down with each small group and work on journaling. Journaling with the groups about Joey Pigza was my favorite part of the week!
In Social Studies we began the year with the American Colonies. This is a first as our standards just changed this year. In the past we started with the exploration of North America and then moved to the colonies. While I was excited to have more time to go more in depth for each topic, I now realize that I have to build a lot of background knowledge I didn't have to in previous years.
This is my sixth year teaching 5th grade social studies, yet I still find that every year I make huge changes to how I teach. My state requires that students have certain facts memorized for their OCCT test. While I don't agree with the memorization, I would be negligent to not help my students learn them.
To help my students learn these facts I have developed a three prong approach to the rote. To learn the basic facts for each colony we start by reading about it using several sources. I then use a fill in the blanks notes sheet to assess how much they remembered from the reading. We then cover the notes with a sheet of paper to make a flip book. On the outside is the name of the colony. On the inside cover we create a mind map of the important things they need to remember. In an effort to try to grab one more type of learner, I teach the students a song or poem about the colony. All three are aimed at helping them learn what the state wants them to know. Then we get to have fun mapping, doing reader's theatres, seeing pictures from the colonies, playing games, and experiencing the colonies.
It has been a super busy first few weeks! I am looking forward to the long weekend and a chance to recharge so I can hit the ground running next week!