Fifth-Grade Class News

 Robin Rocans, Fifth-Grade Teacher


Fifth Grade News - October 13, 2017

I wish you could have been me this week because fifth grade and I had some amazing discussions about a bunch of different things.  These discussions seem to come up naturally in the various things we do.  For example doing an edit sheet about Eleanor Roosevelt led to a discussion about prejudice in our country and why the football players, among others, are kneeling.  A lesson about the fantasy genre of books led to a discussion about the world we live in being real or just a place where we are practicing for our real life in heaven.  We also talked about getting messages from those we love who are in heaven already.  There was also a lively discussion about what was really the first living thing and what's wrong with evolution.  Now, none of these topics were in my lesson plans, but this is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching - those teachable moments where kids led the way. 

Besides all these discussions we had a Religion test on the books of the Old Testament and a Math test on addition and subtraction.  We will begin our study of the New Testament books next week, and we started a unit on multiplication on Thursday.  We continued to fine tune our paragraph writting skills in Language Arts, and talked about the elements of a fantasy novel in Reading.  We are going to be starting some literature circles next week with our new novels.  In Social Studies we started a unit on Native Americans, and in Science we started a unit on the human body systems.  Check out the bodies hanging in our room.  In Computer the kids played a game where you had to edit various sentences.  In Gym we are working on jump roping skills (harder than it sounds).  In Art we "painted" with grease and dirt using Native American symbols.  The kids also had two Music classes with Mrs. Jurica, two Spanish classes with Mr. Bryant, and one Computer class with Mr. Friend. 

We also had a special Chapel on Wednesday in honor of Pastor Appreciation Week.  Several pastors joined us, including Jude's pastor, and Pastor Robarge led us in the service.  He spoke about God being our Good Shepherd, and how pastors shepherd their own flock.  It was a nice way to remember how important these men and women are in our faith walk.  

Next Friday is going to be a busy and fun day.  We will be working with our Chapel families in the morning and participating in the PTL Relay-athon in the afternoon.  We are also planning a special Math activity for the third through fifth graders. 

There are also several other activities coming up this month, particularly the Family STEM Night on the 26th. Please check the Parent Bulletin for details.

Did you check your child's mid-quarter report, and did you see your child's MAP testing results?  Would you please send me a note so I know that you are aware of both of these things.  Even though the kids are doing well, it's important that you know what their grades are at this point, so you know what areas your child may need extra help in before the end of the quarter on the 27th.

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!




Fifth Grade News - October 5th

How is it that these weeks of school have gone by so fast?  We are already done with 1/8 of fifth grade!  The mid-term reports for the first quarter are available Friday at 3:30 on Fast Direct.  Please be sure to check your child's grade, and would you please send me a note that you have seen them.  Also let me know if you have any questions about your child's progress.  I have to say that the kids are working hard, and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done that I've planned.  I often think about my former life as a secretary in the Sears Tower, and how I spent a bunch of the day waiting for time for pass.  Certainly not how things are now - I often wish for more time in the day, but I'm thinking the kids might object!

This week we talked about . . . marriage and divorce in connection with our Memory verse - the Books of Poetry and Major Prophets in the Old Testament - adding and subtracting whole numbers and decimals - and writing a good paragraph.  We also finished our novel which has been a fabulous opportunity for some terrific discussions.  In connection with Columbus Day the kids did some research on explorers both in Social Studies and Computer.  We talked about cells - the parts and functions as well as how cells join together to become organs and systems.  In Gym we started a jump rope unit.  You'd be surprised how hard this is for some kids.  The kids started playing ukuleles in Music and were practicing months and days of the week in Spanish.  The fifth graders also finished up a bunch of "works in progress" this week and helped sell taffy apples both at lunch and after school. 

Next week we will be having a test in Math on addition and subtraction and in Religion on the books of the Old Testament.  Study guides will come home for both tests. 

Next week is a busy sports week - volleyball practice on Monday - cross-country meet on Tuesday - and a volleyball tournament at St. Philip's on Thursday and Saturday.   

There are several special events coming up here at St. John's including the PTL-sponsored Relay-athon.  Our very own Justin was one of four finalists for his t-shirt design.  Please be sure to check the Parent Bulletin for all the others things going on.

A big thank you to the PTL and all those who helped get the chromebooks that are sitting in the back of our room.  We have a really cool cart that charges them automatically, and we have already had opportunity to use them during Math class.  This has always been a dream of mine to have a classroom set so that all the kids can work on them at the same time.  I will be sending home information about one of the ways we will be using the chromebooks in Math class.

Please be sure to check your child's Friday folder for the results of their Fall MAP tests.  These results are used as a baseline for the rest of the school year.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the results.  As for me, I will be using them to pinpoint areas that we need to work on both individually and as a class.  

I hope you and your family have a good extra-long weekend.  The teachers have a meeting on Friday, and we will be working on the planning for the STEM night coming up on October 26th as well as our Social Studies expectations for each grade.  Personally I'd much rather be teaching the kids, but it is important that the teachers have an opportunity to plan and work together.

Blessings on your weekend!


Fifth Grade News - September 29, 2017

How proud I was on Wednesday when Kaitlyn and Sebastian sang "Oceans" during the Offering at Chapel!  We say in our school's mission statement "help the children fully develop their God-given gifts", and this was such a great example of children using those gifts for His glory!  I hope to have more fifth graders participate in Chapel in the future.  

This week ask your child about . . . what Luke 9:22 (our Memory verse) means and what can we learn from poor, old Job!  Ask them about Mrs. Rocan's secret weapon for rounding and what sychronized drawing is . . . what FANBOYS are . . . how to get a wolf, chicken, and bag of grain across the river . . . who Johnny Appleseed really was . . . what country their clothes come from . . . and what's the difference betwen a vertebrate and invertebrate.  We also had quite the discussion about immigrants, President's Trump's proposed wall, and Native Americans.  In addition to all the subjects we did together, the kids had Music with Mrs. Jurica, Computer with Mr. Friend, and, starting this week, two Spanish classes with Mr. Bryant.  Throw in volleyball games on Tuesday and a cross-country meet on Monday, and you have a full and busy week.  

I have to say that we are all working really hard, and not because there is a lot of shenanigans going on.  Everyday we have so much to learn and talk about which is such a fun way for me to spend my day, and I hope the kids feel the same way.  

Today marks the mid-point of the first quarter, and mid-terms reports will be released through Fast Direct next Friday.  Overall everyone is doing well, and turning in homework is not so much of a problem.  I hope that between the planners that the kids fill out and the daily e-mail I send, keeping track of homework is pretty easy.  You should also be receiving your child's MAP test results soon.  It's always important to look at both of these when thinking about your child's progress.  Some children are just naturally good at taking tests, while others may struggle.  For some homework is easy, for others a struggle.  You know your child best, so if you have any concerns about either of these results, please let me know.  Working together to make your child successful is such an important part of what we do at St. John's.    

Please rememeber that we have no school next Friday so the teachers can have a professional development day, but we do have school on Columbus Day.  Next week there are volleyball games on Monday and Tuesday, and a cross-country meet on Thursday.  

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!


Fifth Grade News - September 22, 2017

Can you believe that next Friday is the mid-point of the first quarter?  It's funny how in some ways it seems like we have just begun, but in other ways, these great bunch of kids have been with me forever.  It's great how easily we can settle into our fifth grade routine, with everyone knowing what to do and what's expected.  I really do enjoy spending my day with them, and overall, everyone is doing quite well.  The mid-quarter reports will be released to you, via Fast Direct, the following Friday.  Please feel free to let me know if there is something that you have a question or concern about.  

This week ask your child about the following:  what are the first twenty books of the Old Testament, what pudding has to do with the Ten Commandments, what a decimal is, what's the difference between a simple and compound subject, who their hero is, why we draw pictures during Reading class, what sports teams they are researching, how are animals classified, and what are the position in volleyball.  In addition to all this the kids played some really cool drums in Music, learned more Spanish phrases with Mr. Bryant, and continue to work with Mr. Friend in the computer lab.  

It was also a fun week for the boys' volleyball team, including our very own Ben, Brian, Justin, and, on injured reserve, Jack.  The boys played both Monday and Tuesday, and did well.  Next week we have games on Tuesday, and there is also a cross-country meet on Monday.  

Big thank you to Mrs. Leith and the other folks who organized the book fair and family game night.  The kids enjoyed being able to shop for books Thursday during the school day.  

Big thanks also to Mrs. Scifio who came in on Thursday to help edit our hero stories.  Even though there are only thirteen kids, it was great to have someone help to fine tune these projects.  We write every week, so if you are willing and able, I sure could use some help.  Having someone help allows me to sit down and talk with the kids about their writing, not just correct any mistakes.  

Sometime next week we will be having a Language Arts test on sentences.  I'll  include a note with their homework assignments on Fast Direct.  A study guide will come home beforehand to let you know what your child should review.  We are making interactive notebooks in both Math class and Language Arts class, so everything we've talked about is in these notebooks.  They should come home with the study guide.  

Congratulations to Kaitlyn and her family on the birth of their new little one!  They have quite the story about how everything worked out, but seeing that sweet little face reminds me that God is most certainly good - all the time!

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!


Fifth Grade News - September 15, 2017

Did the kids tell you how we were helpful on Wednesday?  We helped the folks from the food pantry carry in a whole lot of groceries!  This warmed my heart for two reasons - how blessed we are that so many people work to provide food for those in need (you wouldn't have believed how much food there was), and how blessed I am to have a group of kids who didn't hesitate to help.  In fact I'm pretty sure they were having fun!  The food pantry folks did send up some thank-you treats, but we talked about how you should do things to be helpful, not because you expect a reward.  Kind of like how we should act as Christians - our good works are not our ticket to heaven, but our response to having a loving and forgiving God.  

This week we had a somewhat unusual schedule due to MAP testing.  We only had one Religion lesson where we talked about the Memory verse for the week and how even a ten or eleven year old can spread the Gospel.  In Math we worked on place value - understanding and reading larger numbers.  In Language Arts we did lessons on commas and sentences.  In Reading we did a cool activity from our novel where the kids had to guess what I put in a box.  The idea was that sometimes the best thinkers are not the smartest, but the ones that can think "outside the box".  In Social Studies we are working on mapping - talking about Chicago and the United States.  In Science we did another experiment, and then a STEM activity where they had to save a worm.  We didn't have Computer this week because the lab was being used for testing, but the kids did have Spanish, Music, and Art where we made aluminum foil sculptures in the style of Degas.  

The kids did a good job on the MAP testing.  These tests are mainly used as a baseline for the tests to follow.  Generally, though, the kids did improve a few points which is unusal considering the "summer slump" they usually go through.  Good for them!  Look for results to come home within the next few weeks.

It was fun to watch some of the fifth graders run in the cross-country meet at Walthers on Monday.  It was even more fun to watch the fifth grade boys who are a part of the volleybal teaml practice on Thursday.  I love to see the younger boys and older boys interacting.  The eighth grade boys are really a great group of kids and good role models for the fifth graders.  Next week is a busy one for volleyball - games on Monday and Tuesday at home, and practice on Thursday.  

I need a favor.  Do you know of an artistic person who would be willing and able to come into fifth grade during the day for a special project?  I have an idea, but not the artistic ability to actually make my idea work.  If you know someone, would you please let me know.  There is a whole lot of kids blessed with artistic ability in this class, and I want to give them a chance to use those talents.  I can teach the kids art history, which is how I do Art class, but God did not bless me with any artistic ability, so I need help.  Thanks.

Next week we should have a regular old week - if that is even possible around here!  So look for a bit more homework to be coming home.  Please let me know if your child is struggling in any way with this homework.  I know it's a transition from the amount and type of work they did in fourth grade, so I want to make sure that they are not becoming frustrated or overwhelmed.

Blessings on your weekend!