Newsletter 22- 3/5/19

Weekly Highlights

Ms. Sydney (our student teacher) led is in some compelling work around finding the theme in books. After studying theme through picture books, students wrote “mini-stories” with an assigned theme in mind. Their pieces took just about 25 minutes and are amazing to read.

In Writers Workshop, we’ve begun writing argument essays related to ethics questions. Students have created a thesis and are working on building evidence to support it. Most kids are writing an essay on one of the following prompts:

  • Is ignorance bliss?
  • Is it okay to do the wrong thing for the right reasons?
  • Are reality, truth, and knowledge worth pursuing?

This has connected well to our unit on debate, in which we are learning the words claim, warrant, data, and impact. You probably saw these on last week’s homework, but kids have started to take notes in preparation for their mini-debates!


  • Book Club reading is ongoing. Make sure to check in with your child at home about their club reading. If your child is in LLI, they should have reading to bring home from their group as well.
  • For homework this week, students are being asked to write the introductory paragraph to their ethics essay. Here is a link to the assignment.
  • A tutoring flyer is attached – check it out!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What SP.AR.s did you have last week?
  • What have you been talking about in CPR related to discrimination, equal treatment of genders at school, and bias?
  • What has been happening in The Giver? What do you think about a world where “Sameness” is the way things are?
  • How are you doing with the writing goal you set on SeeSaw?

Newsletter 21 – 2/26/19

Weekly Highlights

Last week we spent a lot of time focused on writing. Teachers asked students for the writing piece they most wanted feedback on, we graded them using Teachers’ College checklists, and handed them back last week. Kids used these checklists to set goals for the rest of their semester – which you can see on Seesaw. We also had kids go back into their pieces and revise if they felt like they could.

We launched into our debate work in P3, which started with SP.AR.s (Spontaneous Arguments). You’ll see the structure on the homework this week, but students had a great time presenting one minute improvised arguments to one another.

In Readers Workshop we launched book clubs and are starting our first meetings and reading assignments this week. All of the groups have consistent writing assignments, but the dates that pages & writing is due varies from group to group. This week, we are focusing on theories about our characters – thinking about personalities, inferences, behaviors, etc. that connect to our reading.

In Advisory last Friday, we started talking about the question “What does it mean to include people?” and reflected on the 5-8 dance and ways we may make choices. It was such a blast to see so many of our students at the dance and see the planning teams’ effort be such a success.


This week, we have a debate related assignment that students brought home yesterday. Here is the link in case you need a copy.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What are you reading for Book Clubs, and what are your first impressions of the book?
  • What is happening in The Giver? How does it relate to The Truman Show?
  • Do you think that reality, truth, and knowledge are worth pursuing – even if they lead to unhappiness? Why or why not?
  • What is one of your goals for your writing life?

Newsletter 19

Weekly Highlights

In morning meeting/CPR we have been discussing “us vs. them.” This week we talked about five different ways of handling differences – 1. Avoid 2. Exclude 3. Tolerate/Allow 4. Accept 5. Appreciate. Using scenarios, students tried to code behavior based on these ideas. We’re going to continue this work this week, with scenarios specific to our classroom/age level. The “us vs. them” conversations have helped our kids go deep and also make connections to the world of The Giver.

In our read aloud, our main character is becoming aware of truths that the rest of the community he lives in are not aware of. He is learning that the elders of his community make sure people make safe choices. We have had some powerful discussions about this book and are excited to continue to tie it to our study of ethics. We’re also looking forward to the graphic novel, which comes out in two days! And, we’ll be starting our next round of book clubs. Check out our blog to see photos of these choices.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 7.17.08 AMScreen Shot 2019-02-01 at 12.24.19 PM

We’re onto the next stage of our Books & Beyond process, students are beginning to illustrate the pieces they’ve written so far.

We’re looking forward to the last full week before our class play!


–The 5/6 Class presents The Phantom Tollbooth – Tuesday, Feb 12 – at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. Dreams Line – 6pm  &  Hopes Line – 7:15pm

Costume Information HERE

Music can be found HERE

–Movie Possibility – we are hoping to watch The Truman Show as a part of our Ethics Unit. We will be doing some writing connected to the themes and ideas of the movie. If you DO NOT want your child to watch this movie, please email us by the end of day Sunday Feb. 3, so we can arrange another movie or project.

–Conference Window – we are in our winter conference window. We will continue reaching out to families to schedule conferences, but if you would like to meet with Kalei, John, or Heather, please let us know!

–Snacks this week: Gomez to McGranahan / Snacks next week: Parker to Roussos

–Homework this week: students will be asked to write a paragraph about The Phantom Tollbooth. We’ll send an example home with them tomorrow.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What do you think about the community that Jonas lives in in The Giver?
  • How are you feeling about your preparedness for the play next week?
  • What news articles have you been reading in class?

Newsletter 16 – 12/17/18

Weekly Highlights

Last week we spent a lot of time reading nonfiction pieces about genetics-related issues. We read about Dolly the Sheep and about GMOs in our food. In writers workshop we looked for the structure of topic sentence/supporting detail to build greater awareness in our own paragraph writing.

Connected to this reading/writing work, we have been going in depth with genetics in our science studies. This week we wrapped up work with Punnett Squares, watched a related episode of the Magic School Bus (they travel on the CRISPR express!), and watched the beginning of a NOVA documentary on identical twins.

In Reader’s Workshop, we’ve begun to read aloud The Giver. If you haven’t read it, it’s an amazing book that talks about a utopia/dystopia. Students are already making connections to the society the main character lives in, and the many rules, boundaries, limits, etc. that he encounters. We are talking a lot about using literal text to make inferences, and students have been writing down inferences they have in their own independent reading books. We are taking weekly (ish) trips to the library to continue to make sure kids are reading books of great interest and great challenge.


  • For homework this week, students will be given a choice between working for 30 minutes outside of class on their creative writing pieces OR writing a kindness letter to someone in the school. Homework will be due on Thursday!
  • The whole school will be going to see Cardinal Stage’s production of Beauty & the Beast on December 20th at 10am. We are asking that families send in $6.50 for their child to attend this performance. No child  will be prevented from going based on an inability to pay. If you are able to contribute extra money to cover the cost of someone else, please send that in with your child.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What is happening in The Giver ? Describe the character of Jonas.
  • What happened on The Magic School Bus episode you watched? What was and was not something the kids could “gene edit” ?
  • How do you think studying GMOs, CRISPR, and cloning relates to boundaries?
  • What is your creative writing piece about (this is something we started today!)?

Newsletter 15 – 12/10/18

Weekly Highlights

We spent last week working in smaller CPR groups and continued with themes of interdependence. In these groups, 18 in size, with Heather, John, & Kalei, facilitating – students are talking about common ground and mutually beneficial relationships. We have also been working on mixing up who kids sit next to so that they are greeting and connecting with a variety of kiddos throughout the week.

In writers workshop, we finished up our work with interviewing a peer. Students have been closely studying the format of a paragraph, and that’s why it showed up in homework last week (and again this week!).

We went to see the 3/4 play – Alice in Wonderland – it was amazing.

We also started to extend some of our genetics understandings to work with Punnett Squares. We’ve been working to understand dominant and recessive genes. We’re excited about the places this study of science is going to take us in future P3 work. We’ve started to do some work with learning about the gene-edited babies in China, and students have been reflecting on what opinions they have of this scenario. Here is a short radio piece we listened to today. 


  • Homework will be due on Thursday this week! We are really trying to help kids build the habit of getting it done before the weekend.
  • The whole school will be going to see Cardinal Stage’s production of Beauty & the Beast on December 20th at 10am. We are asking that families send in $6.50 for their child to attend this performance. No child  will be prevented from going based on an inability to pay. If you are able to contribute extra money to cover the cost of someone else, please send that in with your child.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What did you learn in the process of interviewing and writing up paragraphs in Writers Workshop?
  • What do you think about the genetic editing article / podcast you engaged with?
  • How is IDR going? What books have you completed?

Newsletter 14 – 11/30/18

Weekly Highlights

This week we welcomed a new member to our 5/6 team – Ms. Teasa. Teasa joins us as a former 6th grade teacher in the Indianapolis Public Schools. We worked to welcome Teasa to our community by creating slides about ourselves and about TPS/the 5/6 class.

We had two celebrations of our zine work this week… one on Tuesday with the whole class during school and another on Wednesday night. We are so proud of this work! We’ve hung it up in our classroom, so you can stop by sometime and see it there if you can’t make our last “celebration” – more details below.

We did completed a science lab related to genetics and have had some experiences with learning about DNA!


Art To Remember Orders are here! If you would like an early pick-up, before the items go home with students, you may come to the 3rd floor art room WEDNESDAY the 5th, from 4:00-5:15pm. All orders not picked up at this time will go home with your artists on Friday the 7th. If you would like me to hold items in the art room, for pick-up before the Variety Show on the 19th, let me know via email. If you have any other questions feel free to contact Ms. Sara at

The whole school will be going to see Cardinal Stage’s production of Beauty & the Beast on December 20th at 10am. We are asking that families send in $6.50 for their child to attend this performance. No child  will be prevented from going based on an inability to pay. If you are able to contribute extra money to cover the cost of someone else, please send that in with your child.

Zines at the library! We will have our zines on display in the gallery space at MCPL Monday-Thursday next week. Come by and take a look/read. We’ll send home copies of zines the following week, so please leave them up and let them be seen!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • How did the celebration of your zines go? What went well? What went not as well?
  • What is happening in CPR?
  • You’ve been working on a short interview project, what are you learning about?
  • What book are you reading during IDR? Is it interesting? Is it challenging? What do you plan to read next?

Newsletter 8 – 9/30/18

Weekly Highlights

This week we wrapped up our unit on PUNK! On Friday, we encouraged students to “be themselves” in their attire to uphold what our main character in our read aloud talks about. It was incredible to see the vast array of new looks, and about half of our class who wore the same things they do everyday. We are grateful that kids shared themselves with the group.

As a part of celebrating punk day, kids wrote the soundtracks to their lives by creating a set of songs that describes everyday events. The titles are hilarious.

We also began a reflection on our first P3 unit to see how kids responded to the connections between punk and borders/boundaries/limits.

In CPR this week we focused on studying emotions. We talked about emotions beyond happy, mad, glad, and sad and got into the complex emotions as well as when we feel multiple things at once.


This week we don’t have school on Friday, because it’s conference day. Then we go on a two week fall break – can’t believe we’re already a fourth of the way through the year!

We will not be sending a homework assignment home this week.

We will celebrate zines after the break. This will allow time for us to duplicate them and work out all the copy errors we find. Please let us know if you’re interested in volunteering some time to make copies 🙂

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What were the song titles you created for your punk soundtrack?
  • (from CPR) – What is a time you noticed someone was upset? How did you help them?
  • This week you had choice time for the first time — what did you choose to do and why?
  • What are some of the goals you have for the rest of the year?

Newsletter 7 – 9/22/18

Weekly Highlights 

We spent the week cutting, collaging, manipulating text on a page, printing images, and creating our zines. We extended our deadline to next Friday, with class time on Monday and Tuesday. These pieces are great and we are so excited to celebrate them with you soon.

Book clubs are in full swing, some clubs will have their final meeting and others have two more!

We saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as a play on Friday morning and then did some comparing/contrasting work with the beginning of the film Friday afternoon. Kids drew many parallels between setting and character, while noting that the historical context was more apparent in the movie.

In CPR this week, we started talking about listening, what it looks like, feels like, and sounds like.


We collected homework yesterday reflecting on the conversations you had with your kiddos at home. Please check in with your child on whether or not they completed this assignment, they can still turn it in on Monday.

We will send home another homework assignment on Monday!

We plan on having a Dress Up Punk day on Friday 9/28. We will go over guidelines for what this means in class, but all clothing must still adhere to the TPS dress code (which we have been discussing in connection to our read aloud!).

  • Snacks this week: Adams to Fish
  • Snacks next week: Gomez to McGranahan

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • How are you making decisions with the layout of your zine?
  • What happened with the pencils this week? How are you taking care of your pencil?
  • What do Mrs. Hidalgo and MaLú have something in common?

Newsletter 6 – 9/15/18

Weekly Updates

This week we moved from writing our pieces to turning them into zines! A zine is a self-published magazine and is/was a part of the punk movement that we’re reading about in The First Rule of Punk (our read aloud). Kids are storyboarding, cutting, collaging, finding images, and pulling together these zines – the final touch will be their Art to Remember cover!

We also started our book club meetings. The theme of this round is for kids to build listening skills. Students brought ideas to the meeting, had a chance to share their ideas with the group, and then their group members repeated back and connected to what they heard.

We’ve been adding in some “mindfulness” to our post-recess transition. We’ve been using videos from Mind-Yeti to bring down our energy and be ready for IDR & Book Club Meetings.


  • We’ll be seeing The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on Sept 21, 2018 at 10am. Please send in $6.50 for your child to attend. No child will be excluded based on an inability to pay and if anyone wants to cover an extra ticket (or portion thereof) – please feel free. These payments should come in as soon as possible!
  • We are carrying on a tradition of 5/6 – the pet wall. Please email us pictures or send in hard copies for us to add these members of your family to the wall outside our classroom.
  • Homework will come home tomorrow in blue folders. The assignment will involve kiddos talking/sharing with someone at home.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What images/ideas do you have planned out for your zine?
  • What is MaLú learning in The First Rule of Punk about Selena?
  • How is the work of “listening” going in your book club?
  • How has advisory been going?

Newsletter 5 – 9/10/18

Weekly Highlights

In Readers Workshop, we started book clubs. The titles that kids are reading are:

  • Hatchet
  • El Deafo
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time
  • Jake & Lily
  • Out of My Mind
  • The Jumbies
  • Bloomability
  • Save Me a Seat

Though they will not have extensive writing, we will be using protocols during book club discussions that kids will need to be prepared for. Their assignment is likely to look something like this, and they’ll have time in class to complete it.

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 7.18.09 AM

Writers Workshop – We’ve finished up our revisions, checklists, and partner feedback. Students spent last week making sure that each kind of elaboration is in each of their pieces. This week we’re moving onto zines!

In Community/P3 we’ve been continuing our study of punk and rules. We are also working on some photo projects to show off who we are. These will hopefully be up in our classroom in the coming week.


We’ll be seeing The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on Sept 21, 2018 Matinee. Please send in $6.50 for your child to attend. No child will be excluded based on an inability to pay and if anyone wants to cover an extra ticket (or portion thereof) – please feel free!

Blue Homework folders haven’t made a reappearance yet. We’ll be sending something hopefully by the end of this week!

  • Snacks this week:Parker to Roussos
  • Snacks next week: Searcy to Wright

John & Kalei will be sending out conference notifications soon – we are starting conferences in the next week.

Questions to Ask

  • How are you feeling about the possible agreements “Be Yourself” and “Consider others” ?
  • What are you looking forward to with book clubs? How has your past experience been with them?
  • What are you most interested in with creating your zine in Writers Workshop?