Newsletter 21 – 2/20/17

Weekly Highlights

The week of the show is upon us! Please see below an additional copy of the costume letter in case it never made its way home to you these past few weeks. There are two performances – both on Thursday – for the Hopes line and the Dreams line. We can’t wait to see you then.

Last week did quite a bit of work with our annual genre-study for the ISTEP+ test. We have been talking a lot about the qualities of “exemplar” ISTEP responses. After reviewing some scored materials, kids generated a list of what they think makes up a good response in these types of situations. They – in smaller groups – read passages and answered some short questions.

In Writers Workshop we finished up our fantasy stories and have moved onto the next step in this genre study. We’re CO-WRITING pieces with partners in the class! On Friday, these new partnerships met and planned out a plot arc in which 2-3 characters are all responding differently to a problem or conflict.

We worked on finishing up a project in Readers Workshop – viewfinders through which we’re able to see multiple perspectives on a situation in our novels. We’ll be completing these this upcoming week.


ISTEP testing will start next week (2/27). During these weeks we need some extra supplies from home if you are able. We typically try to provide chewing gum, lifesavers mints, and good-erasered-pencils during the ISTEP testing days. If you’re able to provide these items (or anything else you may think is good) – let Ms. Kalei know!

HONK! Jr. is this week. We’ve been practicing oh so much and are excited to see the show come fully into being.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • How are you feeling about the upcoming show?
  • What were the multiple perspectives you represented in your reading project?
  • What story did you plan with your writing partner?

Costume Letter

February 4, 2017

Dear 5/6 Families,

On the back of this letter, you will find a costume breakdown for our HONK! musical theatre performance that is just two weeks away! If you are unable to locate an outfit for the show or have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me at All outfits may be worn with black pants if you are unable to find pants that match their shirt color.

Performances will be at the Ivy Tech/Waldron Auditorium on

Thursday, February 23rd
Mr. Jim’s HOPES cast will perform at 6pm
Ms. Kalei’s DREAMS cast will perform at 7:15pm

There are TWO separate casts performing. Students in the 6pm HOPES show should arrive at 5:45pm. Students in the 7:15pm DREAMS show should arrive NO EARLIER than 7pm, in order to not disturb the first performance. Parents are welcome to attend the dress rehearsals earlier that day, if they would like to see the other cast perform.  See you on February 23th!

Mr. Chris
TPS Performing Arts Specialist, K-8



*All outfits may be worn with black pants, if you are unable to find pants that match the shirt color.

**Ava, Nora & Katrina also need all-white (swan) outfits that can be worn under their gray one.

Ugly Duckling all gray
Ida Duck all brown
Drake Duck all light brown
Maureen Duck all brown
Turkey dark brown
Grace Duck all white
Henrietta Hen all orange
Ducklings all yellow
Jim & Jay Bird Reporters all blue w/ suit jacket
Cats all black
General Greylag Goose all gray and/or camoflage
Dot Goose all gray and/or camoflage
Military Geese all gray and/or camoflage
Bullfrogs all green
Swans all white


Newsletter 17 – 1/23/17

Voices of 5/6

Here is your Voices of 5/6 update.  A small group of students met during lunch on Friday to comment on the events of the week and share highlights with families. The contributors for this week are Allie, James, Matthew F., Noah, Parker and Nora.

  • This week we did a walk on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. day.  We saw special places in Bloomington that were important to African American history.  We saw the the May House.  It was a place for African American students to live and get meals before they were allowed in the dorms.  We also saw the site of the Black Market.  It was a store that sold books and clothes and items related to African Americans.  The store was firebombed in 1968.The site is now People’s Park on Kirkwood.
  • In performing arts we learned the choreography for HONK.  We have been working on our lines.  The deadline for memorizing lines is February 1.  In visual arts we have been working hard to get the sets done.  All the groups are getting closer to their vision for the sets.
  • We have been working on our argument essays.  We got feedback and now we are working on revising them to make them the best they can be.  
  • We had new Passions choices.  A lot a people got their first or second choice.  One of the new choices was stop motion animation.
  • We started new book clubs.  We made our own schedules for meetings and deadlines.
  • In science we put yeast into bags with water.  Some bags had cookies too.  The bags bags with the cookies expanded because the yeast was metabolizing the cookie.
  • We are still working with Ms. Steph on Fridays on yoga.

To add onto these points, we are working on Book Clubs in Readers Workshop. Students have met and determined their own deadlines and meeting schedules. They are independently deciding on topics of study in their book clubs, coming up with discussion questions/elements, and soon will be creating a self-assessment rubric for their participation. This agency and independence has  been awesome.

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In writers workshop, kids revised their original published argument essay in light of feedback that Jim and I gave them. Most kids completed this process in the workshop times we set aside last week (about 2.5 hours). Some have not finished, and that will be a part of their homework this week.

In Performing arts, as you may have seen above – we’ve set a deadline of February 1 for all lines (and song lyrics) to be memorized. This is the homework for the week as well as revising the essays and completing any book club reading.

We are running low on pencils, tissues, paper towels, and ziplock bags. If you are able to and willing to, we welcome donations of these supplies!

Optional Winter Conference: We so enjoy sharing your child’s progress and goals, while also learning more about your perspectives, hopes, and dreams related to your child. We have completed the round of fall conferences and look forward to the ones that we will have later in the spring (April/May). We do offer an optional winter conference as well. If we feel that there is a need for a winter conference, we will be in touch to schedule by February 10. If you would like to request a winterconference, please contact your child’s main teacher before February 10 to let them know that you would like to  schedule a winter conference.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What book club are you in? What do you think about being in charge/responsible for your book club schedule/discussions?
  • Tell me about yeast in relationship to the science work you’ve been doing.
  • What was it like to receive feedback on your writing pieces? How did you handle the feedback?
  • Last week, the theme of CPR/Morning Meeting was play & fun. What did you discuss? What games did you do?

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Newsletter 16 – 1/14/16

Voices of 5/6

This week we are starting a new feature for our weekly newsletter called “Voice of ⅚”. Each week we will invite a small group of students to meet at lunch and contribute their ideas to be included in the newsletter.  This week’s contributors are Elora, Matthew S. Nick, Surya and Zach.

  • In P3 we are doing work with food.  We did an experiment to find the amount of grease/fat in different foods.  We we took one gram of different foods and placed them on brown paper.  Then we measured how big the grease stain was.
  • In read aloud we are reading a novel called First LightThe two main characters, Peter and Thea, are going on adventures.  The class is making predictions about what is going to happen next.  This book connects to our CGTQ on Perspectives and to our book clubs
  • Right now in reader’s workshop we are choosing a few books for our book club unit.  We are going to be working on the theme of “Perspectives”.  All the book choices have multiple characters and the books switch point of view between characters.
  • In writer’s workshop we are working on finishing our argument essays about a topic that each person picked.
  • In music we are practicing our music with other classes.  We are working hard to learn all of our lines. Next week we will start working on staging for the play HONK.
  • In Visual Arts we are making the set design for our production of HONK.  We are working in groups to make pieces for the set.
  • HONK will be Thursday, February 23 at the Waldron.  HOPES will go on at 6:00 and DREAMS will go on at 7:30.

Weekly Highlights

Just to add to what kids mentioned above, we are starting the beginning of a science unit. Here is some information about it – Our class is beginning a new science unit using the FOSS Food and Nutrition Module. We will be investigating what food is, what it is made of, and how several nutrient groups contribute to good healthful nutrition. Children will learn about fats, sugars, proteins, and vitamins and ways of testing for some of these nutrients in food. Your child will be conducting experiments that use common foods. We are assembling a collection of empty food containers of all kinds – especially those that list the ingredients and nutritional information on the package. Please save a few containers if you can and send them in.

We may also need small samples of foods you may have in your homes. After completing our investigation on fats in foods, we asked kids what they’d most like to test next. Most items were either directly related to school (school lunch, snack foods) and items from home.

Though we are studying the science of food right now, we’re going to be studying food, nutrition, and many topics surrounding in P3 for much of the rest of our year. If you have ideas, questions, comments, concerns, etc. – I’d love to hear from you!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • How did you test for fats in food?
  • What is a fat?
  • Did you meet the deadline for writing? How did you work toward it successfully? Is there anything you’d change for next time?
  • What are some of the books you’re excited about in the next reading unit?
  • What was something you were glad to get back to after winter break?


Optional Winter Conference: We so enjoy sharing your child’s progress and goals, while also learning more about your perspectives, hopes, and dreams related to your child. We have completed the round of fall conferences and look forward to the ones that we will have later in the spring (April/May). We do offer an optional winter conference as well. If we feel that there is a need for a winter conference, we will be in touch to schedule by February 10. If you would like to request a winter conference, please contact your child’s main teacher before February 10 to let them know that you would like to  schedule a winter conference. 

We need some materials for upcoming science investigations. If you are able to – please send in 2 liter soda bottles, baker’s dry yeast, thermos/coffee pot/electric tea kettles – ways to maintain/store warm water, breakfast cereals (a baggie full of any you have in your home would be great!), and other foods that contain sugar that may be interesting for us to test. Please let Kalei know if you can send these in – or just send them in – thank you!!!

Newsletter 15 – 12/22/16

Weekly (Two of them!) Highlights

We’ve worked a lot on our essays and due to our accidental four day weekend, we won’t be done before 2017 arrives. We’ll pick up these pieces when we get back. In the meantime, if students feel like working on their pieces over the break, they can review on Google Docs or in print and use our final piece checklist, which can be found here.

(almost) ALL the P3 projects are done! We’ll be adding some documentation around these after winter break, adding pictures of posters to Fresh Grade. Several of the performances have already been uploaded.

Book Clubs finished and we had a great time discussing the themes that went along with Strangers in a Strange Land.

The Variety of Talent show was on Wednesday and Oliver was on Thursday. We had such lovely experiences as participants and audience members at both of these performances.

Questions to Ask Your Child At Home:

  • Looking through Fresh Grade, what do you think is your biggest success of the year so far? What goal do you want to set for the next part of the year?
  • How did you write a compelling/serious/exciting/engaging argument in your writing piece?
  • What were some surprises of the Variety of Talent show? What acts did you like or love?
  • How did you feel about Oliver? What did you learn about the time period? What did you like/dislike about the production of the show?

Newsletter 14 – 12/11/16

Weekly Highlights

5/6 is in mid-swing with all of our projects and getting ready to tie things up before break. We started meeting around our book clubs. We’re reading Save Me a Seat, The One and Only Ivan, The Jumbies, Under the Persimmon Tree, Home of the Brave, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Flora and Ulysses. Our unit theme is “Strangers in a Strange Land” so we spent the first two meetings talking about what it means to BE a stranger, how/when we know someone is feeling like they are a stranger. We talked about the different conditions and identities of our characters, how the main character is sometimes thought to be the stranger and then it ends up being someone else in the novel. In all the novels, there is a dynamic where someone is in the story/setting that wouldn’t normally be. For example, in Home of the Brave, Kek is a Somalian refugee in Minnesota. He has no contact with or understanding of what has happened to his parents and he’s forced to figure out how to live in the United States. This work has proven to be powerful, especially in considering how we have empathy for the characters/are connected to the characters. Next week we’ll be doing some work around allyship.

We are finishing up our P3 projects, which we will turn in and present on Tuesday. Students may have already brought these pieces home to work toward getting them done on time!


We will be seeing Oliver on December 22nd at the Buskirk Chumley! We are asking that families contribute $6.50 for this trip if they are able. No child will be prevented from going due to an inability to pay. If you are able to give more than $6.50 to fund another kiddo, please let us know!

Homework this week will be prep for book clubs. If your child is in LLI, they do not need to do the writing components of the book club work unless they have time to do so!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What kinds of meditation did you learn this week (4-7-8 breath, think before you think)?
  • What did you incorporate into your writing this week? How many body paragraphs have you written and what are they about?

Newsletter 13 – 12/5/16

Weekly Highlights

We had a lot of guest teachers this week – Ms. Steph teaching us meditation, a group of IU students teaching about biodiversity, and our friends from Books and Beyond came in for our final session to make sure we formatted and edited all of our documents correctly.

We are midway through project work in P3. Our project asks students to pick an issue they feel strongly about, and then use the constitution to reflect on a party platform as it relates to that issue. You can see a master document of parties/platforms that Mr. Scott used several weeks ago with our class. Students are choosing a medium to communicate content and opinion on this issue.

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Homework this week will be prep for book clubs. If your child is in LLI, they do not need to do the writing components of the book club work unless they have time to do so!

We will be seeing Oliver on December 22nd at the Buskirk Chumley! We are asking that families contribute $6.50 for this trip if they are able. No child will be prevented from going due to an inability to pay. If you are able to give more than $6.50 to fund another kiddo, please let us know!

Snack Schedule Reminders

Week of 12/12  Families with the last names Ainslie-Daniels

Week of 12/19 Families with the last names Dimick-Jaynes

Week of 1/10 Families with the last names Kelley-Orth

Week of 12/5, 1/16  Families with the last names  Osmon-Wisler

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What styles of meditation did you learn last week?
  • What is your thesis for your essay? What are your reasons?
  • How is your P3 project coming along? How will you convince others who think differently than you that they should value your perspective?
  • What is happening in the read aloud, First Light?

Newsletter 12 – 11/28/16


Hope you had a lovely break!

Research, research, research – we are digging into our argument writing pieces by learning how to state a thesis and backing it up with related evidence and reasons. Filing through the notes we’ve taken, we’re trying to find compelling and interesting evidence for our readers. We are also taking on a research project as an end to our study of government and the election in P3. Students will have a variety of mediums to communicate a platform issue and how it is tied to the Constitution/Bill of Rights.


We will be seeing Oliver on December 22nd at the Buskirk Chumley! We are asking that families contribute $6.50 for this trip if they are able. No child will be prevented from going due to an inability to pay. If you are able to give more than $6.50 to fund another kiddo, please let us know!

Thursday, we’ll be starting a meditation series in our CPR groups. We’ll be using this information in our class to develop new strategies in stress and emotional validation/management. We’re also working on patience, flexibility, and compassion. We’ll be meeting several times a week for the next few weeks and then weekly after routines are established. Here is some information from yoga practitioner and 5/6 parent, Stephanie Dull:

Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, it can be helpful, but it can have harmful effects, if not properly cared for and understood. Children also experience stress and anxiety, they have big emotions, and their days have moments with the power to overwhelm them. They spend their day in school using their mind for challenging projects, resolving problems, and learning new skills. Teaching them how to manage the vast emotions and the stories they play in their head is a beneficial skill set. Meditation and deep breathing are two practices that can empower our children; they can learn that when they are upset, afraid, scared, nervous etc., there is contextual relevance for these emotions and how to manage these feelings. What we tell our brains to do, they will do. The result and the goal of meditation coupled with a contemplative breathing practice, is to have a tool to improve the neurological pathways in the brain, which creates mindfulness (recognized as the ability to know what’s happening in your head at any given moment)

In this series students will be given an overview of the Limbic System, and emotional processes. They will be taught breathing exercises along with guided meditations focused on gratitude, empathy, compassion, and awareness of the present moment. They will also learn ways to give their brain a break and how to recognize the sensations of stress and anxiety. The goal of this series is to promote peaceful mental well-being for our children.

My name is Steph Dull, I am the mother of 3 TPS children, and I am a 500 hr. I’m a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance, I have been teaching yoga since 2006 with over 5,000 hours of teaching. I have a B.S. in Behavioral Science along with an MBA. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

Newsletter 11 – 11/11/16

Weekly Highlights

We really had a chance to dig into our CGTQ “Perspectives,” this week with all of our discussions on the election. We began to watch the film 1776 in P3, which has to do with the compromising and points of view in the development of the Declaration of Independence. It was fitting to see these dynamics in representative government play out while we were also building theories on what would happen to the “battleground states” during the election.

On Wednesday morning, after the results came in, we sat as a class in meeting and talked about what feelings we were experiencing in response to the President Elect Donald Trump. Students were so careful and non-judgmental with listening to the feelings of their classmates. Many points of view were expressed and much compassion and patience was exhibited. Later in the day, we had a chance to respond on Fresh Grade to the results, specifically in how the Electoral College and our simulation related to what actually happened!


The other big focus of our week has been on research in writers and readers time. Students are very excited to look more deeply into topics they feel passionate about – that begin with the question stem “should…” Some of their topics include:

  • Should schools have dress codes?
  • Should animals be tested on?
  • Should insect habitats be protected?
  • Should toys be segregated by gender?
  • Should gaming be considered a sport?
  • Should football be banned because of concussions?

We’ve been talking about student friendly resources to do research and also about how to determine key words in a search. A few photos of anchor charts are below for you to reference.

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We are finally running low on snack. Please make sure you send it in if it is your week!

Next Tuesday we will be traveling to the library to see the 3/4 performance of The Lion King. This will happen around 10am.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What is your topic in writers workshop?
  • How are you feeling about the election / election process / electoral college?
  • What new games have you been playing in morning meeting? Which ones do you like?
  • How were there different points of view this week in class?


Newsletter 10 – 11/4/16

Weekly Highlights

Getting work done has been the theme of this week! We tied up a lot of loose ends – our work with the 13 colonies, our silly stories, and our recent work with the Electoral College. Many folks in 5/6 have goals around responsibility, systems of organization, and taking initiative. We worked a lot on hustling to independent work and making sure your writing has quality. Make sure to connect with your child on what they were able to get done and what they learned about meeting deadlines.

We’ve been continuing with our body image work in Readers workshop. About half the class listened to a Ted Talk which you can find here, though it’s an edited and audio version of the original – sans some photos/language that seemed more mature.

We also had an amazing activity with Mr. Scott involving political platforms. Kids were asked to determine their opinions on ten major topics in the present election – but the opinions were unassociated with a candidate or party when kids read them. Later, he revealed which statement went with each party (generally). Check out your child’s reflection on Fresh Grade if you can – they were fascinated by the results as most of them were pretty spread out across the libertarian, green, democratic, and republican parties.


Reminder – snack schedule is on this page.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What have you been learning about body image and advertising?
  • How is your group doing with the “Books and Beyond” books? What kind of book are you writing? What are your ideas?
    • What have you learned about Rwanda?
  • Tell me about Moment of Science (We’ve been including the WFIU podcast Moment of Science into our dismissal routine. You can find all the archived episodes here.)  

Newsletter 9 – 10/31/16

Weekly Highlights

Families, last week we spent time opening up some new Units of Study and finishing up some of the old! Much of our focus this week was on P3 and our new Readers/Writers unit.

In P3 we talked a LOT about the Electoral College. Using an article on Scholastic, students read and learned about the process of United States elections. We then played a simulation where the dreams were the “blue party” and the hopes were the “red party.” As line groups, they had to decide where to put their resources as they raced to 270 electoral votes. This simulation emphasized the importance of the battleground states in the campaign process. This week, we look forward to Mr. Scott guest teaching about some of the major candidates and issues in the election.

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In Writers workshop we launched a study of Media Literacy. We talked about the top ten advertising techniques seen in printed ads and found examples of each one. We talked about the purpose of different techniques and how they make an impact on us as consumers. We discussed being critical consumers and this relates to our work in readers workshop – a new unit of study on research reading. Eventually, the reading unit and writing unit will become research-based argument pieces, but right now we’re talking about them separately. The research work has centered around getting into the author’s shoes and explaining their perspective on an issue. As a whole class, we’re studying body image and advertising – and kids are experiencing a variety of texts on the subject. If you have other resources to add, send them our way. More photos here. 

Of course, field day was a highlight and most of you at this point (if not now then by your conference time) will be able to see the picture of your kiddo post-field day, though the muddiness was not captured fully as we had them scrape their shoes.


Homework this week is about transition words. You can find more here.

Skate night is tomorrow!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What did you learn last week about advertising?
  • How is a president elected (or tell me about the electoral college)? What are battleground states?
  • What is the Books and Beyond project?