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 28 – 4/18/16

Weekly Highlights

Thanks to all who were able to join us for our celebration of Rwanda books. We appreciated seeing so many of you!

This past week, we worked a lot on writers workshop. We had several days of long writing sessions, re-wrote our leads, and began integrating revision work into online drafts (if applicable). On Fresh Grade, some kids reflected on the most challenging work and the most helpful work in this unit.

In P3 this week, we did a full-on medieval simulation. It was oh, so much fun. We had two kings (Kalei & Jim) and they were able to collect, rent, taxes, issue proclamations, etc. The villagers (kids) chose to either build or farm, and earned coins (pennies) by doing so. Kids were so excited about this work – except for when the pneumonic plague hit the villages and wiped out more than half our class. There was also a battle simulation outside to show the differences in preparedness of knights (who got dodgeballs) and villagers (who got paper balls).

In CPR this week, we have been talking about dependence, agency, and continue to do work with social-issue-problem-solving.

In readers workshop, we are continuing to read The Giver. We’ve been discussing symbolism, metaphor, along with whether we believe the setting (the “community”) is a utopia. Very interesting perspectives have come out in discussion & in Giver Book Clubs.

Up & coming is ISTEP this week and next week. We have sessions almost every day – all testing will be online. If you’re able to contribute gum and mints, we would appreciate it!

We will eventually have a publishing party for the pieces kids have been working on in writers, but it is delayed during testing. We thought it would be this week – but now it looks more like next week. We will keep you updated!

Newsletter 24 – 3/4/16

Growth & Development Patterns

This week, I (Ms. Kalei), revisited an old friend – the book Yardsticks by Chip Wood. It often becomes a great reference for me around this point in the school year because it reminds me that sooo much of what we see in our classroom is totally and completely normal. Below I’ve included a few pictures that talk about common characteristics of 10, 11, and 12 year olds. Yardsticks is a book that goes farther in depth with explanation, and one of the key points is that kids have a “developmental age,” in addition to their “chronological age.” I hope that you find this information helpful and if you want more of it – I’d be happy to share my copy of the book, or even copy a section for you and send it home with your child.


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Weekly Highlights

LYLS was this week. Students were amazing and had great activities. During LYLS we learned a lot of interesting things like, power poses, how to tie a tie, dirt bikes, Dr. Who. Kids experienced several “how-tos.”

We are working on a new unit in P3. We watched a movie about the Middle Ages. Mr. Jim dressed up as serf. A serf is someone that works for the lord of the manor – we are studying hierarchies and power. We also worked with some nonfiction texts to compare elements from the past to the present. Soon, we’ll be focusing our study on just a few elements that emerge from student interests.

ISTEP testing has happened this week. The big group did ELA and Math. Most kids (if not absent or in small groups) have just one more test next week. Kids were incredibly positive and supportive of one another during all of the hard work.

When not testing, we read some really good books.

Some passions updates from kids…

  • In Harry Potter passions we received handcrafted wands by a local wood-smith, got sorted into houses, earned house points and did potions.
  • In TASK, we built civilizations with a sheriff, a jail, and several other elements
  • In dance passions, we got to do the Whip and Nae-Nae
  • In chemistry passions we worked with batteries and water – there was potential for fire – yikes! 🙂
  • In model making passions we have been learning things about making models, someone in our passions is creating the Wright Brothers’ plane out of toothpicks
  • In playground passions, we played football
  • In reading, writing, and drawing, we’ve been creating a board game

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • How did your LYLS presentation go?
  • How do you feel about taking the ISTEP?
  • What are you doing in new units (art, P3)?
  • What are you excited about for next week?



Newsletter 4 – 9/4/15

Committees have started! The blog committee met for the first time on Friday, and we are starting the student/teacher collaboration out right. Italicized text is written by Ms. Kalei, and everything else is student voice.


This week students went to Field Day at Ms. Sara’s farm! We had a treacherous hike, a session of fort building, and a fabulous game of instincts. Kids certainly enjoyed this 11th field day at Yard Dog Farm. 

We also spent time this week talking about independence and agency. We are working to build the skills of asking peers before adults when the question is quick/logistical, trying to solve problems for ourselves, and thinking of alternatives to a situation on our own. 

We finished our read aloud of El Deafo this week. We had a lot of empathy for main character Cece, as she dealt with the pressures of being 11 on top of having hearing loss. 

Next week we will travel to Bradford Woods. Students will be at TPS on Tuesday for “normal” school, but the rest of our week looks very different. If you have any last minute Bradford Woods questions, please email us over the weekend.

Do you know about our homework page? It exists.  We will be updating it regularly so you can find assignments here for writing.


In CPR this week we talked about hurricane Katrina and listened to interviews of people who witnessed it. We listened to StoryCorps and This American Life and talked with people who were affected by the Hurricane. Students shared their wows and wonders. 

Readers Workshop

What we did this week we are working on our reading path books that we chose three weeks ago. This is what we have been doing for the past week and most people (notice I say most!) are on their 2nd or 3rd book on their path. So this is the idea for this unit of reading. The whole idea is to finish books and then find new ones to read. This week we started work with “signposts and text tools” for fiction reading. We talked about memory moments and used a short story from the anthology 13 to practice finding these moments. 

Writers Workshop 

In writers this week we learned more about elaborations. We talked about how to add in extra information in our writing by putting details in between existing sentences. We are also working on paragraphing and making sure we transition into the next paragraph at times that engage and help the reader.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What did you do for Morning Work this week?
  • What social risks did you take at Field Day?
  • What stories did you hear in CPR about Katrina?
  • Where are you in your reading path?

Newsletter 33 – 5/22/15


Field Day is coming up next Friday! Everyone is super excited for it. Field Day is a day where the whole school takes a trip out to our beloved Ms. Sara’s farm. We play CTF and football, play in the horse troughs, Mr. Chris runs the Slip n’ Slide, and we generally have an awesome time. Make sure to pack your child appropriately with a water bottle, close toe shoes, towel, bathing suit, extra change of clothes, and a filling lunch.

Morning Meeting

This week we played a new activity. We did freeze dance. A greeting that we did – we told someone about if any of our family has served in the military. We’ve done a better job sitting and getting to know our classmates. We have been using cards in meeting. The cards have your name on them, and the teachers pass them out, mix them up, and sit next to new people every day.

Capstone Project

This week in capstone, we decided what our visual piece would be. Some of us finished our questions and some of us are still working on them. Parents are always helpful in working on capstone pieces at home!

Book Buddies

We were focusing on having our book buddies retell the story and give us examples of characters, plot and setting.

Ms. Kalei’s Math Group

We just finished a long end of the year assessment. We played games. Students are excited to continue our work on dreambox next week!

Mr. Jim’s Math Group

We did a long end of year assessment.

Ms. Caitlin’s Math Group

This week in Ms. Caitlin’s math group we have been working on re-arranging random triangles into rectangles and finding the area of them, which is harder than it sounds. We also did a review of all the math we have done for Ms. Caitlin to give to our future math teachers -sob- next year.

We have also been working on a group math project on Scratch, following the adventures of the blue-and-yellow George and his trusty striped cane.

Ms. Kandi’s Math Group

We are doing decimals – adding and subtracting them. When we are done adding or subtracting we always have to do the reverse operation to check our work.

Readers Workshop

We are reading independently every day. We are reading books of choice.

P3 Workshop

In P3 this week, we talked about immigration, child labor in factories, and the laws that were passed about alcohol. We talked about the KKK and their beliefs in white supremacy.

Writers Workshop

We finished our first drafts. We are working on our second drafts. Some people are working on computers. We shared our drafts with writing partners and partners looked  for:

  • Verb tense
  • Five senses
  • Climax – slow building tension
  • Paragraphing – Dialogue
  • Plot

Visual Arts

We have had free days this week. We have had things from dragons to mini sized clothes. Other then that we haven’t done much more. But a free day in arts is always magical. We have also been drawing something we have never drawn before and are creatively drawing pop art inspired patterns around it.


We watched a colorlines video about race. [Insert link]





Newsletter 30 – 5/3/15


We have had a wonderful week of ISTEP! Positive attitudes abound. Next week we will continue our work. Remember to have early bedtimes, healthy brain food and of course BE SUPPORTIVE!

Foods we recommend:

  • Fruit
  • Protein (yogurt, lentils, seeds, fish, lean meat, eggs, peanut butter)
  • Healthy Carbs– maybe toast with peanut butter and orange juice for breakfast (DON’T TEST ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!)
  • Fish
  • Dark fruits and veggies (kale, people, its not that bad, and this is a kid talking)
  • Eggs
  • A protein smoothie with healthy ingredients is great.

This isn’t food, but seriously, get lots of sleep. Also not food, but comfy clothing!

Readers Workshop

This week in readers workshop we are bringing our unit to an end!We are making slides about one of the books we read.We are making one slide for the title, setting(s) , the characters, the theme(s) , the author’s porpuse/ and the plot. This week we continued to read The Watson’s Go To Birmingham. The Watsons continued their trip to Birmingham and when they finally got there Byron became very respectful and polite to Grandma Sands started to act all southern.

P3 Workshop

This week in P3 we started learning about Indiana from 1600-1800. We wrote down the information we learned on our time lines. We went back in time because we’re Time Lords. Time Lords can travel back in time (Time Lords are from Doctor Who). We traveled back in time and  learned about Native Americans that lived in the 1600-1800 in Indiana. We also talked about Indiana’s two constitutions.

Writers Workshop

This week in writer’s workshop we wrote and finished our plan and started writing stories about our characters.

Performing Arts

In Performing Arts, we have been working on our recorder skills. Both lines did some outside practice to take advantage of the beautiful week. The Dreams line did some skits of fairy tales and myths. We played all together and got to show each other where we were in our music, which was really fun!