Newsletter 28 – 4/20/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we spent some lovely time working on transplanting just 27 of our germinated baby plants. We also started to talk about some of our big questions for our Visual Arts/P3 Unit on food:

  • Where does my food come from?
  • Where do people get food in my community?
  • Why do some have enough food and others don’t?
  • Why do/don’t people eat meat?
  • How do plants grow?

We also converted all of our stories to PDFs and have been reading and reviewing each other’s work as a part of writers workshop. We’ll have a publishing party/celebration on Wednesday at 12:40 in the park (weather permitting). Kids will be able to come into class in the costume of their main character if they want. We’ll be presenting these ideas to kids on Monday.

Another piece of our week was talking about the difference between teasing and relational aggression. We’ve been noticing some issues, which were confirmed by data (some excerpts below) that kids are seeing unkind communication in school. We talked about crossing the line from helpful/good-natured to harmful.

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Kids were very open to these conversations and were somewhat surprised with what our anonymous survey found.

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Proposed ideas were to re-take the survey now that awareness has been raised. There were also questions about what kind of humor is/is not appropriate, which we’ll do some teaching with in coming weeks. We also intend to meet with kids in smaller groups to help them have conversations with their friends about what kinds of teasing cross the line for them.

Next week, we’ll be launching a new writing unit on Zines! We’ll be growing and transplanting more food lovelies! We’ll be getting back to our work with current events and news!


We sent out an email earlier this week about needs for our plant unit. If you can help or need another copy of that email, let Kalei or Sara know!

Snack schedule is:

Week of 4/17  Families with the last names Ainslie-Daniels

Week of  4/24 Families with the last names Dimick-Jaynes

Week of 5/1 Families with the last names Kelley-Orth

Week of 5/8  Families with the last names  Osmon-Wisler

We’re working on coordinating a few museum trips in preparation for the MAW, and we’ll update you soon with details.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What questions and ideas did you raise about food during the World Cafe?
  • What did you think about the communication conversations? What surprised you?
  • How are you (and members of your class) going to approach one another differently?
  • How did the CPR you ran go?


Newsletter 27 – 4/16/17

 Voices of 5/6

This is your Voice 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 Surya, Asher, Emily, Kaimi, Ella and Monet.

In arts we planted vegetables like beets and onions.  We are doing this to give back to the community.  The food we raise will be donated to the Food Bank.  Ms. Sara will be working with Ms. Kalei on our next P3 project on plants.  Also in arts we are still working on mazes and ABC books.  Some people have started working on optical illusions.

For our mock trial we are finishing our work on the plaintiff team and defense team.  We formed our questions that we will ask the witnesses (who are also students).  Our opening and closing statements are strong and we are excited to see who wins.

In writers we have been working on fantasy stories.  We drafted, revised and edited. Today we are finishing the stories.  We filled out editing checklists to make sure the stories followed the guidelines of the editing rules.

We started a new workshop called “Perceptions”.  We filled out two surveys-one on self esteem and one on how we feel about the school.  The surveys will help the teachers figure out what to work on.

This week we have been doing ISTEP practice.  We have been using computers to simulate/practice the tests.  We went over the computer tools and did practice questions.  We have done math, English/language arts, science (6th grade) and social studies (5th grade).

In CPR students have been planning and organizing morning meeting.  We planned greeting, share, message and an activity.  This will help us progress on our leadership skills.


We are starting a P3 unit that is on GROWING food! We are going to focus on three main questions:

  • Where does my food come from?
  • Why do some have enough food and others don’t?
  • Where do I fit in?

We’re also working with the data we collected on self-esteem. Our next writing unit will be a study of zines in contribution to a whole class publication on belonging.

Snack Schedule – we finally need snack again!

Week of 4/17  Families with the last names Ainslie-Daniels

Week of  4/24 Families with the last names Dimick-Jaynes

Week of 5/1 Families with the last names Kelley-Orth

Week of 5/8  Families with the last names  Osmon-Wisler

Questions of 5/6

  • How are you feeling about round 2 of ISTEP?
  • Talk to me about the publication process – how did you feel about drafting? revising? editing? publishing?
  • What have you been thinking about the work on self-esteem in class?
  • What did you think of the mock trial?

Newsletter 26 – 4/9/17

Voices of 5/6

Here is your Voice 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 Jakob, Kyle, Irene, Charlotte and Aidan.

In writers we’ve been moving through the revision part of our fantasy stories.  We have been going back through our stories and putting in and taking out parts.  It has been really productive.  A lot of people have gotten lots of work done.  The deadline for publishing is next Friday.

The Mock Trial is next Friday.  We have had two IU law students teaching us how a trial works.  They have taught us about being in a courtroom and conducting a trial.  The court case is about Herminie hitting Draco with a book because she thought he was going for his wand.  On Wednesday we got our parts for the trial.  Everyone seems excited and is looking forward to the mock trial.

In readers we have been taking sources from recent news.  We have been learning about “fake” news.  We have looked at how news sources are distributed across the political spectrum.

In arts we have been making ABC books and maxes.  In performing arts we have been working on singing songs from “The Music Man”.  We have been looking at different musicals and operas.

This week with Ms. Steph we talked about self-confidence.  We talked about how to respond when our confidence drops.  We worked on how to deal with tricky situations that make us doubt ourselves.  We tried a new strategy for when we feel stress.  We did squats and stretching and then a breathing exercise to calm us down.


Our Mock Trial trip will be on Friday, April 14th. We will be walking to the law school around 1pm. The hopes and dreams line will conduct two separate trials – please let us know if you are interested in attending – there is limited space for families!

We will begin ISTEP round 2 a week from Monday. We’ll be testing every morning in that week, so please be sure to re-schedule any appointments you’ve made if that’s possible.

Calling all coloring books! We are starting a new project – creating a zine/coloring book of self-affirmations for kids to make, collect, collate, and have to build positive self-esteem. If you have a coloring book that you’ll let me make copies of, please send it in- you’ll get it back without any coloring 🙂

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What is your role in the mock trial? What do you think will happen?
  • What are you learning about news and news sources?
  • How are you doing with the revision work – what kinds of changes have you made in your writing piece?
  • What was the poetry project this week? How did it go?
  • What is something this week you think you could have approached differently?




Newsletter 25 – 4/1/17

Voices of 5/6

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 Fallon and Jasmine.

This week was our first week back from break. Our first week back was fun and interesting and we did a lot of hard work.

In writers we are still working on our fantasy pieces.  Some of us are done.  Our deadline is today (Friday) to finish our rough draft.  Next week we will revise our stories.  People are excited and anxious to know if they will finish their writing piece in time.  A lot of people enjoy writing fantasy stories.

In visual arts we are finishing our ABC books.  We are adding more to them to add detail.  Some of us are doing mazes.  In performing arts we are singing an Indian song called “Aazeem Hazzah”

On Thursday at recess everyone was having a grand time and then we got poured on.  People had to run to the line squealing and laughing.  Some people enjoyed the rain and others tried to get out of it.

Today we went to the IU improve opera at the MCPL. There was a bell that an audience member could ring.  They would say “I declare…” and then tell the actors what to do.  It was exhilarating to be able to tell adults what to do.

In readers we are focusing on non-fiction.  We are looking at articles to find the topic, subtopic and details.  We are learning to tell fake news from real news.

In P3 we are preparing for our Mock Trial on April 14.  We have been writing questions for the direct examination and the cross examination of the witnesses.  The depositions stated facts about the witnesses.


The IU Books & Beyond Project invites you and your students to our annual Visions of Rwanda art exhibit, Tuesday, April 4th, any time from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Hutton Honors College Great Room. This year the event will highlight the partnerships between IU students and local Bloomington elementary schools. Attendees will be able to view photographs taken by travelers to Rwanda; test their knowledge of Rwanda through interactive trivia; participate in a silent auction; and enjoy Rwandan snacks, coffee, and tea. Opening remarks by Dr. Cyanne Loyle will be made at 5:30 p.m.

Your child has been invited to attend the final dress rehearsal of IU Opera Theatre’s The Music Man next Thursday, April 6 at 7pm. It is a wonderful chance to see some of our country’s best young singers at NO COST! As this is an evening field trip outside of school hours, students should be dropped off at the Musical Arts Center (101 N. Jordan Ave) no later than 6:40pm. There is a circle drive right in front of the theatre, so families won’t have to park in the lot. You can simply drop your child off with a teacher who will sign them in. You will then need to return to pick them up there after the show ends around 9:45pm. If you have any questions or transportation issues, or if you might like to be one of our chaperones for the event, please let me know as soon as possible. The 7/8 journalism class would like to give you this survey to fill out, and help us create our newspaper. Please fill this out as soon as possible, thank you. Our mock trial is now scheduled for the afternoon of April 14th. We’ll send time details likely the week of.

The 7/8 journalism class would like to give you this survey to fill out, and help us create our newspaper. Please fill this out as soon as possible, thank you.

Our mock trial is now scheduled for the afternoon of April 14th. We’ll send time details likely the week of.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What is empathy & why is it important to you?
  • This week during morning meetings/perspectives workshop, you talked about disability – both those that are visible and those are not. What do you think of this work? How does it apply to you/your conversations?
  • In meditation, your class discussed your internal locus of control – how you are able to take responsibility. How did responsibility impact meeting the fantasy deadline?
  • Was your stamina different than before spring break? How/why?
  • What are you most excited for in revising and publishing your fantasy piece?

Newsletter 24 – 3/10/17

Weekly Highlights

Here is your Voice 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 Ava, Kaimi, Mark, Anen, Fallon and Keller.

This week we have continued planning for the mock trial.  During our planning we started developing questions for the trial.  The defense team and prosecution team worked separately.  We learned what questions should be asked when you are in a trial.

We finished ISTEP this week.  We are relieved.  

This week we worked on invitations.  We are working on the engagement part of invitations.  People are making food ads, public service announcements, slideshows and designing machines to make candy.  People are enjoying invitations and are learning a lot.  People are feeling excited about finishing their projects.

In writing we continued working on our multiple perspective fantasy story.  Today we decided to continue with our collaborative story or our individual story.  The partner stories were written in collaboration.  We decided which story to continue with after looking at some questions like “Which story is furthest along?  Which story will hold your attention?  Which story will others enjoy more?” After break we will revise and finish the story we picked.

In visual arts we are working on the A-Z books.  In performing arts we watched our video of HONK.  We have been performing music from other cultures.  We have been working on syncopation.

We have changed how we do Room Rescue.  We now have 5 “zones”.  Each day a team cleans their zone and then can get their backpacks.  The zones are Library, Sink, Doc Cam, IPAD and Lockers.  The group thinks this works better.  It makes people actually clean more.

This week we started to talk about people with disabilities for Disability Awareness Month.  We watched a TED talk about how people with disabilities can be objectified.  There are posters in the school.
In morning meeting we are sitting with different partners.  The purpose is to make new friends and make new friend groups.

One thing we discussed this week and will build on after break is the difference between entitlement and agency. In our community, we’ve been noticing a lot of moments where kids may think they are being advocates for their own needs, when in reality they are just not following directions. We talked as a community about some of the situations in which we see this dynamic arise. Some examples:

  • Direction: “Sit in crewlines” [i.e. assigned spots for lessons]
    • Entitlement: Sitting where ever you want
    • Agency: Trying the assigned spot, consulting with an adult to see if a change can be made because you have a specific reason you’d like to sit somewhere else
  • Direction: “Read independently”
    • Entitlement: Drawing, writing, or doing something other than reading because you either don’t want to read or want to do something else more
    • Agency: Asking individually if it’s okay to work on something other than reading because you have to get it done. An example of this may be asking to work on the fantasy writing pieces that have a loose-first-draft deadline of Friday.

We also talked about how peers can communicate with one another in helping to resolve these kinds of dynamics. So instead of saying “hey that’s entitlement,” helping peers to recognize their behavior but also redirect to what they should be doing. Room rescue was brought up as an example of a time when students are noticing others simply not doing the work, and discussed how alternatively, they can remind one another to do the work and perhaps introduce a specific task or idea. The goal here is not to let go of the overarching work, but to be mindful of this and take care of the immediate needs.

These articles are always good ones to reference around this time of the year for me, so perhaps you’ll find them helpful too:


We don’t need snack for a while! Thank you for sending it in.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What questions have been coming up for you in invitations?
  • How are the partners working for you in morning meeting? What new classmates have you learned about?
  • What are a wow and wonder you had after watching the “I Am Not Your Inspiration” Ted Talk?
  • What story are you choosing to work on after break?

Newsletter 23 – 3/6/17

Voices of 5/6

This week the Voice of 5/6 contributors are Kaden, Sydney, Zoey, Koral, Lucy and Surya.

In visual arts we are creating A-Z books on different topics.  We are finding words and making a design to represent each letter.  For example, if the topic were animals we could do D for Donkey and draw a donkey.  We are also making complex mazes.

In writers we have a deadline for a first draft for our partner stories.  Partner stories are fantasy stories about different creatures and lands.  We are working in pairs or groups.  Each writer has their own character.  We are writing the different perspectives of each character.

In ISTEP we finished the English/language arts and math.  Next week we will have science and social studies.

We started Invitations.  In Invitations we are researching a topic of our choice.  For example, “Food Advertisements” is one choice.  We choose something that interests us, we learn about the topic and we do a project.  We can suggest new topics.  Invitations are fun and interesting.

In performing arts we are working on singing the song “Away”.  We watched an interview with the choreographer from Moana.

At recess we have been playing Capture the Flag. CTF is a fun game to play at recess. About 20 people play CTF each day.


We will have whole group ISTEP testing tomorrow – doing the social studies & science test.

We DO have writing homework this week – kids are assigned to write a thank you letter to an adult in their lives.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • In writers workshop, you’ll soon choose which story to publish – your partner one or your individual one. What story do you think you’ll work on after spring break?
  • In Legal Literacy you’re planning for the upcoming mock trial (on April 7th) – are you on the prosecution or the defense? What do you think your arguments will be?
  • What invitation did you choose and why? What project are you thinking about doing?

Newsletter 22 – 2/26/17


So much of our week was focused on our incredible show HONK! We were so excited to see you at the performances and are so grateful for your help in at-home rehearsals, costuming, and nerve calming.

The shows were so successful. In class, we spent a lot of time talking about how to be an audience, the work of being backstage and making sure you meet your cues, and how to improvise when you forget a line.

Other work for the week centered around some test-genre prep. We talked about how to answer most short-answer comprehension questions in anticipation of the ELA test. We also started to plan and work on essays in response to a passage.


This week we will begin ISTEP+ testing. There will be large group testing as well as small group accommodations. Kids that test with the big group will test on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning. We are in need of some supplies if you’re able to provide them for testing, including:

  • gum
  • mints (lifesavers, typically)
  • snacks
  • pencils (#2)

Please let us know if you have any questions about testing.

We are also preparing for our final project with the IU law students that have been coming to teach us about legal literacy. Our mock trials will be on April 7th. More information coming soon!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • How did you feel about your performance in the show?
  • What did you notice in watching the other casts (5/6 and 4/5/6)?
  • How are you feeling about ISTEP testing coming up?
  • Did you make any progress on your fantasy story this week? If so, what?