Teachers: Tia Rizk and Rabba Emily Meyer
Art: Bibiana Powell
Library / Lab Science: Brooke Einstein
Music: Shoshana Stombaugh
P.E.: Zac Dykan
Our beliefs about how students learn rest firmly on a foundational assumption that intellectual, academic, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of children must be considered in instruction and learning environments. The following beliefs and assumptions stem from this foundation.
Students learn best when:
In 5th grade, we are striving to develop responsible, self-directed students with a passion for learning and values that will sustain them as they grow. The curriculum is stimulating and multi-faceted, and our classroom experience encourages exploration, insight, and cooperation, as well as mastery of core skills and knowledge. Opportunities for school leadership and service are an integral part of the fifth-grade experience.
The 5th grade language arts curriculum draws upon and extends essential literacy skills, including reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary and spelling, while developing analytical skills through the study of literature, history, science, and current events.
Students choose their own books that will be read at home and at school (no graphic novels, please). These books may be from any genre but they must be at their reading level. At this age, most students know how to pick a good fit book for themselves but I will teach this skill briefly to those who need a review.
When students are reading these books at school during the week, it gives me a chance to meet with individual students as well as groups of students who are working on a particular comprehension or reading strategy.
Where do students find these books? They can look on our class library shelf, check them out from the school library, and I highly suggest visiting Seattle Public Library (http://www.spl.org) and obtaining a library card for your child. The children’s librarians are an amazing resource and can recommend a wide variety of books based on your child’s interests.
Every couple of months, I will assign a genre. Students must find a book in this genre at their level to read. I will provide lists of books that students may find helpful for each genre that is assigned; however, students are certainly not limited to this list and may read any book in this genre. The idea is to get them to read lots of different kinds of books. I, myself, get stuck reading only one genre and I’ve realized that students do this as well.
If your child is having a hard time finding a good book in a particular genre, I suggest vising your local library and speaking with the children’s librarian. I will be talking about the assigned genre in class.
Each student will be required to do a project on the book of their choice in each genre and I will provide a list of projects. They mush choose a different project for each book. For example, if they read a Science Fiction book and choose to do a diorama, they can’t decide to do a diorama when they read a biography.
Students will also be required to write at least a paragraph about their book. I will teach them how to write a topic sentence, use reasons/details/facts to support this topic sentence and then elaborate on each reason/detail/fact. They will know how to do this before the first book is due. Some students will write a paragraph and some will write multi-paragraph papers. It’s not about how much they write, but about strong content and organization, each student writing to his/her ability.
In addition, they will be required to take this writing and transfer it to notecards using a basic outline format. Then, they will give an oral presentation to the class and we’ll work on presentation skills.
We will be reading a couple of books as a class. This will give me an opportunity to teach reading, vocabulary and comprehension strategies.
In addition, students will participate in literature circles where a group of students read the same book, keep a response journal on this book, and meet to have a discussion with their fellow classmates. I may require individual or group projects and writing at the completion of these books.
The books that we read as a class and in literature circles will be mostly historical fiction and non-fiction (informational) that compliment our social studies curriculum. This is clearly a lot of historical ground to cover but I’m going to be optimistic ☺
Each student will keep a writer’s notebook and will practice writing in different genres (poems, songs, plays, historical fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, personal narratives, etc.). When a student comes across a piece that they’re proud of, she/he will take it through the entire writing process (see below). There is a specific framework that I have developed for published work. While students write in their notebook, I will be meeting with students one-on-one or in groups to discuss their writing and give feedback.
We’ll review the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing) at the beginning of the year. Then students will be required to publish pieces of their own choice as well as pieces of writing that we are working on for a particular unit. For example, we’ll begin the year learning about essays and all students will be required to publish an essay.
5th graders are expected to learn and/or strengthen their typing skills. Major writing assignments are expected to be word-processed, which greatly facilitates revision and editing of the initial drafts.
Vocabulary and Spelling will alternate each week.
Our vocabulary text is Wordly Wise 3000. We will explore a different set of words every other week and I will assign homework that serves to commit these words and their meanings to memory. This homework will be corrected in class. Students should expect a weekly test on the words.
Our spelling program is based on Laura Rogan’s program Wired for Reading (advanced). We’ll begin the year by reviewing how to determine if a word originated from Anglo-Saxon, Latin or Greek. Understanding this concept will help student immensely with spelling in their everyday lives. As a result, please expect that your child won’t come home with a spelling list at the beginning of the year as I want to make sure that they are clear on the process of discovering word origins. Next, we will review the prefixes and roots that were taught last year and continue on to study more of these affixes and roots. We will only focus on the ones that are the most common in English.
The 5th grade Hebrew curriculum is focused on two complimentary tracks, modern and Biblical Hebrew.
The modern Hebrew curriculum focuses on the development of concepts and values pertinent to members of K’lal Yisrael, the global Jewish community. Modern Hebrew is presented through age appropriate literature, engaging projects, and opportunities for conversation with peers. Fifth graders study topics ranging from weather, family, and rooms in a house to current events and Israeli politics.
The understanding of basic Biblical Hebrew gives students the tools to translate and examine the Bible exegetically and to see the connection between our holy texts and the language spoken on a daily basis by Jews around the world. It is important to emphasize that we will not be using the Bible to teach the Hebrew language, but rather we will be gaining an understanding of and appreciation for Biblical Hebrew in order to deepen and enrich our study of the Torah.
The Hebrew program is based on the notion that the best learning environment for children is one in which knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities, using each of the five senses. In addition to studying from textbooks, students use music, games and visual aids to learn the Hebrew language and to develop a keen understanding of Jewish concepts and values.
The mathematics program is designed to cover a full range of 5th grade mathematics in class, with differentiated enrichment or support to meet the needs of individual students. For all students, math instruction aims to build enthusiasm and confidence. The curriculum emphasizes conceptual, problem-solving, and computational skills, as well as effective communication about mathematical topics.
Across all grades, we are using the mathematics curriculum developed by Everyday Mathematics. The Everyday Mathematics program sets high standards, offers innovative and engaging instructional activities, and seeks to help students “appreciate the beauty and usefulness of mathematics” in their daily activities. Detailed information about the program is available in a supplementary handout, and will be forthcoming throughout the year as well.
In 5th grade, mathematics instruction continues to foster competencies in the following broad content areas: numbers and operations, measurement, algebra, geometry, data analysis, and probability. These conceptual domains comprise the math strands that have been identified by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The mathematics program also addresses the following five process standards in both formal and informal mathematical instruction: problem solving; reasoning and proof; communication; connection; and representation. Specific grade-level goals and incremental objectives are provided by the Everyday Mathematics curriculum.
In General Studies, students learn about the history of North America, global exploration, and the founding of our nation in 5th grade. We use the acclaimed “History of US” textbook series, beginning with The First Americans, in addition to historical fiction, field experiences, drama, and student research to enrich our understanding of historical events and contemporary issues. The development of reading, communication, and thinking skills is emphasized over the acquisition of factual content. Presentations, brief reports, and at least one longer research project are required. Internet access and research skills are an integral part of the curriculum.
5th grade students engage in an in-depth study of Israel through land, people and culture.
The study of the land of Israel focuses on major cities and historical sites. In the course of our study of the Biblical text, we will explore the map of Israel as presented in the Torah and compare it with locations in (and beyond) the modern state of Israel. Current events in Israel are discussed regularly both within the Hebrew curriculum and as classroom conversations in English. 5th grade students take a major role in leading the annual “Trip to Israel” in May. Love of Israel is a major goal of SJCS.
5th graders gain an appreciation for being part of the people of Israel as we explore the responsibility to, as the name Israel suggests, wrestle with our understanding of God. 5th graders engage in conversations about God, spirituality, and prayer in order to present the wide range of Jewish opinions historically and in modern times on these subjects and to encourage individual grappling with what it means to be a member of the Jewish people. Fifth graders may come home asking about these topics, and we encourage family members to engage in honest dialogue about their own beliefs.
We will explore the culture of Israel through our study of the rich tradition of Jewish rituals, holidays and practices. Students will consider these topics based on traditional texts, family practices, and the study of the history and development of these topics over time. Through this study we hope to encourage an appreciation for Jewish rituals and practices across cultures and throughout history.
A major focus of our year will be on social action and making a difference in this world. Fifth graders are responsible for acknowledging many volunteers who support the SJCS community. We will also have the opportunity to engage in hands-on Tikkun Olam projects such as Operation Sack Lunch. Biblical and Rabbinic texts will guide us in our work. Please watch newsletters for more information.
In the students’ final year at SJCS they will be expected to be leaders for the school at holiday events and for t’fillot. Specific goals include:
There are two major aspects to our Torah study in Yonim.
1. Study of the weekly Torah portion (Parshat Hashavua), which includes:
2. In-depth study of Middot, Jewish virtues, with a focus on connecting sacred texts to Jewish values. We will explore key texts in Hebrew, discussing the meanings in-depth, looking at commentaries for historical context, and formulating our own opinions as to if and why these values should be part of our lives. Our study will include with values for the Jewish individual, the values by which we live in a Jewish community, and the values with which we approach the world.
The study of Torah, both the exploration of the weekly Torah portion and the appreciation for the values which Judaism holds in high esteem, serves both to provide a solid background in and appreciation of these texts and to encourage students to gain inspiration from these texts in order that they might to act with righteousness and justice in the world. As we hear every day in services, “The study of Torah is equal to [our highest responsibilities as Jews] because it leads to [these responsibilities].”
“Hands on, minds on” science activities promote an understanding of scientific process through observation, hypothesizing, and experimentation. The focus of our laboratory science program in the fall is Circuits and Pathways, a full unit of exploration on electricity. In the winter term, the science program includes a week-long environmental learning experience at IslandWood outdoor school on Bainbridge Island. After this, the students will be back in the lab studying Models and Designs.
Research has shown that the best way for children to learn important science concepts is to actively construct ideas through their own investigations. In the science lab, this means making observations, asking questions, testing ideas, recording results, comparing data, building concepts and explanations.
Students explore core scientific concepts in the science lab. All students work on being keen observers. This means that they use their senses to observe what they are learning. They look – noticing changes, colors, shapes, and behaviors. They touch – observing the temperature and feeling for texture and consistency. They smell – noticing differences between the materials and noting if there is an odor. They listen – noting how the sound relates to the materials. Then, they use their words to describe what they are observing by writing in their science journals and having discussions with other scientists. Students have been learning how important it is for scientists to record data and their observations in organized ways, using tables, anecdotes and illustrations. They make predictions based on prior knowledge and then compare the results to their predictions. Students learn that scientists use models in order to observe something that cannot be easily seen. In the lab lessons, they learn how to conduct fair tests. This means knowing which variables remain the same (controlled) and which variables are changed (manipulated).
In the 5th Grade Circuits and Pathways unit, students investigate the electric devices that play important roles in their daily lives at home, school, and in their neighborhoods. Most children know electricity makes things work; however, they have little and varied understanding of what electricity is and how it works. In this module, students develop a basis for understanding electricity by exploring its properties in simple circuits.
Students are given the opportunity to explore some phenomena of electricity using batteries, wire, bulbs, and motors. The students are encouraged to think of observable phenomena, such as the glow of a light filament as evidence of something occurring within circuit systems. Students learn about the essential elements of a circuit including critical contact points of each part of a circuit, conductors and nonconductors, energy receivers, and energy source.
Students learn about what is in a battery and how it works, by reading about the Volta battery and making one themselves. Through this investigation the students are given a concrete experience with chemical energy and how it is transformed into electrical energy. Students observe that there are other forms of energy present in a closed circuit system: electrical, light, and heat energy. Depending on what is in these circuit systems, they discover there can be a variety of outputs: sound energy, heat energy, and energy of motion.
As the students investigate further with circuits they learn about series and parallel circuits and how to identify them based on their properties. Students learn about switches and fuses and how, as components of circuits, each has a specific function. The concept of electrical resistance is introduced and students learn about its effect on the brightness of bulbs and heart of wires. Through several investigations, students learn about the effect gauge, material, and length has on resistance in a circuit.
In addition to learning about electrical circuits, students learn about the behavior of light. They investigate how light travels and how it is reflected off some surfaces and bounces off others.
The four investigations in the Models and Designs Unit provide experiences that develop the concept of a scientific model and engage students in design and construction. The students will manipulate objects and materials in order to design and construct conceptual and physical models. They will look for relationships between structure and function of materials and systems. Throughout the unit the students will organize and analyze data from investigations with physical objects and systems. As the lab partners work together, they will gain confidence in their abilities to solve problems and learn that there is often more than one solution to a problem. During class discussions they will communicate their ideas to peers and work in a collaborative scientific manner. Students will use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating.
Listening and Appreciation
Creative Expression & Movement
The goals of the art program are the cultivation of art appreciation, development of skills to create and understand art, and most importantly, creativity and problem solving as life-skills that translate to all other disciplines.
The SJCS art program cultivates an appreciation of art by providing a broad, multi-media art experience aimed at developing students’ understanding of the arts as a universal form of cultural and personal expression. The program offers an introduction to world art, including art of the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, keeping in mind cultural and historical contexts. As an elementary school subject, the emphasis is to provide a breadth of experience in the art program.
The media used and skills taught in the SJCS art program are based on the National Arts Standards, and include drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture. Each grade works on projects designed to build skills in these mediums, and to provide experiences that create an understanding of process.
The creation of art comes from individuals in cultural settings needing to solve “problems,” such as how to create a bowl from coils of clay, and from a human desire towards self-expression. Art requires planning, flexibility, focused work and completion. Each year we discuss the elements of art and principles of design, on levels appropriate to the ages in each grade. Art is also about having fun and experiencing success. Students love to come to the art room to get messy and try new things. Some students struggle in other areas, and feel truly successful in the art room, which gives them a sense of confidence and ability that carries over into other disciplines.
In 5th Grade, students have an introduction to “studio art” with charcoal and drawing boards, focusing on the human form and the still-life. We will take a museum field trip with the 4th grade, and have a pre-visit lesson directly related to the exhibit. 5th graders still finger paint, but now they are creating landscapes with secondary colors only. They will have experience with acrylic on board, a permanent media. They will also create abstract expressionist backgrounds for self-portraits in the style of Marc Rothko. Collage requires them to create abstract pieces with focal points, again as we discuss the Principles of Design. Printmaking will be experimenting with different ways to create printing plates. In ceramics, students will have choices in their creations, from choosing a preferred building technique to experimenting with glazes. As the last major art project, students create large animals from recyclable materials and will cover them in a unique method related to paper maché.
The 5th grade class will be coming into the Art/Science Lab for their art lesson every week, on Mondays, right before morning recess. With this in mind, please remember to send your child to school in clothes that can get messy. Art is messy! There are smocks available, but children don’t always choose to wear them, or roll back their sleeves far enough. Every child is an artist, and is treated as such in the art room, with respect for their work, ideas, and person. Most of their work will not return home soon after its creation; it will grace bulletin boards in our hallways, and the art teacher will send a folder home at each Conference time.
Parents can help with materials, especially when we create our recycled materials creatures! The most popular materials are toilet paper tubes and small STURDY boxes, such a jewelry boxes or those small gift boxes. Also, pieces of used, but not crumpled, patterned tissue paper, are a scarce and valuable resource. Thank you so much for your support for the art program!
All of the units in the library curriculum are guided by three main goals:
LAL is a national reading and writing competition, promoted by the Library of Congress which challenges students to write an author and describe how his or her book affected them. Rather than writing letters that summarize the book or compliment the author, students write letters that are more conversational about their personal thoughts and feelings. A series of lessons follow this schedule:
We learn about poetry while also exploring some personal topics that apply to the issues of a particular class or apply to 5thgraders in general.
In this unit, we use the fun genre of fairytales to learn about critical evaluation and how to identify subtext and point of view. Students are asked to find the universal themes in fairytales that are personally true for them, as well as to find elements that do not coincide with their own world views or current reality. We also look at how authors can use this powerful genre to communicate their particular cultural or societal message. And we look at how the same story can be told in different ways. We also incorporate some fun storytelling exercises in this unit which can help them in writing as well. For example, students sit in concentric circles facing each other and tell one minute of a story to each new partner as the circle turns. If time allows, students work together to write their own fairytale about SJCS.
Health Education plays a key role in the development of the whole child. Students will develop movement skills, the ability to work as part of a team, overall fitness, and build character. This year the curriculum will emphasize cooperative games, team sports, health and fitness, and creating an atmosphere of mutual respect through positive language and sportsmanship. By incorporating music and engaging activities, the program encourages students to be healthy and active, and fosters lifelong appreciation of fitness.
Students will start each session by entering the gym and sitting in their assigned role spots. At this time there will be a review of previous skills learned as well as an introduction of new skills that the class will be using in the day’s activity. Some of the units we will cover this year include soccer, various takes on dodge ball, softball, handball, gaga, basketball, volleyball, and cricket. PE class will conclude by students returning to their role spots where I will wrap up the day’s lesson. In addition, students in grades second through fifth will have fitness days once a week. These days will focus more on activities designated to increase the students’ overall fitness level rather than their skill level.
Running shoes and clothing that is comfortable for physical activity are a must. Look through your child’s wardrobe for a couple of t-shirts that can get dirty and sweaty and dedicate them to PE. Footwear such as boots and flip-flops are inappropriate. Remember to dress for PE on the right day. There is a handy reminder below.
This group of students will become more aware of personal wellness and fitness levels. They begin to take ownership of their activities and set goals. Students will examine how they can improve on chosen activities through technique and effort. Students begin learning games with more complex rules and strategies. Team spirit and Dereh Eretz are fostered through cooperative games and kind play. Fifth grade has PE on Wednesday and Friday.
Homework assignments are typically given at the beginning of each week. In general, some homework assignments are extremely predictable, and will routinely re-occur weekly, e.g., spelling and Wordly Wise lessons. (Some students even choose to “work ahead” on these assignments.) Other assignments, such as unfinished work or a spontaneous inquiry, may pop-up overnight.
Homework assignments range from highly-structured spelling and vocabulary exercises to large and small projects that afford ample opportunity for creative initiative and elaboration. At times, work that was not finished during class time will also be sent home for completion. In the past, exceptionally efficient or motivated students have been able to complete a portion of their homework assignments in school, thereby reducing their after-school obligations. In general, however, research projects and long-term projects require sustained effort and substantial time outside of class for completion/quality.
5th grade students can expect to spend approximately 30 – 40 minutes nightly on their General Studies homework, or about 2 and a half hours weekly. Independent reading (the reading of a book of their choice) is a required part of homework. Sometimes, students may bring a literature circle book home to finish the assigned reading. If you become concerned about the amount of time that your child is spending on homework — whether too much or too little — please let me know. Homework assignments are never intended to be a cause for panic, so if your child is confused or feeling overwhelmed by an assignment, please have them to talk with me before proceeding.
In keeping with our expectations for greater independence, 5th graders keep their own assignment calendars, record homework assignments and track due dates. Your involvement is still very much needed, however. Please check your child’s assignment book at the beginning and end of each week, and encourage your child to discuss their assignments and calendar with you regularly.
You are always welcome to check with me if you need more information, or have any concerns whatsoever. It’s also nice to hear when things are going well, so please don’t hesitate to share good news when there is some!
5th grade students often use computers in the classroom for research purposes, publishing, and special projects. Students will also need access to a computer with internet capability for homework. If home computer use presents any difficulty for your family, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can work out some good alternatives.
Jewish studies homework is designed to challenge students to become fluent with key verses from the Torah both by accurately reading and translating those verses and by engaging in the interpretation of those verses by way of a weekly essay on a topic related to the content of that week’s verse.
Each Monday, students will be introduced to the weekly Torah portion and be given work related to that portion. At home, students will be responsible for practicing the weekly verse to the point at which they can read it fluently in Hebrew and translate it into English. Students who accept the challenge will be tasked with reading it as it is written in the Torah scroll, without vowels or punctuation. On most weeks, this will happen on Thursdays. For most students, the best way to achieve fluency in Hebrew is by practicing daily. An adult in the household will be asked to sign to attest that he or she has heard the student read this verse aloud.
Students will also be tasked with completing a worksheet including grammatical and content related questions about the Hebrew verse. The worksheet will also include essay topics from which the student (with your guidance) will select one. Students are encouraged to speak with family members and friends to formulate a response to the question they have chosen and then to write a response independently. Completed worksheet and essays are due on Friday mornings at 8:30 a.m.
Weekly schedules will vary but, in general, you can expect that:
Homework packets are distributed on Mondays.
Students will be asked to read and translate the weekly pasuk (verse) on Thursdays.
The completed worksheet and essay are due on Fridays.
Please note that parent signatures may be required on homework assignments.
Jewish Studies homework should not take more than 1 hour each week. We suggest 5 minutes a day for practicing the pasuk (verse), 10 minutes for the completion of the worksheet and 30 minutes a week for the discussion of and written response to the essay question. Each child will receive a Homework Assistance Folder with material that will be helpful when doing Jewish Studies homework. Please put it in a safe place.
Hebrew homework is designed reinforce the weekly vocabulary in order to help students gain fluency in their conversational Hebrew. It is also meant to teach accountability to one’s peers and to strengthen students’ ability to memorize and synthesize information.
Students will receive a weekly vocabulary list and will be expected to review these words at home. In class, students will be given the opportunity to create a study aid for their vocabulary words, which they will bring home. We will have a weekly quiz, in which students will be asked to translate some or all of their vocabulary words either from Hebrew to English or from English to Hebrew. Mastery of vocabulary will also be assessed through the ability of students to engage in conversations in Hebrew with their peers.
Vocabulary lists will be distributed on Mondays. Students will create their study aids on Tuesday and our class conversations and quizzes will take place on Thursday.
Hebrew homework should not take more than 30 minutes each week. As with their Jewish studies homework, the best way for most students to gain mastery of their Hebrew vocabulary is to review it for a short time every day.
Please keep in mind:
For both Jewish Studies and Hebrew homework, we will start slow. Students will not receive any homework for the first few weeks of school. The expectations for the first Jewish Studies essay will be very different from the last Jewish Studies essay. Hebrew quizzes and conversations will gradually increase in difficulty. Students will be assessed both in effort and accuracy.
Our goal is to foster in our students a lifelong love of learning that enriches their lives and challenges them to make the world a better place. If this homework fails to help your child succeed in those goals, we have failed in our responsibility as teachers. Please help us by reaching out if there is any way we can make this a better learning opportunity for your students and your family.
Please make sure to subscribe to our class blog. To do so click “Subscribe to our blog via email” in the top left corner of our blog.. Follow the directions in the window that pops up. Make sure to confirm the request when you receive the email. You will need to re-subscribe even if you subscribed last year.
Clear Expectations: We expect students to follow all procedures and rules that are given to the class. We do our best to share these both verbally and visually with students, and will hold them accountable for being respectful members of our class community.
Redirecting Behavior: To help students learn to manage their behavior, we will be using redirecting techniques. Students will be asked to visit the “Power Cycle Chair” when we feel like they need a break or are having trouble focusing in class. Students may also send themselves to the chair voluntarily, which allows them to master the behavior on their own. We may also redirect students with a walk in the hallway or a time spent outside the classroom.
Visits to the Office: Because class time is so important, we want to avoid having students go to the office. We will check in with the student if he or she feels they need to go to the office and encourage them to stay in class.
Food: Food is only allowed during snack and lunch time. Please send your children with enough food to last the entire day. They may keep a water bottle on their desk but no other beverage will be allowed in class.
Class Meeting: We understand the importance of students feeling heard and valued. We will evaluate class meeting policies as we get to know these students better and communicate with you as our plan develops.
The goal of class meetings is to create a comfortable space in which students can express their opinions and feelings about situations affecting their lives here at school, strengthen a sense of community, and learn communication and problem solving skills. The structure of these meetings includes an opportunity to share any personal news (optional), to discuss an agenda item brought up by either students or by one of us, and to express an appreciation towards a fellow classmate.