Would your child enjoy being part of Drone Club for 5th graders? Check out the PDF below. This was also sent in Friday's Wolverine Weekly. (The links don't work below, but should work on the Wolverine Weekly.)
If creating movies, coding, working with robots, website design, video production, or constructing your own computer is a passion for one of your children, the "Students Involved with Technology" Conference is a perfect opportunity for them to come learn with like-minded students. If your child is already pretty experienced with some aspect of technology and is ready to teach other students about it, this conference is their chance to lead a session!
The S.I.T. Conference is a student-focused conference run by students for students. Students present to their 3rd through 12th-grade peers on their passions, hear from a student keynote speaker, participate in hands-on design challenges, and even experiment with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
This all-day event is being hosted at Westgate Elementary School on February 10th, 2018. Snacks, lunch and prizes are included with the $30.00 registration fee. Check out past conference highlights here.
If any students from our class register, I (Mr. Solarz) will attend the conference and will help them prepare their presentation for the event! I will also help gather materials for their presentation and will troubleshoot during their session (assuming I'm able to be with everyone at their sessions).
This event is happening soon! If your child is interested, please let me know ASAP and we'll get started preparing!
Should Representative Smith Vote Yes or No on a Public Smoking Ban? Should government protect our right to life or liberty in this case?
Tweeting to the authors of the books we're reading in Literature Circles (AND Reading Their Responses!!!!)
Honey by Sarah Weeks
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jackie and Me by Dan Gutman AND
The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
No Talking by Andrew Clements
Mini-Debate: "Should there be limits on the powers of those in charge?" A simulation about a ship captain and his crew - from "We the People"
Although I'm planning on maintaining our "Homework-Free Classroom" to the best of my ability, we are beginning a social studies unit this week that focuses in on homework completion, note-taking, detailed written explanations, study skills and test-taking skills. Therefore, students will be getting a one-page homework assignment that will need to be completed most nights. It will go with our "We the People" unit that focuses on The Constitution and Government of the United States. They will also receive a study guide and test-taking strategies before each test. Students are encouraged to study for these five tests to see if they can develop their study skills. The tests are very challenging, but like everything else, our focus is on improvement and growth rather than perfection.
In addition, we began Literature Circles this week and students are asked to type a paragraph or two summary of their reading (alternating with their partner(s)) on a shared Google Doc. They might get to this in class, but some nights it will need to be completed at home.
Finally, students are always asked to finish anything from class as homework (blogs, Passion projects, etc.), but these have been few and students are encouraged to do as much in Homework Club as they are willing to do. I highly recommend setting aside 50-60 minutes each evening for your child to do something educational. Reading, writing, finishing up work from school, playing educational games, etc. are all good uses of this time. But I won't be enforcing this because I believe that things come up, family time is vital, and kids need time to be kids. I hope you understand!
Thanks for helping your child with any new adjustments to their evening schedules to accommodate these changes. Hope you and your child are enjoying the year so far!
Our new math program now allows students to sign in from home to access games, virtual manipulatives, and additional practice. Although I am still not assigning homework, this might be a good place to have your child visit occasionally to keep up on their math skills or to study for tests. Here's how they can sign in:
The students will visit this link (https://www-k6.thinkcentral.com) and login with their Google Username and Password. I would suggest selecting the "Remember my school" box so students do not need to select from the drop down menu each time they login:
Username: d25 NAME 4-digits @student.sd25.org (Example: d25Paul1234@student.sd25.org)
Password: sd25 _ _ _ _ (Example: sd25abcd)
In addition, for those wanting extra skills practice at home, I recommend subscribing to IXL: www.ixl.com/ My niece uses it at home and it has helped her review skills very nicely over time.
In their videos, each student had to try to answer the following questions in relation to how the metaphor related to history:
Welcome to Parent Night!!!
Introduction & Background
My philosophy of education
Classroom Website: paulsolarz.weebly.com
What parents can do to help their child
WHO IS THIS CHILD? (10 and 11 year olds):
I’M TEN and...
I’M ELEVEN and…
Math in Focus
Math in Focus curriculum strives to develop conceptual understanding with the goal of content mastery. Concepts are taught moving through a sequence of concrete to pictorial to abstract. Concrete learning happens through hands-on activities with math manipulatives, such as counters, coins, number lines, or base ten blocks. Pictorial learning uses pictures, drawings, or other forms that illustrate the concept with something more than abstract numbers. Finally, abstract learning requires students to use numerals, strategies, and problem solving methods to solve problems. Math in Focus supports the goals of the Illinois Learning Standards for Mathematics. It is a research-based program that focuses on classroom learning, discussion and practice. It strives to balance conceptual understanding, visual learning, and problem solving. Students will have access to math manipulatives, student workbooks, student textbooks and online resources.
Words Their Way
Word study involves focused attention to words and word elements, with the goal of helping children become excellent readers and writers. Word study is defined as an instructional process that involves the learner in an investigation of words” (Fountas & Pinnell 1998). “While important, phonics, spelling, word analysis, and grammar usage strategies are not the end goal of literacy education. Their importance lies in their contribution to reading and writing continuous text. The more students can solve words, derive the meaning of words, spell words, and parse language syntax rapidly, fluently, and unconsciously the more likely they are to read and write with competence and ease” (Fountas & Pinnell 2017).
The schools in the district are in a competition: School vs. School.
Who can get the most keyboarding minutes done over the summer? I hope your child will want to participate in this fun challenge! Here are the details: https://www.smore.com/qw7jr
Each child will be receiving their sign on and password in their report card envelopes tomorrow! Please keep an eye out for it! Thanks and have a great summer!
(If we don't talk before then, thank you all for a WONDERFUL school year! I will really miss this group of kids!!!)
In social studies, we just finished a unit on The U.S. Constitution and our government. After learning the basics in mostly traditional ways, I had my students apply their knowledge in a unique way. We "colonized" Mars, created our own country on the planet, and wrote our own constitution, preamble, and Bill of Rights collaboratively as a whole class!
Here are the lessons from the entire unit: http://psolarz.weebly.com/colonize-mars1, but the final product seen here is from Lessons 10-12: http://paulsolarz.weebly.com/parents-newsletter/today-we-finished-writing-our-constitution-for-the-country-we-created-on-mars.
In a nutshell, I create a Google Doc and share it with everyone in class (usually through Google Classroom). I give each student a specific task, or give the entire class the same task, and ask them to post their information into the GDoc. We work together as a whole class to eliminate overlaps and ideas we don't like and only keep "the good stuff." Together, we piece together the parts we want into a finished piece.
- The Preamble was a class period or two.
- The Articles of the Constitution were a few periods.
- The Bill of Rights was a period.
Each year, we have to determine what type of government we want to be based on our research online and class discussion. This is a really fun talk! We decided to be a Constitutional Monarchy this year. Last year we were a Meritocracy.
Ultimately, I think my students got a lot more out of these lessons because they did most of the thinking. They weren't just following rules, reading & answering questions, and taking tests (although this is the unit that we do some of those things). They were researching, using convergent and divergent thinking skills, thinking critically to determine importance, and synthesizing information to create something new! I value these skills far more than the content knowledge that they learned, but I'm also happy that they learned about our country's government and its history. With all subjects, I like to make sure that students aren't just learning content, but also building important skills that they can transfer to new situations!
Additional Information available in "Learn Like a Pirate.
"Here are screen shots of our document that was written collaboratively by all the students in class:
Walk the Red Carpet At Westgate!
Sign-up for Leadership Day!
The sign up for our Leadership Day events is now live! We hope you are able to join us on either Thursday, May 18th in the evening or on Friday, May 19th during the school day. Specific details for each event are included in the sign up. Spots are limited so please reserve your spot today!
Just a few quick notes:
Here are all of the students at the climbing wall. (One made it up so quickly that I only caught him once he was already down!) :)
Today, we learned about how a bill becomes a law in our legislature & each took on roles as either special interest groups or Congressmen. Here are our discussions on whether or not Representative Smith should vote for or against a smoking ban (thinking about personal interests and the common good).
Today, students participated in a "Naval Review Board Hearing" where a ship captain's rights were put on trial. Should they continue to have nearly unlimited power? Should they be allowed to whip their crew? Should they be allowed to say whatever they want, no matter how it makes others feel? Listen to the videos to find out!
Spoiler alert! The Naval Review Board's decision is below!
I just wanted to let you know about a few activities/events that are upcoming in our classroom. This will give you an opportunity to ask your child about what they learned or if they had any fun while doing them!
Hope all is well with everyone - talk soon!
Paul A. Solarz
5th Grade Teacher
Westgate Elementary School
500 S Dwyer
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
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