Category Archives: Uncategorized

Jazz for Black History Month

The month of February is Black History Month. In its honor, we celebrated by learning about the music genre that originated in the African American communities of New Orleans. We learned about the history of jazz from its birth in New Orleans, to the music we hear on the radio today.

Students loved hearing samples of Jazz from the genre’s finest, including: Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Charles Mingus. The next day, we created word clouds with the feelings, inspiration, and vocabulary we learned. It all created a fun bulletin for our classroom.


The Nitrogen Cycle

We have been continuing to learn about the benefits of microbes in our environment. Last week, our focus was on beneficial microbes in soil. After learning all about the nitrogen cycle in class through our text book, each student drew and watercolored their own image to show what they learned.

The next day, we had a visit from Dr. Frank who taught us even more about the nitrogen cycle, specifically about root nodules on the roots of plants like clovers. We learned that they form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria and make the soil more nutrient-dense. Each student got to examine these types of roots and then got into groups to help create a whole-class collage.


Informational Writing

We have moved into our newest writing unit, informational writing, during the month of January and everyone is almost finished with their essay. All students have been learning how to extract the most useful information from several resources (books, educational videos, articles, and websites) and how to organize paragraphs. Soon, everyone will be making a Google Slide presentation and we will have our writing celebration!

Martin Luther King Found Poetry

We have been working on several assignments since school has started up again a couple of weeks ago. One of these assignments has been to study Martin Luther King’s speech through poetry in celebration of his birthday this week.

After reading about him and completing a positive and negative piece of his face, students highlighted words in his “I Have a Dream.” The words they highlighted represented what he stood for.

Then, everyone wrote a list of these words in their writing journal and manipulated them to create their own “found poetry” from MLK’s speech. Many of the poems are beautiful and represent Dr. King’s dreams.

Learning to Cite Text Evidence

5th Graders just finished reading the short story, “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. They are also learning to respond to questions about literature with an acronym, R.A.C.E.

To help engage their learning through this writing process, Room 5 turned into a courthouse today as 5th graders took on the roles as lawyers supporting different sides of the story. These “sides” of the story helped them understand what a writer’s claim is. One group’s claim defended the two children of the story for a crime, another group attempted to blame them, and the third lawyer group tried defending the children and the parents by claiming that technology was at fault for the crimes.

I played the part of the honorable judge Miranda and Mr. Putonen played the role of police officer. He maintained order in the court and made witnesses swear to tell the truth.

6th graders had a special role in the court today, too. They refreshed their memory this week by rereading the story (they studied this story last year) and acted as the members of the jury. Some 6th graders took on roles as a witness and the two children pleading not-guilty.

It was a fun way for students to learn the importance of citing evidence in their writing responses!


Our Chuck Close inspired self portraits are almost all finished. Check out some of our completed and semi-completed pieces. Guess who created each portrait! See answers below 🙂
Answers, from first to last: 

Rya, Conner, Cole, Natalee, Daisy, Chloe, Sage, Reese, Khalil, Andrayah, Jamie

Microbes Are Our Friends! 

We’ve had such a great time this month with U.C. Merced professor Dr. Carolin Frank and her grad student, Paola. If you’d like to read more about how and what we’ve been studying, please copy and paste the below URL into your browser! It will take you to an article in the Sierra Sun Times about the beginning stages of our class experiment.

Since the initial stages of this experiment, we studied the parts of the scientific method more thoroughly in class. Our hypothesis was that anti-bacterial soap would kill more bacteria than normal soap. Our results differed from the hypothesis, however. After we gave the microbes a couple of days to colonize in the petri dishes, we were surprised to find that the anti-bacterial soap actually killed significantly less bacteria than the normal soap.

When Dr. Frank visited the class to discuss the results last week, she explained that these results were surprising to both her and her student, Paola. Upon researching more on anti-bacterial soap together, they learned that the FDA was concerned that certain chemicals in anti-bacterial soap were not only harmful to humans, but also ineffective in killing microbes. Our class’ findings may support the FDA’s claim as well.

Dr. Frank explained that the “negative results” don’t deem our experiment unsuccessful; she encourages her students at U.C. Merced to embrace and learn more from their false hypotheses as well. The fifth and sixth graders were glad to have Dr. Frank explain the results in further detail.

As a class, we have learned so much about the scientific method, especially when learning more from unexpected results!

Becoming Stonger Writers

5th and 6th graders are becoming better writers every day! We start our writers workshop off in the mornings by learning different writing techniques such as showing character emotions through description, action, and dialogue, stretching out small moments into paragraphs, developing goals for ourselves as writers, assessing our writing according to rubrics, thinking of special moments in our lives to write about, and much more! After a short mini lesson, students get busy working on their work.

While students work on their writing, three students get to have personal one-on-one conferences with me. During these conferences, we work on applying the learned writing strategies in their own writing and we spend time revising their work. We also work together to fix spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. At this point in the year, we are working on narratives. In the winter, we will be writing opinion and informative pieces. Everyone is looking forward to our next “Writing Celebration,” when students get a treat and get to listen to everyone’s published (edited, revised, and typed) pieces.

Our weekly word study also helps students with reading and writing. Each week, students learn five Greek and Latin roots, five prefixes and suffixes, or five synonyms for overused words. When they are finished studying that week’s words, the new words (or prefixes, suffixes, or roots) get posted to our word wall so that everyone can continue accessing them while writing and reading new words.