Friday, September 20, 2013

"Binta and the Great Idea"

We watched a short film today in class.  The film is titled "Binta and the Great Idea" and was nominated for an academy award in 2007.  It is a story of a young African girl named Binta who is allowed to attend school and the story of Binta's cousin, Soda, who is not allowed by her father to attend school.  Binta develops an idea to try to persuade Soda's father to send Soda to school. 

We used this film to practice noticing and identifying when social injustices are present.  As the students watched they had silent conversations with their partners through note passing.  Their conversations were guided by the following questions:
     What seems fair?  What seems unfair?  What pressures are put on the characters and how do they respond?  What does the filmmaker want us to feel while watching this film and why?
These questions led us to discuss the social issues of power, education, family, and gender. 
This was a powerful film and evoked such deep conversations.  I hope you have an opportunity to watch and talk with your child about it!

Binta and the Great Idea

African Dancing in P.E.

Mr. Diadie Bathily joined the 3rd and 5th grade this week during P.E. to teach our kids an African dance.  The students worked so hard to learn the intricate moves and memorize the routine.  What an incredible learning opportunity.  It is so important to experience cultures and traditions different from ours.  I have included some pictures below and will add a video soon!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Social Justice Issues in Literature

Today our class looked back at four books we shared together this year: The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, Creativity by E.B. Lewis, Mr. Lincoln's Way by Patricia Polacco, and The Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater.  As we reflected on these books, we asked ourselves if there were ever moments in the stories when something did not seem right or fair.  This began our discussion of how we can look at a book differently by noticing the social justice issues the author incorporated into the story.  We can use these issues to fuel our discussions of the characters, their decisions, and relate it back to our own world.  We brainstormed a list of social justice issues we have seen in literature and in our community.  I wanted to share this list with you.  Focusing your conversations at home about these issues your child sees in his/her book can be a great extension of what we are doing here at school.  It also can encourage your child to become more aware of the world around him/her.  

Social Justice Issues List Brainstormed by 5M:

 An issue is present when something doesn’t seem RIGHT or FAIR.

Judgment of looks              Not accepting differences

Not being allowed to be yourself              Family

Bullying                            Cyber-bullying 

Power                            Control

Money (poverty)                     Not allowing change

War & Violence                     Revenge

Lying                                   Jealousy

Death                            Fear/Protecting/Surviving

Blackmail                            Gender

Monday, September 16, 2013

CLAYMO Retreat

On the day we left for the CLAYMO retreat we were all so excited and happy. The purpose of this retreat was to prepare for the first meeting, to trust our partner, and to learn about our self as a leader. CLAYMO is about about friendship and responsibility. My friends had a great time at the retreat. We enjoyed all of the activities and had lots of fun at the retreat. Here are some of the activities:  we did a partner walk and talk and we did some preparation for being a leader. Then we played some games. We learned a lot about our partners. The experiences, were amazing. We did activities with many different people throughout the day.
  By Sam, Max, and Joey

Activities of our CLAYMO Retreat: 

The Partner Walk and Talk

    This activity was about getting to know our partners.  In this activity we were all walking on a path around the park with our partners.  We took turns asking each other questions that were on the cards we were given by different teachers.  The purpose of this activity was to learn about your partner's personality.  The teachers involved were: the principal, Mrs. Scott, the instructional coordinator, Mrs. Sample, the 5th grade teachers, Mrs. Barnes, Ms. McMillion, and Ms. Garcia, our specials teachers, Mr. Hutson, Mrs. Miller, and Mrs. Kennerly, our science teacher, Mr. Kearney, and our gifted teacher Ms. Slodounik.  We all learned something new about our partners. 
-Anand and Josh

Lesson Planning
      Lesson planning is an activity made for practicing teaching what CLAYMO is.  5th grade students will tell what CLAYMO is on Wednesday.  Everyone (with their partner) practiced teaching a class.  The 5th graders made posters that we would have the younger kids write on to tell how they could be helpful around the school (ex: classroom or bathroom).  These posters would be put around the school.  The teachers who were helping us were Mrs. Garcia, Ms. Hagene, and Mrs. Miller.  They helped the 5th graders complete the posters.  The 5th graders were prepared and ready to teach CLAYMO on Wednesday.
-Madeleine and JoJo


Making Lanyards

     At the Making Lanyards station we got to make lanyards with name-cards about yourself.  We all would wear these for every CLAYMO lesson.  Some people drew stages, shapes, and different colors on their name-cards and of course we all included our name.  While we were making lanyards, Mrs. Scott told us some things to do in different situations during a CLAYMO meeting.  The teachers involved were Senora Kenneryl, Mrs. Slodounik, and Mrs. Scott.  
-Franklin and Joseph

Inside, Outside Circle

     In the start of this game we were split into two groups.  We each got slips of paper.  In the bigger group the slips of paper said, "yes," "no," or "yes" with conditions.  In the smaller circle they got slips of paper that said, "may I join your circle?"  The kids in the smaller group had to ask people to get into the larger group.  Once you were let into the bigger group, you joined the circle and got one of their slips of paper.  The reason we liked this activity was because since it was a game, everyone who was allowed to join the circle chose a slip that said "yes" with conditions only because it wasn't real. Josh had to ask every single person in the bigger circle before he was let in.  Everyone eventually made it in.  Mrs. Spann, Ms. Mary Ann, and Ms. McMillion helped with this activity.
-Ian and Ryan

Tile Activity
     Mr. Hutson, Mr. Kearney, and Mrs. Barnes were the helpers at the tiles station. The tiles were colored green,brown and blue. We covered the tiles in words that leaders should follow. Some words that we used on our tiles were respect, wisdom, courage, self-control, and caring. It was exciting because we got to work with partners and share ideas. When we put the tiles together it’s going to become a tree in the library. This tree will be important to 5th graders  because we all had a part in making this tree. Also it will remind the younger kids to always follow the claymo promise. The younger kids will learn to become leaders by reading the words on the tiles that make the tree.wac
-By CeCe and Ingrid

Blind-Fold Activity

     The blind-fold activity is a trust activity about a blindfolded walk through a cone maze. Many people weren't trustworthy at the beginning but, after they got through the cones they knew that they could trust their partner. Some partner's were joking around and led their partner into grass and cones. Some people had a smooth walk through the maze while others fell over cones or walked right into a cone. After awhile of bumping and tripping over cones some people could just walk right through. Eventually everyone had a turn to get guided through the maze. We found that we could really find trust in other people and trust in our partners. Some people liked blindfolding them self’s and trying to walk through, but they found it wasn't as easy by themselves. Sam liked guiding people in the wrong way.  I think in the end most people could trust their partner. 
-Jake and Samuel


     One of the three recess activities was dancing. The music blared in everyone ears and even other people at other stations started dancing. Everyone had fun, (yes even the teachers!) Dancing got us all in a great mood. Some of us say that was our favorite activity! Mrs.Miller lead the activity, but Mrs.Spann, Sra.Kennerly, and a few others tagged along. That was one of the recess activities to let us have a quick break. We all had lots of fun dancing!
-Regan and Lexie

Rock, Paper, Scissors Tag!

     One of the best things at the CLAYMO retreat was 'rock paper scissors tag!’
The teachers that helped us where Sra.Kennerly and Ms.Hagene.  The whole point of the game was to help us work together and so we could get our energy out!   To play, you had to do movements with your legs to show rock, paper, or scissors.  The reason we liked this game was because if your team won the round you got to chase the other team and try and tag them! If you tag someone on the other team they have to come to your team! We both had to go to the other team! This was a very fun and great game for everyone! We want to play it again!
-Riley and NiVea

Lanyards and Parent Letters

     Towards the end of our retreat we had a ceremony that was like we were graduating from high school.  We got our name lanyards that we made earlier and a letter.  The letter was kind of a personal letter about you and your parents.  In the letters talked about you and things in your life.  After everyone got their lanyards and letters we got to go to a quiet place in the park to read privately.  
-Lauren and Kennedy

Encouraging Spider Web
     We ended our day with the Encouraging Spider Web Activity. In this activity, we sat in a circle and threw a yarn ball to each other and the person who caught the ball got a compliment from the person who threw the ball.  We liked this because in the end it made a compliment web.  After the web was complete we cut it into pieces and made bracelets out of the strings. These bracelets reminded us to always give each other compliments and of the nice things that were said about us. This activity was led by Mr. Hutson, Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Sample, Mrs. Spann, Ms. Hagene, and Mrs. Kennerly.
-Matthew and Jackson 


Check out more of our pictures on our class website.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Students just finished their first investigation in our Science unit of Motion, Force, and Models.  Pendulums were designed and students experimented with changing different variables of the pendulum system to determine what would affect its speed.  Ask any member of 5M and they can tell you what variable makes a pendulum swing slower and faster.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Saving Fred

For Mrs. Spann's first Life Skills lesson she had the kids work in groups to "save Fred."  The focus of this lesson was defining and experiencing positive teamwork as well as the negative effects of poor teamwork.  "Fred" was a gummy worm and he needed to be placed on top of a cup with his lifesaver, an actual gummy lifesaver, around his middle.  The kicker was that each kid could only touch the materials with a tooth pick.  As the students were working in their groups, Mrs. Spann and I were looking for words of encouragement, clear and friendly communication, patience, and signs of leadership.  We saw those things within every group and in turn, every group was successful as saving Fred!