Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Passing the Reading Baton On...

Dear Room A1 Families,

When your fifth graders entered our classroom door this past August, I told them that my biggest hope and goal for them was to not only be curious thinkers, but also to become or grow even more as highly engaged readers. Your child and I are happy to report that our mission has been accomplished!

In addition to being highly pleasurable and a great way to pass the time, study after study has found numerous benefits to reading more. This great image from one of my favorite literacy education professional texts, Disrupting Thinking by Dr. Kylene Beers and Dr. Bob Probst, nicely sums up some of those findings. To continue their lifelong reading journey that they started in elementary school, it is absolutely critical that your almost-sixth grader continues to choose his or her own books for pleasure reading this summer, in sixth grade, and then beyond in the future. Your child may not find as much independent reading time at school in the coming years, so it is extremely important that they can find it at home.

Remember, the right book to read is the book your child chooses on their own; it's the book they can’t wait to read, the one they may read under the covers with a flashlight, or even heard about from one of their friends, or that they included on their summer reading plan (ask your child about their well developed plan for reading this summer!). The right time to read might just be those in between times (as my literacy-ed hero Donalyn Miller so smartly points out). In between times are when we’re waiting in line, sitting at a sibling’s sports practice, or even waiting for the rest of the family to wake up on a weekend morning. The best time to read certainly does not have to be a dedicated hour. Although, wouldn’t it be great if all of us could find that hour everyday- imagine how much kinder and wiser our society as a whole would be!

It is my sincere hope that your almost middle schooler continues to read for pleasure after we say goodbye on June 1st. The academic and social demands of middle school can easily allow pleasure reading to fall by the wayside. This is why every entering sixth grader needs a reading champion to keep them going with what they started way back in kindergarten and intentionally crafted here in fifth grade. Encouraging and ensuring frequent trips to the local or school library, one of our many local bookstores, or even a few downloads on a tablet are a good start!

Access to books, time to read, and choice in what they read are the key to keeping our kiddos on the path to lifelong reading. It has been my absolute pleasure being your child’s reading champion this year. It is an even greater pleasure to pass this baton on to you and our greater Palo Alto & Stanford community as a whole. Remember, literacy is power- all kids are capable of great things through this power!

Happy Reading!


Local Reading Resources
Middle School Library Overdrive (free digital reading & audiobooks!)
College Terrace Library, 2300 Wellesly St.
Mitchell Park Library, 3700 Middlefield Rd.
Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Rd.
Menlo Park Library, 800 Alma St.
East Palo Alto Library, 2415 University Ave.
Books Inc, in Town & Country Village
Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real

*This letter is a revised version of the letter originally sent to classroom families at the end of the fifth grade year in 2017.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

10 Days to Go!

I simply cannot believe that we have 10 days left of fifth grade! For some of you, it's your final two weeks as Nixon Elementary families (even though we will always consider you as family!). Here are a few logistics as we head into our final two weeks... 

Classroom Books
The classroom is missing quite a few books. If you have any books at home labeled "Nosek" please be sure they are returned to the classroom. Also, if your family has books to donate that you will no longer use, I would love to take them off your hands! Books that are appropriate for K-6 are always welcome as donations! On the same note, thank you so much to all of you who have donated books to our classroom this year- there are no school supplies more important than books! 

5th Grade Stuff
Just a heads-up, over the next week, your fifth grader will be coming home with a lot of stuff. Some of this stuff includes their two Bridges student math journals. Please do not be alarmed if you notice that the entire two workbooks are not completely filled in. We pulled from many different learning sources this year, not just one! So, you will not see any workbooks filled out completely. Work will also be coming home in each student's binder and notebooks. In my humble opinion, the two things from this school year that may be worth saving for years and years to come are your 5th grader's writing notebook and writing portfolio. There's is quite a bit of special stuff in both of those!  As a side note- when my own parents packed up their home of 20+ years a few years back, I thoroughly enjoyed going through all of my elementary school writing, especially my fifth grade writing. Your kids can all write circles around the way I wrote back in 5th grade! 

Important Dates Coming Up

5/17-5/23:  American History Presentations- specific times listed here

5/18:   5th Grade Karaoke Party, 5:00

5/24:   Nixon Field Day, 8:30-12:00- wear comfy shoes and proper sun attire. Sun block is highly encouraged! 

5/25:   5th Grade Pool Party, All Day- again, sun block is highly encouraged! 

5/28:   Memorial Day- No School

5/31:   A1 Class Celebration! 12:40-2:00- organized by the kids in A1, but of course our classroom parents are welcome to attend! You can see the student sign-up sheet here

6/1:    PROMOTION! 8:30-10:00- just a tip... the theater gets very crowded very fast! You may want to arrive on the early side. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Mid April Update

Can you believe we only have 29 days of fifth grade left! Please take note of these important upcoming dates: 

April-June 2018
4/17-5/3:  State Testing
5/10:   Middle School Field Trips, 10:10-11:50
5/17-5/23:  American History Presentations
5/18:   5th Grade Karaoke Party, evening 
5/24:   Nixon Field Day, 8:00-12:00
5/25:   5th Grade Pool Party, All Day
5/28:   Memorial Day- No School
5/31:   A1 Class Celebration! (Time TBD)
6/1:    PROMOTION!, 8:30-10:00

Middle School Field Trips 
Thank you to the parents who volunteered to drive for our middle school trips. We have cars going to all three Palo Alto middle schools. If you would like to join us to also tour the middle schools, please do! The more the merrier for this field trip. If your child is not attending a PAUSD middle school, I've arranged for them to stay at school to work on their class projects for the couple hours that we're away. However, if they prefer, they are also welcome to join us on our tours. 

American History Final Project
Please ask your fifth grader about this project. They will be working on it starting next week and through the better part of May in class. Work will only be required at home if they need extra time to finish. Also, families are welcome to attend the presentations. If you are interested in attending your child's presentation please sign-up using the link below. There are a lot of different day/time options for signing up your child.

That's all for now! As our last few weeks continue to progress, I'll be in touch with more updates. Enjoy the weekend ahead! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Early Spring Update

Hello Room A1 Families- Happy first day of spring! 

Open House and our fifth grade music concert is this coming Tuesday, March 27th. I'm looking forward to seeing you at school that evening! 

Puberty Education Week starts this Monday. Please see this parent letter for more information. If you have any questions about the content of the lessons, please do not hesitate to let me  know.  The lessons are delivered by a trained and highly skilled health educator, and are appropriate for our fifth graders' development and understanding at this point in their growth.

The US Constitution Project is a fun and engaging way for our fifth graders to really scratch the surface of learning about The Constitution. Every fifth grader will create a Google Slides presentation (the vast majority of which will be completed in class), and then will present it to the class. You are welcome to join us for the presentations, but certainly do not have to. If you are interested in joining us for your child's presentation, please take a look at this document to sign-up for a time slot. 

We just started fantasy book clubs in class. All of our fifth graders are really excited about this new journey into fantastical worlds! The amount of required reading for the clubs has increased. Please take a look at this book club schedule so you are aware of the amount of reading that is now being required. Also, your fifth grader should probably read their book club book each night at home between now and April 19th to keep on top of their page requirement. 

We are starting three weeks of CAASPP testing on Tuesday, April 17th. In fifth grade, we will have roughly nine hours of testing. It is really important that your child is in school for the tests. If a test needs to be made-up, it will take valuable end of year fifth grade time that no one wants to miss. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, February 26, 2018

End of February/Beginning of March Update

We are entering our final third of fifth grade- it's hard to believe how fast this school year is flying by!  As the school year counts down, activities and academics tend to ramp up. Here is some information to keep in  mind as we move forward...

Upcoming Academics
We have quite a bit to look forward to coming up! This week, we are delving into argument writing and argument analysis in reading, which is one of my favorite parts of fifth grade! If you would like to check out a few of the articles we'll be analyzing, feel free to take a look here: Argument & Advocacy Links. After we read, discuss, and write from those links for a couple weeks, every fifth grader will choose their own topic to craft a persuasive argument essay. 

In math, we're finishing up UNIT 4: multiplication and division this week, and will be moving into UNIT 5: multiplication and division of fractions next week. Take a look at the Unit Five Family Letter to see what's coming in the next few weeks. 

In science, our kiddos will start exploring Mixtures and Solutions with Ms. Schwarz. This is always such a fun unit for the kids to explore and get their hands dirty!

During social studies time, we're continuing our year long study of American history. Topics will include how our government works, The Constitution, and basic US geography.

Wish List
In all my years of teaching in Palo Alto, I have never needed to put together a wish list. Alas, we do not have as much money allocated for classroom items as we have in the past. So, I have created a wish list of items that we need in the classroom. No pressure at all to purchase anything on the list, but if you are interested in helping out, any of the items on the list would be greatly appreciated! Here is the link to the list: Ms. Nosek's Wish List

Field Trips
March 6th: Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose
Thank you to Mae, Ruchi, and Patricia for volunteering as chaperones for the day. We have two more spots for chaperones if anyone else is interested. Permission slips will be sent home in the next couple days.

April 16th: STEM at Levi's Stadium
For this trip, we will need parent drivers. So far, I have Patricia confirmed to drive and chaperone. If anyone else is able to join us, please let me know.

May 10th: Middle School Field Trips
The majority of our class will be heading to Terman Middle School for an informational field trip. If your child will attend JLS or Jordan middle schools, we will try to get together parent drivers to take them to those schools. If you are able to drive on this trip, please let me know. 

Later in May (I need to find out the date!): 5th Grade Swim Field Trip
This is organized by parents. However, we will need as many parents as possible to accompany us walking to/from the pool.

Puberty Education
All Nixon fifth graders will receive five hours of puberty education March 26th-30th. A trained health educator will be delivering the lessons in our class. I will sit in on all lessons with the kids. They will learn quite a bit in these five hours. It's not a bad idea to start opening the dialogue at home now if you have not done so already. If you have questions about the topics that will be covered, I'm happy to answer.

Our state mandated CAASPP testing will take place April 16th-May 4th. Fifth graders will have nine testing sessions that will be about an hour long each. I'm giving you the dates now to let you know that we have a lot of fun things planned in May for the end of fifth grade, and I would hate for any of the kids to miss those activities to make up the tests. So, punctual attendance during those three weeks is highly recommended! Missing an end of year activity to make up a standardized test is never fun. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Walk Through American Revolution Information

Walk Through American Revolution Information

Date: Friday, 2/2
Time: 8:15-11:30
Parents are welcome to attend for some or all of the experience.

Items Needed:
The fifth grade teachers have the costumes and props necessary for the experience, however it would help for uniformity if you child is able to arrive to school already dressed in the following:

Male Characters
  • White shirt 
  • Pants or jeans
  • Long socks (baseball or soccer socks are great, they need to be able to pull their socks up and over their pants)
  • Dark Shoes (black or brown) 

Female Characters 
  • Long skirts 
  • Blouse
  • Dark Shoes (black or brown)
If your child doesn't have one or some of these items, it's not a problem. Please don't feel the need to buy anything- that is not the point of this experience. Some students might also ask to bring in items from home to use as props. There are a few teams that need blankets, and/or the team has big ideas. Your fifth grader will let you know if they need to borrow items from home. 

As always, don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. I hope you'll be able to join us for some or all of the experience! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

January 2018 Update

Happy New Year! I hope all of you had an absolutely wonderful winter break! I'd like to start this update with a note of thanks. Teaching your children is truly a gift to me. In today's world, I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to spend my days in a way that I love, and in a way that I know is making the world a little bit better for our kids. Being appreciated for it truly is the icing on the cake (pardon the cliche). So, thank you so very much for the extremely generous holiday gift. I am truly touched.

The second half of the fifth grade year is always full of special classes, special events, and dates galore to add to the calendar. As best as I can, I will send you all of those as soon as I get them. I'll also send reminders through your fifth grader in their binder calendars. The first date to take note of is the puberty education parent ed night at El Carmelo on January 18th (I also sent an email about this right before winter break). Click here for the flyer for that which will give you all the details you need to know.

On to academics... we have many new things in store in January and then ahead in the coming months. First, in math, we're going to finish up our unit on place value with decimals in the next couple weeks and then move into multiplying and diving whole numbers and decimals. If your fifth grader still needs practice with memorizing basic multiplication facts to automaticity, now is a good time to get those flash cards going or working on facts in car rides for 5-10 minutes everyday. This fourth unit in math (which we'll start in mid January) is heavy on multiplication and division, so memorization of the basic facts is of high importance. In addition to these two math units, we'll also continue with the MOEMS Math Olympiad, MARS tasks, math learning games, number talks, and other math learning activities.

Coming up in social studies, I am looking forward to diving into learning about the 13 original colonies and The American Revolution with the kids. This can be a difficult time period for kids to understand. Through reading, discussion, writing, reenactment, exploring and analyzing primary sources, and some short video viewing, we'll explore the ideas of colonization, basic economics, freedom of religion, power struggles, injustice, war, and slavery. Keep in mind we will only be scratching the surface of this time in American history (roughly the mid 1600s - late 1700s), but even so, it is not always easy for kids to grasp. The kids will not view any difficult graphic images, but some descriptions of violence and injustices associated with the American Revolution and this time in American history will be in some readings. I highly encourage you to chat about these topics at home with your fifth grader. We'll start this study right away on Tuesday the 9th.

Additionally in social studies, we will learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. over the next few weeks and his immeasurable contributions to our society and life as we know it. One thing I absolutely love to do every year is to analyze parts of his I Have a Dream Speech with the class. This is always such a valuable activity that truly brings about such a rich discussion. If you would like to view his speech or read the transcript, please click on the following links: speech & transcript.

In reading, we will continue our 25 minutes of free choice reading every single morning. This has been a wonderful way to start our everyday in room A1. In addition, for reading workshop, the kids will embark on a new adventure in reading with historical fiction book clubs.  All fifth graders will read 1-3 novels (depending on length of time needed to read and length of books chosen) that take place during the time of the colonies and American Revolution.

For writing workshop, we're going to start working on two different areas of study: literary essay and independent writing projects. Much of the writing our kids will be tasked with on standardized tests and in middle school will revolve around response to literature. The literary essay unit of study will not only prepare them for the challenges of those tasks ahead, but will also teach them specific strategies when it comes to the important writing skills involved with reading critically, making a claim and developing a thesis statement, and then supporting those claims with properly cited evidence and thorough explanation.

We'll also be embarking on a new science unit!  Starting on Thursday the 11th, our room A1 fifth graders will spend two sessions a week with Mrs. Deremigio to explore more about our Earth and solar energy. In addition, every couple weeks or so we will continue to work with the maker cart and other engineering projects in our own classroom.

As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to send me an email!

I'm looking forward to a 2018 ahead of trying new things and appreciating all that we are 
so lucky to have in our homes, our school, our community, and our world! -Ms. Nosek
I'm not big on resolutions, but I do like to reflect and add something positive to my life with each new year. 
This year, my goal is to spend at least 30 minutes in nature everyday! I took this photo at 
sunrise at the baylands on the 3rd day of 2018.