Thursday, October 6, 2011

iPads, iPads, iPads!

Mr. Callahan brought a cart of iPads for PGRoom209 to use yesterday!  This class was an orientation so we would know how to navigate the folders and learn which apps are already loaded up and ready for use.  In a few weeks, we hope to use the iPads as part of our Social Studies unit on pre-Columbian America.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Homework Postings

Students are expected to keep the agenda supplied by the Pine Glen PTA complete and up-to-date.  Time is given at the beginning or end of each class session for students to update their agendas and put work into their homework folders.

I will do my best to post weekly homework on the class website:  This will be posted once a week and therefore is only tentative.  Changes in schedule, a need to spend additional time on a topic, or other situations may arise which impact the homework assignments and will not be reflected on the website.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In search of...

Latitude, longitude, landmasses and bodies of water, the students of PGRoom209 were hard at work this week scouring maps and globes as part of our unit on Geography skills.  Don't forget that we have a quiz on Geography and our brief study of the United States Constitution* on Tuesday, September 27th.

Identifying the continents and oceans.

Answering Geography Challenge questions with partners.

Challenging each other to identify landmasses from clues.

* We did a brief overview of the Constitution in honor of Constitution Day (September 17th).  We will learn more after we study the American Revolution in the spring.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Numbers Great and Small

This week, Grade 5 began switching classes for Mathematics.  All four classes are now hard at work understanding the Base-10 number system while reading and writing numbers into the billions!  In PGRoom209, we're writing numbers instandard notation (123,456,789), word form (one hundred twenty-three million, four hundred fifty-six thousand, seven hundred eighty-nine), short-wordform (123 million, 456 thousand, 789), and expanded form (100,000,000 + 20,000,000 + 3,000,000 + 400,000 + 50,000 + 6,000 + 700 + 80 + 9).  Throughout all of our activities, we're focusing on the concepts of place value and the relationship of place values to one another.

    Next stop, decimals!  That's right, we've started extending our knowledge of whole number place value to decimal place values and finding out that we can use the same concepts and models.  Using the same familiar grids, Base-10 blocks, and number lines, we are taking the mystery out of the zone between 0 and 1.

Cross-posted on our new website: PGRoom209

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back-to-School Night

Pine Glen's Back-to-School Night will be on September 22, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.  This is an adults-only evening.

The night will begin in the cafeteria at 6:00 for opening remarks by Principal Lyons. 

After opening remarks, you are free to tour classrooms.  There will be two informational sessions.  The first session will be held from 6:45 - 7:15.  The second session will run from 7:20 - 7:50.  You are welcome to join us in Room 209 for either session.  Remember to leave time to visit Art, Music, Physical Education, and our new and improved Library Media / Technology Center.

Room 209 is in need of two or more ROOM PARENTS!  

Room Parents are asked to get the word out about special occasions - email works wonderfully - and help organize one or two events during the year.  

This position tends to be significantly less intense than in the younger grades.  If you can help out, please drop me a line at or sign up at Open House.

I look forward to seeing you at Open House!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Welcome to Grade 5!

Dear Fifth Graders,

I hope you are enjoying the summer, I can't believe we start school in less than two weeks. I am looking forward to meeting you and hearing all about the interesting and fun things you did over vacation. I have had a great summer spending time with my children (my daughter, Sarah, will be leaving for college soon!) and revisiting Chicago, one of my favorite US cities. The entire Grade 5 team has been busy getting the classrooms ready. We have many exciting plans for the year and are eager for it to begin.

I hope to make fifth grade an exciting and memorable year for you. I want to make our classroom a creative place, filled with learning activities, challenging projects, great achievement and lasting friendships. If we work together we can make this a special year.

Here is a short list of supplies to start the year off. Please bring them on the first day of school, if you are able.

  • 1 dozen #2 pencils
  • Pink Pearl or pencil-top erasers 
  • 1 or 2 chapter books of your choice for independent reading
  • A water bottle marked with your name on it - essential for hot days
  • 3 containers of disinfecting wipes (not baby wipes) - we go through a lot of these!
  • 3 boxes of tissues
  • 2 Jumbo Book Covers (such as Book Sox) or paper grocery bags for covering books

Finally, the most important thing for you to bring to our class on the first day is a smile! I am looking forward to seeing you all on Wednesday, September 7th.


Ms. Marcus

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heat Wave!

We finished off the week with a scorching Thursday and Friday.  A heat wave hit the Northeast on Thursday with temperatures hitting 96 degrees outside and 84 degrees in Room 209.  While the outside temperatures dropped to comfortable levels outside on Friday and we were able to bring some relief to the hallway, the classroom started and ended the day at a very humid 81 degrees.

I'm so proud of all of Room 209 for continuing to work hard under uncomfortable conditions and for supporting each other.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, we were able to end Friday on a sweet and cool note with Richie's Italian Ice.  Deeeeeeee-lish!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You Light Up My Life!

We are deep into our learning about electricity and having a great time working our way from very simple circuits to parallel and series circuits and building our own switches.
Creating our own switches

Series vs. Parallel

Working together.

We can figure this out!

Studying a flashlight to see how it works.
Can we figure out how to make the bulb light?
Exploring different configurations.
Hard at work
With a little help from our friends...
Joining forces and materials
How many light bulbs can we light on a parallel circuit?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thunder and Lightning!

As we settled in for the day, Room 209 heard thunder outside and it was if the sky suddenly opened up to drop a curtain of rain.  It seemed the perfect time to do some writing and share stories about our storm experiences.  Here are excerpts from the memories the students shared:

I fell out of my bed because there was thunder outside my room!  I decided to go downstairs and sleep in the family room for the night until the power came on.  (Eric A.)

I remember that when I was about 3 years old my aunt used to baby sit me.  We had a big bay window near the kitchen table.  Every time there was a thunderstorm she would watch them and show me the lightning.  After that I wasn't as scared about thunderstorms.  Now, I love to watch lightning flash and thunder roar.  (Alexandria)

I remember a few years back in my old town when we had a flood.  The streets were like rivers. They were flowing really fast and we couldn't go outside because it was so severe and dangerous. (Kailey)
I remember in Kindergarten when there was such a big storm that the power went out at school.  I was so scared!  (James)

When there is thunder and lightning and the power goes out it is pitch black.  it is pretty scary but not that scary.  When the power goes out it kind of makes you jump.  (Andrew)

One day it was thunder and lightning outside and my dog was outside so I was scared that he was going to get hit. (Jazmin)

When it is raining really hard in my house you hear the raindrops echo through the house.  It is so cool but scary at the same time. (Chris)

I remember when I was about 5 years old there was a storm and I got very scared. I ran into my room and went to my bed and put my covers over my head and put my stuffed animals in with me. (Teresa)

When I hear a thunder storm, I feel very tired because the rain makes a very quiet, settled sound and the darkness makes me feel like I'm about to go to bed.  (Justin)
I think storms are really cool.  With flashes of lightning tearing through the sky.  And giant crackling sounds of thunder.  (Arman)

The sky was really dark and seemed as if it would storm forever.  The hail felt as if it would dent the roof of the van.  The wind was howling and the trees looked as if they would fall over and there were branches on the ground.  (Sarvesh)

Hurricanes can be 600 miles around!  They have an eye and scientists use dropsondes to get data and do research.  Hurricanes can cause a lot of damage.  (Thomas S.)

When I was 10 years old, I was in India with my brother.  It started to rain so we went outside with our umbrellas.  We played until lightning started.  At first, I didn't know that my brother had already gone inside so I had to look all over the apartment complex with my friend.  Finally, when we came home we saw my brother watching TV on the couch! (Arya)

Once when I was a very young girl there was a thunderstorm in the summer and all the windows were open.  The power went out and my mom and dad were at work.  My grandma didn't know how to close the windows so we hung towels up in them.  It was getting late so my sister, brother, grandma and I slept in my grandma's bed room.  We were too scared to sleep alone.  (Jeenal)

A couple of days after I got my dog as a puppy, there was a thunder and lightning storm.  The thunder came and my dog hid in a corner whining.  He was so scared he had his tail between his legs and he put his ears down.  You could tell he was scared.  (Eric B.)

When it is raining and thundering and lightning I get scared to use electronics.  Most of the time I play board games in my room and keep a distance from electronics.  (Thomas H.)

I love snow storms because when the big white snowflakes fall it looks so magical.  I like when it's a whiteout also because then all you can see is white.  The best part of snow storms is that if it's not too bad you can go outside in the storm and play because snow is light and fluffy.  (Meghan)

Storms I see them come and go.  Some they give me a fright, others I sit and watch them.  I can't wait to go outside again, but that's not my decision. (Siri)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Coming Attractions

This month is a busy one for the fifth grade!  We have many activities as we come to the end of the year.

May 30th Memorial Day - No school :-(
May 31st Teresa's birthday!
June 2nd Field Day
June 3rd Cedardale
June 4th Siri's birthday!
June10th Eric's birthday!
June 12th Alexandria's birthday!
June 16th Moving Up Ceremony
June 19th Justin's birthday!
June 22nd Last day of school if no more snow days ;-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Multiplying Fractions by a Whole Number

Today, we learned that we already knew how to multiply fractions by whole numbers!  It's amazing what we've been doing without even knowing it all this time.  Each time we had figured out a fraction of a whole number (for example, 3/4 of 12), we were actually multiplying (3/4 x 12/1).  

After looking at the mental strategies we already use, we examined the U.S. algorithm to see how it fit with what we understood about fractions.  Before we knew it, we were selecting the process that worked best for each problem and flying through equations and word problems.  

Tying new learning in math to what we already know makes for exciting work and a constant desire to know what comes next.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

iPads in Room 209

 Last Tuesday, Room 209 had the incredible opportunity to borrow a class set of iPads from the middle school.

We started out the day by watching videos from Discovery Education to help us review what we learned in earlier years about rocks, minerals and earth processes.  With the iPads, each student could stop the video to take notes or "rewind" to hear information again. What we noticed was that we took more notes and learned more when we could each go at our own pace without fear of missing important information while we were writing.


In Math, we worked on problem solving, showing our solutions by using a drawing app.  We then imported the drawing into a word processing app and explained our reasoning.  Wow!  There were some amazing results and we really focused on how we showed our solutions.  For the first time in all my years of teaching, the class asked if they could skip recess and keep working on math!  I was thrilled, but still made everyone head out for some exercise and fresh air.

In English Language Arts, we dove into the world of digital storytelling.  We selected stories we wrote earlier in the year so we could get right to work.  Mr. Callahan guided us in finding images that fit the theme of our stories.  Once we selected images, we imported them into an app called StoryRobe.  With just a little time to go, we found quiet spots in the room and read our stories into the iPad microphones.  StoryRobe put it all together and we had a slideshow which acted as a background to our stories.  It was strange for many of us to hear our voices on the recordings.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this day was that the adults in the classroom were learning as much as the students.  We discovered new uses for the iPads, figured out which apps worked best for accomplishing different tasks, and how we might use them better if we are lucky enough to have a "next time."

Our thanks to Pine Glen's own Mr. Callahan and Mr. Villano from the middle school for allowing us this wonderful learning opportunity.