Dear Fifth Grade Parents,

After such intense effort and focus put towards a class play, the day after the final performance is often bittersweet.  The bitter part arises obviously because, after all the preparation and excitement it is so very difficult to say goodbye to it all.  Not surprisingly,  many children were quite sad that it was all over.  The sweet part comes from the tidal wave of euphoria and glee arising as a class accomplishes something so difficult together.  It's a big thing, really!  A class play, when successful, creates a kind of social Gorilla Glue, binding the group together into one single being; creating a sense of "we" and an appreciation for the "other" that is both profound and amazingly palpable.  I wish you could have been in the room on Friday morning to hear the thoughts and feelings expressed by the students about how things went.  With great sincerity, and humor, and sensitivity the children recognized and appreciated each other, and the hard work that they had mustered.  It was extremely rewarding to witness, and it made all the long nights and stressful moments disappear into the ethers.  I continue to be moved by the depth of the children's awareness of each others' successes and hard work, and the flexibility with which they deal with each other's gifts and eccentricities as well.  What an incredible group of children.  

Huge, huge thank you's to every single one of you who went out of your way to help us out with this production in both large and small ways.  From the SWAT team of pre-show mom/grandma make-up and costume helpers, to the builders/remodelers of the Multi-Use Room space, to the folks who helped with a costume-making, prop creation, and food preparation… your help was enormously, enormously appreciated!  Thank you.

Costumes
If your child brought their costume home after the play I would appreciate it very much if you would help him or her to hang it on a hanger, or put it into a bag to keep it safe.  We will need all the costumes for our encore performance at the Green Music Center later in February.  Feel free to also send the costume back to class and I will hang it up here for safe keeping, if you would prefer.

New Main Lesson Block: Writing and Grammar
This week we begin a three week-long block focusing once again on writing and grammar.  The students will be practicing all kinds of different things, including compare/contrast essays and personal narratives.  We will also spend some quality time reviewing some (seemingly) forgotten spelling rules, as well as review the use of interjections, prepositions, and verb tense-- something they are also learning to do in Spanish.

Reading
Last week the students should have finished their current books (either The Golden Goblet, or The Magnificent Mummy Maker. I am assigning them an at-home book response assignment related to these books to be completed by Monday, February 4.  Of course, students can always turn it in earlier if they wish.

Recorder and Violin
We will begin playing recorder again in class this week, so I will be asking the children to practice for five minutes each night as well.  Mrs. Ewing, the violin teacher, is really trying to push the children to focus on their music reading skills more diligently as they work through a piece, and NOT simply rely so much on their ear in order to learn a new piece of music. To support her on this I am going to also be nudging the students to do the same thing with recorder music.  It would be wonderful if you could remind your child about this at home as well.  My hope is that students can:
1) Identify any note on a musical staff immediately, without having to sit their and think about it.
2) Play the note on their instrument quickly right after I call it out: "A," or, "C!"  

Flashcards may be helpful. As they practice a piece of music they should be following along on the page of music as they play their instrument, note-by note, and not just play the piece by ear.  The dream is that the more they follow the notes on the page while playing, and the more they associate each finger position on the instrument with the note on the page, their ability to site-read will improve in earnest.  

This is an important, and quite difficult step, for sure, but I know with practice and determination, these children can do it.  There is little they cannot do, actually.

Parent Survey
If you have not done so already, Michele and I would appreciate it very much if you would take a moment to fill out "Parent Surveys" regarding your experiences this year with each of us.  We take seriously your comments and concerns, and sincerely hope you will be willing to send along honest and direct feedback where needed.  In order to complete our annual evaluations we must receive feedback from 50% of the parent group, and last I heard from the folks managing this work, we were nowhere near that threshold. Here are the links in case you did not receive one in the SBS Admin update a couple of weeks back:

Justin: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XSNQPPN
Michele: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XS6ZLXV

Excellent Upcoming Workshop
I also wanted to pass on  a link to an upcoming workshop that some of you might be interested in attending.  It is being presented by Karen Rivers, who is a teacher of Jennifer's, of whom she speaks very, very highly:
http://www.karenrivers.info/twelveyear.html

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Justin

 


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