rdressler's blog

January Curriculum Update

Hello 5th Grade Families,

     I hope everyone had a fantastic winter break. The 5th grade students seem to be refreshed and relaxed and ready to learn. I wanted to give you an update on our current and upcoming units of study.


     I will be in charge of all reading instruction for your students from now on. I am so excited to have the class together for reading. We started reading one of my favorite books, Blood on the River, today. It is an historical fiction novel set in the English colony of Jamestown. It aligns perfectly with our social studies unit and will give students a deep insight into what life was like in the first American colonies.

     We will also spend time reading independently. During these times the students will respond to their reading in various ways, focusing on the reading standards or comprehension strategies that we are focusing on.


     We are starting a new writing genre. We will be writing research-based argument essays on the topic of chocolate milk in schools. If we have time, students will be able to write a second piece on a topic of their choice. We will start off the unit by writing a group piece. We will try to convince the Bolinas foundation to fund our efforts to provide more recess activities for the students at our school during recess. We chose some popular recess equipment and games, polled every 3rd - 8th grade student, and decided on a few things that we would like to buy to make recess more fun. Hopefully our letter will be convincing!


     We are just finishing up a unit on division with whole numbers and decimals. After this unit we will start to work with fractions and their relationship to decimals.


     We are just starting our living systems unit. We will be looking at human body systems as well as plant systems. It is a really fun unit full of hands on activities as well as science reading.

Social Studies

      We are just about to start our early colony simulation. This simulation is always the favorite unit for most 5th graders. The students will form colonies and work on collaborative projects. They will use their math and reading skills as well as needing to focus on cooperation and strategizing in order to survive. By the end of the unit they will know how it feels to have been an early American colonist.

Curriculum Update

Have you been wondering what your 5th grader is doing in school right now? Read on to find out. 

Spelling/Word Study

The 5th graders are in 3 small groups where they work on spelling words that are at their spelling level. Throughout the week the do fun activities with the words; such as sorting them into categories, adding prefixes and suffixes to them, and defining them.



We have been working on comprehension strategies using fiction and nonfiction texts. The comprehension strategies we have studied are; making connections, visualizations, predictions, inferences, asking questions and summarizing.


We are working on personal narratives during writer's workshop. The kids have a checklist that they can use to evaluate their writing and they have set goals for themselves. They have written a lot of great stories in their writing journals and will soon pick one story to take through the entire writing process.


I ordered all of the Everyday Mathematics materials that I will need to fully implement that fantastic math program this year. I will occasionally use some lessons from the Singapore Math program, but we will mainly use Everyday Math. The kids were so excited to see their new math textbook (Student Reference Book - SRB), math journal and study links journal on their desks today.

The SRB is organized by topic. If your child wants to read about prime factoization, then they would locate the prime factorization essay. They can read and answer the Check Your Understanding problems which are located and the end of most topics.

The math journal is what they will write in during our lessons. The pages have information, problems and activities. At the end of each lesson there are math boxes which review skills taught earlier in the year.

The  study links journal contains the homework associated with each lesson. I will usually assign math homework from this journal. At the beginning of each unit is a family letter. The family letter contains a summary of the unit, useful vocabulary and activities, as well as the answers to all of the homework. You may choose to rip the family letters out of your child's journal so they do not have access to the answers. 

We are starting unit 2 today. In unit 2 your child will learn how to add, subtract and multiply with whole numbers and decimals.


We are working on our Chemistry and Matter unit. So far we have created and separated various mixtures and solutions. We also learned what a gas, liquid and solid look like at the molecular level.

Social Studies

The students just started to work on their collaborative native american projects. They will study on tribe, create an informative poster and share what they learned with the class during a presentation.

Thanks for reading!


Welcome 2014-2015

 Hello Everyone,

I am so happy to be the new 5th grade teacher here in Bolinas. So far the year is off to a great start! I will write a longer blog with more information very soon. 

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