Posted by: Alex Borders | February 8, 2011

Letter to Parents of 5th Graders

Tuesday 8th February

This letter was written by the teacher of the 5th grade to the parents of her students. It exudes joy of learning and I liked it so much that I asked the teacher if she would mind sharing it with blog readers.  She didn’t and here it is.  It’s pretty long for a blog article and I thought about editing it down.  In the end I chose not to. I thought you should read it in its entirety. Enjoy!

Dear Parents of Greek Enthusiasts,
I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be more enthusiastic about a topic than this class was about Norse Mythology during 4th Grade; however, I think we may be accomplishing it. I am not exaggerating when I say that every day the children loudly groan when I announce that it’s time for dismissal! They literally beg me to please, please stay later so they can hear more Greek myths. “But it’s time to go home and relax,” I say. “No, no! We don’t need to go home! I’m free until dinner time.”  All they want to do is juggle and hear Greek myths all day every day. We’ve just finished hearing about the Trojan War (summarized, prose version of The Iliad) and the adventures of Odysseus returning home from the war (summarized, prose version of The Odyssey).
The students are particularly enthralled with writing their own made-up myths complete with gods of spinach, gods of pitching, and god and goddesses of most everything else you can think of. When we heard the stories from the Hebrew Testament about the all-powerful Yahweh in third grade, His words made us tremble. What a contrast to the imperfect Greek gods, who are beautiful and skilled, but also vengeful, cunning, and even sulky and bad-tempered! “We’re better behaved than they are!” a student exclaimed. Once again, the curriculum is working its magic, meeting the children exactly where they are developmentally. The 5th graders are even busy making book proposals; “(So and so) and I are going to write an entire mythology starting with creation. There will have to be a flood since all the myths have a flood, but it’s not going to be water. I’m not sure what yet. Maybe ketchup.”  So very, very “5th gradey.”
In a few more days, we will finish our Greek Myth block, but later in the year there will be a block on Greek History, our first true history block. The students want to write for themselves a Greek class play based on the Perseus myth we are now hearing – it includes Medusa, Pegasus, The Sea Dragon, and even Flying Shoes—what more could one want? To say the 5th graders are excited about this is a vast understatement. Each child has been assigned a scene to write in place of our usual spelling assignments for next week. Some children are “reserve.” This means we haven’t heard the part of the story yet that they’re going to need to write, but rest assured, we will be finishing the story by next Tues. at the latest. The “reserves” will then be assigned their scene as well as an extended due date that takes into account that they couldn’t start writing it as soon as the others could. I will email when the reserves due date will be. Assignments are to be written like a story with lots of dialogue so as to sneak in plenty of extra practice using quotation marks and associated punctuation. We will convert it to the form of a play later.
Math: We’re reviewing “estivision” and decimals from earlier in the year and learning more decimal skills. We just finished learning decimal multiplication, and started division today. We’re also converting between metric linear measurements (2 cm= .02m). Early Warning! After next week’s “very small frank,” the next two weeks will be quizzinis (math quizzes). First: all times tables. Second: all division facts (reverse times tables). Why? Children are getting progressively slower and more forgetful of these. It is time to refresh our “divisiplication” back to its formerly lightning fast speeds! Feel free to get a head start on studying these if you feel your child needs it, especially as the Frank this week really is “very small.”
Grammar: The class is doing well in most areas of grammar. One area of weakness in this particular group of children is the understanding of whether something is or is not a complete sentence. It must have a subject and a verb to be a sentence, i.e. “He jumped.” Some imperative (commanding) sentences have a Ghosty Subject (technical term is You Understood), i.e. “Jump.” Anytime a convenient opportunity presents itself for you to reinforce these distinctions with your child, please do so. Grammar homework this week includes a review of this topic.
Got some extra time for silliness with your student? The 5th Graders and I recommend juggling. We’re juggling every morning for ten minutes. It’s really fun, and really hard to stop. The record number of juggling throws for three balls ranges widely from child to child in the class. For some children, their record is 2 throws. One student has a record of 178 non-stop throws! So far mine is 19.  Got a record of your own? Let us know.

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