Last Week of School

Thank you Gretchen Kudla, Katrina Kithene, Heidi and Mike Masterson, AP Hurd, Milana Richardson, Debbie Oximana, Maureen Rimkus, Carlene Merlino, Jennifer Stankovich, Teresa Campbell and Andrea Vaught- the wonderful volunteers who made our field trips with Mountains to Sound Greenway possible!  We had a great time and couldn’t have done it without you!

Thanks so much to everyone for your ongoing support this year! This class has been a true blessing and saying goodbye will be so hard.  My consolation is that I get to see them next year when they take the middle school by storm!  They are ready to rock 6th grade!

Here’s a run-down on our final week:

MONDAY: Students will be taking and end of the year writing assessment and will get to compare their work to a similar assignment completed at the beginning of the year.  It will be fun to see the growth.  Also on Monday, 5th graders will be visiting a 6th grade classroom  to learn more about middle school.  Finally, students will be creating summer/math plans.

TUESDAY: We will say good-bye to 8th graders by performing a Lummi Song at our school-wide assembly.

WEDNESDAY: CLEANING DAY! Students will be cleaning out their desks and scrubbing down our classroom.  Those who have donated $1 to Charity Water may wear free dress but best make sure they are clothes that can get dirty!

THURSDAY: Field Day (9-12:30pm) @Sandel Park. ALL students need a lunch & can wear free dress.

FRIDAY: Last day of 5th grade! Mass @9am. Dress Uniform. Report Cards Go Home.


Colonial Times

Next week we will be time traveling back to the mid 1700s and imaging life as a citizen of colonial Boston as England’s Parliament attempted to exercise control the colonists by passing acts for taxation, the housing of soldiers and by imposing additional restrictions on businesses and other freedoms.  At this time in our simulation, students are in agreement that it was fine to levy taxes to repay King George for his support during the French & Indian Wars.  Let’s see if their support holds as developments unfold!  The week will end with a celebration of colonial daily life as we don colonial garb, eat colonial food, and enjoy colonial activities.

In past news, we wrapped up our Nutrition unit and the lunches made by the students were truly mouth watering! Here are a few pictures from the day:

One more thing:  Keep fundraising for Jump Rope for Heart!  Our Jump Rope event is next Thursday.

Upcoming Dates to Note:

  • Thursday, May 10:  JUMP ROPE FOR HEART (free dress)
  • Friday, 5/11 – Colonial America Craft Day (Need parent volunteers)
  • Friday, 5/25 – Mountains to Sound Greenway Environmental Studies Field Trip to Tiger Mountain (Need parent volunteers/drivers)
  • Thursday, 5/31 – Mountains to Sound Greenway Environmental Stewardship Project at Lake Sammamish State Park (Need parent volunteers/drivers)

Curriculum Update

Math: Next week we will study Algebra: Patterns and Graphing.  We will generate numerical patterns using two given rules, graph orders pairs on a coordinate plane and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.  We will also make line plots and evaluate different graphs for effectiveness in communicating data.

Writing: This week we researched some aspect of colonial life.  Next week we will be writing paragraphs to describe some aspect of colonial life.

Science: No science this week but we will be gearing up for our unit on Human Impact on the Environment with Mountains to Sound Greenway.

Reading/Social Studies: Students are working in small groups reading a historical fiction novel set in either colonial or revolutionary war times. We are also continuing to read primary sources and non-fiction texts to support our learning of this era.

Religion: May is Mary’s month!  We are learning more about Mary as we memorize the Hail, Holy Queen prayer (recitation day: Wednesday, May 9th), create a decade of the rosary for display in class, and work on powerpoints describing the Joyful Mysteries.

Cafe St. John

Our big focus for the next week will be turning our nutrition research into practice by completing our NUTRITION CHALLENGE!  We have conducted experiments foods to test for the presence of fats, acids and sugars.  We visited to investigate the foods we should be eating to get the proper nutrients we need to thrive.  Now we are planning a healthy and delicious lunch to eat at school.  In class we have researched each ingredient and are almost finished writing paragraphs describing our how our favorite foods can be part of a balanced diet.  Next Tuesday, students are asked to bring their meals to school to show the 3rd and 4th graders and enjoy eating in the classroom–we’ll create our own Cafe St. John!  While I know some students have been working on this project at home, I planned for the bulk of it to be accomplished at school.  The only part requiring family assistance is with making sure the necessary ingredients are on hand and that the meal arrives safety at school on Tuesday. A cooler will be on hand for food that needs to stay cold and we’ll have a microwave in the room for foods that require it.

Upcoming Dates to Note:

  • Tuesday, 4/17- Nutrition project due
  • 4/19: Jump Rope For Heart Kick-off Assembly
  • Thursday, 4/26 – ACRE Test
  • Thursday, 4/26-Progress Reports come home
  • Monday, 4/30-Thursday, 5/10- MAP testing
  • Tuesday, 5/1: May Crowning; Dress uniform
  • Friday, 5/11 – Colonial America Craft Day (Need parent volunteers)
  • Friday, 5/25 – Mountains to Sound Greenway Environmental Studies Field Trip to Tiger Mountain(Need parent volunteers/drivers)
  • Thursday, 5/31 – Mountains to Sound Greenway Environmental Stewardship Project at Lake Sammamish State Park (Need parent volunteers/drivers)

Curriculum Update

Math: We have finished our work with fractions and are moving on to study geometry! We began with polygons this week and will continue learning about both 2-D and 3-D shapes.  In addition to learning names and categorizing shapes, this unit will also include the measurement of angles, sides and volume.

Writing: Our Monster descriptions and drawings are on display in the 2nd floor hallway.  Come see how the students’ own images were matched by others based solely on a written description!  This week we will work on some grammar, focusing on 6 rules for using commas.

Science: After showcasing and enjoying our nutritious meals on Tuesday, we will finish studying the effects of various nutrients on our daily life.  A final exam will be given on April 25th.  NOTE:  In May we will be learning about Human Impact on the Environment and have invited Mountains to Sound Greenway to lead 2 class lessons, a field trip and a service project.  Knowing how busy that time of the year can be, I mention it now in hopes that you might be able to find time in your schedule to volunteer for one (or both) of the two upcoming field trip dates.

Reading/Social Studies: Our non-fiction reading has been integrated with social studies topics this week.  We have picked up where we left off in the history of America with Spanish, English, French and Dutch settlements in North America in the 1600s.  Next week we will look more closely at the English settlements/colonies as we begin a simulation of Colonial America called “The Struggle for Independence:  Colonial Boston.”  We’ll turn our classroom into a colonial town and reenact some of the events that led to the American Revolution.

Religion: Students have been learning vocabulary and key concepts related to Catholic faith and teaching.  Each week they learn 10 new (or review) terms and in class we discuss the meaning and significance of each.  On April 25th, we will take an on-line assessment called the ACRE test.  All 5th graders in the archdiocese will be taking the same test, the results of which will be used to guide future instruction.

End of Second Term

Friday, March 9th marks the end of the second trimester of fifth grade.  Time flies when you are having fun!

We talk every day about honoring our Lenten commitments of adding more prayer to our lives, fasting from negativity, and giving of ourselves whenever we can.  In that spirit, the students have been collaborating on our amazing auction project.  They have molded dinnerware including plates, bowls, platters and vases and are glazing them with oceanographic images and are creating a truly special offering for our school’s biggest fundraiser.  I can’t wait to share the final project with you but in the meantime, here are some photos of the students hard at work!


Upcoming Dates to Note:

  • Wednesday, 3/7 – All school liturgy.  Dress Uniform.
  • Friday, 3/9- End of 2nd Trimester
  • Thursday, 3/15-Report Cards and noon dismissal
  • Friday, 3/16-No School

Curriculum Update

Math: We are working on adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators.  This unit will likely wrap up on Tuesday, March 6th, with an end of chapter test on that day.  Moving forward, we will begin multiplying and dividing fractions.

Writing: A fun descriptive writing project is about to begin.  Students will draw and describe a fictitious monster.  We will talk about descriptive adjectives, incorporating the senses into our writing and focus on “showing” vs. “telling” our readers our ideas.  When we finish, we will give our descriptive pieces to the students in Mrs. Ahern’s class to read.  They will make a drawing based on what they read and we will compare their drawings to our own.  The better our descriptions, the more closely aligned our drawings will be!

Science: We are leaning about matter, mass, and the periodic table of elements.

Reading: Students will be choosing independent reading books at their own exile level to read during Literacy Cafe/Daily 5.  Each day they will set reading goals, write about their reading, and practice vocabulary.

Religion: Having led the stations of the cross, we will continue our Lenten journey by praying, fasting, and giving alms.  Don’t forget the CRS rice bowl and food/coat drive!

Pray, Fast, Give

After the big celebrations of Catholic Schools Week and Valentines Day (albeit a day early), it is the time of year where we slow down and reflect on our Catholic faith and traditions.  Lent begins this week.  As a class, we will be considering ways to live the three pillars of Lent through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We will be praying St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Examen (a  technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence) at the conclusion of each day and will increase our prayer for those in our community this Lenten season.  Though children aren’t asked to fast from food, thinking of small sacrifices or ways to put others ahead of ourselves is a good way to keep our focus in the right place throughout Lent.  Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowls will be coming home on Wednesday and students can support their work by collecting change from now until Easter.

Upcoming Dates to Note:

  • Tuesday, 2/13 – Valentine’s Day Celebration & Power of One anti-bulling assembly
  • Wednesday, 2/14 – Ash Wednesday liturgy.  Dress Uniform.
  • Thursday, 2/15- Spelling Bee (Go Zola and Claire!)
  • Friday, 2/16-Tuesday, 2/20-No School

Curriculum Update

Math: We wrapped up our Hands-On Algebra unit and are beginning Chapter 6, Adding and Subtracting Fractions with Unlike Denominators.

Writing: We’ve been working on SUPERPOWER essays!  Students chose a superpower they wish they had and are  revising and editing an essay what they would do with their gift.  Also, we have been reviewing various forms of figurative language and will have a quiz on Thursday. 

Science: In honor of the Winter Olympics, we have been participating in our own STEM skiing, bobsled, and curling events.  Students are working on engineering the best possible competitors for each event and graphing the results.

Reading: Students will finish The Watson’s Go to Birmingham- 1963 this week. After our break, we will work on a summary project to show our learning.

Social Studies:  Along with learning about life in 1963 through our novel study, we have been learning about issues in the Civil Rights Era.  This week we learned about segregation in schools and Ruby Bridges’ story.

Religion: We will have covered the meaning of sacraments, the Church, and Jesus’ role in our everyday lives. Students will make Lenten Lapbooks to record their faith journey.

Welcoming 2018

We kicked off the new year by thinking about ways to focus on our school-wide learning expectations.  Our “Toast to the New Year” project included choosing a goal and writing a paragraph reflecting on how we can meet it.  The thoughtful “toasts” are on display in the classroom so we can get good ideas from each other about how to strive for growth in 2018.


  • January 15th – No school in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday
  • January 17th – All school Geography Bee @1pm.
  • January 26th- Hot Lunch Portal Closes
  • January 28th – Catholic Schools Sunday Mass at 10:30 am followed by Open House at the school.
  • January 29th-February 2nd – Catholic Schools Week
  • February 2nd – PURPLE AND GOLD DAY!
  • February 14th – Ash Wednesday & Valentine’s Day
  • February 15th – All school Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee: School Bee Study Guide


Math: Our new unit will cover chapter 5- dividing decimals. We will start with division of decimals by whole numbers. A key component to this unit will be mastering division facts. Xtramath is a great online resource to help! Students should be practicing division facts at home weekly.

Science: Our variables unit is underway! Last week students were introduced to the scientific method. Next week, we will begin investigations of variables. Students will be conducting experiments, analyzing and compiling results into function tables, and working collaboratively with one another.

Reading: We will begin our new novel, The Watson’s Go to Birmingham- 1963, next week. Each week, students will be reading roughly 3-4 chapters, some being in class and some assigned for homework. They will be required to track their reading via a chart and will also be meeting in literature circles to discuss characters, plot, setting, and answer comprehension questions. Each Friday there will be a short comprehension quiz from the chapters assigned that week.

Religion/Writing: Students will have the opportunity to read several Achieve 3000 articles this week about several historical figures who promoted peace. This will tie into our writing piece comparing different ways to achieve and promote peace in our world.

In addition, students will be learning about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. We will compare his life to that of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  Students will begin their rough draft this week on the Peacemakers (St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and MLK) essay.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. John 5th graders packed up food and distributed it to neighbors in need with kindness, grace, compassion.  As we bagged onions, tomatoes, coffee, creamer, and pastries, the students sang Christmas carols, much to the delight of the staff at St. Vincent de Paul.  Later, as people walked through the food line, I was so touched to hear the students chatting and wishing everyone happy holidays.  Both staff and food line visitors complimented their hard work, excellent behavior, and warm smiles.  I couldn’t be prouder!

Here are some pictures from the day:

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Fifth graders helping their buddies with the basics of coding.

Advent has begun and with it, we are thinking even more about ways to make our world a better place.  Leading the liturgy for the Immaculate Conception of Mary was a lovely way to let our lights shine in the service of our parish.  We met with our buddies on Thursday to engage in Hour of Code activities and were proud to serve fellow students.  This week we will be focused on reaching out to the broader community with a service field trip to St. Vincent de Paul and by creating healing baskets for the ill and homebound in our community.  We are definitely paving the way for Jesus!


Social Studies – Next week we will wrap up our Galleon social studies unit.  We have created a study guide and have been reviewing content for the past week.  The unit final test will be on Thursday, December 14th.

Religion – We focus our attention in the coming weeks on service.  On Tuesday we head off to St. Vincent de Paul to serve their community.  On Friday we will serve the ill and homebound in our own parish by creating and delivering healing baskets.  Students can donate any of the items on the list or anything else they believe will be comforting to those who could use extra cheer!  We will be assembling our baskets after school on Friday and are asking for as many parents and students volunteers as we can get–if you can come with your child, that would be ideal.  If you can help deliver a basket or two, that would be most appreciated.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

Math – Having designed our own gingerbread dream houses and calculated the associated costs (the price of icing roofs has sky-rocketed these days:))We have moved on to multiplying and dividing decimals.

Reading & Writing–  We are analyzing narrative structure in short fiction reading passages and creating our own stories using the elements of narrative writing.

Giving Thanks

I hope you enjoyed a lovely day of thanks with your family and friends.  I count your children and the St. John community as some of my very best blessings and pray in thanksgiving for both!

We also want to express our gratitude to those who contributed to our classroom Thanksgiving breakfast feast.  Students set a lovely table with Gratitude Rocks they painted & place cards describing what they are most thankful for.  It was a wonderful celebration of friendship!


Social Studies – Students finished presenting their explorer reports and we all took notes, learning much from each other.  This week we have begun Phase 2 of our Galleon unit.  Students are taking 5 question quizzes on social studies content to earn points to race their ships back to the Spain. Meanwhile, the privateers are on the prowl trying to track down and defeat the treasure laden galleons.  The quizzes help students review for our upcoming unit test (date TBD).

Religion – Fifth and Second grade buddy classes will be leading the Liturgy for the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Friday, December 8th.  We are learning about this important day in the liturgical calendar, writing prayers of intercessions, and preparing the homily.  Students will lead all parts of the mass from serving as greeters at the door to doing the all the readings.  We hope you can join us for this Holy Day of Obligation mass.

Math – We are wrapping up our unit on adding and subtracting decimals and will be moving on to Chapter 4-muliplying and dividing decimals.

Reading –  As advent approaches, we are comparing and contrasting versions of the Nativity story as told in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

Writing – This week, students will discuss the elements of narrative writing, analyze stories to identify the elements, and plan a story to write.


Fall Fun

It’s been a fabulously FUN FALL!  I always enjoy sitting down with students and their families to talk about learning successes and goals during conferences.  Since that time, I’ve seen strong evidence that students are feeling pride in their accomplishments and focusing on areas of growth.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos was a powerful way to honor family and friends who have passed away.  Student’s presentations were heartfelt…sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always touching.  Thanks to all those who sent in food for the fabulous feast.

It was a pleasure meeting so many grandparents and special friends yesterday.  The students were so proud to show their guests our school and couldn’t have been more exited about the cookies at lunch.  It was sweet hearing that a couple of the kids got teary eyed singing “You Are My Sunshine.”  I have to admit I was misting up, too.

Another fun fall highlight was the STEM project students engineered on Halloween.  They worked in teams to create a pumpkin elevator out of cardboard, string and a few other odds and ends.  I leave you with some photos from the day…


Social Studies – Students are finishing the rough draft of their Explorer Reports.  Next week we will revise, edit, and put all the pieces together.  On Thursday and Friday, students will share what they learned with the class.

Religion – We are putting our faith into action in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  We will learn more about how we are called to service; be it through food drives, candy donations, supporting our local homeless population, or praying for veterans.

Math – Next week we will begin a unit on decimals.  Students will be adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying numbers with place values to the thousandths.

Reading –  This week we will be comparing and contrasting two characters from our two recently read novels: Morning Girl and Pedro.  We will examine their perspectives on four different situations and will analyze how Native and European world views influenced the history of the Americas.

Writing – This week we will spend time talking about how to revise and edit work.  Students will analyze their own explorer essays for organizational structure, cohesive ideas, and clarity of expression and will make revisions as they go.   In addition, we will edit for punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Genius Hour – Last week we began working on a “genius hour” project to enrich our thinking.  Mrs. Ocampo joined our class and led us through the process of thinking deeply about complex ideas such as prayer, God, love, and hope.  In the coming week, students will work in teams to design a project to show their thinking. I showed the students a short segment of author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk on “Your elusive creative genius” and highly recommend it if you would like to learn more: