March Madness

The three pillars of Lent remind us of ways to better connect with God, our communities, our families and ourselves.  By praying, fasting and giving, we become mindful participants of God’s creation and in class we have been exploring ways to add all three actions to our daily lives.

In the past couple of weeks, the Corona virus (Covid-19), has been on everyone’s mind.  In our morning prayers, students always add special intentions for those who are sick and those who have passed away from the virus.  I’m sure you have had numerous conversations about Covid-19 at home already!  Just in case you would like a resource to use with your child, here is a kid friendly comic exploring true information about the virus from NPR.


  • Friday, March 6 – 5th grade leads the Stations of the Cross @2:30 in the church. Please join us if you can.
  • Friday, March 13 – No school for teacher in service
  • Thursday, March 26 – K-5 FAMILY STEM NIGHT from 5:30-7pm


READING- We are continuing to focus on non-fiction reading skills with our Achieve articles.  In addition we are wrapping up our novel, The Watson’s Go To Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.  Through it, we explored themes of equality and Civil Rights.

WRITING- Our current focus is on descriptive writing.  Students have drawn their own “monster” and are about to begin writing a story about him/her/it. Each story will include a detailed description of the creature and will include figurative language and descriptive adjectives that tell us about his/her/its adventures.

SCIENCE – We have begun unit on nutrition (SLE:  We are active learners who meet or exceed Archdiocesan and national standards).  A big highlight so far was learning to use balance scales to measure various foods in grams to test for fat.  We got to borrow the fancy scales from Mr. Tice’s middle school science lab for the task!  We will continue to investigate nutritional values of the food through scientific investigation, recording our results by using the steps of the scientific method.

RELIGION – We are taking notes on the stations of the cross and reflecting on ways to add prayer, increase giving, and experience sacrifice through fasting this Lent.  A big conversation in class centered around the concept of fasting–we all have habits lead us away from or distract us from God and how fasting from those might be a good idea!  The fifth graders will be leading the stations of the cross on Friday, March 6th at 2:30.  Please join us if you can!

All That Matters…

We are wrapping up a  science unit on the properties of matter (SLE:  We are active learners who meet or exceed Archdiocesan and national standards).  The students are loved learning about the periodic table of elements and we have had interesting discussions about conservation of matter and atomic energy.  As part of our studies, we visited the makerspace and created “balloon cars” to demonstrate the presence of particles that cannot be seen.


READING- In addition to our Achieve articles, we will introduce Daily 5 into our reading program.  Students are asked to select a fiction book to read from beginning to end.  At this time I have asked students to focus on traditional chapter books rather than graphic novels.  In Daily 5, students will choose between 5 reading/writing activities all directed toward building comprehension.

READING/WRITING- We are researching and reading about peacemakers and Civil Rights activists.  Next week we will write an essay about some of the people who inspire us to be better peacemakers ourselves.

RELIGION – Students have begun memorizing St. Francis of Assisi’s Prayer for Peace.  Recitation day is Wednesday, January 15th.

MATH- Our current unit is on dividing decimals.  It’s a short unit but covers a very important skill!  We should be wrapping up our study of this topic at the end of the week.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel


Advent has begun and with it, we are thinking even more about ways to make our world a better place.  We have decked out the room with holiday cheer, will prepare our hearts by leading the school wide liturgy for the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Monday, 12/9.   St. John 5th graders and our 2nd grade buddies will be doing all the jobs…including bell ringing, greeting, the procession, doing the readings, bringing up the gifts and leading the school in song.  We would love for you to join us in prayer–mass starts at 9:00.  This year, our Advent Giving Project is to support the education of a 10 year old boy named Kigudde from Uganda through the Unbound program.  We will kick off our fundraising efforts this Advent and use the money we raise to help pay the $40 a month it costs to support our new friend.  The fundraising will continue after Advent as well as we will ask students to try to contribute a dollar a month to this important ministry.  We’ve already received a letter about Kigudde and are eager to write back and get to know him better. We are definitely paving the way for Jesus!


Religion – Advent and the Immaculate Conception

Math – We will apply our knowledge of adding and subtracting decimals as we design our own gingerbread dream houses and calculated the associated costs (the price of icing roofs has sky-rocketed these days:)).  .

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

Science- We will be reading about the Engineering Design Process to better understand how to effectively create our own STEM projects.

Explorers and the EDP

Last week, students finished their European explorer research reports!  They represent our very first attempt at synthesizing information gleaned from multiple sources into one beautifully typed 5 paragraph essay, complete with fancy cover page, map, and bibliography.  I’m so proud of everyone’s hard work!

Grandparents and special friends day is on Thursday, 11/21.  We look forward to welcoming our guests!  If your child will not be hosting a guest, please let me know and I can make arrangements for them to join a friend at lunch. This is a dress uniform day.


Social Studies – Continuing our review of content, students will be taking practice quizzes to earn points in our simulation to race their ships back to race their ship back to Europe (or to capture a Galleon).  We will be taking our unit test on Friday, November 22nd.

Religion – Eucharist means Thanksgiving and we will talk about both the sacrament and gratitude for our many blessings as the holiday approaches.

Math –  Our current unit is on adding and subtracting decimals with a heavy emphasis on how decimal place values work.

Reading –  We will compare and contrast Native American and European perspectives of exploration as we wrap up our reading of Morning Girl.

Writing – We have begun exploring the elements of narrative writing.  Students have been analyzing picture books for the key parts of a story and will write their own narratives next week.

Science – The Engineering Design Process (EDP) has been our focus lately.  We spent time in the makerspace engineering boats that could hold the most “gold.”  Next up, we will apply the steps of the EDP to consider solutions to world problems.  There will be a quiz on the EDP at the end of the week.

Conference Time


I’m looking forward to seeing you and your student at conferences either Monday, October 18th or Friday, November 8th. Please note that we will be holding conferences in Egan Hall this year.

Here’s a link to the sign up if you still need to schedule a time:


I hope you enjoyed seeing the spirit of innovation come alive in your child as they engineered a game for their buddy and experienced “technology” without the use of an electronic device!


Thanks so much to those who helped with Dia de los Muertos mask making!  Between the vaseline moisturizer and the plaster exfoliant, kids not only wound up with a snazzy mask but also spa-like smooth skin!


Monday 10/28/19- Conference day 1.  No school.

Tuesday 10/29 – Late start!  Our school day begins at 9:00am.

Thursday 10/31/19-Dia de los Muertos Celebration begins at 12:30

Friday 11/1 – All Saints Day Liturgy @ 9:00am.  Dress Uniform.


Social Studies –  Our GALLEON unit continues.  This week we began researching  influential European explorers and conquistadors.  Students have learned details about an explorer’s early life, have read about one particular contribution made to the development of the new world as we now know it, and considered their lasting legacy.  We have organized all our notes and are now preparing to write a 5 paragraph essay reporting all that research!

Religion – Students have been preparing for our Dia de los Muertos celebration which will be held on THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31.  A completed Ofrenda paper, photo and item representing the person being honored is due on Wednesday, October 30.  Thanks for all who signed up to bring food–No celebration is complete without it!

Math –  We are still working on long division…solving problems using the standard algorithm and estimating using compatible numbers.

Reading –  We began reading another short historical fiction novel entitled Morning Girl by Michael Dorris.  In this book we will explore Columbus’ impact on the Taino tribe from the perspective of a young girl.  These readings will provide rich opportunities to compare and contrast historical events.

Writing – Those 5 paragraph essay style reports will be our writing focus.

Science –  This week we will begin studying the Engineering Design Process in earnest.  Students will be engineering a a solution to help clean up plastics in our oceans.

Fall Fun

We are officially finished with MAP testing!  Now we can really settle down into a regular routine and enjoy the fall.  Please note that our first school-wide liturgy is this coming Wednesday, October 16th and students will need to be in dress uniform for the occasion.


Social Studies – We continue our journey across the dark sea toward gold and glory!  This week students will begin researching one European explorer who they will then write a report about.  The report will largely be completed in class but check planners for any work that needs to be completed at home.

Religion – This week we will focus the parts of the mass and how to respond appropriately during the liturgy. We are also learning about Dia de los Muertos for our upcoming celebration (October 31st).  Students are asked to learn about a family member or family friend who passed away so that they can be honored on our altar that day.

Math –  Students will take heir chapter 1 math test on Tuesday.  When they get them back, I will ask them to do test corrections which can be submitted for extra points and an adjusted grade.  Once they have their final score, I will ask for parents to sign the test to ensure you have seen their work.  Then we move on to our next unit on Division.

Reading –  We are wrapping up Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad, a realistic fiction novel told from the point of view of a young Spanish boy sailing with Christopher Columbus.  Next week students will begin reading Morning Girl by Michael Dorris.  This book tells the same story from the perspective of a Native American girl.  We’ll be able to compare and contrast both perspectives when we finish the books.

Writing – .This week students are writing log entries to show their understanding of the risks and dangers facing European explorers.  To get started, we listened to “sounds of a creaky ship” (courtesy of youtube!) and really tried to imagine life on board a Galleon.  Entries are due on Tuesday and will be used to earn points for their next Galleon move.

Science – We loved our time in the makerspace last week where we made devices that showed movement out of cardboard.  We will continue the cardboard challenge in our DAY OF PLAY this Wednesday where we present the games we have been working on to our buddies!

And We’re Off!

5th Grade nap time! Waiting for art to begin immediately following an hour of running at the Jog-A-Thon.

We had a blast at our school’s

JOG-A-THON!  Thank you so much for the donations made so far.  We will continue to collect pledges through the end of the month so it’s not too late to donate or get your corporate matching dollars in (let me know if you need a form for this!).  We have some fun classroom incentives to inspire us to greatness and hopefully we will get the chance to enjoy them!

It was a pleasure meeting so many parents at Curriculum Night last week.  As promised, I have linked a copy the entire powerpoint presentation for your reference; you’ll find it in the classroom links tab.

High on the list of exciting classroom happenings:  Design-A-School!  Students just finished presenting their projects, having excitedly created schools to teach essential skills to a wide variety of students including Narwhal Ski and Snowboard, Area 51 Academy, and Leprechaunzer High.  Our schools teach gaming, hacking, living the exact opposite mission of St. John School and Grateful Dead Academy admits those who are not longer with us.  Talk about diversity in education, we have it all!

Read on for details about the rest of our classroom happenings.


Religion – We have begun our ministry of supporting the Ill and Homebound and are making cards to send to them to remind them that they are in our prayers.

Math –  We’re working on place value, multiplication, properties of multiplication (with special focus on the distributive property), and exponents.

Reading – THE BIG 4 is a set of skills we use constantly in fifth grade (and beyond!).  Students will practice predicting, questioning, making connections, and summarizing on a conscious level this week and learn to automatically apply these skills to reading throughout the year.  Students just began reading a short novel called Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad.  They will apply the Big 4 skills as they read.

Writing – Paragraph structure is key to expository writing and we continue working on and creating our own well crafted, perfectly organized paragraphs for the next two weeks.

Social Studies – Last week we began our Galleon unit.  We have been mind-mapping text about Medieval times, the Crusades, and Europe’s quest for goods from Asia.

Science – We will have our first STEM experience of the year where we explore the engineering design process in our new Makerspace!

The Best Part of Me

Last week we read a book of poetry called The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald.  In it, students wrote about themselves in poetic form and selected a pose to be photographed to accompany their masterpiece.  Inspired by our reading, we also wrote poems and they are now proudly on display in St. John’s second floor hallway.  Please stop by for a look at the wonderful poems and thoughtful photos.


JOG-A-THON – We are working hard to earn some special class incentives and support our school.  Please help your child collect pledges for this important fund-raiser.  The jogging itself happens next FRIDAY!

READING – Comprehension skills are our focus next week. Students will apply the strategies of Predicting, Questioning, Making Connections, and Summarizing to several short stories.

SOCIAL STUDIES – Once upon a time knights in shining armor, feudalism, the sad life of serfs, the quest for a direct route to the holy land, and a desire for trade with the far east somehow brought us all to a New World we came to call the Americas.  The story begins next week!

MATH – We’ve been exploring place value and how our Base 10 number system evolved (ask your child about how the Babylonians recorded numbers!).  This week we will learn about exponents, scientific notation and the properties of addition and multiplication.

WRITING – We will analyze paragraphs for effective organization (topic sentences, 3 supporting details, and a concluding sentence) and write our own using a graphic organizer.

RELIGION -We will be reading Genesis to reflect on God as architect, builder, geometer & craftsman and will look for examples of His grace in our lives.


Welcome Fifth Grade Friends

There’s excitement in the air on campus!  Teachers have been setting up classrooms, talking about curriculum, and eagerly anticipating a new batch of students.  In our classroom, everything is in place, but the desks look sad and empty and the books seem lonely on their shelves.  I am ready and waiting for the fifth grade magic to begin!

I can’t wait to meet you all on the first day of school!


Ms. Kelley