This Week’s News

Our Mixed Bags Camp Fundraiser concluded today.  Please be sure to have your order forms and money turned in. If you forgot to submit those today, please bring them on Monday. Thank you to all of you who have participated in the fundraiser to help offset the cost of sixth grade camp. People can still shop online to support our Mixed Bags fundraiser even after we’ve closed our catalog sale. We will continue to earn 40% profit on online Mixed Bags sales that contain our Fundraiser ID, 342910, through the end of December.

Students, you should be steadily working on the heritage dolls and research, finding ways to break up and pace the work so that you aren’t feeling so overwhelmed and pressured. Many “pro tips” are being shared in class from students who are learning useful time-management techniques. This project is due in a little over a week, so it is time to focus on this project for those late to start the work. For those of you still confused by MLA format, this site provides step by step instructions for formatting your paper, and the Purdue Owl site includes a sample paper in MLA format, as well as information about this style. Additionally, there are many sites that will help you properly create your Works Cited page. Two such sites are Citation Machine and EasyBib.


CPM Tip of the Week for Parents

Week 5

Mistakes are an important step in the process of learning. Don’t let your child give
up when he/she makes one! Encourage your child to persevere, try another strategy, think outside the box, or talk problems over with someone.

Sometimes it is hard to watch our children make mistakes, but struggling helps brains grow and is critical in order for your child to become smarter and more resilient. Very successful people often report that many mistakes were made along the way to their success, and these mistakes were an important and much overlooked part of the journey.

Your student does not need to be fast at math, so speed should not be a goal. He/she just needs to think deeply about math. This should also be the goal when responding to math questions. Encourage your child to think about his/her answer. Does it make sense? Why or why not?  If not, what is another possible solution that does make sense? (Paraphrased from Jo Boaler)

This Week’s News

As you know, the students have been working diligently to strengthen their writing skills, participating in daily writing mini-lessons and writing much free verse poetry. The students were curious about the expectation that they write nearly a poem a day, and a few students asked the purpose of writing so much poetry. It is a valid question. Students are being asked to write so much poetry at the beginning of the year because by its nature, poetry is generally shorter than prose, so allows for students to practice new strategies, techniques, and skills without the demand of writing pages of prose.

In class, we have been discussing critical thinking/argument and the importance of maintaining a nonjudgmental, neutral stance when others share their thinking. Sometimes in life (and in school), there are many possible ways of perceiving things. Strong critical thinking/argument skills will help students navigate the world.

Critical thinking/argument is the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality. A critical thinker asks pertinent questions, assesses statements and arguments, is able to admit a lack of understanding or information, has a sense of curiosity, is interested in finding new solutions, is able to clearly define a set of criteria for analyzing ideas, is willing to examine beliefs, assumptions, and opinions and weigh them against facts, listens carefully to others and is able to give feedback, sees that critical thinking is a lifelong process of self-assessment, suspends judgment until all facts have been gathered and considered, looks for evidence to support assumptions and beliefs, is able to adjust opinions when new facts are found, looks for proof, examines problems closely, and is able to reject information that is incorrect or irrelevant.

Students will continue to hone their critical thinking skills throughout the year. Daily Dialogue, part of our reading instruction, is one area where we practice these thinking skills, and students are beginning to take turns facilitating these discussions as well.

Additionally, students are also continuing to make progress using CPM, learning new mathematics and learning how to work effectively in teams. Some of the research-based benefits of teamwork include the following:

  • Working in a team provides opportunities to see and discuss multiple approaches to problems.
  • Students experience greater learning gains when they have multiple opportunities to explain their thinking and discuss ideas.
  • Interacting with others gives students the opportunity to become skilled collaborators, which will serve them well in many career paths.

Students, if you are experiencing difficulty accessing your CPM textbook online, please try to do so in class so we can troubleshoot.

Below are some tips to help parents discuss math with their students.

CPM Tip of the Week for Parents

Week 4

Practice and discussion are required to understand concepts in mathematics. When your student comes to you with a question about a homework problem, often you may simply need to ask them to read the problem aloud, and then ask what the problem is about. When you are working problems together, have your child talk about the problems, stating what she is thinking as she works. Remember to have your child practice on his own too.
Below is a list of general questions you can ask your child to help if she gets stuck:

  • What have you tried? What steps did you take?
  • What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work?
  • Explain what you know right now. 
If your student has made an attempt at starting the problem, try these questions.
  • What do you think comes next? Why?
  • What is still left to be done?
  • Is that the only possible answer? 
If your student does not seem to be making any progress, you might try these questions.
  • Let’s look at your notebook, class notes, and math notes. Do you have them?
  • Were you listening to your team members and teacher in class? What did they 
Be sure to include other appropriate questions. Remind students to use the index, glossary, checkpoint materials, homework help, math notes, and math notebook. All are useful tools in the process of learning.

This Week’s News

As you know, we began our writing instruction the very first day of school with the study of poetry. We have been writing free verse poetry because of its flexibility and the ease of its form, since it has very few rules, relying on line breaks and word choice to guide the reader. In free verse poetry, there are no set rules: no specific rhyming scheme, syllable count, metric pattern, line arrangement, or theme. The poet is “free” to write however s/he wants. Students now have written between five and seven free verse poems (some students have written more). Students have especially been focusing to incorporate new strategies and rules from their daily writing mini-lessons.

Transitioning to a math program that emphasizes concept-building and critical thinking through collaboration has provided some challenge.  Essential to greater mathematical understanding is the ability of students to manage the disequilibrium that arises as they move from beginning stages of understanding to greater mastery.  Perseverance and stamina are required so that students push through frustration and/or bewilderment rather than giving up when success isn’t instantaneous or at the first sign of demanding academic content.

In other news, today is the first day of our Mixed Bags Designs fundraiser.  Proceeds will be used to offset the cost of camp for all sixth grade students.  Catalogs went home today, but orders may be made online also.  We receive 40% profit on all orders. You can click here to view the catalogs, and if you want to order online, our fundraiser ID is 342910. We appreciate all of your support.

Finally, if you would like to read this week’s top spelling stories, you may find them here.

CPM Parent Tips of the Week

Weeks 2 and 3

CPM offers resources for parents and students at its website. You might find it useful to take a look at the following sections:

  • About CPM: an introduction to CPM, along with more information about the program and research supporting it.
  • Homework Help: a selection of hints, answers, and tools.
  • Parent Support: 
a vast resource provideing suggestions of ways to help your student such as those listed below, parent guides to lessons, and tips for learning.
  • Student Textbook: an online version of the math book that students can access, signing in using their school Gmail accounts.

Changing Math: Parent’s Roles


  • Discuss with your children the importance of mathematics for their future.
  • Instill in them the idea that they can learn mathematics.
  • Encourage your children to study and take notes.
  • Ask questions about what they are doing in class.
  • If your son or daughter asks for help, ask them questions that will lead to their figuring out how to do the problem themselves.
  • Be aware of current research about learning mathematics.

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