As a written assignment for Social Studies class, fifth graders created their own historical fiction colonies after learning about the 1607 Virginia Colony, Jamestown. Students discussed various components of their individual colonies and offered each other feedback. Discussions varied from critiquing the validity of harsh punishment, to the benefits or concerns of having a homogeneous colony. Many discussions about social class took place as well, offering students an opportunity to understand the complexity of moral obligation and societal necessity.
The fifth grade Spanish class has been studying the conquistadors for a few weeks, and learned all about the famous Spanish conquerors. We went on a scavenger hunt around the classroom, set sail on the Srta. DeAngelis express in our sailing simulation, and now we have become the conquistadors we studied! There was drama, intrigue, romance, and betrayal as some students reenacted the significant moments of the lives of the Cabeza de Vaca, Nuñez de Balboa, and fan favorite Ponce de Leon. Other students decided to do an interview news segment to discover the motivations of Juan Ponce de Leon, while a different group decided to compare and contrast the maps available in the 1500s to those available now to analyze how the maps influenced their routes. (Class consensus: they really could have used GPS!) It was a fantastic end to the unit!
Throughout the month of October, our fifth grade writers worked tirelessly to create descriptive, autumnal, and creative stories to share around a bonfire. We began our writing process by exploring “fall sensory bins.” Students got to smell the spices of the season, feel smooth and bumpy gourds, and crunch vibrant leaves; they wrote down descriptive details and what memories the items conjured up for them. We learned about the five key story elements – plot, character, conflict, theme, and setting – and how to develop a meaningful plotline, and got to work!
We then collaborated with Mrs. Engelke’s 2nd graders, who were writing fall-inspired personal narratives of their own. Our 5th graders taught their younger buddies about “Story Mountains” and how to identify the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution of a story. Together we read a spooky tale, and plotted each part of the story on a Story Mountain. The 2nd and 5th graders shared their rough drafts with one another and offered compliments, suggestions, and corrections. In order to highlight the importance of telling an engaging, descriptive tale that would be enjoyable read aloud, Ms. Karen from Acting Out visited to share her story, A Friendly Ghost Tale. Both classes had the chance to act out various characters – it was a wonderfully active and engaging experience.
Finally, our big day arrived on October 26th – Bonfire Night! Earlier in the day, the 2nd and 5th graders reconvened to consider how to share a story around a campfire. “What should it sound like?” “How should you read your story?” “What tips could we share with one another?” The students practiced reading their final drafts with their buddies. That evening, three bonfires burned as 36 storytellers read their tales to admiring family and classmates. Guests nibbled on fresh popcorn (adorned with chocolate chips and marshmallows!) and sipped on hot apple cider. Our storytellers engaged their audiences with descriptive details, figurative language, and dramatic plotlines. It was a truly special evening – one our 5th graders won’t soon forget!
The fifth graders were fortunate to be joined by an educator from The Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Christopher Newell (Passamaquoddy) offered students a gripping, engaging presentation in which he shared the history and traditions of the Mashantucket Pequot. Mr. Newell offered an impeccable insight on the effect of western progress as it relates to New England Native American people. We discussed the adaptations Native Americans have experienced, and their efforts to coexist in both cultures.
Students marveled at Pequot ingenuity, and were moved by their cultural traditions such as matriarchy, and respect to land. Mr. Newell discussed how ownership of land had been an inconceivable concept to the Pequot. Scholars were very enlightened by the presentation, and this experience truly sparked a new appreciation for learning history with a new level of depth, committing ourselves to experiencing a more accurate narrative of people’s history and experience.
Fourth and fifth graders were treated to the annual fall social on a recent Friday afternoon in the Unquowa gym. Students were greeted with an ice cream bar filled with goodies that would please Willie Wonka Countless combinations of sundae treats were created. Then it was off to the prop stand, where students donned silly glasses, bold mustaches and sparkly hats. Students had fun at the photo booth striking many poses and then tested their flexibility in a giant game of Twister. The highlight of the social was presented when the music started and the DJ was sure to teach all the latest dance moves. A great time was definitely had by all. A special thank you goes out to the parent-lead social committee for putting together an afternoon our students will not soon forget!