Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December 2, 2015

Parker and Xavier sorting and ordering fractions.
Holiday Feast
ANNUAL QUEST TEAM HOLIDAY FEAST!  Each year, the Quest team has a holiday feast to celebrate our community, and the winter holidays.  We ask each student on the Quest Team to bring in a sample (4-6 servings) dish that their family enjoys eating – perhaps something traditional – and we have a big potluck lunch.  Students sign up for entertaining with singing, instrumental pieces, or other forms of appropriate entertainment.  The feast is held in the Quest team classrooms, and in the project room on our wing.  Family members are welcome!  Each student is expected to bring a dish, a drink such as cider or juice, a dessert, or paper products like plates, forks and knives (and napkins).  Please email Melissa Williams with what you can bring.  We ask everyone to bring something to contribute to our community.  

We are planning to have our Holiday Feast on Friday, December 18th at 11:00 (10:30 set up) - 12:00 / 12:15.   We will have live music, from our students!  We’ll need some adults to help us set up, so please let us know if you are available. Mark your calendar… we’ll send home official invitations soon! 

Scholastic Books  As the holiday season approaches, books are a great gift to give.  Scholastic book orders are due Wednesday, December 9, 2015.  You may order in two ways, through the flyer, or online at scholastic.com/reading club.  The online activation code is DX7NF.  Thanks!

Math We have started our journey into fraction land by exploring the size of fractions as well as equivalence.  Before the holiday break, we will also cover the addition, subtraction, and multiplication of fractions.  A lot of the work we do with fractions is built on the understanding of fraction models.  These models help students understand why procedures work.  It is the expectation that by the end of the unit students will not rely on these models for problem solving.  

Weekly Review- Be on the lookout for a weekly review worksheet that students will bring home for homework.  These problems will be practice of previously covered topics.

Language Arts - We are in the middle of our non-fiction unit.  During reader's workshop, students are reading independent non-fiction books based on interest and reading level.  Students are learning to find main ideas, and how to take notes using a "box and bullet" format.  We are working with new vocabulary as well.  During writer's workshop, students are writing a non-fiction piece about the information we are learning in Integrated Studies.  Most of these reports center on early humans and their characteristics.  We are writing "flash drafts," and then cutting and pasting these into main ideas where we then research more facts.  The skills we are learning in reading and writing will be used in independent inquiry projects in January.

Integrated Studies- We are in the middle of our Bones and Stones unit, which covers fossils and early humans.  Students are working in 'bands' to explore these topics and share their learning with the class through group presentations.

Winter Recess
As the winter weather approaches, we will continue to go outside for recess.  It is expected that students bring appropriate clothing (hats, gloves, and coats) out to recess.  Once the snow comes, sledding will be an optional activity and students will need snow pants to participate.  

Questions to ask at home:
What was the activity in AWOD this week?
What is your Bones and Stones name?
Which human species is your group presenting about?
Which fraction is greater 5/6 or 8/9?  How do you know?
Who was your favorite character in the "Percy Jackson" play?

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9th, 2015

Hello Quest Families!
It has been a busy month here on the Quest Team!

Our field trip to the Duxbury Window

Thank you to all chaperones who went on the field trip to the Duxbury Window.  There was a lot of energy that day!  We are grateful for your support.
Students finished their work for the documentary 5672, The Story of our Land.  It is a documentary of the history and geology of the land, as well as the history of the school and teams.  Students participated from the brainstorming of questions, to interviews, to video editing.  A link to this documentary can be found here.
We are in the middle of a short geologic time line project, and will be starting our study of Early Humans next week.

In LA, we are finishing our interpretation book groups.  Students have made good progress reading books in book groups, looking at character traits, and how those lead to motivation, which can lead to understanding the theme of a book.  Students are also writing their own narratives.  We have been focusing on the "heart of the story," or the theme, in both their reading and writing.  We are looking deeply into texts, and are writing deeply about what we read.

Next week we will begin our non-fiction unit.

In Math, we have been busy exploring 3-dimensional geometry by finding the volume of rectangular prisms, including trucks, hallways, classrooms, and pools.  Students are currently engineering shipping containers for products and finding ways to save companies money on these containers.

The Flynn Theater Field trip

 The Quest team will be going to the Flynn Theater to see The Lightning Thief on December 1st.  Click here for a permission slip with more information.  We will need each student to contribute $14.00 for the cost of the trip.

PTO Fundraisers

We have recently sent out a fundraising letter.  Please ask your student for this, and help to contribute in any way you can.  We will be saving up for our Boston trip in the spring of 2017.  We would also like to take some trips before then, and this will help!!

Student Led Conferences

Keep your eye on the Cougar Notes for more information regarding these conferences!  The conferences will be student led.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hiking and Order Forms

Hello Quest Families,

Hiking Duxbury Window - Permission slip
Feel like getting an early start to Columbus day weekend?  Come join the Team Quest hike!  We are excited to let you know about our team hike happening on Friday, October 9th from 10:00-2:00.  The hike will be up to Duxbury Window on the Long Trail.  We are looking for chaparones to help us transport students to and from the trailhead and come hiking with us.  If you are interested in being a chaparone, email Curtis at ctaylor@wwsu.org.

Picture Day
Picture Day order forms went home on Monday.  Please send these back with your student if you plan to order pictures.  Picture Day is on Wednesday, October 7th.

Quest Clothing
Order forms were sent home with students interested, but can also be found here.  These are due back by October 23rd at the latest.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Welcome to Quest Math

Hello Quest Families!

Welcome to 5th grade Math on Team Quest!  We are a few weeks into our new school year and have had some great explorations in Math class.  Below is some information about 5th grade Math to ensure students, families, and teachers are on the same page.  Please email me at ctaylor@wwsu.org with any questions you may have.

Students can expect to have weekly assignments in Math class.  Some of these assignments may include the use of technology as we are using math practice websites this year.  If access to technology at home is an issue, please let me know and we can make accommodations.  Two of the websites that we will be using early on are IXL.com (free app in the app store and all students have accounts) and xtramath.org (app for purchase, but website is free).  Students should make sure to log in to their accounts on these websites before completing any practice to receive credit.  The benefits of these programs are extensive and include immediate feedback to students as well as a personalized program.

XtraMath is a program which many of our Quest students have had previous experience with in 3rd and 4th grade.  The emphasis of this program is math fact practice.  All students will begin the year practicing math facts and students will transition on to other work as they demonstrate proficiency.  I understand that math fact practice can be frustrating for some students, but fluency with these facts is critical for accessing 5th and 6th grade math concepts that extend beyond multiplication.

**Homework is a time for practicing skills already learned in the classroom.  If you find that your student is spending too much time working on an assignment or is over-frustrated, send me a note/email and we will make adjustments.

Homework is graded using the following scoring rubric:
4 - Finished homework on time and did challenge work

3 - Finished homework on time. Work is neat and complete.

2 - Finished homework late or did some of the homework

1 - Did not complete homework

Curriculum/Class Time

At CBMS, we use the Common Core State Standards to guide our curriculum.  Our text for 5th grade is Investigations Math (same as TBPS).  Here is a rough outline of our units of study for this year:

September - October:  Multiplication & Division
October - November:  3D Geometry (Volume)
November - January:  Fractions
January - February:  2D Geometry (Measurement)
February - March:  Decimals
March - April:  Multiplication & Division II
April - May:  Patterns & Functions
May - June:  Data Analysis

This is a rough outline because daily lessons are based on student understanding and progress at a given moment.  Our lessons are planned to meet the needs of students at that moment in time.  We will use 'Exit Books' weekly to informally assess understanding and guide instruction.

Assessment & Grading
The 5th and 6th grade math team will be using a Proficiency Based Grading approach to assessment and reporting.  This approach will give families and a more accurate picture of the strengths and areas for improvement for their student.  It will also give students the opportunity to set clear, understandable goals that they can work towards throughout the year.  The best way to view your student's progress in Math class will be through the Schoology website.  Here you will see how your student in progressing towards grade level expectations, how well they are completing homework, and the habits of learning they are demonstrating in the classroom.  The following scores will be used to assigned to student work:

4 - Moving beyond grade level expectations
3 - Meeting grade level expectations
2 - Using strategies that are approaching grade level expectations
1 - Using strategies below grade level expectations

Students will also be completing weekly self-reflections based on their own personal progress.  Through these reflections, it is my hope for students to understand their job is to deepen their understanding beyond where they were the day before.

It should be a great year of learning and growing!  Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

-Curtis Taylor

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dear Questers and Quest Families,

 August 30, 2015

Welcome to Quest!

We have had an excellent first two weeks with our students.  We have participated in team building activities, discussed group norms, started our Applied Academics, PE, went to Den, started Geography / Health and Integrated Studies.  We set up accounts for Google Docs, IXL Math and Schoology.  We began LA and Math classes, and participated in Team Town Meeting.  It was a full two weeks!  We will try to fill you in on some of the details.  More details will come in upcoming newsletters.

This is our blog / newsletter.  We will be writing this blog / newsletter three or four times a month to keep you posted on the comings and goings of the Quest team.

First week / general schedule

As you have probably heard from your student and maybe have seen in their planners, the first week's schedule was a bit out of the ordinary.  We have been busy getting to know each other, the school, and what it means to be on Team Quest!   The daily schedule, which you and your student can expect most of the time, is linked above where it says 'general schedule'. 

Integrated Studies

You might be wondering what "Integrated Studies" is on your student's schedule.  Integrated Studies, or "IS" is a combination of science, social studies, literacy and math.  We are teaching these together during this block to help students understand that learning does not always fall on subject area lines.  Students will study specific standards in the traditional science / social studies curriculum (scientific method, interdependence, geography, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt), and they will see how these connect with each other.  If you would like to help out, or if you are aware of service learning opportunities, please let us know!  This is a good class to incorporate working with community partners.

This week we began our study of "5672," which is our address here at CBMS.  We are focusing on the natural ecosystems and human impact here on our piece of property.  The photo above was taken on our visit to the Crossett Brook.

Quest Plan of Action
Our Quest Plan of Action (attached above) is our discipline policy.  You will find the steps that the teachers on Team Quest will take to address any discipline issues that may arise in the classroom.  
Google Platform and Schoology

This week your student created a new password for their Google account and created a Schoology account.

Google will be used for most of what is offered on the Google platform.  Students will be using email, docs, slides, sites, photos, and sheets primarily.  We have started with students logging in and creating passwords.  We have copies of these passwords, should they forget what they are.

Schoology is a learning management system.  It is new to CBMS.  It is where students can hand in homework, and keep track of their grades.  It is connected to PowerSchool.  At this point, you have access to Powerschool.  You will have Schoology accounts in the beginning of October, once we have worked the bugs out of the system.


We expect each student to develop a system for recording homework.  We find that when students physically write their assignments in a planner, they remember them more often.  Most students have a planner which they purchased in the office for $4.00.  

Homework may be a new afternoon activity for your student.  Our intention with homework is for students to continue their learning outside of the classroom day. 

Studies have shown that the best way to ensure your student succeeds, is to have your student read.  Therefore, we require 30 minutes of reading a night.  Each week, we will require students to write the name of the book they are reading, and the page numbers they have read.  These pages will be a part of their LA grade.  Students will record this information in Language Arts class until they have a reading section in their Google Docs.  

Your student will have 20 - 30 additional minutes of homework each night.  If your student is working for over an hour on homework each night, and it is becoming stressful, please let us know via an email, or written note.   We will follow up and have different strategies to make the homework time less stressful.

We intend for the homework to be based on learning.  Therefore, we will be grading the homework based more on progress than on how much is correct.  We expect our students to work hard, and we want them to progress.  If you find you are needing to provide too much assistance to your child, please let us know and we can help figure it out so homework works for everyone.

For Language Arts homework, students will have an assignment each week called POW. POW stands for "Paragraph of the Week," and the topics change weekly.    Students will be assigned a topic on a Thursday, and will have the week to complete it.   The first two POWs will be answering questions in complete sentences.  We'll move up to paragraphs later in the month. Students will have a link to each POW assignment in their email.  The assignment is also attached to the homework board, and will appear in their Schoology.  Hard copies are available if students do not have access to technology at home.

For Math homework, students will have a variety of short-term and long-term assignments.  Assignments that are through the IXL Math program will always be long-term to give students an opportunity to plan how they are going to access technology in order to complete it.  Short-term assignments will mostly be in Math workbooks, which each student will receive in the coming weeks.

If you would like to know the week's assignments, they will be written in your student's planner. In addition, homework will be posted on the Quest Team Website.  The website can be found off the CBMS website, with a link to our page under the students tab.  The homework will be posted on the Homework Board.  

Quest Webpage

If you click the link above you will be sent to the Quest Webpage.  You can also access the Webpage from the CMBS website.  We will update our webpage throughout the year.  You can find helpful tools, homework information, assignment information, practice websites, references, and much more!   

Enjoy your long weekend!  We hope to post more information next week.  Please do not hesitate to email us with your questions.