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Grade 4-5

Grade 4-5 Teachers' Messages

January 12, 2018

This week we spent time learning/reviewing about Martin Luther King. Students rotated through four activities; a fact/opinion game, a context clue game, a reading passage about MLK’s childhood and a cause and effect reading passage. For homework, students were asked to look at photos showing segregation and make inferences about the photos and the feelings of those in them.

Fourth graders began moving onto three digit by one digit multiplication. They were asked to solve by multiplying in parts and then adding their answers. Fifth graders worked on multiplying whole numbers by decimals.

For our country study project students are now locating places in their chosen countries that they would like to visit. They are pretending that they are there and writing letters home.

Our first at home book project was sent home on Monday. Be sure to check in with your child. He/she is required to read a chapter book and create a 3 minute “book talk” for the week of January 23rd.

Our classroom ticket system has changed. It is now every student for him/herself. Once a month we will have an auction or store where students can use their tickets. If you have any gently used items that you would like to donate, please send them in!

In chumash this week, the 4th graders learned about Yaakov’s preparations for his encounter with Eisav. The 5th graders finished learning parashat V’Yigash and had a siyum with our whole class where they shared some of their learning from the parasha. Both 4th and 5th grade have also spent much for the week preparing for our chumash assessment that will take place next week. We have been reviewing skills and learning how to take a standardized test. This assessment will provide important information back to the teachers about areas of strength and areas that need reinforcement for each student. Please make sure that your child continues to review the skills in their workbooks over the course of the long weekend.

In navi, we have been learning about Gidon, his leadership, and the peace that Bnei Yisrael experienced during his lifetime. But we also learned about Gidon’s son Avimelech, who kills his own brothers in order to secure his claim to rule as king. We learned about the mashal (parable) or Yotam and how those who seeks leadership positions for the sake of power and fame (selfishly) are not successful or good leaders. It is rather those who step up reluctantly (selflessly), when pushed, who make good leaders. We then learned of Avimelech’s demise and the ensuing years of Am Yisrael straying once again from Hashem. Through all of this, we also learned about the geography of Eretz Yisrael and the historic and recurrent divide between the northern vs. the southern parts of Israel.

Our class also had the opportunity to be part of a program run by the Boston area Shinshinim (like our bnot sheirut), who shared about the diversity of people that exists in Israel today.

Our first at home book project was sent home on Monday. Be sure to check in with your child. He/she is required to read a chapter book and create a 3 minute “book talk” for the week of January 23rd.


January 5, 2018

This week we jumped right back into our curriculum. We spent time reviewing the scientific process in preparation for our individual science projects. Students worked on a fun “real world” lesson called “Mike’s Breath.” This activity was about a boy named Mike who needed to figure out why the girls at his school dance didn’t want to dance with him. Using the scientific process, 4th and 5th graders came up with hypotheses and experiments in an effort to help Mike solve his problem.

We began reading a new book called Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. Our focus will be how the main character changes based on the many events in his life. This is a lead into our new reading unit where students will be asked to look at character changes in their own books.

Our country study unit is moving along very well. Students have completed their animal research and have moved onto sports. Their animal research papers are hanging on the bulletin board in the hallway if you’d like a “sneak peak.”

Though the week was (very) short, we managed to learn a lot. In Chumash, the 4th graders have been learning about Yaakov preparing his family and possessions for their encounter with Eisav after 34 years of Yaakov not seeing him. We learned that Yaakov did not simply rely on Hashem's help but also took steps to himself to be prepared. Yaakov started with diplomacy, prayed to Hashem and also prepared for war if necessary. We discussed other instances in Torah when people, although they also might pray to Hashem, take action rather than waiting for Hashem to intercede. Can you think of a few examples? In 5th grade Chumash, we learned about Yaakov's meeting with Pharaoh for the first time and how Pharaoh showed Yaakov respect.

In Navi, we moved into Perakim 6-8 as we learned about Gidon and his role as leader of the Jewish people against Midyan and other nations that lived in the area at that time. We debated the pluses and minuses of a monarchy as we learned about Bnei Yisrael wanting Gidon to be king but Gidon refusing.

In Mishna, the 4th graders have begun their study of mesechet Brachot. We learned about the source for the mitzvah of Kriyat Shema and how it helps us fulfill our obligation each day to learn Torah. The 5th graders continued their studies in mesechet Babba Kamma as they learned various cases of that have to do with responsibility in damages. Ask them about some of the practical life examples that they brought up in class related to their learning.


December 22,2017

In this final week before vacation we did a lot of catch up work. Math sheets were completed, we reviewed possessive nouns and commas and we worked to try and get caught up with our Cricket in Times Square work. Students were given time to work on Lexia and Iready and to finish up any loose ends on their writer’s workshop stories

In social studies, students completed their animal research piece of their country projects. There was a lot of excitement in the classroom as students discovered and shared things that they found about their animals.

On Friday we did a “before break” clean up and then the students were rewarded with a game day for earning 200 tickets!

Please ask your child for the letter that I sent home regarding animal research books. I’m asking that all families please get some library books about their child’s country to send into school after vacation. We will use them in the coming weeks.

In Judaic studies, we had an incredibly packed week with lots of Chanukah fun! Our 4th and 5th graders performed a play in front of the whole school about George Washington and an experience that he had with Chanukah during the Revolutionary War. We worked on creating newspapers as if the students were reporters during the time of the Maccabees. And, we participated in a Chanukah carnival put on by Aviya and Gali.

In Chumash, our 4th graders finished parashat Va'Yetzei and began Parashat Va'Yishlach. We debated the merits of Lavan, with students taking different sides of whether Lavan was a good guy or a not so good guy. We completed our learning of this parasha with learning about the mitzvah of escorting one's guests as we learn from the milachim of Eretz Yisrael escorting Yaakov into Eretz Yisrael. We celebrated our learning with a siyum where we shared reflections on all that we have learned. We are very excited to learn all about Yaakov's reentry into Eretz Yisrael as we move into the new parasha.

The 5th grade just finished perek 46 and has moved onto perek 47 where Yosef brings his brothers and father before Pharaoh asking him for separate lands for the brothers to settle. It is interesting to consider why the children of Yaakov needed land that was separate from the Egyptians and how this relates to our own lives livings in the United States.

Finally, as we do on every Rosh Chodesh, the class voted on where we would like to send our tzedakah money that we have been collecting over the month. The class decided this month to split the money between an organization for cancer care and an organization that provides various services for the poor, like food, finding homes, training for jobs, etc. Please remind your child to bring in more tzedakah if they are out. We collect tzedakah every day in class.


This week in Hebrew we learned a new song by Naomi Shemer “Al Kol Eleh”. The song was written in 1980 and gets its inspiration from the time period when there were peace talks with Egypt during the Sinai evacuation.The song asks of H’Shem that we should be able to keep everything we have.

Both the fourth and the fifth grade classes worked in their Chaverim Bivrit booklets. They also practiced reading fluently and with comprehension using the book "What do you want to be". This week, the students continued to work on their restaurant project. Each group chose a restaurant name and decided what kind of food they would serve. They then began to design their menu using the computer.

Wishing everyone a wonderful break and a happy new year!

December 15, 2017

This week we finished our oil spill science unit. Groups were given the opportunity to put their oil spill clean up plans to the test. They were provided with a “shoreline and small body of water” and an oil spill. Using the materials and the design plans that they had previously decided upon, each group went to work. After the “clean up,” they evaluated their processes by measuring the amount of oil that was left on the shore and on the water.

The first phase of country studies is now complete. Ask your child about his/her “Talking Map.” Now, each student will be studying about one particular animal found in his/her country. Everyone is learning how to research information on the internet and then use it to write a small report.

We continued our work in Cricket in Times Square, worked on Lexia and Iready and everyone was given a chance to continue work on his/her writer’s workshop story.

In Chumash, 4th is working to finish parashat Va'Yeitza, which we are hoping to conclude before winter break. 5th grade continues to move forward in the story of Yaakov reuniting with Yosef in Mitzrayim.

In Ivrit this week, in honor of Chanukah, the Hebrew lesson was held in the kitchen. After, the students read text that is a recipe for making Sufganiyot and answered questions like, “What is before and after?” We learned new words such as yeast, mix, put, bowl and knead. They made amazing and delicious Sufganiyot for all the students in the school - YESHR KOACH!

In continuation of the theme "In the restaurant", both, fourth and fifth graders received a group project. Each group creatively presented a restaurant to the class.

Chaverim Bivrit: Fourth graders practiced verbs with two letters - the root has three letters but the letters Yud & Vav disappear in the past tense.They also read a story about Tamar's grandfather and the kiddush cup that goes from father to son as a bar mitzvah gift. The students shared similar stories from their family.

Wishing everyone a Happy Chanukkah!


December 8, 2017

There was a lot of excitement in grades four/five this week as students learned which country they would be studying. Students were able to start their projects by doing online research to create a “Talking Map,” researching such information as population, religions, neighboring countries, etc.

In science students were tasked with creating a design process for cleaning up an oil spill. They were provided with several materials and given a budget. Their clean up plan needed to fit within the budget. For our next lesson, all groups will be able to try out their design processes and see if they work.

We continued to work on possessive nouns this week, learning the difference between singular and plural. And, in writing, students wrote a more detailed paragraph comparing video games and board games. They stated their side of the argument and had to extend their details by providing examples.

This week in Hebrew the students read a text about Naomi Shemer, the poet and composer who wrote the beautiful song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav “- Jerusalem of Gold.

We also read and heard her song “Orchim Lakayitz” - Guests for the Summer. The song deals with wishful thinking in peace in the world and mentions how to say Shalom in different languages. Here is the link to the song:

This week we also started practicing vocabulary to use them in a restaurant conversation. The students learned vocabulary like”Meltzar- waiter “Tafrit”- menu, “Ani rotzeh Lehazmin bevakasha”- I would like to please order ....they also started to use the vocabulary in their comics.

Chaverim Beivrit - Fourth graders began a fifth booklet. They learned about different verbs in the present tense and in the past: gar- he lived, tas - he flew.

The fifth grade class continues to learn stories about small and interesting animals.

In Judaic studies, we spent a good portion of the week reviewing all that we have learned about Chanukah and used our knowledge about the laws of lighting the Chanukah candles to help fictitious families find the best way to fulfill the mitzvah of pirsumay nissah. Check out our bulletin board in the SHAS hallway to see some pictures of our process and our completed work.

Almost the entire class has placed out of our Yediyot Klaliyot unit and we are now moving on to our brachot unit.

In Chumash, the 4th Grade continues to learn perek 31. We are now learning about Yaakov’s escape from Lavan and Lavan’s response to chase after Yaakov. We also refreshed our memory of the geography of the region and Yaakov’s route home. We looked back to the beginning of Sefer Beresheit to notice some of the landmarks such as rivers (Chidekel and Prat) that are mentioned in both places. The 5th grade continued on with the story of Yaakov’s decent to Mitzrayim to reunite with Yosef whom he had not seen in years.


December 1, 2017

This week students were presented with a design challenge in science. There was an “oil spill” and they were asked to test the efficacy of different materials and tools to both contain the spill and remove the oil from the surface of the water. As a class, we evaluated the materials and tools based on performance during testing and we also identified some of the advantages and disadvantages of using each item. Ask your child to tell you about our findings.

Now that the students are experts in writing opinion paragraphs, we have moved our focus to argumentative opinion writing. Before the holiday break, students compared video games and board games, creating a topic sentence and “picking a side.” This week we discussed and practiced how to cite examples to back up reasons. We also incorporated transition words into our writing.

In math fourth graders worked on place value, rounding whole numbers and problem solving by making an organized list. Fifth graders reviewed multiplication.

In preparation for both our science fair and our country study project, students were given surveys to complete by next Monday. Please help your child to determine what country he/she would like to learn about and what science experiment he/she would like to conduct.

In Chumash this week, the 4th grade finished perek 30. We learned a bit about genetics and how traits gets passed down as we focused our attention on how Yaakov used the knowledge that Hashem gave him to understand how to divided Lavan's sheep in two groups so that he would end up with lots of spotted sheep. We then began perek 31, discussing Yaakov's plans to leave the house of Lavan, after year's of mistreatment at the hand of Lavan.

The 5th grade has started perek 46, looking at the episode of Hashem coming to Yaakov in a vision and easing Yaakov's fear as he is about to head down to Mizrayim to reunite with his long lost son Yosef. Imagine the mixed emotions within Yaakov of once again leaving Eretz Yisrael but knowing that he would soon be reunited with his long lost son.

On November 29, we learned about the U.N. Partition Plan that happened in 1947 and saw a video of the actual U.N. vote and the reaction of Jews around the world when it passed.

In preparation for Chanukah, we have been comparing and contrasting the Chanukah and Purim stories and have been reviewing the what happened in the Chanukah story.

In Mishna this week, we learned about the mitzvah of Chanukah and the different levels (basic mitzvah, mehadrin, mehadrin min ha'mehadrin) of fulfilling this mitzvah of lighting candles. We also discussed the machloket between Beit hillel and Beit shammai regarding adding vs. subtracting candles each night of Chanukah and the basis for each of these opinions.

Having reached another Rosh Chodesh, we counted up our tzedakah from this past month of Mar Chesvan and decided to give the $30 that we raised to “Birthday Wishes”, an organization that gives birthday parties to children who live in homeless shelters.

This week in Hebrew, fourth graders finished the fourth booklet of Chaverim B’Ivrit. The students then practiced repeating the vocabulary by using various sentences.

The fifth graders continued to practice reading and reading comprehension in Chaverim B’Ivrit. They compared two stories about an ant and a spider.

In addition, the students wrote beautiful letters to the IDF soldiers. Dan and Marcia Shimshek, who will be traveling to Israel before Chanukah, will give the letters to the soldiers.

We also did activities to practice the use of infinitive words in various sentences. We learned that they are not used as a verb and will come after words like need, want, love, worthwhile, can, can not and more. To practice this subject, some of the students started preparing their third comic. This time, the title is ”In the restaurant”.


November 17, 2017

Do you think children should have to do homework? Do you think parents should be able to make decisions for their children? Fourth graders expressed their thoughts on these two important questions in their opinion paragraphs. You will be able to read their thoughts at parent conferences.

In science we learned about “producers,” “consumers” and “decomposers as we discussed how an oil spill might affect an ecosystem. In part one of this lesson, we all took a role in making a model of a river ecosystem as we represented the connections between the different components by using string and creating a web. Students learned that pollution found in one part of an ecosystem can affect all of the other parts.

For math we finished up unit two in our books by working on problems that called for deductive reasoning. And, in reading, we began our new book, Cricket in Times Square. At the end of chapter two we discussed onomatopoeia. Ask your child to tell you about it.

This week our 4th graders moved ahead in their new workbooks as we began perek 30 in Parashat Va’Yeitzeh. We explored the dynamic between Rachel and Leah, as Leah begins to have children while Rachel was unable to have children of her own. Our classs talked about the emotions that must have been felt among each of the family members involved. We also looked at the midrash that discusses Leah’s nevauh that Yaakov was meant to have twelve sons and how this then effects her own actions in having children and naming those children.

We spent some time this week focusing on the Jewish calendar unit of Yediyot Klaliyot, to continue building our students’ basic Jewish literacy.

In Mishna, students had an opportunity to present the rabbinic figures about whom they have been studying and the context of the time periods during which those figures lived, along with some annecdotes and teachings of these rabbis. The students presented beautifully and helped give us a working knowledge of the rabbis whom we will be meeting throughout the year in the mishnayot that we will be studying.

And of course, our 5th graders had an amazing week at Teva learning all about food sustainability, ecology, and appreciating God’s world. We look forward to learning all about their experience upon their return.


November 10, 2017

After several weeks of preparation, students were finally ready to write their first opinion paragraphs! Students used TIDE planners (Topic, Interesting Detail, Ending Sentence) to help them plan out their paragraphs and then they were able to use this graphic organizer to write a complete draft. As we continue with writing over the course of the year, students will use TIDE to help them write.

Students had a great time in science this week as they became environmental engineers. They learned about some of the problems plaguing the plants and animals of the fictional Greentown. Students were provided with many soil and water samples and had to test the pH of each in an effort to collect data and determine what areas of the town the problems were stemming from. Vocabulary taught included acid, base, environmental engineer, neutral, pH and pollution.

We reviewed rules for plural nouns and students worked to complete their reading books.

In Ivrit this week, we focused on writing sentences in the past. The students got the opportunity to learn from their and their classmate’s mistakes and correct the sentences. The most common mistakes were matching the verb to pronoun. The students also experimented with expanding the sentence by asking who, what, when, where and why.

Last Friday, we had the special occasion of being invited to our K/1 Buddy class for their Shabbat party. They were so warm and welcoming to our students as we joined them in preparing for Shabbat as they fulfilled the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim (welcoming guests)

This week in JS we had two siyyumim, one for the 4th grade for finishing perek 29 in Va'Yeitzeh and the 5th grade for finishing perek 45 in Va'Yigash both classes thereby finishing their first Le'Havin U'Lehaskil workbook of the year. At each siyyum, students had the opportunity to share out some of the things they remembered from what they had learned, and WOW have we learned a lot of Torah so far this year!

In Navi, we read the story about the Neviyah Devorah in her leadership role for Bnei Yisrael and about Yael killing the commander of the Canaanite army. We spoke about what it must have been like for women back then to have held a position of leadership and power. We then looked at the poetic structure Shirat Devorah (Song of Devorah), discussed how books used to be written on klaf like a sefer Torah, viewed a website about the Dead Sea Scrolls, and then had a chance to look inside an actual sefer Torah to see Az Yashir, another song written in the same poetic structure. Ask your kids what they think the structure looked like to them.

In Mishna, 4th grade has been learning about the movement of the Sanhedrin from the Beit Ha'Mikdash to Yerushalayim to Yavneh to Usha and then finally to Zippori. We tried to understand how these movements of the Sanhedrin related to the Roman rule. We also learned about various rabbinic figures and their teaching from each of those periods. Students will be presenting to their peers what they have discovered about their time period that they have been studying. The 5th graders have begun their studies of Nezikin, starting with Baba Kamma. They began by learning some key concepts in property laws and are now beginning to apply those concepts to the mishnayot that they are studying - like what happens if a strong wind comes and knocks down your fence so that you dog gets out of your backyard and goes and bites someone? Are you, as the owner, responsible for paying for damages?

Our 5th graders are very much looking forward to Teva next week and we can't wait to see what songs and ideas they return with. Please make sure that your 5th grader arrives at SHAS on Monday morning no later than 7:45 AM.

November 3, 2017

This week in math 4th graders began to look at patterns with both shapes and numbers. They also spent time working on tables determining patterns and operations (input and output). Fifth graders reviewed addition and subtraction of decimals.

Students worked towards completing their comprehension packets for Frindle and The Janitor’s Boy. We also completed reading No Talking, another book by Andrew Clements, in class.

In writing time was divided between writer’s workshop and practicing writing topic sentences with supporting details. We also started to focus on words to connect our ideas as well as conclusion sentences.

Finally, we completed reading our science story so that we are ready to jump into science next week.

In Judaic Studies this week, our students did a deep dive into understanding the origins and meaning of Birkat Ha’Mazon. Check out the students' visual representation on the hall bulletin board of the four core sections. We focused on two dates this week, spending some time learning about Rachel Immeinu on her yertzheit and Moreh Itzik shared with the students what it was like to be in Israel when Yizthak Rabin was assassinated.

In Chumash, the 4th grade focused on looking at the chesed that Rachel did for her sister Leah by not embarrassing her when Lavan swapped brides on Yaakov. Additionally, we discussed the concept of slavery as we learned about Lavan giving Zilpah to Leah as a wedding present, like he would any piece of his property. This was difficult for our students to comprehend how a person could be owned by another person which took us into a brief tangent about American slavery and even slavery in our modern world.

Our 5th graders all completed the first unit of Yediot Klaliyot for the year! So feel free to ask them any questions about the Jewish calendar. In Chumash, the 5th graders continued learning about Yosef and his brothers as the discovery of Yosef's true identity comes out.

In Navi, we looked at perek 3 and saw the rise of three shoftim (judges) who helped the Jews get back on track with God. We also talked about leadership, looking beyond our weaknesses and heading the call the call to do what is good and just regardless of our own perceived limitations. Ehud, who was partially crippled did not let his deformity stop him from helping the Jewish people when they needed it. We compared Ehud's impediment to Moshe's in how both of them overcame personal limitations.

In Mishna, the 4th grade learned about how to distinguish between the reisha (first part) and the seifa (last part) of a mishna. We talk about how the ability to uncover the different layers of the mishna can help us understand the mishna. The 5th grade was also looking at layers as we continued to look at various mishnayot and apply our new skill of picking out the different revadim (historical layers) within a given mishna.

In Ivrit this week, we were busy with various activities. Most of the week we worked in groups and practiced conversation in the past past tense: “What did you do yesterday? What did he or she do yesterday?” We continued practicing reading comprehension in Chaverim Beivrit. We also played games in Hebrew like Bananagrams and Go Fish. All the students continued their comic stories on storyboard-creator.

This week the students were tested in reading in order to improve their reading accuracy and fluency. The students have homework at least once a week to practice reading while timing themselves.


October 27, 2017

This week in math fifth graders worked on addition and subtraction of decimals as well as estimating sums. They had fun ordering from a menu and estimating the total bill before and after the tax. Fourth graders continued with their work on recognizing fact families within multiplication and division.

We began a new curriculum called Open Circle. “Open Circle provides a unique, evidence-based social and emotional learning program for grades K-5 aimed at: 1) proactively developing children’s skills for recognizing and managing emotions, empathy, positive relationships and problem solving, and 2) helping schools develop a community where students feel safe, cared for and engaged in learning.” Open Circle will be happening twice a week.

Students met in small groups to practice writing topic sentences. Each group was able to offer advice to other groups in an effort to help everyone write the most effective topic sentences possible.

This week in Hebrew we focused on past tense.  The students read a story and identified the verb in the past tense.  We practiced reading and reading comprehension with Chaverim B’Ivrit on texts about basketball and  folk dancing.  The children wrote sentences with the new words that were learned.

Fourth graders saw a short film about folk dances.  Fifth graders read a story about the a student who was the star of the month and worked on the names of the verbs.  All students continue to creatively write their comic stories on the new website, storyboard-creator.

We have had a packed week in JS this week. 4th traders continued learning about Yaakov meeting Rachel at the well. We talk about the concept of hashgachat prateet, that Hashem is involved in our world in ways that we don’t often realize but is there to guide and support us. We worked on using text to prove or support a point that we are making. And, we reviewed the genealogy of Yakkov’s family in order to understand all of the relationships appearing in our perek. We also learned two reasons why Yaakov cried when he first met Rachel. Ask your children about it.

5th graders have been practicing reading Rashi script while continuing to learn about the brothers encounter with Yosef. In a sidebar but connected to what we are learning we talked about the idea that the Land of Israel gives people extra courage in the face of difficult odds, when the odds seems stacked against you. Ask your children of some examples.

In Sefer Shoftim, we continued our conversation about what needs to be in place when there is a transition in leadership for the continued success of the next leader and the people. Specifically, we looked at what Yehoshua did and did not leave Am Yisrael with when he died. We then moved onto a conversation about cultural influences and tried to figure out what parts of American culture has influence our own lives. We then look at perek bet in Sefer Shoftim to see how Am Yisrael was influenced by their local neighbors and the culture of idolatry of the Land of Israel at that time.

Finally, our class had the opportunity to vote on where our tzedakah from this past month would go. As a class, we collected over $60 and decided to split the money between two relief efforts, one helping those who were effected by the flood in the south and those who have been affected by the fires in the west. It was a great conversation getting to that decision of how we allocate tzedakah with different students trying to convince other students to come over to their vote for where the funds should go. Please remind your child to continue bringing in tzedakah. We will be having this vote of where to send what we have collected every month.

In Mishna, 4th grade continues to learn about the structure of the mishna - seder, mesechet, perek, mishna - and how to navigate around Msihna using this organizational method that Rabbi Yehuda Ha'Nassi established. The 5th graders are also learning about the organization of mishna but with a focus on what's called rivadim, which are the layers that make up one mishna. Each mishna may have rabbis from different time periods and the context of those time periods can help us understand the halachik positions of what the rabbis have said.

Don’t forget to ask your child about what they learned in Parashat Ha’Shavua this week. Then please make sure to sign the parsha sheet so that your child can return it to school on Monday.


October 20, 2017

This week in math 4th graders continued working on basic division facts, recognizing that there are fact families. They were given the opportunity to play some review games such as “Division Fact Soccer” and making a “Division Fact Fortune Teller.” They were also introduced to the identity property of division as well as the zero property. Fifth graders focused on rounding both whole numbers and decimals.

We began our science unit on Ecosystems. We learned that technology is any everyday object that is useful to someone and then we brainstormed for technology that is the most important to us. It wasn’t easy to choose! Afterwards, we began reading a story called Tehya’s Pollution Solution. Students were introduced to the field of environmental engineering as well as the parts of an ecosystem.

This week, for writing, as we continued moving towards learning how to write an effective opinion paragraph, we focused on analyzing topic sentences and writing some of our own. Students were also given the chance to start free writing (writer’s workshop) as well.

How wonderful to read and see the Hebrew comics stories from your children! You can also enjoy them hanging on a board in the corridor. We are looking forward to continue working with this new website. This week we also practiced verbs in present tense for male/female singular. Our goal will be to use those verbs in past tense.

Our first full week back after the chagim and what an exciting week it has been! We introduced a new online program, Quizlet, that is meant to help students with remembering the material they have learned. We have been using it for learning shorashim for chumash, yediyot klaliyot, amongst other things.

In chumash 4th grade finished perek 28 having learned about the troubled times that Yaakov was living through as he traveled from Be'er Sheva to Charan. His brother Eisav was posing a threat from behind him and Lavan, the unknown trickster, was posing a threat in front of him. We then began perek 29 with the introduction of the story of Yaakov meeting the shepherds at the well, where he will soon meet Rachel. 5th grade finished perek 44 and moved onto perek 45 where they are learning about Yosef finally announcing himself to his brothers. Imagine the emotions at that moment for all of those present!

We finally have started Sefer Shoftim! We looked back at the very end of Sefer Yehoshua to give us some context about what was going on with Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael at the time of Yehoshua's death and began to think about what might happen next now that Yehoshua was gone.

In mishna, we have moved on with specific skills for learning mishna. The 4th graders focused on learning how the mishna was organized and therefore how to find their way around it. The 5th graders continue to learn the smaller and smaller parts that make up the mishna in its organizing method - in this case rivadim, the layers of different time periods that make up a mishna as rabbis from across multiple generations speak to each other on the page.

4/5 students also had an opportunity to garden at the end of the week and did one last harvest from our community garden as we finish clearing it out for the season to get it ready for the spring (which right now seems very far away but will be here in no time). The produce that they harvested continues to be donated to a local food pantry.

And of course, we spent a full day at Project Adventure where we learned all about how to work better as a classroom community, not only learning skills such as teamwork and collaboration but also learning more about ourselves as individuals and where we fit into our community. We were so impressed by how students worked together to problem solve and help one another. We will be taking many of these lessons back into our own classroom.

We have asked each student to make sure that they have tzedakah to give every day and students will continue to get kriyah homework as a regular thing every Monday and Thursday.

Shabbat Shalom!

October 11, 2017

In math, the fourth graders focused on different properties of multiplication to help them in solving the facts. Then, they began an introduction to division, recognizing it as repeated subtraction with a focus on the fact families. Fifth graders focused on decimals all the way to the thousandths, changing them to fractions, ordering them and comparing them. All students were given a DIBELS assessment as well.

We started our unit on opinion writing by examining some non-fiction paragraphs and analyzing them for appropriate introduction, main idea, details, and conclusion. This will tie into future lessons using a TIDE planner for writing (topic, introduction, details, end or conclusion).

And, finally, in addition to spending some time reading our Andrew Clements books, we also learned about sentence fragments, subjects, and predicates.

In Judaic studies over the past week, we have been learning about what makes a kosher sukkah and why we sit in a sukkah to begin with. We took a look at the new sukkah in the back of our building and compared it to what we learned to see if this sukkah is kosher. We then put our math skills to use in drawing to-scale pictures of tallest and smallest sukkot. We took a look at each component of the arba miniim (the four species - etrog, lulav, hadassim, aravot) and discussed where each one comes from and what each one symbolizes. Ask your child which of the species has which of the following traits - taam (taste), rayach (smell), and what these represent in terms of learning Torah and maasim tovim (good deeds).

We also learned about the Ushpizin, the guests whom we invite into our sukkot each day of the chag. Additionally, we learned about shannah mi’uberet (leap year) and how the chachamim (sages) calculated these. Finally, we learned about tefillat geshet (prayer for rain) and discussed the importance of water in our world and how hard it is to come by in many parts of the world, including certain parts of the U.S. In this context, we learned the mishna that says that a person who has not witnessed the celebration of the Simchat Beit Hashoava (the water libation festivities), has never seen a true celebration in his/her life. It was an incredible celebration, at the Beit Hamikdash, of the gift of rain that God provides for us.

We have been learning amazing things over the past month related to the chagim. As the chagim come to a close, at the end of this week, we look forward to begin learning Neviim, in which we will be studying Sefer Shoftim this year.

In Ivrit this week, we focused on reading and reading comprehension from Chaverim B’ivrit. We explained new words that were not understood in a preliminary reading, and we answered questions about the text.

The students are finishing up their drafts for the comics they are writing.

In our grammar unit, the students wrote verbs in the past tense and used them in the sentence. The students wrote a short paragraph about a visit to the exhibition, as well as an exhibition or a trip to which their classmate went.

Sukkot festivities this week included our sukkah hop to Rabbi Potok and Morah Shira’s sukkah, doing hakafot with our arba minim, eating in our new (very large) sukkah next to our new playground in the back, and we also had a great time at Borderland, touring the mansion, ponding and hiking.

Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach!

Mrs. Swerdlick, Rabbi Potok, Morah Hani, Mrs. Klayman, Moreh Itzik, Morah Sarah, Morah Mayan, and Morah Shira


September 29, 2017

This week in math 5th graders reviewed how to change decimals to fractions and vice versa. They compared decimals and ordered them. Additionally, they played some fun games to practice them including a place value sort and decimal war. Fourth graders reviewed patterns of multiplication and learned about the commutative property. They also reviewed multiplying by multiples of 10. Games included “Roll a Row” and “Race to the Finish.”

Reading groups continued. Students worked on answering applied, literal and interpretive questions in complete sentences and they were expected to back up their opinions and answers by citing from the text. Lexia and “Read to Self” were also chosen activities.

We worked on sentences and fragments as well as subjects and predicates for grammar review. And, finally, some students were given the chance to start “Writer’s Workshop” while others began to work on opinion writing.

We have been studying the Sefer Yonah this week and learning about aspects of Teshuva from the story that we can apply to our own lives. Students were asked to think about the question of whether teshuva completely erases the negative action or whether even once we do teshuva there is still some residue left over from the negative action. We gave the example of a white board - is teshuva like getting a whole new clean slate white board or is it like erasing the marker from the whiteboard but still then having some smudges left on the surface.

Not only did we learn about Sefer Yonah, the 4th and 5th grade students also had the opportunity to perform the story for our K/1 class. There was much laughter and delight in the 4/5 rendition of the story.

Our 4/5 students also heard about Morah Itzik's memories from when he was a child during the Yom Kippur war.

In Chumash, the 4th grade began learning about Yaakov's dream about the ladder with angles going up and down and about Hashem's promise of protection over Yaakov and his descendants. The 5th graders continue to learn about Yehuda's plea to save his brother, Binyamin. In the process, Yosef did not speak up when Yehudah referred to Yaakov as Yosef's servant. Because of his silence, he did not show honor to his father and therefore the midrash teaches us that Yosef died prematurely.

In Ivrit this week, both fourth and the fifth grade read texts from Chaverim B'Ivrit. Grade 4 read texts about King David and the frog, after school classes like Tamar's cooking class and Moti's photography class. The students practiced vocabulary, writing sentences and paragraphs similar to the texts they read. Grade 5 read the text in the evening at Amos's house. They focused on the name of the verb that we use after the words like should and want. This week we started a comic writing project - the students received preparatory pages in which they wrote the title and the idea and its detail. The students know that the project has a score and an extra star bonus for quality and neat work. They have to draw the comic to use their imagination and hebrew vocabulary

Wishing everyone a gmar chatima tova!


September 15, 2017

It was wonderful seeing all of you at Back-to-School Night. We have had a busy week as we prepare for Rosh Hashannah. Our students have been learning about Rambam and his 7 step approach to t eshuva – havanah (understanding), hafsaka (stopping the action), hachlata (determining not to do the action again), charata (regret), slicha (asking forgiveness), havtacha (promising not to do the action again), hazlacha (success in that if faced with the same situation, one would come out with a positive outcome). We spent some time thinking about things we may have done over the course of last year and how Rambam’s 7 steps could be applied.

In Chumash, the 4th grade learned a bout Yaakov leaving Be’er Sheva out of fear of his brother Esav. When Yaakov the tzadik left Be’er Sheva he left an impression. Something was missing. When a person moves away from a place the things they use to be responsible to do for their community may no longer be taken care of.

We also learned that when Yaakov stopped on his journey, he stopped to sleep on Har Hamoria, the same place that his grandfather Avraham almost sacrificed Yaakov’s father, Yitzchak. And, the same place where the Beit Ha’Mikdash would eventually be built.

In 5th Grade in chumash, students have been studying perek 44, learning about Yehudah's plea with Yosef to free Binyamin.

Both grades took a quiz on shorashim (root words) related to their studies.

In Mishna, 4th grade continued exploring how torah Shebaal Peh can explicate the torah shebichtav. 5th grade looked at patterns/themes of why Rabbi Yehudah Ha’Nasi organized the mishna in the way that he did by putting different, yet connected, pieces together.

Please make sure that your child shares what we have learned about Parashat Nitzavim-Va’Yelech. Also, please remind your child to bring in a bag of tzedakah if they have not yet. We give tzedakah every morning.

In Ivrit, after getting to know each other and reviewing class expectations, we began to practice having conversations, using pronouns such as at, ata, ani, atem, aten, and anachnu.

Fourth graders continued to work in their Chaverim B’ivrit number 4 book from last year. The fifth graders started new books, Chaverim B’ivrit number 7. We emphasized the importance of returning to the story when writing answers and to use your best handwriting. We also played some group games, like hot tirass cham, mishmash, and bananagrams in hebrew.

This week a new behavior plan was introduced in our class. When kids are “caught” doing the right thing, they are given tickets. Tickets are collected in a class jar and when the whole class earns 100 tickets, they will earn a class prize. In addition, each Friday we will have a raffle where I will pull three tickets out of the jar and those three students will earn an individual prize as well. Students know that the more tickets they earn, the better the chance of getting a prize!

In math we continued our review of multiplication and division facts. We played some fun games including multiplication Jenga and also reviewed 2 digit by 1 digit multiplication, 2 digit by 2 digit and long division. Students were also given the chance to start using iReady as well.

To get ready for Back to School night we wrote parent letters and practiced our letter writing skills. We also reviewed how to write a basic paragraph and when to use quotation marks.

And, finally, we began our first literature unit of books by Andrew Clements. Students will be reading either The Jacket, Frindle or The Janitor’s Boy and answering applied, literal and interpretive questions as they learn to analyze text.

Shabbat Shalom!


September 8, 2017

The school year is off to a great start! We're really enjoying getting to know your children and we're looking forward to a wonderful year. Our first day was spent getting to know each other and reviewing/creating classroom rules and policies. Each student was given a balloon with a different question inside such as "How many different types of transportation have you used?" or "What would be the worst food you'd want to find on the dinner table?" We had a lot of fun popping the balloons and sharing our answers. Next, we created "Figure Me Out" posters. Students were asked to think of questions about themselves that could be answered with numbers. They had to create math equations to show the numbers. These are hanging on the bulletin board in the hallway and we hope that you will take a minute to "Figure Them Out" during back to school night. We also spent a little time creating classroom rules together and, finally, we wrote about our Hopes and Dreams for the year.

This week for math students completed a math assessment on i-ready. They also rotated through centers to review multiplication and division facts. Centers included Multiplication War, Multiplication Squares, Multiplication Battleship, a division fluency game and a Division Search.

We spent some time thinking about our histories as readers. When did we first learn to read? What types of books were we interested in? What memories do we have about reading? How do we feel about reading now. Then we learned about one of our reading activities; the Read to Self center. When students choose a book for free reading, they take three stickies and a pencil to keep with them. As they read, they are required to "actively think" and make predictions about the text, make connections to the text and ask questions about it. These ideas are kept in the journal.

Finally, students were introduced to "before class" work. Each day when they come into class they will find a short language arts or math review waiting for them. These reviews have only 5 questions and don't take more than a few minutes. They are a great way to practice skills learned.

This week in Judaic studies, we had great time learning how to listen to each other and work together with some ice breakers each day. Students were also very excited to receive their new chumash workbooks and we've already begun learning chumash together. 4th grade is starting with Va'Yeitzeh and 5th grade is starting with Va'Yigash. We recapped the stories that they had finished off with last year and moved into the new Torah texts.

We also had an opportunity to learn about Rosh Hashanah and our relationship to God through the different names/aspects of God - melech (king), av (parent), shofet (judge), yotzer (creator). We then focused on the meaning various words related to Rosh Hashannah with a particular focus on the word shofar and it's symbolism as related to improvement (shofar and l'shapper, to improve, share the same shoresh).

In mishna, we played the game telephone to help us understand the difference between written and oral communication and thereby the differences between Torah She'Bichtav and Torah She'Baal Peh. We had a wonderful time welcoming parents to join us in celebrating the 4th grades Chagigat Ha'Mishna where they received their very own pocket Mishna Avot.

Our 4th and 5th graders also had the opportunity to get back into our Community Garden (Gannai SHAS), which was designed and built last year. Our students will have a number of occasions throughout the year to work in our garden, of which produce that we harvest is donated to a local food pantry (we harvested a nice crop this week that we donated).

Finally, we spent some time talking about internet safety. We spoke about the 3 C's - Conduct, Contact, and Content. It is so important how we behave and what we access online. Students will each have a school Google account that they will be using throughout the year for various assignments and so it was a good opportunity to learn about appropriate online behavior.

It has been an incredibly busy and fulfilling week and you can see from above. We are off to a great start and look forward to continuing our learning together next week.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Yehudah Potok, Mrs. Swerdlick, Moreh Itzik, and Morah Sara, Morah Shira