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Grade 4-5

Grade 4-5 Teachers' Messages

June 15, 2018

This week we worked on discussing our plans for the summer and what we like to do during the summer time. We read a short story about summer vacation. Students interviewed each other about their plans for summer and wrote a paragraph about their own plans for summer. We can’t wait to hear about their experiences!

Congratulations to our fifth graders - we’ll miss them!

It is hard to believe that the school year has come to a close. Thank you for sharing your children with us. It has been a pleasure working with them each and everyday.

Have a great summer break and see you in September.

June 8, 2018

Such excitement and enthusiasm for Maccabiyah! Students were mindful of good sportsmanship, respect and kindness as multi-age groups created posters, banners, a team song and even a d’var torah!

We learned about prepositions and then started a “Create a Menu” project. Some kids chose to work individually and others are working with a partner. Guidelines include using various parts of speech which we learned about throughout the year and highlighting them on the final product. Kids were given complete freedom to create as they wish.

Additionally, kids continued working on their historical fiction scrapbooks. This week there was a focus on letters to and from the main characters as well as diary entries depicting how the main character has changed over time.

June 1, 2018

On Tuesday we spent our afternoon at the Jackson Homestead in Newton. It was fascinating learning about abolitionists, slavery and the underground railroad. We got to listen to stories about several people including Henry “Box “Brown and Harriet Tubman. Students were also able to get into a box the same size as the one Henry mailed himself to freedom in and they were able to see the actual handcuffs that were used to take an escaped slave back to the south. At the end of the presentation we learned about Jackson’s daughter and got to see and hear an actual excerpt from the journal that she kept which described her feelings about her father helping slaves.

Fourth graders are working on long division in math. It is so important for them to keep practicing their multiplication facts at home! Knowing the facts makes the division process go much faster. Fifth graders are moving on to area and perimeter using fractions.

Our historical fiction projects are coming along nicely. Most students have completed their newspaper articles and have moved on to writing letters from the main character to another character in the story.

And, finally, students were able to trade in their tickets at our final auction of the year. As a final class prize, we are working towards a movie.

In Ivrit this week, the students have been working on a text about Eurovision, expressing their feelings about this huge Israeli accomplishment.  Israel was first place in the competition after more than 20 years without winning! Students have been exploring facts about the contest and comparing the first competition in 1956 to this last one in May 2018.

Students practiced their new vocabulary from our food unit and played games to reinforce the use of the words. Students discussed their food preferences orally in different activities.

We have had some amazing field trips over the past couple of weeks - a huge Todah Rabah to Adrea Gerber, Mordechai Rackover, and Janet Leibowitz for making this all possible!

May 18, 2018

This week 4-5 graders conducted an “interview” with David Ben Gurion after reading text about him.  They engaged in conversation, asked questions, and sought answers online.

Last week, Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won an eurovision contest. It is an important accomplishment for Israel, since next year Israel will host the contest. Students started to read the text about the contest, when it started, how many times Israel won, and why there have been a few times that Israel couldn’t participate in the contest.

During this week, students pretended to be customers in the market. They were required to complete an order, decide what they want to buy, and how many from each item on the menu. They had to  use the correct form of numbers, calculate the total cost, and how much change the customer should receive. Some students were the sellers in our market booth - their role was to accept the orders and prepare it for the customers. Students (customers) also conducted a conversation with the sellers. Afterwards, they created a comic that reflected their experience in our market.

It was great to hear the Book Talks this week and to see the improvement that the kids have made since their first ones so many months ago. Learning to present in front of a group is not an easy skill. We also continued to work on how to be in an audience when someone is presenting. What does that look like? How do you ask a question? When do you ask a question? What questions are appropriate? What if you have a comment? How do you say it?

All students took the final Iready test for the year. Fourth graders continued to work on long division and fifth graders began to look at multiplying and dividing fractions and mixed numbers. Please, as a reminder, help your child to practice his/her facts!

We worked on the completion of their newspaper articles for our historical fiction scrapbooks. Some kids chose to write their articles as interviews. They were asked to locate some actual photos from the time that they are learning about to add to the article.
Reminder: We are going to the Paw Sox game on Tuesday, May 22.  The children will stay in school after mishna and be served pizza for dinner.  We will leave directly from school for the game. Please send your child with some money if they would like to purchase a drink or candy at the game ($5 should be sufficient).  Pick up is from school at approximately 9:30. We will keep you updated on the time.

May 11, 2018

Fifth graders had an amazing trip to DC this week. It was fun to hear all about it!

Our historical fiction unit is underway. Fourth graders were able to choose between three books in the I Survived series: The Sinking of the Titanic1912,  The Shark Attacks of 1916 or The Attacks of September 11, 2001. Fifth graders were given I Survived the Nazi Invasion of 1944. Students were also provided with factual information about the event that they are reading. Everyone worked at their own pace. Some finished the reading and began the first piece of their scrapbook project which is a newspaper article written as if they were a reporter during that time period.

In math fourth graders continue working on learning division. PLEASE make sure that your child practices his/her facts every night for 10 minutes. This is so important! In class I am giving out “cheat sheets.” These can be used at home as well, but should not be a replacement for the practice. Fifth graders are continuing to move through their fractions unit.

This week students in both grades read a text about David Ben Gurion.  We discussed it, answered questions, and did our own online research to deepen our knowledge and learn beyond given text.

4th graders started a new Chaverim B’Ivrit to review numbers and conjugate words within a gender. Students played math games in Hebrew to practice saying numbers in the correct form.

5th graders continue to work on future tense.

We are very excited to get our monthly Hebrew newspaper - this time students were asked to read it at home and share their favorite post on Friday.
Just another reminder - if you are able to drive for our trip to the Pawsox game on May 22nd or on our trip to Jackson Homestead on May 29th please let Dina know ASAP!

May 4, 2018

It was so nice that our fourth/fifth grade students were able to represent our school at the Jewish Day School science fair at Metrowest Jewish Day School. They presented beautifully while also having the opportunity to learn from other students. Students from Gann Academy were there to help guide them. A special thank you to Mrs. Saks, Janet Leibowitz, Emily Rapalino and Jordana Schreiber for driving.

Fourth graders moved onto division in math. Starting this week, students were expected to practice their multiplication facts nightly for ten minutes. A sheet went home on Tuesday (this week only) and needed to be signed nightly. The sheet was to be returned today. Starting next week, please look for it on Mondays. Fifth graders are working on fractions: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Students worked in groups to read several historical fiction picture books. With their partners, they analyzed the main character and setting. Beginning next week, students will be placed in groups with historical fiction chapter books and will be completing an in class memory book. More to follow.

This week students read the story, Stars at the Border, about students in 6th grade who helped pro-Israel organizations (Palmah) during the time period before the army, to fight for Israel’s independence.  We had conversations and made predictions as to what will happen in the next paragraph.

We continued practicing conjugating pial groups of verbs in past, present and infinitive form.

Kita dalet continued a unit on food.  The students searched for recipes using Israeli websites to find the recipe that they would like to do and wrote it down in their words.

Kita hey continued to practice future tense by answering questions through a short dialogue about a graduation party.

We have scheduled two amazing upcoming field trips.  The first is connected to our Open Circle curriculum.  In celebration of being respectful, ready, and active learners, we will be going to see the Paw Sox game on Tuesday, May 22, at 6:15pm.  The second trip is to Jackson Homestead in Newton on Tuesday, May 29th. We will leave the school around 12:15 and return by 3. This trip connects with our historical fiction literacy unit.

If you are able to drive for either of these trips, please let us know!

April 27, 2018

So proud of the fourth/fifth graders for all of their hard work on their country and science projects! Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all about final touches, last minute additions and changes, passport stickers and even setting up the social hall for the presentation. It was so nice to see the students dressed up in their Shabbat clothes and taking every aspect of these projects seriously, from the first bit of research to answering questions the night of, to the setup and breakdown of the room.

We started a historical fiction unit which will take place over the month of May. As a class we read The Whispering Town which is about a young girl in Denmark whose parents are hiding Jews in their basement. In addition to looking analyzing the main character, we also looked at the setting and whether or not it was just background or if it made a difference to the characters in the story.

We came back to Open Circle this week with a focus on the steps of problem solving. Why is it important to calm down before attempting to solve a problem? Why should you think about your main goal? What are possible solutions and how might each turn out?

In Judaic studies this week, Rabbi Cheses joined our class and taught an introductory lesson on Sefer Shmuel. Through a very thoughtful conversation, students shared their ideas about the benefits and pitfalls of a monarchy (centralized power) vs. a system of judges (distributed power).

In Chumash, the 4th grade finished perek 39 where we learned about Yosef rise to heights in status in Potifar’s house, his fall from those heights, landing in prison and then his rise once again within the prison. We then began perek 40 learning about the Sar Ha’Mashkim and Sar Ha’Ofim. The 5th graders have begun their studies in Shemot. They have been focusing on the skill of comparing various Rishonim’s interpretations of the same pasuk. Specifically, in addition to learning Rashi, students have been looking at selected sections using the Ibn Ezra, Sforno, Chizkuni, and the Ramban. Comparing these different perushim has enabled our 5th graders to understand the same verse through various lenses.

In Mishna, our 4th graders have been learning about the structure of the Shemonah Esrei and abridged versions of the tefillah along with understanding how to make sure that personal tefillah does not become rote. Our 5th graders have taken a break from learning Mishna in order to work on graduation as we do every year at this time.

Please make sure that students continue to work on their Yediyot Kaliyot, a little bit each night. A number of students have already placed out of the second unit that was on Berachot and have moved on to the geography of Israel.

As you are all aware, on Tuesday we had our trip to 7-Eleven. The slurpees were a big hit. Our next big reward will be a trip to see a Pawsox game on the evening of May 22 - mark your calendars!  And, of course, we will still be having our monthly auctions for those who earn tickets during the week.

April 20, 2018

This week, once again, was all about science! All testing was completed so students worked on write ups and conclusions as well as finalizing their boards. It was great to watch the kids support one another in their testing endeavors. We spent at least an hour a day on these projects and student engagement never waned.

We continued reviewing how to use quotation marks, focusing on the tags and where the commas need to go.

Please look for the next Book Talk project which was sent home today.

In Chumash, the 5th graders each chose a particular personality in Bereishit to do an depth study. This wrapped up their study of Sefer Bereishit and now they have begun Sefer Shemot which they will continue to study until the end of the year. The 4th graders have begun learning about the story of Yosef in the house of Potifar.

In Navi, we finished Sefer Shoftim!! With all of the incredible twists and turns during this period of Jewish history, we reflected on how difficult a time it was for Am Yisrael to be without central leadership and even had a chance to look at divisiveness between the 12 tribes. We will have a brief introduction to Sefer Shmuel next week at which point we will have concluded our studies of Nevi'im for the year.

Students have been actively studying for Yediyot Klaliyot and have been tested as they are ready. Please continue to remind them to study a few questions each night so that they can test-out before Shavuot.

In Mishna, the 4th grade began learning perek 4 in Brachot, so started learning about the origins of the Amidah/Tefillah. Ask your child about the two paradigms for why we daven and what each paradigm teaches us. The 5th grade started their unit of study on Gemarah, learning all about why the Gemarah came to be and the layout of a page in the Talmud.

Once again, we have begun kriyah HW on Mondays and Thursdays. It’s amazing to hear the growth in Hebrew reading fluency between September and now. Keep it up!

Of course, we marked Yom Ha’Zikaron with a Tekes (program) in the morning remembering those who have fallen to protect Israel and then on Yom Ha’Atzmaut had an amazing day with the “Amazing Race” learning all about Israel, had a delicious Israeli lunch,  and finished off the morning with daglanut and student presentations.

April 13, 2018

Science, science, science! This week was dedicated to preparing for our science fair which is coming up in just two weeks! Students were provided with materials that they requested to conduct their experiments. It was amazing to see all the excitement going on and all the learning, too!  Experiments were conducted around the following: water and sound, catapults, bridges, sense of smell, body temperature, taste, water evaporation, growth of plants, mold growth, and food preference of insects. If you want to know more, you’ll need to attend the science fair on April 25th at 7 p.m. At that time you will also be able to view our country study projects.

Although science was our priority, we did some math this week as well as Lexia and iready. We also began reading a new historical fiction book called The Lions of Little Rock as we will be starting a historical fiction unit shortly. Watch for details about an upcoming historical fiction scrapbook which we will be completing in class.

It has been amazing getting back into our learning post-Pesach. In Navi, we moved forward in Sefer Shoftim learning about Micayhu building a house of worship in the northern half of Israel with kohanim and priestly garments, along with idols. The class had a debate about the pro- and anti- arguments to be made for his actions. The students were amazing debaters, raising challenges and defending their points. We then moved on to learn about how the tribe of Dan stole these idols, priestly garments, and the priest from Micayhu's house  and set up their own house of worship in the northern half of Israel that was there until the day that the northern kingdom was exiled.

In Chumash, the 5th graders are working on projects that reviews a particular aspect their learning about Sefer breishit, which they got to choose and will be presenting to our whole class. The 4th grade moved forward in the story of Yosef and his brothers, thinking about the the different brothers motivations and struggles. We discussed concepts such as hashgacha prartit, the yetzer harah, and being an upstander. Ask your kids about these ideas in relationship to their studies.  

In connection with Yom Ha'Shoa, we watched a video about the timeline of the holocaust and learned about Sir Nicholas Winton who risked his own life to save many hundreds of Jewish children in Czechoslovakia. Then on Yom Ha'Shoa itself, we had a moment of silence in front of the 6 candles lit in our lobby and said a Kel Maleh (tefillah of remembrance of those who have passed) together.

In Mishna, the 4th grade learned about how we can fulfill our obligation to say Shema - Can I say it in my head? Can I say it out of order? Can I say it in a tree? We have now moved into perek 3, where we have begun to learn all about tefillah.

This week in Ivrit, the students in Kita Dalet were exposed to  the value of kindness through a story in Chaverim B’Ivrit. The story is about students that were selling items to the parents in school to sponsor local children hospital new games and computer.   

In Kita Hey, the students continue to explore stories with irony and a moral lesson, such as the story about the king and the bee.  The moral lesson of the story is that everything in our world has a purpose. This story truly emphasized respect.

Both grades started to learn a new form of Pa’al verb.  They practiced conjugating it in past, present and infinitive form.

This week we started a new project with both grades.  Students worked on creating their own farmer’s market booth. The booth has to contain a short paragraph about the seller, why he is selling certain items, a price list, and an advertising ad or brochure. This activity will revive discourse between students as they will be customers and sellers and also reinforce vocabulary use.

On Thursday, students watched a video about a Holocaust survivor that moved to Israel by the end of the Second World War. Simcha Holtzberg became known in Israel as "Father of the Wounded Soldiers". He dedicated his life to visiting and helping wounded-in-service soldiers and terrorist victims in Israel. His aim was to restore the wounded to normal lives and enable them to return to society successfully. In 1976, Holtzberg was awarded the Israel Prize, for his special contribution to society and the State of Israel.   We  had a discussion afterwards as the whole class and answered questions.

March 23, 2018

Most of our time this week was dedicated to finishing up our country boards (which look absolutely amazing!). The first thing the kids asked me each day was, “Can we do country studies today?!” All of the students are so motivated by this project. They each have a unique idea in mind as to how they want to present their information. Once requirements have been met, they are free to add their own personal touches. The final requirements they worked on this week were evidence of Jewish community within their country and travel guides.

We played several math games. Fifth graders played a game using order of operations or PEMDAS. Some fourth graders played a game of war about division. They drew cards and used those numbers to create division problems. The player with the highest answer won the round. Other fourth graders played a version of Basketball Bingo. Sheets had different answers and when a portion of a division fact was called, players needed to determine the missing number to get a point.

Tuck Everlasting is our new read aloud. Students were asked to write a paragraph about whether or not they would choose immortality if given the chance and they needed to support their reason.

We also attempted to empty our catch up folders and spent some time on iReady and Lexia. And, finally, we worked on our proofreading and editing skills.

In Judaic studies, we have been building our Haggadot as we prepare to share Torah at our sedarim. Students have been very excited to share their ideas and learn new things about the symbols and concepts of Pesach night. Students had an opportunity to look at different Haggadot from around the world, with various commentaries, and compared and contrasted some different sections of the seder. We also spent our time in mishna class this week, looking at different rabbinic texts from the mishna and gemarah that relate to Pesach.

In chumash, the 4th grade continued to move forward in the story of Yosef and his brothers as the jealousy and hate builds and the stage is set for the future move to Egypt. We spent time discussing the hurtfulness of lashon harah and bragging and how because of these characteristics of Yosef much damage was caused in his relationships. We then reflected on how our own words and behaviors effect the people in our lives. The 5th grade has finished Sefer Breishit! They then immediately began their learning of Shemot which they will continue studying through the end of the year. In addition to their studies in Shemot moving forward, students were so excited to see the full picture of how Sefer Breishit unfolds and will be working on a project that reflects back on some of the personalities and values that they have learned about over the past three years.

In Ivrit this week students in 4th and 5th grades started a new project that they will work on for about a week. The goal is to develop their creative writing. Our theme is “exodus from Egypt”. Each student is creating a newspaper and a cover with highlights, which event he is going to focus on in his writing.  All the students are pretending to be a journalist in Egypt and they interview one of the characters that lived there. Then they post their interviews in individual newspapers.

Both grades been reading a text about the Israeli flag in preparation of Yom Hatzmaut.  Students learned about Ben’yamin Zehev Hertzel’s suggestion to make the flag with 7 gold stars.  Ask you child what was the idea behind 7 stars and who invented the vision of the current Israeli flag.

Kita Dalet continued learning a new text from Chaverim b’Ivrit 5, about rabbits that got lost.  They designed comics in small groups following the sequence of all events from the story.

Kita Hey read a story about the king and the bee - a funny story with moral lesson.

March 9, 2018

In math all students began an iReady assessment. This assessment will be used to help determine where students need review and where they may be able to jump ahead. Math homework was sent home twice this week in an effort to help move kids along and this will continue over the next few weeks.

We pulled down our world map and labeled the 16 countries that are being studied for individual country studies. Tri-fold boards were out as students began to lay out and prepare their final presentations.

For science, everyone began to work on writing their procedures for their experiments. There is just so much excitement in the room at science time. Not only are kids motivated to do their own work, but they are so excited to help their friends as well.

We continued to work on comma usage this week. We also continued to learn about adverbs vs. adjectives.

Be sure to check out the “Great Advice” bulletin board in the hallway when you come in for your conference. Fourth and fifth graders are full of helpful advice for their friends.

And, finally, please check in with your child regarding his/her “Book Talk.” As always, let me know if there is something I can do to help.

This week in Judaic studies, we began our Pesach studies. We will be putting together our own haggadot with lots of commentary and divrei Torah to share at our sedorim. We have been looking at the overall structure of the haggadah and learning about the specific mitzvot of the chag.

In chumash, the 4th graders finished Parashat V’Yishlach completing the story of Yaakov’s journey back home as his settles in Eretz Yisrael. We also learned about Rachel’s death and how kever Rachel is located in a place where the Jews, when they were exiled by the Babylonians, would pass by so that Rachel could cry out to Hashem for her children. We also learned the concept of “ein mukdam u’meuchar b’Torah” - the Torah is not necessarily written chronologically - as is attested to by the fact that this point in the Torah where Rachel’s death is mentioned is not actually when it happens.

The 5th grade has been making their way to the end of Sefer Breishit. This week, we have been focused on learning about the bracha for Yehuda and how the malchut (kingship) will descend from shevet Yehuda. The symbol of the lion for Yehuda will also be a symbol of strength and blessing for all time.

In Ivrit this week, Kita  Dalet read a new text from Chaverim B’Ivrit about the old bell.  The students worked in pairs to create a timeline to better understand the sequence.  We took a vote for the best timeline project, and we have a winner. Check it out on our bulletin board!  During the week, we continued to expand our listening comprehension ability by listening to an Israeli song about the bell by Roman Sharon.  We followed that up with a conversation.

Kita Hey dug deeper in the text about the fox taking time off from being a fox.  It’s a lovely story with a moral that everybody has to do what they are good at, or what we are supposed to be.  The students created a timeline and a comic to express their understanding of the text.

Kita Dalet and Hey’s grammar focus for this week was intransitive verbs, for instance: written composition, ripped clothing, opened door.  They practiced it by listening to the song “Gan Sagur”. We discussed what happened in the song and answered questions orally and in written form.

February 16, 2018

This week was very much a catch up/wind down week. For our country studies we began to look at the differences between our school/education and that of the schools in our various countries of study. Students were also asked to follow the Olympics if their country is being represented. After the break we will begin to display our information on tri-fold boards.

Science experiments were narrowed down. After the break students will come up with their hypotheses and plans for exploring their questions as well as lists of materials that they will need.

Fifth graders practiced dividing decimals. They can be tricky! Some fourth graders began to practice traditional two digit by two digit multiplication while others still worked on three and four digits multiplied by one digit. PLEASE, PLEASE have your child practice his/her multiplication facts at home either through the use of flashcards or online games. In order to be successful, your child must know both the process and the facts!

All students started new reading books as we practice analyzing for character traits. Each set of partners is reading the same book so that they can come together and have a meaningful book discussion. After break we will do some book swapping. We will also be starting a class blog where students can post their ideas and others can respond.

In Ivrit this week, we began our new system with a weekly quiz that checks student readiness on exploring a new text. We learned a few strategies to retain new vocabulary in order to complete the homework packet and memorize new words.

We are delighted to announce that our first restaurant project was launched this week.  The students got to roll up their sleeves, put on aprons, and prepare food for the restaurant!  The restaurant theme was “holiday comfort food”. Students served pancakes, fruit salad, smoothies, lemonade and hot cocoa . The customers  were pleased with good service, delicious food and Hebrew conversations. Our waiters and chefs did an amazing job as well. students from Kita Hey and Kita Dalet were active customers in our restaurant, that accepts  orders only in Hebrew.

We read a text about seeing the glass as half-full and that there is always a positive aspect to every situation -  we just need to know to look for it. Through this text we learned about hitpael form of verbs and how to convert it to past tense.

Kita Hey students learned in Chaverim B’Ivrit 8 about the danger of turtles and frogs that can disappear from the world because of climate changes.

Kita Dalet students learned in Chaverim B’Ivrit 5 about a classroom box that contains letters from students to teachers, principal or classmates. Students expressed interest in having this kind of box in our classroom.  We are excited to practice this new way of communication.

We also had a wonderful week in Judaic studies. We continue to learn about Purim focusing on the story of the megillah and the miztvot of the day. We had an opportunity to take a look at actual klaf megillot of Esther, Shir Ha’Shirim, and Eicha to see similarities and differences between them and how they compare to a sefer Torah. In Chumash, each grade has been moving forward with their parshiyot, with 4th grade moving on to the story of Yaakov resettling in Eretz Yisrael and the 5th graders moving onto the signs and brachot of the shevatim of Shimon, Levi, and Yehudah.

In Mishna, the 5th graders have completed the first two mishnayot in Elu Me’tziyot, discussing the various cases of lost objects and the mitzvah of ha’shavat avaydah. The 4th graders have learned the concept of Jewish time, finishing our unit on shaot zmaniyot and have now moved onto the mishna that deals with the machloket (debate) between Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel of what position our bodies should be in when saying the Shema (standing, lying down, etc.) based on how we read the pesukim.

We once again counted the tzedakah that we have been collecting over the past two months and as a class have raise $66. The class decided to have Tova Klinger be our shlicha to deliver these funds to Israel where she will give the money as matanot la’evyonim on Purim. And of course, we had the opportunity to celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar! We are very excited to be preparing for Purim and our post-Purim carnival that our 4th and 5th graders will be running for our nursery and pre-K students.

Reminder #1: we are still collecting cans of fruit and boxes of crackers through February. If you haven’t already, please donate.

Reminder #2: Please keep sending in Box Tops to help raise money for our 5th grade Washington, D.C. trip.

Reminder #3: Please make sure that your children have tzedakah in school to be able to give daily.

Have a wonderful February break and stay healthy!

February 9, 2018

This week in JS, we began our studies of Purim with an introduction to the month of Adar and special aspects of the month.

In Chumash, the 4th graders finished perek 33 with a focus on concepts such as אין סומכין על הנס and the benefits of living in a מקום תורה. We then finished off the perek with a discussion about Yaakov coming full circle having built a mizbeach on his way out of Eretz Yisrael when fleeing Eisav and now building another mizbeach upon his return thanking Hashem for having remained with him all of these years and returning him safely home. We also started perek 34 along with a new Lehavin U’Lehaskil workbook. The 5th grade continues to learn about the brachot that Yaakov bestowed upon each his children before he died. We studied the special nature of each child and how the brachot fit each child.

In Mishna, the 4th graders continued learning Mesechet Brachot and furthered their understanding of the mitzvah and halachot of kriyat shema. The 5th graders have now moved on to Mesechet Babba Metziah as they began perek Eilu Metziyot and looked at cases of returning lost objects.

We wish a refuah shelaimah to Mrs. Swerdlick!

Shabbat Shalom

February 2, 2018

Students had the chance to turn in their tickets at our first auction of the year and it was a lot of fun! We even used “paddles” to bid on items. :) Items up for bid included gel pens, splat balls, Hershey bars and various passes.

We spent a tremendous amount of time beginning to learn how to analyze characters in our reading. Each child was given a notebook divided into three sections; resources, read-alouds and independent work. At this time resources include a large list of character traits, a model worksheet and a “script” of the conversation students will have with their partners when they are discussing a character. Students read picture books and needed to stop three times during the reading to note important events that the main character says, does and thinks. From that information, they are to come up with the big idea/character trait and then cite information from the text to back up their claims. In correlation with this, I’m modeling this same activity during our reading of Maniac Magee.

Fifth graders are working on dividing decimals and whole numbers in math. Fourth graders are now working towards solving double digit multiplication problems in the traditional way.

In Judaic studies this week, we spent time understanding the origins and purpose of Tu Beshvat and finished learning, in Navi, about the tragic story of Shimshon’s life and his dedication of his life to the service of Hashem. In Chumash, the 4th graders learned about the reunification of Eisav and Yaakov, studying some midrashim about this reunion and why the brothers cried when they hugged and kissed. Ask you children about the two approaches to why the brothers cried. The 5th graders learned about the swapping of Yaakov’s hands when giving Efraim and Menashe their brachot and what the brachot were about.

In Mishna, we studied about the mitzvah of declaring Rosh Chodesh and looked at some Tanaitic sources that discuss issues that the Rabbis had with groups (Ziddokim and Bitusim) that tried to undercut the Rabbi’s standing and trick the Rabbis into interpreting Judaism in the way that they wanted it interpreted. We then looked at how the Rabbis changed the practices of declaring the new month in order to protect against these deceptions.

In Hebrew this week, we have been working with the students to reevaluate our homework system. First we discussed and clarified the importance of homework. There were different opinions. Some of the students said that homework really did not help them learn Hebrew, while others said that homework helps them to repeat the material. We all agreed that having a set assignments each evening helps them develop homework skills. However, we decided to shift our focus in the following way: Students will receive a homework packet at the beginning of the week which will focus on enriching vocabulary. The worksheets included will provide exercises to remember and apply the words in sentences. Each student will be responsible to practice during the week and on Friday we will examine the vocabulary knowledge in the class. As a class, we will revisit this plan before February break.

This week we also created google classroom for the students and went over with each of them how to log in and where to find assignments or vocabulary lists.

Fourth graders read “hazakan shel moshe” and learned a new form of verb “hitpael”.

Fifth graders read the story about the Israeli writer Meir Shalev. The story was about how he learned to be a zoologist. Through this story we learned how to conduct research about flying insects, and what not to do if you don’t want to get stung be the wasps! The students also learned “hitpael” verbs in past tense and infinitive.

Students in both grades learned how to create a timeline and apply it in our texts. We played Kahoot games to review vocabulary and read texts in chaverim b'Ivrit.

All students were given the opportunity to help prepare parts of dinner for the Shabbaton that will take place this Friday night. They have also been preparing skits about the parasha and divrei Torah which they are excited to share with our families at the Oneg. We hope you can join us at 7:00 PM! (Students should be dropped off at 4:40 PM and parents are invited back for the Oneg at 7:00 PM).

Please remember to send in crackers and cans of fruit for Family Table. February is our month. Also, I’m still collecting gently used or new items for our next auction at the end of February.

January 26, 2018

4th and 5th graders are now learning how to analyze a character in a much deeper way than they have in the past. We began a series of lessons in which students are asked to read various picture books and notice what a character does, says and thinks. Based on these notes, they are then asked to come up with a “Big Idea” or character trait which could be inferred from the text. As we move forward, students will be asked to cite examples from the text to validate their opinions and thoughts. Then, they will be moving on to doing this same activity with chapter books.

At the same time that we are doing our character analyzations, students are being asked to sit in a circle, focus quietly, and “turn and talk” with a partner in a constructive way. These are all skills that we will continue to reinforce as 4th and 5th grade expectations.

It was a lot of fun hearing all of the “book talks” this week. It was clear that the students all read their books carefully and worked very hard on their projects. As a class, students practiced the skills of what it means to be a good audience member. After some of the reports were shared, everyone was asked to self-reflect on the following: I listened appropriately while presenters were speaking and gave my best attention, When the presentation was over I raised my hand and waited to be called on if I had question or comment, My question/comment was thoughtful and helpful to the presenter, and The presenter felt good to have me as a member of his/her audience.

DIBELS math assessments were completed this week. Fourth graders are moving on to three and four digit multiplication problems. Fifth graders are working on division with decimals.

We continued with our “civil rights” themed lessons by learning about “Sit-Ins.” It was so great to listen to the conversations that the students were having about what a “sit-in” is and why they were used in Greensboro in 1960.

Some of you may have noticed that I have been sending back homework with the words “Re-Do.” At this point in the year, the expectation is that all assignments are turned in with 4th/5th grade quality work; full sentences with proper punctuation. Anything less will be returned to be completed again the next night. After that, it will be done during free time.

This week in Hebrew the students decided on the foods they will serve in their restaurant project. They also practiced how to speak in Hebrew as a waiter and as a guest.

This week we also received the Hebrew newspaper “Pilpel” for the month of Shevat. We read an article about two students who made aliyah to Israel, Eden and Jo, who live in Modi'in. We talked about the differences, from their point of view, between the Israeli school and Jewish school in the US. We continued to practice decoding and reading comprehension in Chaverim Beivrit and practiced past tense in Yesodot HaLashon. Fifth graders practiced using the words “ten li”, meaning “give me permission to….”.

This week in Chumash, our 4th graders learned about how Yaakov received his new name Yisrael and the meaning behind the name. We talked about how much he had grown and developed as a person since he first left his father house years earlier. 5th grade continued to study the reunification of Yaakov and Yosef after the many years of separation and Yaakov’s blessings for his grandchildren.

In Navi, we studied the story of Shimshon. We took a close look at Shimshon’s parents relationship with each other and their decision about how their child would be raised in the service of God as a Nazzir. We spend time speaking about what is a Nazzir and why one live one’s life in this way. We then went on to study Shimshon’s life and the inner strength that he portrayed throughout his life, all the way to the end, in defense of Am Yisrael.

In Mishna, the 4th graders learned all about Jewish time and how shaot zmaniyot (halachick time) works and how it applies to the times for reading shema. It is a difficult concept that we will continue to work on and apply. The 5th graders continued to study mishnayot from mesechet Baba Kamma, and learn to apply various halachick concepts related to responsibility for damages. The conversations have been great at we figure out how the cases in the Mishna can apply to modern day examples.

Additionally this week, we spent some time learning our next unit unit for Yediyot Klaliyot, on brachot, and also spent some time talking about Tu B’shevat.

Just to make sure that is on everyone’s radar, our 2nd-5th grade Shabbaton is coming up this coming Friday night, February 2nd. The students should arrive at 4:40 for Kabalat Shabbat with the Young Israel. We will then enjoy an evening of dinner, games, songs, and divrei torah. Families are invited at 7:00 for an Oneg and dessert. Next week the students will spend some time preparing for this amazing program that all of our students look forward to.


January 19, 2018

As a connection to our studies on Martin Luther King, Jr., this week we read about, discussed and watched a movie about Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960. Afterwards, students were asked to think about what questions they would ask Ruby if they were to meet her.

We played two grammar games this week; interjections and plurals. We also played two math games. Fifth graders played a game on multiplying decimals and fourth graders played a game on multiplying three digits times one digit.

Students checked in regarding their “Book Talks” which are due next week. (Please check in with your child as well to make sure he/she is on track.)

We bgan DIBELS assessments in math. If your child has not done his/hers yet, there will be another round next week.

And, of course, we continued work on our country studies. Students are learning all about different places to visit within their countries and everyone is very invested in their work.

This week in Chumash, our 4th and 5th graders took the Lehavin U’Lehaskil mid-year assessment. This assessment will help us determine which skills we need to reemphasize and which ones the students know well. The 4th graders then moved on with the story of Yaakov preparing to meet Eisav and encountering an “איש” with whom he wrestles. The 5th graders moved forward in Parashat Va’Yechi, learning about Yaakov preparing for his passing and gathering his children to give them brachot.

In Navi, we learned the story of Yiftach and discussed how the trials in one’s youth can sometimes help form a person’s leadership skills. Additionally, we discussed the infighting that occurred within Am Yisrael at this time. The fighting was not simply from external enemies.

In Mishna, the 4th grade has begun learning Mesechet Brachot and has starting learning about the laws of kriyah shema. The 5th graders continue to learn the mishnayot in Babba Kamma about damages and who holds responsibility for those damages in different circumstance. They have been doing a great job of relating what the have learned to real cases in their own lives.

In Ivrit this week Morah Ma'ayan, as part of her studies, started each lesson with a game to review vocabulary. The students practiced their reading comprehension through stories from Chaverim B’Ivrit.

The restaurant project: Most of the students have finished preparing the menu for their restaurant and they are writing recipes for the food that they are going to serve.

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