Updated: Sep 21, 2021
The Hess Academy Spotlight Series Continues! This time around, we're shining the spotlight on 5th/6th Grade... or, as they like to call themselves, "The Slim Pickles." :)
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Around 5th and 6th grade is when children enter adolescence, a special and important time in their development. It’s that stretch of in-betweenness we occupy as we make our way from childhood to adulthood.
One of the things that makes that phase so special is it’s when we all start really working out our identities-- learning who we are, how we operate, what we value, where we stand on things, and where we’ll fit in this big wacky world.
The 5th/6th grade classroom at Hess makes space for all of that trying-on and exploring that adolescent students need.
Plenty of built-in choice and voice helps students develop independence and self-trust. Experiential learning broadens their perspectives and exposes them to new ways of thinking. A balance of challenge and support makes sure students have what they need when diving deeply into critical topics.
For an inside look, here’s a little slice of life with The Slim Pickles-- a.k.a. Ricci and the amazing Hess Academy 5th & 6th graders-- as told through the “Weekly Updates” provided to families.
"Sixth grade mathematicians will spend this week reviewing concepts that are new to sixth grade and recalling some that are in our brain's filing cabinet from fifth grade. They’ll create games for mastery. The week of March 5th, students will move on to study circles just in time to have some fun with Pi Day!
Historians will spend social studies classes examining the structure of Canada's government and begin discussing First Nations people groups, as well as early explorers of the region.
Scientists will take a mini-quiz over electricity, hypothesize and test the conductivity of various materials, and create an electromagnet.
Writers are preparing for their Free Writing Unit publishing party on Friday. Students voted to have a coffee-shop-style soiree, with one part modeled after a "reading room" and another as an "open mic share." Next week, we'll begin delving into the world of literary essays.
In reading, the kiddos are continuing to build comprehension, express thoughts, and discuss major themes in their literature circle groups. This week also marks the beginning of our nonfiction analysis unit of study, where readers will work to identify topics, main ideas, topic sentences, and supporting details in nonfiction passages.
And of course, we are also working through Greek and Latin roots (the second-to-last unit of the year!) and practicing skills through our class read-aloud (this week, determining the meaning of unknown words in context).
P.S.-- Pictures attached include series and parallel circuit construction, idiom illustrations (with origin research included), and a self-regulation workshop where students tried strategies to heighten or ease their energy levels.
"Our class recently read "Funeral" by Ralph Fletcher as a mentor text for analytical writing.
It follows the perspective of the author himself in his boyhood and a moment spent with friends before leaving town with his family for good. Three other boys hold a "funeral" for Ralph, not because he's dying, of course, but because they're experiencing an ending of sorts together.
My favorite lines read:
"I thought of all the things I'd done with these guys. Staying up late listening to the radio while the DJ counted down the top ten...Fishing for crappies and sunfish. Trading baseball cards, card tricks, dirty jokes, scars, stories, snacks, swears."
While we have not traded "dirty jokes" and "swears," our class has traded an unending list of things good and hard and worth lifting up.
With only eight weeks of school left (!), conversations about endings and next steps, memories and change have begun to creep up. I know we will walk away from this year with nothing but joy and readiness for things to come, but until then, I’m counting the discoveries, antics, and gains that fill our days. ❤️
Attached as usual, you will find photos of the last week. Included are pictures of:
our outing to Decatur (and tiny doors found along the way),
a word connotation continuum created by students,
a supporting details/topic sentence sorting activity,
Canada Jeopardy for studying,
and today's dictionary dash competition.
Many of us can attest that the adolescent years were not our easiest...
But a school experience where you feel known, valued, understood, & connected sure can make that journey through the in-betweenness a lot less lonely.
We love providing our Hess Academy 5th & 6th graders with the kind of place they know they belong, and guiding them through all the ups and downs and unknowns that growing up can bring!
Watching them step more and more into their truest selves is the greatest gift of teaching.