Week of 1/14/2020

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year and welcome to quarter 3! Here’s what’s happening this week:

Reading:  Welcome to our current unit of study, “Recognizing Author’s Point of View.  In this unit, we will read and compare the different perspectives in selections to analyze point of view. Students will read selections in a variety of genres, including poetry, journal entries, historical fiction, biography, and humor. This unit will spark some lively discussion at home as we examine how understanding someone else’s perspective can help us to evaluate and understand the world.

Math:  We are currently working on Module 4 where students are learning to multiply fractions and decimal fractions as well as working with fraction division.  Equal sharing with area models provides students with an opportunity to understand division of whole numbers with answers in the form of fractions or mixed numbers (e.g., seven brownies shared by three girls, three pizzas shared by four people). Students will learn that tape diagrams provide a linear model of these problems.  Check out the examples below or click here for another parent resource.

screen shot 2019-01-28 at 9.24.56 pm

Science:  A variety of online videos, strategies of think–pair-share, model drawings, and writing pieces will help students understand the following essential questions:

  • How can matter be described and identified?
  • How do physical and chemical changes affect matter?

As we begin our matter unit, your child will learn that matter is made up of particles too small to be seen, but we can prove it exists.  We will learn that the amount of matter is conserved when it changes form.  They will also identify matter based on properties which can be measured and observed.

During this unit of study, students will observe, measure, and identify materials based on their properties and begin to get a conceptual understanding of the particle nature of matter (i.e., all matter is made of particles too small to be seen). In the first portion of the unit, students will focus on describing a variety of physical properties. These observations and measurements will be used to produce data that will serve as the basis for evidence that will be used to identify materials.

Read Aloud:  This week we will start our new read aloud, Chains.  It is a book that talks about the Revolutionary War.  One of characters students will be learning is thirteen-year-old Isabel who wages her own fight… for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York

screen shot 2019-01-28 at 10.42.03 pmCity couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
Some questions you may ask your child:

              • Describe the life of slaves in the American colonies in the 1700s.
              • Isabel and Ruth Finch are slaves. How are their lives similar to those of other slaves you’ve read about? How are they different from th

Click here to check out the book trailer!


Writing/Speech Contest:  

Students learned about this year’s speech contest. The Chula Vista Elementary School District Speech Contest has changed its name. The event is now titled “CVESDTALKS.” Over the years,  we have showcased student’s abilities to give amazing presentations with the focus of developing public speaking skills.  This year’s theme is “Looking Forward.”  

The theme for CVESDTALKS references the year 2020. Our theme allows students to look towards their future. Students can choose to speak on anything that addresses the theme, “Looking Forward.” Students can consider some of the following areas:

• Technology • Education • Relationships • Science • Social Justice • History • Global or Local Issues

As we work on our speeches, students will also work on the following different categories:

Screen Shot 2020-01-14 at 8.22.48 PM






Click here to view some of our past Student TEDx talk.

Sanford Harmony Social-Emotional Learning Program:

Your child is learning about Diversity and Inclusion in the Sanford Harmony Social-Emotional Learning Program. The ideas below will reinforce what we are learning in school— there are activities to play, topics to discuss, and behaviors to role-model. These are all designed to fit into your daily routine and provide opportunities to further connect with your child.

●  Your child’s classmates are getting to know one another better by sharing items that are important to them. Ask your child to discuss the items that were shared in class that he or she enjoyed learning about.

●  Students are getting to know what they have in common and how they are different from their classroom Buddies. Ask your child to describe what he or she was surprised to learn about their Buddy.

●  Challenge your child to find out something they have in common with someone who is seemingly completely different from him or her. This could be a relative, friend, or neighbor.

●  Ask your child about favorite things he or she enjoys doing and could teach a family member how to do (hobbies, crafts, games, sports, math problems). Alternatively, seek out opportunities for your child to learn something new from those in your family or community.

●  Select a meaningful item to share with your child, explaining why it is important to you and what it says about you.

●  Collaborate as a family to create a name and motto. Work as a team to brainstorm a variety of ideas and then decide what best represents who you are as a family.

An important part of this program is for students to continue discussing and practicing concepts outside the classroom. Thank you for your involvement in reinforcing at home what we are learning in class.

For more resources to help your child and family build healthy relationships, please visit


Any questions?  Please let us know!  Have great week, parents!

Fifth Grade Team

Week of 11/18/2019

Dear Parents,

Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend! Here’s what’s happening this week:

Reading: We are currently working on our third unit in the Benchmark Advance program. In this unit, your child will read and compare selections about cultivating food in the past and today to understand how we develop our natural resources. They will explore the big business of farming as well as how to grow corn in your own neighborhood. They will] look especially at the history of corn as a food resource in North America, and follow its development into the big industry it is today.  The selections in this unit feature a variety of genres, including informational texts, opinion essays, tall tales, folktales, and editorials. This unit is sure to inspire deeper interest in where our food comes from, and it provides good opportunities for out-of-the-classroom learning.

Math: We are currently working on Module 3!  The beginning of this module, students will revisit the foundational Grade 4 standards addressing equivalence. When equivalent, fractions represent the same amount of area of a rectangle and the same point on the number line. These equivalencies can also be represented symbolically. Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 9.44.18 PM

Click here for a great math resource!

Other useful resources:

Equivalent Fractions

More Equivalent Fractions

Adding Fractions Using an Area Model

Improper Fractions

Subtracting Fractions Using Area Model

Subtract Fractions from Numbers between 1 and 2

Writing: We are currently working on the process of informative writing.  But before students can write proficient fifth grade writing pieces, students need to have a clear understanding of proficiency.  Here’s the success criteria we will be using which will guide students as they write their informative pieces.

Respond to ALL parts of the prompt
Introduce a topic clearly and provide a general observation and focus.
Group related information logically.
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and/or clauses
Use precise language and academic vocabulary
Use paragraphs to organize writing
Organize writing that attends to task, purpose, and audience
Use appropriate voice
Use correct punctuation, capitalization, and grammar
Write legibly with correct spacing and margins

Social Studies: We started our Colonial America unit!  We will examine the motivations, attitudes, individuals, and circumstances involved in the colonization of what is now the United States, as well as the effects of that colonization on people of the past and present.  Questions you may ask your child throughout the unit:

  • How did conflict/cooperation among different groups of people affect the development of the United States?
  • In what ways was interdependence in Colonial America essential to survival?
  • How did all the different roles people had in a colonial village help people survive?

The book, Blood on the River, explores the day-to-day lives of the colonists at James Town, Virginia, as well as themes such as learning how to react to anger and conflict.     A major theme in the novel is presented when the character, Captain Smith says, “Don’t let your anger get the best of you, Samuel. . . . Learn to channel it, and it will become your strength rather than your weakness.”  Discuss with your child, what does Captain Smith mean by this? What can we infer about these characters?

Have a great week, parents!

Fifth Grade Team


Week of 10/22/2019

Happy Tuesday, Fifth Grade Parents!  Here’s what’s been happening this week:

Reading: We finished our stories from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  With your child, reflect on the excerpts “Becky Returns,” “Games in the Woods,” and “Camp-Life.” Then discuss Tom Sawyer’s character.  What is Tom Sawyer like? What qualities did we learn about him that we may value? Why do we value certain qualities in people?

Math:  We have started introducing division and different ways it can be interpreted. Students round dividends and two-digit divisors to nearby multiples of 10 in order to estimate single-digit quotients and then multi-digit quotients.  The series of lessons in these topics lead students to divide multi-digit dividends by two-digit divisors using the written vertical method.  Each lesson moves to a new level of difficulty with a sequence beginning with divisors that are multiples of 10 to non-multiples of 10.

Check out some resources below:

Estimating using basic facts


Divide decimal dividends by two-digit divisors

Read Aloud: We are continuing with Blood on the River and learning more about our main character, Samuel.

Some questions you can ask your child:

  • What have you learned about Samuel? What have you learned about Captain John Smith, Reverend Hunt, and Master Winfield?
  • What are some conflicts in the story?  How do the characters respond to the conflicts? How would you have reacted if you were Samuel?

Each chapter opens with a quotation from a primary source, which means that it was written from a person who was actually there during the historical event. Historians study primary sources and other artifacts to piece together what really happened.

Other questions you can ask your child:

  1. What might be some advantages of referring to primary sources?
  2. What problems could come with primary sources?

Writing:  We are working on a new narrative story:

Imagine that you arrive at school one day, and your teacher tells you that you have been asked to be principal for the day.  What would you do next and why? Write a story about what would happen in school the day you are principal.

As students begin to write their next narrative, we are making sure we follow our success criteria:

When we analyze the prompt and plan, we make sure we…

  • Read the Prompt
  • Respond to all parts of the prompt (Do/What chart)
  • Think about the purpose and who your audience is (who is reading it?) 
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Create a PLAN that develops the setting, characters and plot

When we draft, we make sure we…


  • Write an introduction section that establishes the setting and narrator 
  • Organize the PLOT in sequence: setting, characters, and plot
  • Use lots of descriptive language to develop or helps me understand the setting and characters 
  • Include dialogue 
  • Write a conclusion that wraps up the story and makes sense 
  • Make sure the story has a theme, moral, lesson, or clear solution
  • Use transitions  and phrases to connect ideas
  • Use sensory details
  • Use a voice that is appropriate for the genre and audience 


Biztown:  We are preparing for our big day at Biztown!  Students haven been introduced to bank services and practices that will help them be successful at JA BizTown and in life. They now understand the basics of banking, including deposits and withdrawals, electronic transactions, bank cards, and checking.

This week, students were introduced to the concept of the circular flow of money and goods in an economy. They will continue to define basic economic concepts and discuss the impact of taxes and philanthropy.

Have a great week! Any questions, please let us know.

Fifth Grade Team

Week of 10/8/2019

Happy Tuesday, Parents! We hope you had a wonderful fall break! We are so excited on what’s ahead and ready for quarter 2! Here’s what’s happening this week:

Reading:  We are continuing with our second unit in the Benchmark Advance program.  We are reading stories in which students compare characters and analyze their relationships with each other. As we continue to analyze several excerpts from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, we will focus on:

  • Analyzing key events to make a prediction about the text.
  • Reading to identify and annotate key events.
  • Using key events to summarize a narrative.
  • Integrating information from two texts to understand character
  • Drawing inferences from the text
  • Contributing to a discussion by building on classmates’ ideas.

Here’s what you can ask your child:

  • How many main characters are in the selection you read today?
  • What types of people are they?
  • Where does the story take place?
  • What was one key event in the story?
  • What can you infer about the character?  Or What is the author trying to tell you that’s not stated in the text?

Math:  We are currently working on Module 2.  Students are moving from whole numbers to multiplication with decimals, again using place value as a guide to reason and make estimations about products.

Words to Know!

  • Area Model
  • Product
  • Standard Algorithm
  • Factor
  • Numerical Expression
  • Estimate
  • Decompose

Things to Remember!

  • Standard Algorithm is a  Step-by-step procedure to solve a problem
  • Numerical Expression is a mathematical phrase involving only numbers and one or more operational symbol Example: 11 x (6+13)
  • Symbol for ‘about’ ≈
  •  Product is the answer when two or more numbers are multiplied together.

Here’s a resource you can check out to become more familiar on this topic.

Other useful videos:

Find the product of decimals and using estimation

Use multiplication to find equivalent measurements

More conversion examples

Solving word problems

Read Aloud:

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 8.12.28 PMWe are starting a new book!  Here’s what we know about one of our characters, Samuel.  He’s a rough-and-tumble young orphan and becomes Captain John Smith’s page on his journey to the New World. Brought up in poor conditions, Samuel is street-smart but also quick-tempered. He has to learn to control his anger and to use his head instead of his fists. During the journey on the ship, Samuel begins to learn how to determine right from wrong. Through his interactions with other boys his age and with key figures such as Captain John Smith, Reverend Hunt, and Master Wingfield, Samuel discovers ways to avoid conflict.

Some questions you may ask your child:

Reverend Hunt speaks about making decisions based on love, not on anger. Anger is a problem for Samuel. He is angry ―with the world.

  • What do you know about him so far that would explain why he is so angry?
  • What would it look like for someone to do as Reverend Hunt says and ―make decisions based on love when there is no one left to love?‖

Biztown: We are looking forward to our very first fun field trip! This year, our class will participate in an exciting program called JA BizTown. This program encompasses important elements of community and economy, work readiness, financial literacy, and business management. As part of the program, we will spend the day at the JA BizTown site on Wednesday, November 6th. This on-site visit will provide students with an opportunity to apply what they have learned in a realistic setting. Each student will assume a job, produce and/or sell products, receive a paycheck, work on a business team, repay business loans, shop, and manage a personal bank account. To prepare for our upcoming day, your child will begin to learn about:

  • Financial literacy skills needed to use in financial institutions
  • Managing spending and savings accounts.
  • Practice formal business greetings, letter writing, job application skills, and job interviewing.

The early development of these important skills will help students as they enter the world of work and begin to manage their personal finances.

Any questions, please let us know! Have a great week!

Fifth Grade Team

Week of 9/9/2019

Reading:  We are beginning our second unit in the Benchmark Advance program.  In this unit, your child will read stories in which he or she compares characters and analyzes their relationships with each other.  We will read several excerpts from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This will help students get an idea of how different characters interact with each other, and it will also help them understand what makes some characters more likable than others.  We are looking forward to this exciting unit! It will be fun to discover how they make connections between the characters in the stories and people in real life.

Here’s what you can work on at home:

  • Discuss with your child the question we have been discussing in class: “Why do we value certain qualities in people?”
  • Help your child focus on qualities that people consider most admirable by working together to make a top five list of the most important character traits of a good person. Then discuss why that value is important.
  • Next to each of the character traits, list a real person or fictional character who has that trait.

Math: This week, we are working on Module 2.  In this module, students apply patterns of the base ten system to mental strategies.  Students move from whole numbers to multiplication with decimals, again using place value as a guide to reason and make estimations about products.   Students will also solve multi-step word problems using multi-digit multiplication and division with unknowns representing either the group size or number of groups.   Click here   for another great parent resource!

Other helpful videos: 

Write and interpret numerical expressions using models

Convert numerical expressions

Connecting models with standard algorithm

Multiply using area diagrams

More area diagrams

Multiply using standard algorithm

Science:  This week in science we’re exploring how the Sun’s path changes with the time of the year. Students will learn that on summer days the Sun comes up earlier, rises higher in the midday sky, and sets later than it does in winter.

If you find that your child is curious when the Sun rises and sets, Google now provides sunrise and sunset times simply by typing “sunrise” and “sunset” in Google. Many weather apps for smartphones (such as iPhone) also feature this information included with the day’s forecast.

Writing:  This week, we are continuing to work on our narrative pieces.  Narrative writing encompasses a lot! Author’s purpose, tone, voice, structure, in addition to sentence structure, organization, and word choice.  This means,  students are including and revising the following elements:

  • Organization:  Students must understand the basics of story structure to create their own. In narrative, stories are often organized in a certain way, with the characters and setting introduced before the problem. Then, the plot progresses chronologically.
  • Characters:  Characters are the people, animals, or other beings that move the story forward. They are whom the story is about. Creating characters by describing the character and planning how they will act in the story is an important prewriting step.
  • Plot:  The plot of the story involves a problem that the character must address or a main event that they need to navigate. Outlining the events and how they unfold will help students craft out the body of their story.
  • Detail:  Narrative writing incorporates a lot of detail—adding details about the character, explaining a setting, describing an important object. 
  • Endings:  After the problem is resolved, and the climax of the story has concluded, students need to wrap up the story in a satisfying way. This means bringing the memories, feelings, thoughts, hopes, wishes, and decisions of the main character to a close.

Parent/Teacher Conferences:  A reminder that parent/teacher conferences will begin Thursday, September 12th and dismissal time will be at 1:15.  Please make sure you check in with your child’s teacher to schedule a conference.

Mexican Fiesta:  Camarena’s Fiesta Mexicana is this Friday, September 13th starting at 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.  Stop by to enjoy tasty food from a variety of vendors and listen to great music!

Have a great week, parents! Any questions, please let us know.

-Fifth Grade Team

Week of 8/26/2019

Happy Wednesday, Parents!

Learning for the week:

Math:   We are getting ready to take our Module 1 assessment!  These last couple of weeks, we have been focusing on our deep understanding of place value and how it applies to standard algorithms.  Clickhere for another great parent resource that you can use to review all of the math concepts learned in Module 1.

Reading:  As good readers, we are constantly checking back on our essential question- Why do laws continue toevolve?  So far, we have read and compared selections about the development of laws and about people who have fought to change unfair laws.  This week’s reading selection is  “Thurgood Marshall’s Liberty Medal Acceptance Speech” which we will give us more information on how laws continue to change.  To continue the dialogue at home consider asking- Why was Thurgood Marshall’s Liberty Medal Acceptance Speech important? Explain how Marshall’s use of real-life examples makes the ideas and concepts in his speech “concrete” for his audience.

Science: We started our science unit and we’re answering the question: “Why does the Sun rise and set?”If you have the chance to watch the sunset or sunrise with your child, be sure to turn around and check out the super long shadow you both cast when the Sun is low in the sky.  For a spectacular view of the sunrise, I recommend you and your child watch this time-lapse video of Earth:click here to watch the video.  It was created by putting together photos taken from the International Space Station. You’ll see the yellow lights of human civilization, the flashing white of lightning in the clouds, and in the end, a brilliant sun rising above the curve of our planet.

Mexican Fiesta: A reminder that the Camarena Community is invited to our school’s Fiesta Mexicana on Friday, September 13th starting at 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.  Stop by to enjoy tasty food from a variety of vendors and listen to great music!

Have a great week!

Fifth Grade Team

Week of 8/19/2019

Happy Tuesday, Parents!

Here’s what’s happening this week:

Math:  This week we will begin to divide decimals by whole numbers. Students will continue to use place value understanding and relate it to a written methods.  Click here for another great parent resource!

Other helpful videos:

Lesson 14 Divide Decimals with Remainders

Lesson 15 Dividing Decimals Using Standard Algorithm

Lesson 16 Solving Word Problems by Using Decimal Operations


Reading:  This week we started reading the Dred Scott case. Here’s the gist of this case: 

  • The case of Dred Scott vs. Sanford deals with slave rights. John Emerson, Dred Scott’s owner, moved to the state of Illinois and took Dred Scott with him. The case is rooted in this move because Illinois was a state where slavery was outlawed. After spending over a decade in Illinois and other Midwestern states, Dred Scott refused to move with Emerson when the man wanted to return to Missouri.  Dred Scott claimed that he was no longer tied to Sanford because of the move. Dred Scott claimed that he was no longer a slave because Illinois did not allow slavery. Dred Scott then sued Emerson’s estate—the estate was represented by the executor, Mr. John Sanford. Dred Scott claimed that he was freed from being a slave because of Illinois’s laws.

Some questions to consider asking your child:

  • Explain the basis of the Dred Scott case.
  • What was the argument for each side based on?

Writing:     This week, students will have the opportunity to write about Native Americans and their experiences in different regions.  Some topics include:

  • Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest region and going on a whale hunt
  • Native Americans living in the Plains region going on a buffalo hunt
  • Native Americans tribe experiencing a drought
  • Native American living in the Eastern Woodlands region and building a longhouse

Screen Shot 2019-08-20 at 9.06.07 PM

Before students begin writing narratives, we will focus on making sure we are answering to all parts of a prompt .  How do we do this?  By creating a “DO/WHAT” chart.    Ask your child, what is the purpose of a “do/what” char

Social Studies:  Students are learning about the routes and the early explorations of the Americas.  Some other topics include:

  • the aims, obstacles, and accomplishments of the explorers, sponsors, and leaders of key European expeditions, and the reasons Europeans chose to explore and colonize the world.
  • the routes of the major land explorers of the United States; the distances traveled by early explorers; and the Atlantic trade routes that linked Africa, the West Indies, the British colonies, and Europe. 

Students are learning about all explorers but will soon become an expert in one.  Ask your child about his or her explorer and some important details about the explorer.

Mexican Fiesta: The Camarena Community is invited to our school’s Fiesta Mexicana on Friday, September 13th starting at 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.  Stop by to enjoy tasty food from a variety of vendors and listen to great music!

Have a great week!

-Fifth Grade Team

Week of 8/12/2019

Dear Parents,

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! Here’s what’s happening this week:

Math:  We are adding and subtracting decimals to hundredths, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value.  Students will relate the strategies to algorithm methods and explain the reasoning used. Students will also focus on the multiplication of a decimal fraction by a one-digit whole number.

Below you will find more great math resources for you to continue to support your child at home!

Math Resource

Math Resource

Helpful Videos: 

Module 1 Lesson 9 Adding Decimals

Module 1 Lesson 10 Subtracting Decimals

Module 1 Lesson 11 Multiply Decimals Using Model

Module 1 Lesson 12 Multiply Decimals Using Estimation

Module 1 Lesson 13 Divide Decimals

Reading: Students have been discovering how one of the nation’s most important documents has been shaping our lives for hundreds of years.  I invite you and your child to look up the Bill of Rights online and read the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution together. Then quiz one another on each amendment!  A simple and engaging activity that will support and extend your child’s learning at home.  Enjoy!

Writing:    Our first text type will be narrative!  Your child will begin to write real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniques, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.  But before they can begin writing stories, we will work together to create a success criteria.   Some ideas that should come up are the following:

  • Responding to all parts of the prompt
  • Orient the reader by establishing a situation
  • Introduce a narrator and/or characters
  • Organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally
  • Use effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • Use narrative techniques such as dialogue, description, and pacing to develop  experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events
  • Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and/or clauses.
  • Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely
  • Organize writing that attends to task, purpose, and audience
  • Use appropriate voice
  • Use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization (convention errors do NOT distract the reader)
  • Write legibly with correct spacing and margins

Read Aloud:  We are currently reading Morning Girl, a novel that explores the world of a sister and brother living on a lush island in the Bahamas just before the arrival of 

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 10.20.35 PM

Columbus. Morning Girl and Star Boy narrate the story in alternating chapters, giving readers a view into the Taíno Indian culture of which they are a part.   The ultimate arrival of Columbus is a minor footnote in their story, but the epilogue, reminds us that the coming of Europeans to the island will eventually mean the nearly complete destruction of the Taíno and their way of life.  Some questions to ask your child as we continue to read Morning Girl:

  • Based on what you’ve read so far, do you think Morning Girl and her brother are close? Why or why not?
  • What does Star Boy say that he doesn’t like? How does he deal with this when he feels it?
  • What does Morning Girl think of the new sister? What does Star Boy think of the new sister?
  • How does the relationship between Morning Girl and Star Boy change by the end of  chapter 3?

Have a great week, parents!  Let us know if you have any questions.

Fifth Grade Team

Box Top Update

Bye Bye Box Top Clippings-page-001

Robotics Team: App due Thursday

All applications must be submitted by this Thursday.

Team Application