Learning together, playing together, and serving together.

By: Marie Goodwin 5th & 6th Math and Science Teacher

The fifth grade has been busy! We are in our 4th week of school and they are already in a great routine. Not only have they been learning about Latin derivatives, decimal places, and moon phases, but they have been serving each other and our school!

On Tuesday mornings, come rain or come shine, the students have been going to the preschool building and helping the younger students get across the road safely, and on time. I’m not sure who enjoys it more, the little kids, our 5th graders, or the teachers. I have been so proud of how sweet they have been. Our students have also been giving up their own play time to help clean tables after the younger kids are done eating, and helping Mrs. Denise and Mrs. Darlene with the chairs in the cafeteria. Our students are kind, thoughtful, and rarely complain, it’s truly refreshing.

In math class, we have been learning about decimals and exponential notation. We used our knowledge of decimals in a Jeopardy game. In science, we have been watching the moon phases, making Play Doh replicas of the earth and moon to demonstrate relative size, while learning about earth’s atmosphere, and the sun.

We had several 5th graders join the Science Olympiad group, and we are so excited to see where they shine.

In our down time, the kids have enjoyed some great games, including a Pictionary type group game with the 6th graders.

We are off to a great start in 5th grade!

Marie Goodwin
Scavenger Hunts, History, and Latin

by Jennifer Jordan, History and Latin teacher

We have started the year off strong in 5th grade History and Latin. Not only did the class participate in two scavenger hunts—one to learn how our classroom functions and one to identify Latin around the campus— but they also began to think about what periods of American History in which they may be interested. Fifth grade has just started its Latin journey-- simple vocabulary in the first chapter, learning the first verb conjugation-- incidentally, this is one of the conjugations that 8th grade has been using this week to translate a story in Latin I. You see, the study of Latin is a continuum. In 5th grade, we build a foundation of the essentials-- verb conjugations and noun declensions-- that are strengthened with consistent practice and layered with more complex grammar structures in the older grades. Fifth grade studied and applied the present tense verb conjugation like champs! They are doing wonderfully! The students are also being fully inundated with Latin, for not a period in any middle school class goes by that students do not speak at least half a dozen derivatives from Latin (percentage, fraction, ratio, lunar, science, novel, literature-- all from Latin). This only underscores the value of this incredible language. I am privileged to teach St. James students, and am excited to watch the connections grow in the 5th grade!

Please look at our photos of 5th grade throughout the first week.

Jennifer Jordan


What a delightful year with eight bright, funny, inquisitive minds! Never shy of speaking, these 5th graders have peppered me all year long with insightful comments and thoughtful questions about our lessons, books, and everyday life, from puns to rock bands. They are truly a remarkable group of students, and I am thrilled to teach them History and Latin again next year. What better way to end our year than hold our annual 5th grade Progressive Dinner and the Roman Feast & Carnival in the same week! Students had to dress up in their Sunday and best display their best manners on Tuesday, only to dress up as Roman deities and entertain the younger students on Friday. Of course, the students had to prepare for both, with a dining etiquette lesson for the Progressive Dinner and a deity research project for the Roman Carnival. Table manners, courtesy, analysis, writing, public speaking--we are always learning and applying multiple life skills at St. James!



The fifth grade students have been studying the Titanic in Language Arts, and we extended the investigations into our Science class with some fun learning activities. Students calculated the amount of salt needed to simulate ocean water to observe rust formation in fresh water and salt water conditions. They also made icebergs to better understand how ⅞ of the Titanic iceberg was hidden underwater. Of course we had to build our own boats out of foil to see who could hold the most marble “passengers” in an engineering design challenge. For our final week of investigations, we watched the film Night of the Titanic in our student-made planetarium and then ended the week with a Titanic escape challenge. Through teamwork and curiosity, we learned what it takes to become unsinkable!

Susannah Joyce


We recently completed an introduction to economics in easy to understand, 5th grade language. Students studied goods, services, and different types of resources needed to run a business. They also learned about opportunity cost-- what do you give up when you have a limited amount of capital to spend-- and they caught on quickly to this concept. To apply opportunity cost to the real world, we played an ice cream shop activity. Students were given $5.00 to spend on ice cream and a variety of toppings, all set at different prices. What type of sundae could they create with their $5.00? No one could pick everything on the shop list, and therein lay the opportunity cost. This little activity was a fun way to see opportunity cost in action, and enjoy a tasty treat during testing week!

Susannah Joyce


Moving Right Along

The fifth grade students successfully completed their grade-level math standards well ahead of schedule, so we moved forward into sixth grade content. Here we extended our understanding of area of familiar shapes such as rectangles to derive the formula for the area of all parallelograms. We came to this conclusion through deep mathematical discourse and a great deal of hands-on analysis.


April is National Poetry month, and thus, it is the perfect time to study poetry. Poetry is an art, a form of expressing one’s thoughts and feelings both figuratively and literally. The most wonderful aspect about poetry is the freedom it offers. It is essential for students to study and write poems that contain a specific format, but it’s equally as important to encourage students to write about topics they love in any way they like.

Fifth grade has learned a variety of poetic formats so far-- from free verse list poems to haikus. This week, we are studying similes, practicing writing our own before writing a simile poem. I encouraged students to create original similes and invited them to share with the rest of the class. Another aspect of poetry-- it’s meant to be shared, read aloud, and celebrated!

By the way, Z. is wearing the Mr. Brilliant crown in the first photo because he made brilliant connections identifying metaphors, similes, and personification.

Susannah Joyce