Fifth grade just completed our informational writing unit. The class spent 8 weeks learning the five text structures in this type of writing, practicing identifying them, and then writing paragraphs in the structures. Informational writing is the most common form of writing, as it is used to explain and describe non-fiction. We encounter informational writing every day in the classroom through textbooks and notes, and in the world through news articles and social media posts. Therefore, the ability to recognize and comprehend the text structures is essential. However, the ability to write in these text structures is impressive, and the fifth graders have exceeded my expectations. Their text structure magazines showcased their understanding of key words and phrases, and they were beautiful, as shown in our last blog post. To end our unit, students prepared for a final assessment. They completed task cards with practice passages, played an online Kahoot!,  and teamed up for an interactive sort game. This game was not as simple as it looks-- it took each team several tries to get the sentences matched under the correct structure. However, their perseverance was rewarded! All students did very well and I’m proud of how much effort they put into their studies.

Ft. Worth Regional Science Olympiad

The Spartan Science Olympiad team traveled to Ft. Worth to compete in one of the ten Texas Science Olympiad Regional tournaments. There are over 100 teams in Texas competing at these Regional tournaments for 30 spots at the State tournament. Our team placed 2nd overall at our Regional, so we are eagerly awaiting a notification to see if we advanced to the State level...This would be an incredible feat for a first-year team!

1st Place Events:

Density Lab (Chris & Jonah)

Dynamic Planet (Chris & Nick)

Write It Do It (Annabelle & Molly)

2nd Place Events:

Boomilever (Dylan & Morgan)

Herpetology (Chris & Ayres)

3rd Place Events:

Fossils (Jonah & Morgan)

Thermodynamics (Annabelle & Nick)

Susannah Joyce



We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. ~John F. Kennedy, 1962

It’s difficult for our kids to imagine what it was like before the lunar landing, to imagine a time when going to the moon was one of the greatest challenges set before our nation. We spent some time reflecting on the greatness of landing on the moon by looking both to the past, as well as to the future. What future? What is our “next giant leap”? Mars!

The middle school took our learning out of this world by diving in to a multi-grade investigation of the solar system. Fifth grade stayed somewhat close to home with their research of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Sixth grade traveled far and wide as they studied the other planets and moons of our solar system, including the dwarf planets (can we please bring Pluto back?). Seventh grade took a deep look into what it would take for humans to live on Mars. Each student and grade shared their findings with one another in whatever manner they found most effective and engaging. We had great fun learning, as the students became the teachers.


Fifth grade has been writing, writing, writing! We are wrapping up our American Revolution unit in History, and students have written short biographies of some well-known and other less known historical figures. Students are organizing their biographies into a newsletter that we will share with parents next week. Fifth graders also learned about the first spy ring in America that was run by George Washington during the war. Like the spies, they wrote coded messages to their grandparents for our annual Grandparents Day.

The writing fun continues in Language Arts, wherein the class just completed a magazine project that showcased their knowledge of the five informational text structures. Each student chose a topic important to him or her and wrote articles in each of the text structures. They hand-drew covers and ads highlighting their topic. What an impressive array of magazines they produced-- topics ranged from art to dove hunting to Disney cruises to Pokemon!

Susannah Joyce


What’s the Weather?

In fifth grade we are learning about weather, seasons, and climate through online research and hands-on investigation. Pictured here are students trying to figure out what time and season it would be in Texas, based on the tilt of the Earth’s axis, its orbital position around the sun, and its rotation upon its own axis.


Students will also participate in a weather forecasting contest with KTAL Chief Meteorologist, Todd Warren.


In our study of the thirteen colonies, 5th graders are learning about the colonists’ growing dissatisfaction with Britain. Most especially, students are connecting the dots between Britain’s desire for land, the French and Indian War, and the costly effects of that war on the colonists-- taxes on paper, glass, and tea, among other things, and quartering British soldiers in colonists’ homes. To sympathize with colonists’ feelings, we played a game about taxation without representation. Students were allotted a small cup of candy, as I chose students to play King George III, a member of Parliament, and a tax collector. The tax collector announced random taxes, such as one Skittle to be paid by all colonists with blond hair, or three Smarties to be paid by all colonists wearing a red shirt. He then split the “taxes” among King George, Parliament, and himself. As the photos demonstrate, the tax collector was not a popular person. Thankfully, our students did not tar and feather him!

Katelyn Gunter


It’s time for our annual Colonial Living History project. This is one of my personal favorite projects, as it enables 5th graders to truly envision the lives of colonists in the three regions as well as engage in true project-based learning. This year, our students chose to live in Maine (a part of Massachusetts Colony) in New England, New Jersey in the Middle colonies, and Maryland in the Southern colonies. Each colony researched their daily life, as well as their geography, natural resources, and economy, in order to design a business and room appropriate to their colony. Students also chose names, wrote journal entries about a day in their lives, and prepared bibliographies of their research sources. They also created “fraction” quilt pieces in math to include in their displays, and made butter the “colonial way” in science. Now, the fun begins-- transforming the middle school commons into a colonial village. Students have begun building the rooms to house their businesses and their daily lives. With the help of the invaluable Ms. Denise, 5th graders do most of the work themselves. On Friday, students will present their rooms and themselves in costumes to their parents and the rest of the campus. We cannot wait!



Colonial Investigations in Math and Science

In conjunction with their studies of Colonial America, fifth grade students created and analyzed fraction quilts in math. We studied the craft of quiltmaking and learned how quilts would often tell a story. Students then chose a design for their own section of a quilt and colored their patterns on graph paper. They calculated the fraction, decimal, and percent of each colored section.


We also grew plants and made butter in science to experience these elements of colonial living. Students planned a small-scale garden of peas, barley, and corn, and it was exciting when the seeds finally began to sprout. They researched how these plants would interact with other living organisms in an ecosystem and created a food web to map out the flow of energy.


To make butter, we found through experimentation that it takes approximately ten minutes of vigorous shaking to turn heavy cream from a liquid into solid butter. We also debated whether the change was physical or chemical and found that solid (pun intended) arguments could be made for both cases. Sampling the freshly made butter on bread was perhaps the most delightful part of our lesson.


“This week was super fun. The reason why is because I learned about plants. I also learned about the ecosystem.” ~Zachary

“My favorite activity was working on the colonies project . It was fun planting seeds and making a quilt. We get to build our house with Ms. Denise. It was fun combining math and science for the colonial fair.” ~Staten

“This week I learned about colonies. It was fun. I loved it. I love school.” ~Ayres

“I enjoyed every thing about this week. When you said we were going to do quilts I was so excited. Thank you for an awesome week.” ~Brayden

“My most memorable learning experience this week was growing the plants in science. At first I didn't know what barley was, but when I researched it I found it was used for several purposes.” ~Morgan

Katelyn Gunter


Fifth graders have learned a new irregular verb in Latin, “ire,” which means “to go”. This verb is important because just as in English, we use the word “go” often in Latin and especially when explaining movement. Students must apply the verbs to three different verb tenses and begin using them with the prepositions that they have already learned. It takes reinforcement to learn new verb tenses, so students have been practicing in multiple ways-- through whiteboards, flyswatter vocabulary review, and kinesthetic role play. Reviewing through a variety of differentiated methods helps all learners. This way, fifth graders “ibunt” (will go) the distance in Latin!



Escape with Decimals

Fifth grade has been studying decimal operations in math. They used their knowledge of adding and subtracting decimals to complete a BreakoutEDU escape game. They had to add menu prices, read latitude and longitude from a map, and solve many other multilayer clues to open a series of locks. It took a tremendous amount of teamwork and focus, but they successfully completed the challenge with one minute to spare!


Katelyn Gunter