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Elementary Experiences - Mrs. McKenna Harkins

Friday, 4 November, 2016 - 1:22 pm

 Life in the Fifth Grade Classroom  

Hello! My name is McKenna Harkins, and I have had the unique opportunity of teaching fifth grade this year in the Lower School. We have had an exciting year thus far, and students have made some fantastic progress in their academic studies. In their Language Arts Unit, students have been diving into various stories and practicing a variety of reading comprehension skills, such as comparing and contrasting, determining the author’s purpose, and recognizing how the characters and setting of a story impact the plot. I would encourage you to ask students about these reading skills at home, and listen to how well they can recognize key text features to truly gain meaning and understanding from the story.

In addition, students have been working to improve their writing skills. After focusing on narrative writing for the first two months, students will begin the engaging unit on persuasive writing next. Throughout the upcoming months, students will learn and utilize various skills to help explain their opinion clearly and concisely, and motivate others to share the same perspective. Furthermore, students will be also be learning about poetry and several elements of figurative language. In the upcoming weeks, I would encourage you to see if your student can identify or create examples of onomatopoeia, alliteration, imagery, and metaphors/similes. Rabbi Naparstek and I look forward to sharing more about how you can hear your student participate actively in this poetry unit later this month.

In fact, Rabbi Naparstek and I have worked diligently to show how student learning crosses both General and Judaic curriculums. For instance, fifth graders participated in a fun project only a few weeks ago when they were asked to build a Sukkah. After learning about the traditions of Sukkot with Rabbi Naparstek, I engaged students in recognizing how Tefachim were converted into inches. Students were then asked to build their own Sukkah and explain how to convert the measurements from Tefachim to inches, as well as write a narrative essay explaining their steps and the building process. It was exciting to witness the students engage in a truly collaborative project between the two departments.

Students have also experienced significant progress in their math studies! As students have challenged themselves by engaging with decimals, place value, and some serious multiplication, I am thrilled to see them truly understanding the content and applying it to their lives. Not only are students becoming adept at solving the computations, but they are improving at recognizing when these skills would be utilized in their everyday lives. I look forward to engaging them in this type of awareness and understanding as we head into more challenging division soon!

Looking ahead, I am also excited for students to learn about how early colonists interacted with Native Americans (just in time for Thanksgiving!) and practice thinking like scientists. It has certainly been an impactful year thus far, and I look forward to lots of continued learning!




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