Grade 5

February 2021 Update 

Winter is flying by in Fifth Grade!  Here’s a quick wrap-up of the past few months… 

As we finished our novel study of Making Friends with Billy Wong, we worked on a biographical study of Jerry Yang, former CEO of Yahoo! and collector of Chinese Calligraphy.  In addition to learning all about his struggles and successes as an immigrant to America, students learned some Chinese calligraphy and proved themselves to be quite talented at it!  November was also a time to learn about true gratitude as we prepared for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Students reflected on what they were grateful for and created Gratitude Bracelets with colors symbolizing specific people/things they are grateful for.  They also created Gratitude Jars to take home to their families. 

In December, the fifth graders learned about a different holiday each week leading up to break, comparing and contrasting their symbols and traditions.  We began with Christmas, researching traditions from around the world as well the traditions practiced in their own homes.  Next, we learned about Hanukkah which added depth to our read aloud: Candlelight for Rebecca, an American Girl novel, about a girl from 1914 who struggled with creating a Christmas centerpiece in school knowing her Jewish family might not approve.  Finally, we studied Kwanzaa and discovered just how important the holiday is to African-American families who celebrate it.  Students were required to create video interviews with one or two family members to learn more about their own holiday traditions and then write a report on it.  Fifth grade has some outstanding journalists among them!  As break grew near, students created nativity scenes to prepare for Jesus’ birthday and candle centerpieces as gifts for their families- just like the one Rebecca made!

Social Studies:   In 5th grade Social Studies the students just finished a research project on one of the early groups of the Americas. Some of those groups included: The Mayans, The Mound Builders, the Inuits, The Anasazi and others. They had to give an oral presentation speaking as if they belonged to that group. They could dress up as someone from the group and it was very informative for everyone.    Ms. Ortner, 5th Gr Social Studies


And onward we march…

Our class is finishing our latest novel study of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, a suspenseful book set in Denmark during WWII, which is about a girl and her family, and how they help her best friend’s Jewish family escape the Nazis.  This historically accurate story teaches many lessons about courage and social injustice.  We will follow this up by reading several articles and poems about the Holocaust, as well as personal accounts of Holocaust survivors.

Also touching on this theme of social injustice, we finished two biographical studies of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr., focusing on their strive for change using non-violence.  The Friday before and Tuesday after MLK, Jr. Day, the fifth graders spent 67 minutes (in honor of Mandela’s 67 years of service) spreading positivity.  A few activities they took part in were making cards for residents of a nursing home and using quotes from the two men in chalk writings on the sidewalks of the school property. 

We will soon begin our study of Mohandas Gandhi, another champion who employed non-violent resistance, and will also turn our direction to women’s rights as we begin our next novel study: Hidden Figures, “the untold true story of four African-American women who helped launch our nation into space,” by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Our next unit in Religion focuses on morality and our conscience, and how the Holy Spirit helps us to grow as a Christian.  In Science, we will begin to learn how things grow and reproduce, and what physical and behavioral adaptation is.  We are currently expanding our knowledge of division in Math and will soon be moving on to decimals.

Please feel free to contact me through email:

Or during Zoom office hours:  

Wednesdays 11:00 am -12:00 pm

Link on Google Classroom!

Mrs. Nicole Wagner - Grade 5

Attendance:  Several students are failing to join live classes on a regular basis.  Please note that I take attendance every Zoom session and report this to the school office.  Live classes are not optional, and if students miss them, they will miss important instruction and will be unable to complete or understand their online assignments.  If I am doing a read-aloud, there is no way of "catching up" later.  If I am demonstrating math concepts, students who miss it may be confused.  Please attend every live class, and if something prevents you from doing so, you must email me as to why you are absent just like on a normal school day.

The links for live classes are permanently on Google Classroom, and are set at 8:30 every morning.  There will be occasional afternoon meetings for which there is also a link, but students will be informed as to whether there is an afternoon session.  More often than not, there will only be a Morning Live Class.  

Contacting Me:  I have been receiving hundreds of emails from students throughout the week, and it is impossible to keep up with them and not have one get lost in the shuffle!  Going forward, I ask that students use the Comment feature on Google Classroom for Daily Check-Ins and casual remarks, and if there are more serious questions about assignments or for private matters, I ask that students email me directly.

Online Rules: We are beginning to see distracting activities occur during live classes by our students learning from home.  Please remind your child that they must follow the online rules.  There should not be distractions such as younger siblings joining the class or being on screen with your child, and if a virtual background must be used, they should just set it to one solid color- no pictures!  It is also important for the students to be on camera if possible so I can see that they are engaged in learning and in attendance.  If this is not possible, please email me as to why not.  Students must use their actual name on the screen.  I understand if they are using a parent's iPad and that name is shown instead, but slang and silly names are not acceptable as they are distracting to other students.  Lastly, students should be prepared for class and have their books and supplies ready.   

Homework/Online Assignments:  Most students are doing a great job keeping up with assignments, but they must check Google Classroom to make sure they are not overlooking assignments.  I am still waiting on several assignments/quizzes from students.  Please check if they have not completed something and have them submit it soon, even if it appears as "late."  Some of this work is for a grade.  Also, students should remember that if they complete an assignment in their workbooks at home, they should rip out those pages, place them in their folder in their backpack and hand it in on the day they return.  Fully virtual students should email me pictures of the work. 

Thank you for your cooperation, and please know that overall, the fifth graders are doing a wonderful job so far!  Check out the newsletter to see what we are up to, and never hesitate to reach out to me! 


I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach your fifth grader this year.  My teaching philosophy is that EVERY STUDENT can learn, EVERY STUDENT has unique talents, and EVERY STUDENT can grow.  It is my job to give students the tools they need to succeed!  This is important now, more than ever, with the transition to hybrid instruction. 

The hybrid model offers students many advantages.  Students learning at home will join our class during different times of the day for “real-time” instruction and important collaborative sessions, such as morning meeting.  Students working at home remotely will have opportunities to get extra practice with concepts they are struggling with and be able to dive deeper into what they are learning for advanced enrichment.  Meanwhile, students in the classroom will benefit from the small class sizes by getting more one-on-one attention.

This year, your fifth grader will master the “4 C’s”:  Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking.  Students will be taught to use these skills in every subject, which will enhance their learning experience and set them up for success in my classroom and beyond.

Our theme this year is “You Can Do Great Things!”  We will spend a lot of time learning about different people, those of different cultures and abilities, and learn about perseverance and acceptance.  This theme will overlap every subject- Reading and ELA, Social Studies, Science, and Math, as students learn the content required by the New York State Standards.  An emphasis will be placed on writing, again in every subject- even Math!  Your student will be given opportunities to complete creative and meaningful projects and will learn to take control of their own learning.  Our class will also learn about giving back to our community and will take part in projects that are important to them.

Please check back here often and read the class newsletters for updates.  Since much of your student’s work will be online, please also ask your student to show you their Google Classroom to see their work and what we are doing together as a class.

I look forward to working with you and your child to make this a very successful year!

Mrs. Nicole Wagner              








Mrs. Nicole Wagner - Grade 5