5th Grade Defines Courage

The 5th graders continued to refine their criteria for “courage” last week.  They worked on a Google Hyperdoc which gave several different examples of different scenarios, and discussed their perspectives on whether or not each one was an example of courage. Because they had agreed on particular criteria, most of them were able to come to a consensus on each one.  However, there was still room for lively discussion!

In addition, the students listened to Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award speech for The Giver, in which she outlined the life experiences that contributed to the story.

The students also did “hexagonal thinking” by creating maps of connections for themes, characters, and quotes in The Giver.

some of the scenarios on our Courage Hyperdoc

4th and 5th Graders Analyze Literature

Both 4th and 5th grade GT classes finished their 1st semester novels: Tuck Everlasting and The Giver, respectively.  To think more deeply about the books, they each played “The Whatzit” game in their classes this week.  During the game, the students compete in teams to answer open-ended questions such as, “What was your favorite feature of the Whatzit, and Why?”  (Substitute the novel title for, “the Whatzit.”)  They submit anonymous responses and I choose the ones that I think are the most creative and meaningful.  I was very proud of how both grade levels worked hard to write “deep” answers!

In other news, both grade levels also did their report card self-assessments, and should return their signed report slips by next week.

5th Graders Test a New Product

Last year, I backed a project on Kickstarter called, “Hackaball.”  The toy is designed to be a programmable ball – similar to Sphero, but it can be thrown and bounced.  I finally received it two days ago, and decided to see what the 5th graders could do with the programming.

Hackaball is programmed with an app by the same name.  The programming is similar to block programming, and it is pretty basic at the moment.  The problem we ran into was that the ball does not seem to respond to certain actions differently – such as being thrown or dropped – so that was frustrating for all of us.  The students got to see, firsthand, how some products are a great idea but need numerous tests and refinements to work correctly!

5th grade also worked on “profiling” Jonas in The Giver, making excellent comments about the changes he has gone through during the story.

5th Grade Makes Memories

The 5th graders have been working on a new site called CoSpaces to build virtual 3d scenes of their favorite memories.  This goes along with our reading of The Giver, in which the main character learns he lives in a dystopian world when he receives memories of the past.  The students also used multiple perspectives this week to consider what the characters in the story might be thankful for.

The students are working hard on their Genius Hour projects which include: how to prevent school shootings, how copyright affects creativity, the need for safer equipment in football, and the consequences of oil pollution.

They also had a little time to work on some challenging math perplexers that test their understanding of radius and diameter.

A favorite memory of camping

A favorite memory of camping

5th Grade Drafts an Argument

The 5th graders spent a good portion of GT time this week on deciding whether or not community service should be a high school graduation requirement.  We read about the required volunteer hours in The Giver, and thought this would be a good real-world topic to discuss.  With the help of the Drafting Board tool from iCivics.org, the students are creating persuasive essays about their feelings on the topic.  They have read many different perspectives, and are now using evidence to make their points.  The feelings are definitely mixed on this topic in our classroom!


5th Grade Learns About Drones

The 5th graders got to video conference with Mr. Justin Moore this week so they could learn more about the drones he flies, how he guides them, and the rules and regulations for them.  Mr. Moore will be helping us out on our upcoming field trip to Mitchell Lake, and we appreciate his donation of time and knowledge!

The students worked hard on their Genius Hour projects today, listened to a TED talk about perception, and learned more about author Lois Lowry’s inspirations for The Giver.


Katie R. Scientists  might think differently about  learning from kids because of the TED video we watched earlier about how kids can be scientists too. I love learning about kids that are doing amazing things in the world.
Katie C. One way we seemed to have changed over time is the way we look at things. Used to, we might think that adults are the only ones who can teach, but now we go against that and are in the process of teaching the adults.
Odin One question I still have after today is what were to happen if something so bad happened that people started thinking of whether or not to go to sameness.  I wonder if there would be a big battle between whether or not to go to sameness.
Trent A new word I learned today is Blackawton Bees, which is an experiment on bees created by 8-10 year old students. They studied which panel the bees would land on and tried to publish it. We started today listening to barn owls, then working and evaluating peoples GH project. Following that we watched the TED video on the Bees.
Nathan Some people might feel differently about the ethics of the cost of items  because some things people don’t care as much about may lower price and value.If you tried to sell a TV to a person in 1699 they would give you their whole house for it and this item would be of top value.Point is different things are different costs to different people and different generations.
Timothy If I could sum up today’s learning in 6 words, I would say TED, Giver, Diverse, Rate, Genius Hour, Creativity.
Elizabeth I see a connection between the TED talk and the part of the book with Lois Lowry because the bees seemed to have a brain that took color as their life, just like the painter took color for his.
Alex Something I would like to go home and learn more about is, what does our society consider rich? I would like to learn more about this because we were talking about it in class, and I am still interested in learning about it .
Adriel A detail about Lois Lowery’s speech that some people might not notice is that it related to The Giver through her life. We worked on themes and our presentation. I got a response to my person.
Abby Today we talked about Lois Lowry. One thing we talked about that I will never forget is when Lois thought everything was ok since it was somewhere else. Something like that happened to me. I connected more to Alex and Katie’s thing more than something on the news.

5th Grade Works on Genius Hour Presentation Plans

The 5th graders began work today on the plans for their Genius Hour presentations. They brainstormed ideas for ways to present that would be interesting and interactive. Because they are so passionate about their topics and excited to start organizing their presentations, they were not ready for Genius Hour to end!

The students also worked on analyzing some of the themes in The Giver, which we finished reading last week. They gave thoughts to how the themes might relate to their own lives, and connected them to other books they have read with similar themes.

image from LitCharts

image from LitCharts

5th Grade Makes Powerful Connections

While discussing The Giver, the students had some incredible insights this week.  After watching two short videos that showed the power of everyday heroes to change lives, there were lots of comparisons to make.  Here are their thoughts from yesterday:

Katie R. One question I still have after today’s learning is why did Jonas’s community go into sameness? It could be because there was a war, or a terrible, TERRIBLE disaster happened (Like the Twin Towers). We never know what might have happened to make such a drastic change in our enviorment.
Katie C. Rosemary might think differently about The Giver’s plan if she were Jonas because she  seemed to want to get rid of all the memories more than Jonas did. She might have been a little sad to leave her father, but probably not as much so. We compared King of the Island to The Giver. We also did WODB puzzles.
Odin One pattern I noticed today is that in the W.O.D.B slideshow was that Each picture had an obvious reason to fit in, and a not so obvious way to fit in.  I tried to type 2 obvious reasons, and 2 not obvious reasons.  In some problems I only noticed obvious ways.  Next time I will try to look for even weirder ways that the pictures do not fit in.  My problem had a good mix of obvious reasons, and not obvious reasons.  Another pattern I noticed was that in W.O.D.B some solutions were a little bit crazy, but they made sense after I looked into them.  When I tried to think of a crazy solution I had to think really hard for reasons that were results of things in the pictures.  That was what helped think of some cool solutions.  Those are some cool patterns.
Trent One way The Giver seems to have changed over time is the way Jonas thinks of the Community. He used to think it was the only way to live, but now he is totally on thinking about giving them memories of the past. He wants to revert back to the way it was in the past (present day).
Nathan I see a connection between the toy being broken and Jonas’s heart being broken because of the thoughts they grew so strongly upon and then they were just crushed at the first sight the first memory. But the givers of the pain restored it in a brand new light.
Timothy If I could sum up today’s learning in 6 words, I would say discuss, create, observe, contrast, analyze, and… shoes.
Elizabeth A new word I learned today is grief, which means an extreme feeling you get when you are separated from someone you love, or in Jonas’s’ case, someone he loved separated him from someone else no one met .
Alex I see a connection between Tuck Everlasting and  The Giver because they have a character that is faced with a very big problem, and they potentially have the power to solve it, but solving it would mean risking their  life and possibly never seeing their “loved” ones.
Adriel Today we read more of “The Giver”. We also watched a short movie called “King of the Island”. The mean kids dad might think differently about love and peace because he hit a bird with a rock and made his son happy. But the other kids dad helped the bird heal and made his son happy. We then did more WODB’s and me and Abby teamed up.
Abby A detail about WODB that some people might not notice is that you can use all the slides as one of the WODB’s. You can find things that only one slide has. Some people don’t know how bad puppy mills are until they get out of hand.

Photo Mar 03, 1 11 56 PM Photo Mar 03, 1 12 03 PM Photo Mar 03, 1 12 20 PM

5th Grade Reads about an Ethical Dilemma in The Giver

We have reached the part of the story where Jonas witnesses his father euthanizing a young baby.  This is a difficult chapter to read, and the discussion that followed among the students was very intense.  Here are some of their thoughts:

Katie R. We ran to the portable and grabbed a seat so we could start. We started our day with talking about dogs. DOGS DOGS DOGS!! Then we tried to think about people we could talk to about our genius hour. Later, we read the giver….but then it was time for lunch. Afterwards, we played a game with cards and my team got 2nd.   Jonas might think differently about his father and release because he watched the video of release and was shocked and mad at his father.  
Katie C. A detail about the food in the Giver that some people might not notice is the people in the community are vegetarians. This is because in the book they don’t know what animals are and it says they are not real/extinct. I wonder what happened to all the animals. Did the government/elders kill them all for sameness? Well we’ll never know (well, maybe we will…).
Odin If I could sum up today’s learning in six words I would say: New ideas and theories were made.  I made the super famous “Do Have No” theory.  My theory was proved wrong by Mrs. Eichholz, but I’m still going to pretend that my theory is super scientific.  One important idea we came up with was that in The Giver the community that Jonas is in is not that perfect.  We think so because one of two twins was killed right after birth and sent in a tube.  Jonas feels differently about the community after that experience, and so do I.  I’m thinking that the chapter about the twins was the climax point for how Jonas acts in the community.  
Nathan If I could sum up today’s learning in 6 words I would say, stories , twist , challenge , think deep.One question I still have after today’s learning is  why does the giver not give a memory of euthanasia before he shows Jonas the memory of euthanasia before he shows him release.
Elizabeth Lilly might feel differently about being a birthmother or a nurturer if she had seen what her father had done. He had to take the identical twins and let the heavier one live, but killed the other one and threw it down the garbage chute in a box. The worst part was when he said, “Bye-bye baby!” when he threw the body away. This is from the book the Giver.

Something I would like to go home and learn more about is the ethics question should the government be able to force people to get their vaccinations. I personally think that they should because by not getting your vaccinations, you are putting others in danger of potentially getting a disease or sickness.


Adriel Today we learned about a father killing a child with a death syringe in “The Giver”, and the dad said to the baby “Bye, bye little guy”.Jonas might think differently about releasing the child than his father because Jonas knows his father is killing the baby. We then worked on some depth and complexity questions. OUR TEAM WON THE CONTEST!!!!!!!! We also got to do a hard picture puzzle and I did not finish it but it was fun.

5th Grade Learns about WeVideo

The 5th graders tried out a new Chrome app this week called WeVideo. They can create videos with still pics or live video, add music and voice-overs, and make special effects.  They are using it to make short presentations about the quotations they chose to represent them.  In addition, they worked on their Genius Hour Project Proposals, and also read some more of The Giver – with a great discussion following!

Katie R. One pattern that I’ve noticed is that everyone gets along and understands what to do.
Odin One question I still have after today’s learning is, “How was it decided to go to Sameness?”
Elizabeth One way that Jonas seems to have changed over time is that he and The Giver have gotten really close and have been talking about hard times and understanding each other better.
Alex The Community might think differently about having all of these memories thrown at them because they are not prepared and The Giver might not be able to help.