Here are some of the highlights of our fifth grade year. Some are generic to the fifth grade; some are specific to The Polar Bears. Because of the ever-changing curriculum and the uncertainty of funding, I cant guarantee that we will engage in all of these activities this year. I do hope to complete most of them, though.
Tallahassee Field TripThe Polar Bears and the rest of the fifth grade are scheduled to take another Tallahassee field trip on May 11th and 12th, 2004. Yes, it's an overnight trip, complete with a stay in a motel and the kids love it! This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about Florida's political and natural history. Highlights of the trip include a boat tour of Wakulla Springs, tours of the new and old Capitol Buildings and the Florida History Museum. We need parent chaperones for this one. We use "See America Tours," out of Orlando for this trip. We will have a few fund-raisers (such as car washes) this year to help defray expenses, but each child must pay a sizable portion of the cost. Click here to read the Tallahassee trip guide.
D.A.R.ED.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. The D.A.R.E. course is taught by a trained officer from the Pinellas Park Police Department. D.A.R.E. is taught during a one hour weekly session and lasts nine weeks. It culminates with a ceremonial D.A.R.E Graduation. The topics include avoiding peer pressure, recognizing and avoiding drugs and drug users, and keeping out of gangs. Parents may choose to exclude their child from this course. Here's a link to the D.A.R.E. site. (Some feel D.A.R.E. is ineffective at best and possibly harmful at worst - research appears to support that view. Here is a site that supports that viewpoint) D.A.R.E. appears to be listening to the criticism and willing to change.
Enterprise Village We usually go to Enterprise Village in December. Enterprise Village is an educational business mall located in central Pinellas County. We will be there for the entire day. Fifth graders will train to work at real jobs for real businesses in the mall. Preparations for our Enterprise Village trip include learning to keep a checking account (write checks and deposit slips, balance a checkbook) and the basics of business operation. During their breaks, workers may shop in the mall, using their earnings. Some of the business represented include Bank of America, Verizon, Florida Power, Radio Station Q-105, and Home Shopping Channel.
Middle School OrientationMost fifth graders travel to their middle school of choice to attend their sixth-grade orientation in May. This helps to ease the inevitable fears fifth graders have about going to middle school.
Fifth Grade Awards Ceremony
This is often called "Fifth Grade Graduation," since sometimes there are graduation exercises. We are changing procedures each year, so I can't tell you exactly what will happen. We usually have Fifth Grade Graduation during the last week of the school year. Parents and friends are invited, of course! Depending on the behavior of the fifth grade class during the school year, there may be a fifth-grade dance after the ceremonies.
Rocket DayThe Polar Bears usually build and launch rockets in late February and early March as part of a science unit on flight. I also use the unit to teach reading and following directions skills (I won't teach how to put together the rockets. Each PB must read the directions.) The rocket launch is another cool event to which parents are invited.
No TV Week
No TV Week is a Polar Bear fund-raiser. It is part of a unit on media awareness. Participating PBs attempt to go a week without watching television. Many collect donations for each day they successfully forgo the tube. We usually do this in mid or late April. Participation is strictly voluntary. Click here for the pb no tv page.
Teddy Bear DayTeddy Bear Day is a PB favorite. On this special day, each subject is taught using teddy bears. The PB's have to bring in a teddy bear and take care of it throughout the day as if it was a real child. Points are lost for mishandling a bear - and if you don't watch it and pay close attention to your bear, Mr. Roemer will kidnap it! Last year we had two teddy bear days. Click here for pictures of the first teddy bear day with a previous class.
Fort Desoto Field TripThe Fort DeSoto trip is our annual end of the year blast. The Polar Bears usually go to Fort Desoto Beach Park in May for an environmental tour, picnic lunch, and other fun activities, such as a watermelon eating contest. We'll try to go sometime in early May.
We always need a lot of parent drivers for this one. Many Polar Bears vote the Fort Desoto trip their favorite activity of the year - it even beats out the Tallahassee trip. Parents who come along enjoy the trip too!
Projects and ReportsBesides tests, long-term projects and reports are the primary source for grades in the PBs. Long term projects and reports help the PBs learn time-management and information gathering skills. In addition, the skills learned are very important to success in middle and high schools. I have specific requirements for each project (including at times title pages, timelines, bibliographies, and index cards) and am strict when grading. I do hand out a written copy of the requirements for each project or report as it is introduced and teach how to fulfill each requirement. (Click here for an example of requirements for the Civil War Report, which is typically the last report of the year). Some examples of reports we will probably do this year include a report on a topic related to our countrys Civil War and a report on a specific historical event. We often begin the year with a simple biographical report on a famous person.