Monday, May 7, 2012

May Letter

We are in the homestretch of the school year barreling our way to our June 1 finish line. You can help your child consolidate and improve his/her English skills even more by making sure that your child reads the good books of his/her choice at least fifty minutes, every day of the summer. Please note there are a number of venues where your child can find the books s/he wants to read. The Lower School and Middle School Libraries will be open from 8-12 every week day in June. In the Lower School, parents can check out up to ten books, while students can take out a maximum of five. The numbers are exactly reversed in Middle School, where students can get ten books and parents five. With student summer reading in mind, the PTA has added a May book fair that will take place in the FDR from Monday May 21 through Friday May 25. They have also extended an invitation to fifth graders to solicit lists of books that they would like to see on sale at the book fair. This is a great opportunity for your child to stock up for the summer with good books. Finally, put this last date on your calendar. The Farewell Grade 5 Party is scheduled for the afternoon of your child’s last full day of elementary school May 31. The festivities start at noon and go to 2:30. Please see your child’s homeroom teacher for details. Once again thank you for supporting our program. We hope all of you have a safe and relaxing summer holiday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Letter

Dear Parents,

It is hard to believe, but we are into April, which means showers, the start of the baseball season and here in the Lower School, it also means the beginning of our end of year testing season. Next week April 16-20, all grade 5 students will be taking the CTP4 tests. The following week April 23-25, we will administer our ESL internal exams to identify your child’s growth and to determine placement for next year.

Our review is comprehensive for each student and includes:
• Classroom work habits
• Skill development
• ESL testing
• Consultation with classroom teachers

Our testing season concludes Tuesday May 1 and Wednesday May 2 when all grade 5 students will take the WraP Writing Test

Please note the best way you can prepare your child for these tests is to make sure s/he has a good night sleep and a healthy breakfast. It is really important that your child does not worry about the test, since that will impede his/her performance. Rather this is a time where s/he should simply just try his/her best.

Thank you for your continued support during this testing time.

Best regards,
Mark S. Gurecki, Virginia Blais, Lynn Somers

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March Letter

Dear Parents,

Believe it or not, we are already into March with almost three quarters of the year completed. In science we continue to support the “Living Systems” unit helping students acquire the vocabulary of vascular plants and the process of photosynthesis.

Taking us up to conference time, our class will continue to support the mainstream classroom in developing students’ literary analysis by helping students find, use, and explain evidence. This is a difficult skill for all fifth graders, and so we will continue to work on it throughout the remainder of the year. You can help by asking for evidence to prove opinions and explanations.

Please mark your calendars for Mr. Gurecki’s ESL Talk “Preventing Summer Brain Drain.” He will be presenting to parents of ESL students in Grades 3-5 on Tuesday March 27 at 2:50 in 4A14 (Mr. Martin’s room). Mr. Gurecki will address the ways to create a strong summer plan to help your child consolidate and further enhance his/her English level gains over the summer. We hope to see you there.

Before that, we look forward to seeing you at our conferences Thursday March 15, and Friday March 16 at your designated time. Your child’s homeroom teacher and ESL teacher will be joining you at one of the conference centers during your child’s activity-based conference time.

Best regards,

Mark Gurecki Virginia Blais Lynn Somers

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February Letter

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year! We hope you had a restful and festive holiday. Now that we are back in school, mainstream teachers will be switching from social studies to science this month. Thus, we will be helping our ESL students by working with the vocabulary of our “Living Systems” unit. This includes the digestive and respiratory systems in humans, along with the living systems of vascular plants.

Classroom teachers will also begin perhaps the most difficult part of the grade 5 curriculum. In Writers’ Workshop fifth graders will be writing a literary essay. The most important component of this writing piece is to make sure that fifth graders can justify their opinion with evidence from the story. This is a skill that they will be using for the duration of their academic careers. ESL students will be working on generating paragraphs with clear topic sentences that support their claim, and students will learn how to pull evidence from a text and embed it in their paragraphs using correct punctuation. They will develop paragraphs with sentence structures of varying length that show a growing understanding of how complex sentences can be formed and used appropriately. ESL students will spend time working on their summarizing skills to include important evidence from the text, including quotes. Many of these summaries will rely on using a variety of past tenses such as the simple past, past progressive and present and past perfect.

You can help your child prepare for this difficult task by asking them questions about their independent reading. Some questions you can ask to help foster this vital academic skill are the following:

Who is the main character in your story?

What is the main character like? What evidence can your child give you to support the answer?

What is the main character’s goal? How does your child know?

What is the conflict of the story?

Key Vocabulary: essay, literary, thesis, topic sentence, evidence, embed, summarize, theme, author’s style, setting, symbol, citation, counterargument

As always, if you have any questions about our program, please feel free to call or email us Once again, Happy New Year; may the Year of the Dragon be a prosperous one for you and your family.


Mark S. Gurecki Virginia Blais Lynn Somers

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January Letter

Dear Parents,

We hope you had a relaxing winter holiday and we wish you a Happy 2012-Year of the Dragon. As you probably know, due to the luck of the calendar this year, there are three weeks before our Chinese New Year holiday, when school dismisses Friday January 20. During this time, support classes will continue to focus on both the Immigration vocabulary in our Social Studies unit, and the Feature Article writing unit. We have been working on some essential components of writing a feature article which include developing the voice, using good leads, and the key skill for students: How to use other feature articles as mentor texts to improve their own piece. Both units will conclude before the Chinese New Year holiday.

We fully understand that Chinese New Year is the most important time of the year for many families. This is a great experience for your children, in itself for cherished cross-generational family memories, but also from a teacher’s viewpoint, because it can generate some memorable moments that will make outstanding Writers’ Workshop pieces later in the year. If possible however, due to the “Use it or lose it” law of learning a language, please try to have your child read at least 45 minutes in English each day of the holiday.

Your child’s classroom teacher will soon be sending you the specifics of our grade five Chinese New Year holiday celebration on the fourth floor. We hope to see you there.

Once again, we wish you a prosperous and healthy 2012—Year of the Dragon.

Mark S. Gurecki Virginia Blais Lynn Somers

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December Letter

Dear Parents,

It is amazing how time flies and that we are nearing the end of our first semester. Assessments have been completed and the question most commonly asked is: How can I help my child learn English?

Over these next few weeks there will be a lot going on at school; many units of study will come to an end to prepare for the new ones we will begin second semester. This can be a very busy time of year and with all of the holiday distractions, it is important for us to recognize that ESL students are still developing their language skills, whether they are receiving ESL support or not, and even over the holidays. We highly advise that you child reads at least 45 minutes a day over the holidays, since acquiring a language is a classic case of, “Use it or lose it.” We want your child to have two full weeks of using English daily by reading the books of his/her choice.

In addition to reading every night, be sure to chat with your child about the skills and knowledge they are learning in social studies, math, reading workshop, writing workshop, technology, etc. Pick a subject a night and ask, “What did you do today in…..”, “What did you think about that?”, “Tell me more…..” Giving your child the opportunity to teach you what he or she has learned in school helps him/her to understand that material better. Letting your child do this in your home language will also help you to check your child’s comprehension of what they are learning in school. This can prove to be especially helpful with the challenging vocabulary that is a part of the current social studies unit.

We wish you a happy, restful, and safe holiday season.

Mark S. Gurecki Virginia Blais Lynn Somers

The Grade 5 ESL Teachers