It was so great to talk with each of you about your kids.   Some conferences had similar content and suggestions, but not all of them! I thought I would put a collection of ideas that came out of our discussions:

Spelling:  Checking spelling is really a hard task; checking in the dictionary proves to be impossible if you already don't know how to spell a word.  There are spelling correctors that are sold in a pocket size that are really useful for checking spelling. If a student types in a word that they have spelled phonetically (for instance befor) the spelling corrector will give suggestions that closely relate to the work entered (before).  I bought mine on amazon for about $15. I have two in the classroom that students are welcome to try before you invest any money.

Reading Fluency:  This one is all about practice, as you know, but there are some gains to be made by letting students listen to themselves read.   Remember when it used to be such an ordeal to record? You needed a tape player, blank tape, mircrophone... I know my phone has a recording device in  it, and I think many of the models do.   Record students reading a specific passsage and then let them listen to themselves.  They may notice important things about their reading that they aren't able to access while the actual reading is going on.  It'd be great to model this first and talk through what you notice about your own reading.

Reading Vocabulary:  This suggestions might be a stretch, but I'm throwing it out there anyway.  :)   I have loaded a few books on my iPad and have really enjoyed the feature where you can click on a word in the text and get the definition.  I know this feature is available in other readers (such as Kindle or Nook). If it's something you've been even remotely thinking about for your student, it might be worth it. It's somewhat unrealistic to expect kids to get a dictionary when they don't understand a word (I wouldn't), but if it's right in front of them, I think they would be more inclined to look it up.

Math Computation: I can't say enough about IXL.  If your child is struggling in a specific skill, there is probably a match for that on IXL.  If you're not sure which ones would be appropriate, please ask! Also, there is a list of skills on our website that coordinate with what we have learned so far (IXL Mastery List).

Assignment Calendar/Checklist: Your student needs to be proficient in the use of one of these.  The middle school uses both an assignment calendar and an online assignment checklist. The system we have here in our room sets the kids up perfectly for success in middle school. Kids need to be in the habit of checking online and recording their assignments in their calendar.  If you're not sure if your kids is using the calendar, ask them!  We write in it every day!

Check in with your kids:  I know you already do this, but I think we have a tendency to assume that 5th graders are "old" and have things under control. In reality, they are still little (I'll deny it if you tell them I said it!!).  They are 10 and 11, and just really figuring out how to be a student, a . Please ask to see papers, know when the tests are and be in conversations with your students about their school work and their friendships.

Thanks for the great conferences. Happy Thanksgiving!!
There won't be official homework for the week of Thanksgiving, but I have put up several options on the Homework Page.  I'm assuming some of you may find yourselves with a student that needs occupying... :)  
Our class has the amazing opportunity to be part of the KCLS "You Choose the Next Newbery" again this year. Last year we received a grant from PTA to purchase books. This year the KCLS Foundation is providing the books.  This was one of my favorite moments from last year. I was so jazzed that the kids from last year were excited to participate again.  

For you "newbies" :), here's the gist.  KCLS picks 8 books that they think might be considered for the 2012 Newbery Award.  Participating classes read as many books as possible, and then have a "battle" style debate to determine the winning book.  This year, our "battle" will happen in early January -- this gives us almost 4 more weeks of reading than last year!! We have 4 copies of each book in the classroom. KCLS should have more available if you want to try and check them out, and I've found a few are available digitally if you are an ipad, kindle type fan.  We are devoting a little time each day to just reading. The kids are thinking about theme, plot, characters and setting as they are reading. Here are this year's books:
The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Regan Barnhill

Dead End in Norvelt  by Jack Gantos

Junonia by Kevin Henkes

The Trouble With May Amelia by Jennifer Holm

Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy by Albert Marrin

Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt

There is an 8th book that I opted out of: "A Monster Calls".  If your child is interested in reading this, please preview it first. I haven't read it, but it seems pretty dark.Today in the computer lab all the kids had the opportunity to join a site called Edmodo.   It's a site set up exclusively for schools that provides safe social networking. I heard a few kids say, "it's like facebook!", and I want to clarify that.  Edmodo is secure in that kids can only be within the "groups" that the teacher sets up. Each class has it's own group, and its a random assortment of letters and numbers. You can't get in to the class without the code, so it is secure in that sense.  

I set up groups for each of our Newbery books so we have a way to talk back and forth with each other about the books.  In a classroom setting, I don't often get to hear everyone's voice. Edmodo creates a great experience in that everyone gets to be part of the conversation. Edmodo isn't to be used like social networking; we aren't posting about soccer games or movies (or whatever else they talk about!).  It's only to be used for class, and in this instance, for the Newbery books.  

As a parent, you may join Edmodo and have access to your child's account. You won't be able to interact with the class, but you can observe what your child is doing.  If you would like your child's code, please let me know. 

We also had a blast today creating avatars for Edmodo. New York Zoo has a fun website called Build Your Wild Self.  Too much fun. If you have younger kids especially, they will get a kick out of that! There's a link to it in our "links" section.

Well that has got to be all for now, right? :)