Thanks for a wonderful school year! Please check in and let me know how things go in 6th grade!
~Miss Acton
Spring is always a hard time for 5th graders, and this year doesn't prove any different.  Understandably, 5th graders are feeling a sense of doneness  -- MSP testing is finished, they have middle school papers in their hands, and they can see the end of the tunnel. But...we're still looking at 4 1/2 more weeks of school.  I'm finding that students need reminders to follow directions, speak respectfully to each other...finish work!  Students may need a few "helpful" reminders that they are still in school. Please check the assignment checklist with them, and remind them about appropriate behavior. Thanks for your support!
After school last Friday 5th grade teachers headed over to TFMS to talk with the 6th grade team about the transition to middle school. We use the time to share what we have been teaching and catch the 6th grade team up on any changes we have made during the year.  In the past, 6th grade teachers have been adamant about kids have a binder with tabs, and have not accepted accordion files. One of the things I shared with the teachers was that there were quite a few 5th grade students that were very organized using the accordion file. So...happily they are allowing them next year!!  The school supply list still indicates that a binder is required, but if you have a student that is successfully using an accordion file, they are allowed to use that again next year.  Yeah!  Several of the students were very happy to hear that change.  
This morning Mrs. Moen and Mr. Barber came and talked with the kids about being 6th graders at TFMS next year.  They talked about core classes, electives and clubs (among other things). The kids are pretty jazzed.  Having known some of them since beginning of 4th grade (or longer!), it's amazing to see them at this point. I imagine it's even more amazing from your perspective. 

The packet that they were given contains a lot of information, but one important piece is due back on Friday, 5/18.  This sheet is their elective choice -- band/choir or art/tech (I think I have that right...). The paper needs to be signed by both you and your student.  I encouraged the kids to bring it back before Friday so they aren't late wtih their first middle school assignment!

There's also information about a parent night on 5/31. I would recommend trying to make that meeting if you can. Twin Falls does a great job transitioning our kids to middle school, and events like these are where you can get information first hand and get any questions answered. 

If you have questions, I may not know the answers, but I can probably find out fast! Please let me know how I can help!
Please help your student be ready for testing on Monday -- well rested, substantial breakfast, positive, can-do attitude.  I know they are going to do great!
Our first MSP is coming up! We will test on Reading on April 30th.   I have someone signed up to bring snacks on May9th, but we could use a snack and a drink for Monday! Thanks for helping out!
Below is a letter from Mr. Bates explaining the next set of lessons that he is delivering to your 5th graders.

April 2012

Can it really be happening? Is it truly possible that 6 years have gone by since you brought your small children to kindergarten? Look at them now in 5th grade – not grown up yet (thank goodness) but certainly not small children anymore. It has been a fun ride so far, and there is much more to come. Next up -  adolescence. How are you feeling? Excited? A little scared? That’s exactly how the 5th graders are feeling about going to middle school. So this is the perfect time for students and parents to learn more about making transitions, adolescence, and the fascinating teenage brain.

Starting this week and continuing until near the end of school, (with a break in the middle for MSP) I will come to all 5th grade classrooms once or twice a week to teach a variety of lessons under the general topic of “transition to middle school”. As a long time middle school teacher (15 years) before coming to Opstad, I bring some useful insights to the instruction. We will use discussion, role plays, skill practice, videos, and more to make the lessons interactive and effective. In addition to the classroom lessons, I am also inviting a group of current 6th grade students to come back to Opstad to tell about their experiences at Twin Falls.

Students are not the only ones who can benefit from learning about adolescence and middle school. We parents need information and tools to help us guide our “tweens” into and through their teen years. With that in mind, I am organizing a weekly “Parent Partnership Plan” (PPP) that includes watching short (7-10 minutes) videos (the same ones kids will see in school), practicing some skills, and engaging your kids in ongoing conversations. While participation is definitely optional, I hope that you take the time and make an effort to check it out and enjoy the conversations with your kids. I will send paper and e-mail updates through the next two months. I would appreciate your feedback.

The videos are segments of a PBS special from 2002 entitled Inside the Teenage Brain. Follow these steps:

1.      Go to and click on PBS Programs on the bar near the top.

2.      Then click on the red FRONTLINE box when it comes up.

3.      Type “1/31/02” in the Search Box at the top right.

4.      Scroll down to the only link entitled Credits/inside the teenage brain/Frontline/PBS.

5.      Click on that link and you will go to a list of credits. Look at the top just above the credits.

6.      Click on the second link entitled View the full program online. There you will find the 6 video segments. Start with the first video this week and follow the Lesson Schedule for the other videos.

Carve time out to talk about the videos. Dinner may be a good time. I will send (e-mail or hard copy) materials to support your discussions with your kids. If you run into any problem finding the videos, e-mail or call if you still cannot find it.

Parent Schedule

4/23-27            Video 1 (Teenagers’ Inexplicable Behavior)

4/30-5/4           Video 2 (Wiring of Brain)

5/21-25            Video 3 (Mood Swings)

5/28-6/1           Video 4 (You Just Don’t Understand)

6/4-8                Video 5 (From Zzzz’s to A’s)

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions. I also want to invite you to call me to talk about the transition to middle school of your child. If you have some worries or doubts or concerns, please call or stop in to see me. It is not an imposition. I am looking forward to spending some class time with your wonderful kids one more time before they are off. Keep up the great job you do as parents!

  Student Lessons - Making Transitions
 1.         Introduction, Opstad memories from K-5

2.         Twin Falls Jeopardy  

3.         Introduction to adolescence – Video 1 - Teens’ changing brains; Taking a stand

4.         Video 2- Teen Brains (Who am I? Acceptance/Rejection)

5.         Video 3 – Moods & Emotions; Friendship opportunities

6.         Bullying – Middle School myths and realities; Cyber Bullying

7.         Video 4 - Communicating with Parents in a changing world

8.         Video 5 - Recipes for Academic Success – Organization/Work Completion

9.         Healthy Youth Survey Data – what it says about us

10.       Refusal Skills

11.       Middle School Wrap-up – Locks, Teachers, Final Farewell

Steve Bates

Opstad Counselor (831-8319)

It rolls this way every year after Spring Break...MSP testing is right around the corner! The 5th graders have a new opportunity this year to take parts of the test online.  The Reading and Math portions will be online while the Science portion will be "old fashioned" paper and pencil.  Today we had an opportunity to begin looking at the online practice test.  We did two portions today (both reading) that gave the kids a chance to get familiar with the format. The test itself has many tools that the kids can access during the test:  highlighter, line reader (to track while reading), flag (to come back to a question), magnifier and cross out (to eliminate an answer).  These kids are so tech savvy that they took to the format right away!  Before the testing, the students will have at least two more chances to practice using the tools. 

Since we are using the computer lab, the testing schedule is slightly different for each class. Here's our schedule:

Reading:  April 30th
Science:  May 8th
Math: May 9th

I always like to have a snack for the kids on testing days. If you are able to provide a snack or beverage on one of those days, we would be grateful!  The snacks should be healthy, not sugary (fruit, crackers, cheese etc.), and of course, nut free.  We have 24 students in the class.  I'm not exactly sure how it's going to work on computer days, but I will figure it out! Let me know if you can help out!
The major writing project that we did last trimester was an ABC Book project completed in PowerPoint. Students worked in teams to create paragraphs with topics A to Z surrounding a theme of their choice.  They had fun with PowerPoint, and I can say that everybody benefited from the focused paragraph writing.  Today in lab we attached their projects to their websites, so check it out!!  It is on their portfolio page. You should be able to click the file and either open it or save it. Please check them out!
One of the great resources in our classroom this year is our Scholastic subscription to the Storyworks magazine.  It has amazing stories in it every month. The story we have been reading this week is in honor of the one year anniversary of the Japan tsunami. The article featured a junior high school in Kamaishi that had been practicing tsunami drills prior to the March 11th disaster. Apparently their town was destroyed in both the 1896 and 1933 tsunamis, and they realized it could happen again. Because of their preparedness everyone in the school survived, and they helped rescue students at a nearby elementary. Of course my heart just catches remembering the images and stories of last year.  

Scholastic provided an opportunity to write letters to an English class at the junior high. I just finished typing the letters that your kids wrote.  They were great. I gave very few directions, and it was so special to see their compassion come through in their letters. I spend a good portion of my day reminding students how to talk and what is appropriate to say and redirection is always good to see that behind typical 5th grade madness is genuine humanness and kindness. :)