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Grade 5 News

Puberty Unit


Fifth graders will be learning about the physical, emotional and hormonal changes that the human body experiences in puberty on January 24th, 2020.  This age appropriate course is taught by Mrs. Stainbrook health educators at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science via live interactive webinar.  In order to maintain a more private and less “awkward” environment, and to encourage questioning unique to each gender, girls and boys will be separated for science and history classes that day.  There is a small fee for the class, and parents need to register. DMNS 5th Grade Puberty Unit. If you have questions, please email Mrs. Stainbrook. 


Academic Updates



We are finishing up our Protestant Reformation unit and have learned all about Martin Luther, the 95 Theses, the Protestants and how the Catholic Church started to break apart, and explored scientific discoveries of the 1500 and 1600s. After break we will begin our European Exploration unit. We will learn all about motives for exploration, trade routes, life of a sailor, risks of exploration, and who our explorers encountered. Students will be introduced to a number of explorers from England, France, Spain, and Portugal. We will continue to work on our mapping skills and students will engage in an exploration simulation. Students will each have a role on our ship and will encounter real problems sailors faced (lack of food and water, illness, lack of wind, and a potential for mutiny). While we are learning about who our European Explorers encountered, students will get a taste of our next unit, Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs, that we will begin in January.




In Literacy, students are currently or (will soon) begin to read the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women. The tale is a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s own childhood and provides an accurate representation of life in the northern states during the Civil War.  We’d hoped to finish the book before the December break, but may need to extend the reading into January, as our literacy blocks are shorter this year, and we are working hard to stay on a schedule that we’d created for literacy blocks that were . We continue to build our communication skills through grammar, journaling, writing prompts everyone’s favorite… classroom discussion.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream is slated for, (of all months) January. Briefly using this comedy as a simple segue, students will be introduced to the works of  William Shakespeare and his contribution to the English Language.  




Students are continuing to develop problem solving strategies, perseverance and logic in each math class, and their progress shows!  Thank you for your patience as we also continue to adjust our teaching practices and learn how to find and use the countless resources available through the Go Math platform. Like our students, we are “a work in progress”. We receive frequent feedback from our administration and are looking forward to continued professional development and coaching through the Go Math support team. Each of the fifth-grade math classes is working at a pace to meet the needs of that class, as such, please contact ’s , math teacher directly, if you have any questions.




We recently wrapped up a unit on the scientific method, models, tools and classification with a project and a test, and have moved on to our unit on Matter and Chemistry.  We have lots of fun and deep learning in this unit which will finish up right before winter break.  The investigations will become more complex and the students will have some challenging labs ahead of them.  We will continue to work hard on writing scientific lab conclusions and data analysis using graphs and models.  Thank you for all the supplies (recyclables) that you donated. I have everything we need moving forward for this next Trimester.  Your budding scientists are a lot of fun to teach!    




Please visit the respective links below to see what your child is experiencing in specials programming.












This week students participated in an Emergenetics Meeting of the Minds. They learned about the three behaviors and four thinking preferences that are measured and scaled using the Emergenetics survey that they took in early October. During the Meeting of the Minds, each student received their Youth Report and has hopefully shared it with you. Remember that Emergenetics does not measure intelligence. On the back of your student’s Youth Report is a brief explanation of the four thinking preferences and three behaviors. Please look over your student’s Youth Report, and even make a copy of it. However, the original report must remain in ’s binder, as we will frequently use them for the remainder of this year and the rest of their time at American Academy!  In fact, many Douglas County schools use this tool for both staff and students in order to facilitate learning, problem solving, conflict resolution and behavior management. Knowing about our strengths and understanding that others frequently have different strengths than our own is a powerful tool to promote teamwork. If you have any questions, please contact Mrs. Foery or Mrs. Winder, as they are STEP/Emergenetics Associates, trained to teach and discuss this fantastic program.




Students enjoyed their first Rebel Bucks party on Friday, November 15. Many students were thrilled with their first pay out and purchased all sorts of fun items. If you contributed to this incentive extravaganza, THANK YOU!  


T2 behavior expectations.

As always, we enforce AA character and manners with all students. In general, one of the tougher things to do is help our 10- and 11-year-old students understand how their behavior influences everyone around them. We will be impressing upon the students that they need to be team players and help everyone to earn more rebel bucks next term.


Silence really is “GOLDEN”


Given that fifth grade shares a hallway with small group classes of all grades whose schedules don’t always align with ours it is imperative we are respectfully quiet.  If two students start whispering, other kids do too, and suddenly if by chain reaction, the volume of 60+ kids craving social interaction is out of control. At the same time, for teachers, the fastest and easiest way to award Kickboard points is to select an entire class at a time, and award everyone $2 for quietly lining up, or $2 for a quiet transition. No comments are necessary, and with one push of a button, everyone in a group earns Rebel bucks. In fact, with all of the transitioning we do in a day, students have the potential to earn a minimum of $24 hours/in a day just for lining up quietly and transitioning silently.  If only a few kids are talking, teachers cannot make the whole class selection, and that easy chance to earn Rebel Bucks is forever lost. 


The great Scrunchie Crunch


Scrunchies are back, and have been for a while. The popularity of these seemingly harmless hair accessories is an endearing trend for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. That being said, they have become a distraction as kids are using them to communicate social status among their peers, and sometimes in hurtful or arrogant ways.  As such they are no longer appropriate in fifth grade. This means unless it’s a neutral or AA uniform color-coordinated scrunchie that is actively worn by a girl as a means to secure her longer-hair style, it will be considered contraband. As such, we will confiscate all scrunchies that are not used in this manner. Repeated or sneaky behavior around this rule will be dealt with in Kickboard. Please support teacher’s limited time by not allowing your child to bring them to school.


Announcements for Acronymic Events and Organizations


PNO (Parents Night Out) December 13th  - Hosted by Mrs. Bambury, Mrs. Regan, and Mrs. Weil,  This looks to be a super fun night for the kids, - complete with the coolest holiday themed crafts, pizza and Toy Story 4.  Take a night for yourself and leave the kids for their own holiday fun with some of their favorite teachers!  Cost is $35 for the first child and $30 each child thereafter.  Register Here.


PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) – When was the last time you checked out this part of the website?  Among our favorites is the super-duper slick sign-up page! Volunteering for the school is expected for all families at American Academy, and we, as teachers weren’t even aware of how many opportunities there are to get involved. Click on the “Volunteer” link on the right side of the page and then scroll down.  The work put into this is phenomenal! We would love to see involvement from ALL AA families, as this community is here for the children and everyone who touches their lives.