November 17 Newsletter

Testing the quality of the river water we collected last week

Coming Soon

Monday, November 20 – Swimming starts for all G5 classes (Tuesday, November 21 will be the first day for Ms. Rayle’s class.)

Monday, November 20 – Session 2 ASA’s and winter sports (track and field, swim team) begin

Thursday, November 30 –  Grade 5 Celebration of Music – 3:30 pm (See details below)

Grade 5 Business

November 20-24: Week A

The Grade 5 team would like to send a reminder about the importance of coming to school on time. Students are able to come to their classroom by 7:45 AM, so they have time to prepare and be ready for class, which begins at 8:00AM. When they arrive late, they come in feeling behind, unprepared and confused because they have missed the first directions of the day. We feel it’s important that students not start their day already feeling stressed, but prepared and ready to go. Thanks for your help in starting your child’s day off right! Also, please note that students should not enter the classroom before 7:45. Teachers and assistants are sometimes in meetings, on duty, or doing other preparation inside or outside the room before 7:45.

Learning Updates

Math: Students began their unit on decimals this week by focusing on place value and comparison of decimals. We also talked about situations in daily life where we often use tenths, hundredths, and thousandths, such as measurements, sports statistics, and money.

SuperUnit:  We had a great learning experience on our field trip to the water treatment plant this week. Students learned all about the water filtering systems that are used to supply water to over 90% of Ho Chi Minh City! We also learned to do some simple water quality testing of our own to identify pollutants in the river water gathered on last week’s trip. Students put their knowledge of water filters to use as they began a design challenge to create their own water filters to make safe drinking water!

Watching how the sand and gravel used to filter water is periodically “flushed” of sand and mud
This water looks a lot cleaner!

English: Students continued to work on their nonfiction reading skills this week. They are developing their ability to take useful notes, which is not easy. They are also learning how to find key ideas in complex sentences, and to determine which text structures are used in different pieces of writing.  All of this learning will help them to plan and write an informational article about a topic related to water. Please ask your child to tell you about their topic, about text structures, and about taking notes!

Looking Forward

Next week Grade 5 will continue their math unit on decimals.. The primary focus of this until will be on decimal place value, ordering and comparing decimals, and addition and subtraction of decimals. Students will also be researching and note taking for their topics for their informational articles. We will continue our study of water by working in teams to design and build our own water filters to turn river water into clean water. Here’s the rubric students will use to measure their success.


November 10 Newsletter

Coming Soon

Monday, November 13 and Tuesday, November 14: Planned field trip to Dong Nai Water Treatment Plant. Mr. Johnson’s and Ms. Carnahan’s class will go on Monday, and Ms. Ross’s and Ms. Rayle’s  classes on Tuesday. Your child needs to meet his/her teacher in the plaza between 7:50-8:00 am. There is no need to bring laptops or go to the classroom first.

Monday, November 20 – Swimming starts for all G5 classes.  Please bring a swimsuit, towel, goggles and swim cap (if desired). This is a date change from the previous update!

Monday, November 20: Session 2 ASA’s and winter sports begin

Grade 5 Business

November 20-24: Week B

Our field trip this week will be to the Dong Nai River water treatment plant. It is planned for Monday, November 13 for Mr. Johnson’s and Ms. Carnahan’s classes, and Tuesday, November 14 for Ms. Ross and Ms. Rayle’s classes.  This will be an all-day trip. Students need to wear their uniform with a polo shirt, sturdy walking shoes (sneakers are great) and bring a water bottle, hat, sunscreen, and a packed snack and lunch.

Learning Updates

Math: This week, students took their end of unit assessment for multiplication and division. The IPP form will be sent home early next week for you to review with your child. We will begin our next unit, focused on decimals, next week.

SuperUnit:  We continued our study of water by investigating local river water. Students used microscopes to observe microbes and protozoa that were present in the water. They then identified and drew their findings in their lab books. It was pretty amazing! Students continued to practice scientific skills such as careful measuring and observation, and thinking about causes and effects. We will continue this conversation as we head to the water treatment plant to see how the filtration process works on a larger scale.

Looking at protozoans in the river water

English: Students continued to work on their nonfiction reading skills this week. They have worked to understand how text can be organized to help an author convey their information. Some examples include cause and effect, description, and comparing and contrasting. Students also had a great opportunity to spend some time with a visiting author and poet, Luca Lesson. They listened to him speak and share his work, as well as created their own poetry to share with others. Check it out!

Looking Forward

Next week Grade 5 will begin their new math unit on decimals. The primary focus of this until will be on decimal place value, ordering and comparing decimals, and addition and subtraction. Students will also be researching some of the issues the world faces regarding water and begin to choose their own topics for their upcoming articles they will write. We will continue our study of water by learning about the causes and effects of various pollutants in water (germs, chemicals, etc.), and how we can make water safe for drinking.


November 3 Newsletter

Try different ways of carrying water on Friday’s field trip

Coming Soon

Monday, November 6-Friday, November 10: Online registration for Season 2 ASA’s

Thursday, November 9: Last day of Season 1 ASA

Monday, November 13 and Tuesday, November 14: Planned field Trip to Dong Nai Water Treatment Plant (see below for more details)

Grade 5 Business

Our next field trip will be to the Dong Nai River water treatment plant. It is planned for Monday, November 13 for Mr. Johnson’s and Ms. Carnahan’s classes, and Tuesday, November 14 for Ms. Ross and Ms. Rayle’s classes.  This will be an all-day trip. Details and permission slips will be sent home early next week, pending approval of the trip.

Learning Updates

Math: This week, students continued to practice their division skills. They reviewed how to deal with the remainder in applied problems, and learned a variety of strategies, such as making diagrams and finding key words, to help them solve word problems with multiplication and division. We will be giving the unit assessment on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

SuperUnit:  We continued our study of water by concluding an experiment with a model water cycle, reading and watching videos to understand how the water cycle works on Earth, and designing and carrying out experiments to separate mixtures of water and various solids. Students continued to practice scientific skills such as careful measuring and observation, and thinking about causes and effects. We concluded the week with another “long walk to water” that involved walking over a kilometer to the river, using buckets to collect river water, learning how to carry water on one’s head and with a shoulder pole, and trying to filter dirty water.

Using a screen and filter paper to separate solids from water

English: Students continued to work on nonfiction reading. They practiced finding the main ideas of paragraphs and articles, even when those ideas are not clearly stated. They learned to look for the most important phrase and key words in difficult sentences. They also learned about different ways that ideas are organized in nonfiction text.

Looking Forward

Next week Grade 5 will wrap up the math unit on multiplying and dividing large numbers, continue their study of water by learning about the causes and effects of various pollutants in water (bacteria, chemicals, etc.), and continue to refine their skills with reading and writing non-fiction text.



Reflection for “Long Walk to Water”

  1. Describe what you did at each station
  • Getting water from river (buckets)
  • Head carry station
  • Shoulder pole station
  • Filtering station
  1. What was most difficult or challenging about the activity. Why was it difficult?
  2. How did you deal with the challenge?
  3. What ideas do you have for making this trip more interesting or realistic next year? (No, stopping for bubble tea is NOT an option!)

October 27 Newsletter

Coming Soon

Saturday Oct 28, 3-6 PM: SSIS PTA Halloween Party

Tuesday, Oct.31: G5 Healthy Halloween Party (details below)

Thursday, Nov 2: Principal’s Coffee 8:15 am in Room B313

Friday, Nov 3: Tentative Field Trip to Crescent Bridge area (morning)

Grade 5 Business

Healthy Halloween Party: G5 students are able to wear Halloween costumes to school on Tuesday, Oct. 31. As a rule, students are requested not to wear costumes with weapons or excessive gore that might frighten students in lower grades. Students are invited to bring a healthy treat to share with classmates on Tuesday afternoon. This is optional. Students not in costume should wear uniforms as usual.

Field Trip: We have a tentative field trip planned for next Friday. Please see “Looking Forward” for more details.

Learning Updates

Math: This week students practiced their division and estimation skills. They learned different ways to solve division problems and played a variety of games to develop speed and accuracy. Students also worked to determine the meaning of a remainder in a division problem.

SuperUnit: We launched our second SuperUnit, “Water Issue”, this week with a “long” walk to water across campus. Students also began science experiments to determine how to separate mixtures and solutions, and considered how this will impact our understanding of clean drinking water.

English: In reading, students began to work on nonfiction reading and note-taking strategies. We began to look at ways authors make nonfiction writing more complex as our reading levels increase. We also looked at cause and effect as one type of text structure that is used in nonfiction reading and writing. To further support your child’s development as a nonfiction reader, please consider sharing news articles and nonfiction magazines from your home country with them.

As part of Thursday’s “Long Walk to Water” activity, students got to experience waiting in long lines for limited drinkable water–a daily fact of life for many people around the world.

Looking Forward

We have a tentative field trip scheduled for the full morning of Friday, Nov 3. We will be walking to the river near Starlight Bridge near the Crescent Mall to further our study of water issues and access to clean drinking water. Permission slips will be sent home on Monday, Oct 30.

October 21 Newsletter

We have not had time to put together a Grade 5 newsletter this week due to conferences, but as next week is a busy week with some new units starting, I’m putting together a post to keep you up to date!

Coming Soon

Tuesday, October 24: This week is International Week. On Tuesday, all students are invited to wear clothing representing their country or countries. This could be national dress such as an ao dai, a T-shirt with a flag or other national symbol, or just ordinary clothes with the country’s colors. It is optional–students are also welcome to come in uniform if they wish. Students should bring a PE uniform as well, since we have PE from 10:30-11:05 on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 28, 3-5 PM: PTA Halloween Activities, in auditorium

Monday, October 30-Friday, October 3: Online registration for Elementary Track and Field/Cross Country Team. (For those who don’t know, “Field” means jumping and throwing events. “Cross Country” means a 2 km run on the grass.) I am one of the coaches (for cross country and middle distance running); feel free to contact me for more information. All are welcome to participate in training; we try to give all a chance to compete, but this depends on how many entries are allowed per school in each meet. Signup is on a first-come, first-serve basis, as team numbers are limited for safety and supervision reasons.

Sunday, November 5: Terry Fox run. More details next week.

Monday, November 6 to Friday, November 10: Online signup for Session 2 ASA’s.

Elementary swim team signup should also be coming soon; I will update when I get the dates.

Learning Updates

Math: We continued learning different algorithms for division by one and two-digit divisors. Most students already have some mastery of the traditional algorithm, so I stressed this one in class. We also looked at the Vietnamese way and some mental math strategies. We reviewed the importance of estimating the quotient, the repeated process of “divide, multiply, subtract, bring down one place”, and checking to see that answers are reasonably close to our estimates. Students worked in individualized practice packets to improve their skills and confidence. Those who have already mastered long division are working with challenge materials that demand more difficult calculation and logical thinking.

Reading and Writing: Our focus this week was on finishing drafts of the realistic fiction narratives. Most students finished a rough draft and did some revisions based on self-evaluation and teacher feedback; a few were able to revise and proofread to produce a more polished story. Some discovered that their story was longer and more complicated than they thought, and have completed several scenes of a longer work. We will continue to use the drafts as opportunities to practice revision and proofreading skills, and students who have not finished can choose to work on their stories during free-write times and at home.

Students used their “story mountain” plans to tell their story to a partner before beginning to write their drafts.

Unit Studies: This week Grade 5 wrapped up our first unit, “The Pursuit of Excellence” by sharing their 20-hour projects with fellow fifth graders in other classes. In four sessions of about 40 minutes each, students had a chance to see projects by students in the other Grade 5 classes, as well as share their own work. Many students showed truly impressive dedication on these projects, and were excited to share them at conferences. The remainder of unit studies time was spent preparing for conferences!

Sharing 20-hour projects

G5 Business

Conferences: Thank you so much for making the time to attend the parent-student-teacher conference with your child. I was very proud of how confidently most students were able to share their learning, strengths, weaknesses, and goals at the conference. For some, this was the first time to participate in their own conference, and they showed a great deal of courage!

Looking Forward

Math: We will continue calculation practice next week and start to move on to applied problems. Students will learn key words and strategies when solving word problems with multiplication and division. We will also look at about what remainders mean in real-world problems, and when/how to ignore them, round them up, or show them as fractions or decimals. The assessment will probably be sometime the week after next, depending on students’ needs.

Reading and Writing: We will begin a new unit on non-fiction reading and writing that is tied in with our second SuperUnit on Water Issues. Students will learn about non-fiction text features and structures, and make use of them to find and take notes on main ideas and supporting details of paragraphs and articles. We will also work on strategies for dealing with new vocabulary. Later, students will also be using this knowledge to plan and organize their own non-fiction writing.

SuperUnit: On Monday, we will launch a new unit called Water Issues. The focus is on water, its importance to life, health, and the environment, and the challenge of providing all people with enough clean water for drinking and other purposes. Students will explore the physical and chemical properties of water, learn about mixtures, solutions, and basic concepts of chemistry, explore how to test the cleanliness of water and filter it for impurities, and investigate environmental and social issues related to water. I think it’s a timely unit for a rainy season that seems to have outstayed its welcome!

And finally….

Congratulations to Tayla and her family on the arrival (very early Thursday morning) of a new baby brother!


October 6 Newsletter

Coming Soon

Oct 9-13: October Break – no school

Oct 19-20: Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences

Oct 19: Dismissal at 12:15 for conferences

Oct 20: No classes – students only come for conference

Grade 5 Business

Fall Break:  We wish you all a safe and joyful fall break. We look forward to seeing everyone back at school on Monday, Oct 16.

Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences: The Grade 5 Parent Conferences at SSIS are largely led by the students, so please make sure that you have scheduled a time that works for all of you. If you have not yet signed up for your child’s conference, or need to make a change to your time, please do so through the ES office.

New SSIS Video: This new video has some clips from our recent trip to Buu Long. Take a peek.

Learning Updates

Math: This week students practiced their multiplication and estimation skills. They learned different ways to solve multiplication problems and played a variety of games to develop speed and accuracy. Students also took a division pre-test and review estimation and division skills from Grade 4 (working with one-digit divisors).

SuperUnit: Students reflected on their growth during the 20-hour project, and put together short presentations that they will share with their peers after break. During this time, students also began their conference preparation.

English: In writing, students continued to work on their narrative writing pieces. They focused on writing thoughtful climaxes and meaningful endings. Some students have completed the first draft of their narratives.  I encourage students who are not close to finishing to continue working on their drafts over the break. We will use these later as the basis for work on revising and proofreading, and eventually publish the stories as a class book.

Looking Forward

When we return from break, students in each Grade 5 classroom will present their 20-hour projects to students in the other classes. They will also prepare for parent conferences.  If your child did not yet complete their 20-hour project or presentation, please support them in finishing over break.

September 29 Newsletter

Coming Soon

Oct 5: Principal’s Coffee w/ Dr. Keller

Oct 9-13: October Break – no school

Grade 5 Business

PTA Volunteers:

We are happy to inform you that the PTA has organized grade level representatives to help distribute information and organize school events and celebrations.  Our G5 grade level rep is: Tulin Fisk


The PTA and our room moms would  like permission to contact you to keep you connected to both classroom and  school wide events.  In order to stay fully informed and involved in your child’s education, we encourage you to allow at least one parent email address to be published in the “online directory.”  If you would like to ensure that you receive PTA communication, please follow these steps:

  1.     Sign into Power School
  2.     Click on “Demographic Update” in the left menu bar
  3.     In the second column “Include in Online Directory” enable/authorize the email addresses (fathers and/or mothers) to receive school information.

The PTA would also like to establish room parents for each classroom.  Room representatives will be more directly involved with classroom events and celebrations.  If you would like to volunteer, please sign up by clicking this link:

Room Parent Sign-Up

Learning Updates

Math: This week students practiced their multiplication and estimation skills. They played a variety of games to practice accuracy in “hitting the target.” They also worked to monitor their own learning throughout the week to ensure they were getting assistance when needed.

Practicing estimation and computation with the game “Multiplication Bulls-Eye”

SuperUnit: This week Grade 5 students enjoyed their first field trip of the year to Buu Long. Students challenged themselves in so many ways and we were so proud of how hard they pushed themselves to reach new goals. Students reflected after the trip and noticed that they each experienced a range of emotions, such as pride, fear, and courage, over the course of the day.  What a great exposure to new experiences and learning about themselves!


English: In writing, students continued to work on their narrative writing pieces. They focused on developing characters and making sure the story had a strong conflict for the character to work through.  Students worked on “story mountain” planners in preparation for drafting next week.

Story Mountain

During their reading time, students worked to identify strong examples from authors about plot and character development.

Looking Forward

Next week, is the final week for students to work on their 20-hour project and prepare their documentation so that they can share their learning experiences with other Grade 5 students. Students have worked hard to learn a new skill/activity and we are excited to see what they have accomplished! In math, students will continue practicing multiplication and begin the unit on division.  

Buu Long Trip Blog Posts


Here are some questions to help guide your post about the Buu Long trip:

  1. Explain about what activities you did at Buu Long. (Don’t assume readers know what abseiling, zip-lining, and rock-climbing are!)
  2. Which was your favorite or most interesting activity? Why?
  3. Which activity was most challenging or difficult for you? Why? How did you try to overcome the difficulty?
  4. What did you learn about yourself by doing these challenges?
  5. What do you think this trip has to do with pursuing excellence?

Please add pictures to your post! I have put my pictures into a Google Drive folder and shared it with you. (Look on “Shared with Me”.) We will upload more pictures as soon as possible. It is easiest to save or drag the pictures to your desktop, then add them from there into your post (click “Add Media”, then select or drag the photo).

September 22 Newsletter

Coming Soon

Mon Sept 25:  Buu Long Field Trip for Ms. Rayle’s and Ms. Carnahan’s class

Wed, Sept 27:  NO SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS – Professional Development for staff

Oct 5: Principal’s Coffee w/ Dr. Keller

Oct 9-13: October Break – no school

Grade 5 Business

Buu Long Field Trip: Please double check the packing list for our field trip to make sure your child is prepared for a great day! On the day of your child’s trip, please have them meet their classroom teacher in the Plaza near the main gate. The bus will depart by 8:00AM and we will return at approximately 4:30PM.

20-hour project: Throughout September your child’s primary homework time will be to work on their project. This includes time spent on practicing the new skill or activity, as well as documentation. Thank you for your continued support!

Learning Updates (Pictures soon!)

Math: This week students took a test for the Order of Operations unit. They tests have been scored and discussed with students. They are coming home Tuesday with an “IPP” or “Individual Profile of Progress” that shows how they did and what areas they may need further practice on. (I apologize–I intended to send it home Friday but was caught up in end-of-day final details for Buu Long and forgot!)  On the reverse of the IPP, there is a box with the math practices.  Please sit with your child and have them reflect and self-assess how they do in this areas. Please sign and return the test to school with your child next by the end of next week.

Playing the game “Multiplication Bullseye” to practice estimating and calculating large products

SuperUnit: This week Grade 5 students continued with a series of mini-classes on nutrition, personal safety, and documenting their 20-hour projects. They have been looking over the rubric to ensure that they are prepared with their documentation and reflections of learning throughout the process. It’s so much fun to see all the new learning taking place!

Learning about microscope use and body cells with Ms. Fox


Planning nutritious snacks for the Buu Long trip

English: In writing, students are preparing to write narratives. This week they made brainstormed story ideas, began to develop a main characters, and reviewed the elements of story. They were mindful of important story elements, and carried these ideas to strengthen their own writing.

Looking Forward

Next week, students will be participating in a field trip where they will work to challenge themselves, set goals and see their growth. The learning on this adventure trip will last for many weeks to come! They will also work on their 20-hour projects and work to reflect, adjust, and document all the time they’ve been putting into learning a new skill or activity! In math, students will continue learning about multiplication.