Important note about Schoology:

Please check our Schoology page regularly, as I will be posting important/current information on there!

You may feel free to continue using this blog as a resource for your homework and school projects, but all up-to-date information will be moving to Schoology.


Element Research Project and 3D Model Due February 3rd!

The Element Research Project and 3D model atom are due February 3rd. 

You have already had two class periods to do research on their elements in the library.  By now, you should have found your element information (# of protons, neutrons, electrons, symbol, atomic mass, state of the element), some examples modern uses of your element, and three interesting facts about your element. All of this information should be written down in your rough draft.

There is a section in the element packet that includes general questions about matter, compounds, mixtures, and solutions.  Some students have already gone ahead through their binder notes to locate the answers to these questions, but they are all questions/topics that we will cover in the coming days as we move through the matter unit. Don’t wait until the last second, though! Get these done ASAP!

You are to take their rough draft and retype it as a final draft, print it out, and turn it in.  The front cover needs to include a hand-drawn (not an image copied and pasted from the internet) picture of how your element is used.  (Print the cover page first, then draw the picture.)  If you don’t have access to a printer at home, you can share their final draft with me via Google Drive and I can print it out so you can add your picture.  However, this would need o be done prior to the due date of February 3rd!

If you would rather give a presentation about your element, you can create a Power Point (or Google Presentation) about your element, making each page of your rough draft a slide in your presentation.  (In this case, internet images would be okay.)
When it comes to the 3D model, use your imagination! Rather than just drawing an atom of their element with circles for the protons, neutrons, and electrons, you have to make a 3D model.  You can use 3D materials such as M&Ms, Skittles, buttons, pom pom balls, stickers, cut out cardboard shapes, etc.  There are a few examples pictured in your research packet to show different ways to make their model a little more than just a drawing.  If you need more ideas for how to build a 3D model, you can always check out Pinterest or search the internet for “atom model” or “3D atom model.”  There are lots of ideas and how-to’s out there!
I will be collecting both the rough draft and final draft of their projects.
Here are some links for more information on the Periodic Table/elements if you need it:

January Reading Response: Due January 31st!

“The Pinballs” by Betsy Byars.  Due January 31st.

You received the book, response packet, and discussion job sheet on Monday, January 6th.

Feel free to read at your own pace and complete the activity packet and job sheet as you go. The job sheet is the same as others you have done in the past, but this time you are using it for THE WHOLE BOOK.  Be sure to take notes as you go.  You can use the activity packet to help you come up with vocabulary words and discussion questions. We will form groups and discuss the book on January 31st.

If you lose your packet, you can get it from the “Materials” section on our class page on Schoology.

What’s going on in 2014?

I hope you all had a wonderful winter break!
Here’s some of what will be happening as we head into 2014!
January Research project
As we start learning about matter in Science, you will select a random element from the periodic table, research it, and create a 3D model of it.  While most of the research will be done at school, the 3D model must be completed at home.  You will have two class periods to research your element. You can use your binder, the books available at the media center, and the Internet to do your research.
January Reading discussion
Everyone in class will be reading “The Pinballs” by Betsy Byars. You will have an activity packet to complete as you read, and a job discussion sheet to take notes on throughout their reading. At the end of the month, we will form groups to discuss the book like we’ve done in the past.
We are going to be reviewing the steps of multi-digit multiplication and division. We then will take a look at measurement, both customary and metric.
Word Study
Word Study work continues every week.  On Monday, you receive your words and discuss the rules to which they are sorted by. Then, you copy these into your notebooks so that they have the words with them for homework all week.  Then you select and complete a homework activity EVERY NIGHT, so that when you turn your notebook in on Friday, you have completed 5 assignments: your classwork, and homework from Monday-Thursday nights.
We are going to shift from expository writing (writing to explain) to narrative writing (writing to entertain/tell a story.)
Matter matters!  We finally get to take a closer look at the periodic table of the elements!  You will research an element, learn about protons, neutrons, and electrons, and compounds and mixtures.
Social Studies
We will be learning about the colonies of Plymouth, Jamestown, Roanoke, Massachusetts Bay, Pennsylvania, and Georgia – reasons for establishment, goods and services the colonies specialized in, and location and climate.

Type To Learn
You will be able to practice Type To Learn at home! Information is being sent home in Friday folders.  You should already have your username and password – the program just needs to be downloaded at home.


2014 is going to be very busy, and the end of the school year will be here before you know it! You need to stay organized, stay on top of your assignments, and stay focused!

December Reading Response Menu: Due December 20th!

The Reading Response Menu project is the same as November. Pick a novel/chapter book, complete a main dish, 4 side dishes, and a dessert!

Possible upcoming projects:

January: Element research project

February: Biography

March: Career interview

April: Poetry

November Reading Response Menu: Due November 25th!

Student menu project:

There are separate directions for each part of the menu. Be sure to attach your work to the back of the packet, LABELING AND ORGANIZING THEM FOR EASY READING.

*This assignment is worth 40 points.*

Main Course: Select one. 10 points.

1. Discuss your reactions to the story. What did you like or dislike about it and why? Be very clear as to why you did or didn’t like it.

2. Would you recommend this novel to other students? Why or why not? Be very clear with examples. Would some students like it better than others, even if YOU did not? Why?

(These answers should be a LONG-PARAGRAPH RESPONSE. 3-5 sentences is not enough.)

Side dishes: Select four. 5 points each x 4 = 20 points.

1. Describe the main character. What was the main character’s goal in this novel? What did you think of this character?
2. What is the setting of the novel? Describe it. Could this story take place in any other place? Is the setting an important part of the story?
3. What other characters are important to the story? Describe at least 2 other characters. How does their role in the story positively or negatively affect the main character?
4. What are some of the conflicts (problems) in the story? Describe at least two conflicts. What happened? How was each conflict resolved?
5. What is significant about the title of the novel? Why do you think the author chose that title?
6. What is the ultimate resolution (ending) of the story? Was the ending the author chose a good ending for the story? Did you like it? Why or why not?
7. What other literary terms are present? Symbolism? Irony? Similes and metaphors? Personification? Flashbacks? Identify at least two and give clear examples from the story.

(Select 4 questions to answer. Your answers should be very thorough with multiple sentences of detail and explanation. Be sure to separate each question and answer by the question number. Do not squish all the answers into one giant paragraph!)

Dessert: Select one. 10 points.

1. Write a letter to a character in the novel. Include the following:

DEAR ______,

Write a paragraph about the character’s actions and the conflict the character struggles with.

Write a paragraph about suggestions or comments you would have made to the character if you could have spoken with him/her.


Your name

2. Write a movie or play script for the main conflict in the book. Your script must be at least two pages (front and back) in length and include character names, dialogue (their lines), and directions on how they should act or behave when speaking their lines.


You can hand write or type your assignment.

Two points will be deducted every day the assignment is late or not turned in.

Wrapping up our Geography unit

What started off as this…


…turned into this!


Students used homemade salt dough (1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of water, and food coloring) to create 3D maps/models of the 8 regions of the united states.  From west to east, they are: The Coastal Range, Basin and Range, Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, Interior Lowlands, Canadian Shield, Appalachian Highlands, and Coastal Plain.

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Creating the maps was a great way for kids to review the landforms and regions we learned about.

We also played a Jeopardy-style review game in class to help us get ready for our test!

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Week one is done!

Our first week of school was extremely busy!

In class, we have been very busy organizing and labeling all of our supplies, learning new routines and procedures, and getting to know each other.  Some of the activities we completed were discussing what we need to do to be successful this year, how to get along in class, and our feelings about the first day of school, which we displayed on a graph.  We read and discussed the book Chrysanthemum and are going to start reading The Mystery at Jamestown.

Next week, we’ll be moving more in depth into our curriculum.  These are some of the things we’ll be working on:

Language arts – Choosing books that are just right for you and the procedures for borrowing books from my classroom library. We will also work on developing detailed sentences and paragraphs, reviewing parts of speech, and writing correctly capitalized/punctuated sentences.  Students will have  a writing journal to write in at least once a week, if not more. In the next week or two, we will begin our word study spelling/vocabulary program.

Math – We’ve been doing a “Daily Math Jam” and will continue these for a little while. These are short reviews for me to check students’ background knowledge of math topics such as place value, rounding and estimating numbers, fractions, fact families, time, etc. We will begin the year by studying different types of graphs.

Science – We have talked a lot about making observations and then using them to make inferences about what we have observed. (Like our “Brown Bags” we have been looking at in class.) We will transition from these lessons into reviewing the scientific method – creating and testing a hypothesis, making observations, and recording and analyzing our results.

Social Studies – We will begin Social Studies with an introduction to geography.  We will learn about the 7 continents, 5 oceans, geographic features/landforms, geographic regions of North America, and major bodies of water in the U.S.


Meet the Teacher!


Hello, awesome 5th grader!

My name is Ms. Strassner and I am so pleased to be your teacher this year! This is my 12th year teaching, but it’s my first year at TJ.

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, but when I was in 8th grade, my family moved to Florida. I went to college at the University of Tampa. After I graduated, I did most of my teaching in Sarasota. I moved to Falls Church last year and taught 5th grade at MEH.

On October 26th, I’ll be getting married. That means my name will be changing to Mrs. Goodwin. If you want to go ahead and start calling me Mrs. Goodwin now, that’s fine with me!

When I’m not teaching, I like reading, writing, going to concerts, going for walks, and cooking. Some of my favorite things are:

Color – Pink. And I love polka dots!
Animal – T-Rex.
Restaurant – Pizzeria Orso.
Treat – Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate.
Sweet – Anything with dark chocolate!
Team – Washington Nationals / Pittsburgh Penguins.
I collect – Rubber ducks!