5th Grade Transition Bulletin #3

5th Grade Transition Bulletin 2020

Bulletin - March 13, 2020


Dear 5th Grade Families,

This weekly transition bulletin includes information the following topics:

  • Homework
  • Canvas and PowerSchool
  • Approaches to Learning - 6th Grade

Dr. Todd T. Fitzgerald
Principal, Julian Middle School
[email protected]

District 97 Vision

Oak Park Elementary School District 97 will create a positive learning environment for all students that is equitable, inclusive and focused on the whole child.

What is Canvas?

TCanvas is a Learning Management System (LMS). This program enables teachers, students and families to communicate in a centralized location. Canvas allows teachers to share resources and assignments, offers multiple ways to complete and submit work, and provides a safe place for students to collaborate.

Where can we find information about our student’s assignments and homework?

Each student is assigned a Chromebook loaded with the Canvas application. Canvas is the Learning Management System that all teachers use to post homework assignments. Parents/Guardians are asked to register for an observer account on Canvas. Instructions on how to do this will be shared with you in August/September after students have their Chromebooks and access to Canvas. You or your student can email the teacher for assistance regarding assignments and communication that occur through Canvas if you have questions.

PowerSchool is used by students and parents to check grades?

Students should access grades for assignments, projects and tests through PowerSchool (Not Canvas). Canvas is used as a tool to post assignments and related resources to complete the assignments. Occasionally, assignments can be automatically graded via canvas, but the grade reflected in Canvas is not the “official” grade. Grades are accurately recorded in PowerSchool only.

How much homework can be expected?
As a rule of thumb, expect that each night there will be 10 minutes of homework for each year in school (60 minutes for 6th grade). That said, every student is different in his/her ability and some take longer to complete assignments than others. There will be a natural ebb and flow of homework depending on what is happening in the school schedule. The core team of teachers work to coordinate homework and assessments to avoid a high number of major projects or tests happening on the same day.
Approaches to Learning (ATL) Class - 6th Grade

I am excited to share that every sixth grade student will be taking an Approaches to Learning (ATL) class next school year. This course is designed to help students learn the skills needed to be successful in middle school. Transitioning from a smaller elementary school to a large middle school has its challenges. This course addresses those challenges and will directly teach our students strategies to be successful in this new environment. 

Students will take this trimester-long course during their Integrated Studies 6 class. Most 6th graders will take ATL class  during the 1st trimester. Others will take the Design and Modeling technology class. Students that take Design and Modeling during the 1st trimester will take the ATL course during the 2nd trimester. 

The ATL course consists of the following learning topics:

  • How do we learn? How do I learn?

Students will assess themselves as a learner by specifically identifying their strengths and possible areas for growth as they relate to the ten IB Learner Profile traits and Howard Gardner’s Multiple intelligences Theory.

  • What does IB learning look like?

As an IB school student, learning in all courses is designed in units. Each unit has three main components; a Statement of Inquiry that defines the why of learning, a Global Context which defines how the unit of study connects to the world outside of the classroom, and the summative assessment which is graded with a rubric. By understanding these elements, students will be able to take ownership of their learning and benefit from understanding these elements that are consistent across all classes.

  • How do I stay organized in middle school?

Students will learn organizational skills and strategies to help them keep track of assignments and manage their time.

  • How can affective skills support my mental and emotional health?

Students will learn strategies to manage stress, avoid distractions, and persist even after mistakes, failures and adversity.

  • How do I best collaborate with others?

Your child will have frequent opportunities to collaborate with his/her peers, whether that be during a classroom discussion or an extended design/exploration opportunity. Students will understand the role of empathy, responsibility, and equity to improve their group learning experiences. 

At the end of the course, students will set goals and reflect upon what they learned to ensure that these lessons can be applied throughout the rest of the school year. 

Additionally, teachers will be infusing opportunities to learn about the world beyond their classroom walls. International-mindedness is a central tenet to the IB program. This is one of the main ways we make learning engaging for all students. International-Mindedness is understanding that the world is much bigger than you or even us and having the skills necessary to learn and negotiate in a way that is inquisitive, equitable, and respectful. Opportunities for these types of experiences will be embedded into this course.  

What should you do if your student has difficulty with the transition to middle school?

If your student is having difficulty with the changes that accompany transitioning to the middle school environment, we encourage you to reach out to his/her advisory teacher to discuss the situation. If this approach does not yield success, you can request a meeting with the grade level team of teachers to further investigate possible solutions. You would contact the teacher leader of your student’s team to coordinate this meeting. If concerns persist, then you would contact the gerade level assistant principal, Ms. Ryan Gordon.

Middle Matters Newsletter

In case you missed it in a previous transition bulletin, I am including the link to the Julian Middle Matters Newsletter that is shared with our middle school families regularly. This is a great source of information to see what is going on here at Julian. Please save the date of Thursday, April 23 from 6:00-8:00 for our incoming 6th Grade Parent Orientation.