September Updates

Throughout the school year, 5th graders will take on the responsibility of updating the class blog with information they want to share with the wider world. The students are responsible for deciding what to share, creating the text, and capturing images that help tell the story of our classroom. The 5th grade is also working on taking and using feedback, and would love to read your comments and suggestions for our next post. Please enjoy the post below–the first post written by 5th graders this year!
Thank you!
Ms. D and the 5th grade

Welcome to the fifth grade blog!
Every week Rabbi Gouze tells us a riddle. This week the one she gave us was:

I am at the beginning of every end
The end of every place
I am the beginning of eternity
The end of time and space
What am I?

Check next time for the answer and a new riddle!!! Leave a comment if you think you know the answer!

Another thing we do every week with Rabbi Gouze is Parshat Hashavua, which means weekly Torah portion. Rabbi Gouze combines the weekly Torah portion in English and Hebrew with a short summary, and puts it on a piece of paper, which she gives to fifth grade. Then we write about our opinions and interpretations of the Parshah and hang our writing in the classroom. Then we read each other’s opinions and decide if we agree or disagree. Earlier in September, the Parshah was about B’nai Yisrael and how we are The Chosen Ones. We had to give our opinions about whether we think we are the chosen ones or not. We learned our ancestors were promised that they and their seed would be chosen forever, and we learned that we are the seeds. Take a look at some of our ideas!

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In Design Lab, we have been working on a kippah project. We have been working on this because we noticed that many people are forgetting, losing, or choosing not to wear their kippot because it makes them uncomfortable. One group is making a kippah wheel to help people make better choices about their kippot. The other group is writing jingles to share over the intercom system to remind people when and why they should wear kippot. Here is one of our ideas:

“Wear your kippah on through and through.
That’s what G-d wants us to do!
Put your kippah on your head
for lunch and prayers, but not in bed!”

Another thing we did this month was work on making analogies for Freedom. We learned that analogies are when you combine two things that are different in lots of ways, but are similar in a couple of important ways. We wrote and created pictures that explain our analogies, and we got feedback from our classmates to help us make lots of drafts that got better each time. We also wrote reflections about the project. Here are a couple examples of rough drafts! Our finished projects are posted at school.

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Bruchim Habaim (welcome) to Hebrew with Rotem

I love the summer, but it is great to be back at school teaching Hebrew to the 5th graders. Our method continues to be teaching Hebrew in Hebrew as a living language and these 5th graders rock!

During the first two months of the school year, the whole school is focusing on the value “Ve’ahavta Lereacha Kamocha,” (Love Your Neighbor as Yourself). The students made the connection to our Zimriya song, ‘Amar Rabbi Akiva,’ from last year which they love to sing. Our first story we are studying in Lashon (language class) is about this value and this song. After reading the story and analyzing its themes and characters, the 5th graders are ready to retell the story in their own words. Very soon they will present their storyboard to the school community.

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writing the story in their words

The students already have plans to write a play based on the story…. Looking forward to see where they will take us!

Lehitraot (see you again),


What does it mean to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?

This year, JCDSRI is weaving a values curriculum into all areas of the curriculum. This month’s Jewish value comes from Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The fifth graders are using other Jewish texts, especially from Pirkei Avot (a section within the Rabbinic collection known as the Mishna), the Ethics of the Fathers, to help them unpack the meaning and application of this verse. Some of the questions that have been raised by them: What does it mean to be a neighbor – does that mean only people within your community? (They rejected that understanding). What happens if you don’t like yourself – how does that help you know how to treat somebody else? (This question is still being explored). What are the behaviors connected to this concept that will help to show that we love our neighbors? (Treating someone with respect, being helpful, reaching out to them, using kind words, etc). Using the teaching from Pirkei Avot which states, “I am only for myself, what am I; if I am not for myself, who will be; and if not now, when?,” we have explored the idea of maintaining a balance. While we need to be there to help others, we also have the obligation to take care of ourselves, These are important concepts to be considered at any time but are even more significant at this time of the year as we enter into the spiritual tasks of the HIgh Holy Day season. May all of you have a good year, one filled with blessings and health, and may you have more laughter than tears in the year to come.

Tomer’s Post about our Guest from Adidas

This week a very special guest speaker came to the fifth grade class.  Greg, a vice president of the company Adidas, came and talked to us about what he does as a vice president of such a large company.  As a vice president of a large company like Adidas, there are many responsibilities he has to take on.  Keeping factories clean and safe is hard, especially when there are almost two thousand factories to take care of in China, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey.  80% of all Adidas’s products are made in those six countries.  He and his team make sure the workers are happy and get the money they earned, that the factory is safe, and that there are no children under the age of sixteen working.  If he finds any of theses things he may send them a letter saying that the owner of the factory has to fix the problem in a certain amount of time.  If the owner doesn’t do what he was told, they get another letter saying that they have to do it.  If they still don’t do it by the third time, Adidas will tell them they will not give them anymore work after a certain amount of time, so any raw materials already there can be produced into the product and so the workers will know that they won’t be employed in some time.  If what he and his team find is very bad, then they will just stop production immediately and never work with the factory again.   This is only a fraction of all that we learned from Greg about his job.


Tamar’s Poetry Post

This was written a couple of weeks ago. Now that Poetry Night has already happened, it’s interesting to look pack at this process:

This week in writing we worked more on poetry.  Last week we started poems for the poetry night (though some of our previous poems will also be read there).  The ones that we started are poems about industry, nature, freedom, and the book of Shmot.  We have a list of poetic terms to use- at least three of in each poem, some of which are rhyme, hyperbole, and alliteration.

At our poetry night, we will read some of the poems we have written at Blue State Coffee.  I am very nervous for poetry night because not only will there be our parents (and maybe some others) at the poetry night, but also anyone in the cafe, so we will probably be reading poetry we wrote in front of strangers.  I am also looking forward to poetry night a lot, because we will get to share our poetry with our family.  Also, it’s an excuse to write a lot of poetry!

Gotta Have Sole

This week we visited the organization Gotta Have Sole, founded by JCDSRI alum, Nicholas Lowinger.  Please take a moment to read about this amazing individual and all the good he does in the world: http://www.gottahavesole.org/ghs/

Nicholas is only a high school student! He started this organization in sixth grade, for his bar-mitzvah project. To say he was an inspiration to the class is an understatement.  Gotta Have Sole sends new shoes to children who need them. Fifth graders learned about why Nicholas began doing this work, some of the (many) awards he has won over the years, and how the organization runs. Then they helped prepare an order to be sent to a shelter in Arizona.

Here are some of the students reflections after the trip:

“This trip has showed me how 1 person can make a difference” – Jordan

“I am thinking about the kids’ reactions to the cards ans hoes. I hope they are happy!” -Elliana

“I am thinking about how lucky we are to have shoes to wear.” – Tomer

“I am thinking about how I can help the world. I got inspired. What should I do?” – Abby

“I wonder what I can do to help in the world.” -Jodd

“This is the first time I have really thought about how hard it is not to have shoes.” -Jonah

“I am now so grateful for my shoes. I am also wondering what I can do to help in the community.” -Eliora

“It feels so good to know that thing I am drawing will be cherished by someone I will probably never meet.” -Tamar


Some of the 5th graders remembered Jess the dog visiting them in PreK
Some of the 5th graders remembered Jesse the dog visiting them in PreK. Jesse belongs to Nicholas’s family.
Each corner is filled with shoes to be donated
Each corner of the garage is filled with shoes to be donated. Here we are shown where it all began.
Students matched up the right shoes with the order. Each pair got a sticker with the name of the child the shoes would go to.
Students matched up the right shoes with the order slip. Each pair got a sticker with the name of the child the shoes would be going to.
Cards were then made for each child, to accompany the shoes.
Then students made cards for each child, to accompany the shoes. Cards were decorated, and inspirational messages were written (i.e. Jump high!) on the cards.
Our students were hard at work, eager to help others.
Our students were hard at work, eager to help others.
Students put such thought and love into their cards.
Students put such thought and love into their cards.
A lot of children will be getting their shoes soon.
A lot of children will be getting their shoes soon.

It was a particularly moving service learning experience. Many thanks to Lori Lowinger for taking the time to welcome us and for giving the class this opportunity.

Jodd’s Post about Poetry

One of Jodd's Favorite Books of Poetry
One of Jodd’s Favorite Books of Poetry

This week we were immersed in poetry. Each night we have been reading poetry and sharing a special poem that we liked with our class. I have read from many great poets about the sea, a woodpecker, God and more. In class we have learned about Haiku, couplets, and many literary devices. Do you know how many there are? Even more than the amount of fingers I have! I think that poetry is very important, but it can take time. Each word helps to make a whole. Not to be confused with a hole. A simple word can be the essence of a poem. The sun, a shirt, anything! Even more than the amount of my fingers and toes combined! Poetry can be hard sometimes, but everyone has a poet inside. I didn’t see myself as a poet when we started this unit. Now, I have written many poems that, in my opinion, are good. Very good! I bet you could do one too. Maybe I’ll try.


 Words are so important,

for words tell stories.

And without stories,

there is no joy.

In words.

I like that one too. I hope you like it. I can write more. Although, I’m running out of letters. Before I end it I will say. Poems are awe….. Wait, I can’t run out of letters.

Eliora’s Post about Products and Poetry

This week has been extremely fun filled, and just blew by like a gust of wind on a summer day. Last Friday our class learned that we would be starting an incredibly fun project in social studies, but only this Monday did we start. Our assignment is to create a factory produced item and explain the details in paragraphs. We are split into two groups, and each group is making something different. My group focused on how we could take something that exists and make it more environmentally friendly. We have to explain our power sources, factory location, labor contract, and so on. For my group’s final part of the project, we plan to actually make a prototype of our product.

Another incredibly interesting thing that we did this week was write. Write poetry. We went into the garden one day and wrote haiku about the nature around us. We took things in everyday life and turned them into poems that only come along once in a lifetime. ”Buzz, buzz,” a bee! “Crunch, crunch,” crunching leaves! At the end of the day when I heard the intercom, dry leaves crackling underfoot, I groaned. I was sad that school was over.


cool, whispering, wind

wandering and wondering

across the fast grass


silent, still, beauty

crystals, diamonds, rubies

more precious than all


reaching for the sun

swirling and growing with love

they’re luscious and green

Our Slater Mill Field Trip

Our visit to Slater Mill helped students think deeply about the birth of industrialization in this country.  The fifth graders asked incredibly thoughtful questions about life during this time period.

Studying a piece of wool and thinking about the efforts it takes to go from sheering a sheep to  making usable thread to make clothes.
Studying a piece of wool and thinking about the efforts it takes to go from sheering a sheep to making usable thread to make clothes
Carding wool made it easier to work with.
Carding wool made it easier to work with.
Only a wealthy family could have had a loom like this one in their home.
Only a wealthy family could have had a loom like this one in their home.
Beds were warmed up with coals under the sheets.
Beds were warmed up with coals under the sheets.
Taking the flax plant and readying it to made thread to make linen is quite a process.
Taking the flax plant and readying it to made thread to make linen is quite a process.
Flax feels good.
Students were fascinated by all the machinery.
Students were fascinated by all the machinery.
Hydro-power in action!
Hydro-power in action!
These machines were designed to fix machinery.
These machines were designed to fix machinery.
The cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry
The cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry.

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Field Trip to RRIE

By Eliora, the 5th grader:

On Wednesday our class went to the recycling center. We went there not knowing anything that we wanted to buy, and left with everybody carrying at least one heavy bag (including Mrs. Woods and Peter.) We got so many materials that we will reuse in our sculpture. Our class got started on an abstract sculpture right away, and I was the official bottle cap holer (I put holes in the bottle caps.) We  have wind chimes, bird feeders, and pots for plants on what looks like a plastic cupcake holder. In conclusion, we all had an amazing time collaborating this week.

Curious to know more about where we went?  Click here: http://www.rrie.org/

We looked for materials that wouldn't get ruined outdoors
We looked for materials that wouldn’t get ruined outdoors
It's exciting to imagine what we'll create
It’s exciting to imagine what we’ll create