Your fifth grade ELA update for May

With the (hopefully for good this time) advent of sunny spring days and the end of state testing, your fifth graders are doing a deep dive into the American civil rights movement. We’ve been immersed in this work in reading, writing, and social studies as we push ourselves to collect and sort through important facts and consider ways to layer our own thinking over them. The first cycle of this work has involved reading all across myriad texts on the subject and organizing what we learn into subtopics, then flash drafting across all of these subtopics in a research report structure. Our big revision work has taken the form of doing targeted research to fill in gaps in our understanding, as well as using strategies like noticing patterns, developing theories, and building empathy in our readers. This round of work will culminate soon in the publication of collaborative classwide books that touch on a variety of subtopics.

Soon thereafter, our research will specialize into specific subtopics, examples of which include “famous civil rights leaders,” “the role of students in the civil rights movement,” and “landmark Supreme Court cases.” Students will target their research, writing and publishing individual research reports on a single subtopic of choice. We can’t wait to share this work with you at a publishing party sometime soon!

Our work in social studies also supports our immersion in civil rights research. A current mini-unit entitled “Kids Who Resist,” spearheaded by our own wonderful TA, Kate, introduced us to the Greensboro 4 and the idea of peaceful protest. Students got creative by designing their own flyers to advertise sit ins at the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter in 1960. Upcoming topics include Ruby Bridges and the Birmingham Children’s Crusade!

I’ll be in touch about publishing party dates as our work continues!

P.S. Lower Lab’s own creative writer laureate, Suzanne LaFleur, has a new book in the works entitled Counting to Perfect. A recent cover art sneak peek had this reader buzzing; here’s a link for anybody interested in finding out more about her upcoming work and thoughts on being a writer: Cover Art and Interview with Ms. LaFleur!

Update from Claudia (May)


We have completed a ‘Fat Test’ and a ‘Sugar Test’ for our Food and Nutrition unit.  During the fat test, students measured one gram of food, spread it on a piece of brown paper and let the sample sit over the weekend.  On Monday, we scraped off the food and measured the area of the dark spot left behind from the food. Letting it sit for the weekend helps to separate wet spots from fat spots.  Of the foods we tested, butter, salami and peanut butter were the fattiest foods we tested and raisins, marshmallows and pretzels were the least. The students engaged in an interesting discussion over foods that surprised them, and foods to enjoy in moderation based on these results.  We know our bodies need fat, but we do want to keep an eye on how much is consumed in a day/week.

During the sugar test, we measured 3 grams of cereal, 10 mg of yeast and 50mL of warm water, combined them all in a baggie and let it sit in a bath of warm water.  After ten minutes we measured the volume of the bag and learned that cereals with a lot of sugar ‘puffed up’ because the yeast and the sugar metabolized and gave off CO2.  We measured again after 20 minutes and found Lucky Charms & Frosted Mini-Wheats had a high volume of CO2, while Cinnamon Toast Crunch & Rice Krispies did not.  Many students understand and see the value in limiting the amount of sugar they consume, and again, moderation was the theme! 

Our next lab will be an acid test, food samples will not be needed.  (Thank you for your food donations so far!)

Science Fair: The rough draft of the written report is due Friday, the document is posted on Google Classroom. (If you need another weekend, Monday, May 7th is fine too!)

National Science League: Wow, Class of 2018 gets the ‘Most Enthusiastic About a Multiple Choice Science Test’ award!  Each week, they researched, read and discussed (agreeing and disagreeing) every topic in “that green book”!  Thank you for your support!

Special congratulations goes to: Bob Spinna, Daniel Kim, Isabella Capole-Chung, Vincent Bruckner, Tommy Hansen, Christopher Lee,  Jonah Peirez, Ethan Leonard, Andrey Karpovich, Triton Oh, Arden Barnwell, Anna Eliasson, Ian Buchanan, Pearce Marinis, Elly Park for their high achievements on this year’s National Science League competition.


We will cover statistics and data over the next few weeks, focusing on the four step process of statistics (formulating questions, collecting data, analyzing data and interpreting results) and thinking about statistics as the measures that describe the data.  Pie charts, line plots and bar graphs and more!

A few dates:

  • Health Class Parent Meeting: May 3, 8:30am, M39
  • Fifth Grade Olympics: May 24
  • Rocking Horse Ranch Overnight: May 30-May 31
  • June 1: Awards Ceremony (If your child is receiving an award you are invited to attend.  If you’re not sure, email me and I will let you know.)

Appealing or Attending a school outside of Middle School Admissions

April 17, 2018

Dear Fifth Grade Families,

At this point, you should have received your child’s acceptance letter to Middle School. If your child will be attending the school indicated in the letter, no further steps need to be taken.

If you would like to appeal your child’s match or your child will be attending a school outside of the admissions process, please indicate this on the form you received with the acceptance letter and return to me.

If you are appealing,  I will send home an appeal form for you to complete and return back to me  no later than April 26th, 2018.

If your child will be attending a school outside of the admissions process, please remember to attach a copy of your child’s admission letter to verify admission to that school.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions regarding this process.

Joshua Goldstein


Middle School Acceptance Letters!

April 11, 2018
Dear Fifth Grade Parents:

We have just been notified by the NYC DOE Office of Student Enrollment that the Middle School letters will be available for you to pick up on Thursday, April 12th.  I will have the letters in my office, which is room 137.  You must sign for the letter to pick it up.  Please be aware of the following:

  • The school cannot fax/scan the letters.
  • The school is only giving the letters to the parents or designated caregivers in person, or sending them by mail. If you would like your caregiver to pick up your letter, please have him or her come to the Main Office with a note with your signature stating that this person may pick up your middle school choice letter.
  • No child or sibling will receive the letters.

I will distribute letters on:

Thursday, April 12th between 1:00-3:00 PM


Friday, April 13th between 8:30-10:00 AM and 1:00-3:00 PM

Whatever is not picked up on Friday by 3:30 PM will be mailed home. 

We ask that you share the information with your child at home.  Please do not go out to the schoolyard or to classrooms to share the news with your child. In an effort to protect the feelings of all children, it is necessary for you to do this outside of the school day, and in person.  Please do not text or call your child until he/she is home from school and preferably with an adult.

If you would like to appeal your child’s middle school placement, you must do so by Thursday, April 26th, 2018.  Please contact me to learn more about the appeals process.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns at or 212-427- 2798.

Thank you!

Joshua Goldstein

Guidance Counselor

Lower Lab School

Fifth grade ELA update for April

Spring has sprung (hopefully!) and with it the long anticipated advent of the ELA exam. As I shared with the fifth graders today, they should feel confident and prepared after all their hard work. What students should do tonight to be ready for tomorrow:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Pack a water bottle that won’t leak and a few high-interest books
  • Wear comfy clothes, including a sweatshirt in case the AC gets chilly
  • Eat a robust breakfast (lunch will be later than usual)

With the way time has been flying, we’ll soon be on to our exciting new units of study. We’ll be spending a week-long ‘palate cleanser’ unit to honor April as National Poetry Month. After that, we’ll continue to integrate reading, writing, and social studies as we do a deep research dive into the study of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Students will read and take notes in preparation for writing research papers that highlight specific subtopics. We will be excited to share the results of this critical research work with you!

Update from Claudia


During April, our focus will be on reviewing content from the school year as well as test taking strategies for problem solving and reviewing good habits when taking a test. Each week the class is focused on one area of mathematics (for example, this week is all about fractions) and reviewing through small group work, partner work and independent work.  In addition, we will be finishing the geometry unit and then we will move into a statistics and probability unit.

One of the math centers this month is to read The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, a fictional story about a boy who is visited by a number devil each night.  The book creatively introduces many mathematical concepts.



Friday will be our first lab from the Food & Nutrition unit.  During this lab students will study the amount of fats in everyday food, I will be asking the students to bring some food samples from home, don’t be alarmed if they are rooting through your pantry or fridge!

We are always looking for experts in nutrition to come talk to the class, please let me know if you’re interested!

Science Fair has begun….proposals are due Wednesday!  


Rocking Horse Ranch paperwork was sent home today, please fill out all pages and return on or before Friday, April 13th.

National Science League 2018 Competition Date: Friday, April 27th

Fifth Grade Olympic Day: Thursday, May 25th

Graduation: 9am, Friday June 22nd

An update from 5th grade ELA…

We are hard at work in room 220! March has roared in like a lion, and we are roaring back with enthusiasm and focus.

Our argument and advocacy unit drew to a close quite literally with the creation of some thought provoking infographics. This work communicates our opinions, reasons, and evidence around some hot button issues, and we’ll be happy to display them for you to see at our conferences next week.

A sneak peek:

We also completed our opinion essay writing unit with some passionate and well researched essays on whether chocolate milk should be served in schools. All of this work will dovetail nicely with the writing we will do in our current test preparation unit!

We are preparing for the fifth grade ELA test through a mixture of guided practice, partner work, and small group instruction. The students are already experienced after all their hard work in fourth grade; this year’s job is to maintain that level of focus while fine tuning our written responses for fifth grade expectations. We’ll discuss more at parent teacher conferences so that you’ll know the specific goals we’re addressing with your child.

Enjoy your weekend and see you soon!


Update from Claudia


The month of March we focus on Geometry.  Students will study triangles, quadrilaterals and circles as well as measuring angles with a protractor and calculating complementary and reflex angles.  Students should be able to describe triangles and quadrilaterals based on their characteristics (angles, side lengths, parallel lines and perpendicular lines).

We will start reviewing for the state test in the next few weeks and I look forward to seeing you to discuss your child’s progress next week!


Our work with Landforms is wrapping up and our next unit is Food & Nutrition, where we will study the science of foods.  We are always looking for experts in nutrition to come talk to the class, please let me know if you’re interested!

Science Fair has begun….ideas are due on Monday through Google Classroom I have asked the students to share their documents with you so when I leave comments and questions, they should be visible to you as well.  

Thank you for your support, please email with comments or questions!


MoMath Visits Lower Lab

Great experience with Arizona State University Professor, Bruce Bayly, this morning.  He is affiliated with Museum of Math and is spending his spring break in NYC visiting schools talking about math, science and everything in between.  The students enjoyed the visit, asked many questions and Bruce enjoyed his time at Lower Lab.

Pics and videos (sorry for the orientation!) below, hopefully your children can give you captions and recaps tonight!

(PS: Please send your $11 as soon as you can, the bill needs to be paid.  Thanks!)







An ELA Update…

To start off, I want to thank the whole Lower Lab community for the warm welcome back to fifth grade. It was a relief to know what good hands the classes were in with Eve while I was on leave, and it has been a pleasure catching up with everyone and getting the chance to share with you about the twins. They’re doing so well at home with my mother, who will have them writing their own literary essays in no time.

Speaking of literary essays, the fifth graders have been working hard to lift the quality of their thesis statements and choosing the richest quotations to unpack in support of their ideas. We are challenging ourselves to avoid cliches and instead make insightful inferences about the short stories we read. As we wind down this unit and prepare to publish the best of our work, we plan to jump right into another powerful essay unit – the research based argument essay. This unit will leverage the skills we are building in choosing and unpacking text evidence to support strong claims about topics in the world. Students will learn to suspend judgment as they read critically and note take before building reasoned arguments in support of their viewpoints. We’ll even appeal to our audiences and incorporate counterarguments to make our essays as convincing as possible. Prepare to be swayed!

As readers, we are drawing another cycle of book clubs to a close. The students have taken ownership of the roles Eve taught them to play in literature circles to hold themselves accountable to their club mates and have stronger, deeper conversations about their shared texts. Our next stop will be holding similarly meaningful conversations around nonfiction texts. This informational and argument reading will even spur flash debates that can provide opportunities for rehearsal for our argument essays! This work will require analytical reading and analysis as well as exploration of the author’s craft moves to determine her unspoken perspective on the topic. Readers will also synthesize across multiple texts on a topic so that they can write essays in Writing Workshop that are heavily researched and fully informed. There’s no debating that this will be a powerful unit for the fifth graders! (Are new moms allowed to make dad jokes? Hope so.)

Finally, the fifth graders are thrilled to be launching a new social studies unit on Canada! We will start by studying the origins of its national symbols and their significance. Later, we’ll tie into our argument unit by critically reading and debating about the mutual impact of polar bears and humans and the changing of the words in Canada’s national anthem. We will also study primary sources to explore what they indicate about important moments in Canada’s history. Our work will culminate in some independent research into Canada’s provinces and cities. We’re really looking forward to getting into this new area of study!

Happy to be back in the swing of things in fifth grade!