• Mid March Academic Updates & Important Reminders

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 3/16/2018


    • Don’t forget that Friday March 23rd Parent Teacher Conference day (NO SCHOOL for Students).  Please contact Mr. Acanfora if you have forgotten the time you have signed up for.
    • Friday March 30th FMS Fun Night Sign Up Form (or use paper form sent home)



    • Students have now completed their partner AND independent study literary essays.  These will be handed back during parent conferences on Friday March 30th.
    • Should any student still need extra time or support in finishing their independent literary essay, we will talk about supporting steps moving forward during our conference on the 23rd should the work still be incomplete.


    Social Studies:

    • Students are now focused solely on summarizing research and writing to inform via wrapping up their social studies research project based on the 5 themes of geography.  
    • Students will then move on to learning about various explorers of the Western Hemisphere and how they impacted native peoples already in place.


    Technology & Design Challenge:

    • Students have been introduced to their new Google Classroom called “Technology Integration”
    • This new Google Classroom will be the platform that students will be introduced to any of our technology based challenge projects. Ask your student to sign in and view this page.  These challenges are not required, however a way to extend student’s learning and critical thinking skills. Please contact me should you have any questions or ideas on how to help your student with these challenges.



    • Students are in full swing learning with their new literature circle groups.  A reminder that most groups have transitioned to focusing on how to read, understand and research further to best understand this specific type of genre and the piece of literature they have been assigned.
    • Students will also be spiraling back to reviewing the difference between simile & metaphor and how author’s use these devices in their writing.
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  • Academic Updates

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 3/9/2018


    • Friday March 23rd Parent Teacher Conference day.  SIGN UP HERE
    • Friday March 30th FMS Fun Night Sign Up Form (or use paper form sent home)


    • During this portion of our fractions unit study we need to have students understand that mathematicians use three categories to describe fractions.  The three categories introduced are proper, improper, and mixed.
    • Students recognize that fractions that are greater than 0 and less than 1 whole are called proper fractions.  In these proper fractions, the numerator is less than the denominator.
    • Students recognize that when the fraction has a numerator that is greater than or even equal to the denominator, the fraction is an improper fraction and is always 1 whole or greater than 1 whole.
    • Students recognize that a mixed is represented by a combination of a whole number and a proper fraction.
    • The above understanding for students is important especially when students are asked to accurately compare or order proper, improper, and mixed fractions in isolation or amongst one another in a group.
    • Students have also practiced how to convert an improper fraction to a mixed number and a mixed number to an improper fraction to aid in accuracy when comparing or ordering.


    • Students will be completing their independent literary essays this week.  Some students will need additional time for completion or editing for publishing depending on their work ethic in the classroom and/or if they used any of their free time outside of the classroom to work.
    • Please ask your student to sign into their Google Drive and Classroom to show you their writing process from planning to completion (or where they are currently).

    Technology & Design Challenge:

    • Students have been introduced to their new Google Classroom called “Technology Integration”


    • All students have completed their rotation of literature circles.  
    • Students have spent quite a bit of time working through understanding many of the components to Author’s Craft.
    • Literature Circle book groupings will be shuffled slightly so that readers can experience different levels of difficulty in their reading as well as enriching conversations about the literature being read.
    • Most groups will begin the next rotations with a historical fiction genre.
    • Please check in with your student about their next piece of literature they have been assigned.
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  • Lead up to VACATION ! ! !

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 2/23/2018


    • Signed Field Trip Permission Forms & $10.00 for our Flynn Theater field trip are due.
    • Friday 3/9 5th grade field trip to view Wrinkle in Time.
    • Thursday 3/15 Freedom Train field trip.
    • Friday March 23rd Parent Teacher Conference Sign Up Form.
    • Friday March 30th FMS Fun Night Sign Up Form (or use paper form sent home)


    • We have continued working with manipulatives and linear models to develop understanding around equivalent fractions, difference between fractions, comparing fractions, as well as ordering fractions.
    • Students have continued practicing finding like denominators to be able to compare two or more fractions.  Students have also used their knowledge of finding least common multiples and common denominators to be able to order three or more fractions from least to greatest or greatest to least.
    • Upon returning from vacation students will review the above concepts during our first week back in order to launch right into new fraction concepts, practice, and project based learning.


    • Many students in the classroom now have their initial literary essays completed. Students who are not completed with their essay prior to break will have an opportunity to review and finish upon returning to school.
    • Those students who have completed this initial literary essay will then choose between two pieces of literature to complete an independent study of writing their own structured literary essay from start to finish using the writing process.
    • Please ask your student to sign into their Google Drive and Classroom to show you their writing process from planning to completion (or where they are currently).
    • Once student research in social studies is completed, they will begin a more complex set of writing tasks based on nonfiction “book” publication.  This will most likely begin after vacation for all students.


    Technology & Design Challenge:

    • All students who have followed our guided process of exploring tools and design in the web-based tinkercad program have had the opportunity to print a 3D design on our Dremel 3D printer.
    • Students who have yet had the chance to print out one of their 3D designs in tinkercad will need to mail Mr. Acanfora (eacanfora@ewsd.org) when they feel their design is ready to print. Student and Mr. Acanfora will schedule a time to conference, view, and critique their design live together right in tinkercad.  If Mr. Acanfora feels there needs continued editing or the design will simply not have a successful print he will constructively guide the student to editing choices that may result in success.
    • As a whole class we are certainly getting better using the engineering design process!  I have seen students helping each other, finding new ways to efficiently tackle challenges in the program, and having fun learning.
    • Since resources are limited (spools of filament for the printer are approx $30.00 each) we simply cannot print each and every design students complete in their tinkercad account.  That being said, I have begun to develop more engineering design based challenge projects for students. 
    • These engineering design based challenge projects will involve use of the following techniques:  
    1. Identifying a problem
    2. Background research
    3. State requirements
    4. Brainstorming
    5. Develop prototype (in tinkercad program)
    6. Test solution
    7. Editing of solution if necessary
    8. Reporting/Communicating results
    • The first engineering design based challenge project will be posted to this blog page at some point during the first week back to school after vacation.




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  • Reminders & Quick Academic Updates

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 2/16/2018


    • Montreal field trip student donation payments due if not sent in yet.
    • Montreal field trip chaperone interest, please contact me directly eacanfora@ewsd.org
    • Thursday 2/22 Signed Field Trip Permission Forms & $10.00 for our Flynn Theater field trip are due.


    • Students have progressed their conceptual learning around fractions using our benchmark fraction families (½, ¼, ⅛, 1/16), (⅓, ⅙, 1/12), (⅕, 1/10).  
    • Students have been introduced, practiced using, and created three model forms of fractions (Set Model, Area Model, Linear Model).
    • We have been working with manipulatives to develop understanding around equivalent fractions, difference between fractions, comparing fractions, as well as ordering fractions.
    • Students have been introduced to working with fractions that have unlike denominators, finding common multiples to then develop equivalent fractions to best order a group of 3 or 4 from least to greatest or greatest to least.
    • We will continue working with review and new fraction knowledge through the middle of March.


    • Students literary essays are nearing completion.  Some students will have their essays completed prior to February break.  Students who are not completed with their essay prior to break will have an opportunity to review and finish upon returning to school.
    • Please ask your student to sign into their Google Drive and Classroom to show you their writing process from planning to completion (or where they are currently).
    • Students will continue a more indepth writing process in Social Studies as well through the month of March in creating their nonfiction text based on their extensive research of their Western Hemisphere location.
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  • Reminders, Academic Updates, & 3D Printing

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 2/5/2018


    • Montreal field trip student donation payments due if not sent in yet.
    • Montreal field trip chaperone interest please contact eacanfora@ewsd.org
    • Thursday 2/15 Signed Field Trip Permission forms & $8.00 for our Wrinkle in Time movie & literacy connection field trip.
    • Please send back all report card envelopes so we can reuse to send home end of year report cards.


    Technology in the Classroom:

    • Students have been exploring Dreambox for a good portion of the year now.  They have their own username and login.  This program is used for math thinking development and practice.  Dreambox has also been used to preview upcoming concepts to be taught or give a solid review to math content that has already been taught.  The dreambox direct link for FMS student sign in is linked to our classroom “Websites for Learning and Practice” page.  Feel free to have your student sign in to view some of the work they have been doing within this web based program.
    • Students have also had more time embedded into their academic days to practice our new computer aided design/drawing (CAD) web based program called tinkercad. This will be the program we will use for students to print their 3D printer designs out for a real life tangible product.
    • Mr. Acanfora has allowed any student who has demonstrated command of features in the tinkercad program and have gone through an editing tutorial together to actually print out any of their created designs on our new Dremel 3D printer!  Take a look at some of the printed designs below.
    • If your student has yet to print, the protocol in the classroom is for students to try their best in the program, use peer support in the classroom if needed, email Mr. Acanfora for any further assistance or to set up an editing conference, and then ultimately print their design.  This is not a requirement for students as it is an additional layer of technology integration into the classroom.
    • Mr. Acanfora will begin posting tinkercad & 3D design printing challenges that are connected to our content this month!

     d s d d d d


    • Throughout this week students have reviewed set (group of models) and area (interior space) models to represent fractions and then find specific fractional parts of the whole.  The vocabulary for separating or breaking up a whole that we have been using is partitioning. This review was based on our work with our first benchmark fraction family ( ½, ¼, ⅛ ).
    • Students were then introduced to partitioning a linear model (number line).  Students were first taught to observe what information is already labeled on the linear model, then read & understand what is being asked of them to accomplish, finally putting their plan in action with accurate partitioning and labeling of fractions given.
    • All of the work above was then introduced again to students with a new benchmark fraction family (⅓, ⅙, 1/12)
    • We will review this new benchmark fraction family early next week and then move on to understanding and finding equivalent fractions, adding/subtracting fractions.


    • Now that students have focused the majority of their time on brainstorming, planning, and writing short pieces of narrative and informative writing we have begun the push into longer and more complex essay writing.  Specifically we have started with literary essays based on picture book biographies with a focus on identifying character traits and providing direct evidence from the text to support their thinking and examples.
    • Students are currently using several resources for our current writing practice including: editor’s marks, character traits examples, commonly used transitions, the essay format, finding evidence & making personal connections.
    • Students will continue this week with putting together their well developed and in depth body paragraphs to their essays.  
    • Next week students will work on their introduction and conclusion paragraphs.
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  • Academic Updates & Report Cards Coming Home

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 1/24/2018

    This week has been very busy!  Here are some reminders & updates.


    1. Report cards are coming home on Friday 1/26.  Please take the time to view these with your student.  I take a good amount of time writing in detail how the content is covered for each content area so that when parents/guardians read the scores there is hopefully minimal questions.  We are hoping that in the future our newly combined district will produce a more easy report card for families to understand, with less narrative from educators needed to explain how each section is graded.  Either way, please mail me should you have any questions.
    2. Montreal field trip donations for students ($75) is due.  Please send in as soon as you can.  If cash please place in an envelope with your student’s name on it. If check, please make it out to Founders Memorial School.  All original birth certificates that were sent in for photocopying will be sent back home early next week.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this field trip.


    Math Block:

    • Students have received feedback in review of their fractions pre assessments completed last week.  Students were each provided a short 3-5 minute mini conference to go over their work.  
    • Students have also taken all aspects of our district required math assessments.  One of these assessments was read to understand, work through calculation(s), provide reasoning for final answers.  The second portion of these assessments was interview based with each student. This data is used to continually monitor students understanding on content already taught and can even be used for content that has not been introduced yet.
    • Students have been introduced to the concept of what is a fraction, benchmark fraction family of ( ½, ¼, ⅛ ) review, set model practice work.
    • Students will continue next week with area and linear model review with the benchmark fraction family of ( ½, ¼, ⅛ ).  Students will then extend this guided modeling and practice knowledge into working with other benchmark fraction families throughout next week.


    Reading Block:

    • Student’s literature circle groups for this session are winding down.  Students have learned such a great deal on how to be an active participant, interject their own thoughts/opinions/connections during the group’s reading, as well as completing individual tasks related to reading sessions carried out by the group.  
    • Students will be exited out of their literature circle groups after a student/teacher conference, to pursue some of the same analytical Author’s craft work within their own self selected pieces of literature.  Students will start up another literature circle book group during the second week of February.  Our genre focus will be historical fiction.
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  • NEW Technology in the Classroom ! ! !

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 1/17/2018

    Technology in the Class

    You may remember reading about my lofty goal of trying to get a 3D printer into the classroom for student use a few months ago.  I generally try to write a few grants per year for items I feel necessary and beneficial for the students in my classroom.  In years past I have had grants fund six collaborative learning tables, year long subscriptions to scholastic news current event publications, a class set of boogie boards, and altimeters to measure speed & altitude of model rockets.  I can now add a Dremel 3D40 (educational bundle back) 3D printer to the list!  It has arrived, been unboxed, and tinkered with a bit.


    There is quite a learning curve with hardware and software, which computer aided drafting/design program to use with students, what file types are supported for printing, and the list goes on.  I hope your student has been coming home to talk about the trials we have already printed to calibrate the machine, to get a sense of the overall process, and learn how to go about any troubleshooting if necessary.  I have included an image below with the trials we have printed thus far.

    As we move into our fractions unit study during math block, students will be challenged on a few occasions to develop design projects that show understanding of fraction based material and the design process. Students will be introduced to computer aided design/drafting (CAD) through a program called tinkercad.  Today we set up each student's tinkercad accounts so they can begin exploring and learning what “tools” are available to them and how to navigate the “drawing” process. Students were only able to set up their accounts with me today as we ran out of time for any practice session this afternoon. I have linked the tinkercad web based program to our classroom website to theWebsites for Learning & Practice page. If there is internet and a machine that students can use in the home, they are more than able to sign into their accounts and begin some independent learning within the program.  Please contact me should you have any questions.

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  • Academic Updates for the Short Week Ahead

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 1/14/2018

    The Short Week Ahead

    I hope you have all enjoyed the long weekend with your family and friends.   

    Some of the things students will be working through during this four day week will include:


    Math Block:

    • Final Volume of Rectangular Prisms (whole #’s only for now) check in on Tuesday 1/16.  All students should have brought their math binders at home as well as their end of unit check in practice assignment that we went over as a whole class on Thursday 1/11. Students were reminded at pack up on Thursday and Friday to bring home their math binders.  Parents were reminded in my Thursday 1/11 blog post.
    • Between the many practice activities found in student’s math binder and the end of unit check in practice assignment that came home Thursday 1/11, parents have quite a lot of examples to aid in student review.  
    • Students will also be taking their fraction understanding pre-assessment on Wednesday 1/17. The mini lessons and practice for this new fraction understanding unit will begin on Thursday 1/18.  Stay tuned for further updates as this longer unit study moves forward.


    Literacy Block:

    • In Reading this week, students will be pushing towards the finish of their current literature circle book group.  There have been many lengthy discussions and practice with groups about their approach to functioning “like adults” during these group reading sessions. Many of the essential skills that students have been working on during their literature circle reading groups would be:
    1. Introduction and understanding of new vocabulary.  All groups have had experience with deciphering meaning of new (and old) vocabulary based on context of usage.  
    2. Tracking time and setting changes pertaining to how the author meaningfully crafts the story (and characters) throughout the piece of literature.
    3. Continued their independent practice of summary writing at the end of reading sessions.  Students also practiced their public speaking skills at the start of the group’s reading sessions by using their summary to review the previous day’s reading session before starting their reading for the current day.  Since students will be continuing this practice through the end of the school year, I will be making a formal announcement at the start of the second semester regarding the requirement of the At Home Weekly Reading Log and summary assignment.
    4. Making deeper, more meaningful connections to the literature read on a daily basis whether fiction or nonfiction. Students have been practicing identifying and writing in detail about text to self, text to text, and text to world connections.
    5. Illustrating from literature read.  Recognizing the author’s craft of descriptive and clear word use to “paint a picture” in the reader’s mind.  Students then practice illustrating various parts to their reading sessions to present to their peers.
    • Word study will continue with students receiving instruction and practice on the word, letter, and sound features demonstrated a need for according to the most recent diagnostic spelling assessment given the week we returned from winter break. A reminder that students are introduced to their new words and receive initial guided instruction each Monday.  Students then have the responsibility of completing a variety of independent tasks through the remainder of the week found on the weekly word study choice board also handed out each Monday after instruction.  Some of the current choice board items will go away and replaced with new activities for the second half of the school year.  Also, some of the choice board point values will change.  Students will be introduced to the new choice board next week and new activities will be modeled. A reminder that each Wednesday evening students are to be completing a pretest with a parent or adult in the home.  This pretest is handed in each Thursday morning.
    • In Writing, students will continue finding evidence in literature to “back up” their views/opinions in our current historical fiction based and character traits study.  Students will continue using the amazing set of historical fiction picture books Mrs Jablonski prepared for the class, as well as their own chapter based literature choices to practice this essential skill prior to moving into essay writing.


    Social Studies Block:

    • Students are continuing the research portion of their history, civics, geographical, and digital arts learning project.  Most students have at least 3 pieces of researched information typed into the required (5 Themes of Geography based) categories on their google classroom document. Each student will sign up for a short conference time with me this week so that we can review their work to date, provide suggestions, and talk about any further assistance in research information that I could help provide for success.  Students will then take on more of an artist and cartographer role for the second portion of the project.  Most students should be ready to start the integrated arts portion of this project by the end of this week.
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  • Reminders & Math End of Unit Updates

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 1/11/2018


    NO school on Monday January 15th for students.

    Montreal permission slips and copy of birth certificates has been due, please send them in asap.

    Montreal field trip funds due 1/10/2017.

    Math End of Unit UPDATES:
    In math block we are nearing the end of our volume of rectangular prisms unit study (whole numbers only for now).  Students have been working extremely hard and have had great success!
    Students will take a final assessment for this unit study on Tuesday January 16th so we can roll right into our fractions based unit of study.  Students are continually assessed formally and informally throughout each unit and this will be a final check in for understanding of content taught and practiced over the past few weeks.
    Students should be coming home today with a end of unit check in practice assignment they completed independently this week.  I took time to make notations for accuracy and misconceptions on student's papers.  As a whole class, we carefully went over (with teacher and student modeling) each of the questions today.  Students were tasked to make any corrections or additions to their work so that it was most complete and accurate; this should be shown in colored pencil.
    This is one piece of work that students can review with parents as well as the abundance of practice material in their mathematics binders.  Students have been reminded to bring their math binders home for review over the long weekend. This is also a great way for parents to see the depth of work that has been happening during this unit study.
    Please feel free to reply with any questions that you may have to eacanfora@ewsd.org.
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  • Happy New Year & Welcome Back !

    Posted by Erik Acanfora on 1/1/2018

    Welcome Back!

    I truly hope that you all had a wonderful vacation with your friends and families.  

    Students wrapped up their social studies economy based unit study prior to winter break.  The culminating project for this unit study saw students running their own mock business with products they (or with a partner) brainstormed, designed, built, advertised, and sold in a ticket based system.  As students return from break we will pick up with our Western Hemisphere research and learning.  There will be a heavier reading & writing integration for their research and presentation of their learning at the end of this unit study.  Students have already received instruction, guided modeling, and have even had a few blocks of time to begin their research.  Be sure to ask your student to share what Canadian Province, Mexican State, Central or South American Country they have chosen to become an “expert” on to close out the first semester of learning for the year.

    In math block we will be reviewing student conceptual understanding of volume with rectangular prisms.  To date students have been working with cubic centimeter manipulatives, graph paper, and three dimensional drawings of rectangular prisms.  Through the remainder of this week students will be moving into working with the formulas V = l x w x h  &  V = b x h.

    During our regular word study block of time this first week back students will be assessed using the developmental spelling assessment.  We will be using a different form of the initial assessment used at the start of the school year for initial student skill based groupings.  Any students showing the need for group movement will be placed in their appropriate learning environment based on the assessment.  We will start back up with our word study instruction, practice, and assessment on Monday January 8th.

    During our literacy block students will be continuing their literature circle group readings and practicing how to engage with their peers via meaningful dialogue based on their understanding of the literature read.  Students will also collectively work as a learning team in planning review of read material, understanding new vocabulary, identifying character traits, conflict, resolution, foreshadowing, and movement through scenes. The literature chosen for this round of literature circles is more on par for early to mid fifth grade students as they learn and practice the valuable skills mentioned above while “talking like adults” about various literature they will be reading through the end of the school year.


    • For those students who have still not handed in their Montreal field trip permission forms and birth certificates, please do so asap.  I will again put out personal emails to those families to take care of this.
    • January 10th, full payment (or 1st of offered payment plan) for the Montreal field trip are due.  Please mail me directly should you have any questions.  eacanfora@etsd.org.
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