Notice about Seesaw

Dear parents,

During May, we will be exploring the announcement features of Seesaw as a way of communicating with families using a single platform. Instead of weekly blog posts from your homeroom teacher, you will receive messages to your Seesaw inbox, with notifications of your choosing. 

As this will be the only way you will receive important homeroom information during this trial please make sure you are following your child’s Seesaw Journal in the Seesaw Family app. The link below guides you through Seesaw Family notification settings.

If you would like any assistance with connecting to your child’s journal or notification settings, please contact Bec Taylor (Grades PreK3-1 – Sam Griffin (Grades 2-5 –

Seesaw Family – notifications settings guide

Sam Griffin
ES Educational Technology Facilitator
International School of Beijing

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Week of April 23 – 27

This week is Earth Week so we’ve been talking about the little changes each of us can make to help the planet. Tomorrow, we will remind each other to use both sides of a piece of paper before putting it in the recycling bin so fewer trees will be turned into printer paper. On Friday, the focus will be remembering to turn off the lights when we leave a room in order to use less electricity. What small changes can you make in your own life to make a big difference for the Earth?

Yesterday, 5AD watched a video showing how plastic bottles are recycled into polyester fabric. The class then visited the FabLab right here on campus where we saw Mr. McGowan’s middle school students turning plastic containers into pencil cases and baskets. The FabLab accepts all clean plastic containers marked with a 2 or a 5 so please send them in as you use them.

Tomorrow is CASTA (Celebrate And Share The Arts) Day. The celebration kicks off at 8:30 in the ES Cafeteria with performances by the Junior Choir, the Mozart Ensemble, and the ES Band. Our class will perform later in the day in the Theater from 11:45 to 12:05. Don’t let your child leave home without his or her tie-dyed shirt tomorrow morning!

Students are completing their literary essays this week and will soon begin writing a research-based argumentative essay. In math, we are looking at 4-sided shapes and sorting them by their attributes, such as pairs of parallel lines, length of sides, and measurement of angles.

Last Friday, 5th graders got together with 6th graders to learn about the new responsibilities and freedoms in store for them next year.

I will start using Seesaw as the primary means of communication between home and classroom. Please check that you are being notified by email or SMS when something new is posted to the app. Have you tried Seesaw’s translate function? Let me know what you like and dislike about it.

Upcoming Events:

April 26 – CASTA 5AD performance in the Theater (11:45-12:05)

April 30-May 1 – May Day Holiday (No school)

May 9-11 – MAP testing

May 19 – Spring Fair

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Week of April 16 – 20

The entire day tomorrow will be Swim/Track/Field Day in the Upper Elementary School if the air quality is below 150 at 7 am. Let’s all hope it is. Students will need to bring in a few extra items with them in the morning:

All students should bring the following items:

  • Swim suit, goggles and cap (if required)
  • Towel
  • House colour t-shirt
  • Comfortable running shorts (example; PE shorts)
  • Comfortable running shoes
  • A hat
  • Water bottle
  • Sun Screen: apply at home before coming to school (except Grade 4- apply after your morning pool events)

This week in math, students are finding the area of rectangles that have fractional lengths. Later in the week, students will find the area of rectangles that are missing sections. Here’s an example of what we are working on now.






The class is beginning to put the parts of a literary essay together. This type of writing requires students to choose a theme from a book or short story and then support their choice with evidence from the text.

We will visit the science lab to work with Mr. Watson on Wednesday and Thursday in connection with our unit on the different states of matter. In the photo below, you’ll see that the class has also been exploring matter in our own classroom.

Upcoming Events:

April 17: Swim/Track/Field Day (see the Grade 5 blog for important details)

April 19: Transition presentation by Middle School teachers

April 20: 5th graders meet their 6th grade buddies; Performing Arts Showcase



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Week of April 9 – 13

Spring Break is over and we have picked up right where we left off here in 5AD. The class has gone twice already to the science lab for activities related to our Transformation Unit. We will continue to explore the different states of matter in our classroom this week.


Students have selected a topic for the literary essays they will start writing today. For this type of writing, students will craft a 5-paragraph essay about the theme they have found in a text of their choice. In reading, we are continuing to look for evidence of social issues in the stories we read. All 5th graders should spend at least 30 minutes reading each night and recording this in their reading logs. Ask to see your child’s reading log to check if this is being done.

In math, we are finding the volume of rectangular prisms, or boxes. We are currently creating some from graph paper and attaching them together to make sculptures. Time was given in class to do the necessary pre-planning but some students didn’t finish this part so they have taken it home for homework two nights in a row. Please check periodically with your child to make sure he or she is completing all assignments recorded in his or her planner.

Upcoming Events:

April 17: Track, Field, and Swim Day (see the Grade 5 blog for important details)

April 19: Transition presentation by Middle School teachers

April 20: 5th graders meet their 6th grade buddies and Performing Arts Showcase


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Week of March 19 – 23

Creating models helps us develop a better understanding of what we see happening in the world around us – especially when what’s happening is invisible. 5AD has gone to the Science Lab twice this week to examine how fire, air, and water interact in multiple demonstrations with Mr. Watson. Students then had to decide how best to model what they saw.

In writing, students have been practicing the close reading skills needed to gather information on a topic before composing a literary essay. We have been focusing on finding evidence in a text that supports our theories about a character. You might ask your child to tell you about a character in the book he or she is currently reading. What does he or she know about the character, even though the author doesn’t specifically say it? What clues in the text make him or her think that?

The class is reading fiction books whose characters are affected by social issues such as poverty, gender inequality, war, and fitting in. We are looking at how the characters are like us and how they are different. What “groups” do they belong to and how does that influence how they see the world, and how the world sees them?

Here’s the Module 5 Family Letter which describes the learning your child is doing in math in our current module, Addition and Multiplication with Volume and Area.

I am looking forward to speaking with you and your child next week about Grade 5 so far. As this is going to be a student-led conference, your child will choose the focus of our discussion. It will be an opportunity to hear what he or she thinks has been noteworthy this year.


Upcoming Events:

March 23 – ES Choir Festival (Good luck Rayna, Emily, and Brianna!)

March 26-27 – Student-Led Conferences (No school)

April 2-6 – Spring Break

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Week of March 12 – 16

This week, students in 5AD are reflecting on their learning as they compile portfolios to share with you during our upcoming conferences. Please be sure to sign up for a time slot on either the 26th or the 27th of this month.

Today, we started our latest book clubs with a variety of stories that deal directly, or indirectly, with a variety of social issues, like war, poverty, and equality. The book club groups will have their first discussion tomorrow. Each member should complete the first assignment in their yellow booklets tonight so they can fully participate in their group’s conversation.

We are starting our new unit on the states of matter by learning key vocabulary words and asking questions, which will support student inquiry into the subject. Next week and then later after Spring Break, we will join Mr. Watson in the science lab for some hands-on learning. Here are some photos from demonstrations Mr. Watson recently shared with 5th graders.








Upcoming Events:

March 14 – Simply Singing (Junior Choir and Treblemakers performance) 4:30

March 16 – All Staff Professional Development (No school)

March 20 – Simply Strings 4:30

March 26-27 – Student-Led Conferences (No school)



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Week of March 5 – 9

I hope all of you found an opportunity to talk with your child about puberty at home during Puberty Week here at school. We teachers answered a lot of questions about the physical and emotional changes your children will soon go through but you can be sure they still have questions. Make sure your child knows he or she can talk with you whenever questions arise. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s important for children to get accurate health-related information, if only to know what’s normal.


  When is there the greatest change in the brain’s maturity?


One of our very own 5AD parents, Dr. Chao Ma, came in last week to talk with grade 5 students about Changes in the Adolescent Brain.  Dr. Ma talked about how these changes can affect many aspects of our lives, including behavior and intelligence.




Dr. Ma’s recommendations for a healthy brain include eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. (That’s about 10 hours every night for 5th graders.)


This week in class is one of endings and beginnings. We will soon complete our lessons on fractions and division, which means that there will be a math test on this material next week. The students in 5AD got peer feedback on their fantasy stories today and they will soon post them on Seesaw. This week, we will kick off our Transformations Unit, which focuses on the states of matter. Students will also start reading books that include social issues, like war and injustice, that they will later write about.

Student-Led conferences are happening later this month. You will soon receive a link to sign up for a 45-minute time slot to discuss your child’s progress so far, as well as his or her goals for the rest of the year.

Upcoming Events

March 21 – First day of spring

March 26-27 – Student-Led Conferences

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Many members of 5AD joined together over the past few days to decorate our classroom door. The results show how well they were able to collaborate on both the design and putting it up.

Today, we enjoyed a Kung Fu and acrobatics show before making our own dumplings.

Best wishes to you all for a safe and relaxing holiday!

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Week of February 5 – 9

Chinese New Year celebrations are fast approaching. If your holiday plans include travel before the 14th, please let me know.

Students are currently revising the fantasy stories they will publish before the break. In our Wellness unit, we are discussing how our choices can affect our mental and emotional health. An example of this is the connection between a person’s attitude, whether negative or positive, and his or her thoughts and actions. You might want to share your own examples to reinforce this concept with your child. How do your feelings affect your choices?

In math, we are working to build a solid understanding of the multiplication of fractions. What is actually happening when we find a fraction of a fraction? Students need to be secure in this knowledge so they can build upon it as they progress through MS and HS math classes, and beyond.




Upcoming Events:

Feb. 9 – Parent Meeting: Puberty Talk (8:30 am, MPR)

Feb. 14 – Chinese New Year activities and parade

Feb. 15-25 – Chinese New Year holiday (no school)

Feb. 26-Mar. 2 – Grade 5 Puberty Week


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Week of January 22 – 26

We are already in the second week of our Wellness Unit and students are learning about making informed choices about the food they eat. Yesterday, the class started a Food Log so they can record what they eat each day and then reflect on their choices at the end of the week. Some students would benefit from parent assistance in order to remember to fill this in each day. Please check that your child is completing this assignment each day. There is also an area for recording the amount of time they exercise at the bottom of the page.

Tomorrow, we will begin looking at nutrition labels found on packaged food items, so I have asked students to bring in examples from home. If you can send in more than one item, you will be helping those students who can’t find one tonight.


Since returning from Winter Break, we have been reading fantasy stories and examining their common characteristics. One thing that many have is a hero’s journey. Here is a link to a youtube video I showed in class to help students understand the different stages of this journey so they could know it when they see it, and so they could include one in their own fantasy writing.

In math, students have been multiplying fractions and whole numbers, and drawing models that represent the problem and help lead to a solution.

Next week, our Wellness focus will be looking at the effects of stress on mental and emotional health. During the last week of the unit, which is also the last week of February, we will talk with students about the visible and not so visible changes they can expect to see as part of puberty. Parents will have a chance to talk with a doctor from BJU about these changes on February 9 at 8:30am in the MPR. Mark your calendars!

Upcoming Events:

February 9 – Dr. Andy Wang will discuss puberty with parents (8:30-9:30)

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