Penny Battle!

From the front desk…


Good morning,

You may have noticed the signs around the building and wondered, “Why do I need to get my pennies ready?”

Well, here’s why – PENNY BATTLE!

As a fundraiser for the Outward Bound Trip, we will kick off our Penny Battle on Monday the 27th. Here are the basics:

Each grade will have a specially marked bucket in the lobby. The buckets will be out during AM arrivals and PM dismissal, as well as specially designated times during the school day.

The goal is NOT to raise the most money – it is to score the most points (or have the fewest amount of negative points). The grade that scores the most points will win a secret prize (still figuring that out; happy to take any suggestions).

You score positive points by adding pennies to your bucket. You can take points away from other teams by adding non-pennies or bills to their buckets.

EXAMPLE: I put 200 pennies in the Kindergarten bucket. They now have 200 points. Mr. Porta comes along with 100 pennies for the Grade 8 bucket, and puts a dollar bill in the Kindergarten bucket. Just like that, Kindergarten loses 100 points, leaving Grade 8 and Grade K tied at 100. You can find out more about the scoring, and the rules, by reviewing the attached document.



TEACHERS: On Monday, please review the rules and scoring with your students. I will do a brief review at Community Time (if time permits). Today, I will be around with flyers to post in your rooms. Please don’t put them up until Monday so we can make sure every grade starts on the same footing. Buckets will almost certainly be in the lobby, on a folding table. This will make it difficult for our younger kids (K-2) to put money In the buckets themselves. I will touch base with these teachers to ID times when the buckets will be placed on the lobby floor so students can drop their money themselves.



Best Regards,


Christopher C. Garay M.Ed.

Director of School Operations

Philip’s Academy Charter School of Newark

342 Central Avenue

Newark, NJ 07103






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Homework 2/27

Hi, so today was a bit all over the place because of the dance practices for the show that I believe is now tomorrow.

Half the class started their History Test while the rest needs to complete theirs tomorrow.  There may be a sub tomorrow but there will be plenty of substance for the kids to do when they are in class, that I can assure.


For Homework tonight, see the following…


The packet above features one poster with about 10 questions related to it.  I had a few students try this out before I gave it to everyone so I know you can do a good job!


Also, Black History Month Projects are due tomorrow!



Homework 2/24

Writing- Monday we will have our first ‘flash-debate’

Complete the Pro/Con sides for all 6 questions in detail, you can research at home and come in armed with fats, but if not, your argument/powers of persuasion will suffer!

Think about what we discussed in class today regarding the seat belt question.  Think beyond the paper, really dig deep and come in with enough information for both sides of the debate (you won’t know which side your defending until you get here!)


History- Chapter 6 Study Guide worksheet

Monday we will have our short Test on Chapter 6, Lessons 1-3

Study the guide, your vocabulary, and the information posted below…

DOWNLOAD: chapter-6-hebrews-review-notes


Black History Month Projects are due next week by the 28th! (Tuesday)

Homework 2/23/2017

Math– complete the rest of the classwork practice, the Chapter Review, pgs. 28-29, #s 1-23

We will have a short review of the material from Chapter 8, Lessons 1-3, tomorrow.


ReadingScholastic Magazine

Read the following…

  • Race to Save the Elephants, pgs. 4-5
  • Complete the accompanying questions #1-7, including the first 3 from the section called Newsgraph


Science– worksheet and notes for each section


Computer Science– worksheet


History– we will continue our Review tomorrow

Homework 2/22/2017

Math– we’ll begin our Chapter 8 Review tomorrow, Lessons 1-3 with a short assessment on Friday.


Reading– read the 1 side of the March on Washington worksheet (you don’t have to summarize the passage, just underline the key information/supporting details


Social Studies– we’ll continue with our Chapter 6 Review tomorrow, Lesson 2

Today we got through Lesson 1 – I’ll post some of the notes that we took below although they are a bit rough and will continue to be worked on over the next couple of days.  The expectation is that we’ll have the 5S Social Studies Test on Monday. 


Writing– March on Washington worksheet (the 2nd side)

Decorate/color the side that asks you to draw yourself among the marchers an d create a message of freedom on the sign you’re holding.

  • Write 1 paragraph explaining why you made the sign you chose and try to persuade us as to why your message is the right one.
  • Write a 2nd paragraph explaining why people might disagree with you…too often we stay in our own camps and don’t listen to the opposing side, for this paragraph try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
  • I showed you Lauryn’s work as an example today before you left…the idea is to decorate the door and hallway with positive messages that we can all get behind and support.

Homework 2/21/2017

Writing– 4-5 paragraph reflection on this video clip.  You can include everything else that we talked about today in class as well in order to supplement your response.  How does this speech make you feel?  Do you agree or disagree with anything RFK is saying?  Do you see any similarities to this speech 50 years ago to those given by Barack Obama the past 8 years?  Do you feel that this message of unity and hope can make a real difference in today’s society?  R-E-F-L-E-C-T, what do YOU think?  Please take this assignment seriously, take some time to think about the gravity of the struggle for equal rights in America.  

I showed this short video in my class today for many reasons aside from it being Black History month.  Not many people are aware of Robert F. Kennedy’s speech on April 4, 1968, as he stood on the back of a flat-bed truck.  It will forever go down in history as one of the most poignant, unscripted speeches to a crowd of supporters that had yet to hear the tragic news that Dr. King had been shot.

I say that all kids should see this for the part where Senator Kennedy speaks about his brother, hatred, and revenge (about halfway through, “I too had a brother that was killed…”).  I know my kids were moved as were some of the teachers I showed it to as well.

Both Dr. King and Senator Kennedy spoke in a manner that vindicated and became yet another watershed moment in American civil rights history in which the brotherhood of empathy and peace, respect and understanding, overcame with such a loud voice all the hate, and the negativity, and irresponsibility that kept (and still keeps) us apart.


Math– Common Core Workbook pgs. 46-47  (the notes start on pg. 42), this will be good practice for our Chapter 8 Quiz/Test which will likely be on Thursday.  (Chapter 8, Lessons 1-3 on Decimals)


Social Studies– we’ll start our Chapter 6 Test Review tomorrow.


Reading we’ll continue with both reading in and out of class tomorrow, tonight I prefer students to really focus on the Writing assignment.

Don’t forget that our Black History Month Projects are due next week!

Current Events

  • Paislee has a Current Event due tomorrow.
  • Lauryn has one due on Thursday.
  • Jaiden has one due on Friday.

Gradebook Updated 2/17

Just wanted to give a heads up that the gradebook is about 90% updated by now…since we have a professional development day tomorrow, I plan on finishing up with that last 10%.

5S is doing a very good job thus far handing in their assignments on time.  While the overall quality has continued to improve each quarter due to the increased expectations and standards that I put forth throughout the year.  Only 5S has been responsive thus far when it comes to submitting their work fully completed and also on time.

5C, you really need to step things up.  I’m missing a ton of work from notes to vocab to the review questions as well as the accompanying worksheets for each lesson in Chapter 6.

  • Our Chapter 6 Test will take place before the end of the week after our Review so please, submit any missing work ASAP because once that Test is over, so are any chances to hand in late assignments.  The goal here is to prepare you for next year and every year after that, so focus on being responsible and doing your job and I promise that the grades will take care of themselves.

While you of course have time to make things up, by now these assignments will be marked late and you will lose some credit.  With that said, please do not rush to get things done because as I’ve said countless times leading up to Q3, I am grading things more appropriately rather than simply based on completion and whether or not it was handed in.  Both parents and students alike knew that this transition was coming so absolutely no one should be surprised.  

As I mentioned the other day, there were about 17 students that did not submit the Homework during our last meeting time.  The assignment was written on the board in class 48 hours in advance and it also appeared on my blog the same day I saw 5C…for students to make excuses that they didn’t know is downright unacceptable.  This assignment will not be dropped, rather, it will be counted, and if students do their job and get the work in ASAP along with the Homework worksheet on Making Economic Choices that coincides with both the missing assignment in the Textbook, the loss of credit will be minimal (depending on the quality of work that was submitted of course).

Anyway, for both parents and students alike, please continue to do your job by checking Net Classroom a few times a week to make sure that your child is on top of things.  As you’ve learned by now, I’m a very reasonable person that wants nothing more than for my students to learn and become well-rounded participants in society one day.  I know my philosophy of education and style of teaching works because I have many students visit/reach out to me expressing how grateful they are that I cover certain advanced/higher-order material at an early age because now they are ahead of the curve, ahead of all other students that attend these private day schools.  What we do in class works, I just need the parents to do their part and hold their children more accountable when it comes to looking up their assignments on the blog and getting the work done.

Lastly, I will continue to update the gradebook more often once basketball is over in about 2 weeks.  I like to do it a couple times during the week and on Sunday evening.  You will then have a better idea of what work is missing/late (which loses points) as well as which assignments were poorly done as reflected by a grade less than a 10.

The honeymoon period from Q1 and Q2 is over- the high expectations I have for all my students from both classes is now taking precedent above all else.  We will continue to work hard in all subject areas and I promise that the work that we’re putting in now will not only pay off on the standardized test in April, but also as our 5th graders grow and mature into young adults one day soon.

If you have any questions just let me know.  Remember, I’ve been discussing these changes for weeks now and so this should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Lastly, I’m never hard to reach.  From what I’ve been told, I’m aware that some parents prefer to raise issues about the 5th grade behind closed doors and thus these gripes never make their way to myself or Mr. Carr (probably for good reason).  If you need to reach me, the best method would be my cell phone which I’ll give out if you email me (I don’t want the kids to have it) at

I respond to text messages at all hours of the day and night because most often emails get swamped and lost because we get about 100 each day (and maybe 2 or 3 are actually for me).  The phone/text is the best bet, so if you need to get in contact w/ me and don’t have my number at the moment, just shoot me an email and I’ll send it your way.

I know this was a long response that originally started as a gradebook update, but I just wanted to also use this time to clarify how things will be moving forward.  An assignment will be considered late if I don’t have it by the time I punch it in the gradebook.  Assignments 2 weeks past due or past the time I give the Test on said material will not be accepted.  Other than that, I’m still lenient and will accept most things because my concern is that students are learning, however, if the quality of the assignments are poor and rushed, you can expect a loss of points as a consequence.

Sorry about the long message, I just wanted to make sure we’re all on the same page.

Have a great morning/long weekend!


Homework 2/16/2017

  • Jace has a Current Event due on Tuesday.
  • Tiana Evans (5C) has a Current Event on Tuesday.
  • Continue working on your Black History Month projects…you can bring yours in as soon as you are done, however, I’d like to have them all in by the last week of February, preferably by the 24th, 27th, and 28th.  If you have any questions just let me know.


Writing– complete Lesson 10 in your Common Core Workbook

By this time you should have completed your 5 paragraph rough draft and had it peer reviewed by at least one other student in class.  Every page in your workbook up until the Publishing section on pg. 218 should be completed.

For this weekend, please complete the Publishing exercise on pg. 218.  Your final draft should not be exactly the same as your rough draft, rather, it should reflect the ideas and suggestions given to you by your peers as well as any ideas/strategies that you’ve learned in class.

***If you don’t submit your rough draft along with your final AND have all the workbook pages filled out, expect to lose a lot of credit off the top (-20 for no rough draft).

  • Make sure that you draw the portraits or a scene depicting the characters from Rip Van Winkle in order to supplement your essay.  If you can type your final draft, please do so as this activity will be posted in the hallway.


Math– 5B Workbook pgs. 5-8…we began this in class today so there shouldn’t be much to complete over the weekend.


Social StudiesChapter 6 Review and Test will be next week.

Homework 2/15/2017

Current Events 5S

  • Jordan- Thurdsay
  • Jace- Monday


Social Studies– 

Chapter 6, Lesson 3, Changes for Israel

  • Vocabulary words w/ definitions
  • 4 notes per section
  • Review questions #1-5 in complete sentences
  • Workbook pg. 61-62 (we’ll do this in class tomorrow if you can’t get it done)


Reading– Spelling Quiz 12 tomorrow

Definitions due tomorrow as well.

***If you were absent last Friday, I’ll quiz you on those 10 words as well.

  • monotheism
  • covenant
  • Judaism
  • ratify
  • constitution
  • plague
  • infraction
  • prophet
  • proverb
  • Canaan


Writing– none


Math– 5B Textbook pgs. 21-22, Chapter 8, Lesson 2, #s 7-11 and #s 1-11 (yes, draw the number lines)