It’s that time of year again. The time when all fifth graders start worrying about moving up to sixth grade. The transition from top of the elementary school to bottom of the middle school is not an easy one to make, as I so clearly remember.

So, as part of our CoETaIL course 2, Chrissy, Diane and I have developed a fun, quick and simple project to help ease the transition to middle school for our grade fives. Last year Diane and I did a very similar project with her ESL students and it was a huge hit!

One important facet of the project is to realize that all fifth graders around the world are going through the same challenges, so, as one aspect of the project, we have created a very simple VoiceThread (and wiki) and would love to have other students contribute and share their concerns:

We would absolutely love it if you and your students would be willing to share their thoughts about moving on to sixth grade with us! If you’re interested, please add your info here or leave a comment on this post and we’ll contact you directly.

There are a few things I particularly love about this project

  • The emphasis on natural conversation, which is really difficult for grade 5 students when working from a script and recording themselves (as you can hear when listening to our excellent, but very scripted grade 5 podcasts).
  • The focus on bringing in our students’ individual cultures and personal experiences by asking them to reflect on a specific inspirational saying in their first language. I have this vision of the conversation our students are having with their parents when they ask them about inspirational sayings and how this can help them deal with the challenges they might face in life.
  • The looks on the students faces when they realize kids all around the world have the same concerns as they do, that we’re all the same in so many ways.

Just in case you’re interested, here’s our UbD unit planner for grade 5 core classroom and ESL pull-out:

Established Goals

ESL specific

  • Extend oral language through conversation
  • Build confidence with oral language, especially in a conversational format

Grade 5

  • Retain natural fluency during presentations and/or recording
  • Build confidence to engage in spontaneous dialogue based on focused topics


  • Develop and uncover strategies to cope with life changes, through the lens of transitioning to sixth grade

Enduring Understandings

  • Conversational language is crucial to efficient and clear communication
  • Conversational dialogue requires all participants to be responsive
  • We all have cultural teachings to draw upon when facing difficult situations

Essential Questions

  • Why is conversational language important to communication?
  • How can we improve our conversational language?
  • How can the words of wise people help us discover changes we can make within ourselves?


Goal: You will produce a podcast that showcases strategies, teachings, inspirational sayings and experiences to help fifth grade students succeed in sixth grade around the world.

Role: You will work in teams to research, author, record and broadcast your podcast

Audience: Students moving on around the world though iTunes, class blog, and the internet.

Situation: You are moving on to sixth grade and need a variety of strategies, teachings, inspirational sayings and experiences that will help you succeed.

Product Performance: Your podcast will be posted on the class blog and on iTunes. A successful podcast will include:

  • Strong, clear speaking voice
  • Modulated voice with emotion and emphasis
  • Teachings or inspirational sayings that can directly provide guidance for students transitioning to sixth grade
  • 3 strategies linked to an experience that sixth graders will have designed to help fifth graders succeed
  • A written script with proper grammar
  • Engaging language, intro & outro, and audio enhancements.


  • Video podcast
  • Adding still images to the podcast
  • Personal podcast

Six Facets of Understanding

Explain: After completing a self-assessment of your oral language (through GB recording), explain which areas you, personally, need to improve upon, why and how you will you have improved.

Interpret: Share an inspirational saying via the class blog (in translation if not in English) and describe a personal experience when this saying was beneficial. Sayings could include personal images, or audio recordings.

Apply: Collaborate with partner classes around the world to produce a VoiceThread describing the challenges and opportunities of moving on, as well as find commonalities among all students.

Perspective: Listen to a “real” podcast or book about a life change (anything that can be found and is appropriate). Discuss as a class, or in partners, how the broadcaster or author coped with the change using strategies, inspirational sayings or teachings.

Self-Knowledge: Personal Action Plan: Begin with a personal reflection of a similar experience to determine your successful coping strategies, develop an action plan to put those strategies, along with the new ones learned during this unit, into practice next year.

Empathize: In partners, role-play the first day of school – one person is the teacher, one is the student. Reflect on the experience with your partner.

Final Thoughts

We would love for you to join us in this project! Please feel free to leave a comment here or add your school to the wiki. We’ll be working on the VoiceThread during the last week of May, but please feel free to add your comments whenever you’re ready!

10 thoughts on “Moving on Up!

  1. Hi,
    I am going to pass this on to a 5th grade teacher friend. I think this project looks amazing!

  2. Great project Kim! In our district we have Gr. 7s leaving their elementary schools to come to high school. I recently bought a Flip camera and used it to interview this year’s grade 8 students. The question: Before you came to high school you had expectations of what it would be like. What have you found out about high school that was better than you thought it would be?

    I made a short iMovie of the Gr. 8’s responses and showed it to the three classes of Gr. 7s that came to visit the school.

  3. @friedafoxworth,

    Excellent! Looking forward to working with your students!


    Thanks so much for passing the idea along!


    I love your idea! I wonder if we can do that with our sixth graders here – it’s so great to get that “after” perspective, instead of just all the “before” concerns.


    No need to purchase anything, VoiceThread is an online application and it’s entirely free. All you need is a web browser. Glad to have you participating!

  4. Hi Kim

    I’ve had my Grade classes do something like this already. I had them answer 4 posers about 5th grade and moving on to secondary school via comics in bitstrips then we put them in to VT and got conversations going (albeit within the 3 Grade 5 classes).

    So I think my guys would be up for this big time!

    colingally at hotmail dot com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge