We’ve sprinted to the end of the fourth week of school! I want to thank each of you that attended Trantwood’s Open House on Tuesday, September 18th. I loved having the opportunity to meet some of you and answer questions. Please remember we are looking for parental help with a number of different clubs and the science labs. We also have a 5th grade Parent Workshop- this workshop is open to all 5th grade parents to learn about the 5th Grade Gifted Screening Process/Identification and Middle School–on Monday, October 1st from 3:00 – 4:00 pm. Please mark your calendars — a reminder went home this week electronically.
We are hoping to get up and running a number of different clubs this year:
- Mad Science – Registration for this club is now closed. We have 3 full classes of students participating in the Mad Science Club, as well as a number of students on the wait list. We’re looking at hosting Mad Science for a second time during this school year… so please stay posted for upcoming dates. The beginning date is Wednesday, October 3 – Wednesday November 7th, 2012. Let the excitement for learning and science continue!!
- Trantwood’s Friends of Change Club– This is a one time a month club that will meet at different locations to promote giving back to the community. We have an informational meeting for students at Trantwood, September 28th from 2:45 – 3:45. At this time, the group will brainstorm what they are interested in doing throughout the school year one time a month to build a sense of community and provide a service to others. Parent participation, transportation, and support will be needed for some of these adventures! This club is open to all students in Grades 4-5 and as we move into the spring, we may include interested third graders. At this time we have over 40 interested students coming to learn more about this great opportunity to give back to the school and our community. Way to go Community Cardinals!!
- Trantwood’s Page Turners Club – These forms will go home in next Friday’s Folder. This will be run very much like an adult book club. The students will be told or have a choice in their book title throughout the year. They will be asked to get their own copy and then read it independently on their own. There will be an interest sign-up sheet in my room and a way for me to monitor the pace that the students are reading the book chosen. When most of the participants have finished the book, I will host a book chat at Trantwood for all the students that participated after school. I’m predicting that this will be about once a month. The Page Turners Club is open to all students in grades 3-5. As we move into the Spring I will be meeting with students in second grade in small groups during the school day as a lunch bunch.
RESOURCE – (once in a while I will try to place a resource or a site that I feel you may find useful to explore)
Internet Site for those with a curiosity – A great resource to check out is http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/parents.htm The focus the month of October is on gifted testing and assessment.
In the Classroom of our Resource-Cluster Classes..
The weeks have been filled with strategies to promote continuous learning in the classrooms, while wrapping the grade level themes throughout each grade level’s studies.
In 5th grade over the last few weeks, Dr. Ruszala finished the first research project of the year. The students created their VOKI characters and wrote a script to share what they had learned within their research process. As another branch to this research project the students are creating a “suitcase” that will hold their memorabilia from their visit to a specific region. At the conclusion of this project, the students will be using a data retrieval chart to gather information from the other group’s projects to add to what they have learned about the regions. You may be thinking that this is a lot for the first project, but this came out of a discussion with the students as we brainstormed, grouped our ideas about what we would like to do and used a creative problem solving tool called S-M-L to organize our short, medium and long term goals in order to stay on target. As we continue to work through our project, we’re asking the students to demonstrate this generalization within their region project — Change can happen naturally or be caused by people.
Ms. Dungan and I planned the mathematics instruction to include a Math Exemplar pre-assessment based on the objective focus of number sense. A Math Exemplar is a multi-step word problem that can be very open-ended. It allows the teachers to see the student’s understanding of the objective and their ability to communicate their understanding through writing.
We also delved into a Socratic Seminar to question what we were learning about the Earth’s layers, plate tectonics and the changes that impact the Earth’s surface over time. We learned how an ancient Greek philosopher and teacher thought this strategy of questioning learning, assumptions, and beliefs to be the way to create critical thinkers of information. After polling the class to check their feelings about how instruction should be delivered within the classroom setting, it was interesting to the teacher and I to see how many students’ opinions and thoughts changed because of this experience. The students will be continuing to reflect on this experience through blogging, as well as, comparing it to a different discussion experience in Dr. Ruszala’s class with Shared Inquiry with the literature piece – “Charles”.
In fourth grade, Mrs. Wright-Owens, Mrs. Calaman and I continued to build their understanding with our grade level theme of Relationships and focused on the generalization statement – All relationships are purposeful. We continue to read literature each week, The Bad Case of Stripes, The Old Woman Who Named Things and now the short novel The Green Book. We had the students prioritize each of the titles since the beginning of the year based on which they feel best demonstrated the grade level theme. We also used a graphic organizer to organize our work for literary analysis of the relationships and the changes these relationships go through during the story. In each piece of literature, we discussed the changes in ourselves from reading the literature.
The short novel, The Green Book, shared during reading time supports the class’s work with the study of Earth, Moon and Sun. While reading this novel we have been able to talk about the hierarchy that evolves in new civilizations based on choices, the impact of human actions on others, as well as, the role of children in discovery and growth within a civilization using a strategy called Here’s What?, Now What?, So What?. This novel allows the teachers and me to bring in past discussions about the ancient civilizations, the needs of people for survival, and how sustainability is a part of it all.
With Mrs. Birdwell’s and Mrs. Mello’s classes, both teachers have been working on the unit Earth, Moon, and Sun. Within these classes, we have been encouraging the students to synthesize ideas to create novel products and solutions. One way that we have done this was to have discussions about the patterns that we see around us and what we have learned in our past grade levels about patterns. From this discussion, we asked the students to look at what was discussed and find relationships between the patterns shared and to explain that relationship. One relationship that the students noticed was between the phases of the moon and the tides of the ocean. We asked the students to prove this idea. After brainstorming possible ways, the students settled on using a line graph to plot the percentage of the phases of the moon, and the times of the am tides over a month’s time. We used a transparency (a clear graph) that could be laid over top of other transparencies. Using Kaplan (symbolic tools to encourage deeper thinking) we tried to prove the relationship between the two patterns using mathematics and questioning. The students were so excited to see the actual patterns emerge between the months of each, as well as, between the tide and the phases of the moon when we placed one line graph(phases of the moon) over the second line graph(ocean am high tides)! One class even took it further by creating line plots of this data over the whole year and placed these around the classroom walls to remind them.
In third grade, Mrs. Mckee, Mrs. Catt and I continue to build discussions around our grade level theme of Structures. We will continue these lessons in the weeks ahead as the students create their own examples and non-examples of structures. In third grade, we have also been doing a lot of pre-assessments to learn more about each of the students and their strengths. One of these was a math exemplar to learn more about their multi –step problem solving abilities and number sense. This was used with other formative assessments to help us determine groups for instruction during the weeks. We have also learned about other structures to push us in expanding our thinking about mathematics with using Challenge Math with mental calculations and M3 (Mentoring Mathematical Minds Series) lessons that focus on written expression, questioning and the communication of mathematical ideas. These strategies and lessons have been done in a combination of whole group introduction, and then moved into small group instruction based on the demonstrated needs of each student.
In second grade, Mrs. McCallum and I have worked on wrapping our first unit together –Introducing Systems. This was a unit that brings in the study of habitats and economics as we learn about the concept of systems.
With Mrs. McCallum, we have learned about how to use graphic organizers to gather our ideas to share what we know about a topic. The students now know that Mrs. Hawley loves graphic organizers…and have even asked when other graphic organizers have been used, if it came from Mrs. Hawley. J The students will be moving into a matter unit that will have them working toward the gifted benchmark that students will demonstrate fluent, flexible, elaborative, and original thinking. A bench mark is a goal for students to work towards at different grade levels. In gifted cluster classes, we use these benchmarks as part of our teaching process to evaluate individuals’ progress.
To encourage this same benchmark in other areas, we have also been doing exemplars (multi-step problems that encourage critical and creative thinking). We worked on a problem that asked us how many different ways could we create 10 feet to live in an apartment using people and animals. We had so many creative thinkers… for example one child, thought there could be one person living with two birds, a dog and snake. (2 +2+2+4+0=10) The possibilities were endless. Can you think of others?
We are continuing with our reflection/process logs and have added blogging and Edmodo as other avenues to our ongoing efforts to communicate our thinking. In this way we can poll to gather opinions, predict, process, connect, goal set, and reflect in an ongoing way. What is really nice about each of these methods, is that it can be archived…filed away and retrieved at a later date to build upon or demonstrate growth. For some where writing is an issue, the technology avenue opens up away for the teachers to see what they are thinking because they are more willing to respond in written form. We will continue to use this to do mini-pulse checks on each child’s thinking and build connections they make to the work we are doing in class.
As always, thank you for all you continue to do at home and school to support us! Have an enjoyable weekend!