The months have flown by and we’re now heading into the middle of March. As always this time of year is filled with many amazing and thought provoking discussions. We have been able to zero in on the curriculum and push deeper into our topics without the interruptions of holiday breaks and snow days. Sigh…all before our next break in the Spring. This is one of my favorite times of the year because the students are in a rhythm and there is a hum in the air with everything that is going on in school.
In second grade, we’re have been wrapping up our discussions about the Native Americans and weaving our discussions about sytems with our language arts readings. As we make connections between our readings and the grade level theme of systems we will then weave this same topic into our explorations of magnets and fractions.
We will be using a differentiated unit written by curriculum writers within our own VBCPS system. This unit will bring many hands on experiences with magnets and what can be created by understanding how they are created, and what other purposes they have to improve our lives. This understanding will allow for indepth connections to the idea of sytems and how it all interrelates. I hope the students will share some of their excitement at home with you.
In mathematics, to begin our lessons on fractions, a pre-test was given to determine students’ readiness and previous understandng of the topics addressed within the unit. From this pre-assessment and previous learning profile information many of the students participated in a more kinestetic (hands-on, movement based) lesson. From the lesson, we actually were able to create a short movie about our work. The final movie will be shared in class withall of the students. If you would like to view it, please plan on attending our next parent workshop on March 19th, 2010 from 12 – 1pm at Trantwood Elementary.
In Third Grade, Mrs. Mutsch’s class has been involved in independent research projects with the whole class. We’ve done mini-lessons on structure of researchable topics —how to choose topics, how to develop a good researchable question, validity of research sites, how to gather notes and site sources in an organized way, and how to take your notes and create a solid first draft paper. This is an ongoing process that will culminate in the week’s ahead with the sharing of our final work. The students’ excitement about working on their chosen topic is palpable. Each day I’m asked, are you going in today? Are we working on our research projects??
We’re also wrapping our science unit about cycles up by looking into literature to find other examples of cycles in nature and those caused by man. We’ll be reading the Junior Great Book series, The Green Man in the week ahead and this will lead us into further literature discussions about characters, the structure found in nature’s cycles, and writing about the topic — connecting science content and literature to write our own GREEN NEWS Newspaper.
We’ve also chosen a pre-assessment from a math exemplar that deals with fractions to learn more about what our students already know about the topic and how they can communicate this to us as mathematicians. The teachers and I had fun creating this exemplar and relating it to the students social studies topic of explorers. We’ll be looking at the results to see how and where this can help us drive our instruction/lessons in the classroom.
In Fourth Grade, we’ve been delving into our discussions about African Americans and their impact on our lives today — looking at Relationships from Black HistoryMonth and African Americans in literature. We’ve read stories from Langston Hughes, Thank You M’am toAfrican American folktales like The Talking Egg and Mufario’s Beautiful Daughters. We tried to look for relationships in how each are alike and how they are different (Comparing/Contrasting) to create a written essay in tandem form to share.
As we look for other relationships in our studies we immediately look to how we learn about the regions in the United States. We created a unique looking puzzle that emphasizes what we need to know, as well as, answers student’s own questions about the states involved and Virginia.
One cluster class is continuing their discussions with literature by weaving the William and Mary Unit Literary Reflectiions into her instruction…the class is looking at how relationships change, using novel titles, such as, Call it Courage and the Secret Garden. The other cluster class is delving deeper into primary and secondary sources involving the history of the Plains states during the Dust Bowl era.
With the 4th Grade Mathematics and Science teams, we have been wrapping up our teams’ Rube Goldberg creations that demonstrate our understanding of force and motion. We will then be having the students create their own experiment to demonstrate individual understanding and proving Isacc Newton’s Laws of Motion and Inertia. To ensure more accurate data collection the students have been learning how to use Go! Motion probes… these act like a sonar to help us graph velocity and interpret our graphing results. All of these experiences will be put to the test as we enter into our first Socratic Seminar — a focused discussion about Newton’s laws.
In Fifth Grade, we have so much going on it is hard to write about it all. So, in essence, in Language Arts and Social Studies, we have been discussing and learning about the Civil War. This upcoming week we will be concluding this unit with a position/claim discussion using Philosophical Chair– each student has chosen a position and has been gathering evidence from our unit’s lessons to support their chosen position. We will then split the classbased on their chosen position and evidence to have a discussion using a format called Philosophical Chair.
In 5th Grade Math and Science classes with Mrs. Smith and Ms. Dungan, the students are looking at how they can make changes today to affect the future of themselves and others. We are moving into algebraic equations …imagine learning algebra at such an early age. These students are amazing at the pace that they are demonstrating their understanding of the topic. In one class we have 4 different levels going on for instruction, but the feelings of success are everywhere! In science we’ve been looking for connections between it and mathematics. This upcoming week we will be actually creating oragami frogs! How does this relate to math and science you ask?? Smile… this is one way that we’re going to use student created work to engage the students in the scientific inquiry process and using student created measuring tapes utilizing their knowledge of fractions. The measuring tape will then be used as a tool by the students to collect data to determine which type of paper creates the best “Frolicking Frog”. The students will then be given the opportunity to create their own experiment using the materials available to answer their own questions. These two teachers, are a great example of what can be accomplished when you bring your own excitement for learning to the students you are working with each day.