As I prepared for my day’s schedule and went to each of the rooms, I kept thinking…what a perfect day to share with the parents; I wish they could see what I am seeing now.
The day started at 8:15 with Mrs. Wright-Owen’s switch class. As a way to bring their recent field trip to Jamestown even more meaning and support her work with drawing conclusions we looked at primary and secondary sources. By synthesizing information from a variety of sources, we read an abstract written by Johan Theodore DeBry and we looked at pictures created by an artist from the 1580′s; John White – one of the first to create sketches in watercolor of this time period. In our discussion, we talked about what a primary source is and how it differs from a secondary source. We then talked about the reasons that the artist may have drawn the sketches and why they were published in England during that time period in The Briefe and True Report of Virginia Lands. The students had the opportunity to choose which focus they would like to learn more about transportation, shelter, or food. They studied the pictures presented to go with their choice of interest looking for details of how the Powhatans of the area were using natural resources in their everyday lives and other details to support their productive lifestyle. Each student then read a paragraph that supported the picture with more details in a translated version from the original abstract that was published with the pictures…all of this was organized in a graphic organizer to share what they had seen and what they had read as a class. The student’s enthusiam to look closely at pictures of this particular time period and to discuss relationships between what they saw and read with what they had learned in Jamestown was contagious. I heard questions, like: How did they get the smoothness on their canoes like that? What could they have made the fishing traps out of to work in a fast moving river? It’s not easy to stand in a river like there are in the picture. How did they think about doing that ….? The questions and the search for answers was non-stop and exciting to see. If your child would like to continue this information digging of the time period, please check out this site: http://www.people.virginia.edu/ ~msk5d/hariot/history.html and http://www.historyisfun.org/jyf1/education.html#Classroom under the Program Topic Living with the Indians
I then left the fourth grade class and headed to Mrs. Dungan’s 5th grade switch class. We have recently finished a science unit that shares the scientific process with the students and the teachers and I wanted to apply what they had been learning to their next unit — Matter. The teachers decided that they really wanted to do a science exemplar ( a problem scenario that requires more than one step to complete to synthesize information) that had the students explore, design, and test their questions about matter solutions. So, as I walked to 5th grade my love for what I do was bubbly! The plan was to have the students look at the materials provided and discuss what could they do with the materials presented…straws, butcher paper, plastic cups, water, dish detergents, measuring spoons, measuring cups, paper…the ideas presented were our start to a chance to explore with the materials with hands on investigations…we gathered details about what we saw, generated questions, and talked about where we could go or what we could do to learn more about our questions. We then looked at our team’s responses and shared as a class…looking for patterns in our observations. From our list of patterns we saw that some of what we observed could be measured, counted, or timed. The students were guided from this point to choose an independent variable and a dependent variable to design their own investigation of the solutions. Please take time to ask your 5th grader about their explorations and which of their questions did they decide to test in their efforts to learn more about solutions in Matter.
After leaving 5th grade I headed straight to 2nd grade with Mrs. McCallum’s class where we were just wrapping up our unit on matter in science. This was the first year that we tried to do a unit of differentiated study from University of William and Mary on the topic of matter…. it was something new for both Mrs. McCallum and myself and a learning experience for the students as we brought the end of the unit closed with a performance task…an assessment that requires the students to do or share their learning in a way other than a end of unit fill in the blank test. In this task, the students were scientists sharing their results from their experiments that supported their chosen testable question. Each child presented either individually or as a small group at our Matter Conference. Each child was very excited and just a little nervous to share what they had found out and to demonstrate one example of how they collected their data…. discussion was amazing and centered around what each child had decided to test, what they predicted would be the outcome, whether their prediction was supported by their data or not. Then as all conferences do we shared a light refreshment made of solids and liquids… and you guessed it our decorations of helium balloons were our gas. The conference lasted much of the afternoon as the students took turns sharing their findings to a very engrossed audience.
As I moved from second grade to third, I grabbed my materials of wrappers, cereal boxes, magazine advertisements and handouts about propaganda. In third grade, we’re getting ready for our summative project that shares how economics impacts us in our everyday lives. We played guess this company while sharing slogans…like HMM, HMM Good! You guessed it Campbell’s Soups. We discussed why people use propaganda and where do we see it? As we looked at the different examples, we talked about the trends that we saw …what were the hidden messages that the advertisements trying to share with us? Did it work? Who were the commercials or advertisements audience and did this matter? This begins a project for the students to develop a product (good) or a service for someone else and then to create a commercial to hook a targeted audience. Each of the student’s commercials and products will be available on November 10 during our whole grade level Market Day event. Can you see how this might connect to life (and economics) as we know it?
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the amazing things that our classroom teachers and students are doing here at Trantwood. What did you enjoy most reading about? Do you have any questions about what you read?