Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Room 12 Happenings!

We recently completed our study of the Earth and its place in the Universe.  Students completed digital notebooks in which they recorded videos, took pictures and made reflections.  They also took an assessment that asked them to edit a short book on the earth, moon, sun, and stars.  This has been an exciting unit that has made use of models and motion to demonstrate basic earth science principles. On the playground we created a model of the solar system to help us understand the relative distances of the planets from each other and the sun.  On a different day, students, representing the Earth, rotated and revolved around a light source in the center of our classroom. These are just two examples of the many interactive science lessons in which the children participated.

In language arts we completed our research on planets and learned how to craft our own sentences from research notes.  We drafted paragraphs that will be published as book creator projects.  We also began our preparation for MCAS by comparing and contrasting poetry through essay writing.  Additionally, we are studying point of view in non-fiction and fiction writing.  We wrote brief research reports on the flu, writing about the causes of the flu and how to prevent it.  This is a timely topic!

Students doing research on the planets using the two column note method.

A student uses a white board to turn research notes into running text.

In math we completed the addition and subtraction of fractions and are now learning how to multiply fractions. An important component to understanding fractions is being able to demonstrate your math thinking through pictures.  We are actively engaged in this effort on a daily basis through the use of class presentations. During the Solve and Share each table group solves a real world math problem and sketches their work on the white board. Group members then explain their thinking to the class. 

Students prepare math thinking to share during the Solve and Share.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Groundhog Day!

Hi Everyone,

Here's hoping for a quick end to winter no matter what the groundhog happens to predict!

In math we have completed our work on decimals.  This was a difficult test and if needed your son or daughter is welcome to retake the test.  We are now learning addition and subtraction of fractions with unlike denominators.  An important concept in this unit is equivalency.   This is the understanding that 1/2 equals 2/4 equals 3/6 etc.  Understanding that there are more pieces but that the fractional amount remains the same is difficult to grasp .  I am available for extra math help as usual on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 8 am.

In language arts we are learning to apply Keys to Literacy comprehension strategies in both the reading of our core book Number the Stars and in our research on the planets.  We are using Two-Column Notes to compare and contrast the main characters in Number the Stars: Annemarie, Ellen, Mama, Papa, Kirsti and Uncle Henrik. We have broken our research on the planets down into categories such as Special Features, Interesting Facts, Moons etc.  We have accumulated research in each of these areas.  Next we will turn our notes into running text and draft our reports.  We have also written question poems based on space science.  Each poem begins with a question and the poem answers that question. We presented these in class.  They are fantastic!  Some of these will be shared Friday at our Curiosity and Creativity Assembly.

We continue our study of Earth and its Place in Our Universe in science.  Our current work has focused on creating kinesthetic models of the earth demonstrating its rotation and revolution.  With a light bulb in the center of the room (the sun) the children rotated with a sundial in their hands as they revolved around the sun.  We are currently looking at a scaled down size of the solar system and the stars studying the immense size of space and the relationship of our earth to the universe.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Happy New Year! Don't forget Seesaw!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday season.  I am writing to update you on the many exciting learning initiatives going on in our classroom!

In language arts we began our core book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  We are using the powerful learning tool Seesaw to document and share our learning about this book.  I hope you will take the time to set up Seesaw if you have not already done so. Once you are set up you will receive notifications when your child posts work to their digital journal. I have added a tab on the front page of this blog with a slide presentation on Seesaw.  Before the holiday break we created multimedia presentations about family traditions and recorded book reviews of Gossamer by Lois Lowry. Both published projects can be found in Seesaw. In writing, we have also been focusing on revision strategies and free writing.  The children have been revisiting older pieces of writing and color coding their digital writing to note changes in sentence structure, verbs, beginnings, and endings.  We are also beginning the study of persuasive writing and using a mentor text, Martha's Letter as our guide.  In this unit we will be identifying the key features of a good piece of persuasive writing and applying what we learn to our own writing.

In Math we completed our study of advanced division of whole numbers and are now learning how to divide decimals.  A strong understanding of place value as well as good recall of number facts are important requirements for being successful in this work.

As part of our continuing study of Earth's Place in the Universe, before the winter break, we enjoyed a class in the Burlington StarLab with Mr. Musselman as our guide.  The StarLab is equipped with enhanced software since its last tour of duty! This allowed us to view, using a protractor overlay on the sky, the sun's angle in the sky during different seasons of the year.  In science class we also used the Star Chart app to simulate a stargazing experience and to help us to make observations of the patterns we see in the sky throughout the course of the year.  We wrote down our observations in our digital science notebooks. We also created birthday bracelets based on the number of hours of light and darkness that occurred on the day we were each born.  Using the bracelets we studied the patterns of daylight vs. darkness that take place over the course of a year.  We currently constructed sundials to help us understand the sun's apparent motion in the sky over the course of a day.