Learning without Walls
Horizons seeks to graduate self-directed learners who pursue knowledge ignited by their own inquiry and interests. Students in the younger grades have explored Dream Homework, and in seventh and eighth grade, your child will embark upon a yearlong Learning Challenge or Aperture Project. The fifth and sixth grade project is designed to help students continue on their paths to become self-directed learners, engaging in inquiry and communicating new knowledge to their community. Our work this year has included an inquiry into learning styles. We are asking students to understand how their project choice reflects their knowledge of learning styles. Some students will choose a project that employs their strongest learning style and others will choose a project that asks them to stretch beyond their usual learning comfort zone. This year, 5th and 6th grade students will have two different formats to choose from to explore their independent learning. After self-evaluating your own character traits, learning modalities, and what self-directed learning is all about, you (and your parents) will be able to decide which of the two formats will be best suited to your individual learning needs to make this project a success! Self-designed project work will mostly occur outside of school hours. Thank you for supporting this opportunity for your child. Teachers will be guiding students in understanding how to design an independent project, crafting a driving question, mapping their project storyboards, reviewing weekly goal setting and reflection, practicing oral presentation skills and developing rubrics to define quality work. Students will share their final knowledge in an oral presentation.
We continue to read Liar and Spy, and work on basic paragraphing to build structural skills. Students are practicing writing powerful topic sentences and strong conclusions, and using a variety of outlines to plan writing. We will use this genre of writing to lay the groundwork for culminating projects like student TedTalks or This I Believe.
In science, Lynn’s class finished their Forces and Buoyancy test revisions. We are now turning our focus to measuring and making sense of distance, speed, and acceleration and the forces that cause them. Other units we will cover this year are: waves and light, simple machines, and chemistry!
Peter’s class finished their Forces and Buoyancy test revisions, and spent two weeks investigating light and sight. Students learned some basic atomic structure, had opportunities to learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, visible light and color. We read the textbook, took Cornell notes, and dissected cow eyes. Students are currently investigating circuits in series and parallel. Ask your students to demonstrate how to light a bulb using aluminum foil.
In Peter's math class, we ended our short unit on one and two step algebraic equations, but will return to algebraic thinking and applying it to real life situations in about a month. Presently, we are exploring aspects of geometry including area of triangles and parallelograms through a hands-on approach. Then we apply our investigations to find area for a region bounded by a polygon by decomposing the region into triangles and other polygons.
In Jim’s math class, we have been working on perimeter and area of polygons, making sense of the formulae and using them to solve for unknown lengths. We have also looked at area through composition and decomposition of polygons. We also continue our review of math facts by adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions and decimals.
In Alison’s math class, students are continuing their self-paced work through the Algebra 1 textbook.
Lynn’s math class continues to work on addition and subtraction of fractions. We have moved from pictorial representations of these operations into the more standard algorithm now with a more clear understanding of why and how the algorithm works. Our focus this week has been on determining like units in the denominator position - otherwise known as common and least common denominators.
Lauren’s class is working on long division and checking answers with multiplication. We are learning about interpreting remainders, and solving word problems.
In social studies we have completed our civilization case study on Mesopotamia and as demonstrated at conferences, students have also completed their first formal assessment. We are now focusing our study on the civilizations in ancient China. This week we focused on the geography of the region. Next week we will begin to expand our study of ancient China into the other areas of GRAPES - religion, achievements, politics and social structure.
In both Spanish 1A classes we have been working on special irregular verbs - the “yo go” verbs and the very helpful verb ir (to go) the the simple future tense. With the testing schedule as it is, our Spanish class time has been reduced a bit. The kids have been doing a great job working independently on assignments.
We celebrate all of our 5th/6th grade students and their enthusiastic participation in the art/movement/music rotations! We are grateful to all of our instructors, their expertise and the gentle guidance they provided. Thank you parents for providing funds to help fund this learning opportunity for our kids. When we return for Spring Break, Peter’s the Jim’s class will be coached by Enrico on volleyball skills while Lauren and then Lynn’s class will be with Alison exploring Polyhedronville.
Yesterday was our last day on the slopes and trails of Eldora. Many thanks for the parent volunteers who led the kids to an exciting morning. The students showed what they learned the previous weeks with the Eldora instructors and kept themselves and each other safe.