Learning without Walls!
Our 5th and 6th grade students are at the halfway point in their independent inquiry investigations. How inspiring to hear about how our students are spending their outside of class time to delve into self-selected inquiry projects. Students now are elbow deep in the hands-on portion of their investigations. Over the next two weeks we will be helping students design their plan for their presentations which will occur on 5/12, 5/15 and 5/16 in homerooms. An informal museum type collective sharing of learning will occur on Friday May 19th in the cafeteria from 8:45-9:45AM. We invite you all to come and
Passageworks kicked off last week.
Fifth graders have been working with Peter and Lynn reflecting on how to make healthy transitions over the threshold of elementary school to middle school. Students are spending time playing games, sharing and listening in dyads and whole group council settings to build community and trust They are thoughtfully considering what qualities make for positive friendship experiences, exploring public and private selves and emotions, building trust in self and others, honoring personal history and looking ahead into next steps (and how to do so with integrity), thinking about how to manage the times when feeling stretched and how to walk into 6th grade as engaged student leaders. Our work with 5th graders will culminate in a transition ceremony on Thursday, May 25th at 4:45PM. This special time for 5th graders and their parents will include an honoring and acknowledging of young people as they cross this threshold.
Sixth graders have been working with Rachel and Lauren to reflect as 6th grade leaders and prepare for their transition into their capstone years at Horizons. Students have
played games, shared stories and memories in listening dyads, and practiced self-reflection through poetry writing and activities to help them consider their strengths and next steps. Our recent council on gratitude invited students to share ideas about areas of their lives (family, friends, inherent traits) for which they are grateful. Work will continue for the next four weeks preparing sixth graders to transition into seventh grade.
The writing lives of our students continue to revolve around the Hero’s Journey (HJ) story. Students are deep in the writing and revision cycle developing and polishing their setting, characters, trials to overcome and ordeals to move through as they work on “righting” the world. Students please share your story electronically with your folks so they can read the amazing storytelling you are doing. Over the next few weeks, we will be helping support 5th/6th graders as they move their stories for publication.
Peter’s class wrote their Hero’s Journey stories last year and this year our focus has been on reading, analyzing, and acting scenes from Homer’s Odyssey. Now that we have finished reading the book, students are preparing their final creative projects to demonstrate their understanding and begin drafting their essays connecting the Odyssey to the hero’s journey or writing an persuasive essay convincing readers that Odysseus is a hero or not.
Students are to be finishing the year strong making progress on their independent reading “40 Book Challenge” during Academic Lab time. When Spanish class is in sessions, expect your student to be creating space at home to read independently for 30 minutes.
Art and Literacy Connection:
Under Kara’s guidance, students will be transferring an important scene and symbols from their HJ stories onto a clay plate as we end our year-long study of clay.
Rachel’s 5th Grade Math Class:
Just before conferences, we completed our unit of study around division. Students explored shift patterns when dividing by decimal numbers. We then looked at multiplication of fractions which was a nice break from more complicated operations. Following multiplication of fractions, students were challenged with problem solving. By starting with addition and subtraction, students were asked to write situation and solution equations using variables. This introduction to algebra both intrigued and challenged them. Next, we worked backwards with students writing word problems to go along with equations. This is always a huge leap, especially in figuring out the language to go along with the numbers and operations. Students worked on multi-step word problems and discovered how tough it can be to determine what the stories are actually asking one to do mathematically. We will continue to solve one word problem daily for the rest of year, as well as working on PEMDAS, order of operations, and equations with parentheses. Once they show proficiency with working from the inside out and rewriting the expressions, we will do some work with coordinate planes and graphing ordered pairs. We will end the year with a look at geometry and measurement. These are usually mathematical concepts which students find enjoyable so it feels like a good way to wrap up the school year.
Diane and Lynn’s 5th Grade Math Classes:
We wrapped up our study of Engage NY Module 4, in which we focused on multiplication and division of fractions and decimal fractions. The module was lengthy, but we believe that the emphasis on modeling ultimately helps our students develop thorough understanding of these important concepts. We are well into Engage NY Module 5, which centers around using addition and multiplication strategies for finding area and volume. This has been a fun topic, as we’ve explored volume of structures using cubic centimeter blocks and the relationship among volume as “packing” (measured in cm3) vs. volume as “filling” (measured in mL). Students completed (or will soon complete) a creative project in which they construct a sculpture composed of right rectangular prisms that conforms to a set of dimensional requirements. Because LWW requires significant student effort during out-of-school hours, we have tried our best to ensure that daily math work can be completed during school hours. There may be occasional circumstances where math homework is required, though.
Lauren’s 6th grade math Class:
Lauren’s math students have begun a 6th grade study of the relationship between fractions, percentages and decimals. This practice involves lots of real world problem solving, and fluency work. Students are using benchmark fractions, percentages and decimals, as well as their knowledge of equivalence and ratios to move fluently between values and expressions. Students are working with partners or in small groups to discuss mathematical ideas and problem solve. A copy of our new skills and concepts can be found here.
Peter’s 6th grade math Class:
Students just completed their study of statistics and data analysis. learn different ways to collect, organize, display, and analyze data. “They used the process of data investigation by posing questions, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting the data to answer questions. Students alse organized and represented data using tables, dot plots, line plots, bar graphs, histograms, and box-and-whisker plots. This week until the end of the year, your child will study some basic ideas of algebra and learn some ways to use those ideas to solve problems and make decisions. They will recognize situations in which variables are related in predictable ways. Finally, students will describe patterns of change in words, data tables, graphs, and equations.” (CMP3)
We wrapped up our chemistry studies with a few hands-on experiments. Students used the properties of four unknown metals to find their identities. In another experiment, student practiced observing five chemical reactions to discern how we know chemical reactions are happening. We watched the temperature rise when steel wool was submerged in hydrogen peroxide, and watched gas form when orange juice was mixed with baking soda, and more. We hypothesized about the active ingredient in taco sauce when used to clean pennies, and designed experiments to understand which ingredient cleaned pennies best: vinegar, salt, tomato paste or some combination. Finally, we modeled molecular bonds using gumdrops and toothpicks to understand the difference between covalent and ionic bonds.
Following our study of the human reproductive system, we dissected flowers to understand the comparative anatomy of a flower’s reproductive system. Students have also practiced reading non-fiction textbooks to build background knowledge about animal’s structure and function, as well as animal behavior. And finally, we have crayfish!!! We’ll be observing, understanding structure and function, designing experiments and delving into the world of these fascinating creatures!
Social Studies - Rise and Fall
In the last few weeks of social studies we have concluded our case study of the Indus River Valley and Ancient Chin with a written assessment. This week students have been learning about the Ancient Maya through a quick, but in-depth case study on ancient civilizations in the Americas. Students are finishing note taking early next week as they analyze the Maya case study through the GRAPES lens. We viewed a History Channel film, “The Maya: Engineering an Empire” which has helped us understand more about this civilization (and has made many of us want to go traveling). As we head into the last few weeks of the school year, students will be completing their culminating Perfect Civilization projects. In small groups, students will work together to develop a civilization that will rise and flourish using lessons from all of the case studies we have spent time learning about over the year. Their “perfect” civilizations will be assessed by peers on whether they will survive and thrive or fall.
Spanish 1A with Lynn
Our grammar focus in Spanish 1A has been increasing our knowledge of and capacity for verbs! Students have been gaining mastery of the verbs that conjugate in an irregular format and are necessary to know in order to be able to communicate effectively. Our vocabulary study has been focusing on what is necessary to manage conversations in restaurants and/or retail settings. This coming week, students will be presenting their own skits incorporating one setting or the other while showcasing their growing communication skills. We have one more Spanish novel we will be reading in the last few weeks of the school year. Los Agentes Secretos written by Mira Canion, takes place in Spain at the beginning of World War II. And exciting way to use our Spanish and learn more about Spanish history.
Computers with Carol
Students practiced evaluating websites for reliability. They are currently using their online research skills to complete research for their learning without walls (LWW) projects. Next students will review various digital presentation tools and begin work on their LWW presentations.