So much has happened since our last update:
Wrapping up Seedfolks, each classroom culminated the study of Paul Fleischman’s novelette in unique ways.
Rachel’s class took the theme of community from the book as a way to explore individual backgrounds and heritage. Students were asked to research their own heritage to create a bio board. These will be on display next Friday during a Harvest Festival. In the second to last chapter of Seedfolks, an impromptu festival takes place in the garden. This will be emulated in the classroom as students share their family traditions, practices, foods, and culture.
Lauren’s and Lynn’s classes have been using the book to explore community, diversity and writing genres. We began building background knowledge by learning about Cleveland, Detroit, and urban decay and renewal. Students crafted poems, and engaged in some socratic seminar work. Our work as readers included: learning about prosody and repeated reading, analyzing character and citing text evidence, writing e-journal responses to critical thinking questions, crafting several creative writing responses, and finally learning how to craft an argument by making a debatable claim. As we enjoyed the stories about a diverse group of characters in the novel, we made connections, practiced inference, practiced summarizing what we read, and grew as readers, like small sprouts in a garden if you will :) In addition to learning more about using writer’s craft for narrative stories, learning about line breaks, figurative language, and imagery in poetry, and learning how to organize an argument, students have worked on organization as they reflected upon artwork through expository writing. The writer’s process of planning, drafting, revising, editing and publishing has infused all of our work. Another poetry piece in November was drafted in response to a short film entitled Everything is Incredible exploring the ideas of hope and resilience. Lauren’s current read aloud is Skellig by David Almond. On Thursday, kids drew scenes to illustrate their visualization of a dream sequence in this magical realism novel.
Peter’s Class: After a Socratic seminar, students applied the Well-Being Progression Rubric to the characters they followed in Seedfolks. Using evidence from the text, they supported their claims about their characters in terms of identity, growth, belonging, and control . Over the past two weeks, students applied this rubric to themselves and used experiences from their young lives to analyze their social emotional well-being. As students conducted this investigation, daily lessons helped students plan, draft, and practice strategies to write topic and concluding sentences. They plan on sharing this essay with you by the end of the week. I’m sure interesting conversations will follow after they read their piece to you.
Rachel’s 5th Grade Math Class:
After returning from Thanksgiving Break, our class transitioned from adding and subtracting fractions to a unit on decimals. Students generally enjoy this change as decimals tend to be less abstract than fractions. We’ve talked about equating decimals and fractions, place value, money, comparing decimals, adding and subtracting decimals, and rounding. Next week we'll wrap it up with an assessment on decimals and after winter break, we will talk about multi-digit multiplication and division.
Lynn and Diane’s 5th grade math classes:
Students continue to work on deepening their understanding of multi-digit whole number and decimal fraction operations. They are becoming quite skilled at explaining why and how traditional multiplication and division algorithms work the way they do using a broad range of strategies like tape diagrams; place value tables; number discs and checking their work by using the opposite operation. In the week before and after the winter break, students will be demonstrating their mastery of these concepts on their Module 5.2 End of Module Assessment.
Lauren’s 6th grade math:
We’ve been using Pear Deck about once weekly. It’s an online presentation platform, that teachers build to engage and assess students as they learn math skills and concepts. Kids are loving days when we use technology, days when we build models with manipulatives, and days when we get to write all over the whiteboard tables for pictorial representations. Following our unit test for Prime Time (Factors and Multiples) students made corrections to their tests, identifying their errors as either accuracy or understanding, and solidifying their ability to demonstrate their understanding. This often involves some reteaching. One thing that can be done at home and will move mountains, is automaticity with multiplication and division facts: practicing five facts per day, until mastered, and then moving to the next five facts. Our new unit of study is called Comparing Bits and Pieces and explores fractions, decimals, and percentages. Automaticity with multiplication and division facts helps students apply their thinking to higher order tasks. We have spent the past two weeks refreshing basic skills and concepts for fractions. All students have a Khan Academy account and can practice daily if you are able to support this at home, it will absolutely help them as mathematicians.
Peter’s 6th grade math:
We just completed the unit Comparing Bits and Pieces about developing skills in using fractions, decimals, ratios and percents to measure and to compare quantities. I will be returning the unit tests and the subsequent “repairs” on Monday. Please have your child share their assessment with you. This week, we began the next unit, Let’s Be Rational. Your child will develop an understanding of the four basic arithmetic operations with fractions, including mixed numbers. They will also describe strategies for using these operations when solving problems involving fractions. Next week your child will learn how to: Use benchmarks and other strategies to make reasonable estimates for results of operations with fractions, include mixed numbers; develop ways to model sums, differences, products, and quotients, include the use of areas, fraction strips, and number lines; and look for rules to generalize patterns in fraction operations. The other group finished the unit on extending their knowledge of negative numbers; using parentheses and the Order of Operations in computations; using the commutative properties of addition and multiplication; and applying the Distributive Property to simplify expressions and solve problems. We are now exploring ratios, proportions, and proportional reasoning; analyzing comparison statements for correctness and quality; using ratios, rates, and percents to write comparison statements; and distinguishing between and use part-to-part and part-to-whole ratios to make comparisons.
We’ve begun a new unit of inquiry in science: Things that float and fly, which explores buoyancy, density, and Archimedes’ Principle. To investigate these concepts, and to learn how to measure accurately, students have been building and exploring a variety of things that float and fly.
They’ve studied how to calculate density using a triple beam balances and graduated cylinders. Used Gummy Bears to measure mass, volume, and density, make predictions and organize results. Students have been reading and following directions to support their non-fiction reading skills. Building Cartesian Divers helped students communicate their understanding of buoyancy and density. Continuing our exploration of buoyancy, students built hot air balloons using patterns, teamwork and tissue paper and investigated how they work. We will launch our balloons next week, provided the air temperature is right for floating. To wrap up the week, Eric Larsen, from Protecting Our Winters, came to Horizons to present on Climate Change. Classes have begun a self-assessment using Google Slides or a sketchnote in combination with a short online quiz and written demonstration of learning. We’ll finish up the assessments after winter break, and head into chemistry. Thanks for sending in glass jars to use for borax crystals which will help us begin our study of solutions and chemistry.
In social studies classes, we are wrapping up our case study of Mesopotamia. Students explored these ancient cultures in a variety of ways over the last month by discussing various readings, and analyzing a Time Life film called “Mesopotamia: The Search for Eden”, using the G.R.A.P.E.S model. Students have been working collaboratively on mapping and having discussions about factors that led to both the rise and fall of these civilizations. Students are preparing for their first open notebook written assessment which will take place the week before winter break. When we return in January, we will launch into our second case study on the ancient civilizations of the Indus River Valley.
Español 1A with Lynn:
Learning in Spanish class has focused on continuing to build our vocabulary - adding seasons, weather, clothing, body parts and numbers to our repertoire. Students will be using their knowledge of these words and phrases to create, write, practice and present their first oral Spanish assessment in January. Los prognósticos del tiempo (weather forecasts) about the Spanish-speaking world will be coming soon! Look for photos on our Google Classroom page! And thank you in advance for loaning your Spanish student a blazer, tie and/or collared shirt so they can “live” the part of a Spanish-speaking weather reporter!
Social Emotional Learning (SEL):
Each classroom participated in a Socratic Seminar surrounding a well-being progression. Students were asked to annotate the text and then share their ideas surrounding a progression that focuses on identity, belonging, control, and growth. Teachers were blown away by the depth and thoughtfulness in discussion that resulted from this text and we are excited to embark on future use of this progression as a tool for growth and development. As the year progresses, we will be guiding students to a deeper analysis of this document to help set personal goals, provide more specific direction for individual growth and open eyes (further) to the idea of what is possible. If your student has not yet shared their work and thinking on this progression with you, we encourage you to begin the conversation.
We are continuing our mindfulness work with 1st/2nd grade buddies using relaxation techniques such as “mind in a jar” and guided meditation.
Students finished their presentations on different presentation tools, including Prezi, Screencastify, Easel.ly, and Google Slides, and had an opportunity to learn about each tool by viewing exemplars from their peers. In December, students are participating in Hour of Code activities, using block code, Java Script and other programming languages to solve puzzles, animate characters, design games, draw pictures, and more.
In art class students have completed their fourth art project of the school year. Through the process of creating clay mugs, students have been perfecting their pottery skills. This week, Kara helped students explore depth and shadows in a painted winter mountain scene. Please check them out in the front display case the week before the break.