A number of exciting events are coming up quickly on the calendar:
Our reading work for the last number of weeks has been around literary analysis through an exploration of the Hero’s Journey story through two different texts. In Rachel’s, Lauren’s and Lynn’s classes, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is being used and in Peter’s class Gareth Hinds’ graphic novel version of The Odyssey is being used. The Hero's Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. Students will begin crafting their own hero’s journey story that will be represented on clay plates after spring break. Watch for some insightful family “homework” that helps connect the stories of narrative characters with the actual experiences of real life heroes through a TED Radio Hour program.
Some classes have already wrapped up the Well-Being progression expository writing while others continue to work on this topic. Student have been working in all classes on Khan Academy to review Grammar parts of speech.
Rachel’s 5th Grade Math Class: For the past three weeks our class has focused on division strategies. We began with single digit divisors until the students showed proficiency. From there, we moved into multi-digit divisors. This always proves more difficult, but you would all be so proud of your children and how dedicated they are to learning the procedure for long division. At this time, homework has been a blue sheet that we call Drops in the Bucket, or DIB. This is a review of all the math concepts 5th graders should have knowledge of at this point. I tend not to send home division homework because our strategies are so vastly different from the traditional algorithm that families often struggle to lend support at home. We will continue working on division of whole numbers and in the following weeks move into division using decimal numbers.
Lauren’s math students have continued to use ratios to solve problems. We’ve practiced several strategies including using ratio tables, equivalent fractions, graphing, tape diagrams and double number lines. Students have learned how to find the unit rate (cost or value for “1”) and applied this skill during our trip to Safeway. Our scavenger hunt and subsequent hot-chocolate-cafe work kids comparing prices, finding the cost ‘per’ item and developing their own problems to solve. Our new unit of study delves into decimals and percentages as units of comparison. To prepare for problem solving, we are reviewing decimal names, reviewing fractions as division problems, and reviewing the relationship between mixed numbers and improper fractions. Students are becoming more familiar with showing their mastery in a testing environment as we practice more frequent quizzes in class, and strive to label, use models that show thinking, and practice accuracy in reading and calculations.
Lynn and Diane’s Math:
Students wrapped up Engage NY module 3, which focuses on addition and subtraction of fractions. We are well into module 4, the first portion of which covers division as sharing, division as fractions, fractional portions of whole quantities, and an exploration around precision and line plots. We have used a variety of modeling techniques in our learning, including rectangular models and tape diagrams to support numeric expressions. Lynn’s students have completed the mid-module assessment, while Diane’s will complete the assessment in the coming days. The latter part of module 4 builds upon the foundational work of the early lessons, covering strategies for multiplying and dividing fractions. Students have also embraced our newly instituted Challenge of the Week (COW), an open-ended problem that allows for some fun and creativity in the solution and write-up. We are thoroughly enjoying our student’s thoughtful work on these challenges!
Peter’s Math Class:
The two groups are finishing up activities concerning two and three-dimensional measurement. One group of students investigated area and perimeter of rectangles, triangles, and parallelograms as well as surface area (and nets) of prisms and pyramids and volume of rectangular prisms. A few students developed strategies for visualizing and finding volumes of three-dimensional objects, including prisms, cylinders, pyramids, cones, and spheres and finding the area and circumference of a circle. Both groups are in the process of finalizing their unit projects that demonstrates their understanding and they will have them ready for spring conferences. Our next unit will involve statistics.
We’re studying chemistry! Q: Why can you never trust atoms? A: They make up everything! Q: Anyone know any jokes about sodium? A: Na. I had to make these bad chemistry jokes because all the good ones Argon. Kids are learning about the invisible world of atoms and molecules, learning to understand the periodic table’s organizational, and about the electron organization that allows atoms to bond. Students have learned about the basic structure of an atom, compounds, mixtures and solutions. Our foundational understanding will allow us to experience hands-on learning for the rest of our chemistry study.
Students continue to delve into their study of ancient China as they independently explore the innovations from this part of the world. Mini research projects will be shared by class to help deepen understanding and analyze the impact many inventions of ancient China have on our world today. If you happen to be in the far hallway, take a look at the work students have been doing around social structure. In ancient China, social structure (outside of the emperor) was organized by contributions to the well-being of society. Students have analyzed a number of professions from our own time and organized them according to wealth and contribution to society.
Students finished their self collages and we are completing Dig the Data from 21Things4Students.com. Students will learn the basics of creating a spreadsheet to plan a party and then move on to advanced skills including charting and formulas.
Estudiantes are in the midst of reading their first novela completely en español. The novela is called Case se Muere (Almost Dead) and the title is more nefarious than the story actually is. Students are reading aloud to work on fluency, translating to develop mastery of grammatical concepts in actions,, discussing text, drawing and acting their way through this eight chapter work. Ask your students about Ana, Pepe, and Jaime and have them recount what they know so far in English as well as Spanish.
Social Emotional Learning:
We have been revisiting some basic behaviors that help students be successful in school including acting with integrity, being honest, fostering classrooms climates that foster learning for all and being kind to each other.