Our recent writing focus at ⅚ has been around expository (or informational) writing. We have reviewed the elements of strong and interesting writing - using a variety of topic sentence strategies; introducing new ideas by using transitional sentences/expressions; making sure we have enough details to support each idea so our thoughts are communicated as thoroughly as possible; and concluding in a way that challenges both writer and reader to next steps or “calls to action”. Some students have been mastering the “stand alone” single paragraph and others have been working on building those paragraphs into longer essays. The content or topic of this writing practice has been around a deeper reflection on student Well-Being Progressions.
Our reading work for the next number of weeks will be 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 will be used and in Peter’s class Gareth Hinds’ graphic novel version of The Odyssey will be 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 have been learning how to express and use ratios to compare values and solve problems. They are using the skills and strategies that they learned earlier this year, applying knowledge of common factors, primes and multiples. This week we have been concentrating on modeling ratios to solve complex problems. Using visuals helps students decipher the steps necessary to solve problems.
Following break, our class reviewed multiplication strategies. It is clear that some students do not have fluency with multiplication facts. Practicing with flashcards daily would greatly improve their ability to solve multi-digit multiplication problems. We have practiced flashcards in the classroom and additional practice at home would really help. So far, we have utilized the array model and partial product as strategies for solving multi-digit multiplication problems. In addition, we began exploring the shifting patterns when multiplying by 10, 100, and 1,000 and 0.1, 0.01, and 0.001. Our math journey will continue with multiplication of decimals and eventually move towards division of multidigit numbers and decimals.
Lynn and Diane’s Classes:
Since returning from Winter Break, students have been studying addition and subtraction of fractions (Module 3 in the EngageNY curriculum). We use number lines to visualize fractions and fraction operations. We also use rectangular models to aid in finding equivalent fractions with like units to facilitate the arithmetic. This provides students with a concrete understanding of equivalence. Students demonstrated their understanding on the mid-module assessment by completing an extended contextual problem that challenged them to apply much of their modeling and reasoning skills. Students are working on an extension project involving adjusting a recipe and supporting their thinking in a more formal creative presentation (including pamphlets, reports, powerpoint presentations, songs, poems, etc.).
Recently, both groups have completed units of study. One group investigated visual and conceptual representations (as well as understanding the algorithms) of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with fractions while the other group explored ratios, unit rate, rate tables, constant of proportionality, solving proportions,markups, discounts, commission, and measurement, conversion. For the next few weeks, both groups will study two and/or three dimensional measurement.
Due to rotations, our time in science has been limited since winter break. Students are very excited for our unit on Chemistry. We began with building background knowledge on states of matter and ways matter changes states. Our unit will progress to looking at mixtures, solutions, and compounds in order to segue into studying molecules, atoms, parts of atoms and the periodic table. Students are experiencing the material in a variety of ways. Hyperdocs, experiments, ooey-gooey labs, readings, at-home assignments, in class group work, and self-paced learning.
Due to rotations, our time in social studies has also been limited since winter break. Our exploration of the factors that lead to the rise and fall of civilizations continue as we work our way into our case study of Ancient China. We have studied the relationship between China’s unique and varied geography and the longevity of this civilization through our own map work and critical reading. We are watching the Time Life film Ancient China: Dynasties of Power and are applying our GRAPES model of analysis to this case study. In the weeks ahead, we will explore more deeply the role of social structure and philosophy in Ancient China and influences on present day China.
Español 1A with Lynn:
In January, students finished their first formal oral assessment - a weather forecast entirely en español. Students infused their research and knowledge of a Spanish speaking locale with grammar/vocabulary lessons including weather, clothing, numbers, days of the week and things to do as they worked on fluency of delivery and presentation of their forecasts. We are now moving into basic present tense verb conjugations. Coming soon students will be reading and processing Casi se Muere by Blaine Ray - our first novela completely en español - to put new skills to work.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL):
Students have been reflecting on their Well-Being Progressions through our writing focus work. They have been challenging themselves to identify examples to support their present self-reflection as well as looking at ways they can move forward with goal setting for future growth this spring.
Students are beginning a “Selfie Photo Collage” project. As part of this project, students will learn about creative commons license, how to find copyright free images, and how to edit photos using online photo editors, like pixabay.com or photoflexer.com. Students are also discussing cyberbullying scenarios and learning how to be upstanders rather than bystanders.
Recent art classes have been scheduled to allow for a 2-hour “block” of concentrated studio time on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Each homeroom will have 8 hours of study during this time with Kara focusing on the the use of clay and symbols in ancient civilizations. Presently Lynn’s and Rachel’s classes have been working with Kara and beginning February 14th, Lauren’s and Peter’s homerooms will complete the course of study. Students are studying a number of techniques including clay figurine work in the style of ancient Babylonian votive statues and copper tooling techniques replicating some of the work found on bas relief carvings from Ancient Mesopotamia. As we move into March, students will be using knowledge gained from this study to illustrate, in clay, a hero’s journey story they will write in LA class.