Welcome to our first ⅚ weekly update for the 2017-18 school year! We will update this a couple times a month providing a more detailed look at the “why” behind the “what” we are doing. We hope this will help make the learning we are doing even more meaningful to you as parents and caregivers. Thanks for following along with our learning this year.
Before we left for 100 Elk, each homeroom discussed and defined expanding our comfort zones. Students chose three ways to push out of their comfort zones before heading to 100 Elk and reflected and wrote about that experience. If you have not yet perused the gallery of photos and video from the week, please do. A written reflection on a particular moment that demonstrated growth is coming.
The 40 Book Challenge has begun or soon will in each ⅚ classroom. Students have been challenged to develop themselves as avid readers by working toward a goal of reading 40 books during this school year or a goal of their choosing. Students are reading self-selected books in homerooms over a multitude of genres and accounting for their reading in their reading notebooks and responses. Students are accessing and reading non-fiction in both social studies and science, including reading information on websites. The second week of school, all ⅚ students completed a fall reading diagnostic called iReady. We share the results of these assessments with our students to create meaningful reading goals for the year.
Writers are working toward publishing their first piece: a profile feature story about a classmate which will be turned into a classroom newspaper. Students interviewed a classmate and wrote an article describing two interesting facts about that person. Our lessons have supported working through a writer’s process of planning, writing a rough draft, revising, and editing. Author’s craft work has focused upon organization, using strong leads, and using complex sentences.
Annie’s math class began the year with discussions about Growth Mindset as it applies to mathematical thinking. We discussed the importance of making mistakes, valuing depth over speed, and solving problems creatively. We have been working on finding patterns in our place value system. Other topics include rounding to the nearest 10 and 100, multiplying and dividing by 10, and solving word problems. Students also began number talks in which they solve problems in their heads (mental math) and then share different strategies for solving these familiar problems. Math Reflection Homework has just begun, so please keep an eye out for that.
In Peter’s math class(es), we began investigations (including games) into number theory, including factors, multiples, primes, composites, prime factorization; order of operations, distributive property. Our goals are that students understand relationships among factors, multiples, divisors, and products; classify numbers as prime, composite, even, odd, or square; recognize that factors of a number occur in pairs; recognize situations that call for common factors and situations that call for common multiples; recognize situations that call for the greatest common factor and situations that call for the least common multiple; develop strategies for finding factors and multiples; and develop strategies for finding the least common multiple and the greatest common factor. We are using the Connected Mathematics Project which is a problem-centered curriculum promoting an inquiry-based teaching-learning classroom environment. Mathematical ideas are identified and embedded in a carefully sequenced set of tasks and explored in depth to allow students to develop rich mathematical understandings. A second group is exploring properties of polygons. Through work on tasks that require drawing, building, measuring, and reasoning about the size and shape of polygons, students will learn how to: sort polygons into classes according to the; find relationships of their sides and angles; find angle measures by estimation, by use of tools like protractors and angle rulers, and by reasoning with variables and equations; developing formulas for finding the sum of the interior and exterior angles in any polygon; and identifying the relationships of complementary and supplementary pairs of angles, such as those formed by interior and exterior angles of polygons, and in figures where parallel lines are cut by transversals. Please look for investigation reflections through Seesaw. Also, a class calendar and other resources can be found on the math class website. Our focus during academic lab (with Lynn’s math class) is a combination of math homework support and YouCubed: Week of Inspirational Math.
Rachel’s class began the 6th grade Connected Mathematics Project curriculum with a focus upon factors, multiples, primes and squares. Our investigations include much work around analyzing patterns and documenting thinking as well as writing neatly and accurately. Our 6th grade academic lab work has focused upon the work of Jo Boaler and YouCubed: Week of Inspirational Math. Students have watched videos about how the brain works and what helps us learn math (crossing over from Left to Right hemispheres as well as drawing models). Academic Lab students have a chance to ask questions about homework and then we work on challenge problems to work on mathematical grit and persistence.
Diane’s and Lynn’s classes got together during our first week of math for a fun, collaborative activity called the Great Marshmallow Challenge. Students practiced problem-solving, engaged in teamwork, and got to know one another as mathematicians. We have now settled into our respective groups, but we expect to come together periodically throughout the year for special projects. Formal lessons are underway, using the 5th Grade EngageNY curriculum (Eureka Math). We are now delving into place value, decimal and fraction equivalents, multiplying and dividing by powers of ten, and rounding. A consistent theme of this class is to explain mathematical processes (both pictorially and in words) rather than resorting to “tricks” or “short-cuts” that sidestep the underlying mathematical concepts. You may notice that your child is drawing place value charts, tape diagrams, and vertical number lines to aid them in supporting their thinking. We are already halfway through our first module of study, which means students will take the corresponding Mod-Module Assessment next week. Have your student show you how we use Google Classroom and Infinite Campus (IC)—two online tools that help them stay on top of their work.
Social Studies - Explorations and Revolutions:
Our Social Studies class this year is affectionately called “Explorations and Revolutions”. So far we have looked at what it means to be an explorer of the our local environment, the world, history, science and technology. We have also been reviewing and enhancing our map reading skills, bringing to the forefront of geographic knowledge of physical features, latitude and longitude. We have been making connections between our studies of ancient civilization last year and moving forward into previewing our focus areas of study this year using a variety of timeline activities. Next week, we’ll be moving into our study of Africa during the 1400s - including Ghana and Great Zimbabwe.
Earth Systems Science:
We’ve set up interactive science notebooks to record ideas, information, and to house labs and activities from the classroom. Students practiced using their interactive science notebooks to reflect on their experience using teamwork and scientific thinking to rescue a gummy worm. We launched our learning about Earth’s Spheres with a Digital Breakout that required critical thinking and reading skills. In addition to the Digital Breakout, students have enjoyed a variety of experiences as we’ve continued to study Earth’s Systems and how the four major spheres of the earth are interconnected. Students made connections between Outdoor Ed and the Earth’s Spheres by representing examples of interactions between the Earth’s Spheres at 100 Elk. We visited a local site—our pond —to observe and document connections between the four spheres. Students wrote poetry using observations from the pond and their preexisting knowledge of the Earth’s Spheres. All of the 5/6 students have been posting their science work to Seesaw, so make sure to check out all they have done so far.
In Lynn’s 1A class, continue our review of Conversación Básico (basic conversation), greetings and goodbyes, helpful phases, classroom terms, and the alfabeto español. Students will continue weekly quizzes. These quizzes will help us determine our level of mastery before we move onto our next topics. In the coming week, students will have their first written examen. If your students in Spanish 1A are not singing songs at home yet, please ask them to teach you something. They have quite a dynamic and varied repertoire at this point. Have your student show you how we use Google Classroom and Infinite Campus (IC) - two online tools to help them stay on top of their work.
Students completed their first class with our new Spanish teacher, Jeff Bushnell, this past week. Providing early immersion experiences en español, supported by lots of visuals, actions, videos, and the frequent inclusion of cognates (words in Spanish that are similar to their counterparts in English), the students began to see in a first hand way that they can indeed understand this new language with limited background knowledge. They jumped right with speaking, singing, drawing and dancing as they began to build community and get to know Jeff and one another better within this new context.. With the realization they can understand and with ongoing encouragement, their confidence will continue to grow along with their comfort in having-a-go with increasingly complex language structures.
Students have completed a collage self-portrait involving a layered paint background, photo and magazine collage elements representing who they are at this point in their lives. Look for these in the hallways and on SeeSaw along with some student reflection on what their pieces are communicating about their present state of being. Our next art project is "The eyes are windows to the soul" and also certainly reflect what’s alive in each of us. Over the next two weeks, students create another kind of self-portrait of their own eyes. They will be working with Kara on the artistic skills of observation, scale, perspective, color mixing and theory. Our eyes will be watching you soon as we apply finishing touches in the coming month.
Students have started Physical Education this year and have thoroughly impressed Bry (PE Teacher) with their enthusiasm for the subject matter and willingness to try new activities. We began the school year leading up to Outdoor Education with various Problem Solving, Trust Building, Cooperative Game Play, and Getting to Know You games. We coupled these topics with beginning fitness concepts as well and have implemented a “Warm-Up/Workout of the Day,” which consists of various cardiovascular exercises and strength training exercises. We have briefly discussed heart rate and the target heart rate zone for exercising. Post Outdoor Education, we have transitioned to a unit of Playground Games and Object Control Games. Students are working together on teams, learning about sportsmanship, and learning how to accept the outcome of the game, as well as their social responsibility within the game. Additionally, the long-awaited Bouldering Wall is now mostly complete in the gym, and students will begin climbing in the coming weeks.
All 5-6th grade classes have been working with Carol in the computer lab on a variety of topics since the school year began. Students have (re)acquainted themselves with Google email and drive so files can be used efficiently and effectively. We have taken a typing skills assessment to determine how our finger placement development, speed, and typing accuracy is coming along. We are also focusing on what makes a digital footprint, the impact of our digital presence, and conducting ourselves with integrity when online. In the next few weeks, students will communicate with online pen pals while learning about fact and opinion articles, reliable news sources, and fake news. The project is run through PenPal Schools, which connects students in 144 countries to learn together. PenPals collaborate through free high-quality online projects to learn about cultures and global challenges while practicing language and technology skills. Weekly lessons can be completed at any time from any device.
The 5th-8th grade PeaceJam Club has begun meeting during lunches on Tuesdays in Lynn’s room. PeaceJam is an international organization that has its roots in Denver and Horizons has had a chapter for over 10 years. It works to bring the the lessons of Nobel Peace Prize winners to young people through student developed service projects, curricular lessons and leadership conferences - one in the fall called a “Slam” and a weekend long conference in the spring called a “Jam”. Both of these conferences will have a number of Horizons students representing our school and service work to make the world a better place. Our PeaceJammers took on their first service project this past week by educating the Horizons community on the International Day of Peace. They have created an interactive bulletin board i the front hallway by the cafeteria on which everyone is welcome to place their own commitment to a personal action that bring more peace into the world.
Getting organized as ⅚ students:
As shared during Back to School Night, there are a number of avenues through which we work with 5/6th grade students to help them with their organization. The paper spiral planner holds all assignments given and the due dates; Google Classroom is used to hold resource materials like hyperlinks, videos, scan or actual documents students might have missed if they were absent or in need of additional practice with a concept; Infinite Campus (IC) for ⅚ holds a database of their class assignments and sometimes in-class assessment scores to help students develop their skills of accountability; and SeeSaw is being used as place to electronically store some pieces of student work and reflection that can later be part of a wider portfolio of demonstrated student learning between school and home. If you have not yet seen these tools in action, we encourage you to check in with your child specific to demonstrate. As always, if you need assistance, please contact your child’s homeroom teacher.