Students will be engaged in four art, music, and movement “Rotations” between now and Spring Break during Arts and Sciences time and the first two hours of Friday mornings. All students will have the opportunity to work with Kara on a pottery project that ties in with their social studies focus - how clay has been used in ancient civilizations. All students will also be learning to play marimbas! For the other two rotations, students will either be engaged in Circus Arts or Keyboards during the first two sessions followed by either Choir or Tech Lab for the final two rotations. By the end of the year, all students will have had a skill-based experience in art, music, and movement. We were able to hire experts to teach each of these classes using the money generously donated by Council. Thanks!
All classes have begun a new read aloud novel, Liar and Spy, by Rebecca Stead. Throughout this well-written shared reading, we’ll be working to understand characterization and some literary devices that reveal character traits, building vocabulary and revisiting plotline.
Before break all students created a ‘gift of writing’ expressing gratitude and appreciation for someone special in their lives. We encouraged students to use some writing craft that they’ve learned this year, but mostly to write from the heart, and consider presentation.
Readers continue to work toward the 40-book challenge and expand their repertoire of genres by reading independently selected books. Consistent reading at home for an average of 30 minutes each day will support this development. In January we will look at comprehension strategies and literary analysis via book groups in our academic labs.
In December, Jim’s and Lauren’s classes studied circuitry with Lauren and simple machines and chemistry with Jim. In circuitry, students learned about atomic activity and energy, built simple, parallel, and series circuits with bulbs, motors, batteries and more. Students created art with mini LED lights and copper tape, and had fun lighting LEDs and running motors with conductive and insulating play dough. In our simple machines unit, we looked at forces, and how moving application of forces and loads can change how much force is needed to lift or move a load. In chemistry, we investigated acids and bases, created solids and gases through double-replacement reactions of clear liquids, and actually made things explode (in a small controlled manner) when studying the properties of elements.
On January 12th, students in Peter’s and Lynn’s homerooms will begin studying science with Lauren and Jim.
In Lynn’s 5th grade math class we have been exploring estimation and rounding factors, interpreting numerical expressions and comparing using more visual models. We also have been working on multiplication of two and three digit whole numbers and decimals using a variety of visual models and techniques to double check our work. Now that we have returned from break, are expanding our understanding of division as well through visuals models and developing a deeper understanding of the algorithms we have been using.
Lauren’s fifth grade math class has been delving into the world of multiplication: making concrete and pictorial models for multiplication including tile arrays and rectangular arrays, practicing math facts with partners, learning ‘tricks’ to recall facts quickly, playing games and solving word problems, including beginning to restate brain teasers to understand the problem and discern strategies. Students are working on having a keen understanding of what it means to multiply before mastering the algorithm.
In Peter’s, Jim’s, and Alison’s, 6th grade math class, we have investigated positive and negative numbers on a number line, opposites, absolute value, and coordinate graphing, as well as the identity property. Some groups are exploring algebraic expressions and equations, order of operations, percentages, and exponents while others are planning to cover this material in January.
Since our last update, social studies classes have been busy with our final case study of ancient civilizations - the Indus River Valley. Our students have become quite efficient at analyzing using the GRAPES model and we moved quickly through this study. We had a written assessment on both ancient China and the Indus River Valley. Over the last two weeks, students worked in small groups to create their own “Perfect Civilization” applying all that we have learned over our semester study of civilization. Using the GRAPES model as their own template, they thoughtfully decided and the created drawings, writings, and artifacts to share in a museum-style format. Presentations occurred this past Thursday and each group was assessed by fellow students as to their ability to survive/thrive or fall based on the information presented. As we processed with both Peter and Lynn’s classes the “big learning” gained in this semester-long study, we were pleased to see that so many of our students really have a firm understanding of the reasons some civilizations rise and thrive and others are more vulnerable to collapse.
On January 12th we look forward to taking Jim and Lauren’s classes on this same journey through the second half of the school year.
In both Spanish 1A classes, we wrapped up our semester study with an assessment before heading into break. In Lynn’s Spanish class we have learned and solidified our learning of time, numbers, parts of the body and clothing. We have begun looking at the specifics of conjugating verbs - something most of us take for granted in our primary language. This week we continued working with the present tense word verb forms and the formation and practice of questions in Spanish. As we look ahead into the next week, we will begin reading our first novela en español.
Thank you for helping your children practice their Spanish over the two week winter break. Students shared how they traveled, visited restaurants, listened to Spanish language radio stations, changed the language settings on favorite movies to Spanish, or spoke to family members (including pets) in Spanish over the break. At this point in language acquisition, two weeks can be a long time to not be exposed to a language. We tried not to give “homework” (other than completing any missed/incomplete work) but had asked our students to do something meaningful and fun with Spanish over the break. Thanks for indulging them as they try to keep that Spanish language practice happening in authentic ways.
We are very excited to meet Leticia Solari, our new Spanish K-6th grade teacher in January! She will be teaching the Spanish exposure class that will occur one day a week opposite our 5-6 Academic Lab classes. She will spend the first couple of weeks in January getting to know Horizons and will begin teaching formal classes K-6 the 3rd week of January.
Social Emotional Learning
This month we are continuing our work in developing classroom agreements and exploring stress and ways we can calm ourselves. Some of the methods we introduced or will introduce the children to is deep abdominal breathing and body scans.
In January, we will begin our investigation into self. The purpose of this unit is to help students during this transitional period of their lives and get to know themselves and others, who are sharing this experience with them, at a deeper level. We will draw from activities from the Passageworks Institute. A starting point will be for each child to identify his or her strengths through self assessments and two surveys: the Via survey and another about learning modalities/multiple intelligences.