In language arts we continue our study of parts of speech - nouns and verbs, helping our students understand how every word in a sentence holds an important function. We have all been working on bringing some poetry to final publication. Jim’s class is working on writing fiction for National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). Lauren’s class has worked on writing a powerful thesis statement for responses to literature, and buddied with Katie’s 7-8 class to write poetry that involves simple and complex sentence structure. Lynn’s and Peter’s classes have begun a study of porquoi stories that explain why or how something in the natural world occurs. This is a natural tie-in to our social studies work on ancient civilizations. We have all responded in writing to our first read aloud Seedfolks and look forward to beginning our second read aloud after the Thanksgiving break.
We have lift-off! Our hot air balloon launch was a success! Our classes reviewed science concepts related to buoyancy and took a quiz. Dave Abbott, scientist and former Horizons teacher, brought his Science Discovery equipment and shared many different ways to create light! Ask your child about it.
Jim’s class has been continuing the study of Newton’s Laws of Motion and simple machines. We have been engaged in experiments with inclined planes, first, second, and third class levers, and sending carts crashing into blocks with differing masses. Some future safety engineers and mechanical engineers are in our midst! In Lauren’s class, we have been studying light including how light is created and how it is perceived (including dissecting cow eyes) and how static and circuit electricity is created and used. Ask your child about creating paper circuits to light LEDs! For the next two weeks or so, Lauren and Jim will switch science classes, so Lauren will teach science to Jim’s homeroom and Jim will teach Lauren’s. For the last two weeks of science, we will be studying chemistry!
In sixth grade math, Jim’s, Alison’s, and Peter’s classes we are continuing our work with rational numbers. Our focus of late has been on how fractions, decimals, and percents relate to one another and using those ideas to solve percent-based word problems. We also continued our work on understanding the thought behind and algorithms used to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions. What does it mean when we divide fractions anyway?
In Lynn’s fifth grade math class, we have completed our first module assessment this week. We moved into our module 2 on mental strategies for multi-digit whole number multiplication. In the weeks to come we will be exploring estimation and rounding factors, interpreting numerical expressions and comparing using more visual models.
Lauren’s fifth grade math class has been working on word problems involving addition, subtraction and the “hidden” language of math (dozens, hours/minutes, feet/yards), as well as puzzles that involve math reasoning and communication. Students have been working on solving problems involving money, the relationship of money to our base ten system and counting Unicef donations!
In Lynn’s Spanish class we have been working with time, numbers, days of the week, months of the year and all things regarding the calendar. We also have been working on studying weather related vocabulary and expressions. In conversational pairs we will have weather forecasts next Tuesday and Wednesday completely in Spanish (and in costume or using props)! In the weeks to come, we will begin exploring standard present tense verb conjugations as we begin reading our first novela in Spanish together. On a side note, since there are so many internet links we use on a daily basis (tutorials, practice and games), I have been sending the links to students via an email instead of posting all of them to my website.
Our exploration of the factors that lead to the rise and fall of civilizations continue as we work our way into 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 watched the Timelife film Ancient China: Dynasties of Power and applied our GRAPES model of analysis to this case study. On December 5th, Peter’s and Lynn’s classes will be going down to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to participate in learning activities connected to the Traveling the Silk Road Exhibit. We are excited to spend part of a day digging deeper into this topic with our students. This field trip will be repeated in February for Jim’s and Lauren’s classes. In the weeks to come, we will be looking at the ancient civilizations in the Indus River Valley.
We are at different stages of our social emotional curriculum--some of us are finishing up classroom agreements, others are analyzing data from the student stress survey, while some homerooms held councils on respectful listening. In upcoming Fridays, we will be looking at the ways in which we respectfully communicate (listening and speaking) and what to do when things go awry. In other councils, students were asked to reflect on a time within the past few days when he/she felt very upset or stressed.
Where were you? Who were you with? What was happening. More importantly was the question, how did you feel (in your body) when you were stressed?” Some of the responses included: jumpy, a tight feeling, crying, extremely tired, wanting to punch something, tense muscles, etc. We also spent some time discussing that stress is not stress until we experience it in our bodies. It’s not the people, events, or places that cause stress that are stress. Finally we talked about some situations that might set off an automatic response when we are stressed--fight, flight, and freeze.
In the weeks to follow, we will delve deeper into becoming mindful of stress in our bodies through the use of biodots and increased awareness. We will also learn that we can change how we react to stress and gain a little more control over our emotions through abdominal breathing.
Sport (volleyball) and Math Design Rotations:
We began our first series of rotations with Lynn’s class learning volleyball skills and Peter’s class working with Alison in creating Polyhedronville. Enrico Lucon, a local volleyball coach, taught important serving, passing, hitting skills to an excited and eager group of students. Meanwhile, Alison reviewed three dimensional geometric solids, scale, measurement, and the concept of positive and negative space. In the past few sessions they have started design their spaces based on certain conditions: a university, farm, city facing a refugee crisis, and a city dealing with a water crisis. Look for their designs in upcoming weeks.