Sunday, November 27, 2016

Week of November 28 - December 2

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to a full week of school this coming week.  We have an exciting week ahead with our Artist-in-Residence Steve Ferraris drumming with our students.  Our light unit will be on hold for one week to fit this program in.

I am currently taking a literacy course along with all my elementary colleagues and have come across two new resources that I plan to integrate into our literacy program to augment spelling skills.  We will still be using WordlyWise daily, but I will incorporate individual spelling work with all students as well.  More details to come...

It's hard to believe December begins at the end of this week.  I will begin to ask students to write out their Secret Pal messages this week and will have them work on them over the next two weeks, so they are all done and passed in to me by December 16.  This way they won't have to rush and can give meaningful thought to the messages they wish to relay.

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Week of November 21

We continue to read about intriguing animals, exciting places, and amazing events around the world in our Leveled Literacy program.  Students are very excited to receive new books each week to delve into another fascinating topic.  I am as excited as they are; learning about how engineers created "gecko tape" based on close observations of gecko's  feet and their abilities to scale walls,  ice sculptures in Sapporo, Japan to honor cultures around the world and raise awareness of global concerns, as well as taking a closer look at the origin of root words and investigating how words are related, yet change with different prefixes and suffixes.

Last week I attended a workshop with a focus on computer science.  During the week of December 5-11 there is a national initiative to raise students' awareness and interest in computer coding/programming called "The Hour of Code."  It was a fascinating class and I went home and further investigated coding apps for my iPad/iPhone.  I introduced these apps and programs to the students on Thursday and they were totally engaged and interested in solving the challenges set before them. The wonderful aspect of learning computer code is the ability to problem solve.  You can be wrong, but there is no judgement, you just try something else to see if you can make the program run correctly.  Students are also collaborating and sharing ideas with one another in how to succeed.  Computer coding will most likely be a necessary skill in many of our students work lives in the future, doing jobs that haven't even been created yet.  I have added a couple of links in the resource folder if you are interested in viewing or even trying to code yourself. During the Hour of Code week, we will spend more time in the classroom working together running programs and coding.  If your child is interested in having coding programs on their device, go to the app store and type in "code or coding" in the search bar.

We began our light unit and one of the first misconceptions we were faced with was the ability to see in the dark.  We went into a pitch black space and I pulled mystery items out of a bag.  All students thought that if they let their eyes adjust to the dark, they would be able to see the objects even though comments like, "I can't even see my hand that's right in front of my face!" were being made. We also tested items to see if they were transparent, translucent, or opaque.  During the week of November 28 we will be looking into how light behaves and what happens to the light when it hits different objects; is it reflected, absorbed, or refracted or some combination of those? We will not have time in our schedule for science during this upcoming short week.

I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Week of November 7

Life got a little crazy last week and I was unable to spend time on this blog with an ailing parent and 7 hours in an emergency room.  Please know my first commitment is to be prepared for the classroom and teaching, so I will try my best to keep this blog updated on a weekly basis, but it may take the "back seat" when needed.

This coming week is a four day week with Friday off for Veteran's Day. I also have a professional development day on Wednesday from 9-3 and the fourth graders will have a substitute.  I dislike being out of the classroom and try very hard to be here on a daily basis.  At this point in time, I am not sure who the substitute is, but will let students know as soon as I know.  I would greatly appreciate parental support in reminding your child that a substitute is a guest in our school and it is the student's job to be as courteous and well behaved by following the directions they are given.

We have begun our science unit on light.  This unit is both filled with science concepts and engineering tasks.  We worked on our first engineering task last week where students had to build a square or rectangular boat (so they could determine the volume) that would hold at least 25 pennies, but sink by the time 30 pennies were added. Students learned about the engineering process and quickly understood that redesigning and recreating prototypes are a huge part of the engineering process.  This next week we will be delving into science probes and testing what we think we know about light.  An experiment in the dark will be occurring. (More about this later, as I do not want to spoil the outcome.)

Thank you to families who are helping their children learn their times tables.  Many students are progressing nicely and have put mastery stars on their chart for specific times tables.  Those students who are motivated are putting in the effort and it shows!

Here are some pics of students working on their boat designs and tests:

I can't seem to get the pictures to sit where I want them, so sorry for the layout.  (Sometimes technology is too much fun!) Looking forward to a great week ahead.