October 11th - 14th
The highlight of the week for both me and the students was the trip to the local park on Thursday. The morning was delightful, the students were great in the way they worked and played, no-one ended up in the river, the weather was delightful and the students all wrote lots. I haven't read any of it yet, but the students seemed enthusiastic. Once again, we had a giant list of 'expanded vocabulary' words available. Each student had written them down in advance of the walk into their classwork books so that they would have access to these words as they wrote at the park. These words included words like exquisite, gorgeous, splendid, marvelous, spectacular, pulchritudinous, sublime, resplendent and beautiful! Let's hope that describes their writing, too.
The second major highlight was the outbreak of reading frenzy that started last week. We really did a LOT of reading in class last week and, boy, what a difference that made to the atmosphere of the class. After recess, we have a reading time. We're reading when we finish early, before the meeting in the morning and whenever there is any five-minute window. The students are loving it, I'm loving it, and it's really making a profound difference to the atmosphere and to the whole group.
The Perfect World presentations were completed on Monday. The resulting presentations were of mixed quality. There have been many gains, including having the majority of students able to use PowerPoint and related software to design imaginative and creative presentations. The weak spot was the scripting of the content and the dramatic aspect of the presentations. Basically, for the majority of the students they had never done this sort of work before. They were starting at absolute zero! As a result, even though they didn't climb 'all the way' this time, they made enough progress for a first try. The next presentations will be even better!
The students completed the Unit Two assessment in Math (two students still have to finish this work). You'll be receiving the results of these assessments on Monday.
The Science Lessons went quite well: we've moving from the 'play phase' into the 'record keeping phase' relatively smoothly. Most of the students have completed all the required record-keeping to return their first prototype vehicles to the testing ramp. They are ready to begin their first sequence of tests to determine which design concepts are best for their individual vehicles. Independent and dependent variables have not yet been defined, but they are already being practised!
The Journeys Language lessons were broadly successful. The lessons on identifying 'theme' were challenging for the students. I scaffolded the students towards understanding that the primary theme of the Chapter we had studied was 'bullying'. We will be working on how to find evidence from texts to back-up opinions in the coming weeks.
The students did not get much of their freeform poetry into the computers. They're going to be given more time for this work this week. Please note: when you eventually read this work, the focus here was improving creativity in the student's writing, on making expanded vocabulary choices and writing imaginative descriptions - not so much on the technical aspects of proofreading for errors.
Having said that, we will also begin our work on the technical aspect of writing this week: all the students will have to set up their individual spelling dictionaries and will be importing their first spelling lists into those dictionaries. I will be teaching the students a powerful spelling strategy: 'Look, Cover, Remember, Write, Check'. The students will be also testing each other on their spelling words.
This week, we will be starting a new project on the subject of 'Space', detailed below. We will be closing in on the dramatic Invention Challenge 1 tournament!
We're going to read as much and as often as we possibly can...
As part of the whole-school philosophy, each class begins most days with a thirty-minute long class meeting.
The meeting is structured into four phases:
Message - topic of the day, often with academic angle. This week, we're back to Math practice.
Activities - short, fun community enhancing activities
This week's activities may include the game Zoom, a Math game called Pico-Ferme-Nada and the popular game, Museum. We are going to try a game introduced by Coral called Mafia!
We will sing our small collection of classics this week: Radioactive, Eleanor Rigby and Stand by me.
We are going to continue reading The Eyes of Kid Midas, written by award winning author Neal Shusterman, (www.storyman.com) using this story as a launch pad for various Journey's based lessons.
I will be reading chapters of the book to the students. The students will be rereading the chapters themselves then taking part in various activities including topical discussions, Reader's Theater and analysis of the text:
The Journeys focus lesson this week is on theme in stories.
Students will discuss what are the main themes the writer is exploring in the novel so far. We will be looking more deeply into Chapter 3, again, for this discussion.
We will also review and discuss the previous lessons:
- Students will list the main events of Chapter 2 of the book.
- Character problems and resolutions - using T charts
- Compare and contrast main characters - using Venn diagrams
The students will highlight sections of Chapter 3 for their second reader's theater experience.
One focus this week will be work on typing, editing and proofreading selected rough draft poems and descriptions to be included on the upcoming Writing Workshop web pages launch.
The students will be asked to retell two stories from the world of science - Edwin Hubble's discoveries and the tale of the Bell laboratories in 1965. They will be asked to try to connect these two stories to the question of how the Universe began.
Typing, editing and proofreading selected rough draft poems and descriptions.
Constructing a list of questions the students want to answer about the subject of 'space'.
Type, proofread and edit with partner favorite free-form poems.
plan Reader's Theater section from Chapter three of Eyes of Kid Midas.
Thursday:The students will be asked to retell two stories from the world of science - Edwin Hubble's discoveries and the tale of the Bell laboratories in 1965. They will be asked to try to connect these two stories to the question of how the Universe began.
Friday:Discuss and explore gravity. Design a creature that would be functional in a high and in a low gravity environment.
We completed unit two last week in Math.
The assessment at the end of the unit has brought up some interesting topics for discussion that will absorb much of Tuesday's lesson, I suspect, based on how the students did in the assessment.
The lessons for this week look like this:
Return assessment and review.
(Homework: Review assessment)
Lesson 3.1 - The properties of multiplication are used to simplify computation and to verify mental math and paper and pencil algorithms.
Lesson 3.2 - Using mental math to multiply
Math problem solving, games and puzzles.
(No Math homework)
There will be daily practice worksheets Monday - Thursday for Math homework.
Each worksheet will be due to be handed in the following day.
The worksheet number will be posted in the Assignment book each day as well as here in the Math section.
These projects are all adapted from 101 Mathematical Projects, by Brian Bolt and David Hobbs.
Choose from these or invent your own. I'll be adding more and more to this collection...
Some fiendishly tricky math puzzles for you.
Can you solve any of them?
Space - the infinite frontier!!
This week, we will construct a list of all the questions the students want to answer about the subject.
We will be developing our understanding of the creation of the Universe and the nature of gravity through whole-class lessons.
We will be completing activities after the whole-class explorations.
Over the next few weeks we will make our way through this project.
We will complete a primer on the basic structure of matter and the four fundamental forces.
Survival on the moon - using a NASA activity we will discover how many of the students have what it takes to become an astronaut!
What is gravity? - Einstein's famous gravity demonstration! Plus, Jovian and Pluvian - artwork based on plausible, if rather fictional, gravity-distorted potential life forms!
How did the Universe begin? - ideas and two stories that provide evidence: Red shift, the 'mysterious' four degrees, Edwin Hubble, and the Bell laboratories!
How big is the Universe? - watching sections from 'The Expanding Universe', a PBS documentary.
Reading, 'The Universe', by Seymour Simon - reading, researching for answers to topical questions.
What are Stars? - gravity versus energy dance!
The 'Life Cycle' of Stars: How Stars are 'born', how they 'live' and how they 'die'! Nebulas, neutron stars, pulsars, black holes and more!
How far apart are the planets from each other? - using a NASA exercise, the students will get an idea about the relative distances of the planets from one another.
The moon and its phases - understanding and diagramming the phases of the moon.
Human exploration: investigating the Mars explorers.
Mars special focus:
Make a Mars Explorer from unusual building materials.
Explore Mars soil sampling using unusual materials!
The students will work together on developing their understanding of the Planets through a group project that may culminate in a 'Space Convention' - an alternative Science fair!
The Class project has the following components:
Make a 'robot explorer' for a selected planet using Knex/ Lego.
Create a Weebly webpage about a selected Planets.
Make a PowerPoint/drama about selected planets. Entertain us by explaining why we should feel great about visiting their planet. Include the following information:
Distance from the sun
Revolution in earth days
Conditions - temperature, other climate information
History of human exploration
Other topics to briefly introduce include:
What are Dark Matter and Dark Energy?
Exploring the current most important topics in astronomy. Exoplanets? Aliens? It's all here...
Here's a page of excellent links for the Space project.
The first challenge is to design and build a wheeled device, using K'Nex, that rolls furthest from the top of a ramp.
We begin our first science unit on the subject of Simple Machines by taking part in this first of several Invention Challenges.
Designs are entered into a Ramp Run Challenge competition.
enter their vehicle into the competition. Design
team-ups are mandated.
We investigate: What are the main problems each design faces?
Students generate testable hypotheses, identify independent variables, control dependent variables, conduct tests, improve designs, keep records of results.
It's a great way to
introduce the students to the essence of Science in a format they all
In the final competition, we award Gold, Silver, Bronze, as well as Most Original, Most Unlucky, and Most Artistic awards!
Students will be:
- Writing about vehicles - prepare for web-publish
- Take photo of vehicle
Continue testing vehicles. Keep records in a chart of distances achieved.
- Wheel size
Homework will be continuing on this Friday, October 14th.
Students will usually receive their project homework jobs for the whole week each Friday.
Look for it in the student's backpack.
The students have included a plan in their assignment book for when they intend to complete each job. Please review this plan with your child and advise them on the practicality of their plan and make adjustments accordingly!
I will be doing a detailed introduction to the next project in school on Friday.
Each project will be up on the 'Homework' page here at the site each Friday evening.
See you back here next week!
This is the route to the 'Specialist Class' page.
This page is for the students and parents of Ms. O'Donnell to find out about what happens during the Science class!