Monday, December 17, 2012

Hello again!

The blog is back after a November hiatus...

Here is what we've been working on in room 303:

Language Arts - We have been working on a number of reading comprehension skills in Language Arts class.  One day, students listened carefully to the words read aloud in the children's folktale, The Emperor and the Nightingale, by Fiona Waters and Paul Birkbeck.  Students drew pictures based on what they heard and visualized in their heads.  Then they compared their pictures to those of the illustrator to monitor their own understanding of the details of the story.

"Close your eyes.  Listen carefully.  Ok, now draw what you heard."
          We have also been choosing characters from our book group novels for a final project.  The idea for this project was to really focus on the character development in the story.  Students made a model out of clay and listed four character traits that described how the character looked, behaved or thought in the story.  Students even spent time looking back in their books to find actual "proof" from the text for each trait they listed.

Writing - In writing we spent a great deal of time producing finished books for the animal research projects.  They are now bound and published, complete with title pages, tables of contents, pictures, captions and even a few indexes (indices?) and glossaries!

     We have also selected other stories from our writing journals to revise, edit and publish.  Recently, we worked on adding details to good sentences in order to make them great!  For example, students were shown the sentence "I walked to the tree."  With some coaching and encouragement, our class eventually changed that sentence to "I walked happily to the huge maple tree."  "He went home." changed to "He drove to a big brick house in a hot rod."  We decided that these new sentences gave the reader a better picture to visualize in their head!

Social Studies - During Social Studies, students have been learning all about the European explorers who discovered North America in the 15th/16th centuries.  We discussed the history of human settlement of the "New World" (North and South America) dating back to a land bridge over what is now the Bering Strait between Alaska and eastern Russia.  We studied the reasons European explorers chose to explore new, uncharted territories (e.g. "They wanted to find a faster route to Asia so they could trade for things like silk and spices.").  Students also chose one explorer to become an expert on (Christopher Columbus, Juan Ponce de Leon, Jacques Cartier or Christopher Newport) and completed a project of their own choosing (a poster, a map, a journal or a letter to the king/queen).  Projects will go home this week.

     This week we will be creating civilizations in room 303!  Based on the book, Weslandia, by Paul Flieschman, students will be tasked with creating their own imaginary group of people based around a staple food crop, a common language, similar clothing/shelter/food/music/games, etc.  Here's a video of the story for your home-viewing entertainment:

Math - We recently finished up our unit on addition and subtraction of large numbers (up to 4 digits).  Quizzes went home to be signed and returned, thanks for your support at home!  I'm allowing students to make corrections to any missed questions for 1/2 credit.

     We are also working with money in Math.  Aside from learning how to read and write different amounts of money, students have been working on adding, subtracting and making change using prices from various restaurant menus!  By the end of one lesson, we were even discussing how much tax would be added on to a bill of $2.60, and consequently, how much change would one receive if they paid with $15.00?  (and even... "Why would you pay with $15.00 if the total is only $2.60?").

"Hmm...what to order?"
 Parents, don't forget:

*Math Midyear Test happens this Wednesday, December 19th!

*Grandparent/VIP Day happens this Thursday, December 20th!

*Class Winter Party happens this Friday, December 21st!

Please feel free to call or email with any questions concerns.  Thanks for reading!


Mr. B