The classroom has been filled with activity, cooperation, learning and laughter these past few weeks. Together we are forming a wonderful, caring community. Thanks to the many families who have help set up, clean, organize the cleaning, snack, Community Table calendar, and attend Back-to-School Night.
100 Elk Trip
On Monday, we will let the children know about their cabin and activity groups for the trip. Teachers form cabin and activity groups with the goal of mixing groups of children and fostering new relationships. One goal of our trip is to have kids make connections within their grade levels, both within their classroom communities and outside of their classroom communities, as well as stepping outside their comfort zone in a safe manner. Children have daily free time to spend together and can choose to sit with any friends during meals. Please label every item packed and remember to pack a snack and lunch on Tuesday. Another copy of the revised packing list is attached.
We’ve spent much time building community including playing games inside and outside with other fourth and fifth grade classes, with our first grade buddies, and with just our class. Our class is buddies with Wendy’s 1st grade class and they’ve drawn Venn diagrams about their interests, played math games and read books together.
We spent the first week envisioning what we want our classroom to look like and feel like; how we want to be treated, and how would we like to treat others; what we each are willing to do to help make this classroom a wonderful place to be. Through individual brainstorming and group work, the class though a collaborative process and used a consensus model to finalize our classroom agreements.
Cece spoke with our class this morning about participating in the design process to develop the space that Horizons shares with the neighborhood. We will partner with Growing Up Boulder, BVSD, CU Environmental Science, City of Boulder, and BioHabitats. The kids showed so much excitement and contributed many ideas in this initial meeting. More details to follow.
Today, as part of our welcoming ceremony, each fifth grader presented a sunflower and read a small passage they wrote to each of the fourth graders letting them know what they appreciate about him/her and what they wish for him/her this year.
Most of our read-alouds have been part of mini lessons during writer’s workshop. We’ve read Owl Moon by and Wings by and used them as mentor texts to appreciate how each author began their stories (leads) as well as how the mood changes in each book. This week we read excerpts from Appalachia by Cynthia Rylant and Mexican Movies by Sandra Cisneros to examine the many ways each authors describes the sense of place. For more information about the writer’s workshop approach go to:
As an introduction to space science, we read at least six creation stories and chose words that help students visualize what they read. The students’ watercolor creations are displayed in the classroom. They used many of the techniques they learned from Kara.
Beginning next week we will read Wonder by RJ Palacio as our class read aloud. This story follows a ten-year old boy with a facial deformity who enters a mainstream school for the first time. He wants nothing more than to be treated like a “normal” kid.
Throughout the year, I want to encourage the love of reading in school and at home. So many children in the class already share this passion and are reading everyday. If you can still manage a read aloud, I encourage it. It provides a great opportunity to build vocabulary, model fluency and inflection, discuss theme, and best of all, precious time together.
As many of you know, two children in the class initiated a Hunger Games book club. They have put much energy and thought into this student-led endeavor and are planning to meet every week. The club is open to those who have read the book(s) or not. Students have already talked to each other about not being allowing to read the book. Some of the themes and child on child violence is graphic. Since your child is reading the book at home, it provides such a great opportunity to read the book together and discuss passages and topics as they arise. Ask questions so that your child can come to their own conclusion.
Though we will not read this book as a class novel, we will explore the question of “Should children be allowed to read Hunger Games (or books with similar themes or content)?” as well as other questions about what books and/or media is appropriate (or not) and at what age in an upcoming Socratic seminar.
I launched writer’s workshop after the first few days of school. Students are drafting two personal narratives based upon a special person and place in their lives. We will write a series of narratives and choose one to publish. We’ve talked about planning, drafting and explored some revision techniques. Mini-lessons have focused on developing leads, crafting endings, appreciating and using figurative language, “zooming in” on small moments, using exact details to describe experiences and feelings, and more.
We started our spelling program last week. Please have your child show you the multi-sensory approach to learning words that they do not know how to spell yet. I gave two assessments – one is from the high-frequency word list that students should know in fourth and fifth grade. The other one is from a spelling program that I have used successfully over the years. Each child has reread parts of their quiet reading books looking for vocabulary words to guess the meaning and then define in their own words.
From the first day of school we explored patterns and algebra. We have examined number and picture sequences (increasing, decreasing, skip counting), developing rules to explain a pattern, using T-tables to organize and show patterns, using number lines, finding the least common multiple, and finally looking at patterns in multiplication tables as well as strategies in remembering facts. When students return from outdoor education, I will help each child identify multiplication tables they need to practice at home and school. Our next unit of mathematics will explore number sense. As some of
As part of our planetary science study, we have discussed appropriate scales to measure distances (with the metric system) and introduced scientific notation to represent large numbers. Finally, I have given or in the process of giving two district grade-level math assessments (Galileo and the math screeners). These, as well as my observations will inform what I need to do with individual students, small groups, and as a classroom.
We began our earth science study reading from creation stories from cultures around the world. As an overview we will trace ancient people’s fascination with the skies, and progress through scientific inquiry and knowledge. Yesterday we created scale models of the planets with Play-Doh so that your child could get a sense of the relative size of the planets. Today and Monday, small groups have been creating two-dimensional, oil pastel representations of the planets and rendering them using techniques practiced with Kara. Look for a planetary walk in the South hallway next week.
Students had a computer lab orientation with Marypat and Spanish class with Pat. We have art with Kara every other week for a two-hour studio time. We have integrated what we’ve learned with Kara into projects that we are doing in our homeroom. Most weeks, homework will be assigned on a Friday, and due the next Friday. Please let me know if you have any questions about what is happening in the classroom.
Finally, please come by the classroom to view the photos of some of activities from the first few weeks of school.
Thank you for all that you do with your children! I appreciate the honor of spending every day with them.
After a two week process, we are ready to unveil our classroom agreements. We spent the first week envisioning what we want our classroom to look like and feel like; how we want to be treated, and how would we like to treat others; what we each are willing to do to help make this classroom a wonderful place to be. Through individual brainstorming and group work, the class though a collaborative process and used a consensus model to finalize our classroom agreements. I drew upon some of the work by Jeff and Traci Bushnell and their Heart Talk: Bringing Compassionate Communication Into the Classroom curriculum.
Our agreements are:
To listen to what people need and request
To include everyone in group games and activities
To create a peaceful and calm class
To find positive and supporting words and keep unkind thoughts to oneself
To include fun activities daily
To respect other