Chapter 1. Welcome to the new school year!
Later Elementary is trying out a new website and we’re really excited about it! Follow this link: honeycreek4-5.weebly.com to check it out and give us feedback.
Chapter 2. Monthly Newsletter
Later Elementary has been tackling a lot of challenging topics since returning from winter break. In literature we are reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. This has brought up a lot of issues of equality, discrimination and justice. We’ve examined Jane Elliott’s work with the blonde eye/brown eye experiment which gave some new perspective in understanding the racism that comes from a group being told they are superior. We also conducted an activity called Cross the Line where students were able to self identity with a variety of statements. It helped students connect with and understand each other more deeply and we’ve gotten some great feedback from this!
Thanks once again to the generosity of the fine arts committee, 4/5s will be taking a field trip to the UMMA on March 8. We will participate in two different programs and are excited about the ways that they will tie in and support our science and social studies curriculum.
Finally, the time is here to begin our biography project. Students have selected their historical figures and will be starting to research and prepare for writing essays. Look for news of the final culmination–our wax museum–in April!
- January Happy New Year!Later elementary will be moving and grooving as we enter the new year. The first few weeks we’ll be putting the final touches on some of our curriculum celebration projects and sharing the work that we’ve done with our classmates.Geology rocks! Literally! In science, we have been studying how our planet operates and changes from the inside out! Now, we are going to learn about what makes up the rock material, the rock cycle and how the landscape we live with changes! We’ll be doing some labs and having some guest speakers come in to enrich our learning of the topic.Literature will be busy with book projects and the second half of Hatchet. This gripping novel has students on the edge of their seats and they can’t wait to finish!Map making has been a big hit in social studies! Thank you so much for the support to purchase the detailed maps so students could each have their own copies to work with. They’ve been excited to explore them!
December is a busy month in later elementary! We just took our first field trip and are extending what we learned from the Henry Ford River Rouge Plant and how it applies to our Michigan economy.
In literature, students are hard at work on their independent adventure book projects. These will be on display at Curriculum Celebration in January! In class, we are continuing to read Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. The story is leaving us on the edge of our seats as Brian works hard to survive! As we read we’re creating a portfolio of reflections about the novel.
4/5 students in Social Studies are multitasking. Over the past two months we have been diving pretty deep into the concepts of government: types of governments, federalism, branches of government, balance and separation of power, the election, the U.S. Constitution, and how historically, all of these functions stem from our break from Great Britain during and after the Revolutionary War.Last week, however, we took a quick break to focus on an upcoming cross-curricular project with Jess’ technology unit entitled “Pure Michigan.” Students are choosing a specific place, activity, or industry within Michigan and creating a free verse poem to communicate how special it is to our state. Then the kids will be creating an iMovie that matches pictures and music to create a Pure Michigan video. Look for them to be on display at the Curriculum Celebration in January.We are studying the Earth as a dynamic planet! What we are standing on, what is under our feet is fascinating to the children! We have learned about the layers of our planet, most importantly the crust. The students have studied the map of all recorded earthquakes and volcanoes from the US Geological Survey. We have used this map to look for patterns and analyze what might be the reasons for the location of these events. The kids did a great job of working through this process and discovered that the crust under the Atlantic Ocean spreading and that the crust under the Pacific is shrinking. Our planet is dynamic! We will finish out December with reinforcing what we have learned and will be starting off January with rocks, minerals and the changing face of the Earth!
We are excited to share that November will bring about our first later elementary field trip of the year! On November 16 we will be visiting the Henry Ford Museum to view a movie celebrating and teaching about our country’s National Parks. From there, we will travel to the River Rouge plant for a tour. This will nicely supplement our upcoming curriculum about Michigan’s economy–past and present.
In language arts we are continuing to dig into some of the conventions of writing. Some upcoming topics will be more on apostrophes and quotation marks. Once we finish these foundational skills, we will move on to individualized phonics packets.
Literature finds us wrapping up our poetry unit–be sure to check out the gorgeous poetry books at curriculum celebration! From here, we will be beginning to read Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet and introducing the fall book project–adventure!
Science Rocks! In science, we are beginning our unit about the planet we live on, Earth! I am thrilled that the Michigan Science Standards have brought a lot of the study of Earth science into our grade level! So, we’ll be spending a nice amount of time learning about how our planet works, the materials that form it, how the face of our landscape changes and the forces involved. We hope to involve the National Parks in our study, as they are often the best examples of the topics covered. Note to fourth graders: there is a terrific program currently, called “Every Kid in a Park” through the National Park Service. Fourth graders can get into National Parks free and there are special incentives for them. Check out https://www.everykidinapark.gov/ for more information!
Later elementary is going really strong! Our math classes have gotten settled and we’re seeing a lot of growth as students have gotten comfortable with their different teachers using different teaching styles to meet the varied needs. In science, students have been excited to work on experiments involving dry ice and gummi bears! The gummi bear theme carried over into social studies as students studied the different types of government, using their edible friends to create visual representations. Poetry has been ruling in literature. Who knows? Maybe we’ll write poems about gummi bears before the month is through!
Later elementary is busy gearing up for lots of exciting new things. In language arts we are continuing our work on our myth and tall tale pockets. Look for these comprehensive projects at curriculum celebration. We are also getting ready to launch into explanatory essays.
In literature we’re wrapping up Maniac Magee and focusing on our book projects. These are due May 9th and will also be on display at curriculum celebration.
“What’s the matter?” It’s a common comment we are hearing around the later elementary science classroom, as we study the materials that make up the universe! The elements are taking up much of our classroom time as we learn about these most simple and pure atoms and how they combine with other elements to make up all of the “stuff” in and around us! The children are mesmerized with the idea that so few things create everything we know. We have used a project, creating a partial Periodic Table in the hallway to learn about atoms and molecules and how they join together into new substances. Conservation of matter, mixtures, solutions, solvents, solutes and dilutions will all be discovered through hands on activities involving collecting data using scales and graphing the outcomes! Be looking in the hallway after break for a glimpse of a new take on the table, and look for lots of photos of the students engaged in chemistry! Go, Science!
Social studies classes have been working really hard through our American Colonies unit. Students have been building interactive journals- a kind of story-board study guide that they will be able to refer to throughout the rest of the school year. This is the first year that I’ve tried building these with the kids, and while the journals are ridiculously time consuming, I think the kids are really getting a lot out of the process.
The students have also been hard at work on their U.S. State projects. It’s a big one. And it’s one that will hopefully help them practice time-managements skills, with a real focus on quality and attention to detail. Back in January, the kids all chose a state- and since then, have been assigned small components of the project. Each activity is assigned with a rubric, with each respective due date being a week to ten days later. Below is a (tentative) listing of the project components. Although each component is assigned as homework, the FINAL product will be compiled and completed in class- to be shown at Curriculum Celebration in May.
State Flag and Description
3 Resources: tri-oramas
Most of the rubrics will be on the social studies page of our website, although all students will be given a hard copy as well.
State testing (M-Step) is coming our way right after spring break so it’s going to disrupt most of our usual schedule. Science, social studies and literature will be meeting less frequently but will continue to push through and get in as much content as possible.
We are really looking forward to our field trip to the Howell Nature Center on May 18. We’ll be doing some teambuilding on an obstacle course, structure building and an owl program.
In later elementary we are still figuring out how this weather is working! It’s hard to plan for how to dress when things are varying so much and it’s such a mild winter so feel free to just keep winter gear in lockers for those super cold days.
In language arts all students are studying the art of persuasion. In class students are writing persuasive essays which you can look forward to reading at our spring curriculum celebration. Topics range from who to vote for in the election to why kids should be allowed to wear hoods during the school day. It’s great to see everyone challenge themselves to understand the other sides of arguments and prepare rebuttals as well.
Literature finds us starting our next class novel, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. Students are reading and reflecting on the many topics introduced here: homelessness, prejudice, discrimination, segregation and community. Concurrently, they have identified a myth, tall tale, legend or fable to work with and, eventually, perform at our retelling showcase. These fun performances will be recorded and on display at curriculum celebration as well.
In science, it has been an exciting few weeks! We have wrapped up our simulation about the (false) rumor about a housing developer wanting to build houses in the fields around the playground and school. Their presentations were wonderful and persuasive! We continue to think about how organisms receive information about their environment, thinking about the types of energy that are present in our environment. Students have worked on inquiry lessons about how we take this energy and process it into information in our brains. The sheep eye dissection was part of this inquiry. We are moving onto a quick study of the brain! Students are excited about our upcoming study of chemistry and physics, as we work through the second semester!
In later elementary we’re learning more about how time management and transitions work! With several large projects in various stages and the return to school after two weeks at home it has been a learning opportunity for all.
In language arts we’re getting busy learning how persuasive essays work. This topic is just being introduced and students are going to be picking their topics and forming their thesis statements in the coming week. From there, they’ll begin to build their supporting evidence, organize and research, as needed. Look for these at the spring curriculum celebration!
In literature we’re launching into tall tales, myths, legends, fables and folklore. As a class students are going to be reading Jerry Spinelli’s fictional legend Maniac Magee while independently exploring other books and stories that capture these oral traditions. Eventually all students will choose one specific story, memorize the elements and retell it in first person while dressed as the main character. They will then perform their retelling in front of their class. This project is a lot of fun!
Ecosystems, organisms and how we sense our environment are filling the minds of the 4/5 science students! They have been hard at work during the last few weeks creating a slide show which is persuasive in nature. They have taken what they learned in their square foot survey of the field and applied it to a simulation, the premise being that a developer is interested in building housing in the fields around the school. They were to act as scientific counsel and inform the community (rest of the class) about whether or not they felt that building housing around the school was a great idea. Many want to share their presentation at curriculum celebration, so look for them on Jan 15th, in the cafeteria.We are wrapping up presentations, and starting a short set of lessons on how we take in information via energy in our environment. How the brain works as well as the mechanics of the eye will also be studied. We have the opportunity to do a dissection project with Sandi Little, DVM,, a 4/5 parent. This will be coming up January 20th, as of now. If you are interested in assisting supervise this fantastic experience, please feel free to let Cheryl know. We’ll be taking on the subjects of matter and mechanics (chemistry and physics) after we complete this unit! More hands-on fun to come!!In 4/5 Social Studies we are moving forward from learning about the geography, climate, and resources of the states in the eastern United States, into the history of the 13 colonies. Our goals of learning include: understanding the push and pull factors of immigration, the outcomes of certain groups settling and particular regions, and then what elements of society and government led to the ultimate termination of the colonies dependence on Great Britain.Students will be creating an interactive notebook that will help them understand timelines of events, as well as cause and effect factors of this time period. Should be pretty fun creating all of these for them!This week the students also made their choices of which state they would like to study for their State Report project. This is a rather large project that will be started now, have several major element deadlines in the next couple of months, and then be put together to be on display for Curriculum Celebration in May. I’ll let you know when I have the project rubric up on the website. More information will be available there and in the Feb HBoN.