Later Elementary News: October 2012

In later elementary things have started rolling like the proverbial snowball! This first month is always focused on team building. We  have spent a lot of time discussing our grade level values and practicing how to keep our four guiding principles of honesty, caring,  respect and responsibility present in everything we do and say. This can be a really challenging task! One thing that helps at home is to  use this common language and to ask your children to reflect on their choices. It’s amazing how much we, as teachers, learn from this practice! This is a great group of students and we’re really excited about the potential this year. Academically, students are actively  engaged in each content area and have already finished some mini-projects with diligence. In math, all classes are working through our  first unit on number sense. Some concepts may seem redundant, but through repeated assessments we are working to identify and fill holes in knowledge so we can tackle the rest of the content. In literature we have been working through our poetry unit. This has  included reading and listening to some well-known poems, watching some slam (aka performance) poets and delving into what poetry “is.” We have come to the conclusion that it is almost everything and everywhere! Students have written at least eight different styles of poetry as well as others that they were inspired to write (no assignment necessary!). They are now working to revise and edit these and compile them into poetry books. You may be amazed to see what your child has created! 4/5 Social Studies classes have been working diligently on their map making skills. Students are practicing skills of precision and neatness of work, as well as developing  understandings of key components of all maps such as: scale, cardinal and intermediate directions of a compass rose, title, and legends (keys). In our next unit, currently underway, we are working on being able to locate specific points on Earth using latitude and longitude, as well as identify landforms based on key definitions. These skills are imperative to master because the rest of the year’s curriculum is very ‘place based.’ Mid October, we’ll pause in our study of geography to begin our unit on the Presidential Elections. Science is finding the fourth and fifth grade students elbow deep in consumer testing! We are using what we have learned about the scientific method to test and compare four types of commonly used paper towels. The students are designing their own tests for measuring wet strength and absorbency, given a set of common materials. It is really interesting to observe them working in groups, deciding how to use what they are given to create a procedure that will measure the correct variable. The faces made when the washers break through the paper towels are priceless! We will be moving into a short study of energy that will be capped by a presentation from the National Energy Foundation and DTE in late October. It’s going to be a great year in science!

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