Later Elementary News: February 2013

Later elementary has been busy!  With January being a short month because of  winter break and MLK day, and February being short because of mid-winter break, we’re cramming in all we can!  February 6 will be a great field trip to downtown Ann Arbor that will cover much of the 4/5 curriculum from science, social studies, art and math!  We’re really looking forward to it!


In Later Elementary Science, we have been rocking right through the Earth’s systems, and now into fossils and geologic time.  The kids are fascinated with rocks and minerals, I have loved seeing so many parts of collections come in.  We have had three speakers, Dr. Van Der Voo, a geophysicist, from the University of Michigan, Mr. John Krispin and Mr. Peter Collins from Barrett Paving and Dr. Serena Poli, a micropaleontologist at Eastern Michigan University.  We have started talking about the types of fossils that form and what can become a fossil.  We’ll be moving to learning what those fossils can tell us through the clues they leave behind about the past.  This will weave into the concept of geological time, which we have been talking about all along.  The only constant thing about the Earth is change!

As soon as we complete these topics, we’ll be starting our Human Body unit.  If you have offered to speak, look for an e-mail soon, looking to book a date.  If you would like to work with our children in this unit, I’d love to hear from you!  I’m looking forward to starting this new Journey into our human being!



In literature students are continuing to read Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  Students are asking great questions and have already gotten a lot from the first three chapters of the book.  Look for weekly homework assignments that ask students to reflect on the reading and/or find specific quotes or examples from the text.  This helps students develop necessary comprehension, inference-finding and skimming skills that will help them a great deal as they continue their school experiences.



Social Studies classes are delving deep, (and we mean deep,) into history:  back 28,000 years B.C. to the migration of our first Native Americans across North America.  19,000 years in the making, we are studying their cultures and their abilities to adapt to the Colombian Exchange.  This unit also covers the basics of European culture and explores reason why, in the 15th century, there was an explosion of activity in global social and economic expansion.  Finally, we bridge two cultures of this ‘New World’ by learning about the cultures of West Africa, and how the influence of the slave trade shaped our nation.


Across the curriculum- from Language Arts to Science, Social Studies to Math- 4/5 is the grade level where the expectations, and indeed the amount of material covered, makes an enormous leap.  While it is a big step up, we have noticed that our students have really tried their best in these academic and social growth challenges.  We do hope you have noticed the growth as much as we have!  We also hope that you share our belief that even though there are at times growing pains involved with transition and change, that they are learning… learning to try new things, learning to push themselves more, learning from mistakes, and reveling in triumphs…

We look forward to sharing some of these learning experiences with you at conferences in early March.

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