Later Elementary News: November 2012

4/5 had a great October together! Below are the class breakdowns per subject area, but overall we continue to work and grow together, practicing those 4/5 core values of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility. We have had pretty extensive conversations with our students (in large and small groups) about how, just as we teach them the core subjects of math, science, social studies, etc., that ‘social skills’ is just another subject to which we teach and model. We are asking them to really focus on being able to ask for what they need, appropriately and respectfully, as well as to be aware of others’ needs. We encourage families to use some of the same vocabulary that we use regarding HCRR, and ask lots of questions regarding what happens everyday at school- not just academically, but socially. We are building an amazing family here!
There has been some noteworthy activity in October! As you know, this has been MEAP month. We were very impressed with how responsible the students were with being honest in really trying to do their best. While we don’t teach to the test, and while we know that this is just a snapshot of what each student can really show as a learner, we were thrilled to see the students step-up and ‘show what they know,’- and be proud of it! We are ending October with our first trip to Scio Woods Nature Preserve. We are giving our students an opportunity to take what they have learned in the core subject areas and apply them to tasks and projects in our local  community. Some of the experiences on the 31st will include map making and using the observations skills they have been focusing on in science. Finally, October has found the later elementary teachers diving into website design. This is a laborious process, but will continue to improve weekly. Please take the time to check in and offer feedback of ways to make it more useful to you.
In Social Studies, students have taken a quick break from practicing their map making skills, to work through a unit on the different levels of the U.S. government. First, we’re becoming familiar with the three branches of government and how they ‘work’ for us at the local, state, and federal levels. We then move on to what rights and responsibilities we have as U.S. citizens. Then finally, we begin working on our election coverage! Stay tuned for information regarding an interactive evening during Voting Day, November 6th.
Literature has been very busy. Poetry books are officially done and we are looking forward to the poetry reading showcase on October 31. The next task has been to begin reading and discussing Hatchet. This has already been a very rich experience as students have  questioned Gary Paulsen’s writing style and choices of what to include in his story. There will be many activities for reflection during this book study, but one that we will return to time and again is journaling as if the students are the main character. This pushes them to understand character motivations, make inferences and connect with the story.
It’s time to EXPERIMENT with science! Students are working on completing their own experiment design, working with Wint-O-Green
Lifesavers! We have been learning how to ask questions, create a hypothesis, and design an experiment to test that hypothesis. Students learned about independent variables, dependent variables and constants within an experiment and why they are important. In science, it’s best to be fair! Our school was invited to participate in the National Energy Foundation and DTE’s presentation on Think Energy!, an energy conservation program. We have worked in class on some lessons that were recommended prior to the presentation, including where our energy comes from, how energy transforms, how electricity is made. Building motors was a highlight! With parent permission, children were sent home with conservation of energy kits that they could implement in their homes with an adult partner. Household report cards will be brought into school by Nov. 7th, so we can see what a difference is made using these energy saving products. Our classrooms will be granted $100 mini grants if we get at least 80% participation in the household survey, so send in those report cards! (Located in the back of the student booklet with the kit!) Geology is coming up next!

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