From the Desk of Ms. Kaim:
The first graders began the month of December by creating colorful ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree in the school hallway. They also participated in a service project to provide pajamas and books to boys and girls in need in Chicago. Later, the boys and girls made holiday cards to cheer up patients at a local hospital. Our trip to see A Christmas Carol was the perfect way to help us understand the value of giving.
Our Continent of the Month was South America. The first graders learned about the Amazon rain forest, the Galapagos Islands, and Machu Picchu. The book The Great Kapok Tree began our focus on the diversity of plant and animal life across the continent. The boys and girls enjoyed trying to identify rain forest spices using their sense of smell.
In science, we continued our study of matter. We focused on the properties of liquids and investigated small solids that could pour like liquids. The boys and girls also used screens to separate mixtures of solids.
We moved on to using place value concepts with three-digit numbers in math. The first graders described numbers in word form, standard form, and expanded form. They also drew quick pictures to show equivalent representations of numbers.
Flat Stanley was the source of many discussions and reading activities. The highlight of these activities was mailing our own Flat Stanleys around the country and the world. The first graders are looking forward to hearing back from Stanley and learning about the places he visits!
From the Desk of Ms. Poczik:
December was a short but busy month in Room 201! We have continued to spread kindness around school and our community. One of the gyms in the neighborhood, Fit Body Bootcamp was doing a Toys for Tots drive. Their goal was 200 toys so we helped them by making a 200 link paper chain. Our chain must have helped since they brought in about 300 toys. We also participated in the Scholastic Pajama Drive. Our class collected 55 pairs of PJ's! We passed our goal of 45 and earned a popcorn party the Friday before vacation.
We are moving along nicely in our math program and we are focusing on multiplication right now. We spent some time in the computer lab making "Array Cities." In science we finished up our unit on Motion and Matter. In social studies we have finished up our last few regions. We have now officially learned all 50 states and their capitals. After winter break we will be starting a new research project called State Floats! In language arts we have officially become authors! We have written and illustrated our own book. We have sent the book out to be published and we can't wait to see the final product!
We want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and an even happier New Year!
From the Desk of Mrs. Thiel:
December was such a busy month! Our social studies unit allowed us the wonderful opportunity to have parent, Samantha Gamble, speak about her experiences on the Navajo Nation. The children enjoyed using the Chrome books to research aspects of a particular tribe and create an informative poster as a group. Lastly, we went to the Grove to learn more about Native American life and culture. We finished our novel Mr.Tucket in connection to our social studies unit.
We had an eventful time with writing this month. We published personal narratives, began a persuasive essay and wrote a response to “If I were stuck in a snow globe”. The children had so much fun creating snow globes for our bulletin board to go with this writing piece.
In math we more moved into division and studied estimating quotients, remainders, and the distributive property.
We began our science unit on the Sun and Earth. We have studied our shadows and why they shift. We are learning about the rotations of the Earth and how it affects day and night. We are looking forward to studying the phases of the Moon and our trip to the Planetarium in January.
From the Desk of Ms. Milstein:
The month of December flew by in fourth grade! Our class was busy learning how to multiply decimals, what it was like to pioneer west during westward expansion, how to properly use prepositions, conjunctions and interjections, and analyzing theme in various pieces of literature.
Throughout the year, we discuss the themes of trust, integrity, communication, resourcefulness, strength and perspective. After completing the novel Because of Winn Dixie, the students all chose one of these themes that they saw most prevalently throughout the story. We practiced finding evidence from the text and using paraphrasing, direct quotes and explanation to prove the themes' existence and importance. We do this with each novel, and everybody's growth in writing skill is already both apparent and impressive.
Studying Westward Expansion is typically a favorite unit of the whole school year. The students are working collaboratively in "wagon teams" to make decisions such as food purchases, times of year to begin a journey, and fording high rivers as they travel the Oregon Trail. As the teams discover the consequences of their choices, they are learning about the struggles and hardships of westward expansion. One lesson from the unit was taught through a reader's theater. The students performed a skit that depicted a family who was pioneering west. The danger, uncertainty and hope of these travelers was clearly demonstrated in the enthusiasm of our classroom actors. See pictures of the class practicing below.
The students also completed their second in-class STEM challenge. This time, students were tasked to create a structure that would allow a marble to roll exactly 50 cm. After planning, questioning, collaborating and building, the STEM groups worked to improve and test their designs. The students did a great job reflecting on what they had learned about physics, team-work, and motion after they had completed the challenge. The pictures below depict the collaboration in engineering and the final products from this challenge.
From the Desk of Mrs. Caskey:
Students in 317 are ready for break! We continue to be busy in all content areas before the break. In reading, Maniac Magee is wrapping up before Winter Break. This story deals with some heavy ideas surrounding racism, self-imposed segregation, and homelessness. We took a look at figurative language and its effectiveness in the text, including onomatopoeia and irony. We will be taking a Jerry Spinelli book home over break to read and get ready for book club groups upon our return. ELA has been including a grammar unit on nouns, prefix explorations, and drafting our autobiographies. Our autobiography drafts should be edited by an adult over winter break.
In math, we are working hard on all operations with fractions, and even solving for "n" in fact family problems. This is a great introduction to variables in math, which we'll get to after a geometry unit.
During Science, we continue our exploration of the Solar System. We are placing items in either the Solar System, Milky Way, or the universe, as well as attempting to scale a model of the Solar System. That was challenging, even with a scale! We have been taking a deep dive into our planets and exploring if there are any planet with similar conditions to Earth.
Social Studies continues our Geography of the Eastern Hemisphere with a look at Africa. Right now, we are becoming experts in one region of Africa and completing a travel guide of this region on Google Docs. We will head to Asia next before we begin an Economics unit.
From the Desk of Mr. Prince:
6th grade has spent the month reading The Giver. The focus has been on the importance of memories both individually and as societies. Students have worked on projects related to an individual event or accomplishment in their lives and are currently completing a final project related to Giver from a menu of choices or an idea of their own. Students have also been working on an essay describing how Sameness came to be. Our class Spelling Bee was held with the winners being Julia Kim and Jane Bazzell. In math students have finished the CMP unit on rational numbers called Accentuate the Negative and are currently working on Stretching and Shrinking. Many students competed in the Math League Competition at Northwestern University with Julia Kim just missing the top ten in 6th grade.
7th grade math completed Searching for Pythagoras which culminated in a project in which students created a piece of art based on the Wheel of Thedoras. They are currently working on Growing, Growing, Growing, a look at exponential functions. Some students competed in the Math League Competition with Orlando Xie taking 8th place in the 7th grade.
In 8th grade math students are working through the CME Algebra text at their own pace. They are currently working on a range of chapters from Linear Equations and slope to Quadratics. One student has completed the text and the final exam. She is currently working through a high school geometry text. Others are closing in on finishing the text. Many 8th graders also competed in the Math League Competition with Sedona Kessler finishing 5th in the 8th grade and 8th overall!
From the Desk of Mr. Klein:
Hmmm… It seems as though December had just begun and now we are preparing for the winter break. The best to all during this holiday season.
In physics, the sixth graders have spent the month sloshing through the study of waves, reimagining weapons from the Dark Ages, conducting investigations into the area of magnetism, and thrashing through an inquiry into the field of sound.
In literature, the seventh graders have been producing board games based upon their understanding of Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” fabricating masks illustrating the inner personalities of the characters found in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” and constructing reviews of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Eleonora.”
In chemistry, the seventh graders have been putting the finishing touches on their independent projects and beginning to work with the topics of the physical and chemical properties of matter, significant digits, and chemical bonding and nomenclature.
In biology, the eighth graders have been comparing the transportation systems located within the human body to the transportation systems found within plants, with special emphasis as to how nutrients are disseminated in each.
In addition, the seventh graders witnessed firsthand some of the implications virtual reality has for the classroom of today and tomorrow. This class also worked with a third grade buddy classroom in a scientific and seasonal exploration (pictured below) of crystal formation.
From the Desk of Mr. Schoenbeck:
6th grade Social Studies is wrapping up our Greece/China unit. We're exploring the Essential Question: "How do we compare cultures while avoiding judgement and/or bias?" The students have some very creative ideas for their Interactive Venn Diagrams. After the break we'll move into our next unit on the spread of Religions in the Ancient World.
7th Grade Social Studies is wrapping up Constitution Part II: History and Development (or as we call it, "....no one wants to know how the sausages are made...."). Their final project is a presentation of a metaphorical recipe. The point is to highlight the variety of "ingredients" (people, places, plans) involved in creating the Constitution, as well as describing the sometimes messy processes, difficult decisions and tricky compromises.
8th Grade Social Studies is also in the midst of a final project, demonstrating all the problems of the Gilded Age. We've been discussing how progress in one area (like during Industrialization) can often have unintended consequences/sacrifices. (Are the biggest changes always the most painful?) From a social justice standpoint, we're building energy towards our next unit, where we create a Public Service Campaign to address these same issues as we study the Progressive Age.
In 8th Grade Reading we have started our next round of literature circles with selections of Narrative Non-fiction. The students also seem to be enjoying my Read Aloud: Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar..... It's actually ahead of schedule, as it is Expository Non-Fiction, but we'll be continuing it after the break as we use it in conjunction with Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.