From the Desk of Ms. Kaim:
As always, the boys and girls in Room 104 were very busy this month. They began the month by participating in the Shedd Aquarium’s Wreath-cycled Challenge. The wreath was made entirely with recyclable plastic and titled Save our Seas! Reduce and Reuse Please! We would be thrilled to receive your vote for favorite wreath; simply like our wreath on the Shedd’s Facebook page. Thank you!
Our Continent of the Month was North America. The first graders learned about the history of Thanksgiving as told from the perspective of a pilgrim boy and a Wampanoag girl. They read The Goat in the Rug and wove their own paper rugs. Other projects included making worry dolls after studying Guatemala and creating totem pole models after learning how/why they are made by native peoples of the Northwest. A highlight of the month was sampling food from different places in North America.
We wrapped up our study of plants by visiting the Chicago Botanic Gardens. The boys and girls also read Leaf Man, created their own leaf creatures, and wrote stories about them. After this, we began studying matter. Our first lessons focused on the properties of solids. The students sorted and classified solids in different ways and then used what they knew to help them build bridges.
We moved on to basic number concepts and place value in math. The first graders also continued to count their way to Day 100 and work on their 100 Page Books. Our fifth grade buddies helped us count our Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF donations. I am proud to report that the first through fifth grade Options students brought in $1,329.05 to donate to UNICEF.
Another special project this month involved taking a secret field trip to the neighborhood mailbox. The boys and girls wrote letters of thanksgiving to their parents, addressed the envelopes, and sent them on their way.
The first graders are looking forward to seeing A Christmas Carol and learning about South America during the month of December.
From the Desk of Ms. Poczik:
November was a wonderful month in room 201! Our big focus this month was kindness. We decided to start a family book club and families read the story Wonder. We then all met up at the movie theater to see the show together. It was so great to see all the families reading together and the kids and adults really loved the book. While focusing on kindness we spread kindness like confetti, passing out small tags of gratitude to those in our lives. We have loved to see the smiles on peoples faces.
We took two awesome field trips this month. We went to The Grove and visited the Old Fashioned School House. There we saw what school was like on the prairie. We also visited the Museum of Science of Industry and explored in depth the Wild Weather exhibit. Our novel this month was Dear Mr. Henshaw. In the novel Leigh wants to become a writer and thinks about getting a typewriter. The kids called it "an old fashioned computer." So we took a trip to the office and Ms. O'Sullivan showed them how her typewriter works, they were amazed!
From the Desk of Mrs. Thiel:
We started the month of November with an Author Celebration Day! We enjoyed a day of relaxation and reading. We were fortunate to have many parents volunteer to read short stories, poems, chapter and picture books of all types. Mrs. Miller was even a special guest reader!
We took our first field trip to The Lifeline Theater to see Arnie the Doughnut. The class enjoyed the theatre version of this book and embraced the message of “be the best you, you can be”! We created our own doughnut designs back at school.
We began our second Novel Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulson. The class has been working on main ideas and supporting details as well as finding inferences. We had the opportunity to write a descriptive piece on a “Haunted House for Sale”. We have also been working on written responses in connection to characters experiences in the stories we read.
In math used the various methods learned in Chapter 2 to move into two digit multiplication. We are looking forward to finishing up and beginning division.
In Social Studies we began learning about Native Americans. The children will be breaking into groups to research a tribe and present their findings together. This group project will be done entirely in class.
Science led us to our last investigation in mixtures and solutions. Our salt solution evaporated and crystals were formed. The students were able to make appropriated predictions and observations along the way. We are looking forward to beginning our next unit; Earth and Sun.
From the Desk of Ms. Milstein:
November was a busy month in 4th grade. Our class continued our study of long division strategies, read the novel Because of Winn Dixie, finished our science unit on environments, and began a new social studies unit on Westward Expansion.
As a culminating project to the science unit, students each selected an environment to study. After researching their environment, the students had abundant new knowledge about the living and nonliving factors that exist there. The students applied this knowledge by envisioning a new organism that would thrive in the conditions and amongst the other plants and animals that already exist in the habitat. Together, the class exercised various executive functioning skills to plan and execute building models of their new plants and animals. The students presented their models and new knowledge to their classmates. Make sure to check out the pictures of the class researching and the amazing final products.
In social studies, we have just begun our exciting journey westward. The students are currently immersed in a live-version of the classic computer game, The Oregon Trail. This is only a supplement to our study of the causes, history and impact of westward expansion in the United States. In the pictures, you can see students participating in a “See, Think, Wonder” activity that activated prior knowledge and got everyone excited to begin our venture out west.
From the Desk of Mrs. Caskey:
317 has started yet another new novel and genre this month. Our new genre is realistic fiction and the new novel is Maniac Magee. This new genre and novel will come with an author study of Jerry Spinelli, who is a legend in the world of pre-adolescent/adolescent literature. We'll read Maniac as a whole group text and then self-select a new Spinelli book to read over Winter Break to get ready for a small group book club/literature circle.
We started a new unit in math with a book called Let's Be Rational! It focuses on adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions and mixed numbers. This unit will wrap up before Winter Break.
Our tour of our solar system continues in science, with a look into theories of the origin of the solar system. We visited the Challenger Learning Center on December 1. We identified a comet and launched a probe to observe it. It was so much fun!
In social studies, we wrapped up our amazing European travel commercials, and we began the geography and major landforms of Africa. This should take us to a quick project on this vast continent before Winter Break.
Finally, in writing and ELA we continue to accomplish quite a bit. We began creating outlines and drafts of our autobiography project. Join us on either January 25("odd" students) OR January 26 ("even" students) at 2:15 to see our final products. Check with your fifth grader for presentation date. Our Grammar curriculum has taken us to an exploration of nouns. Students should certainly know the difference between possessives, plurals, and/or possessive plurals by the end of the unit. We have continued Greek and Latin roots, with prefixes that me with/together and we will move onto prefixes for numbers.
From the Desk of Mr. Klein:
In the field of sixth grade physics, the emphasis has been on the study of simple machines (lever, pulley, gear, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, screw) with additional work completed in the area of waves.
In the field of seventh grade literature and composition, vocabulary features the study of Latin and Greek roots; grammar, basic sentence patterns for transitive and intransitive verbs; and literature, Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl focusing on the themes of identity, society and class, man and the natural world, memory and the past, exploration, love, friendship, and wisdom and knowledge.
In the field of seventh grade chemistry, the emphasis has been on the creation and execution of independent projects.
In the area of eighth grade biology, the emphasis has been on the study of interactions within organisms, with additional work completed in the areas of the desert biome.
From the Desk of Mr. Schoenbeck:
6th Grade Social Studies is finishing up our unit on Alexander the Great, asking how one person's "great" can be another person's "terrible" (I refer to this as the Voldemort principle....) We just had an amazing first round of debate, which is something this class really excels at. Our next unit will focus on Economics and trade in the ancient world, with China's Silk Road as our case study.
7th Grade is starting our BIG unit on the U.S. Constitution. I have broken this into more manageable chunks, and we are wrapping up our discussion on what the early Americans needed in a government (so we can later analyze if that's what we got....) The next sub-unit is about the history of how the Constitution was developed (which I like to call "Everyone likes the sausage, but no one wants to know how it's made..." to paraphrase an old idiom).
8th Grade Social Studies is towards the end of our unit on "The Spiderman Principle: with great power comes great responsibility" (with full credit to Stan Lee....) Our case study is about the Industrial Age and focuses on Andrew Carnegie. I'm really looking forward to seeing this group debate and write about this one.... Our next unit will be about Progressivism and the Age of Reform, and I'm looking forward to the hypothetical Public Service campaigns they will create.
In 8th Grade Reading, we are exploring Narrative Non-fiction with our whole-class reading of There Are No Children Here. We're almost done with this first model text, and will soon be starting a round of Narrative Non-fiction Literature Circles (look for an email coming soon highlighting some of the books that students will choose from).