From the Desk of Ms. Demitropoulos:
The kindergarten students have been working diligently on learning the rules and responsibilities in the classroom and around Bell School. Students have been role- playing and demonstrating how to be respectful students and good friends. They have been using their time to use kind and calm words to problem solve instead of hurtful words.
In math, the children are using manipulatives and illustrations to model adding to. They are also actively learning to find the sum when there is a missing addend in a bar model or addition number sentence. The students are learning how to work independently on differentiated work and how to advocate for themselves when they don't understand the activities. Peer helpers and leaders have taken on special roles to be special helpers in 106.
Through reading our Junior Great Books stories, students are able to now generate several different "wondering" questions to help them think more critically about the stories. They are able to add to other students' thoughts and ideas to create a wonderful community of learning through questioning.
From the Desk of Ms. Kaim:
The first graders have spent valuable time this September getting to know each other and their new school. Our classroom motto is Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. We are learning how to be better friends and better listeners. Our first Scholastic News edition introduced the first graders to the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. We will think about how we can get better instead of giving up when we face challenges.
The first graders were excited to meet their fifth grade buddies and have already completed several projects with them. These included the fabulous paper people hanging outside Room 104 and the creation of paper globes. The latter were part of our social studies lessons about using maps to learn about the world, including naming and locating the continents and the oceans.
Chrysanthemum was our first reading book. It helped us see how someone’s words can make someone else wilt or bloom. It also led to our first research project-the meaning of our names. The students were proud to share their name stories with their classmates. Our second reading book was Blueberries for Sal. We used this book to make predictions, compare/contrast characters, and learn about story elements.
The big topic in our first math unit was data collection and analysis. The first graders used tally marks, recorded information, and analyzed picture and bar graphs. They were also introduced to circle and line graphs. In addition, we began a project in the computer lab. The first graders are creating PowerPoint presentations about geometric shapes, our next topic in math.
In writing, the first graders studied short vowel sounds and patterns in spelling. After reading A House for Hermit Crab, the students wrote stories about the walks taken by hermit crabs of their own imagining. We began D’Nealian handwriting lessons with a focus on letter slant, size, and spacing.
Our first science topic of the year is plants. The first graders began this unit by making observations of a chrysanthemum plant. They also collected items on the playground to make nature names. After reading The Tiny Seed, the first graders planted tiny brassica seeds. They are recording the changes they observe in the plants and placing them in their research logs. Our first field trip of the year was to the Chicago Botanic Garden where the students participated in a “Surprising Seeds” workshop about how seeds travel.
Ladybug Day was a special event in September. Leading up to this day, the first graders had observed ladybug larvae become ladybug pupae and then become adult ladybugs. On Ladybug Day, the boys and girls dressed like ladybugs, listened to ladybug stories, created models of the life cycle of ladybugs, learned about ladybug anatomy, observed the physical characteristics and behaviors of live ladybugs, and made ladybugs with symmetrical spots.
We are looking forward to reading more books, learning about homes around the world, and celebrating Pumpkin Day in October!
From the Desk of Ms. Murray:
Wow, September has flown by! Where to start?? We began the school year by participating in many "getting-to-know-you" activities. Our theme for our classroom is "Be Enchanted." Students created "Owl Glyphs" as symbolic representations of themselves. For example, they chose the wing color and belly pattern to represent their favorite snack and favorite activity. As an extra bonus, a student suggested that the owls, now a permanent part of our classroom, should be placed randomly about the room so as to appear natural! (See if you can spot them in the photo!) We also completed, "Owl About Me" packets that included us learning important facts about our school such as how old it is and how many teachers are in the building.
In Language Arts, first we studied books by author Leo Lionni. The students made connections between the themes of the books as well as identified characteristics of the fable genre. Then, the students wrote their own stories about a mouse complete with a collage-inspired illustration inspired by the Lionni's books. Next, we focused on informational texts from our weekly Scholastic News subscription. We learned to both, 1.) identify important text features such as captions, subheadings, and diagrams and 2.) to use those text features to identify the author's purpose and main idea. To display our information, we created "trioramas" (in the photo) to summarize the important details that supported the main idea.
In Math, we finished Chapter 1 by learning different strategies for adding and subtracting addends and subtrahends with two and three-digits. For example, we learned how to "Jump" on a number line to "add up" to find the difference in a subtraction problem.
In Social Studies, we studied various maps and identified their features such as the compass rose and legends. Students then went a tour of the outside of the building in order to make an aerial map of Bell School.
In Science, students learned the value of working together to solve a problem. They were given red, plastic cups and note-cards to see how to make a tall tower! We then took time to analyze what it means to be a scientist and the importance of close observations by examining our own hands and creating drawings. We then began to use our observations skills to explore how magnets and paperclips interact with one another by creating a paperclip that was a "temporary" magnet due to its exposure to a magnet.
And last, but not least, we began our "Climb to Safety" Financial Literacy residency! Students reviewed vocabulary from last year such as "needs" versus "wants" and practiced the song that they will sing at the assembly at the end of the year.
From the Desk of Ms. Thiel:
We are off to a wonderful start this year! We spent a lot of time getting to know new things about one another and our new setting. We engaged in shared inquiry as we read from our Junior Great Books anthropology. We discussed and identified text features as well. We had wonderful conversations around kindness and how we can show kindness daily.
In math we modeled place value relationships, explored how to read and write numbers, and compared and rounded numbers. We ended the Chapter with addition and subtraction word problems. We are ready to move onto multiplication.
Science led us on many investigations in mixtures and solutions. We made mixtures and solutions using separate materials and recorded data. We then predicted how we could separate mixtures and experimented separating them using a variety of tools.
In Social Studies we discussed land and the regions of the United States. The children worked very hard to research one of the regions of their choice and created a travel brochure with all of the information they found in the computer lab! Look for these amazing brochures to be displayed on our bulletin board soon.
Our writer’s workshop started with each student decorating their own writer’s notebook. These were so fun to see and the children did a wonderful job expressing themselves. We worked on coming up with small moments based off of important people and places in our lives. This will help us come up with stories to tell! We wrote about several of these small moments. We incorporated nouns, actions verbs and adjective into our writing as well.
We are looking forward to much more in October!
From the Desk of Ms. Milstein:
The 4th graders are off to a great start in Room 208! With the addition of the Kindergarten Options class, this year is the first time our 4th graders have been “older buddies”. They are so excited to serve as friends and role models for their kindergarten friends. We had the chance to meet and interview our buddies from Room 106 earlier this month.
In addition to learning the new routines, expectations and nuances of 4th grade, academically we have hit the ground running as well. The students are finishing their first chapter in math this week. We are currently studying geography of the western hemisphere after finishing a brief unit on map skills. The class made their own treasure maps as a fun culminating activity to apply all the skills we practiced during the first few weeks. We are also beginning our first writer’s workshop project on realistic fiction.
In reading, the students have completed their reading response “job training” in order to prepare themselves for the independent work they will engage in all year long as we explore various novels. These literature response assignments will be building blocks for small literature circle groups in which the students will analyze, question, and discuss the books we read in class. To support discussion skills, the groups use colored blocks that indicate who is speaking. After the conversations, the groups take a moment to analyze the patterns they see and review the discussions they’ve just held. Later in the year, different blocks will represent different types of discussion contributions. This will encourage the students to question, connect, disagree, analyze and find other ideas to push thinking and discussion to higher levels.
From the Desk of Ms. Caskey:
317 has kicked off the reading year with a review of genres through a study. We also read and discussed a short story that featured some really ambiguous character choices. The story was a realistic fiction tale called "A Game of Catch" and the discussion it yielded because of these questionable character choices was rich. We also began our first novel of the year. Number the Stars is historical fiction and it tells of the solidarity of many Danes trying to get Jewish people safely to Sweden. To supplement, we've read quite a bit about the Holocaust and how different areas of Europe worked to save others in need. Writer's Workshop also got up and running with a narrative unit. Fifth graders are zeroing in on small moments from their lives and we have been inspired by real authors and books we are reading to help us create narrative topics. We are also using our narrative writing to fine tune specific grammar skills, like appropriate usage of quotations. Our other area of ELA, vocabulary, is focusing on common prefixes.
As we settle into a new year in math, we are also adjusting to our Connected Math series. This curriculum shines a spotlight on the open approach of mathematics and how to take one's understanding of a math concept and explain how we think about certain mathematical topics. It's led to really great peer conversation and collaboration, as well as some conjectures along the way. Our first unit is diving deep into whole numbers, with a look at factors, multiples, factorization, and relationships between whole numbers. We've done everything from factor rainbows, factor trees, and Venn diagrams to show how much we know about whole numbers.
Science began this year with a review of the scientific method. This prepared us for our first unit, Planetary Science. We've proven how we know the Earth is round using sailing ships, explored rotation and revolutions, and began work on seasons. We are also keeping a close eye on the Moon by keeping a log. This will help us understand moon phases.
Social Studies has been a combination of several concepts in the subject. We've seen Ms. Weindruch twice for a continuation of Financial Literacy, discussed and evaluated nonfiction text with current events in our subscription to Junior Scholastic magazine, and began a review of Geography concepts. Our Geography focus will be the Eastern Hemisphere, where we will get to choose a region and work our way through the physical components of an area as well as the human geography
From the Desk of Mr. Prince:
6th grade has spent the month reading Nothing But The Truth by Avi. The focus has been the question: What is truth? We have also looked at how a small lie can snowball. Students have also written introspective I am poems. In math students have finished the CMP unit on rational numbers called Accentuate the Negative and are currently working on projects related to this unit. This year students have taken charge of many aspects of class climate and Culture. They have built a website, created a newspaper and decorated the class doe the fall and Halloween. Students use committee meetings once per week to make sure they have all aspects covered.
7th grade math is working on the unit Thinking with Mathematical models. They have been looking at linear models and inverse variation. They are currently working on scatter plots and the use of residuals to determine if a line of fit accurately represents given data.
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 Rational Numbers. To Measures of Tendency, to Linear Functions Slope to Quadratics. Students work in small groups or individually in order to move forward.
From the Desk of Mr. Klein:
In sixth grade physics, the first major laboratory focused on the unique device known as the rattleback. The students also worked on the accurate measurement of area, volume, mass, and density as well as on a laboratory exploring balance and the center of gravity.
Seventh grade literature featured the class re-exploring several fairy tales: “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Sleeping Beauty.” The students assessed the actions and the motivations of the characters as they performed mock trials and participated in small group discussions to develop written responses. The second half of the month saw the class examining the Golden Age of science fiction. The authors covered during this study were Isaac Asimov, Hal Clement, Damon Knight, Arthur C. Clarke, Eric Frank Russell, and Robert A. Heinlein. To illustrate their understanding of these works, the students worked collaboratively to produce a story map, take part in a debate, and create a demonstration.
Experiments in seventh grade chemistry focused on the interrelated concepts of volume and mass. Laboratories centered on periodic trends and the properties of elements. Quizzes emphasized the importance of exponents as well as the concepts of volume and mass.
The following topics will be explored by the eighth graders in their study of biology.
· The science of biology
o Can your procedure be replicated?
o What are the characteristics of living things?
o Bacterial reproduction
o Using a compound microscope
· The chemistry of life
o Do large and small molecules behave exactly alike?
o Are foods acidic or basic?
o How does pH affect an enzyme?
o Investigating the effect of temperature on enzyme action
· The biosphere
o How do organisms affect one another’s survival?
o How is a food chain organized?
o Farming in the rye
o Identifying a limiting nutrient
· Ecosystems and communities
o What relationships exist in an ecosystem?
o How do abiotic factors affect different plant species?
o Ecosystem productivity
o Observing succession