Thursday, December 15, 2011

Immigration Simulation

Today we successfully completed our immigration simulation. To remind everyone, we have been studying the period of immigration between 1890 and 1920. During this simulation, students played the role of immigrants or processors from Ellis Island. Students were randomly chosen as an immigrant or processor. Each student was given and identity they were to keep secret until the day of simulation. Immigrants simulated what it was like to go through the process of coming to Ellis Island and getting processed. Processors played the roles of processors who processed the immigrants. As students moved through the processing process, they answered questions according to their character. By the end of the simulation, some students were deported and some students became citizens. Make sure you ask your child about the experiences.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Series of Unfortunate Events Power Point

Darius and Aaron made a great power point presentation using Google Docs. They created their presentation during explorations. Have a look and let them know what you think.

STEMS Video Game Competition

Some students seemed interested in this website so I'm posting it here. It is a national competition in which student make video games. More information is found at the website.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chief Joseph's Speech

Here is the speech we listened to by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Native Americans.

It was only fitting that as we are learning about Westward Expansion and relocation of Native Americans that we listen to the words of native people. We read about the Nez Perce Native Americans from our Social Studies textbook then listened to this partial reading of his speech.

These words are a partial reading of a speech attributed to Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. The full speech was reported to have been delivered to the US government at Lincoln Hall in Washington DC (1879) where he was meeting with lawmakers to sign over their native lands.

What did the speech remind you of? How do you think his words from 1879 still resonate today?

The Hidden Power of Smiling

By popular demand, here is the TED Talk we watched in class on smiling.

We are just about to finish up our inquiry into Speeches and the spoken word as a powerful communication tool.

Look for the other speeches and talks we have seen soon!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Expert Projects

I believe through this link you will be able to view all of our expert projects.

Expert Projects from Monday, October 31

I have posted five expert project videos from Monday, October 31 for the following students:


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cell Model Project

Last week (Friday) we completed our models of our cell. The class was broken into four groups in which two groups made an animal cell and two groups made a plant cell. We spent a week in class putting our models together including researching information to label our cells and building our models. While models are often the end product once they are completed, I felt that when a model is built, it should lead to further understanding.

Instead of the group models being the end product, students are using their models to create test questions for the other groups. In other words, the plant cell group is putting together a quiz for the animal cell group and the animal cell group is putting together a quiz for the plant cell group. Those groups will then use the other group's models to help them study for their quiz. To make sure each group can adequately prepare, the models need to be accurate in their detail and information.

The most important part of this project is not the results of the test but the building of the model and thinking about possible test questions. To create a test and provide answers, group members have to have thorough knowledge of their topic in order to produce test questions which are accurate and reflective of their understanding.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Expert Project

Today is our official first day of starting our expert project. Each student has a packet, and in that packet explains their whole project. For your information, here is a copy of the introduction letter. I am also including a copy of the rubric here.

Here at the Center for Inquiry, we believe that children should inquire into those things that matter to them. For this project, students will do just that - inquire into something they have always wanted to know more about. This project is more about the actual process of inquiry than having a final project. For instance, I have always wanted to know more about sushi. So I plan on inquiring into this topic from many different perspectives (e.g., history of sushi, different types, how to eat, how to make, sushi etiquette, culture). At the same time, I need to be open to possible directions my inquiry may take me (e.g., mathematics of sushi, science of sushi?). At the conclusion of this project, I need to be able to teach my students what I have learned. This project has created some very broad, very interesting topics including:

  • black holes
  • scary makeup
  • constellations
  • history of rap
  • racial cartoons
  • explosions and explosives
  • cars
  • roller derby
  • video games
  • ghosts
  • Nike
  • flying
  • birds
  • Empire State Building
  • Disney
  • Cave diving
  • sea cucumbers
  • guitars
  • piano
  • Madam C.J. Walker
  • skateboarding
  • Korean War
As students inquire, they will be asked to journal about their journey. In their packet, students will be asked to journal about what they learned each day. They need to record the resources they have used including websites, magazines, people, and books and whether they were valuable websites. They will be asked to record their questions. Periodically, students will be asked to reflect on what they have learned so far in their inquiry. At the conclusion, students will be asked to teach what they learned. Since we know good teaching involves more than just talking, students will be asked to create some kind of model, presentation, poster, book, video, etc. that will help them teach about their inquiry.

Today (Oct. 10) is our official start day of our expert project. The last day of the expert project will be Friday, October 28. Students will present their projects at Curriculum Night on Thursday, November 3.

I will continue sharing more about our expert project as we continue working through our inquiries.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Root Word Rap

Students wanted to share this video / rap. Mrs. Liz introduced us to this rap today as another way of helping us remember prefixes, root words, and suffixes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mr. Johnson's Class Blog

This is a brief video of our class working with our reading buddies. I have never witnessed two groups who work so well together. Those kindergarten buddies truly look up to these 5th graders. Very powerful!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Zoo Trip

I have included a few pictures from our day at the zoo. I had more pictures but I had a new camera which was temperamental at times. We all had a great time exploring the zoo, eating lunch, then off to a class taught by the zoo.

Justin and his Kindergarten Buddy

Shubhanjali and her Kindergarten Buddy

Zoo Class

Petting the hedgehog

Hedgehog looking for food

Everyone looking good!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reconstruction Quiz

This is the link so you can take your Reconstruction Quiz. Please click HERE.

The link has now been removed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WLTX News Report

Richland Two Teachers in Oregon

Here is a post to the WLTX news report about our (Mr. O'Keefe, Ms. Breland, Mrs. Vice, and Mr. Johnson) trip to Oregon and the things we learned from our trip.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Class Happenings

This past week we have started our study into Reconstruction. I will be the first to admit my knowledge of this time is limited but what I have learned so far has been fascinating and troubling at the same time. Students have also been fascinated with this time period because they are already making cause and effect type connections between Reconstruction, Civil Rights, and current news they here on TV. This is one of the directions I hope to move towards as we continue studying US History from Reconstruction to current times - helping students make connections between the past and current history. For instance, we just read an article about Cherokees who once owned slaves during the Civil War, sided with the Confederates, and are now denying the descendents of those slaves the right to vote in Cherokee elections (read article here).

We are also continuing to look at probability and dice. We should be winding down by the end of the week. Today we watched a video from Jim Gandy on WLTX. First of all, he was discussing data collection, an area we have studied in depth. Second, he was comparing forecasting much like rolling dice and the probabilities found in weather much like dice. Could the connection be any more obvious? You can catch the video of Jim Gandy's segment of "Climate Matters" here.

We have also started discussing how we can expand our vocabulary. One way to do this is through the study of Greek/Latin root word, prefixes, and suffixes. We have been looking at various root words, and when placed with a particular prefix or suffix, changes the meaning of the word. This has nudged us towards looking at some of the words used in the Harry Potter books. For instance, Voldemort is made up of the Greek/Latin roots "vol" and "mort". "Vol" means wish and "mort" means death. Fascinating stuff!

A little later on I'll share more about our adventures with Dr. Doug, a scientist from USC. I just realized I don't have pictures from our exploration. Ah, shucks!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog Calendar

Just in case anyone is having difficulties with viewing the blog calendar, I have made a few discoveries. Viewing the calendar under Internet Explorer never seems to work for me so I'm assuming IE does not display the calendar correctly. I have had success using Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome. If you are having difficulty viewing the calendar, try using on of those internet browsers.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kitten Attacking Apple

You may be asking why this video is posted on our blog. Mrs. Edwards showed this video in class and everyone in class wanted to see this video again . . . so I'm posting it here so they can access it. I'll admit, the video is quite cute. Enjoy!

Various Bits of Info

Safety Patrol:
Your child should have brought home a schedule for safety patrol. But in case you did not receive one or need another copy, here is a link to download a copy for yourself.

School Planner / Calendar:
Today, your child received a planner / calendar. The planner should remain in your child's backpack so they can bring it back and forth from school. Each week we will add important dates including the due dates for various assignments. These same dates will be included in the calendar posted on our blog.

Scholastic Book Order:
Online Ordering Information
Due Date: 9/16/11
Web address:

Class Activation Code: GPY4P
I am sending out Scholastic Book orders. You will be able to order books online using the web address and class activation code OR you can return the book order slips Remember, any book orders you make online we earn a coupon for a free book. Thanks!

Inquiry into Dice:
It has been a busy and intense couple of weeks. As you may have heard, we started off the year with an inquiry into dice. You may be asking (or thinking) what could we possibly learn from working with dice. We begin each day with explorations, and in that time, students play a variety of dice games. These games include Farkle, Doodle Dice, LCR, Yahtzee, GeoDice, and several other games. Each game involves a certain knowledge of probability, strategy, adding and subtracting large numbers, and a little luck. Based on these games, students have decided to make their own dice games. This has involved understanding the probability of rolling certain combinations of dice, creating rules which make sense, and articulating those directions on paper in a clear and concise manner - creating a dice game isn't as easy as it may sound.

We spent some time researching information on dice such as the dots on the side of dice are known as "pips." More important, they discovered their very brief research into dice involved science, history, mathematics, and even meteorology.

We dove pretty hard into collecting data using dice. We wanted to investigate if different surfaces influence the roll of the dice. We understood when you roll two dice, there are 36 combinations of rolls you can roll with 7 having the most combinations (6) and 6 & 8 have the next most combinations (5). We wanted to know if we rolled on different surfaces (i.e., carpet, tables, concrete) would you get similar results? I have included the results here in case you are interested. By the way, rolling the dice on the table resulted in different results. We are not sure why but students believe the hard surface of the table caused the dice to bounce much more thereby affecting the outcome of our roles.

We are continuing to investigate probability by looking at dice outcomes using 1 - 4 dice. We are taking these outcomes and converting them into fractions, decimals, and percentages. For instance, there is a 6 in 36 chance of rolling a 7 (there are 6 combinations of 7 using two dice). Writing it as a fraction would be 6/36; .167 as a decimal; 16.7% chance of rolling a 7.

As we continue to inquire, I will continue to share what we are learning. THANKS!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Johnson Class Publishing

I wanted to remind students of how to publish their writing to the class writing blog. The link for the site is to the right. When you go to the blog site, enter into the username of email. The password is letsinquire. Once you get into the website, click on New Post and you are all set.

Welcome Back (Belated!)

Welcome back to a new school year. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get a first message posted but I had to transfer our old blog over to the new district Google email. Let me start off by saying the new school year has started off great. We have two new students and a new MAT (I'll let her introduce herself at another time). Our schedule is as followed:

8:00 – 8:40                Explorations

8:40 – 9:05                Sharing

9:05 – 10:05              Math

10:05  - 11:15            Reading Workshop / Writing Workshop

11:20 – 12:00            Lunch

12:00 – 12:25            Read aloud

12:30 – 1:00              Recess

1:00 – 1:40                Social Studies / Science

1:40 – 2:30                Special Areas

2:30 – 2:50                Reflection

You may want to visit the blog on occasion. I'm trying to use the blog as a resource for student work and your own information. I have included Google Calendar and I keep the calendar up to date with important information such as important school and class dates, important assignment due dates, and other dates you may need to know. As new information comes available I'll let you know through email or the blog concerning those dates.

I look forward to working with everyone again.

Scott Johnson