Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Information for the Week...

Here are a few announcements for the week:
  • Remember that Thursday, November 2 is our annual Zoo Trip. Students will ride the bus to the zoo with their kindergarten buddies. Once at the zoo, we will spend some time viewing the animals before heading to one of the buildings for a class.
  • Next week you will get information about two big projects coming up. One project will be our Ellis Island simulation in which students will take on the role of either an Ellis Island processor or an immigrant. Our other big project will be an ecosystem expert project. This project will have three parts. Once part is a the creation of a diorama which will be done primarily at home. The second part will be the creation of a poster. And the third part will be a short paper.
  • The Book Fair starts next week. More information will come home towards the end of the week.
In science, we have completed our terrariums / aquariums. The terrariums / aquariums have been a point of excitement as students quickly come into the room to see any changes that took place over night. For instance, when students came into the class on Monday, their terrariums sprouted a lot of grass. We are looking at biotic and abiotic factors in this environment, and how these factors help each other out. As these factors have time to equalize, we will start adding more life into the aquariums. On Wednesday we will add pond snails to see how they effect the aquarium.

In social studies, we are having a wonderful discussion of the Gilded Age / Progressive Era. These two periods mark a time when great wealth dominated the country at the expense of the large immigration work force, and through the Progressive Era, change happened in the workplace including improved working conditions in the factories and the abolition of child labor. One of best ways to get a feeling of this period in time is watching the History Channel's "The Men Who Built America." The series does an excellent job of presenting the good and bad side of some of the wealthiest and most influential Americans such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Edison, and Henry Ford. For more information on the series, here is a link. We will complete this unit with our simulation of Ellis Island. Students will simulate the Ellis Island experience. Some students will play the role of Ellis Island processors, and the rest will play the role of immigrants. Students will get an identity to research. They will then play that character during the simulation, including dressing up for their role (they can choose not to but it adds to the authenticity). Processors must do their job to determine who should stay in America or who should be sent back. Once I have an exact date parents are invited to this event.

Well ... I'm going to try to get back to Halloween so I'll add more later.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Science . . .

Thanks to everyone who was able to come out to Curriculum Night. We did quite a bit of work with science. For those who were not able to make it, I'll share a few of things we are doing in science.

First of all, whenever conducting science investigations, we usually begin with some kind of probing question - a question that will get kids thinking in the general area we are studying. For instance, I showed students the following picture and asked students why the ground is not level.

Students made comments such as the grass and roots pushed the ground up. Some thought water was causing the ground to look like that. These questions start the inquiring into the topic.

At this point, we use water tables to simulate erosion. Students set their water tables with several pounds of sand, a ruler, and a cup of water. We fill the cups with water as it drips water onto the sand causing erosion. Not using the word erosion, I ask students what is happening. They make comments such as "the water is drilling into the sand" or "the water is cutting into the sand." These words are in a sense synonyms for erosion. It's at this point that I begin to introduce particular vocabulary such as erosion, deposition, constructive and destructive processes so that students have some kind of experience to relate the language to.

Students also noticed that sand has moved down father down the table. This becomes deposition. Students made connections with deltas such as the Mississippi delta or the Colorado River delta. To describe the movement of the water on their tables, we discuss terms such as meandering and oxbows and find examples on the internet.

Next, we use a different cup which simulates flood. Students made many connections because of their experience with our big flood two years ago. They came to understand that the speed and amount of water causes much more erosion. They connected this to why so many dams and roads washed out during our big flood.

After using the tables a second time, each group was allowed to develop their own experiment to simulate real-world experiences. Student built dams, some built levees, some built small hills with homes on them.

To extend the concepts of constructive and destructive processes, we will spend some time talking about landslides and volcanoes.