Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mixing It Up!

In grammar today, the class learned about subjects and verbs.  We will be learning to diagram sentences shortly, and the first things we need to be able to point out are subjects and verbs.  We also reviewed capitalization rules and practiced our proofreading marks.  We will be working on a video lesson at home tomorrow.  They seem to be working well!

Today was a testing day in math.  Each class took a test over the material learned so far.  Ms. Jennifer is grading these and will have them back for us next week!  We will be increasing the number of video lessons for math class.  This will help parents and students have a more cohesive math experience!

It was an action packed day in science class today!  Ms. Gail lead the class through a lesson on reactions.  The class had six different known substances.  They created mixtures of each combination to observe and document the results.  Some combinations reacted by creating precipitate.  The learned about precipitation in chemical mixtures.  Some of the combinations bubbled, which is always exciting!  They all did a wonderful job of recording their results in table form.  For next week, make sure to wear clothes that can get messy!

The children did such a great job completing their literature assignments at home!  Ms. Gail went through the pages with them, discussing important concepts.  Then, they read chapter 8 in A Bridge To Terabithia.  Because we are reading above grade level, and because good literature often delves into difficult topics and concepts, we spent some time explaining why the author uses improper English, as well as some bad language that we would never use.  Characters in books do not always act appropriately.  They do not always act or speak as we do.  The students understood this, and accepted it with maturity!  As someone trained in teaching sensitive subject matter, I truly appreciated Gail's responsible discussion.  Children rise to meet the expectations set for them!

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis brought in a skit today for the kids.  The play was about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.  The students have been studying this material for so long, and it was great to see them using it in a fun way! 

Agricultural Education-  Today was a split lesson in ag class.  First, we learned about chicken embryo development.  Our eggs are in the incubator!  The students learned the timeline for chicken eggs.  At day 18, we will take out the egg turner and increase the humidity.  This is called "lock down".  Then, three days later, the eggs should hatch!  The class learned terms such as pipping and zipping, humidity, and candling.  In two weeks, we will be candling the eggs to see the chicks growing inside!  The maran eggs are very dark, so it can be hard to see through the shell.  Hopefully by that point the embryos will be big enough for us to see movement! 

The second half of the lesson was on the Food Guide Pyramid, legumes, and Georgia peanuts!  The class learned that peanuts are not a nut, and that they grow under the ground.  It is one thing to hear about plant growth, but it is quite another to see it!  I took the class across the street for a quick demonstration on pulling peanuts.  Although it was a little bit wet outside, it was worth the excitement of seeing those peanuts come right up out of the ground!

Have a safe and fabulous Labor Day weekend!  We will see you on Tuesday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sunny Lessons for a Rainy Day

Another exciting week has begun!  In order to prepare for Inman Farm Heritage Days, the students must put the eggs into the incubator this week.  Although Agriculture class is not typically on Tuesdays, we did discuss the temperature and humidity needed to incubate fertilized eggs.  These splash and blue copper Marian eggs will begin their 3 week development today!

We discussed our new spelling list for the week, specifically looking at words that end in "tion", like reaction, combination, and decomposition.  The kids were particularly excited about learning to spell "spontaneous", for some reason!  We took turns coming up with sentences for some of the different words, and hopefully they will use them at home this week!

In handwriting, the class learned or worked to perfect their letter b's and c's.  We have been taking a letter or two at a time, and really focusing on their correct form.  Before writing them down onto paper, we often sky-write them.  Then, when they commit it to paper, hopefully they will start (or restart) with correct form, as to not create bad habits!

Our common and proper noun lesson continued today, as we learned to capitalize the names of the days of the week and months of the year.  Did you know that the seasons are not capitalized?  The students do!  In addition to working on proper capitalization, the students had a lesson in Greek and Roman dieties.  We discussed the origins of the names of the days of the week, which are named for these, as well as Norse, dieities.  The names of dieities are also proper nouns, and must be capitalized!

Ms. Jennifer taught the 4a math class about prime numbers today.  They began with a basic multiplication/division review using a visual aid, so they could understand how prime numbers are unable to be divided by anything other than 1 and itself.  The class end with a review game over the concepts in class, so far!  The 3a class also worked on a review of the material that they have covered so far.  Ms. Jennifer came early and set up a very awesome game out on the lawn.  Then... the rain came!  She changed gears, and they were able to review 1 and 2 digit numbers indoors.  What was that spelling word for this week?  Oh, yes!  Spontaneous!

We had a monster match-up today in writing class!  Last week, the kids drew their own monsters.  Then, they wrote descriptive papers about their drawings.  Today, the class read their descriptions out loud, in groups.  Each table had to listen to the description from their peer, and try to draw the same monster!  Needed less to say, the kids really learned to value descriptions.  They also understood the importance of order, sequence, and clarity in writing.  I explained to the class that we will be working on making writing fun... And taking their writing to an all new level!  I am hoping that they will thrive off of reading their creative works aloud to their classmates.  Writing can be such a daunting task for most children.  My goal is to take the stress out and inject it with positive peer interaction!

Spanish-  In Spanish class today, Ms. Rose began by reviewing the letter sounds, greetings, and days of the week.  They learned about feminine and masculine articles in Spanish.  We just discussed articles in grammar today, as we learned that they do not need to be capitalized in titles, unless the article happens to be the first word in the title.  In Spanish, the articles can be pretty tricky!  Finally, the class worked on writing the date, correctly.

Social Studies- The students read their biographical poems that they wrote on a famous abolitionist!  They all did such a great job with this!  Not only did they research their subject, they followed direction for the poem, put it all together, and then gave a presentation for their classmates!  Great job!  Afterward, they put their knowledge of the Underground Railroad to use as they completed a comprehensive review sheet.   On Thursday, they will be doing a skit together on Harriet Tubman!

Art- Ms. Nancy switched gears today, in light of last week's agriculture lesson on sunflowers!  She brought in a beautiful bunch of sunflowers and taught a lesson on Van Gogh!  The students learned about Van Gogh's famous paintings.  Then, they learned about the properties of water color paints.  Water colors are translucent, and can do many things that aren't realized!  Did you know that if you add salt to water color paint, it will create crystal patterns on the paper?  The class went followed Ms. Nancy's directions as she guided them through some water color techniques.  Then, they all worked on their own sunflower paintings!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Molecules, Math Hunts, and Marans

Spelling/Vocab- The class did a review over their words and definitions.  As I began a new method of weekly spelling and vocabulary lists that integrate vocabulary words from each subject, I was hoping that it would allow for a good use of time.  If students are working on different spelling rules and special cases in spelling... then they might as well be learning the words that they are actually using in their classes!  These lists have worked as a weekly preview for the kids.  Tuesday morning, we go over our new lists.  These are new words for them, and I am able to let them "peek" at the material they will be learning in science, social studies, vocabulary, grammar, agriculture, and even math!

Handwriting- In handwriting today, all of the students learned or relearned the correct formation of the cursive letters "U" and "B".  The capital B can be a little tricky, so my beginning cursive class and I made up a dance!  We also drew cursive B's on each others' backs to work on form.  We will be working on practicing these letters at home, and also creating another border sheet to hang up and share with the class!

Grammar- The class continued their review of common and proper nouns.  Although capitalization rules are something the students already knew, always remembering to put them into practice can be difficult!  I am going to work on constantly correcting capitalization in all of my classes.  Consistency will hopefully help these rules to stick!

Math-  Ms. Jennifer taught our 3A group about rounding today.  The students were given place value cards and needed to put them in order to equal the value given.  The students also took turns drawing names and asking each other questions about rounding.  They each took turns choosing names and asking questions... Keeping it fun!  In the 4A class, Ms. Jennifer gave a lesson on division. The 4A students had already studied division, so Ms. Jennifer was able to take what they know, and take it from there!  She demonstrated division of large numbers, such as 10,000, by chopping 0's off of the end.  After their lecture, the students hit the yard for a Math Scavenger Hunt.  The students found clues.  Some of the clues required them to go find Ms. Jennifer in order to answer a math question.  Then, she gave them the next clue.  Unfortunately, there ended up being an issue where the clues were all snatched up by one person... but it had great potential!

Science-  Ms. Gail and I were so impressed with the class' retention of their reading from yesterday!  They began class by showing off their chemistry knowledge with a review game.  Then, each student showed off their amazing element projects!  We learned a lot about the elements that were chosen.  Each and every one of them did such an awesome job! After we hung their projects, Ms. Gail lead the class through the experiment #2 in their lab books.  They made molecules using marshmallows and toothpicks.  They made oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, methane, and methanol molecules.  It was a little sticky, but worth it!  They children had to document the activity in their lab books.  This will help them learn to work through experiments in a slower, more deliberate way. 

Literature-  Ms. Gail used our book "A Bridge To Terabithia" to teach the class about similes.  There are plenty in this book!  They read chapter 5 together, discussing it in detail.  I absolutely loved sitting in the next room, listening to the giggles at the funny parts, and the quiet focus of little minds.  Kids of ALL AGES love to be read to, especially be a dynamic reader!

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis taught the students more about abolitionists and the Underground Railroad.  They talked about specific people that helped the slaves to escape slavery and become free!  They reviewed the Webquest activity, talking about the paths they chose.  Then, the kids worked on crossword for different abolitionists.  It was fun to watch them realize they didn't have the same crossword puzzle as their neighbor!

Agricultural Education- What a day!  The class really learned a lot today about farming, animals, and how its not always picture perfect!  At the beginning of the day, we had a visitor coming in to let me know that our goats had gotten out and one had hurt her foot!  She was checked out and ended up being alright, but just the act of talking to the kids about farming as a real life farming situation unfolded was pretty eye opening!  Things happen all the time... and you don't always know how to deal with it.  As with life, and all education, we learn as much as we can, but there are always situations that arise to make us realize that there is much more that we do not yet know.

The class learned about the different coops at our farm.  We even saw a chicken actively lay an egg!  We have a breeding coop for lavender orpingtons (where Goliath, the world's meanest rooster lives!), and we have a coop of blue copper and splash marans.  The students learned that breeding our maran chickens involves math!  When you breed a splash maran to a blue copper maran, there is a 50% chance the egg will give up a splash maran chick and a 50% chance that it will be a blue copper maran chick.  When you breed two blue copper marans, you will get 50% blue copper marans, 25% splash copper marans and 25% black copper marans.  We are hoping for more splash marans, so we chose our 2 splash hens and 1 blue copper maran hen to breed with our gorgeous blue copper maran rooster. 

The children were able to meet our goats, two of which still needed a name.  Well, it only took one look and the class named them:  Bluebell and !  Problem solved!  The students were able to see the goats' developing udders.  Hopefully, their babies will be born in September, and we will be able to do a milking demonstration!

After visiting the animals, we picked sunflowers, taking note of the gorgeous pattern of the seeds.  I explained that math can be found in nature!  There is a sequence of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence.  This sequence can be found in flower petals, leaves, and other places in nature!  This sequence is connected to something called the Golden Mean.  The Golden Mean is responsible for determining certain spirals in nature, including the spiral seed formation of the sunflower!  I will post information about the Fibonacci sequence for anyone interested in learning more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spheres, Spanish, and Scary Monsters!

Spelling- We have a new list for a new week!  Because the lists are compiled from each subject's weekly content, they are pretty difficult!  We went over the definitions, as well as any words that had a tricky spelling.

Handwriting- In handwriting today, we focused on learning the correct form of the cursive "I" and "O".  The kids will be working more on these at home, as needed!

Grammar- I think these kids love video lessons!  They all did an excellent job with the lesson, as well as the dictation exercise.  We went through the work from yesterday.  We also reviewed all of those rules for turning singular nouns into plurals.  At home, they will each be working on practice with these skills.

Math-  In math, Ms. Jennifer taught the 4A group some strategies for mental math.  In order to keep from getting bogged down with multiplication, each student will be working on memorizing their multiplication tables.  For class on Thursday, they were each given a different multiplication table to memorize!  The 3A group worked on reviewing place value.  After a review lesson, the kids reviewed with multicolored cards for 10, 100, 1000, and so on.

Writing-  I think I may have found a way to get 3rd and 4th graders excited about writing... Just add monsters!  Each student drew a picture of a monster from their imagination.  They worked away from all of the other students, so no one could see their work of art!  After their pictures were finished, they had to write very descriptive papers, explaining exactly what their monsters look like.  Next week, we will be reading the descriptions out loud, while the other classmates try to draw the exact same monster!  I think we're going to learn a lot about the importance of descriptive writing!

Spanish-  Ms. Rose worked with the children on the Spanish alphabet today.  They went over each letter... and they learned that the Spanish alphabet has more letters than ours!  I wish I had recorded them all rolling their r's.  It was pretty hilarious!  The class will be working more on the Spanish alphabet, at home.  Before we know it, they will be writing Spanish words!

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis taught the class about abolitionists and the Underground Railroad.  They used their reading to complete a crossword puzzle on the key terms.  As the kids do their at home assignments, be sure to have them think about the person that they would like to focus on for their cereal box display project!

Art-  Ms. Nancy taught the students three key words today:  repetition, intense, and pattern.    They each drew a circle, and then used curved lines to create a 3D sphere.  Using only 3 colors, the students created a pattern and filled in their sphere.  These projects are going to look AMAZING! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Protons, Produce, and Plural Nouns

We're already getting into the groove!  Each day will begin by a student holding the flag and leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  We will be taking turns throughout the year.  Also, we posted our "star chart".  Each time we go over work from Homework Hideout, and the children complete and bring in that assignment, they get a star.  Once a student gains enough stars to complete his or her chart, they are able to choose from the prize box!

Spelling/vocabulary- Instead of waiting until we split into small groups, we played a big spelling review game of hot potato!  These words are difficult, and the kids are doing a great job!  They will be working with their lists at home tomorrow, and doing at-home assessment on Monday.  We will be getting a new list each week, which previews the key words they will be learning in all of their other classes that week!

Handwriting- Once our organization was complete, the students split into their math and handwriting/grammar groups. In handwriting, each class worked on learning, or perfecting, the cursive letter "e".  Although the ones who are learning cursive are working on developing each letter in class, they will be working on improving their manuscript penmanship as they work at home.

Grammar-  Today, we discussed singular and plural nouns.  Most of the student already knew that there were different rules for turning singular nouns into their singular form.  Usually, you just add an "s" to the end of the word to make it plural.  However, if words end in s, sh, ch, x, or x, you must add "es".  The students also learned (or reviewed) that words that end in a consanent followed by a y are changed to plural by turning the "y" into an "i" and adding "es".  But, if the noun ends in a vowel followed by a "y" (as in 'boy'), you only have to add an "s"!  We will continue today's lesson in an at-home video lesson tomorrow.

Math-  In math class today, the students reviewed place values up to 1 billion.  After Ms. Jennifer's lesson, the class got in line to play a place value game.  Each student got a turn to give the place value, and the value, of a number that Ms. Jennifer pointed out.  If they were correct, they were able to move up a floor tile toward the goal line!  Hooray for kinetic learning!

Science-  Thursdays are science days with Ms. Gail!  The kids learned the definition of chemistry.  They learning about the periodic table, as well as atoms and their smaller particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons).  After discussing the different elements, Ms. Gail explained to the class that they will be working on a poster or construction paper assignment, at home.  They each get to choose an element that they would like to display.  Then, they have to come up with a shape that represents their element (for instance, a salt shaker for sodium).  They will cut construction paper or poster board to that shape.  On it, they will be displaying information about their element.  These will be shown off in class next Thursday!  Afterward, they played a matching game, like Memory, with the terms from today.  What a great first day of science!

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis discussed with the class the differences that existed between the North and the South.  These included economic, cultural, and Constitutional differences.  For instance, a major conflict was the desire for States' Rights as opposed to a very strong central government.  The students applied what they learned as they completed a chart on the subject.  Mr. Dennis leads a hard class, but in the end, these kids are going to know their stuff!

Agriculture- As the first day of agricultural education, I introduced the meaning of agriculture, and the importance of agriculture to our state and to the world as a whole.  We discussed Georgia's most important agricultural commodities, and talked about where our meats come from!  No, farming is not always pretty.  Getting a cow from the pasture to a burger isn't exactly roses, but the students hopefully were able to think about the big picture... that we all must eat and we are blessed to have chicken, pigs, cows, and other animals that provide us with protein that our bodies need. 

The children spent time coloring pictures of the scene they picture when they hear the word "farm".  They drew rolling hills, red barns, smiling cows, and blue skies.  Beautiful!  However, we did discuss that not all farms look like this!  Some farms don't raise animals at all!  Some farms only grow fields and fields of soybeans.  Some farms are small, local farms, with naturally grown food.  We discussed why the cost of this food is higher than the food at the grocery stores.  We also discussed large factory farms, and how, although their practices are not always what we would like them to be, the world population needs so much food that we cannot all eat from our small local farms.... nor could everyone afford more expensive milk, eggs, or produce.  It's good to discuss all aspects of an equation, and there certainly are a lot of factors that go into agriculture!

The kids learned that they will be getting ready for Inman Farm Heritage Days on September 21st.  Our class will be hosting a fundraiser... a farm animal exhibit!  Each child will become an "expert" on one of the animals in our exhibit.  We will have chicks, chickens, rabbits, donkeys, goats, and more!  Just ask your kids what purposes rabbits serve on a farm... They LOVE this!

Writing- Our goal in writing is this:  Make writing FUN!  We want kids to love to write, not to be miserable about the idea.  In order to do this, they have to get comfortable writing... so we are going to write often!  Each day, the kids will have a short writing prompt.  This is nothing big or detailed.  They are just writing one paragraph.... but they only have 10 minutes!  After 10 minutes, we share what we have written.  Today's prompt was:  "The Perfect Sandwich".  It took a little while to get over the shock of having to think and quickly write their thoughts onto paper, but with time, it will help them to lose the fear of committing to paper... and just WRITE!  We will work on being picky later.  For now, it's all about letting go!

Drama- In drama today, Ms. Rose helped the children chose their roles for "The Polar Express"!  They worked through nailing down the parts and even got through blocking out the first three scenes!  These kids are going to love this class.... and LOVE getting The Polar Express ready to leave the station!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Awesome First Day!

This morning, as the classroom filled up with shiny, happy, eager faces, I knew it was going to be a great day!

We began the day with a lesson on gifts.  I explained the our new class that we all have gifts.  We have strengths and weaknesses.  Each student talked about the things that they are great at... and we learned that everyone is different!  To illustrate this, we took our fingerprints, comparing them to our neighbor.  This lead to a great discussion on how unique we all are... and how the world needs different people with different skills.

In our class, we embrace these differences.  I explained to the children that we are working on different levels, we are made up of two different grades.  Today's lesson on individuality and gifts, and the reminder that we are one class made up of different individuals, will help us to develop a supportive peer atmosphere!

Spelling-  Today, we discussed our first spelling/vocabulary list.  I explained to the students that this list is like watching a preview of a movie that we have not yet seen.  They are not supposed to know what these mean yet!

Handwriting- We are going to get nit-picky this year with handwriting!  At home, each child will be doing copywork- some in cursive and some in manuscript. In class, however, each group will be working on individual cursive letter formation- one letter at a time. Today, we dissected the cursive "a". 

Math- Ms. Jennifer used rubberbands of different sizes to review place value.  The children had some small rubber bands, representing ones, medium ones representing tens, and large ones, representing  hundreds.  They linked smaller rubberbands together and traded them in for the corresponding larger band.  The class also reviewed standard form and expanded form. 

Literature- Ms. Caroline introduced the book, "A Bridge To Terabithia".  They learned about the author, Katherine Patterson, and her life in Japan, as a missionary, and as a writer.  To kick off the book, the class took turns reading chapter 1, aloud.  We will be reading the book during at-home days, and discussing it in detail on Tuesdays with Ms. Caroline!

Spanish-  Ms. Rose started out the year in Spanish by giving the students their Spanish names.  The kids loved getting renamed!  We have a Mariana, a Feliz, a Marisol, and more.  She also had the kids on their feet today as they learned Spanish greetings, and the days of the week (in song).  Ms. Rose's enthusiasm is contagious, and I know these kids are going to soak it up!

Social Studies-  Today, Mr. Dennis introduced the class to the material they would be studying this year.  They began with an activity that helped them get to know their textbooks.  They used the book to write down answers to various questions on headings, subheadings, review questions, and vocabulary words.  As the kids read through the text at home, they will be working on an index card vocabulary packet.  They will be adding vocabulary words one one side of each card, with a definition on the back.  This will help them to have an easy to access study guide!

Art-  Ms. Nancy began art class by discussing the importance of art in the world all around us.  The clothing that we wear was designed by someone.  The chair that we sit in was designed with art in mind.  Ms. Nancy also encouraged them to think about the phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words".  What did that mean?  What can art tell us?  Children love art.  They crave it, in one form or another.  Today, they were able to express themselves as they created self portraits.  This was a great lesson for today, as we discussed our unique differences as a recurrent theme.

 Ms. Fanette is back with Suzuki piano class!  This year, there are two music classes.  In the 2nd year class, the students reviewed that their treble clef hand is the right hand and their bass clef hand is their left.  She then worked on a new piece with them, right off the bat!  The 1st year class had an introduction to piano.  Ms. Fanette was completely impressed with both groups!  It is going to be an awesome year!

This is the first year with a core class of this size.  I knew that we had an awesome group of teachers and a schedule that worked.  I knew that we were able to split the group into two alternating math classes.  All of the planning was in place, but we can only try our best for a good classroom dynamic.  It all falls down to setting the ball into motion... and letting the kids loose in a positive learning environment.  I have been blessed.  These children are a phenomenal group of kids.  Caring.  Smart.  Helpful.  Eager.  As a teacher, I am thrilled to have this group of students who will allow for so much learning to take place.  As a mom, I could not ask for a better group of classmates and friends for my own boys!