Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our Day!

Learning about plate tectonics

The unveiling of the fossils!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013



As we begin our third week of class, I have started our notecard parent communication.  Each week, I will be sending a notecard home with each and every student.  This is just a way to communicate with parents on strengths, praises, and also things to work on.  I hope this will help everyone to reach their highest potential for the class, both behaviorally and academically!  (Remember... I am writing something each day of class... for everyone!  This is a way to catch little issues before they ever become big ones!)

Ag/Health- Today was a fun day!  For the first two weeks, we talked about our total health, and factors that affect our health.  Today, we specifically talked about the environment.  Most of them already had knowledge of reusing, reducing, and recycling.  Today, I introduced them to the idea of "repurposing".  This is when you use an unused item for another purpose entirely. I had them explain what comes to their minds when they think of a farm.  What does it look like?  Most of the students had pictures of rolling green hills, silos, red barns... basically, Old MacDonald!  I explained that farms do not always look this way, or so picturesque.  They learned that many small, working farms reuse and repurpose throw-away items to save money, reduce waste, and to make things work with what they have available.  The kids were able to check out the repurposing of old truck campers.  These are excellent chick brooders!  They hold in heat very well, are wind and water proof, and close up tight to prevent loss from predators.  Do they look pretty?  No.  But, they are serving an important purpose and NOT sitting in a landfill!  The kids will be coming up with their own ideas for repurposing items during their at-home assignment.

There are so many great ways to incorporate health concepts into ag discussions!  Today, the class also learned to be aware of their surroundings.  We talked about paying attention to what is around you.  The floor could be wet, an alarm could be going off, there could be a suspicious stranger, or a friend may need your help.  To illustrate this, I told a story about one of our own turkey who was stuck under a bucket.  If I had not heard his call, wondered where it was coming from, and then slowed down (stopped milking the goats) and actually went to investigate, the turkey poult would have surely died in the hot sun! 

Spanish-  In Spanish class today, Ms. Cindy reviewed the parts of the body.  She drew a person on the board, and they worked as a class to label the parts.  This class is so FUN!  Ms. Cindy helps them to use Spanish words while they wash hands and eat snack, when they ask a question, when they want to use the restroom... all the time!  The class listened to a few songs, as well as a story in Spanish.  They are truly learning through FUN!

Art-  Ms. Nancy continued her lesson on texture today.  The class took their crayon papers from last week, and added a sand mixture.  This is a multi-step process!  Ms. Nancy worked with them in rotating "centers".  While some painted on the sand mixture, others worked on cutting and combining shapes to form faces for their cave-people.  Ms. Nancy was very impressed with the amount of research these students did over the week!  Excellent job!

In Social Studies, Mr. Dennis taught about the rise and rule of Hitler.  The students took notes over the information that was given, filling out a chart throughout the lecture.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Captain Caaaave-Man

Health- We continued our introduction on health, and learned about different external factors that effect our health.  The students and I discussed the ways that heredity, culture, environment, media, technology, and peers affect us and our health decisions.  We zeroed in on media, with a lesson on advertising.  To demonstrate the false claims that saturate media advertisements, the students played a little game.  Each of them wrote two true facts about themselves (that could not be something that can be seen, such as hair or eye color), and one false statement.  They were encouraged to write a believable lie, to trick their classmates!  The three statements were written on an index card, and taped to their backs.  The students read each others' cards, and quietly guessed which sentence was false.  If they guessed correctly, the card-owner had to write their initial on the guesser's card.  If they guessed wrong, the guesser wrote his or her initial on the card-owner's card.  The goal was to see how many initials you could get.  We discussed how some false claims in advertising are easy to spot, and some are much more difficult.  This lead to a great discussion on different issues with misleading ads for health products and services.  We will do more with this lesson during our at-home assignments!

Spanish- We will begin our Spanish class each Tuesday with a "working" snack time.  Ms. Cindy began today's class by teaching the kids a song that they will be singing while they wash their hands.  During snack, they will be showing off at-home assignments, listening to a Spanish song, listening to Ms. Cindy, etc.  Today, they showed off their personal posters.  They told a little about themselves, showed off their self portrait, and explained what they hope to learn in Spanish class this year.  The class then hit the floor to sing songs, play games, and listen to a great little Spanish story. 
I am in LOVE with the fun, relaxed learning environment of our Spanish class!

Art- Today was all about texture.  Ms. Nancy took out the class' finished block of plaster of Paris.  She broke it into pieces, which would be the students' "cave walls".  Then, the class used acrylics, as well as their homemade paints from nature, to decorate their walls.  They worked on adding texture with different sponges.  While they waited for these to dry, they Ms. Nancy had them start on a different texture project, using crayons.

Social Studies- The class brought in their printout on the Causes of WWII.  They worked in small groups on a crossword reading comprehension exercise.  They are learning about the 

It is only week two of class, and we are still working on expectations, and learning to learn in a group setting.  It takes a while to get the hang of things!  Skills that we are addressing are staying focused on the task and controlling excessive talking.  If we stay on task, we get things done... and if we get things done, we can have more fun!

Starting next week, I will send home an index card with each child, that will just give a little insight into their day.  They will hopefully be chock full of positive comments each Tuesday, but it will give me a consistent way to communicate with parents about their child's areas that need improvement.  Although we are here to learn Spanish, art, health, and more, it is so much more important to learn how to adapt to different learning environments!  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Inflation, Exclamation, and Pertrification

Independent study time seems to be going very well.  The kids are working very hard on their parent-assigned material, and are asking for help when they need it.  I am very proud of them for being so focused and quiet while they work!

Ms. Gail is back!  The class began reading the book, "The House of Dies Drear" by Virginia Hamilton.  They will be reading more at home, and working on vocabulary and comprehension questions that they will discuss next week.

In science class, the students learned about fossils.  Ms. Gail discussed different types of fossils, and ways that they form.  Ms. Gail brought in models of a trilobite and nautiloid, and brought more for the kids to make at home!  Also, they have a ball of soap to use at home... with a surprise fossil hidden inside!  Before working on their vocabulary, the class created their own plaster of Paris fossils. They will dry over the weekend, and the class will be finishing them up next week!

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis used today's class to step back and look at Germarn post-WWI.  (He also discussed the prefixes "pre" and "post".)  They took a look at the horrible inflation that Germany experienced at this time.  They completed a graph activity, which allowed students to focus on specific instances of price increase (for instance, the price of bread).  They also read different passages which illustrated the affects of inflation on individual German citizens.  They continued their overall lesson in the background of WWII with a discussion the legacy of WWI.  With this, they have officially surpassed what was expected of me in all of my years of history class.

Grammar & Writing-  Today was an introductory day, as we are all starting a new curriculum!  We had an overview of the different books, and an explanation of how our in class and at home lessons will flow.  Each week, the kids will be responsible for a dictation exercise.  They will read the passage, and study the spelling, punctuation, and other grammatical elements, and then write it down.  They will review this passage each at-home day, and it will be a dictation quiz when we return to class.  This will be an ongoing activity, so there will be a passage each week.  They are found at the end of the textbook, beginning on page 579.  The lessons in this year's grammar and writing class will be student-driven, meaning that they are going to learn to be responsible for reading the at-home lectures, and completing the practice questions.  If there is a tough lesson, then I will, of course, post a video!

Today was a full day that required a lot of brain power!  I explained to the kids that, even if their brains are wanting to explode and they want to whine and pout about having to work... it is NOTHING more than they did last year!  Hopefully, my pep-talk will help out at home!

(This year, the kids were assigned a job to help clean up the room at the end of class.  Why didn't I do this last year?  Awesome!)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Awesome First Day!

What a beautiful day!

Class began with an explanation of how our class works.  We talked about the positive and supportive atmosphere that we have, and how important it is to keep it!  I explained that each and every one of us has different strengths, weaknesses, and passions.  We are different ages, "grades", and sizes.We have different personalities.  We learn in different ways.  We all talked about how important it is to embrace these differences, and to support each other!  I am so very excited about this year, and thrilled with this brand new group of energetic, happy children!

I explained the reasons behind our independent study time.  It will be my goal to keep students on track with their parent-assigned material, help when they get "stuck" on a problem, and, most importantly, to instill in them a strong sense of responsibility and self-motivation.  This class period is silent, and each student will be working, individually, on material from home.  Please be sure to bring a book each day, as well (electronic readers are fine... but no games!)

Health/Ag- Today was an introductory day for us.  I explained how we will be integrating health concepts with agriculture topics, which I am VERY excited about!  We talked about the meaning of the word "health", and learned about different health domains: physical, social, and physical/emotional.  The class learned about the "Health Triangle", as an illustration of these domains.  But, we also discussed that some view health as a wheel, instead of a triangle.  I was so excited when students came up with other possible health domains, on their own.  Spiritual health, intellectual health, and occupational health were added to our wheel illustration.  At home, the students will be choosing which model they liked better, and explaining why. 

Spanish-  In Spanish class, Ms. Cindy began by allowing each student to choose a Spanish name to use for the year.  Then, she spoke to them using Spanish phrases, guiding them through washing their hands and preparing their snacks.  Ms. Cindy loves to teach Spanish by doing, and the students ate it up!  After snack, the class had some fun with a few games using Spanish words and phrases.  I think it is going to be an awesome, laid-back, super fun year of learning!

Art- Class began with Ms. Nancy's crayon rules!  She explained to the class why it is important to bear down, to fill the page with color (even if it is white, it must be colored white!), and not to worry if the crayon breaks!  The students worked on an introductory picture before moving on to a lesson in cave painting.  Ms. Nancy explained why cave paintings existed, and what the artists might have used for brushes or for color.  The kids took to the yard and mixed up some plaster of paris, which they will be using in next week's project.  For next week, they will be bringing in a "brush" from nature.  Some even asked if they could bring berries, or other natural items to be used as paint.  I can't wait to see what next week brings!

Social Studies- During our health lesson this morning, I explained that the kids would be learning to take notes this year.  Mr. Dennis kicked off the year with a lesson on World War II, including discussions that asked the question, "Why would societies elect for a dictatorship?"