Friday, May 29, 2015

It May Be Raining Outside, But We're Sunshine Indoors!

This week we've enjoyed finalizing many projects that we've been diligently working on over the past few weeks. Will Hoard commented, "I am proud to have finished all these fun projects." Great job, everyone!

We've been talking a lot about "being in the moment" and enjoying each and every day together of these last few weeks. As Gavin pointed out, "I'm grateful for TODAY!"

This month's homework was so much fun to share! We loved revealing and discussing the contents of our time capsules, presenting our SBLC brochures, and connecting to one another with our mindfulness narratives.

Language Arts
Each grade level had the opportunity to share their Book Partnership book shares. We've got some new ideas for summer reading, thanks to our friends' reviews. As Ava S. mentioned, "We presented about The Magic Finger and it was really fun." She also has taken to heart our positive critique and drafting sessions in that she points out what they could have done to improve, "we could use pencil first, not pen, so there would be fewer mistakes." Fabulous thinking for future work!

Science & Social Studies
Second and third graders spent the week learning about landforms, created riddles to share using landform features and characteristics, and even created their own island! We've certainly got a creative group!

We also compared water levels of Austin lakes and rivers at the interactive site below. Pretty amazing!

Fourth grade delved into Texas history. Through primary and secondary sources, we were able to understand the details of Texas revolution and independence. We learned some pretty fascinating details about the battles that shaped our Texas spirit: the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto.

Fourth graders worked on their tree growth projects and shared them with the class at the end of the week.

Third graders finished their projects on annual rainfall and lake level.

Second grade finished their projects on Texas insets that have fours stages in their life cycle.

Third graders had fun at their indoor picnic today. Then we headed outside to enjoy some sunshine.

Have a great weekend!
The SBLC Team

Friday, May 22, 2015

Projects and Drafting and Field Trips...OH MY!

This week has been an exploration again of drafting, getting positive feedback, and drafting again. This didn't just apply to project time, however, but all our blocks. It is exciting to get insight on how to improve, and so motivating that we are eagerly re-drafting our work.

Reading and Writing
We have finished up all the novels (3rd's still reading) -- Oh my, great endings -- Alfie, for the best reason of all...(ask your 4th grader what that means) and Mike (2nd) has gained some confidence -- we are looking forward to the next book in that series.

We have enjoyed some extra time with Reading Partnerships. Most of our partnerships are finishing our first book study together and are creating ways to share what we read through posters, powerpoints, and skits. It's going to be fun to present to one another in the next few weeks...summer reading ideas!

We've been incorporating writing as well, finishing our vocabulary studies with Synonym Scrabble boards and our own editions of Thesaurus and flow charts. Sophia shared, "I learned to time-manage to get more work done. For example, if I work on the sentences, my partner works on the two words and then we might get our thesauruses done faster!" Again, it's been so energizing to see their level of ownership and investment in going work worthy of pride!

This week 4th graders researched to find out how long it would take trees in the forest to grow after a fire. Avery found out "some pine trees grow up to 100 feet tall." The information they gather will be displayed on a poster and shared with others. Third graders are doing research on annual rainfall in Austin. They are finding out how the drought has affected lake level at Lake Travis. Second graders wrote and solved problems about data in different graphs. They also learned how to read a key on a pictograph. We ended the week working with a partner or small group to research Texas insects that go through metamorphosis. Their research will be displayed on a poster for others to see.

Our projects are in their final stages! After many steps, second graders performed their insect life cycle puppet shows! From the first draft of their script to the creation of their "set" and characters, they worked hard to put on an informative and entertaining show! 

Third graders fine-tuned their drought projects. Josi remembered, "We got people's critiques and changed our PowerPoints, brochures, and posters to make them better. We moved and changed some other things, like spelling and the font." Seeing the results of their effort--and the pride they feel when presenting--is inspiring!

Fourth grade also practiced giving and receiving peer feedback to improve their forest revitalization brochures. Their hard work paid off with a professional-looking brochure that they were able to share with their classmates in today's gallery walk.

Fourth graders also had the privilege of attending the Austin Symphony on Thursday. They were dressed to the nines...with manners to match! I was so incredibly proud of our ladies and gentlemen.

We were just a little excited for our classy adventure! #symphonyselfie

In addition to demonstrating our impeccable manners, we also learned quite a lot about the elements of a symphony. Ask your fourth grader about the instruments sections, the song structure, and the composers who wrote them! Colin discovered, "An orchestra piece has three parts: exposition, development, and recapitulation."

We took time to appreciate our surroundings...

...but were happy to let loose when we returned.

Another magical, memory-filled week!

Enjoy the long weekend,

Friday, May 15, 2015

Wonderful Words

We've been learning about how powerful our peers can be in helping us look at our work and encouraging each other through positively framed words. We discovered that, with Kind, Specific, and Helpful feedback, we are energized to improve upon our work.

Reading and Language Arts
As our novel studies continue, we are delving deeper into Signposts, our characters, and examining how authors put together their stories. We are also up to our ears in a great Vocabulary Study with words that tie into the fabulous Science projects we are working on. We learned 6 strategies to get at words' meanings. Sometimes, looking at synonyms helps us not only understand variations of the specific word, but learn other words and their usage. We learned that synonyms are related, BUT, may have different, more precise they aren't necessarily interchangable. We are really building our word banks. As Fourth Grade worked with "revitalization," Gavin found that, "Remodel is related but it means when you have something outdated, you upgrade it," Will Hoard enjoyed that, "There is an online thesaurus with lots of synonyms." Zachary learned, "One way to find out what words that you don't know mean is by going on Google Images." Ask your kids what their word is!

Fourth graders started the week off talking about financial institutions. We read a book titled And the Total Is that lead us into coming up with a new hobby or activity. We then figured out how much it would cost to start this new hobby. We ended the week learning about Dot Plots and Stem and Leaf Plots.One of our fourth graders, Raquel thinks, "Stem and Leaf Plots are fun!"

Third graders learned about budgeting and spending decisions. We read Uncle Jed's Barbershop, A Chair for My Mother, and Little Nino's Pizzeria. These stories had good examples of making financial decisions. We also made an Acrostic poem using the word BUDGET to help us remember how important it is to budget our money. Our third grader Liam, "Discovered different types of good and bad spending decisions."

Second graders enjoyed reading and making pictographs. We surveyed our class to find everybody's
favorite subject, color, and food then we made bar graphs with our data.

We've been taking our understanding of life cycles and environments further this week with various projects. Second graders have been working with partners to create their own life cycle puppet show! They've applied what they learned about our Painted Lady Butterflies and spent the week writing, revising, and typing their scripts. Mayuri learned, "A script has the character's name, then a colon and last, what they say."

Third graders presented their drought projects and practiced providing effective feedback to each other. Josi remembers, "We critiqued people's brochures, posters, and presentations with K.S.H. feedback: kind, specific, and helpful." Next week, they'll have the opportunity to apply the suggestions made by their peers to improve their presentations.

Fourth grade continued their research of post-forest fire revitalization. They've synthesized and organized their information and are inserting it--along with pictures--into a brochure. Aliza discovered, "The more pixels a picture has, the better quality it is."They are in the early stages but are on their way to some tremendous creations!

Wishing you a wonderful (wet) weekend,

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fun in the SBLC May 4-8

This week fourth grade analyzed expenses, discussed advantages and disadvantages of different methods of saving money, and made a budget for a weekly allowance. They also worked on a project that involved planning movie meals for $5.00 or less using a price chart of snacks. The second task was to develop a movie schedule so six movies show three times a day in four theaters. Third grader, Sydney said she "learned about planned and unplanned spending", making financial decisions, and saving money. They had to look at each decision  nd decide if the situation was an income, spending, saving, credit, or giving.  Second graders learned about a.m. and p.m. and telling time to the minute. After an assessment on telling time we starting measuring in centimeters. Maryn,"learned how to use diagrams to solve problems" when adding and subtraction lengths.

Reading and Language Arts
Reading Partnerships are getting started! It's awesome to see them taking so much responsibility for their reading! They have set meeting times, how much they are going to read, and are actively creating discussion questions in their selected books.
We learned how to create discussion questions -- "Thin and Thick Questions" which have us looking at our reading in a literal and inferential way. Ask us to explain the difference!
We wrote some amazing poems this week, delving into crafting pieces where EVERY WORD means something and we want our reader to understand it's impact and importance. :) Logan was "grateful to be shown how to write a good poem!"
Our novel studies are progressing nicely - Second is seeing a change in Mike as he discovers something he really enjoys (and finds that reading is more fun as well when it's about that topic!), Shayaan enjoys, "learning how the magic trick works!" Third is watching as Billie Jo adjusts to a new life with dad and an injury, and Alfie is putting pieces together, hoping to help his father. Sarthak is curious about "how the Prime Minister knows that Alfie's last name is Summerfield (Alfie never mentioned it to him)." Great discussion, wonderful's exciting to invest in our characters!!

We've continued our study of the environment and some of the organisms that inhabit it. Second graders spent the week observing their Painted Lady Butterflies, identifying their body parts, and discussing how each feature contributes to the butterfly's survival. Sam learned, "Butterflies taste with their feet, smell with their antennae, and eat with their proboscis." After getting to see our butterflies go through each stage of metamorphosis, it was time to release them to their natural habitat. We cheered them on as they took their first official flight!

We chose a location on our campus that would provide them with the nourishment they need and even spotted a butterfly using its proboscis to take a little sip of nectar!

Some of our butterflies were a bit reluctant to leave...a few lingered with us for a few extra butterfly snuggles!

We returned to the classroom and enjoyed some nectar of our own, ending our Proboscis Party on a sweet note!

Third graders are creating a "drought kit" to inform others about the effects of drought and how we can mitigate them. After applying our note-taking skills and conducting some initial research, Oscar discovered, "Drought is a time with little or no water." Our ecologists have synthesized their findings and will be presenting their kits in a format of their choice. Some chose to create a poster...

...while others decided to perform a skit.

Some decided to develop their technology skills with a PowerPoint or a brochure. Sanjana learned "how to add a picture onto the desktop then load it into a brochure."

Fourth grade expanded their understanding of food webs with an interactive game. They played various roles as producers and consumers to visualize the interconnectedness and the effects of an increase or decrease in an organism's population. 

Today, they began a forest fire ecosystem project. Their focus question: what can be done to revitalize the forest after a forest fire? They are utilizing their technology, research, and note-taking skills to gather information for their project. More super ideas to come!

Thank you again for all the Teacher Appreciation love...we definitely feel valued! We appreciate all the support and love you've given this week and throughout the year. 

Enjoy the weekend!