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!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Environment Project Resources

Use the resources below to gather information for your project. Remember to take good notes!

Third Grade
Water Sense

National Drought Mitigation Center

Texas Drought Information

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Great Week in the SBLC!

We had another fast week that wrapped up another fantastic month! The end of April brought the opportunity to share monthly homework and our students have become PowerPoint pros! They did an excellent job presenting both their slideshows and their journals.

Reading and Writing
This week we worked hard yet again! In second grade, our character, Mike, struggles with feeling confident and sticking with things that are tough. We saw, however, how he solved a riddle...and tried it ourselves! By listening and following directions, "I learned how to make a hole big enough in a piece of paper to walk through!" Nate explained. We even wrote our own "How To..." story about it so others could do it themselves!

Third Grade has passed through an emotional change in Billie Jo's life. She now has challenges from her burned hands that have brought a new meaning to facing an already tough life in the Dust Bowl. We were astonished to see how Karen Hesse used facts that we learned about in nonfiction about the Dust Bowl in her poetry. The figurative language used helped us visualize in new ways! Seeing it through a character's eyes also makes it come alive. The earth was thirsty, the rain stroked the roof.  We also read Miss Alaineus, to prepare for our Vocabulary Parade on May 8th. We discovered the idiom, "Pride goeth before a fall..." and "egg on your face." Fun!

Fourth Grade followed Alfie on a journey to look for his father, who he has discovered to be at a military hospital for soldiers suffering from shell shock (PTSD). We have just reached the climax, where Evangeline noted, "It's as though the author wants you to realize that Alfie has experienced something and changed from a naive boy to one with an immense new awareness." (US TOO!) We also had an experience where we examined some statements...we evaluated whether we agreed or disagreed based on our lives, and then looked at it in light of the characters in our book. Finally, we got together in groups and discussed it, respecting each other for our differing thoughts. Jillian mentioned, "I disagreed with someone but someone else  helped clarify things and then we saw how we agreed with him, so then we all agreed." It was amazing to hear the discussion and read the depth of thought!

This week 4th graders continued to learn about variable and fixed expenses. We also read a book titled  One Hen: How One Small  Loan Made A Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway. Wow, did  that book sparked an interest in our students to start a business. Our students have been working hard at planning a service or a business plan. A few students even went home made art work, sold it, then donated the money to Kiker. What a way to connect and apply math to the real world.
Second graders learned to tell time to the minute, five minutes, and 15 minutes. We used little clocks in class to help us learn the hour and minutes hands.

Volunteer readers that enjoyed reading to Kinder and 1st grade classes.

Second graders continued their study of insect life cycles both in and out of the classroom this week. Our caterpillars are in the third stage of their metamorphosis. Ava W. shared, "Caterpillars first form a J-shape and then a chrysalis." In addition to looking for some of the clues we expect during these stages, we've also been learning about how our caterpillar's body changes in the chrysalis. We should have butterflies emerging next week!

We also enjoyed a day at the Austin Nature and Science Center where we learned even more about arthropods and their life cycles. We collected ladybugs, spiders, butterflies, and centipedes...

...and then examined them!

We got a close look at some interesting arthropods, which we learned are all relatives of our caterpillars and other insects. Our arthropod friends included a centipede, crayfish, tarantula...

...and a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, who happens to share another special feature with our caterpillars (ask your second grade entomologist for details)!

We played a game to identify insects by their features...

...and enjoyed some fun at the Zilker Park Playground after all that hard work.

Third and fourth graders played games and used technology to deepen their understanding of biomes and food webs.

We've explored different ecosystems and their locations. Cooper C. learned that "the tundra is in the North Pole." We've also identified ways in which animals adapt to their environment. "A stonefish can camouflage like a rock," Noah said. We learned that while some animals thrive by blending in, others intentionally stand out. Will St. shared his discovery that "brightly colored caterpillars are generally poisonous."

Stay tuned for more learning next week...

Happy May Day!