This week during math our scientists have been working on classifying quadrilaterals, fractions of a whole, fractions bigger than a whole, and multiplication facts. In Science they have been learning all about the different climates of the world. During Language Arts, they have kept their writing skills on fire: you can almost see smoke coming from those pencils, that is how much they are writing, confidence levels rising as they answer more and more open response questions successfully. Ask them anything about text features, character traits, compare and contrast or cause and effect, these scientists have an answer. We have also started analyzing poetry, learning to read between the lines, getting the deeper meaning of some poems. These scientists are using their investigation skills to the fullest and sharing beautiful insights. The enthusiasm for learning and the perseverance they are showing are incredible to see. There is no doubt in my mind that, regardless how difficult the state exams will be, our scientists will work tirelessly to show their best knowledge and skills, and for that I am extremely proud.
This week and a half at the lab, during Science our scientists have been having a lot of fun learning about and predicting the weather, based on the observation of clouds. They have also learned how a cloud is formed, what is lightning, what is pressure, and how to read a weather map.
During Social Studies the scientists have been building a map of the New England States and have learned about their shapes and capitals with our New England playdoh project.
During math we have started working on fractions of a whole, and during Language Arts, we have continued practicing the open response question, this time focusing on character traits.
Last Friday, our scientists have also been tutoring their friends in second grade.
Take a look at this week's slide show.
Enjoy the break!
For the past two weeks the scientists have been building their writing stamina, practicing open response questions after reading a passage, staying on topic, giving tons of evidence from the story, and commenting on the evidence. These scientists are getting the hang of it, and are consistently becoming more confident in their abilities to write essays and respond with comprehension. Last week we worked on text features and this week we are working on how characters interact and care for each other.
In Math, the scientists keep on making strides on their multiplication facts and adding more cool lights to their fingers, through exciting 4 minute sprints. They have also concluded the unit on division strategies and finished their tests pretty successfully! This week, we have even got started on fractions! What a better way to get started with that than with a perfectly divided brownie sheet in fifteen equal parts? This was just a happy coincidence when one of our scientists celebrated his birthday on the first day of fraction learning.
Also, during science, the scientists are learning all about cloud formation and how to predict stormy weather.
One highlight of the week was the visit of a mystery reader, who got the scientists engaged in the book "Un caso grave the rayas", a story about a girl that starts getting color stripes when she doesn't follow her heart for fear of being judged by others. Our mystery reader's prosody and clarifications always keep our scientists completely hooked to the storytelling.
And as the other highlight of these two weeks, our scientists have become reading tutors of Sra. Hidalgo's class, having each an assigned student (or two) to work on fluency and comprehension strategies that our scientists are experts on. Last Friday, after the tutoring session, we had some time to debrief, and it was fantastic to hear the insights about their students. These scientists were pretty tuned into their students' needs, and have guided them with compassion, patience and care. We can't wait for the next session.
Take a look at the pictures :)
The scientists have been doing investigations about division, playing with amounts of objects and separating them into equal groups. In the morning lab they have also continued noticing and wondering about equal groups using arrays of different shapes and sizes. The scientists are also on the second week of multiplication sprints, where they are tested on their multiplication fact knowledge in sprints of 60 questions in 4 minutes, and guess what? All of them have already mastered the 2s! Take a look at the pictures to see their glowing fingers :)
During Language Arts, the scientists have gotten their feet wet into writing in English, getting ready for Open Response with two types of questions: rewriting a story from another character's point of view, and explaining how the author uses text features to help the reader understand the story. They have also been working on cause and effect, and compare and contrast.
Finally, in Science, we have just started learning about animal traits by investigating the characteristics we see in fossils using the Mystery Science unit.
Here is the slide show from these past two weeks.
The scientist have started the new year strong in their resolutions of learning and investigating. This month we are wrapping up multiplication strategies that these scientists master, and we will move onto division during the upcoming weeks. We will also start with the multiplication facts challenges next week as well, so get your memory muscles ready to get those facts in those fantastic brains! During Language Arts, we have switched our focus TEMPORARILY on getting ready for ELA MCAS that will take place at the end of March. So far we have been learning all about Author's Purpose, that is as easy as PIE ( please ask your scientist what this means), Cause and Effect, and we have started getting our feet wet on Parts of the Speech. To get the anxiety down for testing, we have continued practicing Mindfulness techniques, this time using the Mindful Schools curriculum of which I am attending online classes. This curriculum also comes with a mindful journal that we are adding to our own. The conversations regarding reading and math content are very rich and interesting, showing that our scientists are incorporating the PORTRAIT OF A LEARNER skills, and are getting ready for any challenging situation. I couldn't be prouder of them. Finally, this week we have also participated in a district wide Inspired Learning Day of which you have probably have heard a lot. It was a very enthusiastic and energized day where the students had a chance to collaborate with other kids from different grades, and lear new and interesting things.
Enjoy the weekend!
It has been ages since the last post from our learning lab. Our investigators have been solving some engineering problems assembling a solar powered fan, finishing more books, and working on equal groups, arrays and multiplications on the number line. Also, the wonderful volunteers that we have in our lab, have helped with the assembly and with very creative crafts and activities during the party. So thank you all for your invaluable help.
Take a look at the pictures and enjoy the long weekend!
On Wednesday, September 25th I, along with our Technology coordinator and our tech specialist, attended a workshop from Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and Mass STEM Hub, a program of the One8 Foundation to learn about this year's STEM week Challenge and bring it to my scientists in our lab, and eventually to other classes. The STEM Week Challenge, this year centered on the theme of Zero Waste gives students the opportunity to tackle real-world sustainability problems that organizations such as TD Garden, DELL Technologies, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) face today. During the workshop we could gather materials to work on the challenge for third to fifth grade, Zero Energy Waste, that through different activities guides the students to learn about six different energy sources: oil, coal, natural gas, solar, hydropower and wind, and helps them understand about renewable and nonrenewable energies, and ends with the assembly of a solar powered fan, and the creation of an engineered prototype using recycled materials. Since the challenge combines one of my favorite topics with the innovation of technology, I couldn't but take the challenge and bring it to my scientists, that are as enthusiastic as me to help care for the environment and our precious resources. As usual, I couldn't be prouder of them, as they show me again and again their love of learning and their enthusiasm for challenges. We are currently working on Activities 1 and 2 of the challenge, "Straight to the Source", and "Knowledge is Power", and we will go on to assembling the solar powered fan on the, hopefully, next sunny day coming up.
But the work of the scientist doesn't finish there. They have been very busy during our math routines, conversations and games, completely engaged in mathematical conundrums that with great thinking, we encountered. Oh boy the growth mindset of these innovators, never giving up, and being so brave while sharing roadblocks with the rest of the class.
Check out these past weeks' slideshow.
During this week, the scientists have been reviewing addition strategies, learning all about rounding to the nearest ten and hundred, estimating, and understanding addition properties. We have been working in math centers, playing different games, and working in a small group with me to practice more in depth learning. During Language Arts, the scientists have been reading and writing about about the books, and many scientists have finished or are about to finish their first ten books and getting their first prize. We have also started our vocabulary journals, following the story " El Coleccionista de Palabras" by Peter H. Reynolds. Whenever we come across a new interesting vocabulary word in our read aloud session, we discuss the word, learn its meaning and when the scientists choose that word to write sentences with it, they get the word in a sticker to collect on their notebooks, and will get a prize after 25 words collected! Finally, during Social Studies, we have continued with our Third Grade Collab time on Thursday mornings to work on projects related to the Massachusetts symbols.
On a different note, our scientists have been also celebrating the Hello Week reading about and practicing kindness, with the book "A little spot of kindness!" by Diane Alber, and creating encouraging messages for our second grade buddies.
Isn't all this a great way to spend time in school?
Eleven days into the school year, our scientists are in complete working mode. In the lab we have learned how to work with the "scientist safety checklist", and collaborate with our team of scientists to keep our working area organized and safe from dangerous viruses (a.k.a chaos). In math we completed the week of inspirational math, like we did last year, to remind us of how real mathematicians work through problems and what real math looks like. We reviewed the topics of thinking deeply, looking for patterns, using images and manipulatives, and making tons of mistakes in order to make our brains build new pathways between our neurons. We have also started our number talks, and math routines, as well as the math chapter on properties of addition. This year we have started our "diario trasto" or junk journal, to create a space every day for free, creative writing in Spanish, where our ideas and sentences are not judged, but rather serve as a way of practicing our written Spanish while we talk about our favorite things, events in our lives, and other topics, and we also get creative decorating the journal with pockets, tags, pop-ups and tons of washi tape! In reading we have started our reading challenges: for every 10 books the scientists read and write about in their reading passport, they get a prize! The enthusiasm for reading and writing is skyrocketing! We have also started with reading mini lessons to talk about informational and non fiction narrative, and have reviewed the strategies "asking questions", and "sequence". And finally, during Social Studies, we have learned about the Massachusetts symbols, and have started a collaborative work with the rest of the third graders, and the scientists have had a chance to get grouped and work with other teachers on different activities related to the symbols, like creating a song, cooking, making a 3D model, and creating a digital book. What an amazing start, isn't it?
It's hard to believe that our Nature Camp is coming to an end. It has been a fantastic year full of adventures and discoveries, and this week couldn't have been more fun...Field Day, Classroom Party... All our campers are so ready for the summer break!
Next year, in third grade, we will have tons of learning ahead of us. We will have a Scientific theme, which is another one of my favorite topics! I'm very happy to be collaborating again with my third grade team, and to come up with new projects for our students.
Before heading out to Spain for the summer, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of you, parents and students, that have made this an amazing year. Thanks to your help, we have been able to work on fantastic projects, like the snowman challenge and bird feeder project, that had our campers completely engaged. It's admirable how committed you are to the emotional and educational growth of your children, and the participation in the school activities. I feel very grateful to have the "go ahead" and "count me in" thumbs up from you and my administrators, this gives me so much freedom to try new projects with my students!
With that said, I would like to wish you a fantastic summer. Hope you all have time to relax, read your favorite books, play math board games, spend time with your loved ones, and just breathe :)
See you back in September, and enjoy the slide show!
Hola! My name is Esther Willinski, and I am a Spanish Immersion teacher in Massachusetts. Join us in our Lab through 3rd grade!