Our Week – December 13

It has been exciting to have a full week of school.  It’s been a busy one.  We chose a name and date for our classroom museum.  We’re creating our museum displays.  We’ve begun a study of global geography.  We used this theme, combined with the “Choose Kind” initiative at NHS, to decorate our door – “3E is spreading kindness every step of the way.”

Our Inquiry Wonderland

This week we brainstormed a list of possible names for our museum.  After a few days of voting for top fives, threes and then our final choice, we decided upon the name:  Our Inquiry Wonderland.  We also decided to add the by-line:  Please, please come to our wonder-full museum to learn information you didn’t know before. It was an interesting process of compromise and negotiation.

We also chose the date and times for this event.  There was no perfect time for everyone, but we hope that with advance notice, families might be able to rearrange scheduled events so that everyone is able to attend. The class decided they could all be ready to present the information on Tuesday, January 14.  We’ll have our museum open that afternoon for a dress rehearsal and then again between 5:30 and 6:15.  We hope all the children will be able to attend and that families will tour the Inquiry Wonderland, asking each of the children to share what they have learned. The children will share their research and talk about what inspired them to select their topic.

The goal of this project was to help children learn more about using a variety of information sources, to learn note-taking strategies and to be able to organize their information around subtopics to begin learning about paragraphing.  In addition, they are learning to draft and revise their writing and to choose images that illustrate the main ideas.

When you come to the museum, you’ll see a wide variety of presentations.  We’ve allowed and encouraged the children to work independently. We talked about final presentation and the need to attention to accuracy, details and conventions.  Some children have been engaged throughout the whole process.  They selected a topic they wanted to understand and learn more about.  Others chose a topic they felt they already knew and did little new research.  Some of the children have asked for teacher support for every step, while others have chosen to work with peer support. It is interesting to see how each child works through this learning process in his or her own unique way.  There is a lot to attend to in a project like this and we will be able to see how they children learn from their choices when we move on to the next research project.

Global Geography and Mapping

This week we explored maps.  We read about them.  We learned that most maps have six basic elements: keys (or legends), a compass rose, a scale, a title, labels and symbols.  We tried including all of the elements (excluding scale) to create maps of our yards.  Next week we’ll be using our maps to lead us into some personal narratives telling about the places we play and the stories that grow from our games and imagination.

In addition to mapping we’ve been exploring the ways people divide up and label the places that we live.  It is abstract and seems to feel random to the children.  We live in neighborhoods, towns, counties, states, countries and continents.  We are exploring continents, countries and climates.  You may want to talk to your child about the poems and books we’ve been sharing.  It is interesting to learn about our place in the world and it is interesting to understand how others live as well – the same, but different.  Next month the children will be selecting a country to research and share with others.

Estimation and Rounding

We’ve been exploring the notion of rounding.  We’ve been using a number line in the classroom to make sure we’re thinking about the even 100’s or 10’s our number is in between, before deciding to round down or up.  Some children are confused about this, especially when rounding down.  They are rounding to the 10 or 100 beyond.  For example:  523 is being rounded down to 400, rather then 500.  We’ll keep practicing.  I’ve been asking the children to write the amounts their number is between before rounding.  It takes time, and some of them are resistant, but it helps with understanding.

We’re using this skill with a Gram Challenge.  In one of our math centers the children have been weighing common objects in the classroom. The children had an opportunity to weigh many different objects and to find combinations of objects that would weigh as close to 100 grams as possible.  Now we have 7 days to find a combination of objects that weigh 1 kilogram. We began with a crayon.  One crayon weighed 5 grams so Brady decided to place fifty crayons on the scale for an estimate of 250 grams.  We’re excited to see what the next days bring.

Bits and Pieces –

  • In Open Circle we’ve been discussing Positive Self Talk and how we can encourage ourselves to keep working through times of challenge and difficulty.  We discussed the importance of staying positive and giving ourselves the opportunity to find a way through challenges.
  • We’re thinking a lot about what is happening to the loons as we read The Mystery on Pine Lake.  We’ve got a couple ideas about who is trying to get the loons to leave.
  • Next week, we’ll complete all of the Humphrey book clubs.  It has been a real commitment.  The class deserves to feel proud of their work and their attention to details and summarizing.  My guess is the Humphrey will stay a favorite character for quite some time.
  • Next week is our Secret Friend Celebration.  Please make sure the writing and artwork are wrapped according to the assignment directions and brought to school no later then Wednesday, December 18.