Weatherford PACE Monthly Newsletter
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving apart from continuing to watch the Cowboys fall apart both literally and figuratively. Although if you're not a fan, perhaps that added to your enjoyment of the holiday! Either way, it's hard to believe that there are only 3 more weeks until this semester is over. It's been a busy year so far, and it's only going to get busier as we go!
We are nearing the end of our logic and analogy work, and are right on schedule which is semi-miraculous! The group has done a great job making connections between largely unrelated ideas and concepts. Most of the time, this is their first experience with syllogisms and other logic puzzles. An example of one of these concepts is: If A=B and B=C, then A=C. They've really done a great job! They have a few more assignments in this unit where they'll be working on applying concepts to new and unfamiliar situations as well as showcasing some of their creative abilities. Then, it's on to The Tale of Peter Rabbit where students will work on reading comprehension, vocabulary, comparisons with Venn diagrams and retelling of the story in a play format. It's a lot of fun!
Our group has just finished up our unit on culture, traditions, and geography, and we have just jumped headlong into our Microworlds unit. The students are in control of a small turtle and are learning to make the turtle move around the screen via the use of special "turtle language" which is actually a simple form of programming. The kids will learn to instruct the turtle to make designs and patterns of varying colors and complexities. They will eventually work their way up to writing an entire sequence involving patterns, animations and even music that they will compose within the program. This unit really helps facilitate sequential thinking and spatial reasoning all the while being disguised as a game. It also helps to hone the kids' attention to detail. The class has picked up on the basics extremely quickly, so I anticipate them doing some really fun and creative programming throughout the unit!
Having finally solved the mystery of the stolen chocolate, the third grade group has been working on understanding some of the subtleties of grammar and punctuation. We've looked at some of the humorous and unexpected ways misplaced and misused commas and apostrophes can alter the meaning of a sentence. Using the books "The Girl's Like Spaghetti," and "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss, we've worked on authoring our own versions of pages from the books using original ideas. The things the students come up with are hilarious! Just around the corner is our huge Astroblast unit. On our class bulletin board, groups will be racing from the Milky Way galaxy using points earned in various challenges throughout the unit. The winning team is the first to reach the distant Small Magellanic Cloud which is about 210,000 light years away. They will take a tour of stars, galaxies and constellations using Google Sky, and study some of the mythology associated with celestial objects. It's really a fascinating unit, and I look forward to it each year!
The robotics unit has begun and the kids are ecstatic! We are discussing all the necessary background information regarding the history of robotics, artificial intelligence, and the difference between robots and machines. From there we will move into some science fiction in which we'll discuss how authors such as Jules Verne have affected the development of robots through their writings. After a lesson on sequential thinking and flowcharts, we can finally being programming our robots. The students will be in groups to assemble and program their Lego Mindstorms robots. They will have challenges to complete throughout the unit and will have to rely on their resourcefulness to complete them correctly. While it's a fun unit, it is also extremely challenging and can be frustrating for the kids. This is good though, because it does push them out of their comfort zones and requires them to exercise composure and teamwork to figure out solutions. In the end, they still have a blast.
After thoroughly discussing the Fourth Amendment, 5th grade reviewed a landmark Supreme Court case (New Jersey v. TLO) and used it as a precedent to analyze and make decisions on subsequent cases involving illegal search and seizure and probable cause. We then held another debate in which half of the class debated a First Amendment case while the other half took on a case involving the Fourth Amendment. The students are doing a great job handling such complex concepts and formulating arguments for and against each side of the issues! We've now moved into intellectual property where we are discussing copyrights, patents, and trademarks. We will examine some issues where musicians have been accused of stealing ideas from others as well as a few examples of when Apple Inc. has found itself drawing the ire of some famous artists. The unit will culminate with a couple of large debates. Meanwhile, we will be getting underway with our stock market unit while simultaneously finishing law. This is so the class can be ready to participate in the Stock Market Game. Information about the game can be found here: http://www.stockmarketgame.org/