Weatherford PACE Monthly Newsletter

February 2016

Back to Normal

Hi all! With the end of this week comes the end of my PACE testing for next year which is fantastic. Normal schedules will resume...until the next set of standardized tests that I'm called upon to help administer. We have been making progress in PACE though despite all the time constraints.

1st Grade

In continuing with our Peter Rabbit story, we have also brought Benjamin Bunny into the fold. That, by the way, is a sentence that never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined typing. Most recently, we did some comparing and contrasting between Peter and Benjamin using Venn Diagrams. After a brief review of Venn Diagrams, each student worked with a partner to create one, and we had some great responses that went well beyond the obvious answers such as "long ears" and "wear clothes," in the middle section of the diagram. Instead, responses such as, "adventurous," "cousins," and "opposites" dominated the middle portion. Opposites was particularly clever, I thought. They've done extremely well grasping the concepts throughout these lessons and I'm looking forward to seeing how their final assessment goes!

2nd Grade

Second grade is flying through the Microworlds lessons. I've even given them opportunities to write their own programs and animations. They are highly proficient with this software. Last week, I challenged them to create a particularly difficult and intricate bit of programming which involved using virtually all of the commands and logical thinking that we've covered thus far, and they performed admirably! The program involved having their turtles change shapes multiple times, leave colored lines and stamps behind it as it moved, a birthday cake animation, and an original piece of "music" they composed using the program. Once they completed that task, I gave them a series of smaller challenges to complete, but I couldn't stump them!

3rd Grade

We have just wrapped up our second of 5 major challenges to move our rockets across our space bulletin board. This challenge involved using Microsoft Photostory to depict all the stages of a star's life cycle. Not only were they to show images of these stages, but they also needed to provide the name of the stage and some information about it such as temperatures, colors, or any key changes the star undergoes. I was impressed (but really not too surprised) at how easily they picked up the use of Photostory. It was unfamiliar to all the students if I recall correctly, so nobody started with an advantage. They thoroughly enjoyed using the microphone/recording feature on the program to have their voices play back throughout their presentations. Next, we embark on a scavenger hunt throughout the stars, constellations and asterisms!

4th Grade

Our robot programming has gone quite smoothly on the whole so far! This is no small feat as there is usually something wrong with the software, laptops or robots themselves. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for continued good luck. The groups are moving right along with each of the activities I'm throwing their way. They've mastered having their robots travel in a square using a loop command, and they've correctly programmed circles and figure 8's. These may sound like mundane achievements, but they're much harder to program than they sound; particularly the figure 8! This week, the groups will be given their first official robot challenge to complete. They will be scored on teamwork, efficiency of programming, and correctness of the robot's path. This group lives for being told they can't do something, so I'll be sure to tell them that there's no way they'll complete the first challenge successfully.

5th Grade

We have been diligently working our way through the Stock Market unit in an effort to be where we need to be before the Stock Market Game starts on the 8th. So far we've covered generally what stocks and the stock market are, how to read tickers and stock information, how to calculate gains and losses including broker's fees, and the benefits of charitable organizations. This week, we will look at how to research a stock to learn about it before making selections as to which to buy and discuss strategies for stock selection. We do still have two debates to finish from the law unit which we will have a chance to do once the stock market game gets rolling! I think the students will enjoy those as well.