Please Help Us Fund Our Field Trip to Denver
So far this VALTS year students have learned about how the earth was formed and about many natural features found on our planet. They have also learned about biology, natural selection, extinction, and they have created their own museum! During the second semester they will learn about ancient civilizations in the Americas and astronomy. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is the perfect place to visit to celebrate all they have learned this year.
Emphasis on Soft Skills
With the big push in education being on testing and reaching proficiency in core subject areas, research shows that more students are missing out on some of the basics that will carry them through in life and career experiences. These basics are now being referred to as soft skills. In fact, James J. Heckman and Tim D. Kautz published a report titled "Hard Evidence of Soft Skills" with the National Bureau of Economic Research in June 2012. In this report the authors focus on how "Achievement tests miss, or perhaps more accurately, do not adequately capture soft skills--personality traits, goals, motivations, and preferences--that are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains."
Because our focus at VALTS is on alternative learning opportunities that are student focused, we decided to use one of the exploratory time slots to teach students about soft skills. Brenda Smith and George Schlothauer presented on communication, attitude, teamwork, and problem solving. (See the Google Presentation used.) Along with giving information, students had a hands on activity to help them understand and see how each of these areas are significant and important.
Since the research done by Heckman and Kautz identifies that soft skills predict success in life, and that they causally produce that success, it is our hope that in teaching some of these traits that our students will be more aware and will ultimately find greater success in their work, school, and home lives.
Students learned about the requirements to drive big trucks.
VALTS students with big truck during exploratory class.
We like trucks!
Thankful for our Veterans
Visiting the Vets Home
Sadrick, Jose, and Tim playing pool at the vets home.
Bobbie, Desiree, and Madison playing Chinese Checkers.
Josh, Isiah, and Keely playing Scrabble.
During the third quarter, students will be focusing on a creative writing component. They will read a variety of genres and then will attempt personal writing based on those genres. Some of the writing may include haiku/poetry, autobiography/memoir, collaborative writing, creative non-fiction, short story, songwriting, and children's literature. (One goal is to use computer animation programs to bring the children's stories to life.) Along with writing, I will be using parts of The Freedom Writers Diary as students will be doing journal entries and personal reflections.
3rd Quarter is Stellar Astronomy!
Formation of Stars:
This quarter we are studying stars beginning with the formation of stellar bodies and the various physical and chemical processes that are involved.
Life and Classification of Stars:
We will then examine the life of different types of stars, how scientists classify them and what types of reactions and processes occur during this portion of stellar evolution.
Death of Stars:
We will also learn about the fate of stars- what happens when they “die”. This will include a foray into the physics and chemistry behind such cosmic features as supernovae explosions, black holes, pulsars, and black dwarf stars.
Studying the Stars:Finally we will explore the human connection to stars through the concept that we really are all just stardust, the creation of constellations and the invention and use of telescopes.
2nd Quarter Museum Exhibits were a hit!
During the second quarter students focused on the physical geography of the Earth. Each student selected a continent then created a profile about it throughout the quarter.
During the third quarter the students will learn about the first people who inhabited the Americas. They are excited to learn about the Aztec, Maya, and Incas as well as various Native Americans that lived in the United States.
Here are some examples: