April 2016

A note from me:

I hope everyone enjoyed their Spring Break! We had a relaxing time with family and came back to school ready to make the most of our last quarter!

I will be sending another newsletter in the next few weeks that will include summer camps, programs, enrichment ideas and websites that you might find good for the summer.

Jennifer Starr

Kinder News

Kindergartners joined Spark several weeks ago and I have so enjoyed adding them to our class! We spent the first week reading "The Day the Crayons Quit" and discussed Fixed and Growth Mindsets. (We'll be using those words often in class as we discuss how to face challenges and persist when tasks are difficult.) We spent a couple of weeks learning about gears with the Lego kits; it was fun learning how to follow the directions in the booklet and learning about how gears work! We've also spent a class period playing QBitz, a visual dexterity activity. I am so bad at this game! It was great to hear the kids tell me to have a Growth Mindset as I tried some difficult tasks alongside them!

First and Second Grade News

Our 1st and 2nd graders have spent time using the Lego kits to learn about wheels and axles. We learned how to make predictions about our models, test them out, measure the distance they traveled, and discussed how the different axles and wheels made a difference in how the models worked.

First Grade Chess Club has been going great! It has been quite fun to intermingle with the students from all four of our 1st grades. We've learned a lot about the game of chess and are doing a really good job of using chess etiquette as we play our peers. I've thoroughly enjoyed this fun addition to our Fridays!

2nd graders are currently researching a planet of their choice as well. We will conclude that short research project with an art project next week where we'll combine art and our notes to make a final product to bring home.

In the next two weeks we will begin a unit on pollinators for our 1st and 2nd graders. I'm anxious to spend some time in the Life Lab with our students!

Third Grade News

Third graders have been engrossed in an engineering unit the past several weeks. We began by reading several versions of "Little Red Riding Hood." We compared and contrasted some elements of the stories and with one of the versions we came to the conclusion that Little Red was in need of a new basket. Our task was to use the Engineering Design Process to create a basket that could hold a certain amount of weight and be carried a specific distance all while staying in s specified budget with our materials. Teams worked together to come up with a durable design, purchase materials, prepare and test their prototypes and then make revisions. Students are currently writing scripts for commercials they will be filming and presenting to their peers as they market their baskets.

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Fourth and Fifth Grade News

Our fourth and fifth graders have been learning about the CER method of writing (claim, evidence, reasoning). We watched a short video about the Mars One project; a mission to put a civilization on Mars by taking small groups on a one-way trip to the red planet. We then read an article about a man who was giving great consideration to applying for the trip. We used two colors of highlights, highlighting reasons we thought he would apply and reasons we thought he would not apply. Based on our highlighting, we came up with a claim for our writing. Students had to state their belief about whether Leonard would apply based on the evidence they'd highlighted. They had to provide evidence from the text and back their evidence up with reasoning about how that backed up their claim. Next week we'll participate in a Socratic Seminar where we'll let the students voice their reasoning and we'll learn how to agree and disagree with our peers as we use evidence from text and not merely opinions.

Fifth graders are also using Google Classroom to plan a party. Unfortunately this won't be a class party....#budgetcuts ;) Instead, they're planning an elaborate party with a rather large guest list. They are choosing at least three recipes to serve their guests. Because their guest list is so large they are having to use their knowledge of multiplying and dividing fractions to adjust their recipes. They are shopping for their ingredients, invitations and supplies and keeping a running total of the cost of their parties. It's been fun to hear the culinary side of the students!