Special Area Newsletter

November & December 2015

The Giving Tree

Thank you so much for your generosity this holiday season! We were able to donate MANY coats and bags of mittens, gloves, scarves and hats to the students at Harrison Elementary. The children in need at that school will be warm this holiday season thanks to your generosity! Happy Holidays!
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Library News

Kindergarten and First grade- During November and December, students have been reading the KBA (Kentucky Bluegrass Award) nominees, so they can vote on the winner in the Spring. Students also have also been discussing Internet Safety, and how the internet is a place they can go. We have discussed three great rules to have at home…Always ask an adult before using a computer, Only talk to people you know, and Only go to places just right for you. We have learned the internet can be fun, but a place that we need make safe choices. Learning was assessed based on students sharing the three basic rules when using the internet.


Second grade- We spent the first half of November covering Internet Safety topics for 2nd graders. Topics covered were identifying personal information (name, home address, phone number, etc.) and discussing why it is important to keep this information to ourselves when we are online. We discussed the dangers of sharing personal information online and to strangers in person. Students learned the term YAPPY that will help them remember the personal information that they need to keep private when working online (computers, smart phones, apps, etc.). The second half of the month we spent time looking at Native American stories. Students learned about Native American oral tradition and were able to listen to multiple Native American stories during library class in various formats (print books and digital recordings). 2nd graders and their families also joined us for Native American Arts Night where they watched and listened to Native American stories from a local storyteller in our library. During the month of December we are doing a unit/author study on Chris Van Allsburg. We will be learning about his life, what inspired him to become an artist and author and will be reading some of his picture books while looking out for his style of illustration and writing as we go through. Students are assessed based on peer to peer discussion and participation in whole class discussions.


Third grade- Students have spent November and December discussing Internet Safety. We spent many weeks discussing what is personal information and not to share this information online. We have discussed password protection, cyberbullying, and social networking. Students will demonstrate their knowledge of these topics throughout the year by reflecting responsible digital citizenship.


Fourth grade- Fourth graders have spent the month of November exploring Internet Safety topics. We have discussed personal information and the importance of keeping that info private. Students have learned about the good vs. the bad of social media and social networking. We have discussed age limits for social media accounts and that children under 13 years old are not legally supposed to have their own accounts. If your child is using social media please make sure you are monitoring what they do on their accounts--this will help protect their privacy and safety. Students have learned about email and being sure they can identify senders of emails and/or messages (on social media) before replying, opening or interacting with the senders. Students have also discussed what we call a "Safe Side Adult". This is a person (or people) that the student trusts and can come to for help should they find themselves in a bad situation on the computer. In December students will continue internet safety lessons about cyber bullying and how to deal with those situations. Students are assessed by monitoring peer to peer discussions and peer to adult discussions during lessons.


Fifth grade- Fifth grade students have spent the month of November covering topics in our internet safety curriculum. We have discussed social media in great depth as most of our 5th graders indicated that they are using some form of social networking app or website (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, etc.). Within the discussions on using social media appropriately we covered topics of: personal information/safety, messaging, friend requests/followers (strangers vs. people we actually know), setting up our privacy settings and notifications and cyber-bullying. The main idea from our cyber-bullying lessons we wanted students to take away is that with online bullying it is repeated actions (not a one time/isolated event) and since it is online it does not always actually happen (can be just threats). We encouraged students to go to adults at school or home if they feel uncomfortable with their online interactions or feel as if they are being bothered by someone online. In the month of December we will be covering topics of email usage, digital health and copyright. Students are assessed each lesson through the monitoring of peer to peer discussion and peer to adult discussion.

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Music News

Kindergarten students have focused on unpitched percussion instruments and playing the beat. They are currently working on playing the barred instruments (pitched percussion) while singing the song, “The Elf on the Shelf.”


1st grade has begun practicing for their Dr. Seuss Concert that will happen March 3rd at 6PM. They will be using the story Green Eggs and Ham as their musical focus. The students will be singing, playing instruments, dancing, and reading the story.


2nd grade had a successful Native American Arts Night. They currently are learning “Deck the Hall,” “Shalom Chaverim,” (Peace, My Friend) and “Mama, Bake that Johnny Cake” as 3 examples of holiday music. The students will participate in a sing-a-long with other grade levels during an in school Lightning Sharp (after school Orff group) performance.


3rd grade performed their unpitched percussion compositions with a dramatic reading of the book Leaf Man. The students decided where their compositions would be placed in the story. Each class performed for their classroom teacher. They currently are learning “Deck the Hall,” “Shalom Chaverim,” (Peace, My Friend) and “Mama, Bake that Johnny Cake” as 3 examples of holiday music. The students will participate in a sing-a-long with other grade levels during an in school Lightning Sharp (after school Orff group) performance.


4th grade has been working on recorder improvisation. They are improvising with a partner in a question and answer musical setting. They have used “Humpty Dumpty” as inspiration. Their improvisations use 5 strategies (up, down, back and forth, stairs, and play 1 note). They have tried to sound like the horsemen rushing to save Humpty. They currently are learning “Deck the Hall,” “Shalom Chaverim,” (Peace, My Friend) and “Mama, Bake that Johnny Cake” as 3 examples of holiday music. The students will participate in a sing-a-long with other grade levels during an in school Lightning Sharp (after school Orff group) performance.


5th grade has been working on their musical Hey, Gecko! All students have been playing recorders, learning the barred Orff instrument parts, singing in harmony, dancing, and acting. Their public performance will be on February 11th at 6:00PM.


All grade levels are assessed using performance assessments.

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Art News

We continue to focus on the elements of art and the principles of design as we create in the art room at all grade levels. Kindergarten has been working with chalk pastels, and oil pastels, creating a variety of drawings. Collage and use of scissors have also been a focus. First graders are using a variety of paints to create works of art that focus on shapes. Second graders are creating winter themed collages using a variety of materials. Third graders are creating a drawing that focuses on patterns, lines, shapes, and forms. Fourth graders are creating a drawing of a treehouse in a landscape. Fifth graders are weaving using a variety of methods and materials. Performance assessments are used at all grade levels to check for understanding.


Be on the lookout for Art To Remember fundraiser items coming home before winter break.

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Wellness News

During the month of November our Health focus was on Fire Safety and how to be prepared in case of fire at the house. We had a special guest come and talk with us about how to exit a burning house and how important it is to have a meeting place outside the house. Your child(ren) brought home a floor plan for you to fill out your escape plan together. Through the use of a pretest we were able to see what the students knew about fire safety and what topics we needed to reinforce. Our post test and handouts helped reinforce our fire safety rules.

Our Wellness activities included games that had us juggling balls with a group and having fun with a parachute to increase our muscular strength. We also travelled through stations that helped us determine a pace to move. Using a skill checklist I was able to determine which locomotor and manipulative skills we needed to use to improve performance.

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STEM News

Kindergarten- Kindergarteners have worked with websites that teach ABC order. Students did a pre-activity that had them physically put the alphabet into ABC order to reinforce beginning, middle, and end as well as before and after. Students then used the site to find missing letters in a series of three. Students could not progress until they were successful with each level. Other activities have included building three dimensional shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks. This activity requires knowledge of the shape as well as spacial skills to be able to build the shape. Students will also be reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears and then building a chair that will hold up a stuffed animal. Students will understand what is required to design and build a chair, but they are free to use their own creative designs. At the end of the semester, we will be participating in the Hour of Code where students are introduced to basic computer coding through the use of block commands.


First grade- Students have spent time learning to use the Word program from the Microsoft Office Suite. Most students have not used the program before so we began at level zero. They are now able to type using the shift key to create capital letters and to choose alternate symbols on a key. They can also use the enter key to create new lines of text. Students have demonstrated their ability to use the program through the use of typing spelling words and complete sentences. Students have also worked with pattern blocks to create shapes and designs with the various shaped pieces. Students also learned how pieces are combined to cover entire surfaces. First graders have been introduced to our Bee-Bot robots and will continue to program them. They will program the bots to move on mat with the alphabet and be able to correctly spell their spelling words. Their success with this activity is performance based. At the end of the semester, we will be participating in the Hour of Code where students are re-introduced to basic computer coding through the use of block commands.


Second grade- Second Graders have had science lessons on matter and their properties. Students were pre-tested about the content and then did an in-class activity to show their mastery of the lessons. Our students also did a cooperative activity with students from Southern Elementary. Within each class, students designed containers that would safely mail a single Pringle chip to the other school. Students had to think about materials to use as a container and as cushion for the inside. We anxiously await pictures of the results from Southern. At the end of the semester, we will be participating in the Hour of Code where students will be doing basic computer coding through the use of block commands.


Third grade- Third graders have been introduced to the computer coding program called Scratch. This is a free software that creates computer animation through the use of block programming. Students are working on learning the basics of the program and will continue to use it throughout the rest of the year and will ultimately have created a program by the end of the year. The classes are rotating and taking turns using the Lego We-Do robotics kits to construct and run an experiment involving force and motion. They are also continuing their study of potential and kinetic energy through the use of Hot Wheels kits. They are collecting data and will be analyzing the data to make a conclusion. At the end of the semester, we will be participating in the Hour of Code where students will be doing computer coding through the use of block commands.


Fourth grade- Fourth graders have been introduced to our new Makey-Makey devices. Students have learned how to use the Makey-Makey interfaces in order to make alternative keyboards. Our current project involves creating a program in Scratch that will play drum sounds. Students will then design and build a micro drum kit to connect to the Makey-Makey and then use the program. This project requires students to not only create computer programs but to design and create their own drums therefore showing how technology and art go hand in hand. At the end of the semester, we will be participating in the Hour of Code where students will be doing computer coding through the use of block commands in various programs.


Fifth grade- Our fifth graders have spent several weeks working with the Lego Mindstorm NXT robots. We are currently creating programs that will allow our robots to play in a baseball tournament. Students have to be able to utilize the ultrasonic sensor to create a self-activated batting robot. They have to tweak their program to allow their robot to hit the ball to the area with the most point value. Students are also learning that engineering and design go into all types of games including turn and tilt marble mazes. Students are designing and creating marble mazes through the use of common items for our primary students to play. At the end of the semester, we will be participating in the Hour of Code where students will be doing computer coding through the use of block commands in various programs.