Weatherford PACE Monthly Newsletter
I hope you all had a great and restful break. I apologize for the tardiness of this newsletter. My reminder came up on my phone on the 27th and I thoroughly dismissed it as I was on vacation. However, we're back at it now! I am starting PACE testing for next year's potential students so with that said, it is likely that your child's group will miss a day or two of PACE over the next month. With 75 students testing across all grade levels, it's nearly impossible to avoid. I've tried to schedule it so groups aren't missing huge amounts of time. Thanks in advance for your understanding. Now, on to what we're doing!
We are poised to begin our unit on Beatrix Potter and her Tale of Peter Rabbit! We will start with some background on who Beatrix Potter was and how she came up with her idea for Peter Rabbit and friends. As we begin to read the Tale of Peter Rabbit, we'll come across a great deal of new vocabulary not only within the text, but simply within the unit as well. Words such as characteristics, biography, relationship, and traits will stem from merely our initial discussion of the story. Students will practice giving human characteristics to animals that they have selected just as Beatrix Potter did with her stories. This helps reinforce some of that vocabulary by providing hands-on practice while at the same time enhancing creativity. We will then work on ways in which we could have helped Peter to escape from Mr. McGregor's garden, or simply to stay out of trouble in the first place.
Our group is continuing with their Microworlds programming. So far we've learned how to make our turtle travel and turn using our knowledge of the number of degrees in a circle and using division to figure out how sharp the angles should be to have the turtle face specific directions. We also discussed graphing using a coordinate plane as this is actually the way the turtle moves around the screen. The group picked up on this really quickly which was great! They have since learned to create shapes within shapes which is a pretty difficult task as it requires many tedious steps to do correctly. From here, we will move into stamping designs onto the page as well as creating animations. These are processes that really require students to use sequencing skills. A strong attention to detail is required for this section of the unit as well.
In 3rd grade, we've discussed our neighboring galaxies and just how far away they actually are. This has required a thorough discussion of the units used to measure galactic distances such as light years and parsecs. The students have been fascinated by trying wrap their brains around the idea that light traveling at 300,000 km/second would take 100,000-150,000 years to get from one end of the Milky Way Galaxy to the other. We have also discussed the life cycles of stars of varying masses. Their next challenge is to create a presentation using Microsoft Photostory to depict each stage of a star's life. It will be fun to see their creativeness via this type of presentation! This will lead into some discussion of supernovas which can become black holes which in turn usually leads to some fascinating discussions.
We have finally reach the building our robots stage! The lesson allots for an entire class period to build the robots, and naturally as skilled as the kids are with Legos, it takes them about half the time to get them assembled. We were then able to assign teams, decide on names for each team's robot and review the scientific method and flow charts so we can pick up where we left off before the break. Their first programming experience was Thursday which is always exciting and confusing. Fortunately they had a step-by-step packet to help them get started with everything. It typically takes a couple of class sessions for them to become familiar with the nuances of the Lego Mindstorms program, but once they get it there's no stopping them. They'll learn basics first and then progress into having the robot follow patterns and shapes on the floor which is much harder than it sounds!
We've begun the Stock Market Unit while simultaneously winding down our Law unit. The Stock Market Game officially begins on February 8th, so we had to begin those lessons before the culmination of our previous unit. It does keep up on our toes though! In Law, we've got one more lesson to go regarding copyright infringement, and then we have two debates. The second debate will be the unit's final assessment, and should be interesting as there will be an unexpected twist with which the students will have to cope! Meanwhile, we've discussed what stocks are as well as the origin of the Stock Market as we know it today. Most recently, we've discussed ways to keep money safe and that investing in the stock market can be a risky proposition. This is all in the hope that when we begin the Stock Market Game, our teams will make informed decisions regarding the stocks that they buy.