ALPHA- Bits for Parents

Gifted & Talented Newsletter - Fall 2013

4th & 5th Grade Math

This semester ALPHA students have been extending their learning about problem solving, number operations, logic, reasoning, and using the correct order of operations to solve equations.  Students were able to investigate numeric and geometric patterns in various recreational games and compare reflective angles and patterns they observed.  Students evaluated the mathematical reasons for the patterns and were able to make predictions about what would happen next based on the data.  Recently students have been reviewing factorization, exploring primes vs. composites, and have learned quite a bit about the life and contributions of Eratosthenes.  Students are continuing to work on complex problem solving and we will begin our official Math Olympiad competitions this month.  There will be 5 major competitions throughout the remainder of the year.  Math Olympiad had been a wonderful challenge for many of our students and they are learning new concepts and skills as they struggle with the problems that are presented.

4th & 5th Grade ELAR/SS

This fall students have been learning about journalism at the local, state, and federal levels.  They have been evaluating news articles and researching areas of interest.  As a part of their study, students have had to consider how the first ammendment applies to journalists and ethical issues that journalists must consider as they are writing their stories.  The students are working in groups to create their own news publication complete with various student-researched and written articles, advertisements, and formatting. Vocabulary, grammar, conventions, technology skills, geography, and social studies are all addressed throughout the unit. Students are currently participating in a competition hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) that complements their in class learning.  Students are creating submissions that reflect the theme of "Honoring our Heritage".  Articles and photo-journalitic essays have been popular choices for student entries from our classes.  Students will be issued "Press Passes" next week so that they will be able to visit the other news agencies and read over the newspapers that have been created by students in other classes.  They will be able evaluate other students writing in order to give positive feedback and learn from the writing of their peers.

4th & 5th Grade Science

In 4th & 5th grade science we’ve been learning about matter with great depth and complexity.  Students have learned about molecular structure, atomic theory, atomic theorists and their changing ideas over time, how the periodic table is arranged, how elements bond, and balancing chemical equations to prove the Law of Conservation of Matter (& Mass).  We’ve had several hands-on events. (Ask your children about methane and oxygen becoming carbon dioxide and water.) Students have used analogies to compare atomic structure to the structure of the solar system and to compare a fingerprint to protons.  We even had chemists and chemical engineers come out to talk to the students to celebrate Chemistry Week.   This week the real fun begins! Students are beginning to work on their culminating activities and in-depth studies on a chemistry topic of their choice.  Students are analyzing information and applying what theyve learned about matter as they create either element superheros and villians, informational brochures, element baby books, their own periodic tables, or they can research chemistry careers and how chemistry is used to impact modern life. Projects are being worked on during class for the most part and are due before Thanksgiving break.

Leadership

Affective Development

We are continuing to practice teamwork and understand the give and take of personal relationships.  Students practice leadership skills throughout the ALPHA day.  During our team activities we practice being respectful about the ideas of others.  We recently had a guest speaker come to talk to the classes about living a "black belt" life by building successful relationships, working on personal development, and practicing leadership skills.  We will continue to work on organizational skills throughout the school year.

3rd Grade ALPHA

It has been such a pleasure to have the third grade students from throughout the district come to Webb on Fridays to participate in the ALPHA classes.  The students bounce off of the bus with such enthusiasm and can hardly wait to begin the rotations each Friday.  We recently concluded the first round of rotations and students were able to choose their course selections for the next 5 weeks of ALPHA.  Students were able to choose from several interesting topics of study such as Hands On Equations (Algebraic patterns and linear equations), Patterns (Math in the world around us), Imagineering (Creativity and Engineering), Mind Missions (Problem Solving), Enigmas (Research), and  Life in Ancient Egypt (Hands On History). As an added bonus leading up to Veterans Day, recently the Daughters of the American Revolution visited ALPHA to talk about national symbols and the importance of learning about our countrys history.  As a part of their presentation they discussed the proper treatment of the American flag and demonstrated proper flag folding.  Students were each given a book filled with interesting facts about our nations beginnings.  The children were so engaged and participated very well.  Their questions and insights were appreciated by our guests.

A LOOK AHEAD...

1. No ALPHA in December due to district kindergarten testing.

2. ALPHA resumes on January 7 (We will let you know if this changes due to prolonged kindergarten testing.)

Would you like to visit with us?

As always, if you ever have any questions about your childs progress, the ALPHA program, testing, or maybe you have information for us...please feel free to contact us anytime.  We'd be happy to arrange a conferences either in person or over the phone.  Email is the fastest way to get in contact with us.  We would love to hear from you and help in any way that we can.Thank you for your support and for sharing your students with us each week.