Elementary Curriculum Update

October 2017

Penn Class - 1st Grade

In Reading Studio, the Penn Class focused on monitoring for meaning. Students practiced recognizing when they did not know a word or the meaning of what they were reading, identifying a repair strategy and implementing that strategy. The students also practiced recognizing how they knew what they were reading through discussion about the events in a story.


In Writing Workshop, students began to write personal narratives. They began the writing process by brainstorming a list of things that make them smile. Using Morning on the Lake by Jan Bourdeau Waboose as the mentor text, students chose a topic from their list to tell the story. They began by illustrating their stories with emphasis on beginning, middle and end and then added sentences. The class focused on sentences that provided answers to the questions, when, what, where, and who.


In math, students focused on understanding digits and numbers through the use of manipulatives. Students worked carefully with the relationship of numbers to 10. They practiced solving addition number sentences and word problems.


In our study of community, we have investigated signs and gained an understanding of their purpose within a community. The students looked deeply at our school community and brainstormed a list of needs that signs could help to address. As a whole, the class decided to create three different signs for the bathrooms in our school to serve as a way to help keep them clean and preserve resources.


We spent time visiting and interviewing police officers, firefighters, librarians, township workers, and food pantry volunteers. This allowed us to gain an understanding of the needs of a community and the different roles people have to address those needs. Specifically, the visit to the food pantry led the class to take the lead in our school wide project of Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico. They set up the classroom in a way that was modeled after the food pantry and served as the “Donation Station” for the school. They have created a system of collecting, recording, and organizing goods.


After a visit to the recycling center, the Penn Class was interested in learning about why we recycle. The class began to explore the idea of “Going Green” and its effect on our environment. Students began a collection wall of various items with the recycling symbol on them and began to form hypotheses for how they may be sorted. Students gained an understanding of how they can contribute to helping the environment by reducing, reusing and recycling.

Fox Class - 2nd and 3rd Grades

The Fox Class had our first partner time with the Anthony Class in which we read The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. This is a quote from the book: “ My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” Each student drew the house of their dreams after hearing the story.


During Reading Studio we are continuing to read Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick. We are noticing examples of imagery. Throughout the passages, I pause to ask students what they see, hear, taste, smell and feel. I ask the students what words helped them create the mental image and emotions. Students in the Fox Class enjoy reading with the Rustin Class on Friday afternoons. We played the game Go Fish with sounds. Do you have an “ SSSSS…” (sound of the letter s)?


In Writing Workshop, we learned the parts of a friendly letter: the heading, the salutation, the body, the closing, and the signature, which we used to write thank you letters. After reading Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley, the children designed a monster from various materials then created a skit to perform with their Wednesday partners. We wrote a group Halloween story and worked on revising it; making changes to the story so it made sense. We took out parts that were confusing or unrelated, added some transition words, and then we added some descriptive adjectives. After we finished the story, we met in groups to discuss an appropriate title. The students thought about the story and discussed ways they could revise their own story. They practiced accessing Google Docs so they are able to type, edit and revise their stories on the computer.


Memorization is a central component of the recent work of the 2nd grade math students: the families of numbers referred to as "Doubles (10+10, 11+11, 12+12, 13+13, 14+14, etc.,)," "Doubles+1 (10+11, 11+12, 12+13, etc.)," and "Doubles+2," are reviewed frequently, as are standard double-digit addition problems and math facts. We have also been exploring "Math Stories," essentially another form of word problems which also gives students the opportunity to create their own stories using math and numbers. We've done various hands-on activities using triple-beam balances to measure the mass of various objects, mathematical card and domino games, and many projects using base-10 blocks. Students have been working on organizing their math problems in their notebook, keeping an accurate count of base-10 blocks when working with them and continuing in-class and homework assignments in their workbooks.


In third grade math we reviewed telling time, elapsed time, measuring lengths, recalling different names for numbers, and using calculators. The class made a bar graph of how many letters we have in our first names. Students learned how to use a number grid to find differences between pairs of numbers and reviewed counting coins and writing dollars-and-cents notation. We explored number patterns and the students shared their strategies. We also focused on the addition and subtraction of whole numbers, emphasizing problem solving strategies. Children used short cuts, fact families, Fact Triangles, and games to help them learn basic facts and looked for patterns in fact extensions.


In our Science study, we learned about the water cycle, then visited the Quakertown Water Treatment Facility. We continued learning about natural disasters by focusing on wildfires and read Wildfires by Seymour Simon. We talked about the cause, the pros and the cons of wildfires.


While feasting on rice cakes, we learned about the celebration of Chuseok from one of our Korean-born students. We began the study of geography by looking at various atlases and located the continents and major oceans on maps. We learned about the seven continents and major oceans through song.


As part of our focus on service, we walked to the Quakertown Food Pantry to deliver some canned goods that the school community collected. We cooked soup for Food for Friends, made banana muffins for a fundraising breakfast and sold pretzels to the community to raise money for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief.

Anthony Class - 4th and 5th Grades

The big news in the Anthony Class this month is that we have a classroom pet. We adopted a lop eared rabbit from the Lahaska ASPCA, which the students have named Bentley. Everyone has done research on lop eared bunnies and the care and feeding of rabbits. The Anthony Class also has two resident bunny experts and many students who want to take Bentley home with them. Bentley has his own “wall of fame” above his cage, where there is a bevy of fabulous drawings. Bentley has the run of the room most of the day and hops around the students as they read on the carpet.


On October 19th, the Anthony Class went apple picking at Solebury Orchards. The following day we wrote reflections on the trip. The fifth grade math students found out that the class picked an average of 13-14 apples per person and the biggest apple weighed just over 1 pound. The class has been cooking with apples ever since. We’ve made Apple Pie Cake, Applesauce, Apple Muffins, Apple Crisp, and Apple Cake with Maple Butter Glaze. We have one box of apples left for next week. Apple Turnovers, Apple Dumplings, and Apple Kugel are on the list of things we’ll make. The Applesauce and two of the Apple Crisps were sold at the all school breakfast on October 27 to benefit Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico.


In read-aloud, we finished Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley and are currently reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Our literature circles are in full swing; there are 4 different circles. Students are reading: Year of No Rain by Alice Mead, Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park, Gift Giver by Joyce Hansen, and J.T. by Jane Wagner. All of the books share a common theme and have led to some interesting conversations about perception, overcoming obstacles, and racism. In particular, the children seem to enjoy the role of being the Discussion Director. They have been able to come up with questions that delve into the bigger themes in the book as well as plot and characters.


In writing, we are continuing to explore the craft of narrative writing. We have looked at more strategies for coming up with personal narrative topics and used mentor texts as examples of how to develop language in our stories and really tell them “from the inside out.” Many of the students have finished final copies of a story and are on to another.


In fourth grade math, students completed the second unit of the Everyday Math

curriculum – Using Numbers and Organizing Data. We reviewed place value, multi-digit addition and subtraction, and learned about landmarks in data such as

maximum, mode and median. We continued to practice problem-solving strategies using Problem Solvers and played with various number puzzles in class. Our next unit will focus on multiplication and division facts, number stories, and number sentences.


The fifth grade mathematicians have been introduced to a game called “Math Ball” which has become our vehicle for a math warm-up at the start of each math class. We throw the ball from person to person calling out a problem to solve. Our problems include multiplication, division, expanded notation, square roots, and exponents. The math unit we are working on in Everyday Math includes reviewing strategies for addition, subtraction, and multiplication of whole numbers and decimals and working with estimation and measurement. One day after estimating how long the UFS school bus was, we went outside to measure it.


The Anthony Class is continuing to read The Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate about the experience of one of the “Lost Boys of the Sudan” as he comes to live in Minnesota. As we read, we are finding the larger themes in the story such as “how does hope influence the main character’s experiences in his new home” and “can an immigrant ever really feel like an American.” Some of the students have detected these same themes in their Literature Circle books. Last week we read a picture book called Brothers in Hope, by Mary Luana Williams, about the 1,000 mile journey of a group of Sudanese boys from the Sudan to Ethiopia. Our classroom has never been so quiet as it was when I read that book. Everyone wrote a reflection on the book afterwards. Students have completed their initial research about the Sudan and South Sudan and shared their findings.


In Science we played a Natural Disaster Jeopardy game as an introduction to our “Naturally Disastrous” theme. That was a boisterous, loud, and informative game. Afterwards we discussed what facts were surprising. We have started defining natural disasters, differentiating between natural disasters and natural hazards, and defining terms such as friction and tectonic plates.


After spending time in September reading and learning about Susan B. Anthony, the students have been working on creating timelines of her life. They worked in pairs researching the information. Most teams are on to the next step and using a website called ReadThinkLearn to create timelines electronically which will be printed. A conversation began around civil disobedience due to our reading about Susan B. Anthony. The students related that to current events, in particular, what is happening in the NFL. During our morning meetings we are having ongoing discussions about civil disobedience and have read about other examples. The focal points of our Councils this month have been classroom behavior, respect, and gratitudes.