In PURSUIT of Knowledge

October 2015, Volume 1

A New Year in Pursuit

Welcome to Pursuit! The 2015-2016 school year has brought about some changes to the Pursuit program. On a positive note, we have gained many new Pursuit friends this year as our enrollment has grown at all three grades levels. This has been a welcome change... especially at the fourth grade level! Group activities, cooperative learning experiences, and social engagement have all benefited from our growth. This school year has also brought a challenge to our program as we are now meeting only once every seven days due to the new seven-day rotating schedule. Although this past week only marked the fourth class for each group, I'm incredibly excited to share with you some of the awesome learning that has taken place in Pursuit! My hope is that by giving you a glimpse of our time spent together, you may be able to extend the learning at home or at least have a conversation starter for the dinner table! :)
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
-Debbie Bishop

What's Happening in Our Classroom?

Second Grade

After discussing why we are in this class and what kinds of things we might do during our time together, we jumped right into the business of learning! The second graders tackled their first STEM project, The Cookie Challenge, after I read aloud, Smart Cookies by Amy Krause Rosenthal. Working in groups, the students attempted to build the tallest structure possible that would support a... chocolate chip cookie! There was a catch. They were only given one sheet of computer paper, a pair of scissors, and tape. Oh, boy! At first this seemed an impossible task, but I am pleased to report that we did experience success... and our first taste of teamwork and cooperation!
During our second meeting, the second graders started using their thinking logs (composition notebooks) to document thoughts, track important information uncovered during class, and record brainstorming. Our theme for the year, Discoveries, was introduced by doing some group brainstorming and then making lists of our own personal discoveries. The discussion that followed was quite lively! We also listened to a great book entitled, Going Places, and learned what it means to "think outside the box". We will be doing a lot of OUT OF THE BOX thinking in Pursuit class this year!
Our third class centered around the idea of what is means to be creative. We started with a read aloud of the book, What Do You Do With An Idea? and began working on our Thinker's Toolbox, a visual representation of the thinking tools (skills) we will be learning this school year.
The second graders added the thinking skill of combine to their Thinker's Toolbox and had great fun thinking of all the inventions where this skill was put to use during our class this past week. We also started reading the book, Abel's Island. This award winning novel by Wiliam Steig is a fantastic tale about a mouse who makes some interesting discoveries about himself after being blown away from his wife during a violent storm (hurricane). Due to time constraints, I will only be reading selected chapters from this book, but suggest that it may be a good Amazon purchase or library check-out! I would recommend that it be a parent/child read aloud as the reading level of this book is well above second grade.

Third Grade

Our veteran Pursuit students were excited to welcome a new friend to our group this year and wasted no time while jumping back into the swing of things! After reviewing Pursuit procedures, all were eager to stretch their thinking muscles and enthusiastically dove into our first STEM Engineering Challenge Project. Check out our pictures below!
During the week of September 15th, the third graders celebrated International Dot Day. International Dot Day is a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration stemming from the best selling book, The Dot by Peter Reynolds. If you are not familiar with the book, I encourage you to to check it out. During our Dot Day celebration, we began a second STEM Project, The Geodesic Dome Engineering Challenge and made our mark by creating our own DOTS.
We began our third class with a focus on our team roles and the importance of being a contributing member of a group. It was then time to take another try at the Geodesic Dome Challenge. I'm pleased to report that all three groups were able to complete the challenge and create a dome that was able to support several books! We wrapped up this class by discussing our theme for the school year, Exploration.
Thinking Skills were our focus this last week as we began a THINKAPALOOSA called the Fantastic Carnival. Ask your child how they are planning to use SCAMPER to create a new and unusual Fantastic Carnival!

Fourth Grade

How exciting is was for the fourth graders to learn that this small group had doubled in size! With four new friends joining our class, our "senior" Pursuit students were eager to hear about what new things were in store for them this school year. After that, it was time to begin our very first STEM project, The Cup Pyramid Engineering Challenge. After learning that the challenge was to build the tallest cup pyramid possible... without directly using their hands, the students wasted no time in putting previously learned thinking skills to work! Your students did amazingly well on this challenge!
Our second Pursuit class (although rather short due to losing most of the class to a JV soccer game) focused on goal setting. I shared an interesting video, What's Your Sentence?, based upon the work of Daniel Pink, author of the book, A Whole New Mind. I then challenged the students to think about what they would want their sentence to be.
During our third class, fourth graders were introduced to analytical thinking with the introduction of our analogy study. We began looking at different types of word relationships and I shared the news of our participation in the WordMasters Challenge competition. Parents, I'm hopeful that your students have shared the parent information with you. If not, please ask! It should be in the Pursuit binder.
This past week, the fourth graders were excited to receive the word list for the first WordMasters Competition that will take place in December. We discussed the words and then the students chose the ones that they wanted to 'master' (pun intended). During our next class, each student will teach the words they have 'mastered' to the rest of the class. Creativity does come into play as the students are required to use a WANTED poster to teach the word. I'm looking forward to our next class!
Is your child new to Pursuit? Are you still wondering what this class is all about? This Prezi presentation should answer ALL of those lingering questions! Check out the link below...

Veteran Parents, I have updated the presentation to include some new information. You may want to check it out again!


I will once again be using RenWeb to list weekly "AT-HOME" Pursuit activities (Homework Section) and to post occasional links that support classroom learning. In an effort to keep parents abreast of progress with the AT-HOME CHALLENGES, I will use the gradebook feature of RenWeb to track the Pursuit Points earned when these activities have been completed.
A few notes:
  • Pursuit is NOT a graded class. Keep this in mind when viewing the Pursuit gradebook. The TERM AVERAGE will be displayed only because RenWeb does not allow me to disable this function.
  • Please encourage your child to take on the additional challenges, but keep in mind that Pursuit At-Home Challenges are optional.
  • Pursuit At-Home Challenges may be turned in at anytime during the quarter and the points will be adjusted. (The exception to this would be the analogy assignments for the fourth grade students)