January 7, 2015

Our New Conceptual Focus

"The efficiency of a system determines the effectiveness of the system."

An inquiry into:

  • The organization of systems (Function: How does it work?)
  • Interdependence within a system (Connection: How is it connected to other things?)
  • Factors that affect the efficiency of a system. (Change: How is it changing?)

The students will be learning about systems by examining:

  • The ways we use systems in our own lives.
  • Body systems
  • Systems created by the colonists to help their communities thrive.

The summative assessment for this unit will be:

  • Research a body system. Write a research report describing the way the system works, the interconnectedness of the parts of the system, and factors that affect the efficiency of the system.
  • Work with others who also researched your body system to determine ways you can take action. How can you help others to understand the system and take action to keep the system effective? This might include researching diseases or environmental factors that affect the system and ways to eradicate the disease or prevent a breakdown in the system.
  • Take action! Do something! Then reflect on your action.
  • Present your knowledge, understanding, and actions to the school and community. These presentations will take place on the evening of March 29th from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm. Families and community members will be invited to attend and learn about several projects. Please Save the Date!

How can parents be involved?

  • If you work with systems thinking, are a health care professional, or have experience treating or preventing disease, volunteer to come in and speak to the students. Tell us what you do and how knowledge of systems helps you be more efficient or effective.
  • Volunteer to mentor a group of students as they share ideas, plan for and take action, and prepare their presentation. This is a weekly commitment and will begin right after the February break. We will determine a time together. Go to Volunteer Spot to sign up to be a mentor. There will be a meeting on Thursday February 4th at 5:30 pm in room 20 for more information regarding the process of mentoring.
  • Read about systems thinking and include your child in family decisions based on this method.Check The Creative Classroom webpage useful links page for articles on systems thinking.

Reading and Writing, Speaking and Listening

Students will be inquiring into reading and writing as a system by identifying strategies for reading and writing informational text and producing informational text.

Family involvement can center around collecting informational text that is interesting to the student, reading it and discussing the content. Good sources for this include the Time for Kids magazines that will be distributed in class and sent home, the local newspaper, and recipe books or sites (one that my son uses to surprise us with culinary treats is


Students will be learning about the following body systems:

  • Skeletal System
  • Muscular System
  • Nervous System
  • Respiratory System
  • Endocrine System
  • Circulatory System

They will investigate the function of each system, how it interacts with other body systems, and the results of changes to the system (disease).

Family involvement can include discussing the body systems, talking to your family physician about the systems, or interviewing family and friends who are involved in the health system. Talk about the actions you take as a family to keep your body systems healthy.

Social Studies

Students will be inquiring into the history of slavery in the Americas and how this affected the economic system in the colonies. They will also inquire into the systems colonists created to help their communities thrive.

Family involvement can include any discussions about how people create and use systems in everyday life. What kinds of systems has your family put into place?


The students are investigating the ways people use fractions in equations to solve problems. This week we are working with fractions, mixed numbers, and division expressions. All students have access to the Math in Focus test books online. For reference we will be working on lessons 3.3 and beginning 3.4 between now and next Thursday.

Family involvement may include going over math papers sent home on a regular basis. Ask your child about what he or she learned in math each day. Ask what they struggle with and what they feel confident about. Encourage your child to ask questions and seek help to clear up confusion. Remember that every Wednesday I will arrive at 8 am to take students for math tutoring. All students needing extra support are invited to attend.