Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fundraising Information

Each year, the CBMS PTO organizes a fundraiser selling holiday wreaths and poinsettias from Evergreen Gardens.  New this year they are also offering fudge from Laughing Moon Chocolates. Please consider supporting the Wizards to raise money for our spring field trip to Boston.  Students should have brought this paperwork home on Friday but in case they didn't the links are below.  All money raised by Wizards goes directly to our team.  The deadline for orders is Friday November 11.  Thanks for supporting the Wizards.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mindfulness Matters!

One of the things we hope to see as a byproduct of practicing mindfulness is an improvement in student's ability to self-regulate. We recently surveyed the students about their use of mindfulness to see if they were using it outside of our lessons, for what purpose and whether it has been helpful to them. Their examples were rather eclectic so I wanted to share with you some of their comments which represent the themes that seem to be emerging.

"When I was doing homework there was a math problem that was really hard and I got really frustrated and then I thought about mindfulness and I took three deep breaths and it calmed me down, and then I thought about the problem and I understood it."

"I used mindfulness when my friend and I where in a fight and I took a deep breath and relaxed and I responded kindly and the fight was over." 

"I was in a frustrating class and I stopped and took 15 deep breaths and then reminded myself that whether I reacted or responded would make the situation better or worse, this helped me a lot."

"I was frustrated in football and I had to calm down so i got subbed out and practiced mindfulness."

"It helped me by making me feel less stressed doing homework."

"I used it when someone was being rude to me. It helped me so I wouldn't explode and start yelling at her."

"It helped me because my brother can be annoying so when I practice MindFullness it helped me ignore him.
(and I used to scream at him )!"

"I used it to calm down when I was very overwhelmed."

"i find mindfulness helpful for me when i get angry and frustrated it helps me calm down."
"mindfulness if good for you all around in every way and it can be fun!"
Clearly, they are beginning to use mindfulness to help them calm down and deal with stressful situations. That is definitely something to celebrate. However, another one of our long term goals is to have mindfulness positively impact their ability to focus.  If you take a look at the data below, you will see that this is much needed! 

78% of kids report it is hard for them to pay attention &
85% say that they are easily distracted!

October data

Friday, October 14, 2016

News from "Robotics Houston Headquarters"!

Students have been busy creating toys that move and are now working on building a robot chassis. Once this has been successfully built and the tested with the driver control program students will modify their chassis to complete the task of collecting blocks and moving them across the floor. This is hard work as you will see from the photos below but everyone has made great progress and next week we will be able to test the vehicles and begin modifications. Stay tuned!!!
Parents and relatives are welcome to stop by and observe the progress!

"I like robotics because it is awesome to have a partner and you get to use all the different apps and you have to use things like problem solving and teamwork." Mia (Mia's partner was absent the day we took photos)
"I really like how we get to solve problems and all those things just with our partners. I also get along really well with my partner. " Julia
" I really like that we don't have to build the robot chassis step by step with the whole group and we can do it with partners. I learned that robots are used for many things. " Teras
"Robotics is really fun because I like to build." Ben
"I like it because we get to be creative. " Wesley
" I learned that robotics is fun because we  can make stuff that moves. " Izzy
"I like robotics because my partner and I learned how to build complicated things while we are having fun." Aiden
" I like robotics because I love Science and I want to be a scientist someday and I am so happy I get the chance to explore robots!" Grace
" I enjoy this unit because I am use to a different type of robot and it is proving to be harder but working with a partner has made it easier. " Noah
"I really like robotics because it's really cool to connect these things and make something really cool like a robot. It is also fun to do it with an awesome teacher teaching it." Maya
"What I really like about robotics is that I have the best teacher to teach me robotics! Also, it's not everyday you get to learn robotics at school! I also think robotics are really cool and fun!" Quinn
"My partner and I work well together. When we run into a problem we solve it together" Wyatt
"At the beginning it was boring with the story but now it is fun because we have to problem solve and put parts together. " Lewis
"I learned that working with my partner helped me not be such a control freak. The building is about making robots which is good because I like building." Clay
"It is fun because my partner and I work well together. I learned that Robotics is lots of fun with a partner." Garrett
"I liked how we got a lot more work done today because we communicated better! " Cole
"I think it has been fun because I got to build a robot" Emmett

" What I learned from robotics is that takes so many pieces to make up a working model. It's very confusing and if you get one piece wrong, you might have to take it apart. " Ava
" What I am learning from robotics is that I can work well with my partner and we are good at building things together." Avery

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Just in case you missed Back to School night...

Here are some tidbits of information, to keep you in the know...  

Mindfulness--We didn't have time to cover this on Thursday...

Scientific research supports that Mindfulness improves children's focus and self-regulation, among other positive benefits. On our team, we are explicitly teaching the kids mindfulness practices. Here is a link to a Ted Talk about why we should be teaching mindfulness to kids. I would strongly encourage you to watch the video as it explains the relevance for teaching these strategies to kids. Be sure to ask your kids about mindfulness! 

Language Arts

In Language Arts, we have started the year off with our "Who Are You and Why Does it Matter?" unit.  The purpose of this unit was to foster relationships, make connections, develop self-awareness and figure ourselves out.  This is the first step in personalized learning. The learner must know themselves.  It helps that I got to really know the kids through all this work too.  Kids have been super engaged in all the projects, posts, discussions and activities.
Along with all this work, the kids have been learning to navigate all the new tech tools that we use.  To say my room is tech heavy would be an understatement.  We use all sorts of tools in innovative ways to enhance and augment learning. You want to see an engaged room full of kids, walk into my classroom. It's a fun place to be:)
Soon we will be starting our first round of Reader's Workshop. Students will work in book groups, reading books at their ability level and will be developing more complex comprehension skills. This model allows me to differentiate for the diverse reading needs and levels of my students. There is no one size fits all in my classroom.  After about six weeks, we will alternate this with a Writer's Workshop where we will focus on Informational, Argument or Narrative writing depending on the unit.

Schoology Verus Powerschool
As a team, we use Schoology as a rich Learning Management System that allows us to post assignments, rubrics, discussion threads, provide feedback to students and so much more. Students can track and submit assignments online.  You can keep track of your child's assignments in Schoology  and see if they are completing work on time, but will need to go to Powerschool to see their progress toward proficiencies.

Proficiency Based Learning
Speaking of proficiencies, this is new work to all of us. As teachers, we are are all learning to navigate this new landscape with our students.  Our main focus is on the Habits of Work rubrics, but we will also be addressing content standards and the Transferable Skills where appropriate.  Proficiency work is all about transparency, feedback and mastery. Students will have a better understanding of what they need to be able to do and whether or not they have met the criteria for proficiency.  Please watch Mr. Drake's presentation about PBL here.

Students will rotate by trimester through each of the following units... 

Students in Mrs. Houston’s class will be working with Project Lead the Way, a new science program recently adopted by the district. The unit this year is called Robotics. There are two units of exploration.
Students explore the ways robots are used in today’s world and their impact on society and the environment. Students learn about a variety of robotic components as they build and test mobile robots that may be controlled remotely. Students explore the ways robots are used in today’s world and then design a mobile robot that can remove hazardous materials from a disaster site.Students explore mechanical design and computer programming and design an automatic-guided vehicle to deliver supplies in a hospital.

Earth and Space
Ms. Anderman’s class is investigating the question “How do the earth, moon, and sun interact to create observable cycles?”.  Through this investigation, students will be doing hands-on inquiry and modeling activities to help them understand lunar phases, eclipses, the scale of the solar system, the seasons and the role gravity plays in these interactions.  

The students will be learning about geology in Mrs. Michael’s class this year.  Our unit essential question is How do natural events shape the Earth’s surface? Our focus will be on natural disasters and their impact on humans and the environment.  Students will be completing a major research project, creating a presentation and developing models to share their learning with others.