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.


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