Saturday, June 16, 2018

A year in review

With two days left in our year, I can't help but think back to Open House last August. The new fourth graders coming into the room for the first time, some not quite ready to open up to in their new environment. Looking back at photos I took in September, it is so physically clear just how much they have changed.

The not so obvious changes are those that have taken place in our discussions or in small group work. Hearing those who used to be reluctant writers explain the importance of taking some time to plan AND what to do when planning a new character gives me goosebumps. Watching a student take on the challenge of two by four-digit division, meet the challenge AND help his friends understand how to do solve the same question brings happy tears to my eyes. I overheard a student say "ugh.. multiplication" and when I asked him what was going on, he said he just wanted to get back to division! I laughed and reminded him when he said the same thing about division.

No only are they the "big kids" at LCS now, but they know how to help themselves and how to explain (most of the time even find on their own) what they need to be successful. I am so thankful to have had the pleasure of getting to know each of your children this year not just as learners, but as athletes, artists and friends. I hope each of the students had as much fun as I did this year and it certainly will not be an easy year to put to bed on Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Busy week already!

Testing this week has been, in my opinion, very well balanced with our Social Studies project. The posters finally made it in the building today. The kids were all so patient and it became a bit of a running joke. 

 Moral of the story- we hit the ground running with our poster work. A few students, who have been working on their brochure during this waiting, were able to finish today. A recess was even sacrificed (by choice, I am definitely not an advocate for missing a good run around!) in the desire to continue working.

On another note, I noticed Lisbon Library posted about their summer reading program. A week or two ago, the class and I talked about "summer slide" and what it can mean to lose the routine to school on the growth we've worked so hard towards. I've also been seeing many students beating their own minutes per week record when I track the logs every Friday. 

This summer program could be a great way to continue their desire to beat their own best, lessen their "summer slide" AND use the Cloud Library app to read on the go. I personally have been enjoying all the "books on app" my library has to offer! 

LOOKING FOR BOOKS-- this is the time of year to check between the wall and bed or under the bed, on the nightstand, backpacks, wherever they may be hidden, for books borrowed from the school library or our classroom library. Please send them back to school!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Native American Region Research

Based on feedback from the groups, we extended our research into this week. Throughout the week, they practiced sharing and listening to their teammates in order to synthesize their information about their region. 

Many of the students have taken the time to research at home as well some of of their notes are quite lengthy! It was a learning curve to pick one or two things to share during that time to allow our teammates to take down what was being shared and not overwhelm. 

The Northwest
Next week our focus will shift to the visuals- a brochure, poster or Google Slideshow. Students will, again, collaborate to put their notes into their own words and into a teaching tool.                                                                                                    When it comes to Google Slideshows, it will mean sharing one document with peers. This is an option on Google we've only recently introduced. Please, if they work on projects or typing, eyeball what they're working on. Google is a tool for learning, not play. Commenting, and emailing even, can quickly become social if not monitored. Any document they work on at home should be shared with me so I can see revisions. Students also love adding pictures to their work, which is fine. What they don't realize is the image search is full internet access so if what they enter into the search bar isn't specific enough, funky stuff could pop up! 

The Great Plains
The Northeast Woodlands
The Southwest 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

App for Reading

As I was getting ready for a recent trip with my mom, we were talking about books to bring with us for the drive home. Weight of the books was a concern for the initial trip down because we were flying. She then discovered an amazing app that has changed my own personal reading that I now have to share with you!

Right out of the gate, I have an iPhone and have had the must success with the app on that device. I've attempted to get it on the Samsung devices I inherited, but I underestimated the differences between the two so those are taking a big longer for set up. I know it's available with Samsung, but haven't gotten it going there myself.

HOWEVER, the Cloud Library app gives you electronic access to your town's public library system. All you need is a library card. You get access to a huge portion of their library- ebooks and audiobooks.

I'm trying to use it more in the classroom when we can. If your reader is having a hard time getting excited about reading or staying engaged in their book, this could help! 

Happy reading :) 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Project perseverance

Last week we started our first Project Based Learning (PBL) to apply many of the concepts we've been learning in math. Students had a budget of $5,000 with which they had to rent (and design) a space, buy furniture, buy items for their store and craft a menu. They can also choose whether or not they will hire an employee, but that is to come!

We calculated profit and keep track of a budget as purchases were made. The decision making was unique because there was very little they "had to have" in their stores- an employee is optional, number of tables is flexible, etc. I learned we have some very cautious business owners among us! 

We also began a Native American Region Research project. Students are working in groups to learn the characteristics of the Northwest territory, Southwest, Great Plains and the Northeastern Woodlands. Each group decided who was responsible for learning about the housing, food, clothing, physical features of the land, and, the environment (specifically how the Native Americans use the environment).

There is a craft or two that came along with the articles I gave each of the groups. I am happy to provide materials for those interested in the project, but, as I told the class today, our focus at school is the research and written aspect. Each group is also responsible for a Google Slide show, poster or brochure.

This is the first year I've done this project! We have created a rubric (many students kept it in their project folders at school) and utilized a "study guide" to support the group as they launch their research. The 30 minutes a day FLY by therefore I have been continually reminding students that if they read at home, it also counts for their reading log minutes. Hopefully encouraging some double dipping!!

If at any point it feels unclear for you all at home, please let me know!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Reading goals

Our Author Study unit continues the work from the Historical Fiction unit we recently completed. We're focusing on: identifying character traits, analyzing perspective of character's, analyzing parts of the story and connecting it to the whole story, and identifying theme

Today we zoomed in on analyzing part of the story. What I've noticed from assessments is that the students need practice simply finding the story element in their story. To adult readers, it could seem easy. The pressure of pen and paper add a surprising amount of challenge. These students know how to talk about characters, but writing it all down is unique. 

We started by reminding ourselves (with the chart beneath) about what some elements might be. Building our "language bank" so when it comes time to answer the question we know is coming ("what element is present in this scene?"), the words the student wants to say or write are available. 

I pulled out the rubric for the students to show exactly what is expected of them at the given levels of this strand. If you click the photo, you'll see each level is very similar to what came before it. However, each level expects students to explain and connect the importance of a given part to more complex ideas. 

To work on this at home, use question 3 (bottom left corner) from the original homework packet. 

Students have risen to the challenge of 100 minutes per week, in addition to one response, very well and have gotten better at finding a balance during busy weeks. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Field Trip Day!

 Our day in Augusta was fantastic! Seeing the House of Representatives as well as peek in as the Senate was in session was a great connection to our earlier Government unit this year. We were even able to find some times to the American Revolution (unfortunately George Washington's portrait just missed the photo to the left!) and a timeline leading to/after World War II.

It was a very busy place in the Capitol today which made hearing our wonderful tour guide a bit tricky. Everyone was so patient and tried their best to listen as we were toured around. Especially navigating such a crowded area AND quickly changing from walking in a line, to a group to listen and back to a line. Very proud!

A quick spin around the Tunnel before we made our way back to the State Museum!
Once we got to the museum and into on of the exhibits, Bella spotted an item from Lisbon Falls! You'll never guess what it is- a CABBAGE SLICER! While we were busy with the slicer, Hayden found his way to some stringed instruments that were made in Maine.

Greatest day! Loved bringing, and so proud to have taken, this group of kiddos to our Capital!