Assistant Handbook Area
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We are having a great time in the changing weather which is mostly for the better. Honey John Bob (our apple tree) has a first leaf bud! In this blog update you’ll find:
-Capitol field trip pictures
-Spirit Week details
-Science Experiment details
We had a wonderful time visiting the capital. In preparation, younger students had the chance to design their own capital campus, which meant addressing many questions. What is a capital for? What kind of buildings, or features serve those purposes? What are capitals in other countries like? We took a quick virtual tour via Google Earth of the capitals in China, Moscow, and the U.S. as part of our preparation for the trip. We also spent some time discussing the three branches of government, along with how a bill becomes a law.
We had a great tour guide, who accepted each student’s very different set of questions effortlessly. Some highlights were the storybook marble from Italy in the “ballroom” and scampering silently through the law library in the Supreme Court building. Some of the books had laws from when WA was still a territory. Isabella called them zombie books because of their worn bindings of genuine leather…
Spirit Week this week!
Spirit Week will be as follows:
Monday: Blast from the Past; dress in clothes from another time.
Tuesday: Career Day; what do you want to be when you grow up?
Wednesday: Dress as your favorite character from a book. Bring the book if you can find it and be prepared to tell us about it.
Thursday: Come as a twin, triplet, or quadruplet copy of somebody else in the class!
Friday: Dress in a theme for an important cause or change you want to see in the world.
Some of you may have heard that the record rain last week put a wet spot on our ceiling upstairs that eventually damaged drywall. Rob and I put in some evening time on the roof and decided that it was time to redo it. We applied a patch to the trouble area on the roof, and to the ceiling. We have some bids out for roofing contractors and are waiting for those to come in. In the meantime we are making sure that our roof patch holds before repairing the drywall upstairs. The students don’t seem to care anymore, but the sheet of plywood in the ceiling is less than ideal. All that aside, best case scenario, we will be putting a new roof on the school this summer. Woohoo!
Beginning Science Experiments
Wrapping up the storybook writing project brings us to our new writing project; a scientific experiment. Informational or ‘how to’ writing projects are an important part of Language Arts along with the scientific process skills that are developed. Many of you will remember this from last year, but for any who need a refresher, below you'll find a examples and some pictures to go with it.
Last Wednesday we spent some time in the brainstorming stage. Students must think of three questions which are answerable by conducting an experiment. I need to approve the three questions, and you can all help me in this process by making sure students don’t get too invested in questions which don’t meet these criteria:
Questions must be:
-reasonably safe, and do-able without great expense or effort on the part of the adults
-uniquely interesting to the student
-without an answer that is obvious to the student based on previous knowledge
2nd graders will be expected to participate this year. 1st graders should attend Science Night in April so that they can see how it’s done, and are welcome to develop questions and conduct investigations which they can report on if they want to. Many of the older students have been able to formulate three potential questions, and select one. I encouraged them all to struggle with finding good questions, and NOT to rush into one question without following through on the process.
Many of the students remember last year's project, and are better able to construct good procedure and materials sections, along with the rest of the areas which need to be covered. Here is an example write-up.
I. Question: Do microwaves travel from the outside in, or the inside out?
II. Hypothesis: (Be sure to include why you are making this prediction) My informal experience with heating things in the microwave seems to suggest that microwaves travel first to the surface, or outside of things, and then to the inside.
III. Materials: (In a list, as exhaustive as possible) Microwave, Thermometer, Pencil and Paper, Glass or microwave safe containers/plates. Frozen or cold objects to microwave; frozen cup of water, frozen lunch item like a pot pie…
“How will I control variables?” (This is kind of like a thought bubble, or at least the kind of thinking that needs to be encouraged, if not a part of the project/display itself! We will be talking about this in class.)
“I will use the same type of containers or plates. I will use the same microwave and measure the temperature with the same thermometer after the same amounts of time pass.”
(Note: 6th/7th grade must list Independent and Dependent Variables more formally)
A. Freeze water in container to be microwaved
B. Gather materials near a freezer and microwave so that frozen items to be used don’t start to thaw.
C. Put frozen cup of water into microwave for 30 seconds and observe melting pattern. Record results.
D. Repeat for another 30 seconds and observe melting pattern. Record.
E. Repeat until pattern of melting is clearly observable. Record
F. Record results overall.
G. Put frozen lunch item into microwave for 30 seconds and repeat observations in 30 second stages and record results.
For parents: this is where you would show numbers, measurements, a graph or a table, depending on the complexity of the experiment and the age of the student.
For parents: this is where you would write about, generalize, or “:tell the story” of your results, in a more readable form. It often includes data landmarks like “the most” or “the least”. What happened in the end!
VII. Scientific concepts:
For parents: this is where you would put definitions, or information which relates to the experiment like: who invented or discovered the microwave, what is a microwave, what is the temperature that ice melts at. It’s a short collection of the concepts and scientific terms that are involved with your experiment, like a mini-report.
VIII. New Question:
For parents: this is a new experimental question that the student comes up with after finishing the experiment, related or unrelated to the project…
I am hoping that we can finish the process of selecting questions by this coming Wednesday afternoon. As soon as questions are approved they start drafting the sections of their project up to the end of procedures. Then students will conduct the experiment and record results. This can be done at home or at school depending on the experiment, and the time involved. By the first week of April experiments involving days should be underway. Students 5th grade and above will be required to type up a lab including all sections listed above, along with their presentation board. Students will be shown old boards and critique them with me. We will hold Science Night on Friday, April 17th from 7:00-8:00. This is very similar to Special Project night, with students preparing to present their project through coaching and rehearsal.
Spring has sprung and February is over before it's begun. In this update:
-Picture Book Party
-Field Trip and driver request
-Standardized testing week/Spirit Week
-St Patrick's Day
-Art and Music pictures
-Academic bullet points
Picture Book Party
On Writing Wednesday afternoon, we will be celebrating our Academy picture-book authors. Students are invited to wear something festive that shows their personality, and be prepared to read and show their book around the gathering. Students may bring a snack or treat to share with the class. The creativity, effort, and excitement going into the project is wonderful. Many students asked to work on the project during recess!
Next week on Wednesday the 11th, we will be making a return trip to tour the state capital campus in Olympia. Our last trip was several years ago. All of the students will find it an adventure with educational opportunities on many levels; history, architecture, civics... It's a wonderful experience which includes a mock supreme court trial. We are looking for parents who can commit to the whole day. We will be leaving promptly at 9, bringing brown bag lunches, and returning at 3. You won't regret it!
Standardized Testing Week
If you check the school calendar for March, you'll find that standardized Iowa testing is scheduled for the week of the 16th through 20th. Testing is for 2nd-8th grades. The exam costs $50 to proctor, and there will be an envelope up on the cork board to receive checks. First graders will be with Mrs. Wilson working on state projects. Students need to be in bed early Sunday night and each night during this week. A hearty breakfast in the morning is also helpful. We will be spending some time looking at practice questions next week. Testing will take place primarily in the morning, but some will take place in the afternoon. Please make sure students arrive promptly so that the schedule doesn't get too complicated. Testing week will be followed by spirit week with more details to follow about the fun for each day! If you've never heard of spirit week, each day has a fun theme and students "dress" for the theme. (ie. crazy hair, favorite color...) BUT, don't start planning until the final list of themes comes out from the Academy thinktank.
St. Patrick's Day
Although the timing of St. Patty's day is less than ideal during testing week, we will be celebrating in the afternoon of the 17th by the wearing of the green, snacks, games, and general cavorting. If you would like to send along something Irishey, a snack, treat, beverage... please feel free! No Guinness during testing week for the children.
Art and Music Pictures
Academic Bullet Points
-We looked at a visual algorithm for multiplication taken from Chinese culture.
-We are studying cycles and how they relate to science and social studies
-4th graders presented information on European explorers to the NW region and will start their state reports soon
-5th graders have a Unit Test next week on Monday after a more in-depth tutorial on review strategies and lecture on the highlights
-Liz and Nick are finishing The Devil's Workshop; a novel about Johann Gutenburg who invented the printing press to reproduce the bible during the 1400s.
It was a delightful day for a walk to the park. What an awesome group of kids!