Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Here's What's Happening this Month in Our Class

We have begun applying the comprehension strategy of making inferences during reading workshop. The students and I have been reading a variety of passages on The Titanic.  I begin by modeling, and then the kids eventually apply the strategy on their own, making inferences from the text.  They are learning how to use text clues and their background knowledge to infer the meaning of unknown words, how to infer authors' unstated meaning, and how to merge their background knowledge and information from the text to create a new meaning from the text.  As always, when the kids are applying their strategies independently, they are doing so using fiction and nonfiction texts that are appropriate for their reading level.

With the start of the New Year, we have begun a new genre in writing.  The kids are learning how to craft an informational piece.  The purpose of the informational piece is to teach others about their selected topic.  The topics the kids chose are based on history.  Some topics are the sinking of The Titanic, The Battle of Gettysburg, the 9/11 Attacks, and The Vietnam War, to name just a few.

During the mini-lesson portion of writing workshop, I have been modeling the note taking process for the kids using texts about The Titanic from Reading Workshop.  I have been modeling note taking (paraphrasing and quoting information), citing research, and using text features to elevate the complexity of writing.  This unit will be about two months long.  During this time the kids will write several informational pieces and learn how to write with a teaching tone.  They will become "experts" on their topic along the way.

With the start of the month came the start of a new math unit on measurement and shapes.  In this unit the kids will learn about the US Standard System of Measurement as well as the Metric System.  They were learn how to convert from one unit of measurement to the other, calculate perimeter and area, classify polygons, measure angles, and how to accurately use measurement tools. Learning will be differentiated through small group instruction as well as extension activities that will challenge all students.

We are just coming to the end of our Social Studies unit on Colorado History.  The kids are applying their knowledge of the early Colorado settlements that were created by and influenced by the Gold Rush, Explorers, the Fur Traders, and a variety of other groups in order to create their own settlement.  Upon completion of this performance task, we will shift our focus back to science.  Our new unit will be "The Sun, Moon, and Stars".  The kids will learn what causes night and day, the phases of the moon, how the sun creates shadows depending on the time of day, the characteristics of stars, as well as constellations.

This is a very exciting month with regard to technology as this tech rotation finds us in the STEAM Lab utilizing a variety of new apps to code our new robots Dot and Dash.  The lessons have been designed to connect with the math unit we are currently studying.  For example, the kids are creating and coding paths for their robots using their knowledge of the metric system.  The excitement, critical thinking, and learning in the air is palpable.  I will send pictures soon for you to see.  We'll be back in the STEAM Lab tomorrow afternoon.

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