Monday, November 24, 2008

We're Going Green

I've been meaning to post about this for the past week...sorry so slow with the update.

We're taking on quite a project here on the third floor. In case you weren't aware I led a team of five teachers in creating a grant proposal last year. We designed a project around the idea that we wanted our students to learn about how to take better care of the environment. Apparently, someone liked our proposal. A lot. The school was awarded about $20,000 in new technology, including five laptops like the one I use along with five digital cameras, LCD projectors, and printers. The catch is that we have to use all of it in bringing our project to life.

Well, we're underway. The first step was for the students to design a PowerPoint presentation that teaches students about trash and recycling. They completed it by working in groups of 3-4. Then, they presented it to three classes. It was pretty cool. Here's the presentation:

Garbage And Recycling
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: recycling environment)

Now, the class is collecting the recycling bins from these three classes at the end of every day. Then, at the end of each week, they'll weigh it, keeping a running tally of the weights using my laptop computer. By the time we're done, we'll have a good idea of how much of an impact we've had on the environment.

There's a few more phases than just that. But so far it's been a great way to teach science, social studies, and math. I'm looking forward to seeing where this will lead. I'll keep you updated along the way. And be sure to send in any recyclable paper you have at home!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And We're Back

17 days since my last post...sorry about that. Exhibition week sure throws everything for a loop. Parents, kids, and teachers are all scurrying to meet deadlines and make sure everything's ready for the big day(s). Overall, I'd say we did a pretty good job, wouldn't you? I obviously got to view the most Exhibitions, but I was tremendously impressed and very proud. The students worked hard and did a terrific job, especially considering it was their first one in fourth grade. And of course, none of it would be possible without the help of the parents and grandparents and other family members who take time out of their busy days to attend and help and practice and more. I thank all of you very much.

One of the best parts about the first exhibition is that there isn't a single person involved that doesn't learn something that will help them the next time. Students learned what they need to improve and the importance of picking an interest project that truly interests them. For parents, I think the format and my expectations became a lot clearer. And I learned a lot, too. I'll prepare and communicate a little differently next time, in an effort to make sure everyone knows what is required. And I'll stress preparation, the use of note cards, and using a conversational/energetic tone when presenting. I'll also assign different math problems for every student, so that no one has to sit through the same one twice.

And now that we've made it through weeks and weeks of hard work, we are rewarded with a three day week leading up to the holiday weekend. We still have a lot to do, though...
  • This week we'll be pushing forward with our essays. These will need to be worked on over the weekend. I'll provide more on that before Wednesday.
  • We're finishing Unit 4 in math class. That means we'll be taking a unit test on Wednesday. We'll review Tuesday. Pay careful attention to Tuesday's homework. It will be a test review. Tests should be graded and sent home on Wednesday.
  • Students will resume meeting with their regular reading classes this week.
  • We'll return to a more regular homework schedule starting on Monday the 24th. After a long respite, the homework calendar on the class website WILL be updated starting Monday morning. Expect it every night, even during Thanksgiving break. Check out the poll at the top of the blog page. I'd really like your input as to how much homework is acceptable during a holiday weekend. Be honest. If you think there shouldn't be homework, by all means, let me know. I'll take the responses into account when selecting the assignments.
  • Finally, students will be wrapping up the six-week science session. After Thanksgiving, we'll dive back into Social Studies for the next six weeks.

And in other news...I'm looking to get back into the swing of parent volunteering starting in December. I'll post more on this at a later date, but keep it in mind. Help would be needed at 9:00 for writing and 10:00 for math.

Look for more posts later this week as I continue to get caught up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Six Days?

Does that counter say six days? Is that possible? Are we that close having a third of the year be completed?

In a word...yes. It's unbelievable, I know. But it's true. So it's really time to get to work on Exhibitions. I'm hoping that almost everyone has their interest projects completed. Once they're done, it's time for the kids to start practicing what they're going to say. Remember, their job is to teach us all that they've learned. Be sure to practice ahead of time! Their Exhibition will go much more smoothly if they rehearse over and over.

This week, we've been preparing the social studies portion of the presentation. They have to have a timeline with 10 events on it from chapter three in their social studies book. They will display this at their Exhibition and then give us details about ONE of the ten events. They don't have to talk about all ten or even list them. Just pick one. We'll work on completing that tomorrow so it can be practiced and ready.

This week we're also working on publishing our personal narrative stories. We've been using the school's new mobile laptop lab (yay for fundraisers!) to type and print these stories. No one's gotten done yet, but we should have quite a few get finished tomorrow. They are very excited about these stories and I'm proud of how hard they've worked. These are the stories that they need to talk about at their Exhibitions.

We did take a math test yesterday on Unit 3. Please go over it with your child tonight. We'll have a short quiz tomorrow. That will be the one you need to sign and return if the score is lower than 80 percent.

A look ahead to next week...we'll be going over the science requirement and putting the finishing touches on all the other parts to make sure students are ready.

I'm officially suspending assigned homework until after Exhibitions are completed. Maybe a better way of saying this is: the homework every night until Exhibitions are over is to work on Exhibitions. :)

Just some other notes...Scholastic Book Club order forms went home last night. They are due back next Friday, the 14th. No one has used the online ordering option yet, so I'm not going to set it up this time. If you're interested in ordering and paying online with a credit card, let me know.

Also (I know this is short notice) but I could really use some help with publishing stories tomorrow. If you can come in from 9:45 until 11:00 to help me get the computers set up and to help students edit and print their stories, that would be great. Send me an email if you're available. Thanks!