Friday, April 28, 2017

Start of Quarter 4

Report cards are being mailed home this week and you can expect your student's in your mailbox by early next week. If you would like to meet to discuss your child's progress we are happy to do so at your convenience.

You may recall heading to the STEM lab during Student Learning Celebrations and performing a pendulum investigation with your student scientist. Just recently the class wrapped up this unit on force, motion and engineering. As a culminating event student teams presented engineered magnetic prototypes designed to solve a real world problem of their choosing. Our audience included the fifth grade, a handful of available teachers, and Ms. Mills.

Static electricity exploration
Magnetic fields
Push and pull 
Engineering a prototype, a completed design & presenting to an audience

Several weeks ago first grade authors joined us to read their published pieces to our class. It was great to see the class act as mentors and enthusiastic listeners for their young friends.

In math we have circled back to adding and subtracting with a focus on large numbers. Students have used grams (metric form of measuring weight) and liters (metric liquid volume measurement) as a means of applying skills to real world problems. They were using scales and graduated cylinders to find sums for and differences between numbers.

In writing we have been listening to and reading fairy tales in preparation for doing our own "fractured" retellings. Students will settle on a fairy tale to retell by changing the characters, setting, and/or problem. At the same time the class will work on reading fluency skills and reading with inflection as they participate in readers' theater productions based on fairy tales.

During the past several weeks your child's teachers have been trying to catch individuals making good choices. Every time this occurs the student is quickly and immediately acknowledged with a movie ticket. Third graders turn in their tickets to a container in the classroom. When the whole class manages something as a collective group a pink ticket worth ten individual tickets is awarded. The third graders settled on a goal of 1,500 tickets that would then result in a class celebration at Vail Field. Well, today was the day we exceeded the ticket goal and so we are headed to Vail Field for some fun games in recognition of the hard work your children have been doing lately.

To put a finer point on things, 1,500 tickets means that over course of three weeks third graders have been praised or recognized 1,500 times! It feels great catching kids making productive, respectful, responsible, cooperative choices. More importantly, students are shaping their behaviors to be more in line with expectations and receive kudos for doing so. Awarding a ticket may sound like, "I noticed you...
  • put you name on your paper."
  • wrote on the lines."
  • got started immediately."
  • shared your materials."
  • are working very quietly."
  • helped her with that problem."
  • let ______ play with you."
  • arrived with a pencil."
  • raised your hand."
  • disagreed respectfully."
  • didn't get upset."
  • got loads of work done."
  • followed directions the first time."
  • got out when you were tagged."
This Tuesday the class will walk to the Courthouse after lunch to watch a play put on by the sixth graders. This will be a partially improvised, partially scripted trial of the character Ulysses from Roman mythology. We've been reading an abbreviated version of The Odyssey to provide some context for the third graders. They are highly intrigued by the many wild adventures of the main character.

We would love to hold a class party toward the end of the school year. If you have a pond or pool and would be interested in hosting a party (we'll supply the lifeguard) please contact Jay at at your earliest convenience.

Finally, early into our fourth grade year the class heads to the Hulbert Outdoor Center for some team building exercises. This is a three-day, two-night experience that WES students have been participating in for decades now. Much more information will be forthcoming, however, we need a couple of parents who would be willing to help with the facilitation of our fundraising efforts. If this is something you'd consider please contact Jay. Two parents would be really helpful and, to be honest, there isn't loads to do because a very successful model has been in existence for awhile now.

We hope you enjoy the arrival of spring weather and its accompanying outdoor activities!