Friday, March 22, 2019

Week #27 - Cardboard Challenge!

     If the smiles in these pictures are any indication it was a fun week of learning. Our pumpkin seeds are showing a lot of growth; students are working incredibly hard on progressing academically; and new friendships are growing over shared interests. It's all great to see!

     During musical mindfulness this year students have been learning all about different aspects of music - including tempo, rhythm, dynamics, form, and mood. They have been listening to different kinds of music, playing games related to those ideas, and utilizing technology games to practice hands on work with these musical ideas. Some students really seem to enjoy this block of time each week. Lately, we have been alternating between listening to music to discuss the various aspects of it as well as our feelings about it and composing our own music. There is a great website called Chrome Music Lab that has all kinds of different activities related to music - one of them assists students in composing. This week students were given a specific melody and the ability to add other notes or rhythm sounds to make it their own. It was neat to see how each student's composition sounded similar and different to others.

     The other exciting work this week happened on Thursday morning with Cardboard Challenge. Jericho Elementary School has been participating in this challenge for several years now. It is a worldwide opportunity for students to spend a chunk of time just being creative and imaginative with cardboard, tape, and glue. The theme was "Space" and students could choose to stay in that theme or make something uniquely their own. Many of our students stayed in the space theme and made rockets or space animals. There were so many awesome creations!

     If you haven't had a chance to pick up your child's creation yet, please reach out to figure out a time. The projects are not allowed on the bus, and all of the students would like to bring their work home.

Week #26 - Planting Pumpkins AND Playing in the Snow!?

     It was a bit of an odd week as we did some seed planting and played in the snow... granted, the seed planting was inside, so that probably makes more sense!  During Enrichment time with Mr. Bouchard he decided to have us take a break from our other project to do some indoor planting to be transplanted outside once the plants are ready and it is ready outdoors. Our class planted pumpkin seeds and we have been watching them grow under lights in our classroom. The students were really excited and careful about their jobs when they were planting and have enjoyed watching for the growth to begin. We have 2 trays in our classroom - one was planted a few days before the other, so it has been neat to see the difference in growth.

     Along with planting seeds and the regular literacy and math blocks that students do each day, we have been spending a lot of time talking about and practicing social cognition strategies.  Lately we have been talking about levels of regulation. The green zone is the level of regulation you want your body to be in - it means you aren't too tired and you also aren't too energized. If students are feeling too tired (blue zone) there are strategies to get back to the green zone. If students are feeling too energized or high energy (red zone) there are strategies to get back to the green zone. We practiced both of those this week and gave students lots of activities they can do on their own to self-regulate back into the green zone. Mr. Z also showed students how to focus and deep breathe their way into breaking boards. Everyone did an awesome job!

     Along with our Social Cognition work, Ms. Gigi was able to come in and do some mindfulness work with us. She showed us how drawing or coloring zentangles can help us feel calm when our minds or bodies are racing. It was a good refresher since we worked with zentangles in art earlier this year.

     Lastly, the snow was an exciting part of the week! It can be hard and a pain for students to get dressed in all of their snow gear during the winter months. It is time consuming and can feel like a lot of work to them. But, it always seems like the reward of playing in the snow is worth it for the students. This week we made it even more of a reward by having sleds for the students to use on the big snow banks created by the plow. It seemed like a lot of fun was had by them all!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Week #25 - Short Week

     We were happy to welcome students back from the break on Wednesday. Many students could not wait to tell us about their adventures whether they stayed at home or went away during the vacation. It can often be exciting to return to the social aspect of the school day and see people you have not seen for a while, but it can also feel challenging to return to the routines and work. We tried to keep the 2 and a half days of this week low key, but we also wanted to dive back in to learning!

     Our literacy and math blocks were routine, continuing and building on work that was begun before vacation, but in Enrichment with Mr. Bouchard students started a new unit. They have been tasked with designing and building a model of a cell phone tower that doesn't necessarily look like a cellphone tower. They will be using circuitry kits called Little Bits as well as their imaginations to include camouflaging techniques, visual warnings to people or wildlife, and even audio warnings to scare off wildlife. The students were excited to start using the circuitry kits again and we look forward to seeing what they will create over the next few weeks.

     At the beginning of the school year we did a cooking unit and students loved it! They have been asking for a while to do more cooking, so on our half day Friday it seemed like a good time to dive back in. We made nachos! Students each took a role and many seemed to enjoy the results.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Week #24 - Movement

     The week before vacation can be challenging for students. We decided to keep to our routines for Literacy and Math while also adding in some extra movement and activities. On Tuesday students were able to see a musical performed by the third grade all about Western Expansion. It was great! Students did an awesome job sitting and being positive audience members.

     Students wrapped up the work they have been doing in Enrichment on wind turbines and will start something new with Mr. Bouchard after vacation. After several attempts and trial and error all students were able to come up with a design that worked to produce some level of electricity. The blades that Calvin designed ended up producing the most electricity! They were large with a tip that narrowed at the end and were set at a slight angle. 
     On the days we don't have Enrichment we have a time in our classroom called Building Block where we do various building challenges or STEM activities. This week students were learning about friction and how it applies to how objects move. We also created our own pendulum using blocks, string, and a curtain rod. We will do some more work with that after vacation.

     With the winter weather making it cold, icy, and at times too dangerous to walk outside, we have been doing some movement activities in our classroom in the mornings to start our day. We use a great website called GoNoodle to do guided dance, fun freestyle, workout moves, yoga, and breathing activities. You might hear students singing the songs - they get stuck in your head easily! We are hoping after vacation to be able to do morning walks again, but it will depend on the weather.

     This was also the last week of skiing/snowboarding for the older students on Wednesdays. This week while they left to do that Ayvah, Calvin, and Dominic got to try out cross country skiing. They did great! It was hard to get the hang of the movement, but they all tried it and did their best. We split the group again for a portion of Friday morning where part of the group went cross country skiing again while the other part of the group went snowshoeing. It was nice to get out and move!

We hope whatever you are doing, you have a good vacation!
We look forward to seeing all the students again March 6th.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Week #23 - Snow!

     It's always a bit odd when our week is split by a snow day. The students sure did enjoy recess the day after the snow day, though! It has been many weeks of freezing cold followed by icy playground conditions. We've needed to have a lot of indoor recess. It was nice to finally get outside on a sunny day and play in the fresh snow.

     This week was a great week of learning! In Literacy our younger students are making great progress on letter sounds and beginning reading while our older students continued work on a research project that includes both reading and writing. In Math students are each working on grade specific fact fluency. Addition War as well as Roll and Record are the favorite games right now for our K/1 students who have fun with the competitive nature of a game (without really realizing they are practicing math facts)! In Enrichment students continued to work on their wind turbines. Early in the week we watched videos showing how some manufacturers of large wind turbines design their blades for maximum electrical output. This inspired many students to make some changes to their original blade design.

     A real treat for our 4th grade students came when they were invited to join their 4th grade classes for a visit from VINS - Vermont Institute of Natural Science. Someone from that organization came to the school with 3 live birds that are being cared for by the organization due to injury. Kayden and Justin saw Northfield a Broad-Winged Hawk, Troy a Barred Owl, and Westford an American Kestral. The representative from VINS was able to talk to the 4th graders about the migratory practices, habitats, and diets of each of these birds as well as other predatory birds in Vermont.

     We also ended the week on a high note by celebrating all the positive behaviors in our classroom over the past few weeks! Students have been working hard to defeat Mean Jean and be kind to each other. We watched a few episodes from a series called Dino Dana about a girl who really loves dinosaurs. It was entertaining to the students and very informative!

Week #27 - Cardboard Challenge!

     If the smiles in these pictures are any indication it was a fun week of learning. Our pumpkin seeds are showing a lot of gro...