Monday, February 25, 2013

2nd Trimester Ending....

Where does the time go? We are officially at the end of our 2nd trimester. I hope you have your calendars marked to come to our Wax Museum on Friday at 2:30 in our classroom. Also, if you have not already done so, please sign up for a parent-student-teacher conference on Monday, March 4, or Tuesday, March 5. The link is posted in the Good News. We look forward to celebrating your child's successes and academic growth as well as setting goals for the remainder of the year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

STEM in the News

STEM is in the news every day, and we want our students to be aware of the amazing things happening in our world. We have created a bulletin board in our hallway to post articles from newspapers or magazines about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This is a great way to encourage more non-fiction reading and to open up our students' bright minds to all the amazing real-life applications of STEM. Please encourage your child to bring in articles that excite them, and we will add them to our collection.

Biography Projects

Students are giving their speeches this week. It is such fun to see them dressed up and in character. We are so proud of their hard work! Mr. Merritt is videotaping each student during his/her presentation. We will put a picture of each child dressed in their costume along with a QR code linked to the video of their speech. We hope you'll enjoy getting to see these. Don't forget to mark your calendars for Friday, March 1 at 2:30 for our Wax Museum. You don't want to miss this fun experience! It is a highlight of our year, for sure.

Social Studies Update

From Mrs. York:

Last week we "explored" (Ha!) the basic routes of a few of the earliest European explorers.  Students refreshed their map skills as we discussed the concepts surrounding early exploration like the reasons explorers usually landed someplace other than the intended destination.  These maps are due this Friday, February 22.   Now that "we have found the Americas," we will be learning about work to be done, decisions to be made, and hardships that were typical during this time.  

One tool we use is  This is the Library of Congress's site for kids.  Its layout and information is appropriate for our work and reading levels, but it is also a reliable source.  Students have considered the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke as a beginning to our conversations about those earliest settlements.

Skeletal and Muscular Systems

Our class is really taking our study of the skeletal and muscular systems seriously, and many of our students have made special trips to orthopedists in the past few weeks! All jokes aside, we are enjoying learning about these systems and how they help our bodies to function.

We are headed to Discovery Place on Wednesday to a class called "The Human Body." This course will delve into the intricate human body and discover the many systems that keep our bodies working. We are promised to experience engaging hands-on activities and excited to see real human specimens.

Guest Speaker

Friday morning we will have the opportunity to learn from a pro about the world of sports' medicine. Bill Heisel, also known as 5th grader Annie's dad, is coming to share with our class about his job as an orthopedic physician's assistant. He has prepared a PowerPoint presentation that includes many x-rays and arthroscopic pictures of knee, shoulder, leg, and arm injuries. The students will be amazed by the metal screws, plates, and other tools used to help repair broken bones. We will also learn how torn ACLs are repaired. The world of sports is pretty rough on the skeletal and muscular systems! Be sure to ask your child on Friday afternoon to share some of the things he or she learned. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge with us, Mr. Heisel!

Upcoming Overnight Trip to Earthshine Lodge!

Wednesday, March 13 - Friday, March 15

Mark your calendars....the big 4th grade trip to Earthshine is just around the corner. Specific details about the trip will be shared with you at our upcoming conference.  You might want to check out the Earthshine Lodge website to see where your child is headed. It's going to be a great learning adventure.  This is a major highlight for the year. Barely a day will pass from March to June that our class won't reminisce about the experience. The whole 4th grade team is getting really excited!

(Spoiler Alert: Please don't share specifics about the curriculum of the trip with your 4th grader.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Social Studies News from Mrs. York and Mr. Merritt

What is history and how do we study it?  Students have been asked to begin our history work by learning to ask questions.  We've learned that history is learned through a wide variety of resources like artifacts, family stories, newspapers, etc and therefore, we need to ask many questions to be sure of what we are learning (and accepting). Before we can colonize the "New World" students will spend time learning about a few of the expeditions made to the Americas before the English settlements began to spread. 

Big ideas that we've discussed so far:  Columbus was not the first European to discover the Americas.  The first people here were American Indians over 500 years before the Erikson family landed in Newfoundland and Canada around 1000 A.D.  St. Augustine, Florida was the first permanent European settlement in North America.  

We will only scratch the surface of the explorations to get a sense for how English settlements came to take over much of the eastern part of the United States rather than a Spanish rule like the settlers in Florida.  

Sykario's Birthday Book

Biography Project

There is much buzz in our classroom about the biography projects! Students are busy reading and taking notes in preparation for their trading cards and speeches. Monday night students were asked to complete the  planning guide to help them create a timeline to follow in order to stay on top of the many facets of this project. Thank you for your help in guiding them with this! 

Here is a checklist for the students to use as they practice their speeches at home:
  1. Do I have good posture and look relaxed?
  2. Do I look at my audience as I speak?
  3. Can my voice be heard at the back of the room?
  4. Do I sound interested in my topic?
  5. Am I speaking slowly and clearly?
  6. Do I speak in first person throughout the speech?
  7. Am I working to be in character and to sound animate?

Science Update

I don't know who is more excited about our new science unit...the students or me! Our focus this week has been to understand that our bodies are made up of many systems. Throughout our study we will learn about each system and how it is essential to human life. Students learned that the organs in all systems are made up of tissues, and tissues are made up of cells. 

We are focusing first on the skeletal system. Our work back in October learning many of the bones in the body has given us a leg up, no pun intended, on this system. Ask your child about the various parts of the bone; the periosteum, haversian canals, and spongy bone. Quiz your child on the various types of joints: hinge, ball-and-socket, pivot, gliding, and fixed. Today we put a bone in vinegar and will observe how the bone reacts to the mild acid in the vinegar. We'll keep you posted!

Biology Website!

I wanted to share this fantastic website that I think the students will love looking at during their free time.  While I think the students will enjoy exploring the entire website, I hope they will take special time to explore the "Human Biology" section. Once on the website, you'll find the link on the left sidebar.

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day will be here before we know it! We will have time during our day on February 14th  to exchange Valentines with our classmates. Students are encouraged to make homemade valentines for their friends. Be sure your "sweetheart" brings a card for each of the students in our class.  A class list can be found in the directory.