Hello to all of our 4H families. Every week we try to make 'every minute count' because there is so much to do and learn in all our subjects, and I feel like this past week we especially packed our schedule as full as we ever have! This was mainly driven by our kids' enthusiasm for getting started on their team projects in researching the planets of the solar system. We have discovered so many mind-boggling facts in our study of space over the last weeks, that by this point they were actually pleading to get started on digging into their own planets and preparing posters and presentations. So we did! We fit in our first class periods given over entirely to research and teamwork, and I am so proud of how everyone is working together. They are planning out their roles on the team and uncovering so much information that the room is fairly humming!
We jumped in with both feet to our new unit in math - fractions! This week laid the groundwork for understanding the whole concept of what fractional parts of the whole actually mean and how we can compare seemingly different fractions. We've also worked on some lessons in chance and probability. We will be ready to add, subtract, and multiply fractions next, and many have already picked up on spotting equivalent fractions and reducing fractions. More than ever, we wish we had two hours a day to do math! It does help that the number one item on our 'To Do..." list for Resource Time at the end of day is usually Math Work, and many get much of their homework done during this time, working with me and in teams. I still tell the kids that they should take their two journal books home even if they think they are done, so they can show you their work and explain to you what they are learning. This reinforces their new learning, and may help keep motivation high for completing every item and doing their most careful job. Thank you for your support with this. Remember that every day after school, the classroom blog's Homework Page gets updated with assignments and reminders.
In Social Studies we are progressing through time in the years "BC" studying the earliest native people of our state. We have also begun a new classroom read aloud book, "The Birchbark House" by Louise Erdrich. She based her story on research into her own native American ancestors who had settled on Madeleine Island in the Apostle Islands! She uses Objibwe words throughout the story, which has turned out to be fun for us to learn! I printed out a copy of the glossary of words we found at the end of her book for every student, and we refer to those whenever a new word comes up. Our new signal for attention in the classroom has become: "bekayaan" ( beh-KAH-yahn: be quiet) and the kids respond with: "ayah!" (ah-YAH!: yes!). It has been fun - and effective! :)
Next week is West Middleton's Literacy Week. Every day will hold a special event to do with reading and enjoying books. On Monday, the entire school will experience the same 15 minutes of DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read). On Tuesday, we will all wear some clothing with words on them! On Wednesday, there will be a time set aside for every student in the school to "swap teachers" - to hear a read aloud book in a different classroom by another staff member. Thursday is our "dress like a favorite book character" day, and in the morning we will parade around our halls and take some pictures. Friday will give us a special assembly in the afternoon with surprise guests - and we should all wear RED! Our classroom door has been wallpapered with titles of everyone's favorite books.
I have received many of the parent conference sign-up sheets back - thank you! If I haven't received yours yet, would you please send it back as soon as you can? Once I have all the time slots figured out, I will send out the master schedule to everyone to confirm our times. Other upcoming events include: The last day of the second trimester is March 6th, and on the evening of March 12th at 6:30pm, the West Middleton classes will all sing for their families at the Middleton High School Performing Arts Center. This annual program is always among the most heartwarming events of the school year. In the meantime, next week we experience "Leap Day" on Thursday, February 29th! Melanie Hannam (Oh, and next week is the LAST week to collect BOX TOPS for the school contest - hint, hint.)