Friday, October 3 marked the end of Module 1! Below is a summary of what we’ve studied in each subject and a preview of what’s coming in Module 2.
English Language Arts:
I just finished reading Roald Dahl’s The Witches aloud; we will review the book Monday and Tuesday for a test Wednesday. Thursday I will split the students into groups and assign them novels to read in class. Each day I will meet with groups to lead a discussion about the previous day’s reading.
In Writing we are entering the final stages of the writing process with our first informational essay. We started these as a homework assignment where each paragraph was planned on an organizer sheet. They have since turned those plans into paragraphs, revised their writing with partners (a peer and me), and written second drafts of their essays. I will edit their writing for grammar, spelling, and mechanical errors. Tuesday they will confer with me and begin the publishing stage. Neatly handwritten final drafts are acceptable, but I will also give them the option to type their essays. Students are welcome to bring their own computers to school on Tuesday or use school computers. Our next writing assignment will be a fiction story. My goal for writing this year is to give students many planning tools so they can organize their thoughts before they start creating paragraphs.
As I mentioned at Back to School Night, I have started using a new program for spelling and vocabulary. Our first week of Word Study was a success; everyone passed last Friday’s test! Each Monday I will assign a new list of 20-24 words and a checklist of activities. Some activities are mandatory and some are optional, and each activity will have a point value. Students will complete activities for classwork and homework for a total of 80-100 points per week. I will collect Word Study notebooks each Friday to check their work before returning them on Monday. I will also post a copy of the checklist here with Monday’s homework.
Each student has been assigned a math book and is working at his or her own pace through the material. The goal is to complete about one chapter per week; some chapters will require more or less time depending on how challenging the material is for your child. Homework should start coming home on a regular basis. Please let me know if you have homework concerns. If your child is having trouble with a concept or particular problem, sending me an email that night will ensure that I check in with him or her the next day in class.
We have also developed a routine for testing math facts. Students working to master a fact family will be tested twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Fridays; students maintaining mastery of their facts will be tested on Fridays only. At the end of each quarter I will test everyone’s master of all four operations.
In Module 1 we studied the properties and three main phases of matter. We also explored fluids that don’t conform to the typical properties of solids or liquids by mixing cornstarch with water and testing how it felt with different amounts of pressure. In our final experiment, the class split into partners and used foam, metal weights, and rubber bands to create an object that was heavy enough to sink below the surface of a container of water, yet light enough to only barely touch the bottom. It was a fun end to the unit!
Our next Science unit will be energy, forces, and simple machines. This is one of my favorite units because we build contraptions at the end.
We started our study of United States geography and history by studying map features and learning the five themes of geography: location, place, movement, human-environment interaction, and region. After learning about longitude and latitude, we learned how to find the coordinates of a specific location. We also used different types of maps to talk about the common features and different purposes of maps. We completed our map study by creating a map of our classroom on graph paper. Each pair of students measured the furniture around the room, and we all worked together to come up with a scale that fit our graph paper. (1 square = about 8 inches). Then they drew their maps, placing objects as accurately as possible in relation to each other.
Next week we will begin studying the colonization of North America and formation of the United States. When I introduced the topic to the kids, they immediately started debating who actually “discovered” America. I think we have some interesting discussions and research ahead of us.