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Classroom update: Oct 8-10

posted Oct 11, 2013, 7:16 PM by Rhonda Schlosser   [ updated Oct 27, 2014, 7:34 PM by Laurie Becker ]

Hello lovely parents,

DON'T FORGET!  Parent meeting Next Week, Wed. Oct 16 @ 1:30.   This is the time where we share more about what is happening in the classroom, answer any questions, share homeschooling ideas, and plan our future events.  Please All Come! :)

Paperwork due Friday, Oct 18th.

The kids are doing great moving forward on the two projects I am working on with them.  Here is a (fairly) brief update of what we have done and where your children are in our classroom projects.

Circle check-in: What makes your family unique.  Sharing 1 family tradition, and 1 fun thing your family does together.

1.  Family Heritage:  The culminating result of this ( sometime the end of November or mid-December) will be the students writing about their family heritage, as it relates to the period when they came to America.   What is one of their families stories as it relates to immigration? What makes their family unique, diverse?  

Students need to only go as far enough to find out when one family ancestor came to America.  For some that is as far back as the Mayflower, for others it may be in the early 1900’s or even just right now, with their parents.  

Right now the kids are at various stages in their research. Some are still needing to find the initial stage of where the surnames came from.    THIS WEEK:  we discussed the limits of how far we can go back without specific dates.  If you know when your parent were born, a generation back (about 30 years) takes you to the grandparents, a generation further takes you to the great grandparents.  If you, the parent came from another country, then great!  They are ready for the next step.  THE NEXT STEP is to start researching what the country was like when the family decided to move to America.  Why did they come, what did they bring to America, what diversity is there in your family heritage?  We have books in the class that can be checked out to help with this if you would like.

Here are a few websites that I have shown them in the classroom that you may want to explore together at home.

“The Peopling of America” :

“Explore Immigration Data”:

2.  Project Presentations:  Most students have chosen their topics, and so now they are breaking the topic into 4 main ideas that they will focus on.  We also talked about how to take those 4 main ideas and formulate questions around them that can then guide and focus their research on their topic.  

We talked about how hard it can be to look for information in the internet due to all the ads, and oftentimes overwhelming amount of info that they are reviewing with your support.  Formulating questions before they start looking with help.  The questions may change once they start researching and gathering initial information..and that’s okay!  

The kids are at various levels of their initial research and planning for their projects.  Please help them with their next steps, wherever they are, so that they can continue to progress during our class time. I will be having them decide on a date to present next Tuesday.  Choosing a presentation date will then help me talk to them about their planning based on wanting to be completed with a specific deadline.  Class time is also the time for students to ask any questions and to share with each other. 

3. Biodiversity:

In our study of biodiversity we finished our plant surveys of the Nature Academy garden and spent some time looking at the data and evaluating the tally sheet.  We created a new tally sheet that we felt better represented the environment, and then headed out to fall creek where we worked in pairs to survey vegetation in 6’x33’ transects.  Thank you Mary for accompanying us on this journey and helping the kids create and use their measuring tools!  Each child should now have a 33’ piece of twine that they can use to measure out a transect or plot at or nearby home to survey.  The Thursday group was sent home with instructions to do a vegetation survey of their yard or a natural area near their home.  The steps are the same as what we’ve done in class:

1) Measure the area and mark the corners

2) Draw a sketch (or rough map) of the area on the back of the tally sheet.

3) Identify different species of plants and other vegetation ( need to truly identify, just notice differences in leaf shape, seed heads, etc. that let you know that the plant is different from the others around it).  Tally the different species for each type of plant on the tally sheet.

4) Evaluate the relative diversity of the structure of the area (at the bottom of the tally sheet).  Zero is virtually no variety, 5 is maximum variety.   Add those numbers to the total tallied in the species column.

5) Count the total number of plants of each type and tally them in the second column.  Total this column.

6) Divide the total number plants (and other vegetation listed) in the second column into the total number of species and the structural variety rating numbers in the first column.

7) After completing this division problem the kids should end up with a number between 0 and 1.  That is the biodiversity index score for their survey area.  The more areas we survey the better sense we’ll get for what the score actually means and how different areas compare to each other.  As we develop the skill of surveying, we’re also developing our biodiversity “eye”.

Please have the kids bring this completed assignment to class on Thursday.  The Tuesday group will be given the same assignment on Tuesday and they’ll also have a week to finish it.

In addition to analyzing the data from the Fall Creek hike, the Thursday kids started researching plants that increase biodiversity in the garden as a beginning to coming up with recommendations to give to the Nature Academy along with sharing our data.  The Tuesday group will begin this on Tuesday.

We also played cooperative games, and the kids worked in pairs on writing up instructions for P.E. games they want to play so that we can compile them in a binder for general reference.  They also sanded and carved their ceramic mugs, which I’m hoping will go into the bisque fire next week.

Wow!  What a great group of kids.

See you soon,

Rhonda and Marcy