We Are Back!

While there’s still a bit to be fleshed out here, we are back up and running in the blogosphere!  As we move forward, you will begin to see content added on a regular basis to help keep you in touch with what’s going on in the classroom.  Be prepared to find notes, study guides, answer keys, and assorted other digital documents that you can have access to at ANYTIME!  Keep checking back (and listening in class for announcements) for regular updates!

Monster Madness – Don’t Look Below!

You should have followed my advice!  Now one of the many monsters the word wizards have created may be “write” behind you.  For our most recent writing project, students were putting their organization and paragraphing skills to the tests as they imagined an encounter with a monster.  Students then recreated the experience, explaining how the encounter occured, what the monster looked like, and what the result was.  Students used a variety of organizers to help develop organize their thoughts and develop their paragraphs.  The revision process had the writers reading their description to a partner while they drew a picture based on the details.  From the picture, the writers went back to the drawing board to revise their writing include any missing features that were not included.

Once all the writing was completed, students built their monsters (Rise Frankenstein!).  The monsters were hung throughout the classroom giving the room a very spooky aura for the holiday season.  I was amazed at how well  the word wizards’ descriptions matched their physical monsters.  It was not difficult to spot the monster lurking around!

Take a peek below to see the monsters as they are constructed.

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Native American Pictographs

In Social Studies, our explorers have been taking a look at the first people to settle in the Americas. Our discussion began WAY back during the last Ice Age when the Bering Land Bridge allowed early man to cross over to the Americas from Asia. We talked about how those people followed the migration of their food (woolly mammoths!) and slowly worked their way south over thousands of years. As the mammoths died out, these early settlers discovered farming and began creating expansive civilizations. Many of these groups have evolved into the Native American tribes we see now.

Students took a look at the natural resources available to the Native Americans and how they used those resources to create art. That discussion led into fun! Just as pictographs were used as a means of expressions and communication back then, student created their own pictograph plates to say a little bit about themselves. Take a look at some of the creations below and ask your little explorer what they chose to put on their piece of art!

Be sure to click “Read the rest of this entry>” to see more pictures!

Invent-a-Holiday

In our most recent writing project, our wonder writers took a close look at holidays.  What makes a holiday special?  Is it the traditions?  The smells?  The food?  We discussed some common holidays and some characteristics that “pop out” when thinking of it.  After reading a sample from a previous student (Leaf Day!!!), students used some think-time to brainstorm some things they enjoy.  Using one of those ideas a theme, students decided upon a holiday name.

I saw some really exciting, and tasty, examples ranging from Candy Day to Cheese Day  (think nachos, cheese fries, and all sorts of cheesy goodness!).  Keeping with the theme of ideas, students then began brainstorming using a word web.  What is the story behind the holiday?  What does it celebrate?  Are there any symbols associated with it?  Using those ideas as a base, students developed a rough draft organizing those thoughts.  Our mini-authors then paired up to peer edit their papers looking for any ways to improve upon the writing.  Finally, students composed wonderfully written final drafts with an accompanying illustration of their special holiday.  Take a look and see what they created!

My Very Own Country

Have you ever been to Cabbageland?  How about WWE Island?  Snowball Island?  If not, don’t worry.  You have not been missing out on any worldly travels.  What you have been missing out on our our wacky maps!

For this project, students applied their knowledge of geographical landforms and map features to develop a country of their own.  This country was based around a theme, ranging from cars to candy to (oddly!) cabbage!  Each feature on the map was named in relation to this theme.  For example a mountain may be called Milky Way Mountain or a river could be referred to as Racing River.  Each map included a set of specific features including a map key, compass rose, 8 landforms, scale, and title.  The way in which students applied these features was open-ended…and did the creativity flow!  Take a peek below to see some of the creative (and crazy) countries created by some of the students!

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I’ve got the whole world in my hands….

Latitude, longitude, prime meridian, continents, ocean…how do we keep all these terms straight, or spherical for that matter?!?!  Our most recent unit in social studies explored these major concepts in geography.  Knowledge of these concepts will help us better understand the inter-relationship between the United States and countries throughout the world.  What features of the North America first grabbed early explorers’ attention?  Why did specific types of industry develop in certain areas of the country?  What were the geographical benefits of the United States working with the country of Panama?  These questions, and many others, can be explained in geographical terms!

As a cumulative project in the unit, students created mini-worlds using balloons.  On the balloons they included all the major geographical landmarks and concepts explored in class.  With a little creativity and a lot of effort, student had the whole world in their hands!

Take a peek below to see the worlds forming!

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The Return of Franken-Cell!

Our mad scientists have been hard at work in the lab this week.  As a culminating project for cells, students formed teams and were presented with the challenge of creating either a plant or animal cell using regular household materials.  Each cell had to include the major organelles we’ve discussed in class, using appropriate scales, and a key explaining the parts and their functions.    Craziness ensued as hair gel, gobstoppers, and floam were magically transformed into one of the major components of the cell.  With all the tasty food items coming in, I was surprised some of the cells even made it through without being eaten first!  It was fun to watch the mish-mash of supplies materialize into the amazingly creative outcomes.

I was very impressed with the teamwork and effort these students put forth on this project.  Be sure to give your super scientists a high five and cell-ebrate their accomplishments!

Take a peek below to see LOTS of pictures of the mad scientists in action.

Remember to click on “Read the rest of this entry>>” to see more pictures!

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Super Station Cell-ebration!

The super scientists have been diving deep into cells this week! Over the course of two days students worked in teams and rotated through six different centers that looked in-depth at plant and animal cells. Station 1 and 2 had students exploring 3D models of a plant cell and animal cells, identifying the different organelles and their locations. In station 3, students compared and contrasted the plant and animal cells using a venn diagram. Station 4 brought our scientist up close and personal as they viewed real plant and animal cells through a microscope. They then illustrated and colored what they viewed in the microscope. Station 5 had students drawing relationships between the organelles in a cell and the structures of a mall! Who would have thought they were similar? Finally, students watched a Brainpop video on the computer regarding cell structures in station 6, taking a short quiz afterwards.

Teams did an amazing job of working with one another throughout the entire experience! I observed our little scientists bouncing ideas off one another, sharing information, and clarifying mistakes. It was quite exciting! Take a look at some of the pictures below to get a feel for the action. Remember to click on “Read the rest of this entry>>” to see more pictures!

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Homework Forum Notice

I just wanted to send out a brief notice that I have been having difficulty posting nightly homework to the homework forum.  I have been having intermittent site access over the last few days which will likely pass based history with how quickly edublogs handles problems.  If tou have any questions about homework, and the work has not been posted for the day due to the technical difficulty, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me 🙂

Zany Zoo Animal Classifying!

Abra cadabra!  No, we’re not doing magic.  That’s just one of the many crazy and humorous names used for classifying plant and animal species.  This week we began our study of classification by discussing the different types of traits that make plants and animals distinct.

Our studies transitioned into the classification pyramid that is used by scientist to organize all organisms.  The pyramid shows groups from largest to smallest: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.  We talked about how all organisms’ names are derived from the genus and the species.  Genus is a group made of two or more similar species.  Species is the smallest classification of a group.  From those we get the names like Abra (Genus) cadabra (Species), Reissa (Genus) roni (Species), and the Ba (Genus) humbugi (Species).

Our classroom became a zoo on Wednesday as student brought in a variety of stuffed animals.  Forming groups of 8-9, the super scientists developed classification trees to sort the animals based on their traits.  We found that, even with the same group of animals, they could be sorted differently if you used different traits.  Take a peek below to see the scientists in action!

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