Bring on the Madness - March Update
Thursday, March 16, 2017 8:08 AM
So the Flames’ win streak is over, sadly, but that’s okay because we keep winning here at school (cheesy, I know, but just let me have it). It’s been a wild ride lately and I apologize for not getting an update out to you all sooner. Thank you all for your support over the last few weeks. Between the Hitmen ‘Be Brave’ Anti-bullying hockey game, followed the next day with a trip to the Glenbow Museum, from Alien In-Line Skating, Fish Creek Idol, March Madness, take apart times, Picasso painting - it’s hard sometimes to catch your breath. And yet... I wouldn’t have it any other way. Read on to see the shenanigans we’ve been up to and what we have coming up.
Math - Fractions & March Madness
Our recent focus in math has been on fractions. We kicked things off by reviewing the terms and core concepts of fractions (eg: numerator and denominator) followed by representing values as Proper Fractions, Improper Fractions, and Mixed Numbers. This allowed us to demonstrate different values as fractions, as well as fractions that have the same value but different numbers (aka Equivalent Fractions). We will soon be comparing and ordering fractions (with same or different denominators), as well demonstrating the explicit connection between fractions and decimals. This will make clear that both a fraction and decimal can show the same value, allowing us to compare and order decimals and fractions. We will be rounding out the unit with a look at the ideas of decimal equivalency, converting from fractions to decimals and vice versa.
Since it’s important to relate classroom learning to real life examples, we’re focused on the whole reason that March exists.... March Madness. Watching endless games of basketball, arguing with your friends about why they are total and complete idiots for choosing the wrong team (only for you to come crawling back when they chose the right team in the end...). Yes, this is why we study math. So... with the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament underway, we explored how fractions allow us to put together the world’s greatest basketball tournament. Please refer to the Polsky March Madness Headquarters for all information, resources, links and explanations. For any and all other questions, feel free to refer to the fractions/decimals section of the Math Resources page.
Social Studies - The Famous Five
Now that we’ve finished time traveling as members of the NWMP, courageously protecting the west from criminal scoundrels, we can bid adieu to exploring the history of the NWMP, and how the NWMP changed Canadian history . All students were divided into their own troops, with some being promoted to corporal or even sergeant, we learned what a day in the life of an NWMP constable was like. We researched and understood their difficult Great March West and what it really meant to be The Force in the North. It was great.
We’re looking at the roles of men and women and how things have changed in the last century. We started looking at the Famous Five and exploring how these courageous and powerful women stood up and changed our country forever (and for the better - I mean I talk to the kids all the time about how if it was up to us men, we would just make a royal mess. The boys are learning that if they’re about to do something and a lady is nearby saying that it isn’t a great idea... it likely isn’t. Life lessons haha). Students will be exploring the lives and accomplishments of Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Henrietta Edwards, Emily Murphy and Nellie McClung - with information, photos and resources all found here - Famous Five Information.
As part of our broader look and Canadian Histories and cultures, we will be passing along information shortly on our annual Multicultural Feast - which will be held on April 12, 2017. I can’t wait - it’s one of the best days of the year.
Science - Electricity & Magnetism
Having finished our Classroom Chemistry unit, we’ve moved into our Electricity & Magnetism unit. This is one of my favourite units as it’s very hands on, with the kids able to build, experiment and problem solve their way through projects with knowledge developed in class. On the Science Resources page, I have provided the Unit SLEs (boring teacher-speak for what we will be covering) but for a brief overview of the different concepts we will cover, feel free to check out the Electricity & Magnetism Overview. As we work through the unit, we will be making use of Green Learning Alberta’s ‘Electricity All Around Us’ - a really great online resource that you should all feel free to refer to as well.
Over the course of the unit, students will be learning All About Electricity, Electrical Currents and how we can control electricity safely. We will be designing and building Series and Parallel Circuits followed by a look at Magnetism & Electromagnets. As always, feel free to review the information provided on the Science Resources as well as the Web Links and Vocabulary.
Language Arts - City of Ember
We’re loving our current novel study of Jeanne Duprau’s “City of Ember”. This is a really great novel that ties into our current study of electricity in Science. As we work through this novel, we’ve begun shifting our focus away from articles of speech and grammar, to begin working more on the ‘writing’ side of Language Arts - writing strong paragraphs and identifying and articulating the main ideas/themes of passages. Now that we have a stronger grasp on how we create and develop effective paragraphs, we will soon begin looking at making great stories - focusing on the parts of a Story, character development and traits, and the overall planning/writing process. I strongly recommend taking a look at the creative writing files and links on the Language Arts page.
This will be an ongoing process between now and the end of the year so stay tuned for some literary gold. The Pixar Story Rules, a series of rules that Pixar story artist Emma Coats published on Twitter last year, is a great resource to use when helping the little humans write their own adventures.
A huge thank you to you all for your support of this past week and all the ‘chaos’ that it entails. I cannot tell you how great it’s been to see all the students be so engaged and passionate about their chosen projects. The excitement, expertise and commitment they’ve all shown has been genuinely impressive. We will be holding our Innovation Fair tomorrow afternoon for the students to see each others work but next week, during Student-Led Conferences, all their projects will be displayed on their desks for you to see, learn about and examine.
As next weeks conferences are student-led we ask you to still register/book for a time for record keeping purposes but you’re welcome to come by at any time Wednesday night or Thursday, regardless of your “scheduled time”. With this in mind, please be aware that when you come by with your child, there might be other students/families in the class. Should you wish to schedule a private conference, I’m happy to arrange a time that works for both of us - just email me and we’ll find a time. The conference manager opens Monday, March 20th at 6 am though there is no rush as you can come by any time.
As always, I appreciate your continuing support as without it, far too many of the things we’ve been able to do this year simply wouldn’t be possible. Bizarre to think that we’re looking down the barrel of just over 3 months of school left. I feel like I can speak for us all that the upcoming March Break is much deserved and welcome. The students have been working hard and they ought to be proud of their accomplishments - I know I am. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, concerns and I’ll get right back to you.