Hello! Remember me? I warned you I’d disappear from time to time. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks inside and outside of school and I just haven’t been able to get to the blog.
We have been busy doing learning things here though, I promise! Our Speaking Out for Change projects have been ambling along, and we’ll begin sharing those in the next few days. Posters are in production, envelopes getting addressed. The world will soon begin to improve.
We are also busily at work on Orthography investigations that will be shared in picture or text or video form. Stay tuned for these.
In mathematics, we’re in an ongoing unit on number sense that will really define what we do for the rest of the year, spiralling back to concepts as we later explore. We began with a look at larger numbers, launched by our 10,000 projects. Here we are doing some practice with reading and organizing large numbers that flowed into some work with rounding.
Since then we have been really looking at problem solving. Each week we will tackle at least one large, open ended problem. (By open ended I mean more than one possible strategy for solving, and possibly more than one solution). Last week, we did a problem about selling peanuts that was fabulously too hard! One of the main things that hung us up was language. Many students had trouble understanding the concept of “profit” or the notion of “saving” meaning putting money aside toward a goal. The discussion and work was very rich. This week, a different problem to do with planning a field trip raised all kinds of interesting questions as well. Multi-step problems are challenging some students; communicating their work can be difficult for others; choosing an effective or efficient strategy is the main goal for many others. Here is the “S.T.A.R.” model we introduced last week (familiar to those from Mrs. Beardall’s class):
We’ve been talking about times tables!! These are a must! For students who understand the concept of multiplication, they need to now establish automaticity. There is never going to be enough time to practice this enough in class, so please help them to practice at home. For many kids it’s a great idea to focus on one set at a time. But we are also talking about strategies like using the facts they know to find others. I do not intend to send home endless worksheets because there are lots of other non-tree-destroying ways to practice. These include the chart in their agendas, as well as many online resources. A couple of links are marked in the side menu of the blog.
A number of students also need to solidify their automaticity with addition facts to 10 and to 20. Again, dinner time “Yes you can have the potatoes–what’s 7 + 8” or “What’s 9 + 4?” car rides will be helpful. Practice!
The Mystery of the Week comes home most weeks (hopefully you know this). It is not designed to make you crazy. Ideally it is about providing a bit of an extra challenge, and some practice with coming up with strategies. For instance, last week’s was about the need to come up with a system for organizing information. Anybody is welcome to come to me through the week with questions. When we take it up, usually on Friday, it’s about learning from each other.
Finally, we had a very interesting visit from Jochabed Katan yesterday. In the wake of our visit to the Anne Frank exhibit, it was quite affecting to meet someone whose life so paralleled Anne Frank’s. As Ms. Katan shared her story of survival and loss, and the risks her parents and others took to save her, it was hard not to imagine the life Anne Frank or other Holocaust victims might have had. What a privilege–as she said herself, there are very few left who can tell these stories.
I expect your child will be able to tell you something of the relevance of the pictures below.
Ms. Katan had not, I think, presented to a group of students quite so young, and had prepared especially. She ended by singing a version of a poem she had written about the tree outside Anne Frank’s house, now so grown so huge in the ensuing years.