Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fourth grade Happenings

The fourth graders have been busy this semester studying Art and Justice. We analyzed a variety of injustices through literary and art analysis. The students read poetry, short stories. They investigated a variety of visual art pieces. The topics covered included bullying, poverty, racism, religious intolerance, and child labor. The students selected one of these topics to do independent research to learn more. One group is looking at the injustices of World War II and another group is investigating child labor.

The students have also had fun developing their skills in art and literature. Each week they work in either a poetry, writing, drawing or art lab to refine their skills in these areas. The students will produce a persuasive visual or written piece to demonstrate their learning later in the semester.

Besides Art and Justice, students have been learning algebra in the unit, At the Mall. They have learned about expressions, equations, variables, prime numbers and factors. The students have also learned the mathematical problem solving strategies of guess and check, work backwards, organized list and the cover up method. A major component of this unit is to learn mathematical communication. The students have learned how to share their mathematical thinking both verbally and in writing. They are learning how to defend and explain both the procedures they use and the strategies for solving the problem.

Third grade Happenings

The third graders have been learning about the five traits of competent kids. They have learned how they qualified for SPACE by having above average ability, task commitment, and creativity. The students have learned that it also takes courage and caring to make a difference in the world. They have set goals for ways to improve in the five traits and are beginning a project to showcase what they have learned.

The students have also been studying matter. They have learned the characteristics of a scientist and about the Wheel of Scientific Reasoning. They have acted like scientists by observing and listing the properties of various objects. We have investigated mass, volume and density. They conducted an experiment to determine if the properties of an object change if the mass of the object is changed. The students helped the cafeteria manager solve an issue. Corn starch was creating a "goop" that we were unsure of its state of matter. The students learned that pressure could change corn starch and water from a liquid to a solid. Another fun experiment was determining if the properties of an object change if the temperature changes. The fun part was eating the product- ice cream! We will be doing more experiments and will soon design our own experiment to test our own hypothesis about matter.


Chaffee had two teams compete in the Hampton Cove FIRST Lego League Qualifier. The students who competed were in the two 5th grade classes. The students worked very hard to get ready for the tournament.
The tournament consists of three areas where the teams are judged. The first area for judging is based on a presentation of a solution to a community problem. This year the topic was Senior Solutions. The students learned about the various problems that senior citizens face. They read articles about challenges for seniors and interviewed seniors. Next they had to chose one of the challenges and create a solution. Team 1188 chose to make a model of a robotic medicine dispenser. They made both a lego model and a CAD model. Team 1239 chose to make a robotic dog that helped with medicine, falling, exercise and communicating with friends. Team 1239 presented their idea as a commercial.

The second area of judging was based on completion of missions. The tournament has a competition field with a variety of objects constructed of Legos. The teams must program an NXT robot to complete as many of the missions as possible. Both teams had to first learn how to program the robots. They used curriculum from Carnige Melon University to learn how to move forward, backward, turn and use sensors. Then they had to apply their learning to the missions. It was challenging but both teams were able to successfully accomplish a number of the missions.

The last area of judging was teamwork. The teams were given a problem to solve at the tournament so the judges could observe how they worked together to solve the problem. This year it was a story telling problem. The teams had lots of preparation for this event through our unit last year called Team Challenge and on working together on the other areas of judging.

I was very proud that Team 1239 was awarded a third place trophy for their teamwork. Both teams did a great job. They learned a ton and had a lot of fun.