Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thank you for the beautiful week!

Hello Kindergarten Families!

This week was so beautiful.  Each of your children have grown so much because of their hard work, ability to try their best and reflect on what they want to continue to practice.  The SLCs were such a sweet time.  Thank you for making these a celebration and for working at home to connect the learning in all parts of their lives.  I feel so lucky to know such special people!

This week we also said goodbye to Mathis, who, along with his father, will be getting their new home ready for their family when Amelie and her sister and mother join them in Belgium at the end of the term.  It was hard to say goodbye, but we wish Mathis all the best!

I have to apologize because I did not send you the reflection pages I wanted to.  I have three begun, for this week and last week, but my computer is no longer able to even copy and paste.  I think I will need to back it up and hope it is not a bigger problem.  Since I can't get the quotes from the discussion notes to the pages with the images, I will have to let it go and try again when I get back.  This is so frustrating because I stayed late to do this and so wanted to you see their work!  You will just have to ask them about measurement, about the obstacle courses they are making and about pyramids.  These are the questions from the pages:

What makes a good obstacle course?   Is it funner to be the designer or to do the course?  Which do you like better, designing alone or with a partner?
How do the materials you use limit the ability to make a pyramid shape?
What is the difference between a foot and an inch?

I hope your spring break is full of beautiful memories and special moments together.  I will see you when I return from my trip.  I know your children will have some awesome days reconnecting and studying Mexico with Clara and Lenouris, after the spring break.

Enjoy, Jennifer

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How is glass made?

Hello Kindergarten Families!

Today we looked at two videos about glass, since the topic of how they're made, what they are made of and whether they have air in them came up with the sink and float discussion.  These videos were so interesting!

The students were very intrigued, so I was hoping you might want to look at them again, together.

Thank you for making the conferences so meaningful.  Today was a great start.  These kids amaze me.  I feel so lucky to be able to share in these beautiful moments.

Have a great night, Jennifer

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Did it sink or did it float?

Hello Kindergarten Parents,

The quest to understand why items sink or float has lead us to more tests.  This week we tested glass and plastic items, carefully recording our predictions and findings.  The findings were interesting. I hope these photos show a bit more about how the shape of an object has become a larger part of the discussion.

Here are some questions that came up:

Why did the glass cup float, but not the glass bottle?
Why did the rectangular plastic lid float, but not the square glass coaster?
What makes certain plastics float, but not other types?
Why did the red plastic ring shape not sink all the way, or float all the way?
What made some items with holes sink, while others with holes floated?

The class will continue to investigate by sharing their theories and discussing phenomena they know occurs.  We will also be looking at some videos to help us answer a question we have had since the beginning:
How do large boats float?

If anyone knows of someone with expertise on this topic, we are interested in talking with an expert!

Have a great night, Jennifer

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What time is it?

Hi families,

As the students learn about time, the biggest part is how each child can connect with these concepts on a personal level.  What does time mean to them?  This week we tried an activity that I hoped might help them begin to connect times to the parts of our day.  We were thinking about, "What are we doing at school at that time of day?"

To make this fun, I started by writing times of the day on index cards and hiding them around the room.  The kids quickly found a time to figure out.  Next, the students used the brainstorm we made previously, of a typical day's schedule/list, to figure out what we might be doing at that time of day.  The students wrote this next to the time to have a connection to "real time".

The students' next step was to try to identify where the hands would be, on the clock, at that time.  All our recent practice really helped them to think about which hand represents which part of the time words we say.  Finally, the group put our schedule together, looking at their times to try to put them next to similar times and in order.  This helped them begin to see the pattern that comes with o'clock, fifteen, thirty, forty five, and then all over again!

It was neat to see how they talked it out and supported each member of the group to get the help they needed to put all of our times together!

What "real time" info can help your child connect to important times at home?

Have a beautiful night, Jennifer

Friday, March 15, 2013

So much to share!

Hello Kindergarten Families!

It was a big week, it is hard for me to figure out how to share everything that the students experienced.  I will try to add photos and more posts, but I wanted to write a bit tonight. I feel lucky to be working with such hard working, caring and thoughtful children.  They are such a lovely group together.  I hope this little glimpse into my mind will help you to ask more questions and to become excited about the topics that are interesting your children.

Whales!  The natural history museum field trip was very rich.  We spent the last two days looking at photos of each of the four activity stations (on the topics of anatomy, size, food and sound) and making a list of  what we learned.  This activity was also practicing note taking skills, not whole sentences.  This is an entirely different way to think, than the sentences we have been trying to achieve in our journals.  Next week we will discuss what we learned in the context of what we would still like it know, continuing our research.

Next week we will also continue our sink and float investigation.  Some of you may have read the discussion notes I printed from this week's discussions.  The students have realized that weight is not always a factor in an object sinking.  They plan to test plastic and glass objects next week to further their understanding of the factors involved in sinking and floating.  I am excited that they identified the concept that the type of material might be a big factor in whether an object sinks or floats.  The power of experiencing life combined with observation and discussion!

In social studies we used the California map, including an inset close-up map of Orange County, to practice map reading skills and learn more about where Haden moved.  We plan to continue to discuss places in California, especially those the students have personal connection to.  They may be asking you the names of places you have been to as a family.

There are many math concepts that we are investigating right now.  Story problems, reading an analog clock, measurement and half and double.  If it comes up naturally in your family's experiences, please take a moment to discuss these topics that the students are trying to get their minds around.  Each of these involved patterns in the numbers, or in the way we attack problems, so discussion and practice help the students begin to internalize these.

This morning, we took advantage of the weather by going on a walk with our eighth grade buddies.  We enjoyed a natural spot with many plaques sharing both the common and Latin names of the plants nearby.  It was also great to get out and stretch our legs, to strenghten our walking stamina.  Does your family take walks or hikes?  Where are your favourite natural places to visit in San Diego?

Finally, next week we will also be getting ready for Student Led Conferences, also known as SLCs.  We will be reflecting on what each of us are strong in and what skills the students feel they could keep practicing. This will help them organize their thoughts, to share their learning with you parents, and also to lead us to create solid goals for the rest of the year.

Can you believe it is almost spring break?  I can't. My trip to the Yucatan peninsula and the Mayan ruins in that region will also be a topic we will investigate before and after spring break.  I can't wait to share my experience with you all!

Have a beautiful night!  Love, Jennifer

PS If there are typos, I apologize.  I am on my iPad and cannot scroll up or down to proof read my writing.  I apologize, but chose to get you info, even with possible issues!

Friday, March 8, 2013

How do whales drink?

Because we will learn about whales next week, we began by identifying questions we would like to find answers for.  Below are some examples of students' work.

I have notices that so many students are becoming very confident in their writing skills and in utilizing their environment, peers and or a dictionary to be able to incorporate correct spelling.  They are also learning new words and internalizing them.  These students are getting so many ideas and thoughts on paper lately!

Have a great weekend, Jennifer