Friday, November 18, 2016

Systems Thinking

Our 21st Century Skill for 5th grade that we will mainly focus on is Systems Thinking.  As a class we looked at the definition and expectations and annotated them as to make better sense of them.

We will look a Systems Thinking through every thing we do.  Currently our focus is on Human Body Systems.  We are looking at each system, analyzing the parts and functions, and discussing what parts are necessary for the system to function.  We have discussed a lot of Cause and Effect relationships as well as the difference between the terms dependent, independent, and interdependent. 

This concept of how systems work and how things can function, adapt, or fall apart will also be looked at through Social Studies after winter break, especially when we look at colonization.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Math Instruction

As you know from reading Jenny Brown's Blog, we have, as a staff, been having a lot of conversations around math instruction.  This is something that I've always been passionate about.  I believe in teaching kids to be true mathematicians, to build a solid understanding of numbers, and that everyone can be a strong "math person" (it's not a genetic trait lol).  This philosophy goes right along with the vision of the GRE math instruction.  We believe in our math program Investigations for the way it exposes kids to look at math as a concept and not a bunch of memorized items.  You can ask your kiddos what I say to them daily about being math thinkers.  Many of us here at GRE have also participated in a book study around Jo Boaler's book Mathematical Mindsets.  It's a fantastic read based on research on what really great math instruction looks like and what kind of progress can be made when done properly.  One of the fascinating facts I learned while reading this book was about structural brain changes.  New research overwhelmingly shows brains are plastic and not fixed as previously thought.  A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health showed that when a group of subjects did a 10 minute mental task for  just three weeks there was evidence of structural brain changes.  That's only 10 minutes a day to see ACTUAL brain changes!!  This is one reason I am a strong believer in the Weekly Reading and Math Log homework assignment.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Celebration of Learning and Thanksgiving Feast

On Wednesday, November 16th, we at Gold Rush are excited to have a coming together of family and community to have a Thanksgiving Feast.  This is a fun tradition here at GRE that students, parents, and staff really enjoy.  Please consider coming to participate in building a great community of families.  The Principal's Blog has more information and explains how to purchase tickets.

In addition, this year we are adding a celebration of learning before in each classroom.  We are excited to open our doors to you to show you the great learning we have been doing and how technology has enhanced what we do.  We are thankful to the community for the funds raised last year to supply our school with enough technology to be a one-to-one school.  With this capability we have been able to do some great things and want you to see what we have been up to.  This is an open house style of event so if you happen to be coming to the Feast anyway, pop on in!

Lung Lab Field Trip

We are excited to add to the classroom learning of our Life Science Unit on Body Systems by going to the Museum of Nature and Science and experiencing a dissection of a lamb's lung.  Students will first rotate a few experiments and fill out a lab book to record their findings.  After, they will work in pairs to dissect a lung, getting hands on experience of the great things we have been learning in class.

In addition to the respiratory system, in class we will also learn about the circulatory system, digestive system, and excretory.  We will relate all these to Life Processes and show how they all are a part of a larger system that keeps us alive.  Students will look at this system and analyze its interdependance and functions of each part.  Students will also discover how parts and systems are affected when disease, illness, or breakdown occurs.  As we wrap up this unit, students will create a product using technology to demonstrate their learning.

As an extension, students will also get the opportunity to research other systems and discern how they work with the other systems and their functions (bones, muscles, central nervous, etc.).

Here's a link to the flier for the field trip that was sent home on Friday.