Thursday, May 25, 2017

May Celebrations

Second Grade Owl Research

Second Grade Discovery students have spent a lot of time learning about owls this year. They have researched many new facts and investigated owl pellets. To demonstrate their new learning, students created a book, The Amazing Lives of Owls. 

Fifth Grade Genius Hour - Pollinators

A group of fifth graders investigated pollinators in their Genius Hour research. They were curious about the many threats to pollinators--and the important role that they play in ecosystems and our food chain. One of their recommendations was to plant wildflowers to attract bees, butterflies, and birds to neighborhood gardens, so we did just that! There are now two beds in our Montclair garden planted with a wildflower mix to attract our pollinator friends.

Third Grade Curiosity About 'The Dark Ages'

Third graders read an article about 'Dark Ages' on NewsELA and became interested in the European Middle Ages. The following article highlights some of the things they learned.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Discovering Simple Machines

First grade Discovery students have been busy applying what they've learned about Simple Machines in their guided reading groups in March. They began using balls and ramps (inclined planes) to create structures. In the next step of the project, they were challenge to create runs that change direction at least three times. Students have been discussing gravity, acceleration and momentum as they test their designs and make adjustments.

Friday, February 24, 2017

February has FLOWN!

Genius Hour: What are you passionate about?

Phidippus Audax (bold jumping spider) found by a third grade
 Genius Hour researcher, cataloging common spiders
that she finds, identifies, and releases.

Third through fifth grade Discovery students are completing proposals and beginning research on their Genius Hour projects. This project approach encourages students to discover and engage in his/her own passion and creativity.  Students have chosen topics that reflect personal interests and run the gamut from identifying house (and school!) spiders, educating our community about homelessness, understanding how planets are formed, why pollinators are disappearing, how birds fly, where ancestors immigrated from, and how to make an animated video game.  Students will spend the next six weeks investigating these topics and then sharing their learning with an identified audience. In some cases, students will be working with experts to help them with their research.

Fifth Grade Discovery Math

Fifth grade students have been investigating coordinate pairs and graphing in the coordinate plane. This concept has many fun applications (Have you ever played Battle Ship?), and is a foundation for linear and quadratic functions--algebraic concepts--in coming years.

Scooting into 'Scoot Pad'

All Discovery students have been working on Scoot Pad, an online program that supports Common Core curriculum and is designed for personalized learning at a student's individual working level.  This can be accessed when students finish work in their classroom, at home, and in our Discovery classroom to provide ongoing additional challenge. I can identify concepts that students need more practice with---or when they are ready to dive in and learn something new. This is a great tool to extend student learning!  Students received letters with their sign in information. If you link your parent email, you can also track your student's progress. I am pleased that so many students are already working hard on this new resource. Encourage your child to access as often as possible!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Wondering....About the MOON!

First graders are continuing their inquiry about the moon.  In the last week before Winter Break, they  arrived with the following questions:
  • Does every planet have a moon?
  • Does the moon shine on its own?
  • What is a (lunar) eclipse?
  • Can we ever see the 'back' of the moon?
In case you are wondering about some of these same things, here are some resources to find out more:

A Lot of Moons (NASA)
Why Does the Moon Shine? (Planets for Kids)
What is an ECLIPSE? (NASA)
The Far Side of the Moon (PBS News Hour)

A Time for Peace

In the days before our Winter Break, students celebrated A Time for Peace at Montclair.  Students wrote their individual messages of peace that now hang in our front hallway.  This project began with third grade Discovery students who read a book called, Peace One Day: The Making of World Peace Day, and was then championed by fifth-grade students as well. Reading the students' individual reflections as we hung the installation was....inspiring!!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Look at the Night Sky

Our friend, Ralph Sodano, at the DPS Steele Planetarium, shared these wonderful updates about what's going on in the night sky. December is a fascinating time to be star gazing!  Take some time and look at the sky!

The three questions that I have been asked the most over the past two weeks are:

1.    “What is that bright star I see to the east when I get up to go to work in the morning?”
2.    “What is that bright star to the south right after the sun sets?”
3.    “What constellation does that triangle of stars make that I see above me each evening as the sun goes down?”
The short answers are:  1. & 2. Not stars, it’s Jupiter by Jove in the morning, Venus 
                                                                in the evening.
                                              3. Not one constellation but three. Each star in ascending 
                                                     order of brightness: Deneb, Altair and Vega are the 
                                                     brightest stars in the constellations Cygnus the Swan, 
                                                     Aquila the Eagle and Lyra the Harp respectively.

 The curious may continue…

The bright star-like object to the east, southeast every morning before sunrise is Jupiter. 
Bonus! If you can grab the binoculars that you keep by the door to help you identify all the squirrels that feast at your bird feeder and you are brave enough to go out in your jammies, there’s another sight you can reward yourself with. Direct your binoculars toward Jupiter and you will see four tiny star-like objects roughly in a straight line on either side of Jupiter. If you are brave enough to do it two mornings in a row you will notice that those four points have changed positions. That’s because you are observing Jupiter’s four largest moons; Ganymede, Europa, Calisto and Io. The four Galilean moons first discovered by Galileo … ‘perhaps’.
These four large moons are each technically bright enough to be seen by the unaided human eye, but they are in such close proximity to each other that they appear with Jupiter as one single bright object. It takes only a pair of steadily held binoculars to magnify the field to give you visual separation of these five objects. However, it is said that some of the early Hawaiian navigators with their amazing visual acuity had the ability to separate without the aid of any optics, the position of Ganymede from that of the planet Jupiter. Give the credit for Ganymede to the Polynesians.
Venus is the bright star like object to the south-southwest after the sun sets.  Remember: Stars appear to twinkle, planets usually do not.
Bonus! Look due south, (to the left and higher than Venus)and there will be a much smaller star like object with a faint pumpkin color. That will be Mars! 
The triangle of stars is simply an asterism, meaning that it’s an imaginary picture or shape made by connecting stars, dot to dot.  All constellations are asterisms, but not all asterisms are official constellations.
Bonus!  Look above to the east of the triangle and there’s a second geometric asterism: The great square of Pegasus. Add a number of additional stars to the square (mostly too faint to see with Denver’s light pollution) and you’ve made the constellation, Pegasus the winged horse.
Enjoy your winter holiday. Take some moments to look at the night sky.
Ralph Sodano
Steele Planetarium 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Discovering the Moon & A Little PEACE

First graders met on Monday to share their observations and begin to formulate questions about what they are seeing in the night sky.
So now, students will begin to FIND out using resources to help them answer questions.
Here are some to help your child at home:
The Moon for Kids (You Tube)
Parents, PLEASE help your students access these links and begin to record their new learning!
I will see students on Monday, so remind them to put moon journals in their backpacks to share!

Third Graders and A Little PEACE

Last week, third grade discussed the concept of PEACE...and how they, as members of the Montclair community could promote peace within our school AND community.  Their solution?  A day to celebrate PEACE at school.  Students wrote a letter to Mr. Kockler asking if they could designate Wednesday, December 21, as TIME for PEACE day--and he agreed it was a good idea!
So students are now making preparations for a peace day.  They will be asking students to complete a writing prompt: "What does peace mean to you?" The writing will be part of a beautiful installation in our building at Montclair. They will also ask students to observe a moment of silence to reflect on PEACE and what it means to all of us.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Moon Journals In First Grade

It was so exciting to meet with first grade this week to begin a unit together on the MOON.  Students are finding out about the moon by observing it every day for a month---and keeping a journal of their observations. They are writing and drawing--thinking like poets and scientists and artists in their journals. This will be a great opportunity to begin the inquiry process. Students will formulate questions based on their observations to use for later research.

We started the unit by reading the book, I Know the Moon, by Stephen Axel Anderson. Students talked about how different animals in the book saw the moon, and now....they will be describing how THEY know the moon.

Resources to support this project:

NASA website: THE MOON


HAVE FUN observing the moon with your first grader! We hope to share our moon journals and new thinking before we leave for Winter Break.  Stay tuned!