Our biggest endeavor that the students conquered this month were their Invading Forces Project. Each student did extensive research on a group of people they chose that were involved in the end of the Western Roman Empire. People studied Vikings, Celts, Goths, Huns and more.
After researching, we had a whole series of lessons on how create PowerPoints that are effective, organized and helpful during a presentation. Students shared their PowerPoint drafts with each other in small groups, got lots of great feedback and made major revisions and edits. They also supported their classmates by giving feedback, and thinking critically about what makes a great presentation. Each person wrote out detailed presentation notes, as well. Last week, we spent almost three hours watching students present! If you haven't yet, please ask your child to give their presentation to you and ask them lots of questions.
It is truly remarkable to watch a community of children work so hard, learn so much and be so supportive of each other. They were attentive and engaged at each others' presentations, and they seem to deeply value each other's work and ideas. As teachers, we were both proud and amazed to witness the individual maturity and community cohesion. What an honor!
In our History Lessons we have been exploring the Early Middle Ages (~800-1100 CE) and how societies structured themselves. We went over Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire, Feudal and Manorial societies, William the Conqueror, and the way society was based around the manor system. We did an activity with the Newbury Medal Awarded book Good Masters, Sweet Ladies where students created an interview with a character who had a career in the Early Middle Ages. Each pair of students performed their interview a couple weeks ago. The last few weeks we covered Early Middle Age shelter and castles. This week we will start a unit on the Golden Age of Islam and incredible cultural and scientific contributions that emerged during the Middle Ages, and eventually led to the Renaissance.
A lot of Math Lessons have been happening recently and many students are moving along quickly through multiples, pre-algebra, factors, fractions, and decimals. In Geometry Ms. Nicole has been teaching how to understand area of various geometric shapes. Some students who were in a group discovering area of a parallelogram were amazed when they discovered how you can slice off the angle and move it to create a rectangle.
In other academic news, during Informal Writing we have been visiting the power of voice in writing and storytelling and how to develop a character's voice to be unique. In Geography, students who hadn't had a chance to do a mini-island and colored key to finalize their work on land and water forms have been finishing those up as well.
Our science lessons have perked up many of our students this year especially when it comes to air pressure and weather. Students have really enjoyed our lessons that we have been staying a little longer on the subject of air pressure and weather so we can dig deeper into the science. In the past couple weeks we taught how air pressure has a stronger force than water using the trick of filling a glass full, placing a piece of heavy card stock on the top of the glass, and flipping it upside down. We explored how air expands and contracts in the heat and cold by putting a balloon over the mouth of a water bottle and freezing it, and then putting the bottle in hot water.
We created a couple different versions of handmade barometers to measure air pressure and talked about weather fronts and wind. Last week we explored clouds and made different kinds of clouds with meringue. It was a new experience for many kids and a very memorable lesson!