Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gak Attack!

After a week of serious, heavy duty testing, what better way to celebrate and relax than to get involved in a messy, sticky, hands on science experiment like making Gak?
Why does this reaction occur? In the simplest terms possible, the mixture of glue with Borax and water produces a putty-like material called a polymer, which is a long chain of molecules. Glue is an adhesive polymer made of polyvinyl acetate, which can be modified by a chemical process called cross linking. The Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) can be used as the cross linking agent. Properties of long chain molecules change when they are cross-linked. The glue changed into slimy glob. That process is known as vulcanization. Watch the students react to the Gak in the video clip below!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bucket Poster Contest Winners

Congratulations On Your Award Winning Posters!
Much earlier this school year, the school hosted a "Bucket Poster" contest and students were encouraged to create a poster to demonstrate "bucket filling", based on the book by Carol McCloud. Bucket filling is all about saying nice things, being a good friend and being a kind person. On the flip side, bucket dippers, say hurtful things and make others feel bad about themselves.
We had three winners in this contest, and their posters have been reproduced on this beautiful plaques which are currently hanging in the front lobby of the school. Nice job, students! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

We Made It!

We made it through three days of Stanford 10 Testing. Hooray! The students took the tests very seriously and managed to sit quietly at their desks for the majority of the past three days. I know they were bored and found the test easy, but they did a great job and we are excited to be FINISHED! The results will be mailed to your home during the summer. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our Class "Pets"

Have you heard the exciting news? The mealworms we have been observing have started metamorphosizing into darkling beetles!
The students have been very interested and excited to watch their mealworms go through the life cycle and undergo such dramatic changes right before their eyes. 
We have learned some excellent vocabulary during this unit like larva, pupa, metamorphosis and exoskeleton. We did a few simple (and harmless) experiments with the mealworms and students have been recording their observations daily. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Testing Week Is Here!
This week will be very different than all our other weeks so I wanted to give everyone an idea of what to expect. 
First of all there will be NO HOMEWORK all week. Yes, you heard me right - no homework!
The desks have been rearranged for the week and students will be sitting in traditional rows. Any "helpful" posters on the wall that explain anything of an academic nature will be covered or taken down.
We will not be starting any new concepts this week. Tomorrow we will continue to review and will also spend some time talking about test-taking strategies and tips. This is the first big standardized test most (if not all) of the students have taken so I want to make sure they are adequately prepared. Already a few students have expressed how nervous and worried they are so I am going to talk about ways to stay calm and put their minds at ease. 
Our testing days are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  AIMS testing also begins this week so it is important for us to be quiet in the classroom, in the hallway and at lunch. Students will be expected to behave appropriately during SAT 10 testing and there will be little leeway for a student that decides to test the limits. We will discuss this thoroughly in class! We have already discussed test taking tips, and using a Google form, students submitted their ideas. We created a script from the results of their submissions and produced this brief video.
Tips for home...
*Make sure your student gets a good night of sleep the nights before the tests.
*Make sure your student has a good, hearty breakfast that day. We will still be having our morning snack, so send a good one! Fruit, cheese, something with protein - all excellent choices! 
*Get to school in plenty of time that day. This is not a good day to miss the bus or arrive at school late. If a student arrives after we have started the testing he or she will not be allowed in the classroom until we are finished and will have to make up the test on Friday with another teacher. 
*If your student has a dentist, doctor, etc. appointment on testing days, please reschedule if possible! If a student is dismissed during the day, he or she will not be allowed back in the classroom that day and will have to make up the test. 
*Keep the morning as smooth and stress free as possible. 
I think that's everything! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 
Have a super week!

New York Times Article Mentioning This Class

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Have you heard talk about new classroom "pets"? We are studying mealworms in Science class and each student has a tiny mealworm habitat on his or her desk. 
We are learning about the lifecycle of a mealworm, doing a few experiments and lots of observing! Experiments today included journaling about what happens when a mealworm is touched and what happens with a gentle gust of air.
The students have taken their new responsibility fairly seriously and have diligently made sure their mealworms have plenty of food and water. Ask your 2nd grader what we give the mealworm to drink and why. This unit has been a lot of fun and a nice break from the almost-over test prep!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Non-Digital Tweeting

Since students technically have to be 13 or older to create their own Twitter account, whenever we have partcipated in classroom Twitter chats, we have all worked together under my account. 
Last week students had to "tweet", keeping their message 140 characters or less, and adding at least one hashtag. They tweeted one thing they had learned this year. 
Our non-digital Twitter bulletin board was a lot of fun and allowed students to tweet and forced them to think carefully about word choice. If you still haven't jumped into the "twitterverse" and are interested, be sure to watch the Twitter Tutorial Video my class put together earlier this school year. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


The last few weeks we have been learning about geometry, including 3-dimensional shapes. 
The students have enjoyed identifying and sorting the shapes, along with counting faces, bases, vertices and sides. Some of the students were surprised at how different seemingly similar shapes are and the hands on manipulatives have been a big hit! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Primary Fun Day

A few days ago grades K through 3 participated in "Primary Fun Day" - the junior version of "Field Day" which begins in grade 4.
We spent most of the day outside and my class had a ton of fun participating in all the sports, competitions and activities! 
There were several individual games and also quite a few team-building sports, like the tug of war and the class relay race. 
The parachute and playground station were both favorites and we were lucky to enjoy these two activities towards the end of the day. Throughout the day we also played outdoor pinball, basketball, flag tag, participated in a high jump competition, the tennis ball throw and a hula hoop competition. 
After lunch we enjoyed some icy cold popsicles as a special treat!