Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Student Projects

The week following parent/teacher/student conferences finds our classroom in an interesting position. After reviewing early student assessments and behaviors, we realize our learning is just beginning. This school year offers plenty of opportunity for students to investigate, collaborate, communicate and create. Students in our classroom are now beginning to work on a couple projects that will allow for connections between home, school and the rest of the world. It's very exciting for all of us to be able to demonstrate thinking and learning in our work!

One of the more exciting projects we are getting involved in this year is called the Global Virtual Classroom contest.  This project is designed for students to communicate and collaborate with students from schools around the world to create a website based on a theme.  The communication process has already begun as our students are reading and writing with children from a school in Chandler, Arizona and a school in the Russian Federation.  Indeed this is an excellent extension project that allows children a chance to learn and practice skills in all disciplines.  Click on the "GVC" tab at the top of the blog for more information and relevant links to our project.

Another project that is just starting is called The Sketchbook ProjectAs an initiative by our Art Appreciation parents, students in from our class will take turns writing and illustrating a continuation story titled "Science Project Gone Wrong".  As the sketchbook travels from child to child and home to home, children will be filling pages with original illustrations and writing.  When our book is complete it will be submitted to a traveling tour that will eventually make a stop in Chicago!  Be sure to ask your child to see our sketchbook when it travels to your home.  

The last note for this post will focus on our book buddy partnership with first grade students.  Every Friday our fourth graders travel down to a first grade classroom to work with "buddies" on first grade projects that involve a variety of academic and social skills.  Each fourth grader is paired up with one or two first graders as a role model.  This weekly interaction is great for everyone involved because it allows the "big kids" and "little kids" in our school to make an authentic relationship shaped by academic and social goals.  If you haven't talked with your child about their "buddy," ask them soon.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Differently Abled

Friday of last week all students at Mann School were treated to a very unique assembly with motivational speaker, Lloyd Bachrach. A para-Olympian, Lloyd talked with children about overcoming adversity and achieving dreams with the abilities you have. His story is one that is sure to inspire herds of people across the country and Mann students were so fortunate to witness his different abilities. 

His message can be summarized with his five keys to life success. He credits making his dreams come true by following these keys and getting some timely assistance from teachers, coaches, and other significant people in his life. He likes to call these people "dream makers." He certainly was a spectacle to behold. Thanks to the Mann PTO for inviting such a tremendous individual to speak to our students! 

1. Have high self-esteem.
2. Have a positive attitude.
3. Set goals for yourself.
4. Persevere - never give up!
5. Take care of your health - mind, body, and spirit.

"The only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves." - Lloyd Bachrach

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Prairie and Grove Field Trip

Friday marked the first field trip of the year for our class.  It was a great outdoor excursion through a diverse Illinois Prairie and The Grove, a National Historic Landmark.  Most of the day was spent following a docent around and listening to interesting facts about Illinois' biodiversity and ecosystems.  A couple highlights included completing a scavenger hunt in a prairie and seeing a gigantic alligator snapping turtle at The Grove.  Thanks to our parent volunteer for her chaperoning and photography skills!