Akers Crew

Akers Crew 4th & 5th grade

Akers Newsletter Spring 2014

Happy Spring, Crew!

Students in the Akers Crew are celebrating a successful Goal Setting week.  Thanks to all families for coming together to support your student's efforts in reflecting on their progress as of yet and setting academic, character, and HOW's goals.  Please remember to post these goals in a high profile location and check in with your students regularly to debrief their progress.  We will be checking in with them at school as well.

4th Graders are just kicking off a unit on Geometry exploration.  Students will be analyzing shapes and how they relate to each other through symmetry and congruence.  Students will also be building their fluency in measuring angles, classifying shapes, and working with grids. Please make sure to review their homework with them on a regular basis to check in with current learning.  On top of their daily lessons, students have been working on a number project.  Through choosing a favorite number, students find the factor trees, research its prime/ composite classification, create multi- step story problems around the number, and include mathematic vocabulary within the project.

5th Graders have been working on a Dream Vacation Outline as their project in Math.  Students are to research a location of choice and are given $2k-$5k to spend.  They create an "Expense Report" on their daily expenditures, including the transportation, lodging, food, events, extras, and then will present a final project of choice (graph, travel brochure, powerpoint, etc.) on the Friday before Spring Break.   Our daily lessons are comprised of learning the processes of division, including grouping and using the array method.  Students are also learning the standard algorithm, and are expected to analyze story problems, devise a method to solve the problem through division, and show their work in a figuring box.  Students will continue to be quizzed every Friday on their progress.  Please make sure to review their homework with them on a regular basis to check in with current learning.

Students are currently reading Good Fit books during the Daily 3, and are regularly conferencing with Lynn and Julie.  They are aware of the strategies they are working on during their daily reading practice, and are debriefing their progress in their weekly conferences.  In writing, students have worked diligently on learning the components to mystery writing, have filled out a very thorough graphic organizer, have conferenced with their peers regarding their outline, and have begun the process of writing their mystery.    Students are still working on their Daily Oral Language each day, and working with spelling words, with bi-weekly assessments.    Akers Crew students are hard at work, book-making!  Sewing the pages together and creating their own stories, the students are extremely excited about their writing!

Students are wrapping a Scientific Method/ Scientific Inquiry mini unit this week.  We wanted to expose the students to a few CCSS (Common Core State Standards) that are not included in our Geology expedition.  The Akers Crew have been exploring plant structures and have planted seeds to observe growing conditions.  Students are taking specific lab notes on each lab, and then are expected to write a lab report on their experiments, either rejecting or accepting their hypotheses. 

Rock Jocks- Don't Take the Sierra For Granite!...... stay tuned for news on our Spring Expedition!!!!

Akers Newsletter January 2014


The Legacy of the Gold Rush is our final Case Study for our Expedition. The students are learning about the many different mining techniques used both then and now. We will explore the substantial effects of the Gold Rush both in the environmental aspect and growth of California into a state.

The students are hard at work creating our final project, a silent filmed about the Gold Rush based the art of Charlie Chaplin. The film will be a three part piece showing the different routes people took to California: the Overland, Cape Horn and Panama Route. Get ready for drama, dance and humor all rolled into one exceptional film! Coming Soon! We will keep you posted on the premier of our film.

Spring Expedition:  The Kick-off to our Spring Expedition will happen in early February.  For your planning purposes, we have booked our campsites at Yosemite and Mono Lake for Sunday, June 1st through the 5th- Please save the dates!

Math: The fourth graders have started a fractions unit. We are using clocks, egg cartons, and rulers to demonstrate the many ways fractions can be presented with the use of everyday items. We are continuing to practice 2 times 2 digit multiplication and getting those single digit multiplication facts memorized. The students enjoy our center time where they work on projects, games, and math concepts related to our fraction unit.

The 5th graders are studying geometric relationships in symmetry and congruence by exploring reflections, translations, and symmetry.  At the moment, students are classifying polygons and learning specific characteristics that polygons share.  They will then write a polygon riddle to share with others in the class, who will narrow down the varied geometric shapes in their envelopes until they find a match and solve the riddle.

ELA:  Students are working on concrete sensory detail (learning to use words that evoke emotion) and the Voice writing trait.  We completed a Writer’s Workshop/ Jigsaw/ Tableau protocol on different genres of writing, and invited an expert in to teach a poetry workshop.  Students will then write creatively through the genres and explore the different types by choosing between a few options. 

States Exploration:  Students are exploring our great country and embarking on a quest to send our SELS mascot, the American Black Bear, on a tour!  Our goal is to collectively receive a postcard from every state our bear visits in the US.  We will then map out the postcards and then add them to our research we are collecting on our states study.  Students have sent and are in the midst of sending out their letters this week and next week.  Thank you for your participation!

Progress Reports: We are currently working on mid-year assessments and progress reports. Can you believe that Friday, January 24 marks the halfway point of the school year? This year is Mid-year Progress Reports will be sent home on Monday, February 3rd with the students.

Harvest of the Month:  Our crew will be tasting Mandarins this week for our January Harvest of the Month tasting.....YUM!  Thanks Amber DeFazio for bringing the delicious mandarins.


Family Dance:  Put on your dancing shoes and get ready go dance the night away at the SELS Family Sock Hop on Friday, February 7th in the school gym.  The PTC is looking for volunteers to help with this dance.  If you can spare some extra time (or need a break from dancing) contact the PTC to sign up for position.

Dates to Remember:

Monday, January 20:  NO SCHOOL - Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Friday, January 24:  Last day of Fall Semester

Monday, February 3:  Progress Reports go home

Friday, February 7:  ALL school Dance

June 1-5: Spring Expedition Field Work

Thank you to all of the parents for their efforts in obtaining campsites for Yosemite, organizing fieldwork, and volunteering in the classrooms!


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On top of all the teaching and learning, I'm struck by the joy in the faces of all the children as they go about their quest for knowledge. Thanks to all the courageous and energetic people who had the vision to make this school a reality. With all the challenges the world faces today and predictions of disaster, these committed teachers/staff, these engaged families, and these beautiful children are a beacon of hope.

SELS embodies everything that I feel is important in my child's education and I am so grateful that she has the opportunity to learn in such an enriching environment. Teaching our children how to think and how to treat others is critical to their future success. I am thankful every single day for all the wonderful staff at SELS.

What an amazing place. It has been everything for my son that I had hoped he could experience in school. Great teacher, stimulating learning environment, and a deeply caring and nurturing place.

I am grateful that my child is encouraged to interpret concepts and think about how they apply to his life, not just memorize and repeat material. I love that SELS asks kids to think about who they are and how they contribute to the community, locally and globally.

I greatly appreciate that SELS is a heart-centered school that teaches ethics and values along with academics. That approach makes SELS a unique and special place.

I appreciate all the teachers and staff and their responsiveness. I also appreciate all the work the staff are doing to help the kids figure out how to fill each other's buckets!

Our son is bubbling over with excitement for learning. This environment is gifting him with life long skills to succeed. We are so thankful for this school.

All the Adults and students challenge each other the THINK!

SELS is amazing in the way they teach topics hands on and allow the children to learn in practical settings. We couldn't be happier seeing our son flourish so much! Thank you.

I am very grateful to the SELS staff for offering my 5th grader their hearts, as well as their knowledge. Better yet, they make learning fun and adventurous! My youngster is THRIVING at your wonderful school!!

We are thankful for many wonderful ideals and principles at SELS, but what really brings those into reality is the caring, hard-working teachers and staff. We wouldn't have thought that someone else would care as much about the whole education of our daughter as much as we do, but there is a whole team of such people at SELS.

I am so thankful that my 5th grade daughter is a member and student of this beautiful community and school. She is receiving a fantastic education with hands on learning, caring, understanding, creative, out of the box thinking and intuitive teachers. She feels included, important, confident and is growing tons in her knowledge and place in this wonderful community. Thank you SELS for being an amazing part of my daughter's education and Life!

I truly appreciate all the staff, students, parents and families at SELS. It is these people that make SELS so wonderful.
This has become a new 'family" for us!

I am so grateful for the amazing staff; they are the most amazing guides. It is an inspiration to watch them help our children learn and grow into thoughtful, independent, productive human beings!
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