What's On Our Plate Expedition...authoring our book!
Authoring a digital book is a gigantic undertaking, but crew has dug in and our room looks like a press room!
We are simultaneously creating two entirely differernt products to share our expedition learning: a soil mandala and a scientific illustration, Audubon-style. Each crew member is creating a mandala that tells the story of one geologic process and how that, in turn, created a specific ecosystem in California. Mandalas are being drawn and today we began making paint for them from the soil samples we collected during fieldwork in Lassen. They are stunning works that will be displayed at Celebration of Learning next Thursday night.
Applying their learning of fractions, percents, least common multiples and greatest common divosors, crew worked to determine the best combinations of donated items for our Humane Society gift bags. Thanks to our community for donating so many wonderful treats, toys and supplies!
This week we hope to deliver twenty-six bags that can be given as gifts to those who adopt a dog. Each bag contains two items and a unique gift card explaining the service project.
Book Clubs...are running themselves!
Each student has a self-selected comprehension or vocabulary strategy on which to focus during independent reading throughout the week. On club days I hold individual conferences with students. They share evidence of using their strategy, read aloud to me and we discuss who they are as a reader and what steps they will take next toward their goals. Clubs continue to respond to their books in journals and add to their book wikis.
Circle of Power and Respect...now planned and facilitated by crew!
Crew members are grouped in daily teams that plan and run the morning meeting. Daily crew determine the greetings, activities and debriefing questions, and prepare the reading and discussion questions associated with our design principle of the month. Wow.
Special thanks to all our Parent Crew for the love, treats, and encouragement during Bearwalk - we love you!
“What’s on Our Plate” Expedition
Crew have been exploring and applying their knowledge of California’s varied ecosystems. Using the Coastal Ecology Tour fieldwork trip to the coast’s tidepools, fens and redwood forests, they have been challenged to create mini-ecosystems representative of California’s ecology in our classroom. Projects will be on display during Celebration of Learning.
In addition, work has begun on our final product. Students have brainstormed ideas for our iBook and our production board is outlined with tasks. The month of December will be a flurry of authoring, editing, graphic designing and scientific illustrating!
We have been busier than a puppy in a roomful of squirrels!
Crew hosted Erin Ellis from the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe to share the results of our Tennies and Tails event survey data. Our Kennel Club groups shared the results of the data collected in slide presentations. Clubs were required to choose appropriate graphs to represent the data sets and incorporate the types of graphs studied in class during our statistics unit.
At the start of our school year we were given a tremendous gift of three days of team-building camp at Walton’s Grizzly Lodge. All they asked in return was that we pay $10 per student and choose a local charity to receive that money. During an all-crew brainstorming and discussion session about many worthy Truckee charities, crew chose the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe. Jackson and Sophia were nominated by crew to present our $240.00 donation from Walton’s Grizzly Lodge. They explained our math expedition and gave the check to Erin.
Going forward, McMains Crew MathDogs want to apply our learning in factors, multiples and fractions with this month's design principle of Service and Compassion in a service project for our math partner, Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe. We want to assemble gift baskets for the Humane Society to be given to families who adopt dogs as well as for the volunteers to use with the dogs who are awaiting their new homes.
We are asking for donations of new dog items - toys, beds, leashes, collars, boxed treats, dog food ... anything a dog or new dog owner might enjoy. We could also use decorative gift bags or baskets, tissue paper and ribbon.
**If you can donate an item, please drop it off in our classroom.**
Adventure in Reading:
Book Clubs have been a rousing success with clubs participating in peer scored discussions, creating high-level discussion questions and keeping reading response journals. Readers are making connections between the text and their own experiences, the text and other reading, and the text and the world around them. Book discussion days are lively! Great questions and involvement are complimented with hot tea and cookies!
Each club is also creating a Book Word Wiki – an interactive collection of new and exciting words found in their books. Book Clubs are a rich adventure in reading!
Lassen Volcanic National Park Fieldwork
Wow, what a kick-off to our fall expedition! Our 4 fabulous days and 3 nights in Lassen Volcanic National Park were filled with wildlife, shooting stars, and intense geological encounters. (Crew photos are now on our blog as well as the link to your right....)
Students presented the lessons they had prepared prior to the trip and taught us about the different types of lava flows, how to identify 4 types of volcanoes, how to interpret hydrothermal features, and about the ecology of the park. We experienced the information first–hand as we crawled through lava tubes, hiked down into a cinder cone volcano, smelled fumeroles, listened to bubbling mudpots and felt the temperature of runoff from hot springs.
We had special encounters with a black bear, a red-tailed hawk and a doe nursing twin fawns! The night sky was alight with green shooting stars.
We even had a reading adventure when we read and text-coded two passages at a high school level in order to learn about the park’s ecology!
Best of all, every crewmember faced challenges and overcame them through perseverance – some emotional, some physical, some intellectual.
Giant thanks to every adult who pitched in to drive, cook, shop, hike, encourage, hug, share, and sleep outside! Talk about it taking a village!
Remember to check our Crew Blog for assignments and fieldwork schedules:
21 GREAT READING TIPS FOR HOME:
As your child’s first and most important teacher, you can be a powerful force in your child’s efforts to become a skillful reader. Whether your child is already a proficient reader, or is a struggling or reluctant reader, your positive encouragement can help them make continuous strides toward success.
Here are some suggestions on how you can support reading at home.
Grizzly Adventure Camp
surely lived up to its title! Some of our highlights included climbing the vertical playground, celebrating Jackson’s birthday, walking the wires above a steep ravine, solving mental & physical challenges, seeing a double rainbow while an osprey flew through, surprising deer with their fawns, performing crazy campfire skits & chomping s’mores, and bonding through an amazing Sierra Norms ritual with Alaina. We are already a stronger (and tired-er) crew! All of our grand adventures were possible because of the generosity of Walton’s Grizzly Lodge and all our marvelous, patient, and kind parents. Thank you Marcie, Marcy, Tammie, Tammy, Jim, Doug, Martha, Jenn, Elizabeth, Jenny, Phebe, Alaina, and Cindy for shopping, driving, belaying, building fires, cooking meals, providing snacks, sleeping in cabins, and being present with our students.
We paid, from our expedition funds, a small donation of $20 per crew member to attend this magnificent camp. Walton’s Grizzly Lodge has asked our crew to choose a local charity to be the recipient of that token donation.
Last Saturday our cool MathDogs conducted surveys at the Humane Society's Tennies and Tails fun-run and dog-walk fundraiser. 6 of our crew showed up to distribute the demographics surveys created by the whole crew. Crew collected 40 surveys, participated in the dog walk with their own furry companions, and hung medals around the canine competitors as they crossed the finish line. Next our crew will analyze that data for our in-class math unit on statistics.
What a super start to 2013!
*Please note that the McMains Crew photos are last year's. We currently have a glitch in the Picasa photo application. I promise to post 2013 photos as soon as possible!
Worlds of Wonders Expedition
Crew finished Ancient Rome by teaching each other through their Gallery Walk Displays and participating in a reflection and review before taking the final written assessment. They are now deep in the revision stages of honing their arguments and debate techniques for the Clash Of The Titans performance at our Celebration of Learning. Ancient Rome, Greece, India and Egypt will pit their best evidence against one another in an attempt to persuade the audience that they had the greatest, most wondrous civilization of all! They will also be creating stage sets and costumes this week.
Who Am I Character Expedition
In character expedition, crew will be working to fine-tune their Who Am I poems through a poetry workshop with our resident poet expert and one-one revisions with a variety of teachers for new perspectives and revision. They are really digging deeply into self- examination and self-expression for their Passages performance.
For Your Calendars:
Wednesday, May 30 - Documentary Film, Geology of California, 6:30 at The Resort at Squaw Creek, Alpine Room A-B
Thursday, June 7 - Celebration of Learning, M1, 5:00-6:00, please be seated before 5:00.
Thursday, June 14 - Passages,12:30-3:15: Groups will be figured out by next week and families notified of their time slot.
One Crew member recently asked, “ What is the best way to improve my grades between now and the end of the year?”
The 4 best ways to improve your grades now (and always!):
1. Begin by DAILY practicing every good H.O.W.( Habits of Work!) and checking yourself on your H.O.W. rubric.
2. Pay attention to every rubric (Clash of the Titans, Who Am I Passages performance, Probability Project) and REVISE REVISE REVISE until you hit the “4”column.
3. STUDY those note-catchers for Ancient Rome and really be able to meet the Learning Targets for each one - go back and read all the Rome chapters in TCI. Then pass the test next Tuesday!
4. Do a thorough job on the write-up and reflection for your math Probability Project. KNOW your math terms for probability and practice determining theoretical probability problems on Khan Academy or on IXL Math so you will pass the last test on probability.
And I’ll end with the probability-related quote :
“Chance favors the prepared mind"
Come tell me what that means and how you can apply it these next 3 weeks and I’ll give you a free "M" card of your choice!
Have a restful and enjoyable Memorial Day holiday to get ready for the last high-quality push to Celebration of Learing and Passages!
What A Month!
We are preparing two major products, for Celebration of Learning and Passages, at the same time we are exploring our last ancient civilization and preparing to share our documentary with the community - it is an intense period of new learning and self-reflection!
So the BIG EVENT:
The McMains Crew (Blue Bear Productions) is excited to share our documentary film with the community! If you haven’t already seen the event on the SELS website, or Facebook page, please share and invite!
Geology of California, 4,500,000,000 years in the making. is making its premiere:
Wednesday, May 30
The Resort at Squaw Creek, Alpine Room A-B
Doors open at 6:30
The resort also made a generous offer of a 10% discount at Sandy’s for anyone who wants to eat before the show.
Hope to see you there!
In other news,
Worlds Of Wonders Expedition: Essential Question of the Week: What are the wonders of Ancient Rome?
The motto of the week is, “ Rome wasn’t built in a day but we’re going to learn it in it in a week…!”
Crew are working in 5 guilds to prepare a display of an aspect of the ancient Roman Civilization that
answers an essential question:
AND teaches the rest of crew the information needed to meet these Learning Targets:
How Likely Is It? Crew delved into the world of probability with a challenge to design a problem that can be solved using experimental probability. Every team created a different problem and the materials chosen included decks of cards, dice, and colored cubes. They are now defining and determining both experimental and theoretical probabilities, discovering how dependent and independent events affect outcomes and will soon become experts at analyzing games of chance!
May 16, 17 STAR testing
May 18 Lockin
May 28 Memorial Day
*May 30* Film Premiere! Geology of California, at the Resort at Squaw Creek , Showtime 7:00!
Worlds Of Wonders Expedition
Essential Question of the Week: What are the wonders of Ancient Greece?
Greek festival preparation is underway for Monday, May 7th. Members of each city-state, Athens and Sparta, will share their foods, music and games with our crew.
Metalworking has begun and involves in cutting and nailing sheets of tin, copper and other metals into a sculpture. Each student is creating a unique work.
Students have been involved in a variety of learning activities of their own choosing and defending their knowledge of Greece’s government, social structure, philosophers, religion, and geography through oral mastery quizzes. Wow - what experts they are becoming! We have also introduced a powerful note-taking strategy that combines the Cornell method many students have used with the SQR3 method.Students are amazed at how well they are retaining information from their reading when using this technique!
Greek mathematicians came to life as we read about 4 particularly interesting ones. The learning target increased all week and your child should be able to name at least these 4 famous Greek mathematicians. BONUS OPPORTUNITY: Send me an e-mail me if they can do it and I’ll put 1 bonus point on their Greek Menu for each – I’ll even throw in another 4 points if they can recall details of their lives!
This week we will continue STAR practice in class, not as homework so crew can also concentrate on finishing their big statistic projects. Teams of students are either recording educational videos on how to plot and read data, compiling and comparing stats of top sports figures, or conducting their own numerical and categorical surveys and graphing their results.
May 2,3,4 Mrs. McMains at E.L. National Conference
May 4 Statistics Unit due
May 7 Ancient Greece Case study completed
May 8-9-10 S.T.A.R. testing week
Worlds Of Wonders Expedition
Essential Question of the Week: What are the wonders of Ancient Greece?
In our expedition art projects, students have completed and mounted a piece of weaving and are about to embark on a metalworking project. Both processes have connections to the ancient arts in India. Weaving for clothing, like traditional saris, has been a family tradition in India for over 2000 years and was the second-most common profession after farming. Metalworking was quite common in India as evidenced through the artifacts we have uncovered. Copper swords, iron door décor, as well as iron knives, bowls, and eating utensils have been found dating back to 600 BCE—200 BCE.
We begin investigating life in ancient Greece this week. Students are preparing two Greek festivals – one in Athens and one in Sparta. They will take place at school on Friday, May 4th. Each city-state will share their foods, music and games.
Also exciting – local actress and script-writer, Sarah Poynter, has joined us as a consultant to help us create and polish our final performance! She is an experienced performer with many film, commercial and stage credits in her background and we are so fortunate to have her! Miss Sarah will be working with crew during expedition time each week and has already contributed some wonderful ideas.
Our crew mastered ratios and ratio word problems beautifully and began the statistics unit with a review of mean, median, and mode. Adding range, categorical and numerical data and outliers to their math vocabulary, students began interpreting graphs. We are also exploring the uses of new types of graphs: Coordinate graphs, and Stem and Leaf plots. Students will now begin interacting with data through a statistics project of their choosing and we are looking forward to seeing some of their interesting teaching videos! They are also warming up for STAR testing with a practice page per night until test day.
Fieldwork at the “King Tut ‘Wonderful Things’ from Pharaoh’s Tomb” at the Wilbur D. May Museum in Reno was a fantastic opportunity for crew to connect their classroom learning to the exhibit. Crew collected new information and sketches in field journals for use in their long-term ancient civilization projects. Thank you again to all our parent drivers!
May 4 Statistics Unit due
May 4 Ancient Greece Case study completed
May 8-9-10 S.T.A.R. testing week
Expedition Essential Question of The Week:
How Did Geography Affect the Early Settlement of India?
We start April with a wrap-up of the Wonders of Egyptian society. Our fieldwork day next week at the “King Tut ‘Wonderful Things’ from Pharaoh’s Tomb” exhibition will provide an opportunity to put context to the wonderful things we’ve been learning.
Then we begin a two-week study of the Wonders of Ancient India. Crew will read the on-line textbook independently as homework and use it to guide their foundation work in the interactive student notebook. In class, students will choose from a menu of learning activities to enhance their understanding of the geography, daily life, government and the arts of India. It promises to be a full and enriching two weeks!
We gear up for some real-world data collection in our study of mean, median, mode and range and begin some investigation into the mathematicians of our ancient civilizations – Egyptians, Indians, Greeks and Romans all contributed to our bank of mathematical knowledge!
In Other News...
To date, Geology of California has been entered in the following International Film Festivals:
April 11 Minimum Day
April 18 Fieldwork: “King Tut ‘Wonderful Things’ from Pharaoh’s Tomb” at the Wilbur D. May Museum in Reno – drivers still needed!