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From the Bay Farm Beat: Elementary II Curriculum Corner!
From the Bay Farm Beat: Elementary II Curriculum Corner!
Kelley Kasak-Collins
Monday, February 24, 2020

Life is never dull within the Walden classroom. The pathway to engagement and amusement goes both ways, and we are always amazed by how much we all learn about life and learning from each other. We ended 2019 with the perennial favorite: Secret Snowflake activities. Most students were particularly festive this year and went above and beyond in making their secret friend feel special. 

Before we get into the upcoming Walden news, we want to let you know that after three cancellations, we were finally able to make it out to Walden Pond in Concord. We enjoyed hearing the big thoughts Thoreau had, seeing where he had them, how he lived, and also how he practiced living his beliefs. Along the way, we made a special stop at the Orchard House, childhood home to Louisa May Alcott. This visit coincided with reading Little Women and left a special spot in the girls’ hearts. 

The National Geographic GeoBee Team continues to meet weekly before school. The team, composed of Christian, Fanoula, Giavanna, Giovina, Leeila, Olivia, and Sophie, has been working diligently during our meetings and at home to prepare for the regional geography test. The school’s winner will advance to the state geography test on February 1. Stay tuned for the results. A special thank you is extended to the Branigan family for providing the team with bagels and cream cheese each week! 

Straying a bit from the curricular news, the teachers have been learning a lot about “grit.” After reading the book Grit by Angela Duckworth, we were all inspired to work on helping the children built this quality, so you may hear them talking about it at home from time to time. The premise of the book is that passion and perseverance, in tandem, build qualities that not only prepare children academically, but for any challenges they may face in moving forward in life. High expectations along with a loving, supportive environment, build confidence and a willingness to endure. It encourages teachers and parents to praise sustained effort over natural talent. These are just a few of the tidbits that came out of the book; we encourage you to read it for a more in-depth look at the development of grit. Coincidentally, Carmen Codjoe, our room parent, shared an attachment with all of us called, “Famous First Failures,” which outlines the failed first attempts of some amazing people including Michael Jordan and Lady Gaga. I’m going to go over this packet with the students in the coming weeks. Thanks, Carmen, for sharing this gem and for everything else you do to support the Walden classroom! 

Walden students just finished reading their second literature circle book. The Midwife’s Apprentice, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, and Atticus of Rome are historical fiction novels meant to introduce the students to various components of the medieval history unit we will beginning in late January. As part the fall long-term project, the girls also read the unabridged version of Little Women and the boys read Trumpet of the Swan. They brought their novels to life through discussions, character essays, and the creation of portraits and comic strips. The books generated a great deal of excitement.

Winter reading themes will include imagery, foreshadowing, using red herrings, and Greek mythology. Elementary II students continue to receive individually-paced grammar lessons. Depending on each student’s readiness, some upcoming lessons will include possessives, verb study, active/passive voice, sentence analysis (direct and indirect objects) double negatives, mechanics, and subject/verb agreement. The children continue to be introduced to different types of poetry twice a month; not only are they reading poetry, they also have opportunities to practice writing it. Fourth and fifth grade students are working on identifying main ideas, creating strong topic sentences, and fully developing their ideas through the use of examples and analysis. The 6th years will be wrapping up their Independent Learning Project research and then writing their research papers in the coming months. Finally, all students are learning how to use dialogue to bring their creations to life. This is part of an interdisciplinary unit coinciding with art and our cultural unit on Communist-era puppet shows. 

Now that the geography and cultural study of Europe is coming to a close, we will begin studying the history of Europe. In addition, the students are using their writing skills to create a puppet show inspired by the Polish puppet theater prevalent during the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Small groups of students took a current event and are writing a satirical puppet show meant to inform their classmates about something currently happening around the world. The puppets are finished and the plays are almost completed; we expect the students to perform their shows at the beginning of February. In addition, we hope to go on at least one field trip this winter to help supplement our in-class cultural learning. 

ELII students have continued their work on arithmetic, and all students are working on operations with fractions and decimals. These lessons will help the students transition into their next unit on measurement. Additionally, we will start looking at order of operations, mathematical expressions and equations, and graphing. In geometry, students are continuing to work with polygons, and three dimensional figures. Soon, we will start working on classifying polygons, measuring angles, and working with circles. 

In science, we are transitioning back into our Earth Science unit after wrapping up our Science Fair. We are going to continue working on our chapter on the water cycle and weather by discussing clouds, different types of weather, and the instruments used to measure it. This will get us into our final lesson in this chapter which focuses on climate. When we are done with the water cycle and weather, we will start our next chapter on the Earth’s surface where we will investigate rocks, minerals, and the elements that make up the world we live in. 

We look forward to many days of fun and learning throughout the winter. Thank you for your continued support!

Click here to read the full January Issue of the Bay Farm Beat.