Looking for Arthropods

Today we visited Betsy Caughlin Donnelly Park to work with the Truckee Meadows Park Foundation and to learn more about arthropods. Students had already done some initial studies on arthropods so the trip focused on finding arthropods and learning more about their local habitats.

The kids were persistent! Despite the challenge of finding the arthropods, the students spent over an hour, lifting rocks, shaking trees, and using aspirators to collect what they could locate.

Apart from the scientific aims, students are also learning more about being citizen scientists and how the general public can help with data collection.

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Computer Science Education Week and an #HourOfCode

Today marked the beginning of Computer Science Education Week and, as part of it, we completed an Hour of Code. This is a state supported and nationwide movement to honor the value of coding and make it more accessible to students. You can learn more about it from the Nevada Department of Education’s press release here.

As an extra incentive, we Tweeted to Golden State Warrior Steph Curry our efforts. Curry has promised to select a classroom that participates in the Hour of Code and video conferencing with them.

Our Work with The Phantom Tollbooth Begins

Today we started our work with Norton Juster’s classic, The Phantom TollBooth. We did a lot of things to get us ready for this including careful observations of paintings by Salvador Dali (e.g, The Persistence of Memoryand a close reading of Abbott and Costello’s skit, “Who’s on First.” In addition we deconstructed how puns are largely based on homophones, homographs and idioms.

The hard work paid off and the student’s understanding of how author’s use word play to cause humor and confusion allowed for a successful launch of The Phantom Tollbooth.

Our Focus on Fractions

A big part of having a successful 5th grade year is being able to add, subtract, divide and multiply mixed numbers and fractions. To the credit of the students, we are quickly marching through this content and the students are doing extremely well with the first part, adding and subtracting mixed numbers. This success, will allow us to then move to the operations, division and multiplication. Moreover, with the right foundation, students will enter the middle school years ready for rates, ratios and proportional reasoning.

DiscussionThe first two weeks with fractions was largely conceptual with students creating models on how to add and subtract fractions. Now, students are using more traditional algorithms—the way their parents learned—with a great deal of success.