Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Social Studies Tuesdays and Thursdays

I apologize if it's been too long since my last post; life gets hectic, and sometimes I don't want to school after school hours.  Anyways, today I'll explain how my Tuesdays and Thursdays are going this term, and give a preview of what's to come.  Buckle up!  This post will probably end up taking a while!

My Tuesdays and Thursdays start with French, which we have combined with Mrs. Kenter's Spanish class.  Some of our kids are excelling at learning language.  Many of them have completed more than 20% of the language (as scored by Duo Lingo, which is our online language program) this term.  I only have 9 students, but they are mostly flying.  In fact, I recently gave the students who have completed 20% of the language the chance to learn other languages.  The kids are having fun, and I enjoy seeing them learn.

Next is my Mesopotamia and Egypt class, built for 1st grade students.  This class is a Core Knowledge curriculum class.  These kids are amazing!  They've learned four of the Mesopotamian kids (ask them!), and enjoyed learning about it.  We're now learning about Egypt.  The kids have learned a bit about Egyptian hieroglyphics, and will learn a bit more about Egyptian language this week.

My third class on Tuesdays and Thursdays is my India and China class.  This is also a Core Knowledge class.  The kids are have learned some Indian customs, including some about henna tattoos.  They're now learning about some Mandarin numbering, and should have 1-10 memorized (or rather yi through shi) memorized soon.

Group 5 (consisting of students from Grades 4, 5, and 6) follows, and this class is taught with Mrs. Kenter.  This is a class on early American culture, and the students are learning both documents related to the American revolution and how to create their own government.  It's turning out to be harder than they thought, and some of these students are being challenged for the first time.  That said, they're also rising to that challenge, and it's great to see.

After lunch, Mrs. Kenter and I combine to teach Group 6, which is composed of 5th and 6th grade students, and Group 3.1, which is composed of 3rd graders with some 2nd graders thrown in.  We had to create a unit based on both 3rd grade standards and 6th grade standards.  We feel like we did it!  Our project covers both ancient civilization (in the form of Egypt) and human geography.  Our project is a choose-your-own-adventure book that the kids are writing based in Egypt, and the kids seem incredibly interested and seem to be working hard on their books.

Finally, we end the day (as we end every day) with Shakespeare.  Mrs. Kenter wrote some about that yesterday.  I just think this class is amazing!  The students are translating MacBeth.  I've known college students that have had trouble with what these kids are doing with aplomb.  More to the point, the students invited our Director to class to see it, and he came and saw what has turned into the comedy of MacBeth.  The kids ROCKED it!  I couldn't be much happier.  One of our two groups is even creating a scene for the end of Act III.  What an amazing group of students we have at FDA!

That's where I am right now.  I hope this novel was worth the read!  Until next time!

John M. Adams, Social Studies.

Monday, March 27, 2017


1st/2nd Grade Reader's Theatre:
Reader's Theatre has been a blast so far; we have been practicing our reading skills under the guise of fun stories and acting! Recently we've been practicing our prosody (reading with expression) using childhood favorites such as Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The kids have gotten great at adding inflection and feeling to their reading; a key component of reading fluency. We just started working on adding actions to the stories we are reading. We spent a day practicing with Mercer Mayer's There's a Nightmare in my Closet, using the text and picture clues to help us decide on actions that fit the story. Acting out a story helps support reading comprehension. This week we will continue practicing prosody and adding appropriate actions with the fable Rumpelstiltskin.

4th - 6th Grade Spanish:
The Spanish kids are soaring through lessons in their new language! With the help of DuoLingo, an online language learning platform, their peers, and teachers, kids are learning new vocabulary and language usage in each class. The requirement for the class is to complete 10% of the language, but most students are much further than that and the block is barely half over. To motivate kids, Ms. Kenter is learning Welsh and sometimes challenges them to see who can master the most lessons in a certain amount of time. The kids also have the option of starting a new language if they reach 20% completion of Spanish, encouraging them to push themselves in their current language and to grow a love of learning about different cultures and languages.

Group 3 Literacy/Social Sciences Pirates:
Our Pirates group is having a blast as they learn about pirates and writing in this class themed on adventures in the high seas. In Social Studies, First Mate Adams has been leading the crew in learning about real pirates, such as Blackbeard, and other real pirate history, such as how pirates create flags and how pirates hunt for treasure, as well as basic mapping skills. Captain Kenter has been taking charge of the crew in Literacy where they have been practicing their writing skills through pirate journaling. This week the pirates are starting their final writing project where they will plan, write, and publish an informational piece on a pirate-related topic.

Group 4 Literacy/Social Studies Utah:
In Literacy, our Utah group is working on service learning projects to help others while they learn about Utah history and geography in the Social Studies portion of the class. The service projects are being done in small groups of kids who all have interest in the same type of project, ranging from planting trees, to fundraisers for the school, to item drives for the community. The bulk of their work revolves around project proposals which they are writing to get support and permission to do their projects (actual projects will not be executed in this class). To write the proposals, kids learn the writing skills in literacy class and then work with their groups to apply the skills to their project. Teacher conferences and outlining scaffold the building of these important writing skills. Lately in the Social Studies section, kids have been learning about Utah Native Americans and Utah animals; this week the kids started to learn more about the history of Utah, including her role in the success of the Pony Express.

5th - 6th Grade Shakespeare
Our Shakespeare kids are continuing to work their way through Macbeth. We've transitioned from having them read/act out the play in Elizabethan English to having the kids work in groups to read the original play, translate it to Modern English, and then perform their translations. One group has even begun writing their own extra scene to bridge Act III to Act IV! The results have been amazing and highly entertaining! Through this work, the kids are flexing some major high level thinking muscles as they construct meaning from the classic play, and performance time fosters and grows speaking and listening skills. Mr. Adams and I are continually in awe of what these kids are capable of doing and also continually in stitches over the often comical interpretations of the play.

STEMrec challenges March 27

Math - Place the Digits (math game)

Why - To develop understanding of place value and number position relationships

This game gives children the opportunity to change the value of numbers by assigning digits to different positions.  

Science - Jumping Macaroni

Question:  The law of gravity states what comes up will come down.  But sometimes other forces can make it appear that gravity is not working.  This is a magic trick where you will make macaroni defy gravity and jump up.  

Why it works: This jumping action is called the Mound Effect.  The ribbon and macaroni form a series of hard rods separated by flexible ribbon.  It is physics.  As one side of the pasta is lifted, the other side pushes down, causing it to "jump". 

Social Studies - This is Me Map Book (continued)

Why - To practice spatial thinking.  Spatial skills are what allow us to picture the locations of objects, their shapes, their relation to each other and the paths they take as they move.  Maps help children visualize where objects, places, cities, and countries are in relation to one another.  Quite literally, maps help them figure out their place in the world. 

Literacy - Legos Mixel Stories 

Why - To provide an opportunity for expression and communication.  

Art - Draw your favorite Imaginary Animal

Friday, March 24, 2017

STEM Rec Challenges - March 22 - 29

STEM Rec Challenges - March 22 - 29 

Math - Double Digits (math game)

Why - To practice place value and estimations skills

Both skill and chance play important roles in this game. Dice rolls make it difficult to use a consistent winning strategy.  However, an intuitive understanding of probability, or what usually happens, will allow children to find a strategy that will be successful more often than not.  Development of estimation skills will increase a child's chances for success in other areas of mathematics

Science - Dissolving Ink

Question: Can you make permanent ink dissolve?

The experiment - Color a coffee filter with permanent markers.  Use a solvent (rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and water) to see the the colors change (or don't!).

Social Studies - This is Me Map Book 

Why - To practice spatial thinking.  Spatial skills are what allow us to picture the locations of objects, their shapes, their relation to each other and the paths they take as they move.  Maps help children visualize where objects, places, cities, and countries are in relation to one another.  Quite literally, maps help them figure out their place in the world. 

Literacy - Compound Words

Why - To help children understand what a compound word is and practice identifying and dividing compound words.

Art - Drawing characters using shapes

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Build a wall with a pulley system that can lift a load of pennies.

Our first plants...hopefully :)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Learning and Fun...in Science!

Hi All,

  This block we are doing so many fun and interesting activities in Science!

  Two cooking classes are in fun effect.  They have made popsicles and pudding pops.  This week we are planning our next creation...pancakes!  Next week we will be baking bread and making homemade butter.  The next couple of weeks are looking very tasty!

  There are also three classes in progress preparing first through third graders for next year's First Lego League team.  They have begun learning about simple machines.  This week, the challenge is to create a pulley system that can lift a "basket" of pennies as high as the construction will allow.

  In addition, there are several groups of students learning about plants and gardening.  One class in particular is learning about the plants and animals of Utah.  They will be dissecting owl pellets in the coming weeks.  The students have begun planting a variety of seeds.  In the next weeks your kiddos will be bringing home a seedling that can be transplanted in May, just in time for Mother's Day.

  Finally, there is one electricity class in progress.  These students have begun circuit construction and will be testing on various insulators and conductors.  They will be beginning their first project next week.  The final project requires shoe boxes or similar sized boxes and cardboard.  Every student will need at least one box, so if you have any extras lying around, please send them our way! Thank you.

  If you ever need to reach me, please do not hesitate!


Ms. Gallup

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This term.

This term, I have most, if not all, of the students between grades 3 and 6.  I also have roughly 50 1st graders and 50 2nd graders in various classes.  That's a lot of students!  If my numbers are correct, it's more than 350 per week!  While our schedule is just short of where we want it, it's a lot better than it once was!

My classes this term are a mixture of core classes as directed by Utah standards and Core Knowledge Curriculum classes that I am trying to tweak to fit our model of active students in our Engage! classes.  So far, it seems that most students are enjoying what they get in Social Studies Engage! classes (or Social Studies and Literacy Engage! classes when we smash the two together).

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I start the day with 3rd/4th grade Medieval History.  I love the Medieval Period.  It's my favorite historical era!  So far, our students have learned about castles (ask them about crennelations!) and illuminated text.  This is a Core Knowledge course, though I have tweaked it quite a bit.  We will get to the Hundred Years' War and the Black Death, among other topics; I'm really excited about this class!

After Medieval History, I have a 2nd grade class entitled "Self, School, and Community."  This class is a basic map class, where students learn about mapping in their community.  So far, they've learned which way is North, South, East, and West.  These kids know which way is which, at least in my classroom!  We've labeled the walls and love to play games with the directions!  I'm considering switching them up and seeing if they notice.  (Shhh!  Don't tell them!)

After that, I have a 1st grade class entitled "Self, School, and Neighborhood."  The gist of this class is fairly similar to the previous class, with a more defined base.  Again, they've learned about cardinal directions, and are working on intermediate directions, too!

Once my first three classes are done, I begin working on my base classes.  On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have Groups 3 and 4.  Group 3 is composed of high 2nd, middle 3rd, and low 4th grade students, as selected by their mentoring teachers.  (Remember: Engage! classes don't replace the teaching that goes on upstairs.  I tend not to think about whether a student is a high 2nd or a low 4th; what I think about is how to best engage that student in my class.  Every student is awesome, and should be treated as such!)  Our Group 3 work with both Mrs. Beckie Kenter and myself, often at the same time.  Working with Mrs. Kenter allows us to cross curriculums and engage across the curriculum.  In Group 3, we're teaching a pirate-based project where students will write facts about pirate life and learn about human geography.  So far, students have learned how few pirates walked the plank and some landforms they might encounter on their journey.  They've learned what happened to bad pirates (who got locked into the brig of the ship) and some about the animals they will encounter on their journey.  They've written about their adventures so far in a pirate journal.  They've learned some of how to speak like a pirate.  They've begun swashbuckling.  They've (hopefully) had fun.  I know I have!

Mrs. Kenter and I also combine our efforts in our Group 4 class.  Group 4 is made up of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.  The goal of this class is to create a project that will help the state.  The first day, they went into the mentoring classrooms and asked for ideas on how to help the state of Utah.  (Much thanks to the mentoring teachers, who graciously invited our students into their classrooms.)  Group 4 did a great job of collecting ideas for projects to help the state.  They've also mapped Utah, which was quite the project!  (...and not done yet!)  We expect big things out of this class!  These kids can improve their home state through this class, and we hope they'll shoot for the moon!  They were introduced to their groups today, in fact, and will start working on their project proposals soon!

Finally, Mrs. Kenter and I have again combined our efforts for a class entitled "Shakespeare + History."  We are tackling Shakespeare's histories by student request and are volunteering our time for it because we think the kids are more than worth it.  The students have chosen MacBeth as their first play, and they love it!  We watched a Lego version of MacBeth (remember, we don't show movies that are PG13 or TV shows that are TV-14), and they loved it.  It seems the witches are their favorite characters, though they volunteer for any assignment.  There is some language in any Shakespeare play, and we've warned students to have backup words if they choose not to use any of the Bard's language.  Even when they choose to use alternative language, this class is going great, and several students report that they are choosing to read Shakespeare on their own time.  Students for this class will get credit in both Literacy and Social Studies in this 5-day-a-week class.

Wow!  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are LONG days!  I'll be back later for Tuesday and Thursday.

Thanks for reading!
John Adams