It was an aromatic day in TARGET on Tuesday! Our Research Based Questions for the week were "Why do onions make you cry?" and "What happens when acids and bases mix?" We observed and cut an onion to learn about this root vegetable. When onions are busy growing they are drawing in sulfur from the soil. Students learned that when you start to slice an onion you are cutting and separating the cell walls of the onion. The enzymes and chemicals mix together and form a gas producing that strong onion smell. The gas from this mixture starts to reach the eyes of the person cutting the onion and when the gas mixes with the water in your eyes, a stinging sensation and tears are created. So, is there a way to not cry while cutting an onion? Try putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to cutting because the reaction of the enzymes is not as strong when they are cold.
Students also tested the acidity of bases and acids using cabbage juice as an indicator. After students tested a variety of common kitchen items (vinegar, baking soda, cream of tartar, club soda, onions, cleaner, and sanitizing soap) they arranged the liquids based on their pH levels.
Since we're reading a mystery for our Novel Study: Chasing Vermeer, students did some CSI detective work in stations. Students analyzed fingerprint patterns like whorls, ridges, and arches, identified patterns in their own fingerprints, did a station matching partial prints to a full fingerprint, magnified their fingerprint by stamping it on a balloon and then inflating it, and solved a variety of mathematical and spatial reasoning puzzles to decipher a code and solve a mystery. Next week we'll do some more investigative work as well as problem-solving for Pentomino Packaging Company and complete an art project using tessellations.
Our Essential Question on Thursday was "How do government organizations and individual citizens protect themselves from public health disasters?" We had an engaging discussion on the Bill of Rights as well as students' rights in schools. We discussed what "for the common good" means and why yelling "Fire!" in a movie theater wouldn't be considerate of the common good although individuals have the right to free speech. Students studied the case of Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. Her individual rights were compromised for the sake of the common good as a healthy carrier of Typhoid. Students analyzed information from all points of view and then decided whether they felt Typhoid Mary was a villain or a victim. This was not an easy decision to make because there were multiple accounts of information supporting both sides of this argument. At the end of the day, most students came to agree that Typhoid Mary was a villain more than a victim, but county health inspectors and epidemiologists certainly could've handled the situation differently and not disrespected Mary's individual rights to the degree in which they were violated.
What a busy week! We had less time together due to Early Release for conferences, but we crammed as much as we could into those shortened days! Take a look at what each grade's working on in TARGET!
First graders practiced their Inventor Thinking (Divergent) by using some of Isabel the Inventor's "spare parts" to build a contraption to help Sybil the Scientist get across Crystal Pond. We also did some work on the Rubik's Cubes and solved for the white cross and white face. This has been an engaging challenge and I love watching the students work through the solution guides and make discoveries!
We took a unit break to have some seasonal fun on our short day in TARGET! Students learned some new logical reasoning skills as we worked through a Halloween Cryptogram decoding secret messages and solved a Halloween riddle using a grid Perplexor. Of course, I believe the class favorite was working on an Extreme Dot to Dot. I give these puzzles to students to solve sparingly because they're addicting and I can't get my little thinkers to stop connecting dots, but they're great for teaching patience, persistence, perseverance, point of view, and perspective, or "the 5 Ps of EDD" as I refer to them in TARGET. We also did some work with Divergent thinking on a Halloween choice board focusing on fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration through SCAMPERing. Pictures from Tuesday wouldn't upload correctly. Sorry about that! :-(
We're continuing our novel unit Chasing Vermeer and are enjoying searching for clues as we read by looking for pentominoes and frogs! Fourth graders are also getting faster at solving the cryptic messages between characters using a letter decoder. Students completed Part 1 of our real-world problem solving dilemma presented by Pentomino Packaging Company where students solved the problem of shipping containers with open boxes. They created hexomino nets for cubes and will use their spatial reasoning skills to rearrange and maximize space on a cardboard grid to efficiently ship out the hexomino nets. We'll also integrate some art as we study M.C. Escher's work and students try their skills at tessellations.
As we prepare to study the life of Typhoid Mary next week, we discussed Patient Zero and what it means to be a carrier, either healthy or with symptoms. We researched Patient Zero of the Ebola epidemic and discussed the work of epidemiologists in tracking down clues to discover Patient Zero in a timely manner. We did a fun contagious disease experiment where students "swapped germs" with other students (by using pipettes full of a mystery solution) and recording which students they interacted with during the simulation. After students had swapped and recorded four times, we used cabbage juice indicator to figure out which student was Patient Zero and which students had been infected with the contagious disease. Students with purple solution were negative, blue solution were positive for infection, and Patient Zero's solution turned emerald green when mixed with the cabbage juice indicator. Pretty cool!
1st graders have been working on Divergent Thinking Skills (or Inventor Thinking) and brought their plans to completion as they built a Spi-cycle for Yolanda the Spider. Students also practiced another Brainstorming technique called "SCAMPER" where they took a typical bicycle and made changes and improvements to make it suitable for a spider.
Next week students will help some of our TARGET PETS, as they build something to help Sybil the Scientist get across the pond and build a Great Acorn Collection and Storage Machine for Isabel the Inventor. We've also been working on a new brainteaser, Wordoku, which is similar to Sudoku but uses words instead of numbers.
Tuesday was certainly not a low-carb day in TARGET but the students loved learning about bread! Our Research Based Question for the week was "What is yeast and how does it make bread rise?" We did an experiment to capture the CO2 gas that yeast "burps up" when it's fed (sugar) and happy (nice and warm).
Students also learned about the history of this dietary staple and how bread's made in factories. Of course the highlight of their day was examining and sampling a different varieties of bread. Thanks for your support of this lesson by sending in all the samples of bread! One student said "It smells like Panera in here!" :)
We're attacking algebra as we progress through Hands on Equations lessons and these 4th graders should really be proud of their determination and perseverance. Another focus these past few weeks in TARGET is direct academic vocabulary instruction through analogies. 4th graders have been working on two new Brainteasers: Link Winks (rhyming vocabulary) and Analogy Challenges to strengthen their vocabulary.
Students were presented with a real-world problem-solving challenge. The cotton ball factory ships out hundreds of boxes of cotton balls every day. They buy their shipping boxes from a company called “Pentomino Packaging Company.” The problem is that when the cotton balls get shipped, a whole lot of them fall out of the boxes since the boxes are missing one side. The factory owner asked that the class design nets that can be folded into boxes with all six sides so students started designing as many possibilities as they could. We'll make more hexomino nets next week!
For our novel work with Chasing Vermeer, students deciphered a secret code written by one of the character's friends. The plot continues to twist and turn as more details surrounding the disappearance of the Vermeer painting are revealed.
5th graders are also improving their algebraic reasoning skills and building their vocabulary through Hands on Equations lessons and a new Brainteaser: Crossword Analogies. These challenging analogy puzzles are encouraging students to identify the meaning of unknown words, and as a result, students are getting better at using dictionaries and discovering the value of this classic resource.
Although Thursday was a shortened day due to Early Release, students worked diligently on researching a variety of state and county fair maps and then designing a new plan with additions and changes to prevent cross-contamination at the Barrow County Fair. I'm looking forward to next week's lesson as we pause our Mystery Disease simulation to learn about Typhoid Mary: The Most Dangerous Woman in America. Was she a villain or a victim? Surely the class will have strong opinions on this matter following our time together next week.
1st Graders continued practicing their Inventor Thinking (Divergent Thinking) by brainstorming with FFOE: Fluency, Flexibility, Originality, and Elaboration. We brainstormed the many and varied items you might find in a kitchen for fluency, thought about them in a different way to be more flexible with our ideas, tried to think of original ideas and creations that no one else would think of, then thought about how we could add details to elaborate on those ideas. Students completed a Bubble Bonanza turning circles into pictures of other objects and then we scored these for originality based on the responses to the circles by the other students in class. Our last Inventor Thinking activity which we'll continue next week was building a "spi"cycle for Yolanda the spider to accommodate her eight legs!
This week for our Kitchen Chemistry unit we explored the properties of matter. What makes a solid a solid, a liquid a liquid, or a gas a gas? Students also studied the physical change of H2O and what properties liquid water, solid ice, and water vapor or steam contain. Second graders completed an Inductive Reasoning activity sorting properties of solids, liquids, and gases into categories. We made Oobleck (4 parts cornstarch to 1 part water) to debate whether this strange stuff was a solid or a liquid. Oobleck doesn't play by the normal rules because it's a pressure-dependent substance. A quick tap on the surface of Oobleck will make it feel hard like a solid, because it forces the cornstarch particles together. However, if you dip your hand slowly into the mixture, your fingers slide in easily like a liquid. Moving slowly gives the cornstarch particles time to get out of the way! This substance's funny name comes from a Dr. Seuss book called Bartholomew and the Oobleck that we'll read next week as we ran out of time on Tuesday. Our next Kitchen Chemistry research question is "What makes bread rise?" so we'll be experimenting with yeast and examining different varieties of bread. Thanks in advance for sending in bread samples this Tuesday!
Things are getting interesting in our class novel Chasing Vermeer! We're uncovering more strange coincidences each week and the plot is fitting together in mysteriously peculiar ways as the characters try to solve the case of the missing Vermeer painting. We did some pentomino puzzlers this week as students played the collaborative game "Pentomino Squeeze." Students worked on their spatial reasoning skills as they worked together to squeeze as many different pentominoes as possible into a variety of rectangular game boards. The "Squeeze Me" score to beat was 11 pentominoes which is impressive since there are only 12 pentominoes in play. Next week students will complete another pentomino puzzler as they solve a real-world dilemma and work to create cube nets to enhance the production of boxes at a shipping company.
Students are all in and committed to their work as Health Inspectors for Barrow County as they continue solving the Medical Mystery surrounding this year's E. coli outbreak at the county fair. This week students examined the county fair map and are in the process of designing an improved map for next year's fair to prevent cross-contamination. 5th graders also conducted more interviews with patients and analyzed additional Contagious Disease Reports as they try to uncover the source of this E. coli epidemic before more patients suffer. Mrs. Herbel and I shared exciting news with students that we will be taking a field trip to the Centers for Disease Control on Thursday, November 9. We are looking forward to this opportunity to ask questions and learn about the daily work of epidemiologists as we take a guided tour of the CDC. Look for a permission slip coming home with your 5th grader soon!
Gifted Specialist Teacher at Teasley Elementary