Monday, April 18, 2016

STEM Friday

Each Friday for the rest of our Second Grade year, we will be completing a task rich in science, technology, engineering and math.  These challenges will encourage the learners to - above all- become problem solvers. 
 The first task was to create a 'pipeline' to transport a natural resource from one place to another without spills.  The only materials allowed were styrofoam cups, straws, and duct tape.  They were given 30 minutes to complete the job. 
The room was filled with chatter discussing the most effective way to work as a team.  Then they grabbed the materials and began to test ideas. They tried (and failed) several times before they hit on an idea that actually worked.
We learned some invaluable lessons.  Here are some quotes from our budding engineers.  "The problem seemed so simple, but it really took a lot of work." "When oil spills happen, they are mostly just accidents." and "If I become an engineer when I grow up, I know not to fix an oil leak with duct tape!"

Discovering Area

It is always amazing to me how learners make connections with things we are learning in class.  We learned how to find area using squares and square units.  Since then, they have pointed out the word 'area' at least a dozen times in other contexts, too.  

We first viewed something of great interest to my class - Minecraft characters.  We noticed how they are all made of squares, which make them perfect for our study of area.  Next, our mathematicians  created Minecraft characters of their own using grid paper.  

The next step was to write questions for a fellow classmate to answer about the area of the character they created.

 We also had shapes taped off in the hallway to practice using square units.

I can say for certain, that our learners have a deeper understanding of this concept.

Monday, April 11, 2016

We're Going on a Plant Hunt!

We searched the VAES campus grounds to see what types of plants we could find.  We were amazed at what we were able to observe in our own front yard.
We continued learning about plants and of course, planted something of our own.  To be honest, it has been a challenge since we have no window in our classroom.  I have a special lamp that is supposed to help, but nothing else works quite like the sun.

Measuring Like Royalty

We learned how people have been measuring for thousands of years.  We read a couple of great books called The Foot Book and How Tall, How Short, How far Away.  We were fascinated to know that the length of one foot was really... a king's foot!  We measured to see what 3 of our feet looked like and each measurement was unique.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Panther Pride

It is a blessing to live in a community that is encouraging and supportive. These characteristics are evident in our town, our school district and especially our elementary campus. 
Our youngest Panthers had the opportunity to practice these traits on Friday.  We spent a few minutes of the morning creating signs and encouraging our football readers.

After lunch, we were able to help send our High School varsity volleyball team to their playoff game to cheers and waves.

We are proud to be Panthers!

A FORCE is any PUSH or any PULL

 Science has been a time to explore and experiment with force.  We have pushed and pulled in lots of creative ways.  Gravity dropping games have been one the most exciting discoveries so far!

Monday, October 26, 2015

PBL Conclusion

The time finally arrived to share our board games that we have been planning for weeks.  We spent the afternoon playing, learning, and sharing.  It was a great experience.

Our Brookeshire's Field Trip was also a big success.  We are beginning our study of economics and there is no better place than a grocery store to learn about it. This field trip allows us to discuss things people want and need.  We are learning that we have to make decisions about what we buy and that isn't always easy.  We will discuss producers and consumers and how products get from being a resource to the store shelf.
We scanned items.

Brookeshire's takes recycling seriously.

We went into several freezers that keep the products fresh and safe to eat.

They gave us lots of treats like these apples,

and these smoothies.
Very talented and hard working people showed us their skill.

Thank you, Brookeshire's!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Inquisitive Minds

A third grade friend earned a reward to read to another class and she chose US!  We enjoyed hearing her expert reading and storytelling skills.  

We wrote some fantastic sentences with our sight words last week and then went on a 'museum walk' to see the work of our classmates.

During our Project Based Learning (PBL) we completed some workshops to extend our learning.  For this workshop, we investigated what adding heat to ivory soap would do.  It was a very surprising result.  We determined that temperature definitely can effect the physical properties of a material!

In this PBL workshop, we learned and reviewed many of the concepts we will need to complete our final project.  We learned the differences in solids, liquids, and gases and how they can interact.  We watched as materials were combined to create something new.   And we observed as temperature played a part in changing the physical properties of materials.
Who knew Science could be so delicious?
The most exciting part of PBL is the investigations learners are doing independently.  They are asking relevant questions, seeking plausible answers and thinking deeply.  They are inquisitive, creative, and problem solving people.  These skills will serve them well throughout their lives.

We added a "new" and very popular way to work on words.  This typewriter belonged to my mother when she went to college.  I have thanked her many times for donating it to our classroom.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What We Have Learned So Far

The most important thing we have learned so far in second grade is that we are ALL GENIUSES!  We all have things to teach each other and we all have things to learn (even Mrs. Gentzler).

We teach each other how to think about math.  We share many ways to solve the same problem.

We have great ideas about writing.  We have begun peer editing to share our ideas and help each other become better writers.

We give each other "two stars and a wish" when we discuss our writing.  We share to things we love about our friend's writing and give one 'wish' or suggestion on something our friend might add, revise or edit.

Math is in the real world.  When we were learning to name fractions, one learner shared that they had seen 'thirds' on a car before.  As I was driving in Dallas that same night, I took a picture so the class could see this fraction outside the classroom, too.