Sunday, April 28, 2013

Student of the day
Each year, my students have the chance to be Student of the Day.  They will have an assigned day toward the end of the school year and they will be able to share ANYTHING they want with their classmates.  They can bring favorite stuffed animals, toys, books, photo albums, trophies, collections or anything else that they would like to share.  If they have a pet they would like to bring, let me know and we can work out a specific time for the visit. 

Please write a letter to your child.  Each parent may write a letter, or you can write one letter together.  In this letter, you can tell your child what you like about them, why and what you are proud of, things that make you happy about your relationship, things that you tell them all of the time, as well as things that you might not get a chance to say as much as you would like.  They LOVE hearing from you!  Don’t worry about what you write – anything you tell them will be cherished for years to come.
Write from your HEART! 

This letter should be addressed to your child and brought to school.  Please use a SEALED envelope, as I won’t read the letter until the moment of their Student of the Day.  Your letter(s) will be read, out loud, along with the letter I write to them, on their “assigned” day.
Please put STUDENT OF THE DAY and their NAME on the envelope!  Thank you!
Letters should be sent to school with your child.   I will schedule kids soon – please let me know if there is a day that works better than another for you, please let me know as soon as possible.  We will do Student of the Day at about 3:15 each day.  They will have about 15 minutes (we go out to recess at 2:45).  Also, if your child has a birthday during this time, I will assign them their birthday as their day.  We will start on Wednesday, May 1st!  Thank you in advance for doing this!  These letters will be cherished for years to come.
Letters are due on Tuesday, April 30th

Saturday, April 27, 2013

There are great things that happen in May (Student of the Day starts!) but I'm not quite ready for it.  As it turns out, I better GET ready.  Whew.  It has been a crazy month.  April has FLOWN by and it was fantastic.  
Group A has traveled through most of the U.S. (we will hit the west coast in a few weeks) and have jumped into our Watery Earth unit by spending a day with WATER in it's many forms.  Our field trip on Thursday was OUTSTANDING.  It rained, in one form or another for most of our day...but it didn't stop any of us from learning a TON and having a ball.  They took their Watery Earth notebooks with them - writing in our portable yellow classroom - and taking notes about things we saw, learned, investigated and experienced.  Dave Szczygiel is an Ann Arbor treasure.  He couldn't be any more perfect for his job as an environmental teacher for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.  He knows everything.  It's totally true.  After 15 years of working with him (and going to camp as a kid with his sister) I am constantly amazed by his depth of knowledge and love of all that is outdoors.  What did we do?  Ohhhhhhh so much!  
•  Portage/Base Lakes Sewage Treatment Plant
•  Loch Alphine Sewage Treatment Plant
•  Lunch at Dexter-Huron Metropark
•  Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant
•  Barton Dam
The amazing Mr. Kangas led our group on a interesting tour of the Portage/Base Lakes Sewage Treatment Plant.  He explained the process of how water enters his facility and then takes 100 days to work through each part of the plant before leaving clean.  He was a trooper, as it POURED pretty much the entire time we were there.  Thank you Mr. Kangas!
Our Loch Alpine trip was shortened as it was closed for the day (for a funeral :(  ).  We spent time at the edge of the facility learning about the cool honeycomb pieces that help clean the water that is processed through the plant.  Our lunch at the metro park was, well, wet.  Many parts of the park are under water (see photos!), but we managed to eat in a covered pavilion - and despite the rain and wind, it was delightful.  We chatted about are morning and then kids searched the surrounding areas for deer antlers.  Bonus:  the heated hand dryer in the bathrooms were a big hit in the middle of our cold day!   
After lunch, we headed back to Ann Arbor and visited our water treatment plant.  What a cool place.  Due to high security, Ann Arbor 4th graders and school staff are the only people permitted to visit during this trip.  The kids were led on another interesting tour (by Mr. Szczygiel) through this enormously important Ann Arbor facility.  It was amazing.  As was the weather when we left.  For five minutes.  There was a large dark cloud traveling east...quickly.  Once we reached Barton Dam, the rain had stopped, and ice pellets began to fall.  Pure Michigan. If you haven't been to Barton Dam - you should go.  It's gorgeous.  Kids not only learned about the dam's history, several of them managed to conquer a few fears as well.  Walking across the dam is an amazing (and high) experience.  I congratulate those who were fearful and walked across that dam with determination and gusto.  As we walked back to the bus, our two fisherman managed to find fishing lures (2!) and the rest of us found Leroy.  He's a rather robust crayfish who had the misfortune of taking a walk near the shore as we walked by.  Dave picked him up and gave us a lesson on crayfish.  One of the BEST moments of the day came next.  "Can we keep him!?"  they chimed. Now, we all know what the answer will be, right?  "NO!"  Instead, they heard "I think he'd make an outstanding addition to the lobby fish tank, don't you!?"  29 kids nearly lost their minds.  They were so excited.  As you enter our building, please take a moment to visit Leroy Barton in the lobby fish tank.  As with all of the tanks occupants, he will be released to his homeland in June.  =)
Enjoy these pictures! 
The search for deer antlers begins... 

Will we find any deer?
 Found one!  =)  
 Mr. Szczygiel takes command of his moving classroom.  He comes equipped with not only knowledge and experience, but wonderful pictures, examples and charts.  
 The wonderful Mr. Kangas.  Thank you for your hard work!

Oh deer!  This poor deer was in the woods near the Portage Lake facility.  Another opportunity to learn about nature...and to say "That's interesting!"
Reason number 234,274,283 I love field trips.  Did you know we have Freshwater Jellyfish in the the Huron River?  Dave is simply amazing.  He found these cute little jellyfish while fishing in August.
During our adventure, we'd take time to sit on the bus (while it wasn't moving) to write.  We wrote while it was moving too, but we often took time to write our thoughts, observations and lists in our notebook.  We were also challenged.  They were asked to write a list of at least 20 living organisms found in or around the Huron River.  A group from Bach School got 130 things on their list.  Not to be outdone, Robert and Zach (from Mrs. Saenz' class) got 132 with the help of their friends.  Lucas and Kwame worked terribly hard on their lists...wahoOoOo!
Loch Alpine

We chose an above water pavilion for lunch.  =)  The river was not only high, it was quite rapid.  Yowsa!

Reason #239,298,598 I love field trips.  The wonder of learning and experiencing life outside of the classroom!  Priceless.  
Top secret!  Entering Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant.

The man is a teaching machine.  It was raining sideways while he was telling stories, relaying cool information and explaining a variety of things on the dam.  Outstanding!

Leroy Barton

"Can we keep him?"  That's what you always hear when you find, catch or stumble upon something alive.  This is the answer they got "I think he'd make a great addition to the fish tank in the lobby, don't you?!"  29 fourth graders nearly lost their minds.  They were BEYOND excited.  If you get a chance, stop in and see Leroy in his new home.  He'll reside there until June, when he and his other fish tank pals are released back into their habitat.  
Argh!  I have worked on this blog several times today!  It seems to not want to post this!  I have labeled these photos with charming text three's not taking.  I'm going to post this for the fourth time and hope it works.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It doesn't seem possible.  I hope everyone had a wonderful spring break.  We have a lot of work to do before June 14th!  This is an amazing part of the school year.  It's one of my favorite seasons.  Spring will spring...we hope...and they will continue to soak up as much information as they can during these final months of school.  We continue to work on basic facts (and they should continue to practice things at home too!) along with learning new concepts in math and science.  We are doing a LOT of writing - responding to what we are reading, journaling, lists, point of view, and finishing our biography reports.  Whew!
These are our 3D pyramids about The Three Fires.  Group B is working hard to learn all about life in Michigan.  We are learning about the lives of the Native American peoples, along with the French Voyagers who traveled throughout the Great Lake region.  

Zach brought a canoe he had made to share with the class. 

What a great way to celebrate the end of March is READING month!  We made s'mores (delish!), read books to one another, read books to ourselves, talked about our reading, and celebrated books and how much they impact our daily lives.

PBIS Celebration!
The LIMBO was a HUGE hit!  Wow, we have flexible kids!  It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful day.  

At the end of the day, I was cleaning the classroom and getting ready to head home.  As I was leaving, I noticed these two pigs.  They were ready for break - reading a great book and celebrating how important it is to read a good book.  =)