BUES February 2020 Newsletter
Students enrolled in advanced ELA are in the midst of spectacular novels. In honor of Black History Month, all fifth grade groups are immersed in the flow of Brown Girl Dreaming, an award winning memoir told completely in verse. Students are learning what life was like for young Jackie, the main character and author, and her three siblings as they move from Ohio to South Carolina and finally to New York City in the mid 1960’s. While reading, we are concurrently studying the setting, character and historical events of the time period.
Fourth grade advanced ELA classes are reading two fiction nove;s, depending on the group. The White Giraffe, by Lauren St. John, takes readers to a South African game reserve filled with secrets. The second novel, The Girl Who Could Fly, boasts a main character with powers like no one else in her small farm town. Soon, she is whisked away to a “special” school filled with unkind children and secrets. Will young Piper make it out unscathed?
Future Problem Solving
All grade four and fifth grade FPS groups are involved in research on their identified research questions. Many groups have even begun discussing or finalizing plans for their community project, or how they plan to use all the found research to better the community. Recently, groups have entertained presenters, such as Mr. Dave Badot, food service director for the BPS, regarding recycling or breakfast waste here at BUE. Stay tuned for my project updates and visitors.
Our 4th grade engineers have been busy researching different types of bridges in order to be prepared for the different challenges in this unit. The first challenge was to build a bridge with only two pieces of paper and glue, which needed to support the weight of 100 pennies. A few of the groups were successful and we discussed what made their designs successful. We also discussed how they could have improved their designs. The challenge they’re facing now is to build a bridge tower that will support different spans and loads. For this challenge, students completed a budget to buy their materials. We haven’t completed the testing yet. The last challenge of this unit will be to build a Truss Bridge using craft sticks and Elmer’s glue. For this challenge, students will have a $100,000 budget to buy the necessary supplies. Their bridge has to be level, sturdy and be able to support different weights. The most challenging part for students may be connecting the road and roof of the bridge to the side trusses.
In our last challenge, 5th graders became automotive engineers to create ‘Rubber Band Racers’. They acquired background knowledge by researching the history of automobiles and studying Newton’s Laws of Motion. They examined different designs of rubber band powered cars. Teams of ‘engineers’ worked together to design and build their own rubber band cars using everyday items. The Rubber Band Racers had to travel in a straight line for a distance of at least 3 meters within a 1 meter wide track. The rubber band cars were tested in the hallway. After evaluating their result, teams made changes to improve on their original design for a better outcome. Results varied from team to team, but in the end, we had several cars that met the criteria.
Currently, students are working on an engineering research project. To start, everyone is choosing 3 types of engineers to do some preliminary research. They will choose one of the engineers to research further, and present their information to the class with a project of their choice.
Our 4th Grade Tier 3 students just completed the Factors, Multiples, and Leftovers Unit. They can now identify Prime, Composite, and Square numbers. They're able to use the inverse operations to solve multiplication and division problems. They understand that solving a division problem may not be the answer to the problem and that very often they have to interpret the remainder. The distributive, commutative, and associative properties of multiplication were helpful when students were asked to solve problems mentally. These skills will be useful as we move on to more challenging work.
We are now starting a unit called At the Mall with Algebra: Working with Variables and Equations. It is a fun and challenging unit designed to develop algebraic reasoning. As students learn about variables, equations, and expressions, they’ll use their number sense, logical reasoning and problem-solving strategies. Students are introduced to these concepts through interesting problem solving situations. They substitute variables to find solutions to expressions. They’ll be working backwards and using inverse operations to determine the value of a variable, and they’ll be using these strategies to solve puzzles and figure out mathematics behind tricks.
5th Grade: After wrapping up the fraction problem solving unit, students are now working on a challenging decimal division project. They were given a menu with several multi-step decimal division problems. Students are working together to solve appetizer, main course, and dessert problems. After finding the solutions, they’ll choose a project to present their solutions to the class. We’re looking forward to their presentations in the next week or two. Next on the agenda, we will be working with Order of Operations, Integers, and Combining Like Terms.