Sunday, January 29, 2017

Suspension can be a good thing!

Early last week, students were assigned into groups of 3 to 4.  The catch?  Each group had to build a spider web made of plastic bags that was capable of holding the most books possible.  Groups received 2 plastic shopping bags and were NOT allowed tape or glue.  This STEM activity (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) followed on the heels of our Science lessons pertaining to animal adaptations.

First, each group had to begin cutting and assembling the bags according to what design they decided would work best.  A few groups asked and received permission to look up designs on the Internet.

Some groups cut strips that were too small to go into the design, which usually resulted in a request for more shopping bags  in order to start again.  Some groups built webs that looked almost like the original shopping bags.  They were redirected to consider what an actual spider web looked like.  Other groups got into layering their spider web, with each layer consisting of tied or woven strips of plastic bag.  At least one group member had to be encouraged to collaborate with their group members to see what design they thought would be best.  

The best performing spider web held 16 books. 
 Afterwards, students had to record their findings on a follow up worksheet.  
Students were also instructed to research topics related to their project.  Some research topics that were listed for students, but not limited to, were:  What is the strongest, lightest material in the world, what spider webs are the strongest, largest suspension bridges, other inventions that require suspension technology, and materials that make up suspension bridges.  My 5th graders had to look up at least 2 facts with a webpage reference.  A few students were allowed to present their findings.





 







In the end, it was a fun experience!  My 5th graders were able to work in groups, build self esteem, create designs that used common household items, research and apply what they learned to their world, and also got a chance to get out of their seats!  Awesome!




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Read-a-thon


Our current school fundraiser, a "Reading Adventure" Read-A-Thon, has just begun.  Students have a chance to be sponsored by family, friends, or both.   A high percentage of the contributions go toward Bethlehem.  More importantly, we reaffirm the importance of literacy within our school and community.  Even if your child is not sponsored by monetary contributions, we must certainly emphasize reading during these next few weeks (This is your pep talk for the week!  I love pepping people up.  In fact, I once invested my peppiness into 1 year of collegiate cheerleading at Northern Michigan University!)   We can make this a FUN next few weeks for our students by goal setting of overall minutes read, working on further developing comprehension and oral reading skills, by using a variety of resources and strategies to gain information.  We can make this fun by creating, or going to an environment, where reading is encouraged.  

Now more than ever, a student can access reading through digital, hardcopy, or audio outlets. Students may make online or store purchases, rent or borrow from local/school/classroom libraries, or by having books passed down by an older sibling when the older sibling grows out of a book (as we do in our house).   With all the ways to access stories, you would think there would be NO WAY I would hear the expression, "I don't like to read."Yet I heard it this year.  It has not been the first time I have heard this statement.  It shall not be the last time. Nor should it deter anyone from making lasting meaningful progress with the person who makes such a statement. 

One of the first times I heard this statement, I was employed as a Special Ed. teacher over 10 years ago.  The students I worked with were attending half day at my alternative education program due to their previous extreme behaviors at resident districts.  One of the common traits these students shared was low academic performances, including reading fluency and comprehension skills several grades below grade level.  When i went to read a story aloud to the group one day, a 4th grade student asked my why I was reading to them.  The reason he asked this?  He had never been read to before.  In fact, many of my students had adults in their lives that either were not proficient readers themselves, or were not in their child's life to invest the appropriate amount of time necessary to establish reading, as a necessary tool, in their child's life.  Many of my students had severe behavioral responses during the first sessions of my oral reading lessons.  Initial responses were so severe, students had to be encouraged to use a chill out strategy, or needed to use our time away room.  Gradually, I was able to increase reading aloud from a few minutes to 30 minutes, with follow up comprehension questions.  For some of my students, our reading sessions became moments of stability in their lives.   Books became the connection that brought us together.  This connection became stronger than the temporary comforts provided by a X-box, hand held, television show,  or  playing on an iPhone. 

Emphasizing reading during these next few weeks and beyond can bring us closer to God through scripture, as well as better understanding the unique lives each of us live on this Earth.  Reading can and should be an awesome down time routine!  I am not saying we must toss all game systems and electronics aside, I am just urging all of us to give a little more time to reading these next few weeks.  Make the switch during these next few weeks.  I know many of us can invest in this reading challenge, for it is in our DNA to grow and develop---to transform!!!   

You know, I used to be told by my former students that reading words from video games was adequate for them.  I believe many of us treat reading the same way.  We may be using our God given skills to sell ourselves short on many occasions.  We pay attention to headlines instead of comparing multiple news sources.  We tune into the same people, from news stations, lyrics from musicians, other public figures that seem to always have the best to say when we feel like we need it the most.       I am urging you, dear reader, take these next few days to get back into a good book , to find several news sources when examining a local, state, nation, or worldly topic. For our world is being filled with too many soundbites, when a person, community, state, nation or nation is owed so much more than that.

With that being said, I have been impressed by all of our students' reading abilities.  All of our 5th grade students have the ability to read proficiently enough to engage in reading for information or entertainment.  There are even some students that enjoy reading in the classroom, sometimes needing to be directed to put away their chapter books during a lesson!!!!  Others need to read more in order to develop their reading fluency, comprehension, and self confidence across all subjects.   We are One World, Many Stories.  It is never too late to learn a different perspective. It is never too late to locate literature that appeals to an individual's interest. With positive direction and motivation, we shall enjoy each and every day of reading across the curriculum and beyond.  We shall develop more confidence in speaking with members of our class and community. We shall deepen our implicit and explicit understanding of ourselves and others.  I am looking forward to our Read-A-Thon journey, and to the excited reading journeys to come with my 5th graders!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Harvest Festival Memories...

 Just over a week ago, on October 31st,  our school had an opportunity to learn about the Reformation from Pastor's presentation as Martin Luther.  We also participated in Harvest Festival activities in our classroom.  The games were put together by our two outstanding homeroom mothers.  At the end of the day, we had an all school costume parade, which was enjoyed by all!
Staff also got dressed up!  Mr. Parks even rode his horse into our classroom. The relaxed and positive atmosphere was truly a sight to see.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we must rejoice for the wonderful opportunities to learn socially and academically here at Bethlehem.  It is written:  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 18).
 
 




God Bless!
Mr. P

Harvest Festival Memories...


 Just over a week ago, on October 31st,  our school had an opportunity to learn about the Reformation from Pastor's presentation as Martin Luther.  We also participated in Harvest Festival activities in our classroom.  The games were put together by our two outstanding homeroom mothers.  At the end of the day, we had an all school costume parade, which was enjoyed by all!
Staff also got dressed up!  Mr. Parks even rode his horse into our classroom. The relaxed and positive atmosphere was truly a sight to see.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we must rejoice for the wonderful opportunities to learn socially and academically here at Bethlehem.  It is written:  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 18).
 
 




God Bless!
Mr. P

Monday, September 26, 2016

Growing Bacteria! Exploring the Monera Kingdom!

Last Thursday and Friday, our 5th grade students conducted a their first lab that studied a member of the Monera Kingdom:  Bacteria.  I read some background information on Bacteria, and spoke to the students about areas we would want to check for bacteria.  I also guided the students through a generated worksheet that asked them to develop a Hypothesis, Prediction, Procedure, Materials, Observation and Conclusion.

The procedure included labeling petri dishes of the sample each group of students were going to collect.  We were careful at attempting to maintain a sterile environment.  Students were instructed how to collect a sample using the cotton swabs and petri dishes that were provided by me.  The students were very eager to work in groups to collect the samples from the classroom and adjoining areas.  After the samples were collected, they were placed in an incubator, a plastic bowl with a light. Some of the samples included: rubber door mats, the area beneath a desk, the stage, the shower area in a locker room, and the inside of a student's mouth.

The pictured sample was from the door handle to the classroom.  Needless to say, I wiped down the door handle soon after.  On Monday, we further discussed our findings and implications.  The students did a great job!!  The students also realized anything that is commonly touched by students in the classroom (even the hand sanitizer dispenser) can have bacteria on it.  One of the things we took away from this lab is the necessity for cleanliness!!

5th Grade Newsletter

5th GRADE NEWS
Bethlehem Lutheran                                                  Monday, September 26th               apaveglio@bethlehemsaginaw.org


Hello Bethlehem Families!  Welcome to the first full week of Autumn!  Our 5th graders are in the 5th week of school!!!
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THIS WEEK:   
MAP Testing Continues! 
Homework:  Refer to this letter throughout the week in order to follow up with your child.
Memory: (Memory will be due on Wednesday and Friday)
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2a). “
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).”
Religion: This week we shall study “How do we find things in the Bible.”  This will review using the Bible Dictionary, Handbook, Concordance, and using Scripture to Interpret Scripture.  Following this lesson, we shall learn, “How do we learn about Bible places and people?” 
Math:   Problem-Solving Strategy:  Using the 4-Step Plan, Chapter Review and Test over terms such as: Place Value, Standard Form, Decimals, Expanded Form and Compare and Order Numbers. 
ELA:  We are reading “ Island of the Blue Dolphin.”  Genre:  Novel.  We study:  How do people survive in the Wilderness? The Literary Elements we are studying are:  Theme and Setting.  Conventions:  Independent and Dependent Clauses.   We shall also begin to talk about how people meet personal challenges.
Spelling: (Spelling pre-test on Thursday.  Final test on Friday)  supplied, supplying, denied, denying, decided, deciding, included, including, admitted, admitting, occurred, occurring, qualified, qualifying, identified, identifying, delayed, delaying, satisfied, satisfying, occupied, occupying, criticized, criticizing, omitted, omitting.
Science:    We are finishing our lab discussion on Growing Bacteria.  Students worked in groups last Thursday to collect samples from around the classroom and nearby school rooms, to check for bacterial growt . We grew the samples in a petri dish filled with broth, for 24 hours.  On Friday we began answering our lab sheet.  Monday we will wrap up our conclusion and get to Chapter 1 Review.  The Chapter Test shall be this Friday. 
Social Studies:   We continue to read about the ancient cultures of the Desert Southwest, followed by the Northwest Coast and the Artic cultures.