Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015

Hello Quest Families!

It has been a beautiful couple of weeks! 

We have finished our SBAC testing, and are now going back into regular classes.  There is a POW for next week, a layers of the Earth project, and math mates for homework, and the calendar is updated.

Here is a link to the project.  If your student needs help, or supplies, your student is welcome to stay after school next week, or get help during Guided Study.

In two weeks, we will be going to Boston!  Here is a link to the permission slip which went home today.  We will need $5.00 for this trip, and $5.00 for the Reservoir trip. (Permission slip also attached)  Please send in $10.00 for your student by the end of next week.  Thanks so much for your help with fundraising, and for the generous donations given for our trip. 

We hope you have a good weekend!
-Quest Teachers

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 7, 2015

Nate, Ashton, and Eva working together to graph data from a distance and time table.

Field Trip
We are in the midst of planning our field trip to Boston.  We are planning a one day excursion on May 29th, departing CBMS at 6:00 am, and returning 9:00pm.  We will be taking a coach bus, and will spend the day walking the Freedom Trail, lunching at Faneuil Hall, and then choosing either the Museum of Science or the Boston Aquarium.  Chaperones are welcome!  We will be handing out more information regarding this trip, and further fund raising opportunities as the date gets closer.  We welcome chaperones!  We will be letting you know if you will need to pay for any of the trip as a chaperone or not in upcoming newsletters!

Book Orders - Due this Thursday.

Distance Learning - We wrapped up our distance learning with our weather unit, and a couple of field trips to museums.  We completed one teleconference with a Historical Society in Maryland, and another to a science / zoology museum in Colorado.  We will be looking for other opportunities later in the spring!

Student Led Conferences- These will be taking place next Wednesday, March 18th.  You can sign up via the CBMS homepage.  If you would like to sign up for an individual conference after the student led conference, you can sign up on Wednesday night.  Remember, we are available for individual conferences throughout the school year.

Time Capsule Project- The due date for this project has been moved to Thursday, March 26th.  At 8:30 on the 26th, we will have a 'museum' to share these projects and invite family and friends to join us.  Students will each set up their projects on display to be viewed by guests.  Guidelines for this project can be found here.  Students have had opportunities to begin their research at school, but will be expected to finish their projects at home.

Mr. Taylor's Leave- During the month of April, I will be taking a paternity leave to be home with my son, Julian.  Siena Damon will again be filling in for me during this time.  In Math, students will be studying decimals and percents and will continue to have Math's Mates as weekly homework assignments.  Siena will also be teaching a Social Studies unit about life after the Revolutionary War. 

Math- Our current area of study in Math is focused around pre-algebra concepts.  Students have been creating and analyzing graphs and tables and will begin to write equations to represent situations.  We will continue to have Math's Mates homework assignments weekly and will start to review decimal skills to prepare for the upcoming unit.

Language Arts - We finished our Classics unit with comparing our books to movies about our books.  We are now in a writing unit.  Our writing unit is argument writing, which focuses on claims and evidence.  Some of this writing includes writing for the time capsule in which the students must claim that a particular artifact might be found in a time capsule from this time period, and then show evidence to support this claim.

iBlock for epal students - Half of the Quest Team are participating in an epal project with students in Berlin, Germany.  These students will be asking for and taking photos of some of the landmarks, and geography of Waterbury and the outlying areas.  We are focusing on what makes a community, such as transportation, geography, economics, and history.  They may be asking to take photos during your travels!  (We would love a photo of the Berlin Mall for example :) We will be printing these photos at school, and writing a paragraph for each photo taken.  Students in Berlin, Germany have finished their "tour guides" and are sending them to us.  Students can email photos to me, save them to their Google Drive in the cbmsepalsproject folder, or upload them to #cbmsepalsproject on Instagram.  Students can also bring in maps - tourist or otherwise to include.  We will be completing these for the month of March.

ESB - We are in our Revolutionary War unit.  Students are learning bibliographies this week, as well as Revolutionary War Culture.  Today, we checked out the website to Williamsburg, Virginia, and learned more about the occupations of colonists, and of people who lived near colonial Williamsburg.  We have been working on including evidence in our writing, and began a bibliography to be included in the time capsule, when it is due, on March 26th.

Questions to ask:

What are you planning to put into your time capsule?
What is a bibliography?
How do tell the difference between the independent and dependent variables?
What is a book resource you used for your writing assignment for the time capsule?
Why do we celebrate on the 4th of July?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Feast
Next Monday is the Quest Feast!  I have heard from many of your students estimates of who is coming, and what you are bringing.  We are looking for main dishes, even simple ones such as bread and cheese, or a pasta.  Protein always helps :)  We usually have plenty of desserts!  If you haven't heard from your student, the details are in the first part of this newsletter.

In Questers Without Borders, we have been focusing on regional geography and regional current events.  Students have been researching local geography, culture, community events, and current events, and have been creating collaborative slideshows.  Students are sharing these slideshows with their peers in three different schools in the country.  Students in those schools are sharing their slideshows with us.  We have been connecting with Zoom, Adobe Connect, and our teleconferencing system here at school.  This provides students with the opportunity to interact with their peers in real time.  The schools who are participating are located in Houston, Texas, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Detroit, Michigan.

Language Arts
We are working on our weather unit in Language Arts.  We have completed several close reads, focusing on main ideas and non-fiction summaries.  Students are recording the weather on most days, and have completed several weather maps.  Students are now venturing into creating their own windvanes, focusing on scientific writing, and reflecting on an artistic / engineering pursuit.  We also worked on listening skills by participating in a virtual field trip with scientists on top of Mount Washington.  Students were able to interact with a scientist, and ask questions regarding the work done in the Mount Washington Observatory.  After this experience, students wrote a summary based on what they learned.

Siena Damon is taking the place of Curtis Taylor during the first part of his paternity leave.  Siena is a recent graduate of Harwood High School.  She enjoys horseback riding, and during the summer months works on cattle drives out west!  For the week and a half, Siena will be driving us in our math unit on fractions and estimating.  Mr. Taylor will be back after the holiday break.  Thank-you to Siena for your help!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

December 1st

Student-led Conferences
Kudos to all students and parents that attended student-led conferences last week.  It was great for Questers to be able to share their work from the first trimester as well as their goals for the second trimester.  If you have lingering questions/concerns, feel free to contact us via email or we are happy to set up a meeting.

States Fair
 Thank you to everyone that came out to our first ever States Fair and to Questers for their effort on their research papers and projects!  The support from family and friends was outstanding and and truly made the event special. 

Mr. Taylor's Leave
As of December 10th, I will be home with my wife and new baby until January 5th.  There will be a sub that will be filling my spot to work with Melissa and Diane for the 10 days I am out of the classroom.  We will also have support from our Math Coordinator, Mary Abele-Austin.

We will wrap up our unit on two-dimensional Geometry this week (Test on Wednesday) and begin our fraction unit, which will continue into January.  This unit contains some of the most challenging mathematics for 6th graders.  By the end of the unit, students should be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions.  During the time I am out of the classroom, the sub will be guiding students through lessons that I have planned for Questers.  These lessons will be on the application of addition and subtraction of fractions (most of which I will introduce this week).  There will be plenty of opportunity for students to solidify and extend their understanding through both practice work and extension problems. 

We are working on our unit about the weather.  We have been reading weather maps, barometers, and wind speed, and non-fiction text about the weather.  Students have read through experiments such as "Make it Rain!" and "A cloud in a bottle" and have completed the experiments on their own.  This week we will be learning about the atmosphere, creating barometers, and preparing questions for our virtual field trip to Mount Washington on Monday the 8th!  Next week we will be building weather vanes from found materials.  If you have any wood scraps, dowels, old flower pots, or anything else that looks "weather-vane-ish"  send it in!

In ESB / QWB, we will be focusing on regional history, and current events.  We are planning to teleconference with a couple of classes either this week or next week, and plan to compare and contrast our local history, economics, and geography, with other students' home towns.  Then, we will be comparing local current events, and state current events.  We would love to have a collection of Waterbury Records, and Burlington Free Press or the Times Argus.  If you have any around these next couple of weeks, please send them in!  We will be sprinkling in New England Colonial history throughout December, and then more specifically in January.

Recess Snow Gear
With winter weather upon us, we wanted to make sure students are dressed appropriately for outdoor recess.  Students will be required to have snow boots if they are walking in the snow (off of the pavement).  They also must have snow pants and gloves to sled at recess time.

Holiday Feast

ANNUAL QUEST TEAM HOLIDAY FEAST! We are planning to have our Annual Holiday Feast on Monday December 22nd at 11:00 (10:30 set up) - 11:45/ 12:00.  We ask each student on the Quest Team to bring in a sample (4-6 servings) of a dish that their family enjoys eating – perhaps something traditional – and we have a big potluck lunch. Families and other teachers from around the building are invited to attend. We will have live music, from our students!  We’ll need some adults to help us set up and monitor the feast. So, mark your calendar… we’ll send home official invitations soon! 

Questions to Ask:
How do you measure surface area?  Why would you want to know how to do this?
What were some features of plantations in the southern colonies?
What do you record when you record the weather?
What was one of the other projects for the States Reports?
What was the picture you drew to visualize the middle colonies?

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 7

Demonstrating the hard work that went into building and re-building Jamestown
Fundraiser  We need your help!  Our one and only fundraiser is in progress.  Please see the attached letter.  We will have a thermometer on the team to track our progress.  Cost of Boston field trip is $90.00 per student without fundraising.

Student-Led Conferences- Thank you to everyone who provided feedback regarding upcoming conferences.  With your input, we have decided to continue the Quest tradition of Student-led conferences.  Please know that there will be an opportunity for teacher-led conferences the evening of November25th  conferences for parents who would like a follow up to their student-led conference.  Quest teachers are also available to schedule conferences throughout the year as needed.

ESB- For the next few weeks our focus in ESB moves from the scientific exploration of matter to a more social studies approach to the beginnings of our country. We will bridge our study of Jamestown to the study of Northeast, Middle, and Southern colonies.

QWB Project - This month we have been focusing on our State Reports in QWB.  Students have each chosen a state to research and learn about its culture, history, and geography.  In class, we have completed our research and our first drafts of our states paper.  Students will now be working on a visual to present at the "States Fair" on November 20th.  The goal of the visual should be to convince people to come and visit their state.  Most of the work on these projects will be done at home.  Guidelines can be found here.

States Fair - On November 20th at 9:00am, all family and friends are invited to come to CBMS and take a tour of the Quest States Projects.  Students will have tables set up with their projects and research papers to share. 

Math- We have recently started our new unit in Math, "Covering and Surrounding".  This unit's focus is on 2-D Geometry, which includes the discovery of formulas of area and perimeter of triangles, rectangles, and parallelograms as well as graphing on coordinate grids.  Lots of opportunities to connect to real world applications!

A reminder about goal sheets for Math:  students should be filling these in every night as a way to self-assess their progress in class.  It also gives parents an opportunity to see and discuss the content students are studying each day.

LA - We are wrapping up our study of Jamestown.  We have finished the book Blood on the River, which was a good vehicle for our study of history.  We also completed several close reads, taken from non-fiction text and John Smith's journals.  Our reading focus was main ideas, connections, visualization, key events, and key individuals.  Students also showed much creativity in the various projects we completed in and out of the classroom.  We are now comparing and contrasting select clips of two movies which represent Jamestown, The New World and Pocahontas. Next week we will begin our study of weather!

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13

Hello Questers!

We hope you have been able to enjoy this incredible weekend!

ESB:  We are wrapping up our science unit this week.  We have been studying particles (molecules) and how they behave in solids, liquids, and gases.  There have been several hands-on experiments, scientists' circles for discussions, and model building.  We completed an engineering task during which we had to separate "toxic dust" from the environment.  The unknown toxins were glitter and unidentified black specks (iron filings), and our earth was bits of gravel. Our students were very creative in their methods of separating the toxins, and in the process, we ended up with a very glittery classroom.  Go future engineers!

We will continue with our work from LA into ESB, studying the African American experience in the New World.  This will lead into a study of the colonies beginning in November.

QWB:  Next week we will take our western states quiz on Monday, October 20th.  Students will then have a week and a weekend to study for the all states geography test on Monday, October 27th.  We are impressed with the increase in studying, and the increase in grades!  During the week of the 20th, students will be choosing a state to research and study for the rest of October, and the beginning of November.  Students will participate in a States Fair before Thanksgiving.  Details about this to follow.

LA:  Students continue to read Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone.  Some students continue also working on Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac.  We are learning how the voyages were not so pleasant to the new world, and about the different perspectives of the Native Americans, and the early English settlers.  We have completed two related close reads, one a chapter from a text book regarding Roanoke Colony,  the other the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield.  There will be a project concerning this time period later this month.  This week's POW is regarding fall.  The information for this is attached to the calendar, and is in your student's email.

Math:  Students are currently learning about ratios and rates, and have been challenged to find real world examples of how ratios and rates are used.  Students who come to class with examples will be entered to win a sweet treat!  We are now using Goal Sheets daily, and they are a great way to check to see what students are working on in the classroom.  Students will begin to fill these in at home and reflect on their learning.  Our next areas of study include working with fractions and decimals on number lines as well as the first formal learning of percents.

Quest clothing:  We will be ordering more Quest clothing!  Please look for order forms to be coming home by the end of the week.  They will be due back by the end of the month.

Parent / Teacher / Student Led Conferences:
We are interested in your opinion!  We will be having student - led conferences in the spring.  We would like to know which you prefer for the Fall. We polled people at the Open House, and the vote came in 50 / 50 teacher led vs. student led.  If we have teacher led conferences, please know that each conference will be approximately 10 minutes, and will need to fit to a tight schedule.  Please fill out the form at the following link so we know your vote!  Please fill it in, even if you filled one out during conferences.  Click here for the link.

Questions to ask:
What strategy did you use to separate the "toxic dust"?
How are ratios and rates used in the real world?
Which Quest students left CBMS?
How are the particles in solids, liquids, and gases different?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 14

Northern Lights

We had an excellent field trip to Northern Lights center in Essex, Vermont.  Students and staff participated in low ropes elements, in which we practiced our team work, and got used to our harnesses.  We participated on a variety of climbing walls, including one with a wooden bridge on which students could walk and toss rings to each other, forty feet up in the air.  We also were able to go up into the trees, and participate in elements far above the ground.  The zip line was a great way to end the high ropes elements.

We are very proud of our students.  Students were supportive of each other, cheering each other on, and helping out with encouraging words.  Many students faced fears of heights head on.  Others realized their limits, and knew when to stop.  Some took the opportunity of their love of heights to push themselves to different limits, and to learn how to encourage others who did not share this love of heights!

It was a beautiful day, and we are very happy to have spent it with our students at Northern Lights.

Photos from the trip.


Students have been focusing on writing Personal Narratives.  Our instruction has included general structure of a personal narrative, different brainstorming techniques, sensory language and transitions.  This week we will look more closely at paragraph writing.

For reading, students are working on their independent reading books.  We are writing "book entries," for which the students write about their books, and I respond.  The students are being tested this week for their level of reading using the DRA.  I am testing them one at a time.

Next week we will we begin our more intensive reading unit.  We will be reading Blood on the River 1607 by Elisa Carbone.  This is a novel about the founding of Jamestown, the first successful American colony.  We will be learning history and literature standards together in this unit. All students will read primary source material to compare it to the readings from the books.  Some students will read both this title and Pocohontas  by Joseph Bruchac side by side.  This will give them the perspective of this topic from two different authors (Joseph Bruchac, a Native American includes more primary source materials from the Powhatan).  Other titles for the year will be discussed at Back-to-School-Night.

In Questers Without Borders, students will begin to learn the geography of the United States.  We will have a geography quiz each Monday starting September 22nd.  Students will label and color maps of the Northeast United States tomorrow with the quiz coming a week later.

We are in our final week of the first session of iBlock.  Starting September 22nd, the iBlock groups will be shuffled and most students will begin a new area of work.  With the goal of addressing each student's individual needs during this time, we surveyed Questers to get their input about what their academic needs were.  We will use this information along with assessment data and teacher observation to make our decisions about placement.  iBlock sessions will usually last between 3-6 weeks depending on the area of study.

We ended our study of culture with groups of students creating their own restaurants based on a country of their choosing.  This week, our ESB will take a more scientific bent with the study of gases, and then liquids and solids.

Students just completed the first investigation of 6th grade around factors and multiples.  If your student struggled with this unit, here is a link for multiplication apps that can help as a refresher.  There are also help videos linked to the Quest webpage.  We will continue this unit as we explore common factors, common multiples, and factorization.

Students have a unit project, "My Favorite Number", due on October 1st.  Guidelines for this project can be found here.  The goal of this project is for students to be using vocabulary that we have learned in class.  The rest of the project is up to their imagination and creativity.

Back to School Night
Back to School Night is on Thursday, September 25th.  The night will run from 6:15-8:00.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Questions to ask your student
What are you working on during iBlock?
What is the difference between factors and multiples?
What is your personal narrative about?  (The one you are writing in school?)
During your restaurant project, what culture did you study?
What number did you choose for your math project?
What is sensory language?
What was your favorite obstacle at Northern Lights?