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?

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1

Hello Quest Families!
Welcome Back!!
Here are some nuts and bolts of the start of September:

Field Trip
Next Tuesday, September 9th, the Quest team will be heading up to Essex, VT to participate on the Northern Lights Rock and Ice Challenge Course.  Here is a link for more details about what students should bring on the trip.  We almost have all of our permission slips in, so thank you for your effort in getting this returned.

This Tuesday, September 2nd, marks the beginning of our first iBlock session. The Quest iBlock will take place from 12:30-1:00 every day.  At this time, Quest students will have access to 10 CBMS staff members, who will deliver small group instruction based on student need. This session will last 3 weeks.  First session iBlock classes include Guidance, Band, Independent Research, Challenge Math, Reading Support, Math Review, Organization, Study Skills, and Writing Support.  iBlock is a school wide initiative, with each team receiving it's own block of time for access to these teachers.

Homework Board
Just like last year, homework can be found on the Quest Homework Board as well as in your student's planners.  Students will be required to write down assignments in their planner each day, so please check here first.  If a student is absent, left their planner at school, or happen to forget to write down an assignment, they will be listed on the Homework Board on the Quest website.

Our first unit in ESB began last week with a study of 'Culture'.  Students brought their own experiences along with knowledge from last year's Music class to create a definition of culture and what it looks like in our country.  We will continue to study culture this week through a project in which students create their own culturally sensitive fast food restaurant.  Our next unit will focus on the properties of matter.

This year we will be using the Connected Mathematics Program along with other resources to cover the Common Core standards in Mathematics.  We started our first unit, Prime Time (Factors and Multiples), and students completed their first homework assignment.  Here is a helpful link for parents who are new to the Connected Math Program.  This link also provides great questions to ask your student if you are helping with homework.  If there is a point when your student reaches an unhealthy level of frustration, feel free to stop and send a note/email in with your student's homework.  This shows that your student took responsibility for their work and was able to communicate their need for help.  Most assignments come with an 'Extension' for those students needing an extra challenge.  If your student is breezing through assignments, encourage them to try the extension problems.  Students will receive homework in Math 3-4 times a week and can be expected to spend about 20-40 minutes on each assignment. 

Language Arts

We will begin our year with writing personal narratives.  I have been reading memoirs aloud, and we have been noting what makes for good memoir writing.  For the next week, students will be collecting stories from their lives and writing them in their notebooks.  The POW for this week is in regards to this writing unit. We will also be looking at our independent reading books, and preparing book shares for the class.  In two weeks, we will merge Language Arts and Social Studies to read Blood on the River, 1607.  There will be other books available to read with this book including Pocahontas by Joseph Brucahc and Morning Girl by Michael Dorris.  Students will be in small book groups to discuss the history learned in these books, and to decipher corresponding primary sources.