Exploring the Circulatory System

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School | No Comments

The current Unit of Inquiry in Grade 2 focuses on how healthy life choices facilitate the optimal functions of the human body’s systems and organs. Students are learning about the function of various systems and organs, the interdependence of all bodily systems and the choices we make in order to keep our bodies healthy and strong. The following was reposted from Mr. Burton’s blog:

“Yesterday morning we learned about our circulatory system by examining pig hearts. We learned how the heart functions, how it is connected to other systems in the body, and that it is our responsibility to keep our hearts healthy.

Dr. Cooper and her family brought in several pig hearts so the students could examine their structures, hold them, and dissect them! In addition, we watched several short videos explaining how blood flows through the heart, we listened to our own heartbeats through a stethoscope, and detected our own radial and carotid pulse.

We also had an older sibling join us in order to assist his family and help his little sister.

Thank you to Dr. Cooper for this wonderful hands-on experience. The students enjoyed it and asked lots of great questions.”

Condor Connections

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB | No Comments

The following was re-posted from Ms. Green’s blog for Gr 2:

Did you know that the tongue of the blue whale is the size of an elephant? This unit, Sharing the Planet, has been extremely fascinating (and not just for the students). We have explored unique endangered animals ranging from the Andean hairy armadillo to the Javan leopard! Our students have a passion for animals and it shows.

Throughout the unit we have focused on these simplified lines of inquiry:

  • What causes these animals to be endangered?
  • How have people helped these animals?
  • How can I help these animals?

Students have learned a lot about the animals themselves, the issues surrounding them, and have even taken action, including writing letters to officials regarding wolf hunting derbies and the Endangered Species Act.

Photos below are from the giant California Condor nest in the library. Thanks to Mrs. Tabb and Gr 5 students for building this totally cool nest so our second grade can experience what it’s like to be a baby Condor.

Sharing Shackelton

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB, Leadership by Example | No Comments

The following was reposted from Debbi Wallace’s blog during their unit of inquiry centered on “Where We Are in Place and Time.” Mrs. Wallace is one of our Gr 3 teachers.

Third graders have been amazed by Sir Ernest Shackleton. His commitment to his goals, his courageous journeys, and his leadership skills have given us a unique perspective with which to view exploration. Today we enjoyed sharing his story and our own thoughts about him with our parents. In understanding why he took the items he did off his crumbling ship, we learned what a thinker he really was! The children will continue to compare his story to other explorers, to our own class exploration, and then reflect on his inquiring spirit as they design an exploration of their own!

Blue + Yellow = Green

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB, Visual and Performing Arts | No Comments

In the IB Primary Years Programme, one of the most important elements of learning is that students are presented with opportunities to make connections. Connections between math, language, music, and art for example. By experiencing the same concepts in different subjects and manners, students can better internalize what they are learning and then connect that learning into their own lives. What they are learning becomes much more powerful and relatable to everyday life.

The previous blog post introduced our Gr 1 students learning about measurements. To make the connection between their Unit of Inquiry and art, their art teacher led a discussion of how measurements will impact the mixing of primary colors to create secondary colors. For example, a paint-brush full of yellow mixed with a paint-brush full of blue creates one color of green. On the other hand, paint-brush full of yellow with a dab of blue will create a different hue of green. The students experimented with different primary colors and different measurements throughout art class.

According to Jay Nelson, our Elementary art teacher, by connecting their general classroom conversations to the art classroom, “The students think about what they are doing much differently. They understand the impact on mixing of colors faster because they see how it is connected to the concept of measurement they’ve had with respect to other things like height, weight, time, pressure, distance, etc. Plus, they are having a lot of fun experimenting which is the best way to learn!”

The Six Pound Sunflower

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Reposted from Tina Morgan’s Gr 1 blog:

The first graders have officially started their Measurement Unit of Inquiry. One of our students brought in a giant sunflower from home which gave us the perfect opportunity to front load the unit. We weighed “C” solo and then weighed “C” holding the sunflower. With assistance the first graders were able to write a representative number model and then solve for the unknown (50 + ? = 56). They found that the sunflower weight 6 pounds. Following this, the first graders each made an estimate of the number of sunflower seeds in the flower. The estimates ranged from 5 to 10,000. Sometime during the unit we will remove the seeds and count them. We will keep you posted on the other fun sunflower measurement activities that will follow.

We also did a measurement pre-assessment activity to help me understand the knowledge that the children have going into the unit. This helps me plan engagements according to the interests and needs of our group. This pre-assessment showed me that at this point the first graders are all thinking of “measurement” as a term that refers to linear calculations only. I am really looking forward to opening their minds to the idea that “measurement” applies to almost every aspect of their lives everyday! During this unit the children will be learning about linear measurements, area, volume, capacity, time, temperature, and monetary value. They will have many fun measuring activities to do at home as well as in the classroom.

Please keep track of measurement-related things your child says or does throughout this “How We Organize Ourselves” Unit of Inquiry. I would like to post these student-initiated inquiries, statements, and actions on our PYP Parking Lot. These questions and actions help guide me as I plan measurement units for future first graders.

I hope you share the enthusiasm that your child is already demonstrating for our new Unit of Inquiry. Let me know if you have questions or concerns, or if you would like to share your expertise in an area associated with measurement!

Photos include the day the students started counting all the seeds!

The Intoxicating Realm of the Mystery Novel

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB | No Comments

The following post appeared on Ms. Fitzharris’ Grade 4 blog this morning:

Over the past month, our class has been delving into the mystery genre. Each child has chosen and read at least one mystery since we began the mini-unit after Spring Break. We’ve talked about alibis, red herrings, suspects, and how a mystery’s plot tends to evolve. After mapping out an elaborate plan for them to write an essay explaining all of this, I realized (by the look on their faces) that what each and every one of them wanted to do was to write their own mystery and have their classmates solve their crimes or problems. So that’s what they’ve been working on over the last week or so. Last Friday, I brought in old fedoras, trench coats and a few other props and had each student pose for a picture. When they complete their mystery, they’ll type it up and we’ll post them outside the classroom along with the photo of them wearing their detective garb. We’ll keep you posted!

What Would Your World Be Like in the Absence of Sound?

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB, Visual and Performing Arts | No Comments

“What would your world be like in the absence of sound? That was James Castle’s world.” That was the question that the students explored with the help of Cort Conley, Director of Literature for the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and Troy Passy, a well-known Boise artist who currently has an exhibit at the Boise Art Museum. Cort first visited Grade 4 to discuss the life of James Castle, an “outsider” artist who once lived and created art in Garden Valley, and later, Boise, Idaho. A few days later, Troy shared a slideshow of Castle’s work, along with a handful of pieces he was inspired to create in Castle fashion.

To help the students relate to James Castle’s world, Troy and Cort passed out earplugs and had the students draw their own rendition of a Castle image, in total silence. After 15 minutes of silence, the students began building their own constructions using the recycled materials they had brought in. Partway through the activity, our Grade 4 class was joined by the Grade 2 buddies, and together they created their own Castle-inspired constructions. Troy and Cort repeated the lesson with the other 4th grade class in the afternoon.

You’re welcome to view their finished constructions and charcoal work, which is out in the hall by our 4th grade classrooms. What a delight it was to hear Emory G.’s exclamation at the end of the lesson, “James Castle is my favorite artist, now!”

Thanks to Cort Conley and Troy Passy for sharing their expertise with our students and thanks to Ms. Fitzharris for the great photos!

Tree of Life

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Our Kindergarten classes finished up their second Unit of Inquiry, Tree of Life, with an Open House in the classroom. They invited parents to come watch the forest of kindergarteners grow, and explain to visitors about tree parts and functions, animals that use trees, and products that come from trees. With the help of Mrs. Summervill, the students wrote a song called The Learning Tree, and performed this for parents as well. The children loved this unit of inquiry!

There's Work to Do in Kindergarten

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Last Thursday, Kindergarten students finished up their fifth Unit of Inquiry, There’s Work to Do, with an open house in the atrium. During the course of this unit, children learned what a community worker is and learned about many different kinds of community workers. For their presentation, each child chose a community worker to represent, painted a backdrop to represent the workplace of their worker, and told visitors to the open house how their community worker contributed to a community. They also shared what learner profile word best described how their community worker acted. Kindergartners were fabulous, and worked hard during this unit. We are so proud of them!

Ever Changing Earth

By | IB, Outdoor Education | No Comments

Kerry Fitzharris, our Grade 4 teacher, writes, “Two weeks ago, our students attended McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS), and worked in study teams to explore the geology behind the formation of Payette Lake. They took part in various erosion activities caused by wind and glaciers. The students reviewed what they knew about the scientific process, and by the end of the week, presented their own hypotheses using tools they had learned how to use throughout the week. We were stunned by the groups’ abilities to synthesize what they’d learned in order to present their findings to the whole group on Friday. This outdoor education trip was the perfect compliment to our PYP Unit of Study, Ever Changing Earth.

Last week, we continued our studies with a field trip to the Foothills Learning Center here in Boise. The students participated in two activities: Crack and Crumble (about erosion, deposition, and weathering) and Exploding Trash Can Volcano (how and why volcanoes occur, and volcanic activity in the Boise area).”

Thanks to our awesome teachers, Mrs. terBorg and Ms. Fitzharris, and our parents who accompanied students on our trip to MOSS and the Foothills Learning Center!