Dynamic Debaters!Posted by Ariel Warshaw
In our Opinion & Persuasive Writing Unit, fifth grade writers engaged in a number of thought-provoking debates, learned how to construct a reasoned five-paragraph essay, and defended their positions using newly-gained oral presentation skills. To get the creativity flowing, students were first assigned a number of “Would You Rather” scenarios; after their quick writes were complete, lively banter ensued as points and counterpoints exploded around the room. It was a funny and high-energy way to dip our toes into the world of opinion writing.
Students then participated in a silent Persuasive Gallery Walk. Various posters around the room asked them to consider a number of meaty issues and then reply directly on the paper. This was a compelling and reflective way to organize beliefs in a safe and indirect way. Questions like, “Do we give kids too many trophies?” and “Do violent video games create more violent kids?” made the fifth graders pause and consider a number of perspectives on a given topic, which was enhanced by having the ability to see their peers’ responses as well.
Finally, the students were asked to pick a topic that they were passionate about. This could be one that we had discussed previously or something new and authentic to their interests. Our writers were then guided through crafting well-reasoned and organized five-paragraph essays. Through the use of writing organizers, templates, and outside research, effective essays were composed around a wide range of issues: gun control, the merits and disadvantages of fast food consumption, logging, and more! To conclude our unit, all students were tasked with sharing their persuasive arguments to the class using their “PVLEGS” skills – poise, voice, life, eye contact, gestures, and speed. The fifth graders relished the opportunity to have meaningful mini-debates around issues they care about, and many gained the added reward of changing a few hearts and minds in the process!
Fourth Graders at the Science FairPosted by Carlene Gordon
At the onset, the words SCIENCE FAIR may spark feelings of excitement, frenzy, confusion, or even dread. This is a very daunting task we place before our fourth graders. “Choose a scientific topic, construct a central question and a hypothesis, create a demonstration or experiment to prove (or disprove) your hypothesis, research the science behind your topic, write a conclusion and, finally, present your findings to fellow students, teachers, family and friends.”
At Unquowa, fourth grade is the initiation year of our annual Science Fair. We take this task and break it down into steps. Weeks are spent at school and at home preparing students for the big day. As we progress, students gain the confidence of knowing how to approach a large assignment and how to organize their work within a timeline. Excitement and enthusiasm build as our fourth graders develop into knowledgeable scientists in their chosen field of study. The day of the Science Fair this year brought with it our newly polished, confident and accomplished fourth grade scientists. Congratulations to all on a job very well done!
Transferring Energy With A Disturbance – A Fun Disturbance For 8th & 2nd GradesPosted by Craig Knebel
The 8th grade is studying waves in science and learned that the scientific definition of a physical wave is a “disturbance that transfers energy through a medium.” In lab, the 8th graders researched the two main kinds of physical waves: transverse and longitudinal. They were then assigned the task of transferring energy in a slinky down the stairs. The excited disturbance of the 8th graders outside their classroom, led to some cooperative learning with the second grade…and several races!
Explosive Learning going on in 8th gradePosted by Craig Knebel
A friend told me recently that the only graduation speech he attended in the last 20 years that he can recall had a prize winning scientist advise everyone to grab something reactive and blow it up, to see how fun science can be. Well, the 8th grade at Unquowa was studying the reactive metals in column one of the periodic table, so why not test the book learning and drop Sodium into water and see if it indeed blows up. It does.
A Morning with Corey Flintoff!Posted by Vincent O'Hara
When Ms. Lauer told us that Corey Flintoff, NPR’s former international correspondent based in Moscow, would be coming to our school to speak with the seventh and eighth grade humanities classes we did little to mask our exuberance. Mr. Flintoff discussed the propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation used by the Kremlin during his time stationed there. Our classes prepared by delving into the history, government and international relations of Russia with the goal of understanding the tumultuous relationship between our governments. Furthermore, the seventh and eighth graders learned about how propaganda is used by all people to persuade or create bias.
Much of Mr. Flintoff’s presentation focused on the Malaysian Airlines flight that went down in Ukraine in 2014, and how the Russian government handled accusations that they were responsible for the tragedy. Mr. Flintoff’s experience searching for the truth was a dramatic, and at times an unsettling narrative. However, our students were mature, composed and intellectually engaged. They asked insightful questions about other stories Mr. Flintoff had written – chasing Somali pirates with the French Navy, reporting alongside US troops in Iraq, and covering the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
We couldn’t have been more proud watching our students in action, making conversation with Mr. Flintoff, a recognized and celebrated radio reporter. What a great experience!
We the People…Posted by Debbie Leidlein
We have been studying the Constitution and government in eighth grade humanities. In a recent lesson students were asked to rewrite the Preamble in their own words. Having pondered over every single word and phrase both individually and in pairs, the entire class came up with the following version:
“We the citizens of the United States, in order to construct an impeccable nation, institute fairness and equality, guarantee internal peace, defend the country as a whole against foreign attacks, advocate for public health and happiness, ensure the rights of freedom for ourselves and future generations, do decree and form this Constitution.”