We are piloting exciting new units in Grades 3 and 4 this semester. These units were created last summer by Classroom Teachers and Science Fellows working collaboratively with the North Adams Public Schools' science coordinator. Your feedback and suggestions for improvement will help us with unit revisions in Summer 2017, so please share your comments on the feedback sheets provided at the end of each lesson. Thank you!
A Milestone T2L has reached a milestone: we have now developed three curriculum units for each grade level. Grades K and Grade 2 piloted new units, Properties of Matter and Motion and Land and Water, over the winter, and Grade 1 completed its new unit, Patterns in the Sky, last fall. A huge thanks to the summer curriculum team, to the teachers who piloted the units, and especially to NAPS' science coordinator, Lindsey Osterhoudt, who shepherded so many units from concept to completion with grace and good humor.
New Unit: Grade 5
Earth’s Place in the Universe:The fifth graders are learning all about the Earth, the solar system, and our Universe. Dr. Michelle Thaller, NASA Astronomer, asks an essential (and eternal) question, “What is human existence?” Her answer is short and sweet, "It turns out it's pretty simple: We are dead stars, looking back up at the sky." Hear Dr. Thaller's explanation on how we came to be in this short video. We are hoping Grade 5 classes will visit the Williams College planetarium this spring as an exciting complement to the fantastic learning done during this unit.
New Unit: Grade 3
Forcesand Magnetic Properties has the third graders experiencing pushing and pulling in new ways. As an introduction to the unit, Magnetic Properties, students go on a class-wide scavenger hunt, magnets in hand, to see what they can attract. In later lessons, students design a "contraption" that uses magnets and magnetic properties to solve a real world problem.
New Unit: Grade 4 Animal and Plant Anatomyuses hands-on experiments to model how oxygen gets into shells and how carbon dioxide is released to answer the question, "How do Birds Breathe Inside Eggs?" This unit is a great opportunity to extend and include outdoor education and field experience using our fabulous living laboratory, the Berkshires. During our spring PD, we will learn how to teach in an outdoor classroom. (See below for more info.) In addition, Animal and Plant Anatomy is vertically aligned with our Grade 3 unit, Adaptations, to facilitate a wider understanding and deeper appreciation of anatomy.
Ms. Grogan was here at the very beginning—that long-ago summer of 2014. She and her colleagues created our initial second grade units, Materials Matter and Habitats. In Habitats, we grow plants, we sing the Habitat Song, and we perform the Puppet Show, "Life in a Field." After the performance, with some thought and more than a few giggles, the students answer the question, “If we put Marsha Mouse on the Moon with some food and water and dug her a nice hole to live in, would she be able to survive? What’s missing?”
Ms. Grogan is retiring at the end of this semester. She has been an excellent mentor to our Science Fellows, a dedicated and determined teacher who never forgot that even in second grade communicating your science understanding to peers is paramount...and always in full sentences! Ms. Grogan, THANK YOU for the years of exemplary science teaching and learning our students experienced! You will be soooo missed.
T2L Outdoor PD: Many students and educators benefit from Leslie Reed-Evans’ expertise on school field trips and in programming offered at Sheep Hill. Leslie is a noted local naturalist and the executive director of Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation. We are fortunate to have her as our guest presenter for this hands-on, place-based workshop. We will use this PD to continue the work we have done in previous sessions, linking to our exploration of curriculum “extensions.” With Leslie as our guide, the T2L teaching teams will move outside of the classroom to engage in field work and outdoor education practices as we use the Brayton school yard as our living laboratory. More info to come! But save the date, April 13, 3:30, at Brayton Elementary.
T2L Looks Ahead to Summer! We're hiring...
Summer Internship: Once again, we will be hiring up to six Science Fellows this summer for full-time, paid internships (June 19 - Aug 11). Does this following description fit you? You are excited by the idea of revising and developing exemplary science units for use in elementary classrooms. You possess strong organizational, writing, and time management skills. You have experience working independently and with initiative, and under specific deadlines. Creative thinking and problem-solving are second nature to you. And, you have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. If this seems like a fit, and you are interested in finding out more about the position, please contact CLiA at Williams College, or Nick Stroud or Leslie Rule at MCLA.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...' ~Isaac Asimov