Sunday, December 15, 2013

Underway in Our Study of Ancient Egypt

We have made significant progress in our study of the ancient Egyptians. Last week students discovered some famous pharaohs and the monuments they built. They learned about such pharaohs as Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid, Hatshepsut, often considered the first female pharaoh, and Ramses II, who built the amazing sun temple, Abu Simbel. They also learned that those things we consider Egyptian, like mummies, hieroglyphics, and pyramids developed during the Egyptian time period called the Old Kingdom. However, studying Egypt’s geography was our primary goal last week as the children completed maps of the country, and defined characteristics of the Nile River, the “giver of life” for Egypt.

This week we continue our historical trip of ancient Egypt as we look at the later periods of time, and students complete a reading assignment about Osiris and Isis, two important ancient Egyptian gods.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Studying the Ancient Egyptians

Last week we finished our discovery of the ancient Mesopotamian cultures. Students learned that this area is considered the “cradle of civilization” for the western world. They also learned the beginnings of such things as farming, irrigation, and laws. Now we’re on to our examination of the ancient Egyptians. This next week we will be looking at the geography of Egypt, as well as discover some of their most famous pharaohs and queens. It is in this unit that I will also have students do some research with which they will write about a favorite pharaoh, queen, or Egyptian monument.  The Egyptians are a fascinating culture and students are quite eager to begin studying them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reading Fluency Practice

Since the beginning of the term we have been very involved reading our History Alive textbooks. We read the text aloud and then discuss it. Over the years I have found that this is the best way for students to understand the information. I can assess how much students comprehend and add any important details to help them in their understanding. By hearing them read aloud I can also determine their reading skills. One way to help students improve in their reading comprehension is to help them in their reading fluency. So this week I introduced students to a method of reading fluency practice. I have students record themselves, reading aloud for a minute from a short text. Then they play back the recording and listen to themselves. They count any mistakes they made, and then we do the exercise all over again. The second time is hopefully better than the first. The students finish reading the article, and then go online to answer questions about the text. In this way they also practice their reading comprehension skills.
Below are pictures of students practicing reading fluency.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beginning of the Second Term

We had a successful and busy beginning of the second term for the school year. First, we identified important features and cities of the geography of Mesopotamia. Ancient Mesopotamia is basically where Iraq is today, and is called the “cradle of civilization.” Essentially this is where many believe western civilization began. The Mesopotamians gave us such inventions as the wheel, the plow, and even the 60-second minute. After looking at the geography of this area we started discussing how early settlements began. We will continue this discussion next week, and will then consider the rise of Sumerian city-states.
This is all new to sixth graders. Most of them have never thought about the development of civilizations. Our study of Mesopotamia helps us define the important characteristics that make up a civilization. These are characteristics we will use all year as we look at other cultures in Asia and the Americas.

**On another note, this week students will have a short turn around time for doing their homework. Thursday we will read together in class an article about the laws of the Babylonian king Hammurabi. Students will need to answer questions about the reading that night and return with it the next day for the assignment to be graded. This is a challenging assignment for many students, so I decided this year we will read and discuss the article together to help your student to successfully complete the questions about the reading.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Celebrating the End of Term with a Field Trip

We were able to take a field trip to the Durham Water Treatment Facility last Wednesday, the final day of the first term. Although it rained all the time we were outside, the students seemed to enjoy learning how water is cleaned at the facility. One of the things we were told is that 5 million gallons of water go through the facility every day.
We saw where the raw sewage came in, and then the different stages of purification. It was amazing to see how the water is cleaned and prepared so that it can then be put into the Tualatin River.
On another note, grades have been prepared and should be mailed out by the end of next week. With our geography unit over we will now be studying about Mesopotamia, the “cradle of civilization.”  This will be completely new for students, but it is important for their understanding of how civilizations begin and flourish.
Below are pictures of students at the Durham Water Treatment Facility

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Costumes and End of Term Geography Test

It is always fun to see students on Halloween. They come in imaginative costumes which show their creativity, and I enjoy taking their pictures so I can post them on the blog. Halloween can be a difficult day because the children lose focus, but I was proud of students this year as they worked hard to keep up with their work.
Besides being a busy holiday time of year, we are also busy at school since Wednesday will be the last day of the first term. That means we will have a geography unit test on Tuesday, and we will finish the term with our Durham Water Treatment field trip on Wednesday. Last week I went over a study guide with students to help them know what to study to be successful for the unit test.
This next week will be a short one at school for students because Thursday is an in-service day for teachers, and Friday is a work day for grades to be inputted. That means there will be no school on Thursday or Friday, and then Monday, Nov. 11th, there will be no school because it is Veterans Day.
Below are pictures of students in their Halloween costumes at school.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Parent Conferences and the End of the First Term

It was a pleasure to meet many parents at conferences last week. I feel that students are being successful in their transition into middle school and it was fun to share their success with parents.
We are quickly approaching the end of the first term. November 6th will be the last day of the term, with a geography unit final scheduled for Nov. 5th. I will go over a study guide with the children, and then we’ll play a review game, all in preparation for the test.
On Nov. 6th we are scheduled to finish our geography unit with a visit to the Durham Water Treatment Facility. It promises to be an exciting and educational day.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Learning How to Preserve Water Quality

The past week students culminated their study about water quality by learning where their own drinking water came from, namely the Bull Run Watershed. They also learned that the Tualatin River Watershed is where Hazelbrook is located, and had a guest speaker from Clean Water Services explain how water is treated, plus the importance of water quality facilities. We then worked with the city of Tualatin to plant Oregon Grape, Snow Berry, and Red Twig bushes at the Hazelbrook water quality facility down the street.  The children really worked hard to plant 390 bushes, and spread almost two trucks of mulch.
On Tuesday, Oct. 22nd, students have a world map that is due. Parent-teacher conferences will be on Wednesday evening and all day Thursday. Please make sure to schedule an appointment with your child’s Hawk Time teacher.
Below are pictures of students enjoying planting on Thursday, Oct. 17th.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Looking at Water Quality in the World

The past week students began looking at water quality in the world. During my trip to Peru this past summer I became aware of the problems developing countries have with water quality. Millions of children die from bad water or lack of water, and large amounts of man power is wasted just trying to have access to good water.

So students viewed some short videos explaining the water issues of Lima, Peru, and read some articles clarifying the issues. It was a good exercise in reading for information and completing short answer questions. In the spring, students will be required to complete and reading/writing assignment where they show their comprehension through their writing skills. We are beginning to practice those skills now so that they will be able to perform competently for the reading/ writing test. I think they were surprised at the water problems that exist for many countries and found that we take our clean water for granted.

This next week we will begin looking at our water sources and then help the city of Tualatin with planting at the Hazelbrook Water Quality Facility located at Hazelbrook Rd and 111th. We will also have a guest speaker in our classes come tell us how to conserve water and about our river sources on Wednesday. So this promises to be a very busy week as we examine the water we use.

Pictures are of students reading about water shortages in Peru and answering the questions.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Learning about Major Physical Features of the World

Students finished their keynote presentations this week and did a great job. Using the iPad for this project makes it almost foolproof to accomplish and it was fun to see the many examples students were able to find.
As we were working on our keynotes, we also looked up major deserts and mountain ranges of the world. We will continue these investigations next week as we discover major world seas, and rivers.
Finally, last week I introduced my Peru trip to students and we were able to talk about water quality. Students also completed their first map of the year, a map of Peru. It was a good introductory map for them to learn mapping skills, since their next map will be a much more challenging map of the world.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Keynote Presentations and the Jog-a-thon

Students had a very eventful time last week. In class we learned about physical landforms. Then the children picked a partner and are now preparing keynote presentations on their iPads to show ten landforms and some real world examples. We are discovering some amazing geography as we locate famous fjords, glaciers, calving icebergs, and others places we did not even know existed.
In Hawk Time students prepared for the Jog-a-thon. They also worked to complete posters representing Hazelbrook’s code: Safe, Respectful, and Responsible. All Hawk Times are in a competition to earn points so that at the end of the term they can have a milk shake party. Things are getting pretty competitive, but it creates great team building and team pride. If you came to school, you would see some great posters.
There are a lot of pictures for this week. Below you will see students working on their keynotes and running the Jog-a-thon.