Daily Schedule

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Field Trips in September

Field trips not only expand children’s learning by using authentic, hands-on experiences, but also increase knowledge of specific subjects, and add meaning and realism. We could do a worksheet on organic farming techniques, or measurement, or whatever, but how much more would children learn and remember by completing a scavenger hunt at the farmers market, or buying their own fabric to make pillows?

Field trips also allow for children to work and play with other children. Many times, the two first/second grade classrooms take trips together. It is often a chance to break the routine of the day, get some fresh air and exercise, and to feel rejuvenation. We teachers pay very careful attention to trip selection, meticulously prepare to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible, and do appropriate follow-up with the children.

This first month of school, we will go on five different field trips. 

On Thursday, September 8th, we head to Howell Nature Center for an all-day field trip. This is something that will be remembered and talked about all year – it is a very special yearly trip. More information should be coming soon from Karen, including volunteer possibilities.

On Tuesday, September 13th, both first and second grade classes will head to Jo-Ann Fabrics to choose and purchase materials for a sewing project. We will make cozy pillows to use during Quiet Reading. 

On Wednesday, September 21rd, we will head out to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. This will be first thing in the morning (9:00 – 10:30). I will be sending more detailed information soon, but please consider being a volunteer for this trip. I will need at least 2-3 adults so children can complete a scavenger hunt in small groups.

On Friday, September 23rd, both first and second grade classes will go raspberry picking at Makielski Berry Farm. Fall berries are always such a treat! 

On Wednesday, September 28th, we will head to the Traverwood Branch of the AADL. We will spend part of the morning exploring books and other materials found at this beautiful place. This year, we will explore most, or perhaps all, of the branches of our award-winning city library.

Environmental Super Hero Projects

Each year, the children in my class do special monthly projects with an environmental focus. As a school, we emphasize being "green" in many ways, but there is always more to be done. In the classroom, we do everyday things like recycling, using both sides of the paper, and keeping the playground litter-free - but we will also be environmental superheroes by doing these special projects on a monthly basis.

Families who were with me last year will recognize some of these, and some are new. If you have an idea for a future superhero project, let me know!

September – plant fall bulbs
                      field trip to farmers market

October – start our new vermicomposting station in classroom – these worms will eat our scraps and make lovely worm castings for the garden!

November – vegan pumpkin bread, in time for your Thanksgiving table

December – annual bake sale for birdies - proceeds will be used to sponsor a raptor 

January – make snow ice cream, weather permitting

February – valentines for the birds

March – make own "green" cleaning solutions for spring cleaning

April – earth day special event - Trader Joe's grocery bags

May – field trip to MRF - Materials Recovery Facility 
           visit "our" raptor at Leslie Science and Nature Center

Friday, August 19, 2016

Snack Roster - Mark Your Calendars!

Here is the schedule for the first couple months of school. Thanks for keeping our children fueled up and sparky!
September 6 - 9      Susan
September 12-16    Leland
September 19-23    Dillon
September 26-30    Lexi
October 3-4            Mila
October 10-14        Isaya
October 17-21        Andrew
October 25-28        August
October 31-Nov 4  Femi
November 7-11      Mia

Themes and Projects - Why We Do What We Do

Part of what makes Summers-Knoll special is our use of school-wide themes and a project-based approach. This is the best way we have found to integrate content areas in a way that makes sense to children. Our main goal is fostering process learning and active engagement for ALL students with diverse learning styles. Thematic units involve activities designed to cross several areas of curriculum, and builds on students’ prior knowledge and interests. Plus, it is a way for us to build relationships between all the classrooms, as there are usually several opportunities throughout the year to gather meaningfully in larger groups.

Other benefits include:

Learning in-depth factual information
Becoming physically involved with learning
Learning process skills
Learning “how to learn”
Integrating learning in a holistic way
Promoting group cohesiveness
Addressing individual needs
Motivating children and teachers
(Kostelnik, M.J., Soderman, A.K., & Whiren, A.P., 2004)

You can see the 2016/17 themes listed on the right of this post. There are three main themes, with each one lasting about 3 months. That said, themes are always revisited and expanded throughout the entire year. This gives both teachers and students time to delve into the subject area and explore it more deeply.

Our first theme for the 2016/17 school year is EXPLORATION. I will be using an amazing book as our shared text – “How to be an Explorer of the World”. This will naturally lead to many possible projects – children may become “mini-museum curators”, for instance, or work together on a field guide of County Farm Park. I’m excited to see where the students will lead!