Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Weekly Post 11-4-16

It has been a great week on Team Spencer. Last week we elected a new president, President Zoey. She has decided to institute a new goal setting session at the beginning of each presidential term where the class sets goals for the next 4 weeks. We have appointed a Secretary of Charitable Donations to raise money for world problems. We have also started using class money and starting our own businesses.
We are also learning about Joseph Campbell's Hero's journey. We have begun to take the stories we have read and see how they fit into the 12 steps of the Hero's Journey. Next we will be writing our own Hero's Journey story.
In math, we have been calculating how much wood we need to buy for our project and what is, mathematically, the best way to put it on the wood. We then went to Home Depot and purchased the wood.

Weekly Post 10-28-16

Hi Team!  This week was a short on Team Spencer, but we got a lot done. Karl asked us to help him with our part of the school play and we accepted his challenge.  We read through stories of the Polynesian god Maui and found several stories that we wanted to turn into plays.  We then workshopped the stories in small groups and turned them into scenes.  We had a ton of fun showing our Maui scenes to each other and thinking of funny jokes we can put in the show.  Finally we learned a basic structure for writing a play and wrote our scenes down.  We have started printing class money and setting up businesses in order to create a sustainable economy in our class.  Friday the class voted on the president. Results will be released next week.  Will Mason start a second term as Team Spencer President or will someone unseat him?  In math, we are finally finished with our paper measurements and will work on organizing the pieces so that they all fit as economically as possible on 4 foot by 8 foot pieces of wood.  It will take a lot of math and creativity to make it all fit.


Weekly Post 10-21-16

This week in Team Spencer we made a lot of changes to our class government.  In our government, we have been studying the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches of government.  We have already created a class constitution and experienced a court case.  This week we decided to add a department of Treasury and begin to print our own money.  We also had Judge Rhonda Craig (Spencer's mom) come in and talk about the judicial branch and play fun law games with us.  As we get more and more proficient with the computer, we need to practise how to write letters and emails.  We have been working hard to learn all of the writing rules and formats.  This week Zoey taught us all about saltwater aquarium fish and then challenged us to identify them.  It was tough, but we figured it out.  A professor of play came to work with us on Friday with social and team building games.  In Math we continued measuring out all the pieces we will need to make the drawers we are building.  This week we are focusing on how to double check our measurements based on what we know about rectangles and the best practices for measuring them.  We hope to be getting the wood by next week!

Weekly Post 10-14-16

This week on Team Spencer was very intense.  In science we reviewed what we experienced and learned when visiting the UofM 3D lab open house and presented our findings at Friday's morning meeting.  We also learned how our eyes see in 3D.  We read the story of Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, inferred information about the text, and wrote magical stories about how the king in the story got his shape shifting abilities.  Spencer also told her famous onion story and we broke it apart and identified how the parts fit into a classic story arc. We will soon build our own stories using the story arc format.  Last week we held elections for our Team Spencer Class Government.  We learned all about the 3 branches of government and how they function.  Our class has a president, a supreme court and a senate.  This week we voted on laws, heard a court case and made some student led changes in the classroom.  Friday we also visited Steinhauser Farm to see how a fully sustainable food farm is run and how it interacts with the community as a whole.  In Math, we have started measurements on our carpentry drawer project.  Our next step is to see how much wood we need to buy and how the shapes fit together to make the most economical use of our wood.

Weekly Post 10-7-16

This week on team Spencer was short, but very interesting. We continued our discussion on what is a magic and how is it different than science. A lot of our team members have some very interesting ideas on what magic really is. We also work on our punctuation and figuring out where the end of a sentence is, when to use a period, when to use a question mark, and when a sentence needs an exclamation point. On Friday Mason taught us a lesson and we got to go on a field trip to see the 3D lab at University of Michigan.On Monday we will use our knowledge of light and optics to analyze how each of the exhibits in the 3D lab open house works. Then, we will present next Friday at the morning meeting.
Math – In math we began to measure out our carpentry project. We figured out how the height, the width, and the length of the drawers that we are going to build. Soon we will have to make drawings the different parts of the project, will need to buy the wood, and measure out the wood so that we can cut it.

Weekly Post 9-30-16

This week was a very magical and mythological week on Team Spencer.  We had a great debate on what is magic versus what is science.  Is magic real?  Is magic just unexplained science?  We also took a very normal everyday story that happened to Zoey and turned it into a larger than life epic adventure with beautiful winged cheetah rubies, guinea pigs that turn into dragons, and a peacock miner archeologist explorer girl! Crazy times!  We also looked at how some stories use metaphor to describe everyday personal journeys in very magical ways.  We began electives this week.  Our class is either in Karl's choir or Jason's creative writing elective.  My Forensics elective is off to an engaging start as many of the participants got their first crack at debating the pros and cons of an impromptu topic.

In math, we are beginning to use our understanding of measurement, inches, feet, and yards, to build drawers for our storage space. We are reviewing what the different lengths are and their notations, as well as how geometry and spatial reasoning factors into woodworking.

Weekly Post 9-23-16

Yarr Mateys! This week be Pirate Week.  We have been learning about real historical pirates like Blackbeard and Anne Bonny!  That be fascinating stuff!  We have also been continuing to read our City of Ember books and connecting the subject matter in the books with the themes for this year.  We did an amazing experiment in science where we observed how the atmosphere reacts to light and makes the sky blue during the day and the sun red in the evening.  There was also a fair amount of silly writing as we improvised our own guided adventure in the Story of Bill and Sue.  We wrote so much that our hands hurt.  We will compare our writing with a similar writing adventure at the end of the year.  In math we are almost done with our assessment period and will be starting on our first game making project soon.  Math games are so much fun!

Weekly Post 9-16-16

This week we began to get into our groove as far as our schedule is concerned.  In science, we had our first science class with Lisa the science teacher.  We learned how to be scientist and some very important vocabulary to help us organize our scientific observations.  In reading just about everyone has finished their first reading assignment in the books The City of Ember (3rd grade) and The People of Sparks (4th grade) both by Jeanne DuPrau.  We are now ready to discuss what we have read and come up with some suggestions for our struggling protagonists.  We are starting the first of our Explorations this week as well.  This is where we go on an exciting exploration inspired by the book, How to Be an Explorer of the World, by Keri Smith.  Should be fun!  In math class we are all about place value!  We are exploring different ways to describe and explain place value.  It has been a fun, but exhausting week on Team Spencer!

Weekly Post 9-9-16

This week has been a whirlwind week for Team Spencer. We have been learning the ins and outs of our class and creating some new systems to use. We made giant posters and innovated ways to implement our student Rights and Responsibilities. On Tuesday we made fire and zip-lined through Howell Nature center. We all got jobs and our own personal schedule. We also budgeted our money, went to the office supply store, and purchased our own classroom supplies.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Becoming Team Spencer

Hi Team!
The month of September is dedicated to or class becoming Team Spencer.  In addition to our academic pursuits, a large part of the first month is about team building and finding out how each member of our class fits into the team.  The whole purpose of calling our class Team Spencer is to build the idea that we are all in this together as a team and not just a class belonging to a teacher.  Everyone in the class sits in the desks, including the teacher.  Team Spencer means all of us.

During the first few days we do things like get our jobs and learning our call and response rhythm that we call Boom Snap Clap.  We mix and match in groups to get a feel for how each other works and get to know each other.  We play paper ball, a team building game, and try to reach goals as a class.  Josh also helps us to write a class song in music class as a unifying anthem.

In the first week of school we went to Howell Nature center.  Our group focused on activities and challenges that reinforce ideas of working together and team building.  We went canoeing and worked together to build fire.  We found that the biggest factor in working together was communication.  When we went zip-lining, we all made sure we supported each other by cheering each other on while we slid down the zip line.

Theme weeks, like Pirate week and the forthcoming Fort week, give us class holidays and celebrations to celebrate together.  We dress up, tell stories and decorate our classroom with pictures from our theme for the week.

The students on Team Spencer also get the tables turned on them when they are asked to teach the class.  During this 30 minute presentation, we learn the kinds of things that each student is interested in.  We also get a feel for who they are as a person.

Team Spencer has a very spirited extra classmate named Alexander.  Alexander is imaginary.  That doesn't mean he is not real.  He has his own desk, pillow and email.  He gets into all sorts of adventures.  Sometimes he is very practical, and sometimes he is downright magical.  To learn more about Alexander, watch the video on his origins here.  I recorded this in December of 2015 for The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Welcome to Team Spencer!

Hello Team,
Welcome to Team Spencer.  My name is Andaiye Spencer, but most just call me Spencer.  I am so excited to work with your students this school year. 

I love to sing, dance and do lots of theatre.  I am also a carpenter. I love using all of these creative outlets regularly in my class.

Parents have been asking what their student should bring to school as far as supplies.  Everything that is mandatory for them to be successful will be provided.

Thing that would be awesome if they were donated:

-Wet wipes
-Washable Markers
-Pencils, pencils, pencils
-Erasers for the tops of pencils
-Scotch tape
-Glue sticks
-Band Aids

In the coming days and weeks I will be sharing information with you regarding happenings in the classroom. This will either be through email or the classroom blog (which you can subscribe to via email.)

A quick word about snacks and birthday celebrations. We are a nut-aware facility and ask that families refrain from sending any snacks that contain nuts. In my classroom, I ask that individual families send snacks with their child to keep them nourished throughout the day. We will break twice a day for snacks so please keep that in mind when you are packing.

As for birthdays, the 3rd and 4th grades have traditionally abstained from birthday "treats" and instead have opted for providing the students with an opportunity to share something special with the class on their birthday. This has allowed us a chance to learn a little more about that person and given him or her the opportunity to share their interests with us.  Others have simply chosen to enjoy a little extra recess as their class celebration.

That being said, if you are still eager to bring food as a celebratory item, please let me know so that we can coordinate it with classroom allergies and sensitivities.

We will celebrate every student even if their birthday is not during the school calendar.  If it is not on a school day, they will receive a celebration day. I will let you know when this will be.

Also, Just for your reference, I am very allergic to flowers, perfumes and body sprays.  I have mentioned this to the students, but if you notice them becoming attached to a new scent, please ask them not to wear or bring it to school.

Due to my transplant surgery last year, I am immuno-suppressed.  This means I can get sick very easily.  I am requesting that all students either use hand sanitizer or wash their hands when they enter the classroom.  Also, if your student has a slight cough or is getting over a cold, please let me know so that I can take extra precaution.  I would also like to know if your student will have, or has just gotten, a live vaccine.  I will need to be extra cautious around those students as well.

I am so excited for this year!!! 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Flint Water Donations

Hi Team,

A HUGE thank you to all who helped out for our Flint Water Market.  Thanks to your generous help we have raised $760!!!
We will be sending the money to The Community Foundation of Greater Flint's grant for Flintkids.org.

This money will be used to aid children with interventions that support positive health outcomes for Flint children, including:

Crisis response
Optimal child health & development
Early childhood education
Continuous access to a pediatric medical home
Access to infant and child behavioral health services
Nutrition education
Healthy food access
Safe & healthy home environments
Integrated social services

For more information visit the website here.

The added bonus is that from now through December, The C.S. Mott foundation will be matching every donation up to $5 million!  That means the foundation will receive $1,520 because of our donation!

Thank you again.  The students worked very hard on this project.  They just wanted to do some good.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Thar Be Treasure!!!!!

Hi Team!
Our final math project this year is a treasure hunt. The math class was split into pairs that set about making a list of clues to follow in order to get to hidden treasure.  The teams were given tape measures and were asked to make their clues a set of measurements and directional changes (lefts and rights). Their measurements are to be in inches, feet, and yards, or centimeters and meters. The true test will come next week when we try each others instructions and see if we can locate the treasure.

End of the Year!

Hi Team,
There is a lot going on in the last two weeks of school.  We are wrapping up all of our projects and going on our spring field trips.  Here is a link to the proposed schedule for the rest of our time.  Please understand that things are subject to change.  If they do change, I will change the document. 

Please encourage your students to READ READ READ!!!  We are currently still reading The City of Ember.  We need to be finished with it by June 10.  Several students have finished it already, but most have not.  They have been reading at school, but in order to get it done on time, they need to read at home too.  It needs to be returned to school by the 10 in order to do a class assignment.

Please make sure that the lunches packed on Monday 6/06, Thursday 6/09, and Tuesday 6/14 do not need to be microwaved.

Please note that the Field trip on 6/14 to the West Bloomfield Adventure Park starts at 8am!!!!!  We must leave that early to get to the park by 9am.  We will not be back until the end of the day.
Please let me know what questions you have.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Studying fun!

Hi Team!

For our spring project we will be studying how we create fun!  More specifically we will be studying playgrounds and playscapes.  We will be visiting several playgrounds in Southeast Michigan, playing on them for 30 minutes each, and evaluating how fun they are and why.

The class did research on different playgrounds in the area that might be fun to test out.  Some of them include playscapes as close as our own SK playground and the one at County Farm park, as well as Timbertown in Chelsea and the giant play structure on Belle Isle.

The class decided that the "control" for our exploration should be nature, or an open field.  For that we will go to the Arboretum.

As a class, we came up with a list of things that we look for when we evaluate a playground.  We discussed everything from useful utilities to fun features.  From that the survey was created.  to view the survey click here.

We will be visiting a few Detroit area playground on June 6th all day. Playgrounds will include: Belle Isle Park Playground, Playgrounds on the Riverwalk, and Inglenook Playground in Southfield.

We will do othee playgrounds in the area on June 7th all day.  These playgrounds will include: Millpond Park in Saline, Timbertown in Chelsea, and Nichols Arboretum. 

When we finish with our exploration, will will attempt to design the most epic playground ever!!!