Every grade level started with lessons on how our brain can grow like a muscle and get "stronger" as we build up our strength. I compared our learning to lifting weights... you start with a small weight and lift it until your arm is ready for a bigger weight. In the same way, we do thinking activities on a (for example) first grade level until our brain's ready to move on to a more difficult thinking process! We also talked about how if you lift a weight that's way too light, you'll never get any stronger. In the same way, if you do thinking activities that are too easy, your brain won't get any stronger! Because of this, students come to GEP to "lift heavier weights" and strengthen their brains. We also discussed that being in GEP means your brain is a bit different, not better, and in what ways it could be different.
We have finally moved on to our second unit of the year... our first units got a little stretched out, but were excellent learning experiences for all! You'll notice that this year I'm working in "bands" of grade levels. Most students attend GEP in a class of same-grade students, but different grade levels may be exploring the same topics of study.
Grades 1-3: Some students in grades 1-3 are working on Ancient Egpyt, while others are studying Oceanography. I allowed the students to vote and choose which unit they would study. Please see below for both unit descriptions:
*Students are learning about the culture of Ancient Egypt. This will include learning about the pyramids, tombs and mummies, the gods and goddesses, the Nile river, the written language of heiroglyphics, and the Ancient Egyptians math symbols and methods of calculation. We will be doing a science experiment learning how to "mummify" an orange, create a cartouche with each child's name, and build a mummy box with decorated mummy mask.
*Our oceanography unit will allow students to explore the depths of our oceans. We will learn about the tides, currents, life in the oceans, salinity and buoyancy, and the ocean zones. There will be experiments to learn about how salinity affects buoyancy, and students will research animals from different ocean zones to compare their adaptations. To share that information, students will create a "flip book" of their research on three different ocean animals, one from each of three ocean zones.
Grades 4: Going hand-in-hand with the fourth grade social studies curriculum, students are planning a trip across the USA. They are role-playing as writers for a travel magazine and are taking a cross-country trip to explore the many wonders our country has to offer. The students will have guidelines as to how far they can travel per day, how many stops they can make, how many meals they must eat (I'll keep them well-fed on our imaginary trip!), and how much money they may spend. We also learned how to write checks and keep a check book.
Grades 5-6: Students are studying Dr. Seuss books including their purpose, characterists, rhyming patterns, and how the books compare to other children's stories. Moving forward, the students will work in groups to create their own Dr. Seuss books including the creation of imaginary creatures, fun words, and most importantly - a lesson to teach! If possible, I'd love to schedule a trip to one or more of our K-4 buildings to have the students read their final creations to younger students.