Social Studies and Science Update

By phillipss  

What’s been going on in Room C109?  We wrapped up our unit on Early European Explorers and have moved on to Early Colonies in the New World.  The big concepts I hope your child came away with from European Explorers is that while Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover America, the impact of his voyage completely changed history.  Columbus wasn’t even trying to go to America; he didn’t know it existed.  Columbus, like many other educated people of the time, knew the Earth was round.  He wanted to sail west to go east.  He just didn’t know two continents, unknown to Europeans, were in the way.  Columbus may have died not even realizing this fact, but eventually it was realized that while this New World wasn’t China, it was land that represented many valuable resources itself.  The race was on between wealthy European countries to send explorers here to claim land and colonize for their countries.  We learned about the consequences of Columbus’ voyage and subsequent exploration – loss of land to Native Americans, loss of life of Native Americans due to diseases and war, colonization of the new land by Europeans, and global trading.  Now we are focusing on early colonies – particularly English colonies.  We will spend some time learning about Spanish, French, and Dutch colonies, but I tell the kids that we focus so much on England because of the original 13 colonies that became the original 13 United States of America.  We are an English speaking country.  It was England who we fought for our independence.  Before Christmas break, we will learn about Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth colonies.  After Christmas break, we will learn about Spanish, French, Dutch colonies and of course the original 13 English colonies.  I will try to remember to keep posting questions on the homework page so you can follow what we are learning in class and discuss it with your child.

After fall break, we also started going to Media Center, now often called “Innovation Center” to participate in a project called “Genius Hour”.  Miss Conrad, our media specialist, leads this class while I co-teach and provide support.  Studies have shown that Genius Hour develops the kinds of skills 21st century students and adults need – creative thinking, problem solving, and innovation.  Right now, students are learning about the traits of a genius and how they can develop those traits in themselves.  They will be taken through the process of what it’s like to create and innovate with a sample problem, then students will be choosing a project based on their own passions.  Ask your child to tell you what s/he has been doing in “Genius Hour”.  You can also ask them to show you the second half of their science journal to see what they have been doing.  We will attend “Genius Hour” every 8 days for 40 minute periods.

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