The world has drastically changed in the past few weeks. PNA is striving to maintain its commitment to keep students learning through distance learning. Teachers have been quickly adapting by learning new technology platforms themselves and creating learning experiences that are flexible enough for each family’s unique situation. Teachers also took into account that students miss their friends and need a consistent time that they see their classmates. This week, our class met every morning for our morning, just like we do at school. We have been learning together what our classroom agreements look like in an online setting and academic routines that specifically work for our class.
We are in a unique time in history that kids will remember for the rest of their lives. This week, students journaled each day about their abrupt changes in their daily lives and how their communities have temporarily changed in response to COVID-19. Students could interview different family members to help.
Each day, students had the option of joining me online to talk about something related to COVID-19 that they most likely had heard bits and pieces about at home or on TV. We looked at some pictures I took in stores around Anchorage, read parts of health mandates, watched proper hand washing videos, and discussed how their social lives had changed since before writing a paragraph together online.
Our PNA community as a whole is working to stay strong and make the most of this challenging time for everyone.
We are excited about our new PBL unit that we recently began! After watching Caine’s Arcade, students were instantly excited about the idea of building their own arcade by the end of the unit. Our driving question is “How can we as engineers create an arcade while learning about forces?”
The first step to any project is to make a list of questions that we would need to figure out in order to make this happen. They sorted these questions into groups to find duplicate questions. We have a lot to find out!
One of the goals throughout this science unit is to learn about forces and motion. This week, students explored how changing the height, mass, and distance of objects affects their motion. They conducted experiments and collected data in a variety of learning stations that answered these questions:
These stations challenged students to talk through the entire process. It was great to hear them discussing surprising findings, correcting each other to make sure the experiment was set up right, and troubleshooting together. What I love about PBL is the opportunity for students to grow socially and practice communication skills as they learn key science standards.
Friday was the 100th day of school! We use 100th Day to not only celebrate that we are 100 days smarter, but also to tie in math in a variety of ways. This day is also a great opportunity for children to work alongside others in different grade levels. PNA has a strong student body community.
Lower School students celebrated by engaging in stations related to the number 100. The activities had students counting, creating art, collecting data, adding, and building. These types of activities help build students' number sense because they provide opportunities for students to visualize 100 in different contexts. They had a lot of fun!
This week in math, we used Jack and the Beanstalk to practice a variety of math concepts. The goal for this mini project was to practice measuring, data collecting, collaborating, and interpreting graphs.
After listening to Jack and the Beanstalk, groups of students created tall paper beanstalks with their own creative spin on them. They worked together to measure the height of their beanstalk to the nearest ½ inch and all of the leaves to the nearest ¼ inch. They practiced using the marks on a ruler to be precise with their measurements and learned how to round to the nearest half and quarter.
Good mathematicians are able to organize their data. They practiced making line plots with all of their measurements and interpreting the results by answering questions.
Kids improve in math as they practice concepts in different contexts and scenarios. It is also important that kids have opportunities to talk about their math. It was great listening to pairs of students double checking each other’s work and explaining why their answers to their partner throughout this process!
This week we had a few more visitors!
Kimber Olson, Max’s mother, came to share her experiences and knowledge of the beautiful Aleutian Islands. Students enjoyed her stories about the extreme weather and the uniqueness of some of the islands. Because Kimber works for the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, she connected our class with Darling and Bobby. Darling and Bobby also shared their experiences growing up in the Aleutians and demonstrated a new language app for others to learn their language. Because only about 90 people speak this language fluently, this app is vital in keeping this language alive.
Elizabeth Hensley, William Hensley, and Maligiaq Padilla (Aqattaq’s mother, grandfather, and father) were also kind enough to visit. They shared the rich indigeous knowledge that has allowed the Inupiaq to thrive for thousands of years in the North. Students looked at clothing made of moose hair, martin, fox, wolf, and seal skin. They liked seeing the harpoon with scrimshaw and the kayak Maligiaq made. We even passed around Aqattaq’s mukluks that she wore as a baby and tried muktuk (bowhead whale)!
William Hensley is a former member of the Alaska House of Representatives and Alaska Senate. His book 50 Miles from Tomorrow is a great read about his story of his incredible journey that led him to his role of being a major advocate for Native Alaskans. As a connection to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students learned that there was a time in Alaska when businesses could post signs like “No Dogs or Natives Allowed” or “Whites Only.” William attended a school that physically punished him when he spoke his first language and looked down upon Natives. Alaska has its own heroes like Elizabeth Peratrovich who helped pass anti-discimination laws and William Hensley who lobbied for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
Thank you so much for your time, Max’s and Aqattaq’s family!
We love visitors! This week, we had the opportunity to listen to David Baines, Elizabeth’s father. He was kind enough to teach our class some of the traditional beliefs and customs of the Tsimshian. The Tsimshian is a native tribe of the Pacific Northwest Coast. We loved hearing stories and looking at pictures of his family’s adventures in Kodiak Island, including the time a fin whale lifted up his fishing boat! Students also enjoyed seeing whale bone art, a traditional drum, an otter pelt, and a bentwood box. Our favorite part was when Elizabeth and her dad ended our time together with a goodbye song.
My goal for our classroom learning environment is to expand the scope of our learning beyond the walls of our classroom and the pages of a textbook. One way that we do this is by inviting people from the community who have expert knowledge and real world connections to the content standards which we are exploring. By doing so, learning becomes meaningful because it is coming from an authentic source. These experiences are the moments that students will remember when they look back on their educational journey. Thank you David and Elizabeth! Your time means so much to us!
We look forward to many other parents and organizations visiting in the near future!
We have been learning about different regions of Alaska. Along the way, we learned about the Alaskan Pipeline and what engineers needed to consider when building it. When making the Alaskan Pipeline, engineers decided they couldn’t bury much of the pipeline because of the permafrost. The hot oil in the pipes would melt the permafrost in the ground and damage the landscape. Engineers also needed to take into consideration migrating animals and earthquakes. It was necessary for the pipeline to be high enough above the ground to not interfere with migration patterns. Alaska's physical landscape is very unique, having a variety of terrains. For instance, the Brooks Range is a massive mountain range above the Arctic Circle that made the installation of the pipeline a difficult challenge for engineers.
Molly Liston, our PE teacher, has led backpacking trips in the Brooks Range. We loved learning about this area of Alaska and her adventures! Thank you, Molly, for stopping in to tells us about your experiences!
Students were challenged to design their own “pipeline.” Can you build a pipeline that can transport a cup of water from one end to the other?
As with any hands-on activity, we spent time reflecting. How well did we work with our group? Did we use our materials efficiently? What surprised you? What would you change about your design? It has been wonderful seeing students progressively improve collaborating together and tackling challenges while making connections to state standards.
Classroom events are opportunities for parents to get a glimpse into a part of their child’s day at PNA. These events happen four times a year in every grade level. They also allow families to connect with other families while enjoying a meal together. Students love seeing their parents at school!
Our math curriculum weaves in games to help reinforce and review math concepts. Students are more motivated to solve math problems while playing a game than doing a worksheet by themselves. The last part of our math lesson each day is set aside for students to play games. We have a board in our room that we use to keep track of the games they play. That way, they play a wide range of games and practice keeping track of their progress. For today’s Parent Breakfast, third graders brought a few of our current games to play with their parents. Students enjoyed becoming the teachers as they taught their parents how to play the games and demonstrated what they knew about estimating, multiplying, and adding multi-digit numbers.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come!
Our class has been working with the book The BFG by Roald Dahl. This book has definitely been one of our favorites so far!
During our literacy block, we have been studying plot diagrams. A plot diagram is an organizational tool that allows the reader to visualize the key features of a story. Fictional texts usually follow a particular pattern. The typical sequence is as follows:
Students not only listened to the story aloud during our literacy block, they also read portions aloud with a buddy. Each day, they practiced responding to a writing prompt about their reading by writing a topic sentence, a few details, and a concluding sentence. To answer the writing prompts, we brainstormed evidence from the text to support our answers.
One of our favorite parts of delving into The BFG was watching the movie to compare and contrast it with the book. To connect with what they learned in their previous writing unit, they wrote an essay that included an introduction, two paragraphs about the similarities and differences, and a concluding paragraph.
We look forward to our literacy block each day! It is important that students have multiple opportunities to listen, read, write, and discuss texts every day in an engaging way to improve as readers.
Engineering challenges are engaging opportunities for students to practice skills they will use the rest of their lives. These challenges require creativity, lots of collaboration, critical thinking, time management, and reflecting.
Last week’s challenge was to design a prototype that would act as a barrier to protect a city from rising water. They worked hard brainstorming and building. This week, third graders were able to put their designs to the test!
This challenge was harder than they thought! Part of the design process is going back to the drawing board after testing. Is there a way to improve the design to have better results? How can we look at the problem from a different angle? They looked at their materials again and tried to use them in different ways. Because materials were limited, they made sure they agreed on a plan before building.
Before undergoing test #2, each group presented to the class how their designs changed and how they worked together as a team. Later as a class, we wrote reflections about how well everyone collaborated and improved their designs. Great job, Third Grade!
On a different note, we had a fun impromptu opportunity to look at a moose heart and to see what it looks like on the inside. There is never a dull moment on the third floor!