April Slice of the Apple

Lower School News
Tally Lent
Lower School Head
 

The return to school after being away reaffirms for me the incredible growth your children make, not over just two weeks, but over the course of the school year. The strong, capable children that populate our classrooms, halls, and playing fields are quite remarkable! Our Lower School students returned to school looking a bit taller, some were tan, and there were very noticeable holes in mouths where teeth had been lost or remarkable adult teeth growing in. Hair was longer, hair was shorter, and lots of new shoes were visible. Your children are growing by leaps and bounds right before our eyes.

What a fun April Fools’ Day we had in Lower School this week! I do love the humor and gentle pranks that Lower Schoolers demonstrate, but this year the whole Lower School “got” me! We had our Common Time on Monday, as usual, and I did wonder why every class was a couple minutes late to the Marshall Library. And then they all danced in, wearing beach garb, bathing suits and towels, flip-flops, sunglasses, and hats. They were ready for a great day at the beach! The whole bunch of them and their teachers really pulled off this prank nicely and I loved their joke – and the enjoyment they showed in tricking me! We have a great community!

Spring is an incredibly busy season in all schools and at Applewild we have many exciting events about which to look forward. Last week our first and fourth graders went to Head Start and read to the preschoolers there. Second graders visited their grandfriends at The Gables. The third graders were visited by their buddies from The Arc and had a lot of fun together. These face-to-face interactions are wonderful community service experiences and help our children understand the ways in which we are all alike, even while we are quite different.  Fourth graders have an exciting field trip this month: they will travel to the Tsongas Center in Lowell on April 18. This trip extends their social studies, science, and language arts studies.

Students in kindergarten through third grade will present their musical play The Emperor’s New Clothes on Thursday, April 11 at 4:00 pm and Friday, April 12 at 9:45 a.m. Our students are rehearsing with great gusto and enthusiasm. They have been heard just breaking into song during non-rehearsal moments: they are clearly loving this play! After the play on Thursday afternoon, actors and singers and their families are invited to come to the Multi-Purpose Room for light refreshments to celebrate what we know will be a successful and fun presentation. Our third graders play the leads in the play, while the younger students lend their voices to the chorus and their movements to the stage. Our Arc buddies will join the audience on Friday morning and are among our third graders' greatest fans.

Patriots' Day on April 15 is a day off from school for everyone and there is a Professional Day on April 16; teachers are in school, but students are not. Teachers will be working on curricula and developing professional skills together. We will celebrate Earth Day on April 19 with Lower School and Upper School buddy activities. Our students really enjoy interacting with Upper Schoolers and these activities support our belief in being good stewards of our environment. The Board of Visitors is on April 24 and we look forward to welcoming interested adults in the wider community onto our campus and giving them a glimpse of life here at Applewild.

We are working hard and playing well in Lower School. April’s shower of events will soon sprout into May’s flowering of even busier times! I look forward to seeing you on campus during these lively weeks.

Kindergarten News
Lisa Barrette
Sandi Rantala
Jenny Coeur

Happy Spring!  Students continue to “bloom” inside and outside of the classroom, much like the flowers we hope to see in the coming weeks.  April brings more “firsts” for the kindergartners, one being they will perform in their first school play this month!

In phonics, we will continue working on sound - letter association, rhyming/word families, blending, segmenting, spelling, and syllabicating.  Journal writing will continue, and many students are now independently writing a sentence or two using "inventive spelling" (spelling words the way they phonetically sound).  Students have been introduced to basic consonant digraphs (i.e., /sh/, /ch/ /th/, /wh/, /ck/).  We will continue to work on these as well as learn and practice more “trick” (high-frequency) words.

In math, students will continue to use number bonds to compose and decompose numbers to ten.  They will use their knowledge of the addition symbol (+), subtraction symbol (-), and equals symbol (=) to generate number sentences (i.e. 4+3=7).  We will also continue to strengthen our fluency in addition facts to 10.  We will begin our next module in math, which involves examining numbers above 10 to 100, as well as exploring place value.

In social studies, we continue to practice respect, responsibility, community building, cooperative learning, and citizenship.  Students are very aware of when they have made the right choice and we frequently talk about striving to be "bucket fillers", as opposed to "bucket dippers" based on the book, Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. 

In science, we will be exploring the life cycles of frogs and butterflies.  We will visit the "Frog Pond" on campus to (hopefully) collect tadpoles, and observe them grow in our classroom. Applewild students will also celebrate Earth Day and do a project with their buddies.  With temperatures on the rise, we will be spending more time outside and taking advantage of our outdoor classroom.

We have also recently planted seeds,  and will continue to record observations of plant growth in our science journals each week.

As mentioned earlier, kindergartners will perform in their first play!  The Appleseed play is called "The Emperor’s New Clothes, and will be performed on the afternoon of Thursday, April 11th for parents and guests, and Friday morning for the rest of the school. Thursday’s performance is at 4:00.  Dress rehearsals begin the week of April 8th, so children should bring their costume items to keep at school for that week (we will change in and out of the costumes as needed).  Kindergartners primarily have a singing role in this play.  This is the year that they become exposed to being on stage and performing in front of an audience.  Subsequent years will bring greater involvement and responsibility, and we hope, enjoyment!

Please make sure your child has restocked the top shelf of their locker with a change of clothing.  Melting snow leaves an abundance of mud, and students will be thankful to have an extra pair of socks, pants, shirts, and underwear in their locker. Please don’t forget to label all items.

Have a wonderful month!

Kindergarten at Devens
Jenn Bevilacqua
 

Spring Has Sprung! We are now going into the month of April! We have a very busy month ahead of us! Our children are blooming just like the flowers! They have worked  hard this year and continue to do their best!

 We are beginning our science unit on the signs of spring! We will be exploring our outdoor classroom for signs of spring, like mud! We will be collecting items and bringing them in for our science table to explore them more carefully. We will also be on the lookout for crawling creatures, which will lead us into our bug unit.

In phonics we are using our magnet boards to make CVC words, family words and trick words. We continue to develop our fine motor skills in letter formation. We are creating a book of the alphabet, which will be finished for the end of the year. We continue to fill our journals with simple sentences and stories.

Our math unit on addition and subtraction will be finishing up and we will begin our Unit 5 on numbers 10-20 and counting to 100.

Soon we will planting in our outdoor classroom gardens!

First Grade News
Micaela Caiozzo 

As the spring flowers begin to blossom, so do the writers in first grade. Our prewriting skills include considering what we want to say and how we want to say it. Once we identify our topic, we  work on supporting it with descriptive sentences that include nouns, verbs, and adjectives. During our drafting process, we check to make sure our thoughts are organized and in the right order. When editing our writing, we check for complete sentences, punctuation, capitalization, and neatness. We are also sharing our work with our classmates so they can offer suggestions to improve our writing samples. Students will also be learning more about poetry and write their own poems to publish. First graders will use graphic organizers to guide both their story and poetry writings.

Our phonics work this month will focus on segmenting and blending words with up to five sounds, learning the suffixes /ed/ and /ing/, and we will change our focus from sounds to syllables. The students will be looking at words in larger orthographic parts (syllables, rather than individual sounds). The students will learn to read and spell two-syllable words with closed syllables. We encourage you to continue to practice trick words with your child and listen to them read at home. Updated trick word lists will continue to come home frequently. Please remember that this practice enables them to become more fluent, confident readers. As students read aloud it is important to talk with them about what they have read. Some questions you might ask are, Who are the characters? Where does the story take place? What is the problem? What do you think will happen next? Why do you think the characters feel this way? How would you feel about it? Did you like reading this book? Why or why not? If they read a vocabulary word they may not know, encourage them to re-read the sentence and make a guess about what the word means.

Our math work this month will focus on double-digit addition. We will use quick tens, number bonds, and tape diagrams to illustrate our thinking. We will continue to delve deeper into place value and understanding combinations of numbers. (For example, students will learn how to compose and decompose numbers such as 30= 3 tens 0 ones= 2 tens 10 ones= 1 ten 20 ones= 30 ones). Toward the end of the month, we will begin to study one-, two-, and three-dimensional shapes. We will also learn how to identify if a shape is symmetrical and how to break the shape into parts (fractions).

In social studies, we will be discussing Earth Day and why it is important from a social perspective. We have our final visit of the year to Head Start at the end of this month. Students learned how to  carefully develop their reading, presentation, and social skills in the Head Start classrooms. This has been a great service activity for the first graders and a nice way for them to represent Applewild School in the community.

Second Grade News
Kathie Grzewinski 

The second graders have been getting back into the swing of things after our two-week break. Upon returning, the classroom was abuzz as the students discussed their vacation adventures. It sounds as if a wonderful time was had by all.

After our month-long unit on Aesop Fables, and our wonderful presentation of our skits for Common Time, we will prepare now for our Biography project. After choosing a famous figure, the children will use their reading, writing, library and social studies times to begin their research to complete a biography during the months of April and May. Mrs. Wong will be working with the research portion of the project. Information will be coming at a later date about our culmination.

In math, we will begin Module 5-Strategies for addition and subtraction within 1000 and word problems to 100. We will continue to decompose and will learn new vocabulary words-minuend and subtrahend.

We are very busy in Language Arts. In Fundations, we will work on Units 7-9. We’ll learn about r-controlled syllables-er, ir and ar, as well as the double vowel syllables. In grammar, we’ll continue with sentence structure. For writing, we will continue writing our original versions of Aesop Fables in a hard-covered book. These will be published in our yearly Apple Blossom magazine and we will read our fables to the first graders. We also will having a spring writing packet-”Budding Author” for this month, as well as a poetry unit for National Poetry Month.

In social studies, we will continue with our Junior Atlas and will travel to the continents of Africa and Asia. We will continue with our Core Values, our Gables visits and will complete activities for Earth Day. As you can see, we will certainly be very busy this month!

Third Grade News
Danielle Mannion 

April already? Wow! March has flown by and we got so many important things done. April I’m sure will go by very quickly as well.

In math we have just taken our Mid-Module Assessment for Module 3:  Multiplication and Division with Units of 0, 1, 6-9, and Multiples of 10. Students are persevering through challenging lessons and I am really proud of them for that. By the end of April we should have moved on from Module 3 and have begun Module 4.

In reading, students have read Time for Kids: Theodore Roosevelt or Time for Kids: John F. Kennedy. Students are focusing on all the different types of information located within the text and what they should think about for their own President Projects.

In social studies, students are working very hard on their President Projects. We met with Mrs. Wong, our librarian, and she taught students how to cite their work. We have started researching and have already acquired a good deal of information. Students are really excited with their presidents and I know they are excited to decide how they are going to present their information to the Applewild community.

In writing, students are working extremely hard on their Mayflower Journals! Students chose a passenger on the Mayflower to research, and they are writing in their journals as that person, recounting their journey to the New World.

In language arts we will continue to work in our G.U.M.  (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics) books.  Also in language arts students will continue their work on homophones.  Our list is growing every week and during the month of April we will cover many more. In cursive we will continue learning our capital letters. We will also focus on how to properly connect our cursive letters and how to sign our name.

We will be very busy this month:  please try and keep up! As always if you have any questions please email or call at any time.

Fourth Grade News
Jenn Buck
 

April proves to be an extremely busy month in fourth grade – we have our final field trips, Earth Day, Buddy Day, Board of Visitors – and schoolwork to boot! We will strive to keep our routine as normal as possible. There is still much work to be done!

Our reading/social studies unit is on Immigration, with a focus on the lives and working conditions of those newly arrived in the United States in the late 19th century, particularly young people. We are reading So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl from the Dear America series. It is a historical fiction novel taking place in our very own Lowell, Massachusetts in 1847. In social studies, we will round out our study with multimedia materials, including non-fiction readings and interactive, online tools.  Two of the books we will be reading are Immigrant Kids and Kids at Work, both by Russell Freedman, a prolific author and photo-biographer.  His photographs and text bring the reality of the experience of immigrant children to life.  Of course, our upcoming trip to the Lowell Mills itself will give us a first-hand experience!

April is National Poetry Month, and our writing periods will be spent on a poetry project. Students will be reading and writing different forms of poetry and will make an illustrated book as a culminating project.

In math, our focus will be on fractions, with a focus on fraction equivalence, ordering, and operations.  This is a substantial module and introduces important concepts in preparation for the fifth grade math curriculum. 

In language arts, we will keep plugging away at Wordly Wise, G.U.M., and Spelling. Weekly Wordly Wise assignments and tests will continue, as will weekly spelling tests. In G.U.M., we will complete our unit on usage.

Once Spring is upon us, students can catch the fever and slip into poor study habits and behaviors. Let’s work together to make sure that everyone has a successful end to the year.

Fifth Grade News
Mike Mullins
Jake Schrader
 

Ah Spring!  At last!  This is a time of warmer weather, lighter hearts, and students who can almost taste the first days of summer just ahead.  We here in the fifth grade look forward to a busy and productive April.

In language arts we continue to improve our writing by practicing the Collins approach, and the kids are beginning to mull over which of their pieces will constitute this year’s submission to the Apple Blossom.  Meanwhile, in reading class, we’ll finish reading The Incredible Journey, and then begin reading Surviving the Applewhites, by Stephanie S. Tolan.  The story involves the adjustments the main character, Jake, has to make in order to continue his middle school education.  As a last resort, his grandfather has placed him in an alternative school called The Creative Academy.

In math class the fifth grade is learning about the relationship between decimals and fractions, and how to go from one to the other easily. We will then finish our study of fraction operations by learning to divide fractions both by whole numbers and then by other fractions. These are challenging topics that will take perseverance and patience to master. Once we are done with that we will also spend some time learning to create and analyze data plots.  As always, we’ll continue to develop the students’ basic skills and problem solving abilities.

In social studies, we’ll be leaving Ancient Egypt, and stopping in on the people of Ancient India, where we’ll learn about Hinduism and Buddhism, and life in the Indus River Valley.

Our minds are in full bloom!  See you in May.

Physical Education
Paulo Valentim 

For the month of April, we will be playing a variety of games. Our sport of focus for all of Lower School will be Volleyball. We will be working on fundamental skills like overhead passing, bumping, setting, underhand serving, volley rotation, as well as throwing and catching. Once the basic skills are mastered, we will play several volleyball related games including, Messy Backyard, Beachball Volleyball, Newcomb, Catch 22, Target Ball, Lily Pad Volleyball and Moonball. We will try to get outside as much as possible, playing games like Frisbee, Flag Football, and Spike Ball. Fitness will again be a focus with students working on lunges, jumping jacks, inch worms, sit-ups, push-ups, and squats. Bring on the warm weather!!

La Classe de français
Madame Katy Niose
 

<< C’est le mois de la poésie!>>   (It is poetry month!)

In addition to learning and reciting French poetry this month, kindergarten through fifth grade will be collaborating with the science curriculum in a cross-curricular egg-hatching project!  First through third grade in particular will help document, diagram, and journal this twenty-eight day process, while continuing to focus on metacognitive learning through reflection, collaboration, and making good choices in the learning process.

Kindergarten will learn a poem about a ladybug (Coccinelle by Edmond Rostand), and they will learn spring-themed songs, such as Savez-vous planter les choux, and L’Arbre est dans ses feuilles.

First grade will continue our cross-curricular collaborative work with animals and habitats, performing in-class French skits reinforcing the vocabulary. They will learn spring vocabulary, review the seasons, along with weather patterns associated with each.  Among other poems, they will be learning a silly French poem entitled Bain de Soleil (“Sunbath”) by renowned French poet Jacques Prévert.

Second grade will be learning new spring vocabulary, as well as reviewing the four seasons, along with weather patterns associated with each.  They will continue reading Les Aventures de Nicolas, a colorful chapter book containing familiar vocabulary, and illustrating chapter summaries.  They will also learn a silly poem by Sophie Arnould, entitled Les cinq sens (“The Five Senses”).

Third grade is learning to tell time in French (ask them about military time!).  They are learning how to conjugate several important irregular verbs ALLER (“to go”), ÊTRE (“to be”), AVOIR (“to have”) and FAIRE (“to do/make”), and they will begin conjugating regular verbs in the present tense this month.  They will also learn a traditional French poem about a Parisian time-telling mouse, entitled Quelle Heure est-il? (“What Time is it?”).

Fourth grade will be learning the traditional poem Le fermier et le lapin.  They will create their own “Dream House” games, and will also begin studying the French Food Pyramid this month.

Fifth grade will be learning a witty poem about punctuation by Maurice Carême, among other selections.  They will be creating City Map Games, and they will begin working on their culminating French BIOGRAPHY projects – stay tuned!

Recorder Ensemble and Fifth Grade Band
Frank Bonanno 

In the Fourth Grade Recorder Ensemble and the Fifth Grade Beginner Band, we are now focusing on the compositions for Grandparents/Special Person Day and the Spring Concerts. I have been showing students rehearsal and practice techniques to prepare for the concert. The compositions are more difficult than they have been in the past. These compositions are 2-7 part arrangements. Students need to trust their own reading abilities and not rely on what is being played around them. They have been playing the compositions with more musicality, by using different articulation and dynamics. We are also reviewing how to follow a conductor for clean beginnings and endings, and to help keep the tempos steady. Both ensembles are reviewing proper concert etiquette. The Fourth Grade Recorder Ensemble and the Fifth Grade Beginner Band and I are looking forward to our Spring Concerts.

Lower School Art
Sara Sanford
 

April will be a busy month in the studio! In kindergarten, we are working on our clay sculpture islands, which are based on the book, The Little Island by Golden MacDonald. We are learning about sculpture in the round, and actual texture. First graders will be working on their animal sculptures for their animal research project. We will also begin working on designing the habitats for each of our choices.

Second graders are enjoying the fine art of paper quilling. We are studying butterfly quilling, symmetry, and the effect of line direction and paper shapes on their works. In third grade, we continue to weave our wooden looms. Weaving weft fabric on our warp strings is a challenge, and we are learning about pattern, repetition and texture in our work.

In fourth grade, we are studying functional sculpture. Each student is creating a clay pencil holder based on an animal. Creating a balanced sculpture that can stand alone is difficult, and students are enjoying that problem-solving aspect of the project. In fifth grade, we are continuing our study of color theory. We are working on tints of colors and the process of gradually making a color a tint. We are also working on figure drawing, and creating silhouette figures that depict action for our tint paintings. The studio allows us to think through our work, problem solve, make necessary changes, and to see our work as a fluid experience. Each mistake is an opportunity to learn something new about making art.

Lower School Shop
Sharon McGowan
 

The kindergarten made quick work of completing their ring toss games.  They were quickly engrossed with building their tossing skills.  With only one class before spring break, we built simple frames with popsicle sticks.  The students had several choices to accent the frames before painting them.  Our final kindergarten project will be painting and assembly of a garden whirligig.

The first grade has been very busy painting very colorful balancing toys.  We are ready to glue all the pieces together for the final assembly.  We are talking about choices for the final first grade project.

What colorful tool boxes our second graders have designed and created!  In anticipation of assembling the boxes, we tried two different types of wood screws to see which may work the best.   The second graders are confident in their ability to put the tool box together with ease.  Very soon these beautiful tool boxes will come home.  We are discussing choices for the final project. 

The third grade has made a great start on their glockenspiel.  Cutting the 22 support dowels can be tricky.  The dowels are ¼ inch and split fairly easily.  The students are becoming adept at placing the dowels “just so” in the vice for cutting.  Most of the frames have been cut.  We will be sanding the wood pieces as we begin to cut the 10 lengths of copper tubing.  The third grade will be practicing more difficult measurements in ¼ inch, 8th inch, and 16th inch increments.

The fourth grade amazes me every year with their artistic and creative finishes on their lamps.  This year is no exception.  Nearly all of the students have the base of their lamp assembled.  We will be stringing the brass tubes with the electrical cord before we wire the socket.  These next couple of classes require much small motor coordination and patience with the tiny screws and wires.  Soon, the moment we all anticipate, testing the lamp for the first time!    We are nearly ready to light up Common Time!

Fifth Grade Woodworking
Skip Ciccarelli 

The fifth graders are all very busy completing their projects, from the stool to the bird feeder, with cup holders in between. I am always impressed with the creative  and careful painting and staining that goes on in woodworking. Soon each student will be assigned a bird to make a color picture of. These are birds one would generally see at a feeder in this area. We get to talk about their call and behavior and how some change color with the seasons.     

First and Second Grade Science
Tally Lent
 

First and second graders came back to school after their two weeks away with great science discoveries and experiences to share. These young scientists are always observing and are fascinated by the natural world around them! I love how excited they are about sharing their discoveries.

First graders are exploring the solids portion of our Solids and Liquids Unit. Please ask your child the difference between a solid and a liquid! We have been exploring the properties of solids and we will be building structures that are tall and stable and constructing strong bridges. We will turn our attention to liquids soon, exploring properties of that form of matter. And we will experiment with a substance that is neither solid or liquid!

Second graders culminated their Insect Unit with creative creatures that don’t exist, but that could be insects. Each student made their own insect, placed it in a habitat, with adaptations suited to that place, and devised the predator/prey relationship and the creative’s life cycle. Finally, each student made an oral presentation to the rest of the class about their made-up insect.

Now we have turned our full attention to our Balance and Motion Unit. The second graders are actually a well-balanced group and will soon add spinning and rotating as we explore motion. We will culminate the unit with a room-sized marble run, which is highly anticipated. It will take cooperation, strategizing, persevering, and collaboration to make a marble roll through a thirty-foot run, and I am very sure this group of scientists will be successful!

We have a new generation of mealworms growing our science room and are incubating two goose eggs and ten duck eggs. We candled the eggs this week and found that all are viable and developing.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Science
Jake Schrader
 

This month third graders will finish their investigations on the human body. We have learned about bones, joints, and muscles, so now students are beginning to see the full picture of what goes on within them. After we finish that, we will begin the final unit of study, Earth Materials. This module introduces students to fundamental concepts in Earth Science, and takes advantage of their intrinsic interest in rocks. Students will be “rocking” as they gain experience with rocks and minerals. Metric measuring tools are used to help students gather data about their rocks. Students work like true geologists with their “picks” and goggles as they carefully take apart their own mock rock. They observe, describe, record, and organize their data. Students will learn that rocks are composed of minerals and that minerals cannot be physically separated into other materials.

Fourth grade will spend this month learning about ideas and inventions and, of course, developing a prototype of their own! Students will submit a project proposal, draft material lists, sketch, and workshop ideas on the road to creating their very own prototype. All inventors know that the key to success is creating something that meets a need, so students will focus their thinking on solving a problem that they either see or experience in the world around them.  The inventors, and their support team at home, will perhaps discover that, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Students will have the opportunity to share their creations with peers and practice presentations before the Prototype Promenade, which is held during Grandparents/Special Persons’ Day on May 3rd. More information to come on the details and dates associated with this long-term and very exciting project. I love this project as it truly incorporates all of Applewild’s core competencies: be reflective, think critically, communicate, create, persevere, collaborate.

Fifth graders will spend the month of April diving deep into an exploration of the planets of our solar system. The class will begin with a study of the moon: we’ve already collected some thoughtful questions we want to explore, like: how does it change its appearance throughout the month? Why and how it is a perfect sphere? And why do some people think it’s made of cheese? Once we are finished solving these mysteries and more, we will broaden our focus and think about our entire solar system. This exploration will culminate in a collaborative research project where groups become experts in different planets. They will create a travel brochure to stimulate tourists to stop by, make a website, create a poster detailing information about their planet, or take on another way to visualize and synthesize their research. It’s going to be a ton of work, but by the end we will all know more about space and collaboration!

Library
Molly Wong

April is a busy month at Applewild, and the library is no exception. In honor of National Poetry Month, all grades will spend some time finding, listening to, illustrating and even acting out some poems. Students in grades one through four will also be diving into discussions about digital citizenship and maintaining a healthy digital diet. 

In kindergarten, we will continue exploring the whole library and making independent book choices. We will read a variety of poems, act some out and maybe even write some ourselves.

The first graders will begin their digital citizenship lessons by talking about basic rules for internet safety at school and will go on a “digital field trip” to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. You can explore it at home by going to www.moma.org/interactives/destination. During this online adventure, first grade students will think carefully about what to pack when they go online (the Core Values always fit nicely).

Second graders will enjoy some poetry, help decorate the library with poems, and begin our discussions around digital citizenship. We will be talking about making good decisions about technology, at home and at school. We will also get some practice using the library catalog as we look for materials to support the biography project. If you haven’t already checked it out, here is a Slideshow that highlights some fun biography titles in the Lower School Library.

Because of their intense involvement in the play, students in third grade will be missing a few library sessions in April. When when they are here, they will split their library time between poetry, presidents, and digital citizenship. They will spend some time talking about what information is safe to share online (personal versus private), creating secure passwords, and thinking  about their digital diet. We will also use library time as needed to support their work on the President project.

Students in fourth grade will come back to Digital Citizenship lessons using Google’s Be Interent Awesome activities to support our discussions on being a good digital citizen.

Helping Children Who Think They Understand, But Don’t
Norma Harrington
Learning Specialist 

Children attend school to learn. They study material, share what they know, and take assessments. This cycle of learning, processing, studying and performing is repeated many hundreds of times in a child’s academic life.  All is well as long as the child’s study skills support this process, and as long as the child has adequate metacognitive skills to self-assess and self-monitor understanding.  The reality for many students is that they study hard and prepare for assessments, but fall short when given the exam. They lament, “I knew it last night when I prepared, but did not do very well on the test.” Over and over the child wonders, “What happened?” and parents wonder too.

Two aspects of learning are important in understanding why students sometimes know less than they think they know. The first is familiarity with a given body of knowledge and the second is having partial access to that body of knowledge. When students are familiar with  information, they have seen it somewhere before, but have not made any deep associations with the information and therefore have difficulty recalling it. Being familiar with the material can make  children think they understand it when in actuality their knowledge is superficial and partial at best. Having partial access to material means that a child has knowledge of material like the material being studied but not the material itself. Both these factors set children up to think they  know the material when they really don’t.

Sometimes students prepare for tests and are disappointed when they do not perform as well as they thought they would. Research shows us that several factors often precipitate this scenario:

  1. Re-reading the material without checking for accurate recollection. Recollection is reached when the student accurately and fluently relates information important to answering questions about the material. Just re-reading without relating and associating this information results in familiarity with the material but not understanding.

  2. Shallow processing- Shallow processing is often associated with knowing the key terms belonging to a body of knowledge, but not understanding how they factor into the major concepts of the material. Knowing just the vocabulary can create a false sense of “knowing the material”.

  3. Recalling Related Material- When  students know a lot about a related subject they can be misled to think that they know a lot about the targeted subject, but they actually don’t.  When this happens students often stop listening, stop paying attention and divert attention elsewhere, away from the material that needs to be learned.

Students can become active learners and avoid the pitfalls of superficial knowledge by using effective strategies to prepare for assessments. Daniel T. Willingham,  associate professor of cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Virginia, suggests students utilize these learning strategies to generate deeper understanding when learning new material:

l  When you can explain the material to others, you know it.

l  When preparing for assessments,  articulate what you know in writing- articulate, evaluate, revise.

Test yourself! Make up your own exams; change concepts into questions and answer them in writing.

Use study guides provided by the teacher or self-made. . . or both!

Learning  new material  is an active  cognitive  process directed at creating accurate recollections,  forming strong associations and developing deep understanding. Knowing this can help students realize that learning is hard work which ultimately pays off both in the short and long term.

For further information you may like to view these resources by Daniel T. Willingham:

Why Students Think They Understand When They Don't

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/why-students-think-they-understand-when-they-dont  

How to Help Students See When Their Knowledge Is Superficial or Incomplete

www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/winter-2003-2004/how-help-students-see-when-their-knowledge

Important Dates in April

April 5:            3:30 – 5:15 French Club

April 11:          Devens Kindergarten is on the Main Campus today.

4:00 The Emperor’s New Clothes is presented to family and friends, with a light snack following. Both of our kindergartens are part of this musical.   

Apr. 12:           9:30 Arc buddies come to see their third grade buddies on stage.

9:45 The Emperor’s New Clothes is presented to the school and the Arc buddies. Families are welcome to return to see the play again.

April 15:          Patriots’ Day. No School

April. 16:         No School for students. Professional Day for teachers.

April 18:          Monday Schedule!

8:30 – 2:30 Fourth graders travel to Tsongas Center in Lowell

9:00 Admission Open House. Prospective students and families are invited to come and see Applewild in action.

April 19:          All-School Earth Day activities with Buddies

April 24:          8:00 – 12:00 Board of Visitors

10:00 Second graders to The Gables

April 25:          Devens Kindergarten is on the Main Campus today.

Jennifer Raterman