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March at GAP School

Yellow Crystals

SEL with Janelle

March has been a month to tap into flexible thinking. With big fluctuations in precipitation and temperature the Yellow Crystals demonstrated tremendous resilience and a deep dive into having fun with mud. Some Learners have even identified that mud helps them feel calm. The Yellow Crystals have all shown growth in self awareness and collaboration for social emotional skills. We have integrated a social emotional check in daily that enables all Learners to talk about how they're feeling prior to diving into learning which helps us better understand and support each other. 

As a flock and in their small brain blast groups they have each collaborated on helping to create a calm corner area in each of our main learning areas where they can get a ticket to go to if they are having big feelings that make active listening difficult. In addition they have all identified items they'd like to see in a "treasure chest" that can help their bodies calm. Items include weighted lap pads/blanket, whittling knives, sand paper, play doh, pop-its, and paper and crayons. We love to watch these young Learners demonstrate the confidence to advocate for themselves and the tools they need for self-regulation. 


In addition to expanding leaps and bounds in social emotional learning we have also incorporated weekly focus on nature journaling in order to fine tune visual motor skills such as letter formation and spacing between letters/words. Many of the Yellow Crystals have also been enjoying collage projects that involve cutting, tearing, and gluing paper to support hand and wrist strength which lend themselves to refined pencil grasp and increased endurance for copy work and writing. 

Looking forward to growing more together in April! 

Math & Science with Noni

During the month of March, in maths, we introduced the concept of greater than and less than and the symbols used to identify them. We used our imaginations to envision a hungry alligator (the symbol looking like an alligator mouth) and which side he would be inclined to pursue. We continue to practice dot talks and many Learners expectantly and eagerly complete their daily math sheets.

We revisited the idea of decomposition of a number (division) - for example, using Unifix cubes to show grouping of even numbers into halves, and 9 into three sets of three. The kids played with color patterns to demonstrate this, and built a Unifix pyramid going from 1 to 10 blocks.  Another theme we covered was algebraic thinking, in what we playfully called “monster math” where we became investigators to uncover what the hidden/eaten number is - our goal was to balance the equation. 

For the bluebirds, we set up a series of games using “Lily pads“ with the numbers 1-10 on them - we jumped/identified numbers in order, all mixed up, and skip counted them by 2s. They also located and ran to each number, placed at random in a circle. We will continue this practice next month, as it was a great recognition vehicle and also super fun! The bluebirds and chickadees practiced using the number line to strengthen their subtraction skills. The Robins translated oral story problems into written math sentences. 

We celebrated the spring equinox by learning about equilibrium — understanding the balance of light and dark, sun and moon. From there, we talked about evens and odds - and put it into action by creating a story of going on a picnic with a friend, and the fair distribution of “cookies” (counting gems) to yourself and your buddy. It was magical to see, as we recorded which numbers (10-1) were even or odd, that the kids identified on their own, that there was a pattern — every other one was even or odd. When it comes to math concepts, novel, individual discovery leads to deeper learning, and we were right there, finding our way to greater understanding!

In Science, we have been exploring the world of insects, studying and drawing their anatomies, and even creating our own make believe insects! We’ve learned a lot of really interesting new insect facts and have gained a new appreciation for the diversity and beauty of the insect world. Many Learners have new favorites!

ELA with Emily

March was reading month and the Yellow Crystals have been diving into books, book studies, and reading activities! Phonemic awareness practice continues to help build upon our reading and writing skills as we learn to segment words into phonemes, delete and add & sounds, produce and identify words that rhyme, and clap out syllables. Yellow Crystals continue to work hard as they read BOB books during DEAR time. Each class has started participating in a book study with our favorite book series, The Kingdom of Wrenly! Here we are discussing the theme of the story and furthering our understanding of what common themes are. We continue to play games that allow us to practice reading high frequency words during group games. 

As groups practice writing, we utilize nature journals as a solid part of our routine! Nature journals are a great way to practice using adjectives while writing details and complete sentences while we write about what we notice, what we wonder, and what our nature artifact reminds us of. During nature journals, we have introduced nonfiction books to help support our entries. The purpose of this is to contribute more information from these books to enhance our research. We have broadened our writing as we have participated in narrative writing activities. One activity included painting a picture while listening to music. We painted the emotions we felt as we listened. Next, we narratively wrote the steps that we took in order to complete our project! 

All groups have reviewed nouns, adjectives, and verbs through mad libs group activities. Creating silly mad libs as a group helps us connect, bond, and laugh together, plus it's a fun way to review. First and last name writing continues to be a weekly practice for all groups.

Silver Stardust & Silver Warriors

ELA with Sarah & Michael

This month we have continued to work on writing our fiction stories. We started by brainstorming together then taking our stories on our own creative paths. We used the SWBST prewriting strategy to set the structure for our fiction stories. We discussed how different types of writing require different writing structures. We have discussed story elements before and this month we really utilized these during our brainstorming stages to work out our plans and ensure we are covering all the elements of a story.

In order to understand fictional writing on a deeper level, we practiced skills like making predictions and summarizing before starting our own stories. These skills helped the Learners make decisions when writing their own stories. 

After writing their own stories, students were given the opportunity to share by reading them to the class. We’ve enjoyed these dramatic performances. The audience is tasked with giving the author constructive comments by asking specific questions about the story or by giving specific comments. For example, “I liked the part where ______ because it made me laugh” instead of “I liked the story!” This way the author and audience alike can take note and apply these ideas in their own creations if they choose to. 

Next, students shared their rough drafts with at least 3 peers to practice editing and peer review. After three learners signed off, the rough drafts were brought to an Educator for a final edit before beginning to publish their final copies. Specific skills we practiced editing this month are eliminating double negatives, and identifying homophones. 

As w enter the fourth quarter, we have started reviewing skills we have learned this year with warm up questions and book analysis activities. All Learners have a book analysis instructions page that covers 15 different skills. Students are given a bin of books to choose from, or may use their DEAR books that they are already invested in. After exploring the books, Learners will use the book analysis skills to investigate and analyze their texts. Revisiting and practicing these skills helps the Learners monitor their own reading comprehension and strengthens their active reading strategies. 

Other exciting March updates: Michael joined us! Sarah made an elegant departure. Olive is earthside. 

ELA with Emily

During the month of March, Sycamore and Hickory silver Learners dove into a book study head first! As we read The Chronicles of Narinia The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe we have reviewed nouns (persons, places, and things); and have participated in narrative writing, opinion writing, descriptive writing and author's purpose. 

As we have read, Learners completed a nouns packet where we have filled out a list of main characters and supporting characters, viewed a map of the setting of our story while locating places we have visited, and illustrated & labeled cool things we have seen in Narnia.

While writing, Learners wrote their own creative, narrative story. Learners shared with their classmates a story about what they would see if THEY walked into a mysterious wardrobe. Learners explored their creative imaginations, used descriptive writing to add details, practiced narrative writing and editing, plus practiced oral presentations. 

In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe one of our main characters, Edmund, becomes obsessed with Turkish Delights and betrays his family in order to obtain more. So… our question was, are Turkish Delights really THAT good? It was time to form an opinion! A Triple C friend, Ellis, visited from England (one of our story settings) and brought Turkish Delights with him for us to try! As we tasted, we used our senses to list adjectives to describe our candy. Then, we formed our opinions & rated the deliciousness of the candy. As we continue, we will become authors with the purpose of persuasion. Should others try Turkish Delights? Why or why not? 

Sycamore and Hickory Learners have also learned about homophones and are playing games to practice the different ways we use them. Author's purpose has been introduced by song, anchor chart, and exploration. Learners are also practicing their reading and oral presentation skills as they read and present our favorite Shel Silverstein poems!

Science with Furn

This month has been all about water! Silvers spent the beginning of the month learning about water movement and the water cycle. We played an exciting water cycle game where Learners acted as water droplets and rolled dice to move all around the earth and atmosphere. Learners mapped their journeys, and we had a blast comparing our paths, plus understanding the endless routes water can take, and has taken for billions of years! After diving more into the specifics of the different parts of the water cycle, we did a brief evaporation experiment. Each group set out two water cups in different locations, measuring the original volume and the volume again after a few days. Those few days when our water set out, we enjoyed some very rainy and very warm weather. This gave us a great opportunity to talk about our hypotheses, what affects evaporation, and how different variables can affect experiments. Learners brainstormed everywhere at GAP School that they see the water cycle in action - from Water Chicken to the Nest Bathrooms! We are now collaborating on an all-Silver art multi-media Water Cycle art piece that will map out water flow at GAP. We are excited to finish up this project and continuing our science learning this April!

Math with Kyle

To start off March we practiced utilizing the CUB method to solve word problems. This method stands for Circle the key numbers, Underline the question, and Box the math action words. We also wrote our own word problems for current and future Learners to use! 

The Dogwoods started exploring fractions utilizing shapes. They figured out what shapes can fit into the same size square. They also practiced box multiplication as well as the traditional algorithm of multi-digit multiplication. 

Hickory and Willow: We celebrated Pi Day! We raced to roll the first ten digits of Pi. We also practiced subtracting with borrowing. Hickory and Willows also figured out how to calculate the area of squares and rectangles. 

Sycamore: Utilized base ten blocks to visualize borrowing in subtraction. We practiced visualizing big numbers with base ten blocks. The Sycamores also started reading Lemonade War by Jaqueline Davies. This book has a great story and plenty of math conversations and problems to solve!

Emerald Alpacas with Corrie

March revolved around all things Pi(e) for the Emerald Alpacas. From English Language Arts to math lessons, Learners read, wrote, solved, and ate lots and lots of Pi(e)! A major highlight for the Alpacas was March 14th, Pi day, during which we made 9 pies from scratch over the course of the day. Another passion involved birding. Throughout the day, we paused thoughtfully to identify local flying friends around our outdoor classroom like Carolina wrens, Cardinals, Robins, Pheobes, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, Red-tailed Hawks, and a myriad of woodpeckers. 

In the beginning of the month, ELA focused on nonfiction reading strategies inspired by the Notice and Note Signposts, a set of important writing features in nonfiction texts that readers must pause and analyze in order to understand the passage. The five strategies are: Quoted Words, Numbers and Stats, Contrasts and Contradictions, Word Gaps, and Extreme/Absolute Language. Learners read and anylzed nonfiction texts and will incorporate these features in their own nonfiction writing.

More recently in ELA, the Alpacas are studying the structure of five-paragraph essays as they collaborate on a Pi(e) book which will share the topics we have learned about Pi(e) from the mathematical ratio to the history of pies around the world. Their writing is based on the following formula:

 Essay = (Introduction Paragraph) + 3x(Body Paragrah) + (Closing Paragraph) 

In doing so, they are anaylzing appropriate sources, utilizing prewriting strategies, paraphrasing writing in their own words, spelling commonly used words, and editing their work. 

Math lessons have revolved around– you guessed it– Pi! Learners studied the history and application of this irrational number, plus part of a circle. Diameter, radius, chords, centerpoint, and circumference are key vocabulary terms that helped understand the formula to solve for the area and circumference of circles. They even extended their learning to solve for the area of spheres, cones, and cylinders. This process reviews important skills like multiplication and division of decimals with whole numbers, while introducing algebraic concepts involving variables. 

Knowledge Seekers

March is for the birds! And the Birders! We have wrapped up our birding experiences this month with a bird mapping exercise. Learners practiced mapping the sights and sounds of the birds as well as trying to infer the nature of the bird sounds through the five voices of the birds: companion calls, juvenile begging, territorial calls, song and alarm. After our sit we all came together to share our maps and apply the information to one large group map. Learners in the Silver and Emerald flocks were able to sit still and quietly in the woods for over 30 minutes as we tried our best to observe the birds.  

The month of March also kicked off an exploration in robotics. Cat McGuire, GAP School board member and long time Triple C Camp staff, is supporting us in an extended exploration of robotics and engineering. We have discussed what makes a robot a robot, built art bots, and began designing robots in small groups. This project will continue for Silver and Emerald flocks after spring break as Learners begin to build and iterate designs to bring their robots to life. 

As March wrapped up, we have been planning the school garden looking at square foot planting, companion planting, and exploring seed catalogs. Learners have also explored the spring ephemeral wildflowers and inventorying what is in the woods at GAP. 

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