April 18, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

The Walking Classroom

walkingclassroomDid you know that exercise helps your brain to work better? It’s true, studies have shown that having an active lifestyle actually helps improve your brain function. Now, what if you could combine exercise and learning into one activity? Our class has been doing just that all year, with The Walking Classroom!

We were fortunate this year to receive a grant of a class set of Walking Classroom WalkKits. Each device is preloaded with over 100 podcasts, on subjects ranging from poetry to science to history. Every week we choose a pace car (a student to set the pace of our walk), and then we go outside to walk. We walk around our school field as we listen to the podcasts. At the end of the walk we discuss what we learned. Usually we listen to the same podcast twice in one week, and at the end of the week we take a test on what we’ve learned.

We have noticed that what the research says about exercise and brain power is true! It’s easy to remember what we learn while we’re walking, even a few weeks later. Last week we finished a three-week unit on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and we noticed at the end of the unit that the details that we heard in the podcast were the easiest ones to remember.

Here are some comments from students about what they like about The Walking Classroom:

I really liked listening to the poetry podcasts. It helped bring the poems to life.

My favorite podcast was the one about Jackie Robinson. It taught me some things I’d never heard before.

When the kids on the podcast talk with their teacher it’s not like a regular lesson. You don’t even realize you’re learning!

It’s a fun change to get to go outside in the middle of the day to walk. I like being able to get out of my seat to work off some energy.

We’re looking forward to learning more from the Walking Classroom in our last few weeks of school! If you want to learn more about The Walking Classroom, you can watch this “Walkumentary”.

For students:

What is the best thing about the Walking Classroom?

What podcast would you like to listen to next?

April 5, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Earth Day Cardboard Challenge, Part 1


We were excited to learn that The Imagination Foundation was sponsoring another cardboard challenge this year! We had a great time at our last one. This time, though, there is a specific theme: The 2016 Earth Day Cardboard Challenge. This challenge goes from April 1 to April 22 (Earth Day). Kids are encouraged to use recyclables to make new creations with an environmental theme.

We have some ideas for later in the month (see this old post for a hint!) But to kick off the month, we reused some old materials to solve a very real problem in our classroom. This year we have round collaboration tables instead of desks in our classroom, and they are wonderful for group work and discussions. The only problem with them comes up at test-taking time, when we each need a private space. The privacy dividers we used to use on our desks didn’t fit very well on the new collaboration tables and they were frustrating to use. With our state testing coming up this month, we knew we needed to find a new solution.

The idea came from cardboard project boards. Usually these get used once and then discarded, but they make great privacy partitions if you cut them in half! (If you didn’t have these project boards, you could use three sides of a cardboard box.) You could leave them blank, color them, or write inspirational messages inside. For ours, though, we decided to decorate the insides with pictures from nature. We cut pictures from a stash of old calendars we had in the classroom, and we each chose the pictures we liked the best to glue inside the dividers. Did you know that a recent study showed that looking at images from nature can help with decision making and self-control? We’re curious to see if it helps us concentrate when we’re taking a test! We’ll let you know what we think after we try them out later this week. Here’s a Flipagram showing some of our finished creations.

What types of nature scenes are most relaxing for you?

What else could you do with a cardboard project divider?

March 7, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman

I is for Iditarod 2016

Iditarod map

Our Iditarod map

The Iditarod Sled Dog Race started on March 5. Just like in past years, several classes at our school are researching and following the race. The difference this year is that normally the race starts during our Spring Break, but this year the first six days of the race will take place before we go on our break, so we’ll really get a chance to see how our mushers progress!

This year we have two ELA and Social Studies classes, so each class researched the musher profiles and wrote opinion pieces about which one we should follow. In the Purple Class, Aliy Zirkle was the top nominee, and in the Blue Class, it was Jeff King. Good luck to both of those mushers! We have a student-made map outside our classroom where we’ll be tracking their progress.


This is where we track each musher’s progress.

This year we have even more of a connection to the race than we’ve had in the past. We’ve Skyped with Miss Holmquist’s fifth grade class in Alaska a few times already this year. Now that it’s Iditarod time, we are doing a collaborative project with them. We are each making an Iditarod Alphabet book which we’ll be exchanging by mail. Each of us chose a word or idea related to the Iditarod and wrote a research page about it, and this week we’ll be compiling them into a book. This Thursday we’ll be Skyping again with Miss Holmquist’s class, and we’re looking forward to learning about the race from primary sources. Miss Holmquist actually went to the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage last Saturday! She sent us some great pictures.

Iditarod start 3/05/16 by K Holmquist. Used with permission.

Iditarod start 3/05/16 by K Holmquist. Used with permission.

We also had the chance to learn more about the geography and climate of Alaska from a park ranger at Denali National Park, who Skyped with us and taught us a lot, especially about Mount Denali. Do you know the difference between measuring a mountain’s height by elevation or by relief?

FullSizeRender (2)

Who do you think will win the Iditarod this year?

January 21, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

#ThrowbackThursday: Mission US

Mission US is always a favorite activity in fifth grade. Students in Mrs. Hamman’s class first wrote about the game way back in August of 2011! Since this year’s class started playing the game today, we are republishing an excerpt of that older post.

Exploring the the American Revolution

In fifth grade, we study the geography and history of the United States in social studies. We’ve been learning about life in the colonies just before the American Revolution. We found a great way to experience what life was life back then through Mission US, an interactive, multimedia adventure.

Mrs. Hamman taught us some background information to explain the first mission of the game, which is called “For Crown or Colony?” After that we all got on our netbooks to explore the game. In the simulation, you play the part of Nathaniel Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice in Boston in 1770. Through the tasks Nathaniel has to perform, you get to meet real people who lived in Boston. You learn about the Loyalists and the Patriots and get to make decisions about who to trust and which side to support. The game introduced us to many primary sources, or actual documents and objects that were created during the time period. We’ve learned that when studying history looking for primary sources is important, so that you know the information you get is reliable.

We recorded our comments after playing the game:

What is one new piece of information you learned from playing Mission US?

January 19, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Before the American Revolution

In Social Studies we’ve been learning about the events that led to the American Revolution. We’ve learned that the Revolution was not caused by just one thing, but by a series of events. We’ve studied the French and Indian War and the various conflicts between the colonists and the British. Here are three activities we did to help us understand these events.

Taxation Without Representation Role Play

Members of the class were given “money” (a small cup of candies). Three students were chosen to serve as the King and his two Tax Collectors. The King started passing “taxes” that affected some class members, but not others; for example, if you had laces on your shoes, the tax collectors took three of your candies, or if you were wearing glasses, they took two. After a few turns we could see how unfair it must have seemed to the colonists when they had to pay taxes whenever the King asked, especially since they had no representatives who could speak for them in Parliament!

Sons of Liberty

We read that the Sons of Liberty had to do a lot of communicating in secret. When they scheduled a meeting, they would fly a red flag from the liberty pole in town. We practiced being Sons of Liberty by getting into groups and building liberty poles with the supplies we were given. The catch was that we had to do all the building in complete silence! It was hard, but it helped us see how the Sons of Liberty had to be careful not to give away their plans.

Boston Massacre

We learned that there was a trial after the Boston Massacre, and there were lots of conflicting opinions about what really happened that night. We went through a series of clues from the scene and read actual witness statements from the trial to compare them. We also studied the famous engraving made by Paul Revere. After we looked at everything, we had to form an opinion about who was most at fault, the colonists or the British soldiers, and write up a report about it.

Here is a Flipagram showing pictures of these activities.

Attribution: Here are links to the original sources on which these three activities were based: Taxation Without Representation Role Play by Kristine Nannini, Sons of Liberty by Mind Missions, Boston Massacre by To Engage Them All.

Next week, we’ll start Mission 1: For Crown or Colony, from Mission US!


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