University School IB Newsletter December 2021

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December 2021

How We Express Ourselves In art class, students explored a variety of methods of communication as well as communication beyond the human experience.


INQUIRY at U School. In a PYP education, we see inquiry when students: • Think critically about new information • Research to gain new knowledge and insights • Analyze new information and make conclusions • Take action on new learning. Please enjoy this issue, which is dedicated to INQUIRY.

Students in Ms. Weyers' class have been inquiring about the world around them.

At recess, students have been collecting seeds and wondering what they might grow into.


Students in Mrs. Sparks’ class observed mealworms shed their shells, transition to the pupa stage, then finally emerge as darkling beetles.

Ms. Wang’s class observed the marvelous transformation of six painted lady butterflies. Students asked questions and found answers using a variety of tools. We made butterfly life cycle wheels to show the four stages of a butterfly’s life - egg, larva, pupa, and butterfly. Each student colored the pictures differently in correspondence with the butterflies that they liked.


During our Where We Are in Place and Time unit of study, Mrs. Harpring’s second grade class explored maps and their uses. Students brought in maps from home in many different forms to share! Students were inquirers when they were curious and asked questions about maps and their uses. They also learned from each other as they shared their personal experiences with maps.

During our How the World Works unit, Mrs. Loudermilk's fourth grade class explored the concepts of Causation and Change through activities related to the geological processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition. We also applied the concept of Form through the design of salt and flour maps to represent the 3 Regions of Indiana through physical and political mapmaking.


During the sixth grade How the World Works unit, Mrs. Thompson’s students worked in their city-state groups to design and build temples for their city’s acropolis. Students were provided with limited resources and had to use their knowledge of Greek architecture to build their temples. They also had to work in the form of government of their city-state. For example, those who were from Athens, had to vote on every decision they made. Students worked collaboratively and creatively to complete the challenging STEM activity!

Mrs. Piekarsky’s class with guest speaker, Mr. Ben Foley. We learned about his disability and how he gets along in his wheelchair and travels the world!

Mrs. Piekarsky’s fourth grade students were asked to find pictures that represent their values. Collages of their values were then made and shared. This is part of our Who We Are unit.


In Mrs. Grabczak’s class we have been using our senses to explore the world!

“What makes the wind blow?” “Why did leaves change to different colors?”

In Spanish, sixth grade students learned about and created traditional altares and ofrendas for Dia de los Muertos.

They explored the history, culture, and significance of some of the traditional elements such as papel picados, marigolds, calaveras, and pan de muerto.


Students in Ms. Schroeder’s class were inquirers about nonstandard units of measurement. We measured some common objects then made more estimates of length. We finished by measuring friends to see: “How many popsicle sticks-long is a first grader?”

From Ms. Kroll: At Bradford Woods, our Fifth Graders investigated aquatic life in the lake. We found several types of larva and bugs including: horse fly, dragonfly, and water striders. We sampled the lake water and talked about water quality. We made connections between animal life, water quality and the role or impact humans have on this cycle.


In Music class, we explored inquiry through arranging and improvisation. What happens if I arrange these rhythms in a different way? How will it sound if I have the same rhythm pattern as someone else, but change the pitches or instrumentation? Another fun time of inquiry was when 6th graders discovered the elements of music by listening to different audio examples and answering the question, “Is It Music? Why or Why Not?” (Hound Dog” by Elvis got a unanimous “yes,” but the songs and sounds of the humpback whales inspired some interesting discussions about what is and is not music!)

During library time, fourth graders are preparing for more formal inquiry by learning to use reference sources in a unique way. They are using online tools such as the World Book to maneuver their way through escape room of the world’s terrains based on their How the World Works unit.

“Raise your hand if you’ve unlocked the room.”


When Mrs. Kinkead’s class studied How We Organize Ourselves, we learned how the government worked by planning and developing city parks. Students researched costs of equipment and pouring concrete paths, built a model of their parks, and invited in several of our teachers and staff to help us pick the top three parks. We are grateful a community member, David Williams, who was Parks and Recreation director during the building of Switchyard Park, talked to our class and helped us do this project. We also had city council member, Kate Rosenbarger, speak to us about sustainable transportation in Bloomington.

Ms. Yang-Smith’s fourth graders worked with a team of two or three to build a free-standing spaghetti tower out of spaghetti, tape, and string. This was our introduction to How We Express Ourselves. After building their towers, we discussed the different ideas and processes students used to build their tower, what worked, what didn't work, and what students will do differently. We then connected this activity to the engineering design process (EDP). Students reflected on the steps of the EDP they used and didn't use, and how the EDP can help guide them when they are building or creating something.


During a recent lesson in PE, students made a connection to what bowling looked like in the early 20th century. Without today’s automatic pin setting machine, bowlers of the past needed the help of hired ‘pinboys’ to set each pin by hand and return the ball. Students were asked to look at a picture from 1908 and compare all the similarities and differences of what they might see in a bowling alley of our present time. The class then watched a 3D animated video of how a modern bowling alley works and learned about the technology of the automatic scoring and pin setting machine. To finish the lesson students were finally asked what they thought bowling might look like 100 years in the future. A lot of responses were predicting holograms and virtual reality like experiences. Then of course we just had to have a bowling disco party and light show in the dark! The kids had a blast and I discovered my new favorite activity in PE.


Ms. Antrim’s class is currently in our Where We Are in Place and Time unit. Our central idea is: “People immigrate in response to opportunities and challenges.” We brainstormed our wonderings about immigration and why we think people move / immigrate. We are reading various stories to help us understand this concept and keeping track of reasons humans migrate/immigrate; if the movement is a push or pull factor; and the challenges humans face along the way.

Grandparents’ stereopticon.

Students in Ms. Schroeder’s class were inquirers about the past.

Students asked families to share objects to show how our lives change over time. Great-GreatGrandma’s fur muff


Ms. Hays’ sixth grade class has been working on building our scientific knowledge about energy and energy transformations. This goes along with our current IB unit where we have been exploring how models work to aid in our understanding of intangible systems in the world around us. Through kinesthetic and hands-on learning, we can bring these concepts to life and have them be a little bit more concrete. An example of this is when we put our knowledge of potential and kinetic energy to the test by working together to build our paper roller coasters! Students learned about the effect of potential energy on kinetic, the impact that friction can have on energy conversions, and they gained valuable experience working with a team of peers toward a common goal.

During our Where We Are in Place and Time Unit, third grade students in Miss Wiggins’ class have been inquiring about migration and immigration. One of our key concepts is causation. The question we ask is “Why is it like this?” In Science we have explored the movement of animals as well as animals moving other things. One of our lessons focused on how flowers reproduce, highlighting the key concept of causation. We learned flowers reproduce when insects, wind, or other natural forces move pollen from one flower to another of like kind. We made our own bees and simulated this movement.


During our Sharing the Planet Unit of Inquiry, Ms. Kopp’s second grade students took a hands-on approach to learn about the mealworm to darkling beetle life cycle. Students also have been inquiring into the life cycle of trees, creating a Tree Journal to document our classroom tree named Leafy. They asked questions, made observations, shared ideas and documented the daily changes.

From Mr. Keltner’s fifth grade: Learning about the water and creatures in the creek at Bradford Woods was fun and I would like to learn more about other creatures! -Wyatt


Ms. Cerwinske’s class created an interactive map of Greece with surrounding countries and bodies of water when learning about ancient civilizations and the role geography and available resources played in how civilizations developed, traded, and colonized. This activity was part of understanding how the development of modern societies is supported through understanding our place in relation to the past under the transdisciplinary theme, Where We Are in Place and Time. We also conducted a mock clinical trial to learn about the history and progression, as well as the ethics, of studying people scientifically. The class learned about experimental design, variables, placebos, and the development of modern medicine, testing, and regulations based on past histories.

From Mr. Keltner’s fifth grade: I wish we could learn more about the Constitution because I really enjoyed learning about the Bill of Rights. -Levi


At Bradford Woods, fifth graders learned how to make shelters from items found in nature. We worked together to build the best shelter for a group to spend the night in the woods! Not that we needed to, but just in case! Ms. Breeden’s class is about to conclude our Where we are in Place and Time unit where we studied immigration. We focused on how people immigrate in response to opportunities and challenges that they experience. The students each came up with a color, symbol and image that they thought accurately represented immigration and the hardships that immigrants face. In conclusion to the unit we discussed the things that we learned and the things that we still wonder about.


Throughout our Sharing the Planet Unit of Inquiry, students in Ms. Eastes’ second grade had many opportunities to be inquisitive with hands-on activities. Students looked at the various stages of a beetle, starting with the mealworm. From their observations, students reflected on what they noticed, what they wondered, and what it reminded them of. Students also were inquiring about the stages of the pumpkin life cycle. Along with asking questions, they observed and discussed the beginning stages, starting with the seed.

Ms. Weisenbach’s fifth grade class recently read a book about wildlife found in vernal pools. We enjoyed using our inquisitiveness by researching vernal pools and creating posters to help save them. Students enjoyed finding answers to questions they had about vernal pools in their research. They also enjoyed showing support for saving bits of our environment.


After students in Mrs. McGarry’s class learned all about maps they had a chance to explore digital maps on their iPads. They had fun finding our school and their houses on the maps. We zoomed out to see all seven continents. After learning about how maps can change over time, students learned about how other things change over time. We learned about changes in transportation. This timeline showed the changes from a horse and buggy all the way to the Space Shuttle. Then students watched the first launch of the Space Shuttle from 40 years ago! We ended our inquiry into how things change by making butter the oldfashioned way. It was hard work but having homemade butter for snack was our reward.

Ms. Kroll’s fifth graders made inquiries into the scientific method by dissolving candy corn into liquid. We weighed the liquid and candy corn before the experiment, after the candy dissolved, and then we graphed our results.


PARENTS : Has your child : • been an inquirer at home? • talked to you about a classroom unit of inquiry? • taken action on new learning? Please consider sharing a story or photo for an upcoming issue. Email IB coordinator Mary D’Eliso at mdeliso@mccsc.edu . Thank you!


Do bats hibernate? Which came first: the color orange or the fruit orange? If sleeping is good for your brain, then why can’t we do it in school ?

Who gets to vote?

How do worms know where to go?

STUDENTS ARE WONDERING:

Why do people need the sense of smell?

Some wonders heard around the building

Why can’t I tickle myself?

Can unicorns do anything they want to do?

Why do squirrels have big, bushy tails? How do fireworks go up?

Why is our country named America?

How do birds lay eggs?


University Elementary School Bloomington, Indiana