The preschool has been exploring how people places and things change over time. After learning about the butterfly life cycle, the students brought in pictures of themselves as babies. The students compared how they looked as babies to how they look today and each made a current self-portrait. As the school year ends, we are exploring other animal life cycles, the changing seasons and how some of the students will be going to kindergarten in the fall.
Above: Discovering the bead wires are magnetic and turns the toy into a tree full of eggs, chrysalis and butterflies. Right: Self-portraits, baby photos and student reflections about change.
Why do birds build nests? What do fish do if there’s a drought? Can dogs see well? These are some of the questions kindergarteners have been asking during our IB Unit: Animal Adventures Around the World! We kicked off this unit with a Hear-Think-Wonder activity where students listened to different animal sounds and guessed the animal. Students then went outside and stood in the wooded area at school. We imagined we were dropped off in the woods and discovered what we would need to survive.
The next part of our unit included many STEM challenges. Students built different habitats, aquariums, goldfish, and constructed an animal of their choice! Through building students have learned the parts of goldfish and snails, different types of shelter, and food that that grows in different habitats. Students studied an animal of their choice and wrote an animal report. We also added pets to our classroom getting goldfish, guppies, water snails, night crawlers, red worms, and pill bugs! Students have had a blast giving worm baths to night crawlers, feeding fish, and having roly-poly races!
First grade wrapped up the year with our Sharing the Planet unit of inquiry. We explored to see how living things have a relationship with their environment. Students created their own island and made a model. They applied what they had learned in the previous units to ensure that the islands included all the parts needed for a productive society.
Our island project spanned a few weeks. We observed the world map and discussed where we would want our islands to be. We looked into the landforms, transportation, laws, and holidays that we could potentially have on our islands. We brainstormed the jobs that would be needed and investigated how to utilize renewable energy to make our islands sustainable. First graders also learned about the needs of plants. We planted ryegrass and alfalfa seeds and watched them grow. We observed the structures of our plants and discussed the functions of the structures. We made connections between plants and animals. We wanted to know if plants and animals have similar needs.
Grade How The World Works: Second grade made an inquiry into How The World Works through exploring how weather affects the way we live each day. Students learned about all different types of weather and how it differs around the world. Students took part in various STEM activities to enrich their understanding of weather, such as making a wind sock, an anemometer, parachutes, etc. Where We Are In Place and Time: Second grade made an inquiry into Where We Are In Place and Time through exploring how various features contribute to change within a community. Students explored concepts of past and present through learning about the history of University School and by learning about our communities history through a virtual field trip with the Monroe County History Center. In addition, they explored their own personal history through making a personal timeline. Students even worked to envision what University School will be like in the year 3021!
Grab a pencil, a clipboard, and a Grade magnifying glass. We’re going on a rock hunt! In our current IB Unit, How the World Works: Rocks, Rock! students are exploring the properties of rocks and minerals. Our third-grade rock hounds have collected an assortment of rocks to examine and categorize into igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock groups. Students learned more about the property of their rocks by conducting various experiments. One such experiment was to stack the rocks by centering the rock’s energy without using any props or glue. This took a lot of focus and patience! Our rock unit continues as our young geologist travel the globe exploring rock formations such as the Grand Canyon, Stonehenge, Petra, the Great Pyramids and everything in between. So, come join us as we learn more about this rock we call earth!
Imagine students excitedly collecting sticks and making a raft that can float. This STEM activity Grade was sparked by reading The Floating House, a river journey to Indiana in the early 1800s. So began our current investigation of journeys in Where We Are in Place and Time. This unit has taken us around the world as students have read novels and picture books about immigrants, refugees, native peoples, and explorers. We have gone into depth about the motivations, obstacles, solutions, and important objects that have impacted these journeys. An in-depth study into the regions of the US has also taken place. Researching a place of interest, taking notes, and writing an informational essay with text features has accompanied this unit. The students have definitely learned that "life is a journey" throughout place and time!
How We Express Ourselves
Inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values. In fifth grade we redirect this to the storytelling which is part of the development of our United States during the American Revolution. Students created characters of common people who could have lived at this point in history and wrote through journals and stories how different people expressed themselves during this time. Historically, some wrote propaganda notices, or speeches, or plays. Others joined and fought on certain sides - Loyalists or Patriots - to express their beliefs. Still others wrote our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Classes listened to or read My Brother Sam is Dead in order to understand the dilemma of war, choosing sides, and losing loved ones to a conflict not understood. In science some explored black box models and how we could investigate what was inside by listening to its story carefully.
Towards the end of the first quarter, sixth grade students started working on the transdisciplinary unit, Who We Are. Unlike most IB units, this unit spans the course of the year. During the unit students complete an open inquiry into a real world issue of their choosing in order to better understand the unit’s central idea that developing an awareness and understanding of inequity empowers us to act. The Primary Years Program Exhibition Project is a significant event in the life of each sixth grade student at University Elementary School, and it allows sixth grade students to synthesize the essential elements of the PYP. Each sixth grade student has spent the past three quarters inquiring about a real-world issue related to one of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals in order to gather information through research. During the third quarter of the year, students conducted interviews and learned how others in the community and world are working towards solutions to solve world problems. Finally, during this last quarter of the year, students are completing the culminating pieces of these inquiries (a paper, presentation, and action plan), and the projects will culminate in a schoolwide, virtual Exhibition Fair. We are excited to share these inquiries and actions with the entire school community on May 24th during the 2021 Virtual Exhibition Fair. A link to student projects will be emailed out on the morning of the 24th for all to view. Virtual projects will include questions, concepts, research, and action plans. Projects will also share ways for students and families to take action to promote change.
Art and Library
How can we come together as a community while following social distancing guidelines? Welcome to the Question Museum! In library class, we had lessons about the art of deep questioning and about museums around the world. Each student came up with one juicy question that they would explore as a piece of art. In art class, students were encouraged to choose their own media to express their questions. They also learned about the art of curation as they helped to physically put the museum together in the library. At-home students are represented in a looping video of their work. Finally, each student wrote artist statements that explained why they chose their question and their media and what they wanted to viewers to think about. Welcome to the only Question Museum in the world!
How fast does the Earth spin?
Is magic real? Why does our history haunt us?
Who made macaroons?
Are aliens real? How do fires start? Are we alone in the universe? Can I be a baby again?
Brood X Cicadas Emerge
Our mission: We at University Elementary School work together to encourage our students to become inquiring, reflective learners who value others in an inclusive community and around the world.
Bloomington, Indiana Spring 2021