Sweigart's Stars Classroom Blog (Afternoon Students)

  • End of Trimester 2!

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM

    I cannot believe we have finished another trimester! I also can't believe how much time has passed since my last blog post.


    In math, we are in the fractions unit. This week we are focusing on comparing fractions, and will probably continue with this skill into next week before assessing. We will also incorporate comparing and ordering decimals with this skill. Then, we will move into equivalent fractions. Last with the fractions units is adding fractions with unlike denominators (10th and 100ths).


    For an equivalent fractions lesson, we are going to be doing an activity with Hershey Bars. If you are at the store and can pick some up, I'm sure your student would enjoy that much more than just watching me eat one! Please reach out if you need me to provide one for your student. I can have some in the office in case! For this lesson, I'm aiming for the week of March 15, but may not get to it until the following week.


    We just started a new science unit, Earth's Processes. Students will begin by identifying our continents and oceans, then seeing how our earth is shaped through the theory of plate tectonics. For an activity with this, I will be using graham crackers and cool whip (I'm aiming for Monday, March 15). If your child would like to follow along, I once again suggest picking some up at the grocery store! It's even better if a drop of red food coloring is mixed in!


    Other announcements:

    This week, the Student Lighthouse Team is collecting money for a "Pie" Day activity. Students can donate a dollar for a ticket, which they use to vote for a teacher they would like to see "Pied" on a LIVE ZOOM! I'm in the running, so tell the students to vote for me if they are able to make a donation! The winning class will also get to "Pie" Dr. Frank!!! All proceeds go to the Four Diamonds Fund!


    Lastly, I would like to wish "good luck" to my students returning in-person this week. I may not be your teacher for the remainder of the year, but I will always be your teacher! Please reach out if you need anything or want to share in your joys and struggles. I cannot wait to hear your new teachers brag about how awesome all of you are. You should be so proud of everything you have learned and accomplished this year!!


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  • January 18 - Halfway!?

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 1/18/2021 11:00:00 AM

    According to our Pixel Reflections, we will be halfway through the year after this week! I cannot believe we have already come this far! 


    We are practicing and finishing the multiplication unit. Help Hour this week will be dedicated to practicing and reviewing concepts including multi-digit multiplication. We are applying the skills to word problems this week, then based on student readiness, we may begin assessing by the end of the week.


    In science, we started the energy unit last week. We looked at 4 different types of energy including light, sound, mechanical and heat. We also reflected on how they can be combined (example: a candle is hot and also gives off light).  This week we will begin to focus on magnets, with a design project as our "end in mind".


    Our next unit in math is fractions. I will provide a paper copy of our preview/review packet for parents or students who are interested. I will place them on our table in the front of the school building with my name on them until Friday, January 29. If you take the last copy, please let me or our office administrative assistance know so I can make more copies.


    Just a reminder that I can meet by appointment both before school (7:45-9:00) or during Help Hour (2:20-3:20) if you or your child needs help with something! I do not often check my email on weekends, so please keep that in mind as well! If you have immediate questions about scheduling, you can visit our Bear Creek website. I often provide this information for students on our Schoology page as well.


    A few more reminders: If you are not hearing from me via email about your child's work, that means they are completing their weekly work. I like to say "no news is good news". If you ever have questions about your child's work, you can check our Google Sheet called "What Should I Work On?"



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  • January 4 - What is your word for 2021?

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 1/4/2021

    Wow! We made it to 2021. 

    I'm so thankful for the time to recharge, but it was so nice to see everyone back on Zoom today!


    A few updates to make everyone aware of, as well as current happenings in our classroom!


    I've made an attempt to help students find their work. I've created weekly "lockers" which will house all of the links for students' work each week, in each day of the week. For example, students can click on the "Monday" locker to see what they need to complete for that day. It also includes the links to our work completion google spreadsheet so students are able to self-monitor their work. As a reminder, I have only been updating them on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So far, I've received good feedback from the students regarding the organization of the lockers.


    We took some time on Monday to reflect on how we want to feel by the end of this year, with a focus on our day-to-day feelings. What do we want to accomplish each day? This is how we established our words for the year 2021. I encouraged students to embrace it and display it somewhere in their workstation so they can see it each day. To share a personal bit, my word for 2021 is "balance".


    In the academic aspects of class, we reviewed factors and multiples concepts. I did not have any students log on Zoom during Help Hour for questions about either concept. We are going to continue forward with the multiplication unit: multi-digit multiplication. I will be previewing several strategies and allowing students to choose the strategy that makes the most sense for them. Please be open if students choose a strategy that is not "conventional". I will show them the standard algorithm, but I find that most students prefer a partial product model or lattice method! 


    If you are wondering about how to support your student with these concepts, basic fact practice is a great place to begin. It will make learning the strategies that much easier if students are comfortable with their basic facts. From there, I still will offer the "preview/review" packet in front of our building throughout this week. They will be removed to make room for other materials on Friday, January 8. 


    In science, we are making connections between units of measurement and appropriate limitations of what they can measure. For example, is it appropriate for us to use miles to measure the length of a hallway? What would be a better unit of measurement? Tying in the multiplication unit, students will then use function tables to convert measurments. We focus on the metric system (dividing and multiplying by powers of 10 is so much easier). 


    I hope everyone feels recharged in the new year. I continue to be thankful each and every day for this class we have. The students are showing true perseverance and kindness!

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  • December 11 Update - Conferences and Next Steps!

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 12/11/2020 9:00:00 AM

    Thank you to everyone who scheduled and attended conferences! It was great to touch base with families to hear how things are going on your end! Please reach out if you have not scheduled one, but would still like to talk. I can always schedule conferences before school (7:45-8:30) and during Help Hour (2:20-3:30). This is for any time of year, not just now!


    If you are interested, I've created paper packets to review our multiplication concept. These are available in the vestibule area at the entrance of the school. I will leave them there starting today (Friday, Dec. 11) until Friday December 18. There are only 20, so please inform me if you take the last one.

    This packet will have concepts for the multiplication unit that can be practiced away from the computer screen. There is no commitment or expectation of having it finished, but parents were asking how they can support their children at home as we dive into more difficult concepts.


    There are also extra Pixel Reflections available. This is the emotional check-in that we complete after class every day. It is not mandatory but provides us with an emotional check-in each day.


    In our academic world, we are continuing to practice factors and multiples. Students are moving along really well with this concept, so we will probably assess during the middle of the week. Then, we will move onto multi-digit multiplication as well as zero-property multiplication.


    In science, we finished with elapsed time. We will move onto measurement conversions which use multiplication and division, tying into our current math unit.


    Specials have switched to library and technology, however we have not received the resource folder quite yet. I have been suggesting that students log into Typing.com to practice skills that will help them on the computer, or using the time to visit the library's website to check our our district resources.


    Another announcement: On Monday, December 14th, Mrs. Freiberg and I will be attending a technology conference. There will NOT be a Zoom session. All activities and directions are in students' math folders in Schoology. They can access the work for Monday by logging into Schoology, then clicking on Courses -> Math -> Current Work -> Monday, December 14.

    I will check my Schoology messages and email for trouble-shooting, but the expectation is that students work with their breaks from 9:00 - 11:00 for their morning class and 12:20-2:20 for their afternoon class. Help Hour is availalbe for students who have not completed their work through the day

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  • Week 9 - Celebrate!

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 10/30/2020

    Not only did we celebrate Halloween, but students did an awesome job participating in Red Ribbon Week!

    Thank you to all of you who were willing and able to make it to the Halloween treat pick up! It was so nice to see everyone. One of the challenges of online teaching is the distance, so it was great to get to interact with each of you! 


    Next week, we are finishing our science experiments. Thank you for your patience as we work slowly through the process. If your student began his/her experiment, that is fine! I may just meet with students as needed to adjust their assignment.


    In math, we are continuing to look at problem-solving strategies and will add in addition and subtraction computation with those.

    Just a reminder that we will follow an early dismissal schedule on Friday, November 6. 

    Attached to this post is our Online Learning Newsletter for the week. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the information!

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  • Week 8 Update: Routine!

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 10/23/2020 3:00:00 PM

    I am still so impressed with students this week! We tried some new things again and they always provide such clear feedback to make their education experience better.

    We wrapped up all new concepts with the place value unit and began reviewing. We even had some teachable moments with our review, learning that slow and steady is the way to prove your knowledge and understanding.

    Next week, I'd like for students to feel confident in beginning the place value summative (last, big assessment for the unit). I will offer small group or individual assistance on place value concepts while giving the choice for students who are ready to assess.

    I am also having a planned absence on Wednesday for Leader in Me. Students did a great job completing work on Schoology this past week in an unexpected absence, so we reviewed expectations. I will go over them one more time on Tuesday! 

    After we wrap up place value, we will look at problem-solving with addition and subtraction problems. This is typically a very quick unit! 

    In science, students will be writing their own scientific experiment while learning how to use scientific tools such as a ruler, graduated cylinder and a magnifying tool.

    Next week is also red ribbon week. I will put our spirit days in a separate blog post! 

    Please continue with your open communication! I have enjoyed getting feedback to better your child's learning experience.


    Have a wonderful weekend! PSU football returns!

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  • Week 7 Update

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 10/16/2020 3:00:00 PM

    Students are continuing to impress me! They are helpful with trouble-shooting on chromebooks for both me and their classmates.

    We were sorted into our Harry Potter Houses this week. Students can earn points for helping, work completion, and participating in discussions. While I won't be teaching any "magic", I'm hoping this helps students to feel like they are getting rewarded for their efforts! At the end of each month, we will announce the winner and brainstorm some type of reward!

    In math we started looking at numberlines for rounding. We will continue with this strategy next week.

    In science, we learned about how to turn our data into a graph, and we will work on interpreting those graphs next week. We will also have an experiment if students would like to do it at home. They will need a small plastic cup (smaller than a Solo Cup), and a pack of the same-sized paperclips. My pack has 200 in them.

    Please take the time to view the Online Learning Newsletter for Week 7, and let me know if you have any questions! 

    Keep it up, students and parents! 

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  • Week 5: Consistency

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 10/1/2020 3:00:00 PM

    We are making our way through the place value unit! I am opening the assessment for 3 forms of a number on Friday for students who are ready to assess!

    We are continuing to practice the scientific method. We will do two more experiments next week! Check on Schoology if you would like your child to participate on their own instead of on Zoom! I will post the materials needed and the steps of the experiments.

    Next week in math, we will start talking about comparing numbers to the millions place, and using place value concepts to discuss reasoning for the order of numbers. There is an assessment with this skill, so if students are ready I will open it next week as well.

    Please take a few minutes to view the Online Learning Newsletter

    I would like to celebrate students once again for their efforts, participation and patience. They continue to give me feedback, be on time, and be positive during our meetings! 

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  • Week 3: Patience!

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 9/18/2020 3:00:00 PM

    The theme of this week is patience. Your students have exhibited so much patience as we continue to learn new virtual tools as well as complete assessments to begin the year.


    Most students have finished their Study Island benchmark as well as their Exact Path Diagnostic. The difference: Exact Path is individualized. It will help me to look at the strengths and weak spots in your child's understanding of math. This is especially helpful since different schools were able to cover different amounts of content at the end of the year 2019-2020. Your child will be working through an individualized learning path while in Exact Path. This may also include extension activities.


    Speaking of extension activities, I have been working with Lora Crills to help support your child if they are able to understand grade-level content and are ready for that next step. We are compiling problem-solving resources and activities as well as test-taking skills and project-based learning opportunities. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this.


    Thank you once again for your patience and support this week. If you would like to sign up for an appointment during my office hours, I still have some available in the coming week. I will be opening up more slots as needed.


    Looking ahead at next week, we are going to start looking at the scientific method. If you have not already done so, please contact the office for a school supply bag. Students will begin using their science journals next week in an effort to include screen breaks and physical writing practice. We will also begin looking at problem-solving strategies for math. Most likely, we will begin the Place Value unit the following week (Sept 28).

    If you're wondering why we are doing so much that is not actual curriculum, it is to teach the tools we will be using this year. I want students to feel comfortable taking risks with the technology so they can focus on showing their understanding of concepts later instead of worrying about trouble-shooting with applications.

    Lastly, please take the time to view the Online Learning Newsletter for week 3.


    Thank you for your time, feedback and support. I am so pleased withOnline Learning Newsletter: Week 3 how things are going so far! 

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  • Week 2: Success!

    Posted by Rachel Sweigart on 9/11/2020 10:45:00 AM

    I am so proud of this crew! Students are doing a great job adhering to Zoom norms, participating and being on time.

    It looks like next week we may be ready to start peppering in math and science. If you were wondering why we haven't started yet, I wanted to take as much time as needed to make sure students are ready for online learning. That means we have been working on focusing on being our best selves as well as making connections with our classmates despite the distance.

    We will be completing our math benchmark online and will stick more closely to our daily schedule. Please let me know if you are 

    There are a lot of updates on the Online Learning Newsletter. I've attached the Google Doc to this blog post for you to view.


    Online Learning Newsletter: Week 2

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