NewsFlash


Options Department Highlights:


April 2017


Please click on the Photos Link for classroom snapshots!

Check out the Classroom Websites for More Information!



From the Desk of Ms. Kaim (1
st Grade)


The first graders tested the strength of paper towels for their science fair projects. They followed the scientific method and worked in groups to create their presentation boards. The boys and girls discovered that the brand of paper towels used by Bell School was by far the weakest one tested! L


After reading Miss Rumphius, we also participated in activities to help beautify Bell School. The boys and girls tidied up the Butterfly Garden and painted the benches inside. They were thrilled to see that the bulbs they planted in the fall were now beautiful daffodil and tulip flowers.


The Continent of the Month was Australia. The first graders learned about the Great Barrier Reef, the traditional arts of the aboriginal people, unique animals like the emu, and Australian slang. After reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, the boys and girls wrote their own “terrible” stories.


The biggest event of the month had to be the beginning of the eggciting egg to chick experience. The first graders are learning about the life cycle of chickens and taking care of the eggs in the incubator. Chicks are due to hatch in early May!


From the Desk of Ms. Poczik (2nd Grade)


April has been a busy month in room 106. We hosted the 3rd annual Reading Fair. The Second graders read a book of their choice and created a display board about their book. Some dressed up as characters other had fun things to pass out to our fair visitors. First through Fourth graders walked through the fair and found some new books they wanted to read. For past students, it was a fun time to remember what book they did for the fair. We also kicked off Genius Hour. This is a one hour block every week on Friday were the students get to explore their passions. We have brainstormed things we are into, we have selected a topic and posed an essential question. Now, we are busy with our research. Soon the students will be working on their final projects and will then present them to the class. Some of our topics include sewing, baking, coding, sports, animals, video games, water scarcity, and so much more. I am so proud of my young minds and hard workers in my room! Looking forward to an even better May! 


From the Desk of Ms. Milstein (4th Grade)


The students in Room 208 took some time at the end of third quarter to reflect on their strengths, challenges and experiences in 4th grade so far. After contemplating and answering many questions that helped the 4th graders think deeply about their year, the students selected what they viewed as the most important elements to share, and planned their own student-led conferences. It was a wonderful experience for the students, parents and myself to attend a meeting completely planned and executed by the students themselves.


In social studies, we have been immersed in our unit on the Civil War. Similar to our previous unit on Westward Expansion, the class is learning about the Civil War through the perspective of people who were alive during that time. We have explored the viewpoints of many different groups of people in order to create an all encompassing view of these moments in history. The students loved hearing speeches given by presidential candidates, reading newspaper articles announcing important events, and analyzing personal letters written by members of both the Union and Confederacy to deeply explore our nation's past.


As the students grow closer to becoming 5th graders each day, across all subject areas the class is practicing their self-directedness, responsibility and independence. The 4th graders are learning and practicing how to manage multiple long-term assignments, nightly homework, extracurriculars, and making wise decisions with free time in class. As the school year carries on, we will continue using these skills while learning, investigating and growing.


From the Desk of Ms. Anderson (5th Grade)


317 has wrapped up a mini unit on stories from The Jungle Book, while examining the role of nature vs. nurture in decision-making, as well as the motivations behind choosing specific animals to be portrayed as archetypes in the stories. This is a great transition into our allegory discussion, and the start of Animal Farm in reading. We are working hard in writing to gather bits for a final autobiography project before the year's end. Stay tuned for details! 


We've embarked on a close examination of central measures of distribution in math, such as mean, median, mode, and range. During this examination, we are justifying our reasons for choosing one measure over another. This will lead into our last math project of the school year, which will beg the question, "Is Anyone Typical?"


Science has been an exciting and busy time with the wrap-up of Science Fair, and the continuation of our Earth Science unit. We are exploring different types of sedimentary rocks. Fifth grade will also visit Robert Crown in May and begin a health unit on our changing bodies.


Great ancient mysteries are being investigated during Social Studies, including who is responsible for the alphabet and whether or not King Tut was (gasp!) murdered. This will lead into our Ancient Egypt unit, with an analysis of living near the Nile.



From the Desk of Mr. Klein (7th Grade/Upper Grades Science)


Spring break is over and the fourth quarter has begun. Summer is approaching quickly. The seventh graders have had a number of items on their agenda as of late: choreographing the video for the Steppin’ 2017 fundraiser, judging the junior science fair, getting excited about the overnight field trip to Camp Duncan, and preparing for the MAP testing that will take place on the afternoons of Tuesday, May 23rd and Thursday, May 25th. In the classroom, the focus in chemistry has been on exploring chemical equations. In literature, the students have been given greater freedom to explore genres of their own choosing and to select projects that best fit their learning styles.



From the Desk of Mr. Schoenbeck (8th Grade/Upper Grades Social Studies)


In 6th Grade Social Studies, we're at the tail end of our unit on the Renaissance.  Connecting the Renaissance to the Liberal Arts education, we are asking the question, "How did the Renaissance change the way people view themselves and the world?"  As a final project, the students are designing a sample course of study, justifying how their proposed part of education would be beneficial and change the way we think.  They'll have the opportunity to sign up for each other's classes, and will teach a sample lesson from their field of study to each other. 


In 7th grade Social Studies, we are exploring the causes of the Civil War. The next unit continues with the war itself, and that's basically it for the year. That will give us a good background to continue American History next year with Reconstruction.


In 8th grade Social Studies, we are in the final stages of our unit on the Progressive Age with a project I call "Where would you spend your $1 million?" Groups are creating public service campaigns addressing the problems of the Gilded/Progressive age. We will then take the role of philanthropists and decide which issues deserve our money and will have the biggest impact on improving the country around the turn of the century.


In 8th grade Reading, we are continuing our unit on Non-fiction. I'm reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson aloud. The students are presenting their non-fiction Independent Reading Projects this week, and non-fiction Literature Circles will be wrapping up next week.





Options Department Highlights:

March 2017





 

Dear Options Parents:


In respect to the Chicago Teacher’s Union “Work to Rule” action, and in solidarity with our colleagues here at Bell and throughout the city, we have chosen to forego this month’s Options Newsletter. The “Work to Rule” is a response to the actions of the Chicago Public Schools cutting our Professional Development time, furloughing us in violation of our contract, threatening to close schools three weeks early, and in general asking us to do more and more with less and less.


While this action may seem largely symbolic, we think it’s important to send a message that CPS cannot expect schools to run normally if they keep cutting, insulting, demanding and disrupting the work we’re trying to do.


This was actually a difficult decision for us as a department, and on the surface the Newsletter is just “one little thing….” However, the current environment is such that a hundred “little things” add up quickly, and at this time we have to make many difficult decisions about what can be accomplished meaningfully with the current demands on our time, talents and energy.


We hope you’ll understand our decision, and encourage you to contact CPS to add your voice to the growing chorus of teachers, parents, administrators and the public in demanding that CPS makes big changes to get back on track.


Sincerely,


The Options Teachers






Options Department Highlights:

February 2017


Please click on the Photos Link for classroom snapshots!

Check out the Classroom Websites for More Information!



From the Desk of Ms. Kaim (1
st Grade)


The first graders learned about earth materials during the month of February. They investigated volcanic rocks, volcanoes, the Ring of Fire, and earth layers. They also explored river rocks, which they sorted by size using screens and using water. The books Stone Soup and Hill of Fire added to our lessons about earth materials.


Africa was our Continent of the Month. The boys and girls read Anansi stories, examined African fabric samples, learned how to play mancala, and made thumb pianos. Other social studies lessons during the month focused on Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Presidents’ Day, and Alexander Graham Bell.


The first graders began participating in the Circesteem Residency in February. Among other activities, they have been spinning plates, juggling scarves, and walking on a tightrope!


There were two field trips for the boys and girls in 104 this month. They attended a performance of Elephant and Piggie: We are in a Play! and tapped sugar maple trees for sap at North Park Village Nature Center.


Math lessons focused on learning and using a variety of strategies to add and subtract numbers. The big event of the month was celebrating the Hundredth Day of School. Every activity on the big day had something to do with the number 100. In addition, each student wrote a 100-page book on a topic of his/her choice. These books will be shared with family members and our fifth grade buddies during an upcoming Meet the Authors event.


From the Desk of Ms. Poczik (2nd Grade)


February was a very busy month in Room 106. We finished our novel Bunnicula and completed end-of-the-novel projects. Students created models of the bunny, mobiles displaying the characters, dioramas depicting favorite scenes, and crossword puzzles on the computer. These projects are a great way for the students to show their knowledge of the novel in a fun and creative way. In math, we have completed division and have moved into fractions! In science, we are learning all about water and climates. We have been working on some great lab activities. We also got really involved in the Wish List campaign. Students donated spare change to be used for the Wish List and to help send Bell staff to the party. We can't wait until we participate in the Lookingglass Residency next year!


From the Desk of Ms. Barron (3rd Grade)


Room 201 is enjoying learning about the human body. In fact, we have some very deep thinkers! Check out the Photos Link to see us wearing our Brain Hats.


From the Desk of Ms. Milstein (4th Grade)


The second quarter brought us several new units in Room 208. In math, we have been working on dividing decimals. The students explored concepts in various ways in order to understand what is actually happening to a number when it’s divided by a decimal. After this foundational understanding was established, the class was able to apply quick procedures to solve the division problems. See examples of some hands-on work to demonstrate division problems involving decimals in the dividend and divisor on the photos page.


We’ve also been busy in Science. We ended the month of January with a field trip to Columbia College where the class applied the scientific method to test flight of differently weighted paper planes. The class loved being inside a college laboratory and putting their hypotheses to test. We also had an opportunity to take a virtual field trip with the Shedd Aquarium. Our class was connected though live video stream to the animal hospital inside the Shedd. The class observed routine check-ups of various animals while taking notes as if they were the physicians themselves. We also had an opportunity to ask and answer questions with the director of the program. Check out the photos page to see the kids in Room 208 in action during both of these exciting endeavors.


From the Desk of Ms. Anderson (5th Grade)


Room 317 is busy in all subject areas this time of year. Reading has been full of rich discussion based on a Junior Great Books story called "The Three Storytellers." The story led to discussion about values, leadership, and artfulness. It culminated in a discussion and creative writing. We are now beginning a memoir about the Chinese Cultural Revolution called Red Scarf Girl. We've identified strengths and weaknesses of examining a memoir, as well as read many background articles and primary sources about the Cultural Revolution and the events leading up to the time period. Other literacy activities include an in-depth look at verbs during grammar, and a group informational planetary guide during writing (which connects to our Science unit).


Math class is a busy time, with a unit on Geometry wrapping up and the group design of our school-themed aquariums using surface area, volume, and scale. We will present to our classmates soon using reports, blueprints, nets, and persuasive letters. Math instruction is moving on to variables and patterns, with a look at graphs and time/distance rates.


Science is an exciting time where we've taken a long look at the wonders of the solar system and beyond. Some of us stayed in the classroom during lunch to view the live-streaming of the NASA press conference on exoplanets. We've scaled the solar system, discussed the importance of light to astronomers, and the big questions astronomers are tackling. After the completion of the unit, we'll move on to Science Fair and Earth Science.


The investigation of early civilizations during Social Studies continues, with a trip to the Field Museum on the horizon. We are embarking on a debate about Sumerian city-states. Was Sumer a great civilization? We've been creating Neolithic comics, and will tackle "Help Wanted" ads as we continue our journey in the ancient world.


From the desk of Mr. Prince (6th Grade/Upper Grades Math)


Currently the 6th graders in room 303 are working on Julius Caesar with Miss Barr and also reading The Giver. They have also completed identity projects.


In Math, the 6th graders are beginning a unit on probability. The 7th graders are beginning a unit on systems of linear equations. The 8th grade students are working on all things quadratic!


From the Desk of Mr. Klein (7th Grade/Upper Grades Science)


Spring has sprung, or so it seems. In seventh grade literature, the interrelated concepts of love and hate have given way to the theme of families, as can be seen in the writings of Tillie Olson, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Mary Hood, and Gish Jen.


In their study of physics, sixth graders are exploring calorimetry and determining how to increase the effectiveness of a water wheel. Upcoming studies will include explorations of engineering design, electricity (with special focus on series and parallel circuits, electroscopes, measuring cell potential, and the concept of resistance), microscope design, electrolysis, and photography.


In their study of chemistry, seventh graders are visualizing chemical formulas and balancing chemical equations. Upcoming studies will include examination of properties of acids and bases, testing the pain relieving ability of aspirin, conduction of flame tests, exploring chromatography as it applies to food dyes, and creation of super balls and magnetic slime.


In their study of biology, eighth graders are exploring the concepts of evolution, classification, and the history of life. Upcoming studies will delve more deeply into the ideas of natural selection, adaptation, fitness, gene pool, and allele frequency.


From the Desk of Mr. Schoenbeck (8th Grade/Upper Grades Social Studies)


In 6th Grade Social Studies, we're finishing Part II of our Unit on "Neglected History." Following our exploration of Mansa Musa's hajj, we are studying the Byzantine Empire and asking the question, Why do some figures/ periods of history get more attention than others? Why does Alexander the Great get a chapter in the textbook and Mansa Musa gets a paragraph? Why does everyone know a lot about Egypt, but most people couldn't name a single Byzantine emperor? The students enjoyed performing dialogues about the hajj, writing a Journal imagining the journey, debating which unit (Mansa Musa or Byzantine) Mr. Schoenbeck should teach next year (I intend to do both...), and writing Point/Counterpoint essays comparing the Byzantines and their influence/legacy to other units we've done.


In 7th grade Social Studies, we are approaching the end of our very long (but very important) Constitution Unit. The students have completed several of the final assessments for the unit, and a starting to prepare for the culminating assessment: sitting for a panel where they will be grilled on their knowledge and be asked to evaluate its strengths, weaknesses and applications.


In 8th grade Social Studies, we are preparing for our debate on Andrew Carnegie. As THE legendary figure of the Industrial Age, is he a great American hero because of his accomplishments and philanthropy, or should he be viewed as a warning, the impetus for reform legislation and monopoly-busting (and where we are once again moving towards giant corporations and deregulation).


In 8th grade Reading, we are just starting a unit on Non-fiction. My read aloud is about Philosophy (Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar), and we're about to start Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell as a whole-class text.








Options Department Highlights:

December 2016-January 2017


Please click on the Photos Link for classroom snapshots!

Check out the Classroom Websites for More Information!



From the Desk of Ms. Kaim (1st Grade)


The first graders finished reading Flat Stanley in December and then mailed him to different places around the world. They are now eagerly waiting to hear back from him!
December’s continent of the month was South America. The first graders read The Great Kapok Tree and learned about the Amazon rain forest. In January, we read A New Coat for Anna and The Story of Ferdinand as part of our study of Europe. Our culminating activity will be Taste of Europe at the end of the month.


After completing a math unit focusing on place value, we have moved on to learning a variety of strategies to help master the basic addition and subtraction facts. The first graders have also been busy at work on their projects for the 100th day of school coming up in February.


We continued exploring states of matter during science. The students investigated a variety of mixtures. The final activity was the exploration of salt crystals.


Field trips have taken us to the theatre to see performances of A Christmas Carol and Fable-ous. The first graders also visited Historic Wagner Farm and wrote opinion essays about what they considered to be the best farm animal.


In other first grade news, the boys and girls participated in a pajama drive in December. They welcomed new red wiggler worms to the classroom compost bin in January. They also worked with their fifth grade buddies to create projects about being responsible, honest, and caring community members.



From the Desk of Ms. Poczik (2nd Grade)



Happy New Year from Room 106! We are starting 2017 on the right foot as published authors! Through the company Student Treasures we have created our own ABC's of Bell School book. Each child researched and wrote about something related to Bell School. Our books just arrived and they are amazing! In reading, we have started our new novel
Bunnicula. We are enjoying the book and learning so many new vocabulary words. Over winter break, the kids created town projects. These projects were a great way to practice arrays. We have had a great month and we are looking forward to starting Quarter 3 in February!



From the Desk of Ms. Barron (3rd Grade)


Room 201 is enjoying the Lookingglass Residency program. The children in Mrs. Barron's group spent some time revising their script with the Lookingglass artist. They are now eager to be moving into the next phase of the program learning performance skills. Thank you to everyone for supporting this wonderful program.


From the Desk of Ms. Milstein (4th Grade)


During the months of December and January, the 4
th graders in Room 208 have been traveling the Oregon Trail. Supplementing our social studies unit, the class has been divided into three “wagon” groups for a game-based simulation of westward expansion. Inspired by the computer game popular in former decades, the wagon groups work together to make decisions about purchasing supplies, dealing with environmental factors and facing other challenges similar to those experienced in the 1800s. Each choice is followed by a consequence that teaches more about the circumstances of this time in US history. The groups earn money that they need to purchase and restock supplies by completing quality work, and demonstrating positive behavior and choices. It has been a great opportunity to explore the social studies curriculum in an engaging way, motivate students, and to participate in critical thinking and discussion. We will be reaching our final destination on the long journey at the end of the month.


From the Desk of Ms. Anderson (5th Grade)


Room 317 came back ready for the New Year! We've been reflecting on our Winter Break and moving forward to our resolutions of 2017 in writing. We'll move onto planetary guidebooks, which will be a loosely collaborative effort by the end of the month. Before Winter Break, our reading focus was a Jerry Spinelli author study. We read Maniac Magee as a group, and then divided up to form literature circles reading other Jerry Spinelli classics. Our class novel this month is Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which is based on a true story. The novel has been supplemented by articles on Japanese history and culture, as well as articles on World War II on the Pacific front, and a nonfiction account of Sadako's life. The novel has sparked inspiration for our Wish List art installment which we hope you'll check out at the Gala!


We continue to accomplish a lot during math, including a unit on fractions before the break. We started back up with a unit on measurement, including area, perimeter, and volume. We are working on a group project where we are scaling plans for a school-themed aquarium. Science is continuing our exploration on space. We spent much of December examining the moon, and we have moved on to planets. Our planetary study will connect to our writing assignment above. Science Fair organizing will begin near the start of third quarter. Finally, we are exploring the ancient past in Social Studies. We had a cave hunt, and we focused on really early "man". Mesopotamia is up next, with an exploration of early civilization trends.


From the Desk of Ms. Miller (6th Grade Update)

There has been a staffing change in our 6th grade program. Ms. Urbinati informed me that she had to resign from CPS over the winter break due to an unexpected family situation. While these situations are never easy, we recruited several candidates and we are pleased to announce that we have asked Mr. Bill Prince to join our staff as the new 6th grade teacher. As a member of our upper departmental team, Mr. Prince will teach math to all of our 6th, 7th and 8th graders as well as 6th grade language arts. He comes to us from Newberry Academy and has over 20 years of teaching experience at the middle school level. We are very excited to have him join our staff on Monday, February 6th.


From the Desk of Mr. Klein (7th Grade/Upper Grades Science)


As the first half of the year is rapidly coming to a close and science fair is but a distant memory (except for those five projects that will be presented at the Brookfield Zoo science fair in February and the three that will be in competition at the city science fair in March), room 225 continues to move forward in the other disciplines. In literature, the class is working on visual projects to represent the interrelated concepts of roots, culture, and identity. The focus of the readings has shifted to complex relationship of love and hate as found in prose, verse, and non-fiction. Science has moved from an exploration of chemical reactions to a look at the relevance of density. In social studies, the emphasis is on the very topical issue of the writing of the United States Constitution.


From the Desk of Mr. Schoenbeck (8th Grade/Upper Grades Social Studies)


In 8th grade reading, we are coming to the end of our unit looking critically at young adult realistic fiction as a genre: what are the tricks, patters, manipulations, appeals, etc. We've all finished two John Green novels, are wrapping up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe as a Read-aloud, and are putting together our Independent Reading Projects to present how all these books operate together as a genre-within-a-genre.


In 8th Grade Social Studie
s, we are finishing our unit on "The American Myth", looking at how popular culture and media portray certain periods of history with stereotypes, bias, and distortions/omissions of the truth. Right now we are preparing to debate our case study: "How Violent was the Old West?" Looking ahead, our next unit will be centered around American Industrialism.


In 7th Grade Social Studies, our Constitution unit continues. Part I (Origins and Influences) and Part II (Development, or "no one likes to know how the sausage is made...") have been thoroughly covered. We are working on Part III (How it Works). We have also used these early steps to emphasize styles of note-taking (outlines, Cornell notes, Mind-mapping, etc.) and have really practiced how to make our notes organized, thorough, brief and pithy. Essential work (though not the most exciting). We have spiced it up a bit with some mock Judicial hearings on actual court cases involving young people in the schools (Freedom of Expression in "Hazelwood Schools v. Kuhlmeier", and Search and Seizure in "New Jersey Schools v. T.L.O.").


In 6th Grade Social Studies, we just finished our unit on cultural stereotypes and sensitivity by debating "How Barbaric were the Mongols?" We are starting a unit on "Neglected History", with our Essential Question: "How do historians and educators decide what's most important....how much of the textbook should you get?" Our Case Study is Mansa Musa, and the students are very excited with their initial entries in their faux Travel Journals. We're throwing a little bit of improv in there too, trying to imagine and infer character interactions on this journey. Another "Neglected History" mini-unit on the Byzantine Empire will complement this work.




Options Department Highlights:

November 2016


Please click on the Photos Link for classroom snapshots!

Check out the Classroom Websites for More Information!



From the Desk of Ms. Kaim (1st Grade)


During November, the first graders spent time thinking about what it means to be thankful. They learned how to write friendly letters and then wrote sweet thank you letters to their parents. The first graders were thrilled to mail these letters themselves during a secret field trip to the neighborhood mailbox.


The students were also very excited when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series! On the day after Game Seven, we visited the Chicago Botanic Garden as a culmination of our study of plants. The boys and girls decorated the windows of our school bus with W signs to share their excitement about the Cubs with everyone we passed on the road!


Other November highlights from first grade included: exploring place value in math, counting UNICEF donations with our fifth grade buddies, investigating the properties of solids in science, reading The Goat in the Rug, making worry dolls, creating leaf creatures and writing about their adventures, learning about the arrival of the Mayflower from the perspectives of both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians, and participating in the Taste of North America.


Finally, the boys and girls in 104 participated in the Shedd Aquarium’s WreathCycle Challenge. They created a wreath illustrating the importance of water wellness to all living things on Earth. The wreath is now on display at the Shedd Aquarium. If you visit the Shedd within the next week, please vote for our wreath. You can also show your support online by visiting the Shedd’s Facebook page to “like” our wreath. Last year, Room 104’s wreath was voted Fan Favorite by visitors to the aquarium. Spread the word: every vote counts! 


https://www.facebook.com/pg/sheddaquarium/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154162059457843



From the Desk of Ms. Poczik (2nd Grade)


November was a busy month in room 106. We started the month learning all about the presidential candidates and hosting our own mock election in the classroom. We also met with our Sixth grade buddies and counted all the UNICEF money collected over Halloween, Our classroom collected $451! We have spent the month reading our newest novel Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Clearly. We had some great discussions and made some personal connections to the novel. In math we were excited to start Multiplication. At the end of the month we visited the computer lab to begin creating our Multiplication Cities. For this project we used Publisher to create buildings and arrange our windows in arrays. We are working so hard with Ms. Newberry to make sure our cities are the best! In science we have been working in our new FOSS kit Matter and Motion. We have been learning and exploring in lab activities. We were also hard at work creating our ABC's of Bell book that will be published with a company called Student Treasures. November was a very exciting month but we are really looking forward to the fun planned in December.



From the Desk of Ms. Barron (3rd Grade)


The children in Room 201-3 were very excited to demonstrate their science experiments on Mixtures and Solutions. The children were awesome presenters, well on their way to becoming scientists! Check out our website for more pictures!

http://mrsbarron201.weebly.com/gallery.html



From the Desk of Ms. Milstein (4th Grade)


Throughout the month of November, Room 208 explored the idea of what it means to be an up-stander. A highlight of this time was meeting with our buddies from Mr. Schoenbeck’s room. Together, the students discussed ways that they can be up-standers in our community. The 4th graders and 8th graders created up-stander pledges using American Sign Language to express their ideas. We also created a “Take What You Need” wall in our classroom filled with positive messages for anybody who may need some extra encouragement.



From the Desk of Ms. Anderson (5th Grade)


317 is busy building scale models of the moon for our planetary science exploration, and will visit the Adler Planetarium in the month of December. Students have also begun an author study of Jerry Spinelli, and the class is discussing large and important themes, such as race, with a whole group reading of Maniac Magee. The author study will continue with student-selected Spinelli novels for smaller literature groups. The class is in the middle of planning a proposal to hold the Olympics in their European country in Social Studies, and they will present their proposals, models, and medals to fellow fourth grade options students and their first grade buddies on December 9. Geography will continue after this, with a look at the regions of Africa, and important physical features of the continent. Math concepts in 317 are exploring rational numbers and the relationship between fractions, decimals, and percentages. The class is also busy writing a letter to an elected official (current or former), expressing disagreement or agreement with a position this politician takes. Mailing these letters will be optional.



From the Desk of Ms. Urbinati (6th Grade)


What We Are Doing In Class

Submitted By Mallory Atack (303)

In Reading, we are continuing our affixes and we have finished reading the book Seedfolk! In math, we are learning more about slope and inequalities. In Science, we are finishing our reports on pendulums and working on our lever projects. In Social Studies, we are answering our EQ about the fall of Rome, and will be presenting our -cracy stuff this week.


Find out more at:

https://docs.google.com/a/cps.edu/document/d/1srMTr2kQr78iM6pSOuMWzYPE5dokpAsyqcOK8mWCLGo/edit?usp=sharing



From the Desk of Mr. Klein (7th Grade)


Unfortunately, it is far too stressful a time of the year if you happen to be a seventh grader in the options program. The demands of the science fair project are great. It is not unusual for the students to feel overwhelmed by the combination of what is required of this project and the workload expected in the other subject areas. The good news is that the science fair takes place Wednesday (December 7th) and everyone should be able to breathe a sigh of relief.


In the individual subject areas, seventh graders are beginning a unit examining the Constitution in social studies, investigating mass changes in closed systems in chemistry, learning about the Pythagorean system in mathematics, playing floor hockey in physical education, studying portraiture in art, and exploring the concepts of roots, identity, and culture in literature.


In physics, the sixth graders are investigating how a pendulum operates and are preparing to more fully explore how way a lever works.


In biology, the eighth graders are completing a series of investigations concerning cells and are beginning to examine the world of genetics.



From the Desk of Mr. Schoenbeck (8th Grade)


In 6th Grade Social Studies, the students are finishing their Fall of Rome unit by running/presenting their political campaigns to 'Romam eunum Magnus' (make Rome great again - though you may need to forgive my Latin). Each group is representing a different form of government and trying to convince the people of Rome that if THEY ran the empire, they would be able to keep it from falling.


In 7th Grade Social Studies, we are still in the early stages of a very extensive unit on the U.S. Constitution. This will take the rest of 2nd Quarter. Right now we're in part one, "Origins and Needs of Government." There's a lot of exciting stuff coming (debates, mock trials, faux legislative hearings, etc.), although we're still in the initial info gathering/researching/note-taking stages.


In 8th Grade Social Studies, we are finishing our Reconstruction unit with a debate: "North or South: who killed Reconstruction." From there we'll be starting an exploration of the history of Western Expansion in America with units on the Mexican American War, the Gold Rush, and Violence in the Old West.


In 8th Grade Reading, we are bringing together all the elements of our Science Fiction unit. The students are writing their "Day in the life..." sci-fi narratives, getting ready to present their Literature Circle Group Projects on Sci-fi books, and working on their Independent Reading Projects (also Sci-fi, "Welcome to the World of...." travel brochures).






Options Department Highlights:

September/October 2016


Please click on the Photos Link for classroom snapshots!

Check out the Classroom Websites for More Information!



From the Desk of Ms. Kaim (1st Grade)


The boys and girls in Room 104 have participated in a variety of activities since coming to Bell and getting to know each other in September. They were excited to meet and work with their big buddies in fifth grade. The paper people they created together will hang in the hallway outside 104 for the entire year. They explored story elements in the books Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings. The first graders also read Chrysanthemum and shared the stories of their names.


Math topics have included data collection, graphs, characteristics of two and three-dimensional shapes, and fractions. The students created PowerPoint presentations about shapes in the computer lab. After an introduction to map skills, social studies lessons focused on structures and houses around the world. The culminating activity was a team building activity in which the students worked in small groups to create sturdy structures using cardboard boxes and paper towel tubes.


Science began with a study of plants. The students planted brassica seeds and observed the plant’s entire life cycle. They planted pumpkin seeds and spider plant babies before Halloween. They are waiting to see roots develop on their plant cuttings. The first graders also planted over 400 tulip and daffodil bulbs in the Butterfly Garden. The first field trips of the year were to the neighborhood firehouse and the pumpkin farm. The first big celebrations of the year were Ladybug Day and Pumpkin Day.


From the Desk of Ms. Poczik (2nd Grade)


Room 106 has had an outstanding October. We spent the month learning about prairie life. We took field trips to the Botanic Gardens and The Grove to visit the old fashioned schoolhouse. We had a blast seeing a real prairie and what life was really like in the past. In reading, we read Sarah Plain and Tall. We are excited to learn about the election and begin our thirty days of thankfulness in November.



From the Desk of Ms. Barron (3rd Grade)

Room 201 has enjoyed a great 1st quarter filled with fun adventures and learning. Highlights include reading Fair Weather, working as chemists to study Mixtures and Solutions, and honing our navigational skills by mapping our classroom. 




From the Desk of Ms. Milstein (4th Grade)


The fourth graders in Room 208 have been working on analyzing and crafting poetry this month. Twice a week, Ms. Cassie Sparkman comes to our room to share professional poems that demonstrate various elements of poetry writing. The students then write their own poems inspired by the techniques and format of the work they have just analyzed. To enrich our poetry study, the students have been reading the novel Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. This story is written in free-verse format and tells the story of a boy who grows to appreciate poetry written both by himself as well as other poets. The students have engaged in valuable discussions and activities putting themselves in the place of the characters while investigating thematic lessons from which we can all benefit.



From the Desk of Ms. Anderson (5th Grade)


317 has had a busy start to the year, with exploring everything from manipulating whole numbers in our math unit, Prime Time, to planetary science, foreshadowing and character analysis with our novels Number the Stars and Coraline, geography focusing on the Eastern Hemisphere (with a fun project to follow), to discussing the upcoming election and election process. Students in 317 are strongly encouraged to join their parents at the polling place this November. We've examined the electoral college and debated on its relevancy, taken a mock vote, and hosted a political panel with members of the political field, which included state representative Ann Williams.


From the Desk of Ms. Urbinati (6th Grade)


We completed our poetry books, which will be on display outside of our room. The poetry books contain: terse verse, alliteration, haiku, name poems, tanka, shape art, diamontes, couplets, clerihew, cinquains, limericks, parts of speech poems, and stair poems. Our workbooks are on order. We have started Project 2 in all math classes.


From the Desk of Mr. Klein (7th Grade)


Although there exists in this world a myriad of items to occupy the mind of a seventh grader, science fair is and will be first and foremost, academically speaking. The students are working on individual projects in the fields of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and environmental science that will be presented to judges on the first Wednesday in December. In the individual subject areas, seventh graders are writing scripts for a unit on the Salem witch trials, making bent glass tubes in chemistry, diagramming sentences with transitive and intransitive verbs in grammar, learning about the number system in mathematics, playing flag football in physical education, studying rock in music and perspective in art, and exploring the concepts of innocence and experience in literature.


From the Desk of Mr. Schoenbeck (8th Grade)


For 8th Grade Reading, we are finishing Ender’s Game as a whole class novel. This then serves as the focal point for a round of Science-Fiction Literature Circles. Our groups have been formed, and we’ll be reviewing the roles and processes for this approach. The students are excited to have picked their selections and we’ll meet several times over the next few weeks.

For 6th Social Studies, we are finishing up our third Unit. As a Part II to our Essential Question about “How Do New Ideas Start, Spread and Take Over?”, we are exploring the Spread of Islam in the Ancient World, a case study to supplement the Spread of Christianity in the last unit.


For 7th Social Studies, we are in the middle of our 3rd Unit of American History. After some exploration of the early colonies, we are now examining the Essential Question “How Revolutionary Was the American Revolution?” Of course, after this we are heading towards the Constitution….


For 8th Social Studies, we are now on our 3rd and final part of Civil War history. Our Essential Question revolves around a Cost/Benefit Analysis of the conflict, trying to see how Americans at the time justified the costs of the war. In about a week, we’ll be ready for our next debate.







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Dear Parents,

As you know, students in the Bell School Regional Gifted Center journey together with their grade level peers from first to eighth grade.  We thought it would be of interest to the Options Department community to share a little bit of what is happening in each of our eight classrooms. This will give you a better sense of how far your child has come and/or what is still to come!

The teachers will provide information, photos, and other news on a monthly basis
.  Parents who subscribe will be able to receive the updates via email and/or mobile message. The first Newsflash with classroom updates will be sent at the end of October. On behalf of all the teachers in our department, I hope you enjoy taking a peek into the Options Department classrooms! 

Emilie Kaim
Bell School
Options Department Coordinator

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