News and Notes - Oakley Elem.

News and Updates from Gifted Education/Enrichment! 


Hello Families!

For me, spring here in the mountains means baseball, planting, color, that sugary smell, and thoughts of trout jumping.  I hope you are all well. 

5th grade AIG students recently finished their unit on Computer Programming, using the website Khan Academy.  Students had the opportunity to learn the HTML language to create a website page.  You can check out the student work by looking at their Weebly websites.  


Have any of you tried one of these escape room things that are popular around Asheville and other cities??  Groups of people are locked in a room and get one hour to solve clues in order to escape the room!

Breakout EDU gives students a similar opportunity without me having to lock anyone in a room!  5th grade AIG students worked in teams on the "Caught in the Code" Breakout challenge.  Kids had to solve coding riddles to unlock various locks on the Breakout box and get the class out of the code loop!  Ask you kids about it.  It was a very fun problem-solving challenge.  


The two Breakout EDU boxes we used both came as a result of the generosity of donors to my Donors Choose proposal!  Thank you!



5th graders have also been working on a group problem-solving simulation called "Decisions, Decisions." In it, students are given a timely issue to consider. F or 5th graders it's a situation where thousands of refugees are fleeing to America to escape war in their home country.  The simulation asks students to act as advisers to the President.  They must consider various decisions and use information they read from the 'briefing books' to inform their decisions.  

I love "Decisions, Decisions" for many reasons.  The topics are relevant, students get an opportunity to debate and share their opinions, they must inform their decisions with facts and data, and their success is based on working together.  


Students will follow up this simulation with other lessons related to the topic of immigration:
-We will read and discuss the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. 
-We are analyzing immigration data over America's history and discussing how historical events affect these numbers.
-We will discuss "push" and "pull" factors.
-We will look at common myths related to immigration. 
-Students will have the opportunity to research and share some aspect of their own family's history.  Stay tuned for information on the family history project. 

Once again, Oakley Elementary will be represented at the Buncombe County Schools Elementary Math Competition on Tuesday, April 4th at West Buncombe Elementary School.  This year's team consists of 5th graders Jimena O., Addyson H., Denilso M., Phoebe K., and Rebekah V.  

The math competition consists of four parts including individual problem-solving, group problem-solving, and math facts speed round, and finally a long problem.  The long problem asked kids to imagine they were given a $250 grant to help beautify their school campus.  How would they spend the money which would impact the most students.  The long problem requires the team to make a group digital presentation and demonstrate the math they used in making these decisions.  I'm very proud of the math team and how hard they've worked.  

4th graders have also recently completed a "Decisions, Decisions" simulation. The issue they discussed was about an environmental problem facing a fictional community called Alpine.  The kids acted as advisers to the town's Mayor, helping her make decisions on how best to act, considering that they wanted to keep the town's expenses low, help the Mayor get re-elected, consider the economic impact to the town, as well as protecting the environment!  Meeting all those goals proved challenging!  

4th graders are also conducting research on an environmental issue that affects western NC.  Students selected an issue of interest to them and will share their work digitally.  

Some of their considerations include:
- informing and educating their audience about the issue
- discussing how humans have played a role in the issue
- discussing changes that have taken place as a result of human interaction
- sharing potential solutions to problems

The 3rd graders finished their algebra unit which concluded with the test that was sent home for you to review.  Students have been studying various Latin stems and advanced vocabulary that are in their Caesar's English books.  They are working on a digital presentation showing the connection between these Latin stems and our English language.  Kids have been learning that our words are rooted in Latin.  When they are finished with their projects, they will be sharing them with you via email.  

I also wanted to share with you that this year I have created a student-run blog (see link below) for my classes at both Oakley and Bell.  One of my fifth grade students at Bell Elementary recently posted about her family dance performance.  

I thought it might be nice for students to have a place (not on their websites) where they could share things that they are doing outside of school that they are proud of.  Our students have such a variety of talents & interests and the blog gives the kids a chance to share these things with each other, not to mention gives them practice with writing for a purpose.  This will essentially be a student-curated blog.  

Currently, my procedure for having students post items on the student blog is as follows:    

1)  Student shares with me an interest in posting something and then submits to me what they want to share.  

2)  I contact the parent and let them know; share.

3)  I help student with any edits & make suggestions. 

4)  Student uses the username and password of the blog to login and submits work. 

Here is the link to the site:


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Chris Schmidt 


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