News and Notes - Oakley Elem.

News and Updates from Mr. Schmidt in AIG! 
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Hello Families! 

On Saturday, May 4th, from 9:00 - 3:00 PM, Buncombe County Schools will be again hosting its big STEM event at the Nesbitt Academy!  It will be a fun day of learning about science and STEM.  


5th grade AIG students recently finished up a BREAKOUT box session called "Caught in the Code."  You are probably familiar with breakout rooms or escape rooms.  Well, BREAKOUT for schools asks kids to solve clues to unlock 5 locks and "escape" the box.  The lesson was a lead-in to their work with computer programming and coding. 


Kids will be using Khan Academy to learn the HTML/CSS coding language and how to write code to make a website. 

Finally, the coding unit will wrap up with 5th graders getting the opportunity to program Spheros.  These are round, mini-robot balls that pair to an ipad through Bluetooth connection.  They'll design a "job" for the Sphero to tackle and program it to do so! 


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5th graders in AIG will also be involved in solving "3 Act  Math Tasks" which are challenging group problem solving tasks where kids have to watch a video and then figure apply math knowledge and skills to answer a big math question. These are great extensions for the concepts being taught in class. 

Later this spring kids will be involved in a unit on media and news literacy.  Stay tuned.

4th grade AIG students recently competed in the BCS STEM Challenge.  I'm so proud of them.  The Fed Cup tennis event is coming to Asheville in February and they partnered with Buncombe County Schools in the competition.  Teams were asked to design a prototype for the Fed Cup Tennis Trophy.  While we didn't win, the top project from Oakley will be on display at the US Cellular Center in February during the Fed Cup tennis event.  Mr. Fusco is also working on providing these hard-working students an opportunity to partner with High School students at the Nesbitt STEM Academy later this spring!  

4th graders are finishing up a simulation called, "Decisions, Decisions."  They studied the events and decision-making that led to the on-going tragedy in Flint, Michigan, a town which still after 5 years does not have clean drinking water.  The simulation gives the kids the chance to play a role in helping make decisions for a town facing a similar environmental threat.  

4th graders will also be working on "3 Act Tasks" as described above.  I really enjoy these type of creative problem solving tasks.  (see link below)

3 Act Task Link

Later, 4th graders will be working with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) which are basically digital maps.  They'll use the layered, online maps to find and interpret information about the National Park System.  

The Oakley Math Team has been working very hard each week!  Buncombe County Schools, again this year, is hosting a math competition for students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade which will take place at the Central Office building on March 7th.   I am meeting with both my 4th and 5th grade teams on Thursday mornings. 

Students completed their first practice test and are reviewing the test to find mistakes and better learn how the competition questions are designed.  Parents will be getting more information about the competition as the date gets closer.  I'm really excited that some of Oakley's highest achieving math students in 4th and 5th grade have this opportunity for added enrichment.  

Thank you to the 5th grade students who signed up for Mr. Schmidt's after-school Geography Club!  This is the first year of the club and I'm excited about it.  The club meets on Thursdays after school from 2:30 - 3:30 PM.  


Over the course of the club sessions, we've been studying many elements of geography and place including
landforms, continents, oceans, countries, states, cities, cultural geography, etc.  There's so much cool stuff to learn!  

Some of the activities will utilize the laptops like when we're playing Geoguessr or making maps, but other times we'll be using good old fashioned paper and pencil!  

The Geography Club culminates in a Geography Bee which will take place at Central Office on February 11th and will include students from the Estes Elementary and Bell Elementary Geography Clubs.  This should be a wonderful event.  

All 3rd grade AIG students finished up their algebra unit and all did VERY well on the final test.  I'm looking forward to continuing this unit with them next year.  3rd grade AIG students also worked on a "3 Act Math Task" and are now beginning their study of Latin stems and advanced vocabulary. 

We'll also use the text, Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems, as a jumping off point for a seminar discussion about the nature of communication.  Students will be asked to consider such questions as, "Are there some things that actions are better at communicating than words?"; "How does language shape our thoughts?"; and "What is necessary for something to be language?"  I love these discussions as they force kids to really think and support their opinions.  

Later, 3rd grade AIG students will be working with Microsoft's 3D Builder program and application. This is a great opportunity for kids to use 3D design and printing to solve a problem.  I'm working with BCS Digital Learning Specialist, Pam Johnson, to create a lesson for the kids.  I'm excited for them to use the technology, have choice, plan, create, and have their work printed remotely and shipped to our school.  Stay tuned. 

AIG has created a student-run blog (see link below) for my classes at both Oakley and Bell.  Your child is familiar with the blog but may not have posted anything on it.  

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