Teacher talk

May 25-31, 2006
Teacher talk
By St. Matthew’s School staff
Teachers at St. Matthew’s school share what their students have accomplished this year By Mary Eschen
Fifth grade teacher Fifth grade at St. Matthews School is the perfect blend of being in a “middle” school contained within the home environment of a K-6 school where everyone knows each other by name. The academics are challenging, individualized, and geared to producing creative, critical thinking, and productive learners. The social studies curriculum is not merely textbook based, but allows for many discussions, debates, and varied individual and group projects. A technology-based comprehensive state project, and creating an American Revolution newscast are just two examples. Fifth graders are very active in the science lab as they learn not only the science curriculum through hands on experiments, but equally important skills of how to cooperate, share, and actively work together toward a common goal. One of our favorite labs, “investigating insulation,” involves using Crisco shortening and ice water to simulate the fat layer on a polar bear. It is messy but informative! Our reading program promotes the deeper and analytical comprehension skills necessary to become better readers. We use the text as a springboard for literary discussions, grammar skills, spelling work, and other content related activites. Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary and The View from Saturday by E.I. Konigsburg are two trade books we use. An entire curriculum is planned around each, including the making of an actual “lunchbox alarm” as depicted in Dear Mr. Henshaw. The students also enjoy writing letters to the authors sharing their own opinions and suggestions.

The math program provides advanced math skills to prepare students for their junior high years. Religion is the foundation upon which the entire curriculum revolves. Fifth graders are challenged and encouraged to put Catholic faith into practice as they deal with others on a daily basis. During Advent and Lent, they are called upon to read student-generated reflections over the loudspeaker.

The many community service projects help them realize that by helping and caring for others they are carrying out Jesus’ mission. The “Keychains for Katrina” project involved making and selling boondoggle keychains with the profits going to hurricane victims. The “Boxes of Love” project provided Meals on Wheels recipients with a healthy, nourishing lunch, including a prayer card and thoughts and best wishes. Students organized and collected pennies for the “Quest for a Million Pennies” crusade which benefitted the Ronald McDonald House.

The fifth grade year will end with a field trip to the Auriesville Shrine.
Fifth grade at St. Matthew’s is an important stepping stone to becoming a Catholic, intelligent, creative, self-motivated, dynamic young adult. Individual special awards won this year include: Joseph Burns for winning the Eckerd Drug t-shirt contest (for the third year in a row) and Stephanie Lasnicki, Marisa Casciano, Jonathan Carnegie, Olivia Chopski and Andrew Ansbrow for winning the “Clear Messages” song contest with a unique rap song.
Busy bees
By Laura Lenox
Fourth grade teacher

The fourth graders at St. Matthew’s School have been busy the past few months. They took the New York State science test in May. The students enjoyed doing many fun lab experiments to practice for the science test. Now they are preparing for the annual science fair which will be held June 12 at the school.

The students recently visited Chittenango Landing Boat Museum. They learned about the Erie Canal, went on an archeological dig and met a boat captain. In June they will be visiting Onondaga Lake Parkway with the third grade class. In social studies, the class has been reading about New York state history. Currently, they are studying inventors from New York, including Willis Carrier, who invented the air conditioner and whose company was started in Syracuse.

The students have been reading many interesting stories, including a story about turtles. Snappy, a spotted turtle, visited the class as they read the story. The students also have been working on a community service project. They are making a “summer fun” basket. The basket has lots of fun activities for the summer including books to read, coloring materials, toys, and more. The students are selling raffle tickets for the basket to raise money for the local animal shelter. The students read Shiloh, a book about an abused dog. They were so moved by the book, they decided to raise money to help animals.
The fourth grade class is looking forward to the rest of the school year.

Magic moments
By Bridget Murray
Remediation teacher and French Club advisor

Students have been learning so much in remediation these past few months. Kindergarteners are learning and practicing how to rhyme. Students have been playing games like Lingo Bingo and Silly Willy to reinforce rhyming skills. First graders are learning new reading skills every day. They spend time together doing reading lessons, reviewing high frequency words that appear often in our reading books, and playing games like Tic-Tac-Word. Second graders have been practicing classroom vocabulary, building words with puzzle pieces, participating in reading lessons, and playing word strategy games. First and second graders have also been taking home their book-in-a-bag books to demonstrate how well they can read. Third graders have been learning and practicing reading preview strategies (going over vocabulary before reading, and predicting what each story will be about by looking at the title and illustrations) as well as comprehension strategies.

Fourth grade has been working on test-taking strategies in math. Fifth graders have been learning strategies that will help them to read and comprehend content area material with confidence. Sixth grade has been learning challenging math concepts and helpful reading strategies to enhance comprehension.

French Club students have been studying French history, monuments, and other important places in Paris. They have also learned vocabulary for the parts of the body, days of the week, and numbers. Students have been learning useful phrases to help them converse with each other in French. Each French Club student is currently researching a part of French history to share with the rest of the group this week. Bon chance!
As the school year winds down, St. Matthew’s kindergarteners look back on a very busy and event-filled year. From the first day when they walked shyly in the door, to the Thanksgiving Mass and feast, to learning to read and tie their shoes — they have been busy.
They celebrated the 100th day of school with a party and many different activities. The students brought in 100 items, read stories and did crafts that revolved around the number 100.
For their community project, the kindergarten students sponsored a school-wide drive to collect school supplies for J. Wallace James Elementary School in Scott, La. James School survived Hurricane Katrina, but took in many students whose schools were destroyed in the hurricane. The kindergarten classes collected paper, pencils, glue, crayons, scissors, etc. and shipped 15 large boxes of supplies.
For St. Patrick’s Day, the kindergartners made and decorated cookies for the senior citizens at The Crossings. The students have made and sent treats to The Crossings throughout the year.
On June 8, the kindergartners will join senior citizens from Rose Park Estates for a picnic lunch at Maxwell Park in East Syracuse. As part of the activities they will enjoy the entertainment of Coco the Clown. The children will present a visor that they made to each senior.

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