Renie Petropoulos » Ms. Petropoulos' Biography

Ms. Petropoulos' Biography

Ms. Petropoulos is excited to be wearing several teaching hats at Decatur: 4th-grade Homeroom, 3rd-grade Mathematics, and Makerspace. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and holds her BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. She earned her MEd in Elementary and Middle-School Education from DePaul University in Chicago. Ms. Petropoulos is endorsed to teach middle-school English Language Arts, French, Social Science, and Science.


This is Ms. Petropoulos' eighth year of teaching with Chicago Public Schools and her very first year at Decatur. Prior to Decatur, Ms. Petropoulos taught Exploratory Science (STEM Lab) for four years to Pre-K through 8th-grade students at Saucedo Elementary in Little Village. Before that, way back in the ‘90s, she taught Library Media to Pre-K through 8th-grade students and then First Grade. After that, she worked full-time for eighteen years creating K–12 curricula for the Great Books Foundation’s Junior Great Books program, Encyclopædia Britannica, and National Geographic Learning.


Being an editor allowed Ms. Petropoulos to work flexibly at home so she could cook healthy, delicious meals for her family and spend time with her two sons as they grew. When her sons reached middle-school and were more independent, Ms. Petropoulos realized she missed exploring this fascinating world with children and missed providing opportunities to help children find their passion in life! So, she returned to teaching.


In her spare time, Ms. Petropoulos loves reading, writing poetry, gardening, birdwatching, and thrift shopping. She also enjoys playing the violin, bass guitar, and electric keyboard—while her pet birds sing along.







Makerspace Activity Rubric
Makerspace Project Rubric
3rd-grade Math Rubric
3 = Mastery
2 = Emerging Mastery
1 = Below Mastery
0 = Insufficient Response
Classroom Behavior Expectations
* Respect everybody 
* Take care of our stuff
* Get into the work 
* Ask for help and help others
* Have fun
* Put our stuff back
Makerspace Science & Engineering Practices
* Ask questions and define problems
* Develop and use models
* Analyze and interpret data
* Use math and computational thinking
* Explain and design solutions
* Argue from evidence
* Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information


Week 7

G3 Math
Third graders continue to develop more mature study behaviors to match their advanced math knowledge. We have been taking these first chapters more slowly to help them practice delving more deeply into math problems. This is important as a foundational skill when working in fourth grade curriculum. I will be using my experience with differentiation and curriculum adaptation/development to make sure all math concepts in the text are covered—and students' enthusiastic persistence with solving problems continues to strengthen. Congratulations to the third graders who persisted in learning Ch1 content while we moved onto Ch2, and getting excellent scores on their Ch1 retakes. This week we will take the Ch2 test on Wednesday (Multi-step word problems, rounding large numbers to perform mental math addition and subtraction. We will start Ch3 (Multiples and Factors) on Thursday of this week.
GK–2 Makerspace
Students watch two music videos about the 7 continents and 5 oceans. Then they color and label a map of the world. 
G3 Makerspace
Third graders continue to design Hex bug block mazes and marble runs, stores, public spaces, or spaceships with LEGOs.
G4 SEL/Makerspace
SEL: Fourth graders wrote compliments to a partner in SEL and shared something about themselves in a Talking Circle. Students are exhibiting more appreciation for one another and are listening more to one another.
Makerspace: We've been experimenting with marble runs made out of LEGOs and magnets. We will continue conducting science experiments with magnets this coming week. 
G5–6 Makerspace
Students program a micro:bit using the following tutorials in flashing heart, dice, rock paper scissors, love meter, etc. Students challenge me to a game of dice or rock, paper, scissors. If they beat me, they get some stickers.
G7/8 Makerspace
Students finished their scientific models and displayed them in our classroom. They drew a blueprint of their homes and built a LEGO version of the blueprint.

Week 6

G3 Mathematics: This week students practiced mindfulness in their behaviors as students, listening and taking responsibility for their roles in accomplishing goals in groups and on their own. We continued to work on Chapter 2 curriculum, exercising mental math to solve problems and taking care when solving two-step word problems.
GK–2 Makerspace: Students studied the anatomy and traits of sea horses, making play dough sea horse models and labeling and coloring a sea horse diagram.
G3 Makerspace: Students strove to create a maze out of blocks for a Hex bug that it could complete three times in a row.
G4 Makerspace: Students created marble runs out of LEGOs.
G5–6 Makerspace: Students worked on level 2 of the Sculpty Pet challenge.
G7/8 Makerspace: Students made marble runs out of paper, cardboard, and tape. They recorded the velocity at which their marbles traveled through their marble runs. 

Week 5

Grade 3 Mathematics
Students are developing responsible learning habits in math class. This week we practiced for the chapter 1 retake and worked through half of chapter 2. (Both chapters have been posted electronically to this website.) 
GK–2 Makerspace
Students watched a video about what a
"proboscis" is and the many types of pollinators, made a pollinator out of play dough, and completed a worksheet about the different types of pollinators and how pollination occurs.
G3 Makerspace
Students extended their math class into Makerspace this week to connect to our classroom in Prodigy and try it out for the first time. (I, too, spent this time learning how Prodigy works from the teacher's end.) CPS subscribes to this game-based online math practice. I told students select "4th grade" when they create their accounts and use my class code: 71608A6. Prodigy is supposed to start out easy and get harder as students use it.
G4 Makerspace
Hands-on Challenge: Build a maze with blocks that can guide a Hexbug successfully through it three times in a row. Jaden succeeded!
G5–6 Makerspace
Online Challenge: Complete the first challenge levels of Sculty Pet, in which you sculpt a pet's head with a virtual ball of clay and paint it.
Challenge options:
* Complete the first level of Dream Home, in which you use architectural software (SketchUp) to create the footprint and walls of a house.
* Build a maze with blocks that can guide a Hexbug successfully through it three times in a row.
* Code a Micro:bit to do at least three different things using three tutorials in
G5–8 LEGO Robotics
Students met on Monday and Thursday. Students completed an icebreaker activity and watched short videos about the new competition theme "Masterpiece" and the 15 new missions. We also went over the four concepts that will be equally judged in the competition: Core Values, Robot Design, Robot Game, and Innovation Project. Students were divided into two teams, given team roles to start with: builder, coder, or artist. They also worked together on their team names and logos. We also broke out some robots and started thinking about robot design a bit.

G7/8 Makerspace: Make a marble run out of paper, cardboard, and tape. Measure how fast your marble travels (meters/second) through your marble run.