The Week of January 8

We’ve had a pretty exciting week as we came back from winter break! Be sure to check our blogs, and:

–We watched the “I Have a Dream” speech and made a video with the 4B students reciting the speech (watch us above).
–Another hangout with our science mentor Lauren Eckert in British Columbia in which we discussed human impact on the environment. What was our area like 200 years ago? We started to think about that, and about the benefits and problems of our impact on the world around us.
–We started to read about baseball player Jackie Mitchell, a 19-year-old girl who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in a demonstration game. We learned about primary sources and some students started to look at some contemporary news articles about “Mighty Jackie.”
–We started to think about our Photo Ark projects in which we will photograph animals and write about them, learning from photographer/writer Joe Sartori.
–We practiced multiplication, division, and word problems of various types. Next week: Fractions!
–We started to learn about the Civil War, discussing slave rebellions, the middle passage, and people including Nat Turner, Gabrielle Prosser, the Amistad rebels, Denmark Vesey, and John Brown.
–We have a new member of the class–Savage Bubbles the leopard gecko. Charming escaped in my apartment over break.

The Week of December 18

Thank you to the parents of 4B for your generosity! We will be making class donations to CLAWS (which protects big cats in the wild) and Orphans of the Storm (a local animal shelter). We will also be receiving Scholastic math magazines beginning in January to relate our math studies to the ways in which math is used in the world.
Don’t miss our student blogs! They have all published a lot of work and appreciate your interest and comments. Remember that the blog is where you will see our students’ work and progress.
We have been busy and happy these last two weeks. I’m so proud of the students’ enthusiasm and hard work at a time of year when things often flag.
What have we been up to?
Science–telegraphs, propellers, and generally the transfer of energy.  Students got propellers to act like mini circular-saws cutting paper, combined different colors, made noises, worked for speed, and learned a lot about energy and motion.
We also continued our observation journals in the outdoor classroom. Some students have already received comments and questions from our explorer-mentor Lauren Eckert.
Reading–We have wound up our biography unit with slide shows about the person whose biography we read and figures of the people. I’m hoping that the slide shows will be posted today on student blogs.
Writing–We wrote letters to our families. I hope that you received them! Some students wanted to post these, others felt that they were too personal. These were the final “personal essay” part of our essay-writing unit, a way of seeing if the students could use what they learned and write a complete personal essay in a limited time.
Math–We are working on approaches to division, using partial-quotient strategies.
We had two final student lessons: Illinois statehood and the Catalan Independence Movement.   Students will be signing up for more lessons when we return.
Students earn time during the week for independent project work on Fridays. Today they’ll spend a good chunk of time on this. They have been disciplined and efficient!
When we return from break:
  • we’ll start our Civil War unit
  • read about Jackie Mitchell (a young woman who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig)
  • do Fountas and Pinnell and MAP testing
  • begin a writing unit in which students write about history
  • complete our work on division and move to fractions
  • continue our outdoor observation journals and our project with Lauren Eckert

Have a wonderful winter break!

The Week of November 27

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday!
We had an exciting week coming back from Thanksgiving break. The students were wonderful, and we got a lot of work done. Quite a few longer projects are drawing to their conclusions as we end various units before winter break, so next week you’ll be seeing some new blog material.
Through cooperative and efficient work, students have earned “minutes” toward their own individual or partner projects to work on each Friday. They are planning the projects, which must connect to other classroom work but can otherwise be something that interests them.
Many of our students attended a Monday lunch/recess hangout at a hospital for sea turtles in Florida. Who knew that there is a sea turtle eye doctor in Miami? Ask your child if she or he came to the hangout, which, like all lunch/recess hangouts  included any third, fourth, or fifth-grade students who were interested.
All of the students have been involved in preparing lessons to teach next week or the week after about aspects of U.S. history between the Revolution and the Civil War. The Civil War unit will start after winter break. They’ve researched their topics, picked 3 main ideas that the class will have to remember, and created a way of presenting and assessing the information.
We are also completing persuasive essays on topics of their choosing. As visual material to support their evidence, I taught them about creating infographics using information or data they found. They were fascinated and have started producing some vivid examples.
We created electromagnets in science and tested them to see how to make them stronger. After our lesson on Morse Code and the telegraph from Justin and John we’ll be creating telegraphs using the electromagnets.
In math we are working on the traditional methods of multiplication, addition, and subtraction as well as using those methods to solve some complex multi-step word problems.
Next week: presenting lessons, completing and sharing essays, moving toward division, using Morse Code, writing letters to our favorite authors, and preparing for skype visits the week of December 11 with National Geographic Young Explorer Lauren Eckert (our first visit with our class’s year-long science mentor) and with a Park Ranger at the Grand Canyon National Park.