Monday, September 30, 2013

Students For Salmon!

Claire from Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association stopped by Monday to give 4th graders an introduction to the Students For Salmon program.

Did you know there are 5 types of Pacific Salmon?

We learned a fun way to remember them:

And we also learned the Salmon Life Cycle. Here is another fun way we learned to remember the stages:

Finally, we answered the REALLY important question: 

Why should we care about salmon?

Stay tuned to our blog to find out our answers.

Two Dots Art

It was a long, hard week last week. We needed some time to decompress and use more of the creative side of our brains.

Here are the results of a favorite activity...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stupendous Strategies for Learning Multiplication Facts!

We will be diving into multiplication beginning in October. Until that time, students are working independently on memorizing their multiplication facts. Here are some strategies they have learned to help them efficiently solve multiplication fact problems.

"The easy ones"
    Any number x 0 = 0: (4 x 0 = 0, 9 x 0 = 0, 234 x 0 = 0)
    Any number x 1 = itself:  (2 x 1 = 2, 6 x 1 = 6, 35 x 1 = 35)
    Any number x 10, put a zero at the end:
                                    (5 x 10 = 50, 8 x 10 = 80, 24 x 10 = 240)

Other strategies: 

  • Any number x 2 = double it: 
        (4 x 2 = 4 + 4 = 8, 7 x 2 = 7 + 7 = 14, 12 x 2 = 12 + 12 = 24)

Or just use our song to help you skip count:
"2, 4, 6, 8 who do we appreciate?"
"10, 12, 14 you're the smartest I've ever seen"
"16, 18, 20 I have brains a plenty"
"22, 24 we're done with 2's let's do some more!"

  • Any number x 3       n x 3 = (n x 2) + (n x 1)
     6 x 3 = (6 x 2) + (6 x 1) = 18
     9 x 3 = (9 x 2) + (9 x 1) = 27
   12 x 3 = (12 x 2) + (12 x 1) = 36

Or use our chant (sung to "I don't know but I've been told") to help you skip count:
"3, 6, 9, 12"
"15, 18, 21"
"24, 27"
"30, 33, 36"

  • Any number x 4 = "double double" or x 2 twice
     6 x 4 = (6 x 2) + (6 x 2) = 24
     8 x 4 = (8 x 2) + (8 x 2) = 32
    11 x 4 = (11 x 2) + (11 x 2) = 44

More strategies coming soon...

Pondering Place Value

Is it essential in mathematics to have a good understanding of Place Value.

Every number MEANS something. Every digit inside a number also has meaning. Here is an explanation from Math Is Fun:

Remember, “digit” is another word for “finger” (and “toe”). Most people have 10 fingers and 10 toes. When our number system was developed, it was developed, in part, using the fingers on our hands; thus, the reason we rely so heavily on 1’s and 10’s.

This is the video we watched in class to learn more about numbers and place value. You can watch the entire video if you like, but I think the parts that relate most to what we are doing are the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes. 

Here is a Place Value Chart from Mathatube that you might find helpful:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mastering Math!

I hope math doesn't make you feel like this:

One reason this student is struggling is that he has a TERRIBLE teacher. YOU have Mr. Pahl. Using fingers can also be very confusing. We will use many different kinds of tools to help you MASTER math. I hope you feel a lot more like this when you're in room 12: 

Please comment: How does math make you feel? Why?
If you don't like math, what do you think could make it better?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

School Garden!

We are very lucky at Sunnyland to have a devoted group of families and staff who helped Sunnyland create a school garden! The work began well over a year ago, and we are finally seeing the "fruit" of everyone's labor. 

With the help from Sunnyland PTA and several community members, Sunnyland recently became another of Bellingham's several schools (Columbia, Parkview, Alderwood, and many more!) with a garden for students to learn from, tend, and enjoy. Thank you Common Threads Farm for working with us on this terrific project! 

Getting to know each other and the agreements for caring for the garden.

Math: collecting data (which we will analyze soon)

Communication: discussing the contents of the garden

Hands on: harvest!

Cooperation and Teamwork!

What IS this stuff?
Now it's time to enjoy the harvest. Thank you Ciao Thyme for preparing the food for us to enjoy!

Vinaigrette (from Ciao Thyme)
1/3 cup white balsamic or champagne vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup canola oil
1 to 2 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch chile flakes

Stir well to combine or place all of the ingredients in a jar or shaker and shake to emulsify

Who wants to try what you harvested yesterday?

Look at all the ways it fits with or supports the curriculum!

Check out this video about the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA.

Please comment!
What do you think about our school garden?
What vegetables did you harvest? What did you learn about them?
What else should we grow?

Monday, September 16, 2013

What is Science?

During early science lessons, we are discussing and sharing our ideas about what science is.


There are MANY answers to this question.  This website gives us some pretty good ideas.

This video made by another teacher also helps identify the various aspects of science.

We will be doing more thinking, questionning, and discussing on this topic over the coming days.

In addition to thinking about science, we have been asking questions about and attempting to identify characteristics of scientists themselves. Check out some of the videos from Secret Lives of Scientists to expand your understanding of who scientists are and what they do!

Work Hard - Be Nice

There are a lot of rules to learn when you start in a new class or in a new school. In 4th grade, we really like to emphasize these:
  • Show respect
  • Make good decisions
  • Solve Problems
Just about any behavior can fit somewhere in these 3 categories. They can even be further narrowed to just two:
  • Work hard
  • Be nice
Why are these things so important? Why do we spend so much time on this at the beginning of the year?

They are important because we want a happy, positive learning environment for all students. We want this to be a place where all students THRIVE. If students aren't showing respect, making good decisions, or solving problems, it's also highly likely they are NOT learning.

We're all on the same team, right? Let's start acting like it...

Please comment!

What is YOUR awesome? What are you going to do to add awesomeness to 4th grade? (I hope it's not Space Jam.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

What's Happening in 4th Grade?

Ms. Avera and Mr. Pahl would like to be sure and communicate with you  as often as possible about what your 4th grader is learning. Below you will find the focus of instruction for September. 

Social Studies: Geography and Attributes of a learner (GLAD) unit

Reading: Initial assessments, learning to read for a sustained amount of time and establishing routines and procedures
  1. Determining the meaning of general academic and domain specific words or phrases in a text.  (R.I.4.4)
  2. Referring to details and examples in test when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences form the text. – showing evidence  (R.I 4.1. and R.L. 4.1.)
  3. Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text (R.I. 4.2)

Writing: Working on personal narrative and writing expectations.
  1. Proofreads for spelling, grammar and punctuation. (W.4.5, W.4.10 and L.4.3)
  2. Uses transitional words and phrases to sequence events. (W.4.3)
  3. Uses details to clarify reader’s understanding. (W.4.10)

 Mathematics: Establishing routine for Daily Math Review, introductory lessons on Place Value, learning strategies to quickly recall basic multiplication facts.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.4.NBT.A.2 Read and write multi-digit whole numbers using base-ten numerals, number names, and expanded form. Compare two multi-digit numbers based on meanings of the digits in each place, using >, =, and < symbols to record the results of comparisons.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.4.NBT.A.3 Use place value understanding to round multi-digit whole numbers to any place.

  Video examples of the Daily Math Review can be found on the Google Site:




Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Made it!

The first week of school went by in a flash, and we are half way through the second week. In addition to learning new routines and procedures for 4th grade, students are also getting used to having two main teachers. As you know by now, Ms. Avera is teaching literacy, social studies, and art while Mr. Pahl teaches science, math, and technology. A group of students starts the day with one teacher; then at lunch they switch classrooms. So far everyone seems to be doing really well. Please let us know if this is not the case.

During the first week of school, we spent time getting to know each other, discussing classroom/school rules, and getting a "feel" for what teachers and students expect of each other. Here is the video Mr. Pahl made to introduce himself to students.

All 4th grade students will make a similar video as one of their earliest technology projects.

Hopefully, everyone feels like they are getting off to a good start and are feeling supported by Mr. Pahl and Ms. Avera in their transition to 4th grade. Please do not hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions or concerns. Ms. Avera can be reached at or 676-6446 x5610 and Mr. Pahl is at or 676-6446 x5612.

Please comment!

  • What is the best part of being back at school?
  • What is something you are excited to learn this year?