Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sky Objects

Students spent a recent class period brainstorming and discussing sky objects. What are sky objects visible to the naked eye? Visible with the aid of something like a telescope? Visible at night or during the day?

Are planets visible to the naked eye? Satellites?

We had a great discussion. I reminded students that I am still learning a lot about space and the solar system, and that some of them know much more than I do. It's great to have a classroom where we are ALL learning.

Here are a few of the resources I used to inform our discussion.

NASA International Space Station Site

 The ISS is visible to the naked eye (on cloudless nights in Bellingham of course)! Just click on the photo below to visit the Satellite Sighting Information  page. Click on Bellingham, and then you will be taken to the  page that lists all the dates and times the ISS will be visible in the few weeks.  
Photo Credit: NASA

Have you looked up the ISS schedule? Have you seen the ISS or what you think might be other satellites? Have you used Earth Sky or other astronomy webpages or apps to help you identify what you are looking at in the night sky?

Garden Time: Food Webs

Mathletics Update

The 4th graders are working hard on math using Mathletics! Some students are nearing the end of the first unit just in time for our First Quarter Math Test.

Here are the latest students to win certificates because of their hard work:

Congratulations, Silas! You're our first Silver Medal award winner!

Congratulations to all our students for their hard work in math. 

Please comment!

What are some things you have learned in math this year?

What's the best part of Mathletics? 

What do you like most about math?

The Solar System - Space School

Introduction to Space Science

Hello "learnstronauts!"

Just how big is Planet Earth? How big and how far away are Earth's moon and the Sun? What planets make up our solar system? What is a galaxy? What exactly are stars anyway? We'll be exploring these and other questions throughout our study of Space Science this semester. 

Please comment! 
What is the most interesting thing you learned today about space? 
What most surprised you?
What would you like learn more about? 

Monday, October 28, 2013

What's Happening in Fourth Grade

Hi everyone,

It's been awhile since our last update. Here is what your children have been up to the last few weeks and what they can expect to be doing in the coming weeks.

Reading: We are working on asking questions and identifying the main idea with supporting details.  We are using ReadAbout (a computerized program that differentiates individual instruction for each student) and SmartFiles which are articles that develop vocabulary and teach Common Core State Standards for Reading and Writing.  Both ReadAbout and SmartFiles focus on non-fiction text.

We have also started Literature Circles where we are reading realistic fiction.  Students read chapters from the group book, write a response and read it to the group.  The students use their listening and speaking skills to have a conversation stemming from their written responses.

Writing: We completed an expository writing piece on Collage using a hands-on experience creating a collage and reading an article to support evidence in their writing.

We are working on revision skills of our personal narrative.  The students are adding strong verbs, adjectives which support vivid details and transitions.  The transitions can be time as in “a few hours ago” or place as in “I walked into the living room”.

We are starting our imaginative narrative writing through “spooky stories” that have a logical sequence of events that incorporates problem and solution.

Spelling homework is part of writing. is the program we are using.  Students have their words written down in their agendas so they have a choice on how to study.
Please make sure students are studying their spelling words.  There are four lists and the students know which list to study.  They also have them 

Social Studies: We are continuing with geography with emphases on map coordinates.

Art: We just completed a study of color theory.  The students were given a paint set with warm and cool read and blues, yellow, black and white.  They learned how to make primary red by mixing red-violet and red-orange and primary blue by mixing turquoise and blue-violet.  The also made color wheels mixing blues and yellow to achieve different shades of green.  They found that red and blue do not always make purple by mixing turquoise with red-orange they found a beautiful rich brown.  This week they will continue exploration of color mixing and learn watercolor techniques of dry and wet brush painting.

Math: The students are wrapping up their Multiplication Unit and will have the Quarter 1 Assessment next Monday 11/4. We will spend another 2 weeks covering division and problem solving before jumping into our study of Fractions. In the second quarter, students will be learning about Fraction: equivalents, comparing and ordering, addition and subtraction, and decimal notation. 

Please be sure your child is working on basic multiplication facts at home, at least a few minutes each night.   

Science: The students are working on two units in science. One unit is a yearlong study of salmon through Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association. We are currently studying the Water Cycle and it's importance to salmon. Our second unit is a study of space science. The first group of lessons in this unit teaches students about the size and distance of sky objects, the Moon, planets, and the Sun. 

First Quarter ends next Tuesday, November 5. Progress Reports will be sent home November 14. 

Questions About Space

As an introduction to our unit on Space Science, I ask students to identify questions they would like to have answered about space. Here are a couple of slide shows sharing those questions.

Please comment!

What other questions do you have about space?

Have our early lessons brought other questions to mind? If so, what are they? 

What questions did you have that were already answered by what we have discussed?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Garden Time Again

We have been really lucky with weather this month. It has meant more time outside in the garden. Today, Emily and Tara came to share a tasty Mint Lemonade recipe with us and help us to harvest and sample swiss chard and kohlrabi from the garden.

Please comment! Which do YOU prefer: kohlrabi or swiss chard or both? Why?
What's been the best part of having a garden at school so far?

Friday, October 25, 2013

What Is Bullying?

Please Comment

What are some things you learned about bullying?

If something bad happens that is not bullying, does that mean you shouldn't tell a grown up? 

Deciding not to be a bully isn't enough. What is something we can all do to help stop bullying? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marvelous Mathletics

Sunnyland's Fourth Grade "Mathletes" have been hard at work using our new online math supplement: Mathletics

10 students from the morning class have earned Bronze Certificates for collecting more than 1,000 points on the program in a week. Points are earned from answering questions correctly and from the amount of time spent on the program. A couple of students even earned more than one certificate! 

Three students from the afternoon class earned certificates. Way to go!

Angelina, Darren, and Gurparam have all been listed in the USA: Top 100 Students for points earned.

And look at this...

We made it to the USA: Top 50 classes! Thanks for your hard work, Mathletes. Keep it up!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tree Observation Project

It's time to begin the Tree Observation Project. 

Students are picking a tree in Memorial Park to observe for the school year. 

They will pay close attention to their tree...

The bark...

The leaves or needles...

The branches...

The ground around their tree...

The weather.

They will become very close with their tree and the changes it experiences. 

Visit often for updates and to learn more about our project.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's Socktober!

Kid President and SoulPancake have declared this month
They want us to help do something about the more than 600,000 people in America who are homeless each day.
We want to help!
If you are a Sunnyland supporter or student, you can donate new or gently used socks, unopened bars of soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to us in room 12.
After watching the video, what is some really important information you think we should share with other people?
What statistics should we feature on our bulletin board?
Who do you want to share this with?
What do you think our goal should be? How many pairs of socks should we try to get donated?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Assembling Arrays and Finding Factors #2

4th graders have been learning many strategies for solving multiplication problems. They are also learning ways to represent multiplication problems using models. 

One of the models they have learned to use is called an ARRAY. An ARRAY is a model consisting of equal rows and columns. 

The video below shows how students can use ARRAYS to help them find the FACTORS of a number. Please note: this is NOT an efficient strategy for finding FACTORS in a number as large as 36. I just had them do this task in groups to see if they could successfully use the strategy.  

Here, students use different materials in class to Assemble Arrays and Find Factors of the number 16.

First, they make 1 row of the number they are working with. 

1 row of 16 = 1 x 16 
The FACTORS in this ARRAY are 1, 16.

These students used maps to assemble their ARRAYS. 

Here, they made 2 rows of 8 = 2 x 8.
The FACTORS of this ARRAY are 2, 8.

The students below used other materials to show the next possible ARRAY: 4 rows of 4.

4 rows of 4 = 4 x 4.
The FACTORS of this ARRAY are 4, 4 (or just 4). 

The first 2 photos above (and the ARRAYS in them) can be rotated to show different dimensions. Although the total is the same, the arrangement is different. 

This shows 8 rows of 2 = 8 x 2
The FACTORS are still 8 and 2, but the arrangement is different.

This shows 16 rows of 1 = 16 x 1
The FACTORS are still 16 and 1, but the arrangement is different.

Based on the work the students did, they found that these combinations are used 
in multiplication to make 16:
1 x 16
2 x 8
4 x 4 
8 x 2 
16 x 1

The FACTORS of 16 are: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Memorizing Marvelous Multiplication Facts

Learning your basic math facts is extremely important. It's as important to your success in math as learning the basic letter sounds are in reading and writing.

There are many ways, many strategies to learn these facts. One of the more fun ways to learn them is to make rhymes out of them.

Here is an example of a fun way to learn your x4's:

Here is another fun way to learn your facts:

Please comment! 

  • What are the facts you learned the easiest? 
  • Which are the facts you are having the most trouble learning? What are tricks you have used to learn your multiplication facts? Do you have any fun rhymes you can share with us to help us learn our facts?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scintillating Seeds!

Emily from Common Threads Farm was back with a lesson about seeds.

First, students, observed, compared, and sorted several seeds.

Next, they were engaged in a great conversation about where seeds come from, how they travel, and how they can be used as a food source or used to make more plants! As I sit here working on this, birds are making good use of the sunflower seeds on the plants in my yard. 

Finally, students observed and dissected a lima bean. 

Then they drew it and labeled its parts. Something like this: 

Please comment! What is something new you learned about seeds? What is knowledge or experience you have with seeds you can share with the class? What did you learn about how seeds travel? How DO seeds travel: fly, swim, walk? What is something else you would like to learn about seeds?

Voki - All About Me #1

Voki is a fun tool students can use to create a speaking avatar. In 4th grade, students will have the opportunity to use Voki for book reports, character analysis, sharing poetry and other writing, and summarizing science findings.

We used Voki this time to introduce ourselves to each other.

I thought 3 students did a particularly good job on this assignment! I am having some trouble embedding the Voki's all together, so I will have to do it 3 separate posts.


About Me Voki #2

Here is the 2nd quality example:


About Me Voki #3

Here is the 3rd Voki:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Favorite Foods

During one of Emily's visits to talk with us about the school garden, she asked us what are favorite foods were. Here are our responses in the form of...Word Cloud!

Thanks Danielle for typing in all of these responses! 

Finding Factors and Assembling Arrays

Fourth graders are learning to identify Factors and Multiples. 

Factors are numbers we use to multiply with other numbers to find a product. 

Here are examples of Arrays students found and photographed in the classroom:

2 rows of 3 posters = 2 x 3 = 6 posters
12 rows of 3 shelves = 12 x 3 = 36 shelves

2 rows of 2 desks = 2 x 2 = 4 desks

10 rows of 3 mailboxes = 10 x 3 = 30 mailboxes

3 rows of 9 holes = 3 x 9 = 27 holes

3 rows of 4 posters = 3 x 4 = 12 posters

Please comment!
What are examples of other arrays you have noticed around school or at home? 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Deliciously Descriptive Writing

One of my favorite authors in Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Year of the Dog, Starry River of the Sky and more) because she writes exquisitely descriptive passages. Several years ago, while reading Year of the Dog, students began calling descriptive words "delicious" words because Lin used them so often to describe the meals her family ate at various celebrations. The term stuck, and I still call descriptive words "delicious words" today.

4th graders are currently working on improving the use of delicious words in their own writing, specifically STRONG VERBS and VIVID, COLORFUL ADJECTIVES.

For example, "I went to the store" becomes "I rode my bike to the store." Students should ask themselves the question: "How did I went?"

"We played outside" might become "My friends and I zoomed down the windy, yellow slide and swung like monkeys across the orange, metal bars." Students should ask themselves "Have I painted a picture with my words? Can my reader really imagine what I have written?"

In order to become better writers, we are going to pay closer attention to other authors.

Readers, please comment! Share with us examples of STRONG VERBS or VIVID, COLORFUL ADJECTIVES that you find in your reading OR that you notice in other classmates' work. We will also post some examples that we find to help you. 

Learning to Be Good Learners!

Too many people, students and adults alike, think that "being smart" is something that you just are - or aren't.  What we are working very hard to help our students realize is that EVERYONE can learn. EVERYONE can be smart.

Good learning happens when people use strategies on a consistent basis. Those people who most of us think of as being smart use these strategies all the time.

What does learning look like in 4th grade?


Making GOOD observations

Asking questions

Checking our work

Coming prepared and being sure we have done quality work

Discussing different ideas

Celebrating our successes and correcting our mistakes

Working together

Quietly sharing about our thinking

Thinking about and analyzing what we find
  All students can use these strategies to be successful.

We are working hard to make sure everyone in our learning community does just that.