Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scientist Visit

Our class was delighted to have a visit from an active scientist today.  The visit is in partnership with the Oak Park Education Foundation's Global Village Program that exposes students to scientists and the kinds of professions they have.  For more information, head over to Mrs. D's 4th Grade Blog!  There are also more research links on her blog, too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Dramatic Undertaking

I have been encouraging students all year long to tell me when they are interested in something and want to know more-I believe intrinsic motivation to be the most valuable form.  Some students approached me about performing a play published in a Scholastic News issue.  When they assured me there were enough parts for everyone in the class, that they would gather props and create ones they didn't have, I had no choice but to support their ambition.  Two weeks later we are on the verge of a student directed performance called "The Crossing." The play is about the pivotal moment in American history when George Washington decided to forge the Delaware River in a plan to advance in the Revolutionary War.  When the play wraps up at the end of this week, students will be video recording the performance and I will post it on the blog.  Students will also be performing this act for our first grade buddies, as well.  Come back next week to see the play!  

Parent teacher conferences are right around the corner: February 1-5.  You will receive an e-mail with the time and date of your conference.  The schedule will follow the sign-up from the fall conferences.  If you already know the corresponding time in February is not good for you, please e-mail me and we will find one that works.  

Hopefully by now your child has explained to you the two research projects they are currently working on; ecosystems and numbers.  Students have time to research at school but also make an effort to research more information at home.  They should be recording notes on the book or web-source citation pages they received in the media center.  There are also extra copies in the classroom.  When focusing research efforts, I encourage students to ask questions and search for answers.  Researching can be very confusing is there is no direction.  Questions help to focus research.  Good luck! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Work Flow

Hello Readers!  We finally got some snow to cover the barren land the rain created over winter break.  Snow on the ground just seems to make January feel more like winter.  Now in the second week of school in the new year we are trying a different approach to completing classroom assignments and responsibilities.  The idea is called Work Flow.  It's simply a different way of presenting weekly tasks and projects.  Students are responsible to complete all of the tasks in the flow by the end of the week.  Items get added and erased as our focus shifts. 

Research is quickly becoming a major component of the education process for all age levels.  In fourth grade we are beginning research for two different subjects and topics.  This will be a delicate balance for students but hopefully the research skills learned will be directly applied to both topics. Numbers research is for our GVC project.  (The purpose of this project is to built a website that gives something back to the global community.  We are focusing on the way numbers connect everyone.) We are investigating the way numbers are presented and utilized for various things in our lives.  Example: One student recently discovered ISBN on the back of books and is now researching the origins, purpose and value of ISBNs on books.  Ecosystems research is for a science project that leads into students creating living ecosystems in the classroom.  For more information on research and age-appropriate research sites for your children, please click the "Research" tab at the top of the blog. 

Winter MAP testing starting in District 97 this week and will continue through January 26.  Our class took the reading test on Monday and will take the Math test on Tuesday, January 24.  Complete students reports and data will be available during parent/teacher conferences in early February.  These test results are great for measuring student progress and developing student centered learning goals. 

Scholastic News is becoming an integral part of our weekly routine.  Not only do issues provide current events for students but activity sheets focus and enriching skills and concepts listed in our nation's Core Common Standards.  Many of these standards are also some of the standards that the annual ISAT assesses.  There are great articles and coverage of many major American and world events.  So if your child comes home one day talking about a controversial topic or referencing popular news events, they probably got it from Scholastic News.  Today's news is tomorrow's history! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

A new year can mean many things for many people.  In the academic world it usually means the second half of the year is here with an opportunity to build on successes or learn from failures of the first half of the school year.  Even though our classroom is full of fourth graders, this holds true for elementary teachers and students too.  I hope your winter break was full of fun family time as well as restful moments of relaxation.  Below is a picture from the ice skating field trip we took prior to winter break.  Happy New Year!

(Thanks to a class parent for the photo!)

Already a few days into the new year, students are back into the swing of things and the learning process has continued.  We will be putting in a significant amount of time and effort into developing a website with our Global Virtual Classmates (GVC).  We will also continue communicating with them in a variety of ways to learn more about students in other parts of the United States and world.  The next project we are hoping to share with them is an interactive post-it type board with pictures and writings about experiences our fourth graders had over winter break.  For this, children were asked to bring in one picture that captures their best winter break experience.  We will be using a web 2.0 tool called Stixy for creation. Check back for more information and a link to the final project.