Sunday, January 15, 2017


It was a fabulous first week back from break in 4L! 

We began our third unit of inquiry under the transdisciplinary theme Where We Are in Place and Time. On Monday, we spent time collaborating with our peers from 4A brainstorming and sharing any background knowledge we already possessed about Ancient Egypt. The students used 'Think-Pair-Share' as we created a list on the board. This afforded us insight into what direction the unit take, but also gave us a quick pre-assessment.

Grades 4A and 4L 'Think-Pair-Share' what they know about Ancient Egypt
Grade 4's collective background knowledge of Ancient Egypt

On Wednesday, we put the students from 4A and 4L into two large groups (Group Isis and Group Ra) to attend some Ancient Egyptian 'workshops'. 

The workshop in 4A focused on Ancient Egyptian writing. The students learned a bit about hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone. They then spent time writing their name in hieroglyphics on a cartouche they made from paper.

For the workshop in 4L, we investigated the building of the pyramids. The students then discussed in small groups what studying the pyramids could teach us about Ancient Egyptian: religious beliefs, architecture, mathematics, politics, labour force, and science/technology. Finally, the students spent some time working on a challenge where they tried to build a pyramid out of sugar cubes 8 levels high, with each level above being slightly smaller than the one below. 

We then asked the students to reflect on this question: 'Why is this important to us today?' Some of their responses were:
  • To know history and how they did things
  • So we can see changes between the ancient times and the present
  • To learn how people did things before and improve or modernise these things
  • To appreciate other people's history
  • To understand how we used to do things and learn from it
We will continue our investigation into the Ancient Egyptians next week as well. 

In math, we began a new unit on decimals and their uses. The students began with a quick review of fractions and jumped into reading decimals. We looked at how decimals and fractions are related to the 'whole' or the 'one'. We then worked to read, write and show decimal values with base-ten blocks to get our minds around the value of each digit being discussed. 

We also moved on to addition number talks. During our first number talk, the students quickly discovered relationships with subtraction and multiplication. They also found that some of the same strategies could be utilised, such as rounding up or down. 

Addition number talks...some of these strategies look familiar

In language arts, it was a very exciting week for us as readers! Ms.Alie brought us back many new books to share from her trip to Canada. We got together as one large group to listen to booktalks for about 10 of the new books. The students then collaborated to come up with a system and method for sharing the books between the two classes so everyone would get a chance to read the new literature. We were excited about the many new choices of graphic novels, new books by some of our favourite authors and books we never even knew we'd love! 

Ms.Alie booktalks the 'Babymouse' graphic novel series

Sofija, Lukas, Eva and Dovydas play rock, paper, scissors to see who gets the book first

We continue to work through our writing process. The students are currently in various stages of the process with several who have recently published a piece. They are now rotating back around to writing territories or drafting a plan. We will spend more time on the planning stage this upcoming week to solidify the value of a focus and a strong plan to guide us as writers in developing our compositions.

During Genius Hour this week, we got to hear from a few students who had put on finishing touches to projects from last term. We always enjoy the chance to celebrate our classmate's accomplishments! 

Sofia and Gerda present the music video they made of the song they wrote and composed together
Antanas and his giant teddy bear

The students are now in the process of either: a) finishing up their last project or b) beginning a new project. Some of us have found it a struggle to stay on schedule, so we are now using a couple of tools to help us with that. 

One is a contract signed by the student and teacher. This ensures that the project stays on focus. When it is sent home this week you will notice some new elements. The first is that the students must have a human resource- an expert- they can refer to when they get 'stuck'. The second is that they must identify 3 (out of 5) of the 21st century skills they will be working to improve. In a world where the focus is largely on the individual, we will strive to focus on how we can do our little part. You can find a list of new projects HERE

Each students meets one-on-one with the teacher to discuss ideas and ways to make Passion Projects most meaningful

The other tool we will use is a schedule plan. This will guide us all with more focus as we define what we'll be working on in school on Fridays and what we will work on throughout the week. Please check in with your child to see these documents and encourage them to stay on track so they can reach success! 

We had a great trip to the park on Thursday! There was still snow on the ground and it began to fall again on our way there. We enjoyed some fantastic sledding where we shared two sleds between us all. We also enjoyed seeing how the ponds had frozen over as well as all running water leading into the park. It was quite the winter wonderland! 

Finally, we enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate our friend Antanas' birthday since we missed it on January 1st. We wish him a happy 10th year ahead! 

Antanas and his very tasty teddy bear cake. We had a hard time cutting into that cake!

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