Sunday, May 14, 2017

Collaboration Builds Understanding

Last week we began our unit under the theme How the World Works. Since we had become intrigued (and a bit outraged) about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we wondered what could be done about all that pollution. We came across this video about Sweden and how it has turned waste into energy!

We then began to brainstorm other ways we produce energy. The students came up with a few ideas. 

We then took to the books to see what else we could dig up. We added our thoughts and findings to the board and ended up being more curious than we were when we began! We posted some of our curiosities so we could commence our inquiry into energy, and thought about where to begin. 

Our biggest curiosity seemed to be: How does sun (wind, coal, etc.) actually turn INTO electricity. Then we found this video:

We watched it in pairs and collected our big learning and new questions, which we shared once we came back together as a whole group.  

We all agreed that we felt a bit like that confused guy in the video that takes the piece of coal and tries to slam it into the lamp to turn it on! So, we got into pairs, took one source of energy and did some quick research on HOW each source is harnessed and turned into actual electricity.  

Basel and Yigit explore fossil fuels

Nora and Sofija talk about geothermal energy

Krista and Migle label a diagram of how hydroelectricity works

Rojus and Benas learn about biomass

Domantas and Aleksandras dig into the complexities of nuclear power

Gerda and Eva investigate solar power 

We then came back together and shared a diagram we had found of our energy source, and walked our classmates through the source and where/how it gets turned into actual electricity. 

Sofija and Nora walk us through geothermal energy

Sofia and Liza share how a wind turbine works

Antanas and Gerda discuss the steps it takes to produce solar power

Basel and Yigit explain fossil fuels

Krista and Migle walk us through hydroelectric power

Benas and Rojus help us understand biomass

Domantas and Aleksandras explain nuclear energy production

We added this learning to our collaborative learning wall. We have also begun to connect sources of energy to one another. 

Building learning and understanding together- (Monday)

Continuing to build our understanding- (Friday)

When doing this, we discovered that each source had some bits in common:

Since one of our lines of inquiry investigates sustainable energy practices, we decided to go ahead and find the pros/cons of our energy source, as well. We tied this to the question MiglÄ— posed at the beginning of our study which was about Energy Pollution. 

Pros and Cons of each source of energy

Throughout all this research, several wonderful questions surfaced. One of them was about windmills (turbines) and how big they actually are. We watched this video to get some perspective! 

We also grew very curious about Lithuania and what kind of energy we use/produce here. We found this video:

We then looked at this cool website:

Though it looked like a boring chart, we got pretty excited to compare Lithuania to other countries that we know produce different types of energy. We became curious about how far back this data went, so we looked at how statistics have changed since 1990, and speculated as to why Lithuania might have relied more on nuclear than it does now. Who knew showing 4th graders dry statistics from the International Energy Agency would bring about such lively conversation! 

We concluded the week generating new questions that have arisen for us following the unit research we've completed. Our questions included:

  • Which energy source can actually produce the MOST electricity?
  • How is electricity shared- how does the grid work?
  • Why do we need so many energy sources?
  • Which source is the most used around the world?
  • How does a solar panel actually work?
  • Which renewable source is used the most?
  • If renewables are better, why don't we just use those and get rid of the others?

In language arts, we've been hard at work publishing our poems and deciding how to put our class books and individual books together. We have spent time talking about the need to read a poem aloud several times before we can meaningfully edit it for line breaks, white space, punctuation and capitalisation.

We also had the pleasure of hearing a story in Ukrainian from Veronika and her mom, Nina last week! 

Veronika and Ms.Nina share a traditional Ukrainian story about a very Lazy Goat!

In mathematics, we have begun our unit of study on fractions. We've been using what we know to explore number talks involving addition and multiplication of fractions. 

Fraction multiplication is no problem when we just think logically about what we're doing! 

When adding fractions, many of us are very visual

After working through a fraction addition problem, a few of us were curious about what we might do if the denominators were very different. So we worked out an example of how to find common denominators under the wavy lines. These kids never cease to amaze me with their curiosity and desire to learn more!

We have been using pattern blocks to explore 1/2, 1/3 and 1/6. We then used sets of chips to visually represent fraction of sets. This allowed us to understand how the WHOLE can change and the fraction 1/2 can have a different value depending on the size of the whole. We have been adding and subtracting fractions with like and different denominators. 
We utilised a deck of cards to explore the concept of probability. 

Yigit demonstrates how to build a fraction addition problem with pattern blocks

Migle and Nora work together on fraction subtraction using pattern blocks

Veronika, Yigit, Krista and Liza demonstrate different ways to make a whole

Aleksandras, Elena, Domantas and Gerda represent a whole using different methods

This week, we used fraction cards to dig deeper into the size of each fraction. We sorted them by half, smaller than half and bigger than half. From here, we realised we were able to sort sets of fractions. We discovered some patterns when sorting a set with like numerators (the smaller the denominator, the larger the fraction) and with like denominators (the smaller the numerator, the smaller the fraction). We used the scenario of sharing chocolate with friends to logically work these understandings out! 

Rojus searches for equivalent fractions

After becoming interested in doing our part to put an end to plastic pollution, we decided to work together on one last Passion Project. In small teams we watched different videos about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and jotted down our big learning. We then thought about which of those learnings might be used to persuade others not to use plastic. Next, we took the information we thought was most useful and worked in pairs to turn it into an image with a persuasive slogan. Now, we will work together with Ms.Dayana to fine tune these designs and slogans, and transfer them onto reusable shopping bags. *Thank you to Ms.Jelena for finding us the perfect bags! 

We decided which information we thought we'd like to use from our learning

Then, we took one fact and practiced using it to generate possible slogans

Next, we worked on images and slogans based on our chosen focus

Plastic was created in 1907....and it's all still here!

Small fish eat plastic, big fish eat small fish, YOU eat big eat plastic, too!

We had a lovely sunny spring day in the park with 4A week before last. We enjoyed games of leap frog, climbing the big hill, watching the new baby ducklings, and creating a conga-line game! 

As always, we enjoyed getting to hear and learn from some of our classmates who have wrapped up their latest Genius Hour Passion Projects. 

Nora shows the video she made of her process with her 'Help Homeless Cats' project

Benas showed his website created from scratch. He blew us away with his newly developed and perfected coding skills that he's been working on since October!  

Yelyzaveta showed her fashion website she created and invited feedback from her peers for how to keep improving it so that others might want to check it out! 

We were delighted to celebrate our friend, Domantas' birthday! We wish him a fabulous 11th year ahead! 

Happy Birthday, Domantas! 

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