Sunday, December 2, 2012

Matter and Muskets

Dry Ice in a Bottle Experiment
Matter:  What do dry ice and liquid nitrogen have in common? They are both substances with temperatures well below zero!  These two substances were used in many science experiments provided by the Discovery Museum this week to expand the study of 'Matter' through this in-house field trip.  See what the kids had to say:
  • Sam G. "I like when the lady froze the banana in the liquid nitrogen and then used it like a hammer and "bananaed" a nail into a piece of wood."
  • Vidyut "Dry ice is very cold. When you put it in warm water it sublimates into a gas!"
  • Trever "I liked when she poured liquid nitrogen on the floor. It evaporated and picked up the dust on the floor!"
  • Maddie R. "She submerged a ping-pong ball in the liquid nitrogen (then put it on a tray)The ping-pong ball started spinning around on the silver tray because the liquid nitrogen evaporated into a gas and the gas came out of a hole in the ping pong ball which made it spin"
  • Cate Mrs. Harris put a flower in liquid nitrogen. When she took it she put her hand on the flower (with gloves). It fell apart into a lot of tiny pieces.
Muskets:  Stepping back in time with the Bay Colony Educators, the fourth grade students learned what life was like for boys and girls living in Walpole in the 1760's.   Dressed in colonial garb, Tim and Carol Greene spoke to the children about their clothing and the long, arduous process to produce one item.  Students were amazed to learn that chores such as making soap, fetching water (that might weigh up to 50 pounds) and planting flax seed were common for children in those days.  Information was shared about school, homes, toys and more.  The program ended literally with a bang, as Tim was allowed to fire a musket that would have been used in the Revolutionary War.   
Comments from the students:
  • Madison A. "I would like to live in colonial times because the toys looked fun and I like how they dressed."
  • Leo "I would not like to live in colonial times because I wouldn't much time to play."
  • Meagan "I would not like to live in colonial times because it would be a lot of work making soap and candles and getting water."
  • Alex "I would like to live in colonial times because I would love to serve in the militia!

 Ask your child what they learned this week from either of these programs.   


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Plimoth Plantation Field Trip

"How Now!" or "Good Morrow!"  These were just some of the greetings we heard today as we stepped back in time to the year 1627.   

Leaving Boyden during the pouring rain didn't damper our spirits as we eagerly awaited the sights, sounds and smells of Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass.  Students glimpsed what life would be like for the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people of the 17th century.  

In preparation for our trip, Kathy Devlin (Maggie's aunt) who portrays Susannah White Winslow in the Village, spoke with the fourth grade last week via Skype.  She gave suggestions on how to make the trip more meaningful.  Asking lots of questions, offer to help someone with a chore and speak to many people about the same subject, she felt would provide a wonderful learning experience.  With these tips we were ready for an exciting visit.

Making our way through the pathways to the Pilgrim Village and the Wampanoag Village really gave one the feeling of stepping back in time.  The rustic paths led our group to Pilgrims and Native people who were dressed in authentic clothing.  The pungent smell of wood smoke from the cooking fires filled the air.  Buildings and fences looked like those only seen in books. The damp weather contributed to the feeling of authenticity.  

Hopefully, students will have a greater appreciation for the finer comforts that we so take for granted.  After seeing small one room homes (which often housed six to ten people), beds on roped frames, thatched roofs, glassless windows and dirt floors, students learned that life in the late 1600's was rather harsh.  

We spent just over 2 hours touring the villages, but it felt like it was the blink of an eye.  It was a wonderful day filled with learning and wonder.  Ask your child to tell you about their favorite part of our trip.  



Monday, November 5, 2012

Mock Election 2012

Every four years the students at our school are treated to a Mock Presidential Election.  This year the Fourth Graders were in charge of "manning the polls".  

In preparation of the day, students created Obama/Romney posters that were to adorn the walls of the school or to be held by the campaigners during voting hours.  Students at the "check in" table were given class lists and conducted the check in just like it would be done in an actual election. Instead of "Street Name", the poll worker asked "Teacher's Name" and then proceeded to cross off the voting child's name. 
Checking In

Voters were handed a ballot then directed to the polling booths (desks with privacy screens).  
Voting in the Booth

After choosing their candidate the voter then went to the "check out" station. 
Checking Out
 The most exciting moment came when the ballots were entered into the antique ballot box.  It was actually used for the town's Precinct 6 many, many years ago.  As each ballot was entered, poll workers cranked the handle.  A distinctive "ding" alerted all that the ballot was officially entered!  
Ballot being Counted!
 At the end of the day, Poll workers tabulated the results.  A total of 458 students and staff participated in today's event.  

The final results announced at the end of the day:
264 votes for President Barak Obama and 
221 votes for Mitt Romney    
Our results were then added to the KidVote Result Google DocSchools from all 50 states are sending in their class/school results. We will review the information at the end of the week to compare our class/school with the rest of the United States. 

This 'election' experience has given the students a better understanding of events that take place at the this special time of the year.  Hoping that this experience will remain with them not only for the next four years but for many years to come!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween, Hurricane Sandy & More

Our week started when Hurricane Sandy blew into town and left many of our students without power and a 'No School' closing on MondayWe all quickly recovered and returned to school on Tuesday ready to learn.  

We began our new reading story, "So You Want to Be President" in honor of the upcoming election.  Students learned new vocabulary and were treated to a view of a 'real' town ballot (thanks to Mrs. Fucile our Media Specialist).  We continued the week with listening to the story on the computer via the Scott Foresman website. Ask your child to show you how to ACCESS that site! They can practice vocabulary, grammar and more. We continued learning about Presidents.  We hope to share that learning with you via a video later.  In the meantime - listen to this story to learn some great facts about our former Presidents.


In math this week the students practiced finding multiples and factors while learning to recognize patterns using input/output functions.  More next week culminating with a unit test by Friday. 

Students were pioneers this week as we were one of the first classes to participate in the MAP testing (Measure of Academic Progress).  Mr. Dearborn is sending more information home about this topic. 

The most exciting part of the week was our traditional Halloween Parade. Please see the video below to view all the fun costumes worn by our class. 

Next week proves to be another interesting week as the fourth grade will be hosting a "Mock Election" on Monday.  Please fill in this form to share your prediction for Tuesday's Election. (No name required).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy makes her way up the East Coast, many people are preparing for a serious storm.  While there are those excited by the prospect of high winds and torrential rain, others, like elementary students, may be nervous and confused about what to expect.  As always, providing information may alleviate their fears.

Perhaps you can review these resources with your child tomorrow as they have the day off from school.

NASA Science Files for Kids: An interactive site that describes Hurricane Structure, Formation and Movement. 

Saffir-Simpson Scale: This NASA site explains the rating scale used for hurricanes.  Hurricanes are rated on a scale of 1-5.  A category 1 hurricane is less intense than a category 5.

Hurricane Names: Learn how hurricanes are named and find a list of names that have been or will be used.   Is your name here?


Discovery Channel Video:  This video explains how hurricanes form and describes some of the damage caused by them.

Hurricane Minute: A series of video clips from the Weather Channel Kids that are each one minute in length.  The content is more suitable for older children.

KidsKnowIt Network: This short video pairs animation with words to explain how hurricanes work. (Although there are ads on the side of the site this might work for younger students).

Video Explaining How Hurricanes Work and How they Get their Name
         (Two commercials are embedded in this video)


Family Education:  This site gives clear directions on how to prepare for a hurricane. This is more for parents to use with their children.

Ready America: This site is also for use with your children.

FEMA: A site that helps kids plan a 'disaster kit' and family 'disaster plan' and more.


The Weather Channel Kids Look up the weather in your location using your zip code, play weather related games and more.  This site offers all kinds of different resources for kids and teachers.

FEMA for Kids:  This site has information on hurricanes and other disasters.  It has pages to show how to prepare for emergencies, how to protect your home and pets and more.

Weather Wiz for Kids Learn all about the wonderful world of weather through this site designed especially for kids (teacher & parent resources as well.)

Kidstorm:  Provides links and information about storms. For kids, parents & teachers.

Weather Coloring Books: This site has coloring books in PDF form to help kids understand severe weather.   (Should probably be used with parent as there is a lot of information.)     

National Weather Service: Here you will find the National Hurricane Center with all kinds of information. 
StormPulse:  Track Atlantic & Pacific Hurricanes, other storms and more.

Hurricane Resources:  A collection of sites compiled by @Cybraryman1

Putting the power in kids' hands by helping them learn about natural phenomena like hurricanes will hopefully ease their fears through understanding and at the same time create an interest in their world.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Authors, Oreos & Google Hangout!

What's better than lunch in the classroom?  Lunch in the classroom with J.K. Rowling - author of the Harry Potter books!  On Thursday we were treated to a LIVE webcast hosted by Scholastic, Inc. featuring the famous author.  Live from Edinburgh, Scotland she read her favorite part of the first Harry Potter book and spoke about her love of writing.  She shared the new site Pottermore. which is a place to explore Harry Potter in a new way.

The following day we were delighted to host Debbie Miller, a favorite author from Alaska.  In preparation for her visit the fourth grade students read and discussed "The Great Serum Race" about the 1925 diphtheria outbreak in Nome.  At the end of her visit she shared slides from her trip to Australia which inspired her new book, Australia Journey.

Before all this we had our first Mystery Location Call using Google+ Hangout (instead of Skype). After many yes/no questions had been asked an answered we discovered that our Mystery State was New Jersey with Mr. Krakower's class. It is our hope to collaborate on other projects with this class.

Another highlight of the week included the O.R.E.O. Project (Our Really Exciting Online Project).  The challenge across the nation was to see how many oreos could be stacked before toppling.  Specific rules included using regular not double stuffed oreos, bracing the oreos against anything was not allowed and once a cookie was placed on the stack that was it - adjusting or shifting the stack was not allowed. At the end, we tabulated the highest number of each stack and found the average number.  This involved adding and dividing.  Then we sent our data in to the project coordinator.  The graph shows the results of all the participants.

Looking forward to another wonderful week of learning!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

German Exchange Students Visit

An opportunity that couldn't be passed up presented itself this morning.  It seems that Walpole High School is hosting three exchange students from Germany who happened to be visiting Boyden School this morning.  They were good enough to come to our classroom and spend some time with us.

When they entered our classroom we were preparing for our Mystery Skype call. They sat right down with the to help and guide the students as they worked to guess the state.  (Kansas has now been added to our growing list of Mystery States!).

Towards the end of the day the three visiting students, Daniel, Maren & Esther, returned to Room 310.  They were given a list of color, number, food and sport words and asked to teach the students the German translation.  All of the students Americans and Germans enjoyed the experience.  It was an engaging and heartwarming activity.

The fourth graders were so interested and curious about what life is like in Germany.  The high school students in turn were patient and thoughtful with their answers. Esther shared with her group that today just happens to be German Reunification Day (which is like our Independence Day). She explained about the Berlin Wall and how it was removed. 

This type of learning doesn't happen everyday and so when an occasion such as this arises we need to capitalize on it.  All of these kids will remember this day for many years to come! So happy to be a part of this Global learning!

Did your child come home with stories about learning an new language? Were they able to tell you any words? Please leave a note in the comment section.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

You Never Know Where Learning Will Lead

Don't be surprised if your child asks for a pogo stick!

This week following a lesson on asking questions the students began practicing finding the MAIN IDEA and supporting details.  The worksheet being used had information about a gentleman who climbed up and down Mt. Fuji on his pogo stick.  Imagine the stamina and strength it would take to accomplish this feat! As the students continued reading they became fascinated by Ashrita Furman, the man who holds over a hundred other records in the Guinness Book of Records.

The students started asking lots of great questions.  Why did he decide to break the records?  How many records did he break? Where is he from?  Why did climbing Mt. Fuji on a pogo stick bring inner peace? (the paragraph mentioned it brought Ashrita inner peace)  What is inner peace?  Is he still alive?

Not realizing the interest this would spark, we decided to take a few moments to research this unusual record-breaker.  His website, which you can reach it by clicking HERE, has all kind of fun and amazing information.  It also includes the video below:

Students each wrote a letter to Ashrita in their writing journal.  They asked their questions about his records while also telling him about the records they would like break.  One student wants to be the first to eat the most gummy bears in 5 minutes while another wants to pass a football non-stop and still another wants to write continuously in cursive.

One never knows where the learning will take us.  The key is to take those teachable moments and follow where it leads!

Advice on "How to get started" by Ashrita Furman himself can be found on this page of his website: How to Get in the Guinness Book.

Please share in the comment section the record you would like to break!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mystery State Skype Preparation

Is your state located West of the Mississippi?  Are there any bodies of water that border your state? These are just a couple of the questions that students are preparing to ask this coming week!  In preparation for our Mystery State Skype calls the students were involved in several 'map' activities this past week.

One activity required students to fill in a giant map of the USA with state names and capital cities.  The term "Political Map" was introduced and explained.  Other types of maps will be discussed throughout the year.  Click HERE to learn about different types of maps.

With a partner students were given a list of questions (see some of them below) which required a YES/NO answer.  They chose their own "Mystery State" and answered the questions based on THAT state.  The next step is to have the class ask these questions to see if they can narrow down the correct state.  These will be the questions that will be guiding our Mystery Skypes.

This week the students will research the bordering states, bodies of water, climate, landforms, resources, major cities, attractions, famous people and animals about Massachusetts.  These will be used in other Mystery Skype calls.  
We are hoping to take a trip around the United States (and beyond) and learn about the different states in the process.  We will compare and contrast the regions and states of the USA and more.  We will be making connections with classrooms far and wide and thereby 'flattening' our classroom walls. 

Ask your child which state they decided to choose!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Building Stamina - Read to Self

2, 4, 5, 7, 9... Nine Minutes. The students have been working hard every day to build their "stamina" during Read to Self time. By Friday the class reached nine minutes! I am so proud of their efforts. The goal for our class is to be able to be independent readers and to sustain their reading attention for 20-30 minutes.

The children understand that building stamina in reading is similar to running a marathon.
You wouldn't just start by running 26.2 miles - you would gradually work your way up to it. This is what we are doing. There is a sense of urgency to become independent.

One of the most important aspects of Read to Self time is that the students are reading books of interest to them. They also know that choosing a "Just Right" book is key in being able to read for extended periods of time. Students were giving the analogy: "If the Shoe Fits..." Ask your child about the "shoe lesson" that was presented in class.

Check out this presentation below that was shared in class last week that goes along with finding a book that is JUST RIGHT.

Expectations for the upcoming week are high, and we hope to reach the 15 minute mark in Reading.
This week we will also begin building stamina in writing! Becoming independent learners is a priority in Room 310!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Math Skype!

Only four days into the new school year and already the students in Room 310 are Global Learners! Today, we connected with a group of 3rd graders from the Jack Stuart School in Alberta, Canada. Their teacher, Mr. Wilson, wanted his students to have some real world Data to analyze.

The 3rd Grade students created a poll: What is your Favorite Animal? Choices were given: Lion, Tiger, Monkey and Parrot. Each student in room 310 was able to share their favorite. The totals were tallied and from our class 1 student chose Lion, 6 chose Tiger, 9 Monkey and 3 parrot. Their job will be to create a bar graph which will be shared via student blogs.

After the math portion our classes exchanged information about our schools. We learned that we are very similar even though we are many, many, many miles apart. Did you know that in Canada the temperature is measured in degrees Celsius?

The students in both classrooms were great representatives of their communities and look forward to future connections!

Can you remember something else we learned from our new friends in Canada?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Welcome to Room 310

Welcome to the Fourth Grade and specifically Room 310! Planning on you having a wonderful year of learning with your classmates and me! This blog will provide a "window to our learning" for you, your families, relatives and hopefully many others .

Please listen to my 'representative' to hear about your upcoming year! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Welcome to Grade 4

We are going to have a great year! I know Mr. Dearborn, our new principal is looking forward to meeting you as much as I am! Please fill out this "All About You" Survey. (click on these words: All About You) It will help me get to know you better!

I'll be looking out for you on the first day of school.