Friday, November 28, 2014

Green Screen Makes Learning Real...Fun!

Bay Colony Educators - Tim & Carole
This week our school was visited by the Bay Colony Educators thanks to funding by our PAC.  This husband and wife team having been coming to our school for over 20 years.  Students learn what life would be like living in the 1760's in New England. Learning about colonial homes, chores, food, clothing, school and more makes this visit interesting as it is quite extensive.

Using a graphic organizer, students take notes during the hour-long presentation. Using those notes students then were able to compare and contrast Colonial life to the lives of the Pilgrims and our own lives today.

Technology certainly has improved since the eighteenth century, and we decided to capitalize on it.  Using a Green Screen app on the iPad, DoInk, students were able to share what they learned in a fun and unique way. Using their notes students wrote about what they learned, their opinion why they
DoInk App
would and why they would not have liked to live during that time period.  Then they chose one of those topics to create a mini video.  Placed in front of the "green screen" students choose a colonial background and shared the information by creating a video on DoInk.  DoInk is easy to use.  Simply choose a background image, clipart, or background video then create the overlay video.  Save the video to your camera roll.

After saving the video to the camera roll, we used the iMovie app to create a video that can be shared via Youtube!  It really is very easy and quick.  (Except this first time since we were learning how to use the app!).

Take a look at some of the creations! Using this type of technology is engaging for the students which makes learning!



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Second Annual Science Fair

What is the effect of soda on teeth?  What is the effect of light on fish?  Do cats have a dominant paw? These are just a couple of questions that were being examined during our Second Annual Science Fair.

Using BrainPop, JP Taylor's Scientific Method Blues and other resources, students were given instruction around the Scientific Method.   To begin the process students explored a topic in Earth Science, Life Science or Physical Science and then learned about asking a question.  Following that came researching the topic, forming a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis and coming up with some conclusions. 

Students had the option of creating either a Google Presentation or a Tri-fold Board.  Most students in our class chose to complete the Google Presentation.  Some printed out some of the Google Presentation and included it on their tri-fold.  Others followed the tri-fold directions from the guiding packet.

On the day of the fair, students brought in items that helped create a visual for their project.  One student brought in the rocks she used to check for absorbancy, another brought in her moldy bread, while another brought in bouncy balls used in her experiment.

There was a buzz in the classroom as kindergartners through 5th graders learned from the fourth graders about chemical reactions which create rock candy, clean copper and cause soda to explode.  Others listened intently as students explained the amount of iron in cereal, where the most germs are located and how the temperature of water affects the time it takes to freeze.

When the Fair was all over the students completed a "Reflection" worksheet.  The last question on the reflection asked students to describe the Fair in one word:  Awesome! Amazing! Fun! Educational! were just some of the descriptions.

The 4th Grade Science Fair is here to stay!

Students: What advice would you give others about completing a science fair?

Others:  What parts of the Science Fair would you like to learn more about?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Using Models to Solve Math Problems

More and more we are asking students to solve complex math problems.  Along the way we do a lot to help them be successful.  We incorporate the use of many tools during the math classroom.

One of the tools we are using this year in the classroom is called, Thinking Blocks".  This website (there is even a 'free' app for the thinking blocks) poses problems around different types of models.  As a warm up before the regular math lesson we practiced solving addition and subtraction word problems using the "part whole model with two parts" and the "part whole model with 3 parts".

As a group we watch a quick 3 minute tutorial, practice several problems and then break off with a partner.  Using the chrome books, students access the website and begin discussing each new problem by first checking for understanding and then manipulating the blocks.  Working with a partner also gets the students used to 'talking' about math problems.  It's great listening in on conversations - students help one another understand why something is working or something isn't! 

These blocks help students identify the known and unknown quantities. Using these models students will gain confidence in solving problems while developing strong reasoning skills. They are also a great tool for students to use to 'discuss' math and explain their thinking.

Eventually, students will be making these types of models on their own.  But for now, it's a great tool help attain understanding.

What are some ways you talk about math at home?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

National Geographic Giant Traveling Map

Finding Alberta, Canada after a Skype to a Class in Camrose!
Talk about seeing the world up close! This past week we had the opportunity to get our hands AND their feet on the Giant National Geographic Map.  Quickly taking off their shoes, my students rushed over to explore the mammoth "Map of North America".  Squeals of delight could be heard as the students found various states and features.  On the day of our first visit we just so happened to have skyped @weswils5 's class in Alberta, Canada.  It was so fun to watch the students crowd around the province on the map! A stronger, 'bigger' connection was certainly made.

I had no idea such a thing exsisted! The map which measures 26' by 35' was brought to my attention by a parent last year. It was rented for two weeks through the generous donation from our Parent Advisory Council. All the classes in the school were able to visit the map at least twice during the two week rental period.

Simon Says: Put your Right foot on a state with...
The first time we visited the map we played a "Simon Says" type game to familiarize ourselves with the map. "Simon Says find a state that begins with an M" or "Simon says put your left foot in the Atlantic Ocean". These type of statements had the students visiting different areas of the map.  The next activity was based around using the "Cardinal Directions". Using the compass rose, we found locations on the map while stepping North, South, East and West.  Student gained a better understanding and appreciation of directions after this activity. It's wasn't as easy as one would think.  Another activity involved finding particular states. Each child was given a card with a state name & had to find that state as quickly as possible. It sure was a lot of fun exploring the states in such a manner.

Every day the students asked if we were going to visit the 'giant' map.  They not only loved the size of it, but they loved exploring the different features.  Each time, someone learned something new! It makes me think that we need to be incorporating more activities like this in our classrooms.

Maps are fascinating on many different levels. Some folks may argue that 'reading a map' is not longer relevant due to technological advances and GPS systems.  Others say that reading maps lead to 'global learning'.  Witnessing the allure and attraction of these enormous maps makes me realize that students LOVE learning about places using visuals (especially one bigger than life).

How do you use maps in your daily lives? Does your child enjoy reading road maps?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcome Class of 2014-2015

Welcome to the Fourth Grade.  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.  (What I love about this blog is that you and your families can leave a comment in the section below!)

Fourth grade is such an exciting year.  We will spend the first week or two getting to know one another and working on some team building activities.  We will also spend time building our reading stamina. We will start out small and reach the goal of reading at a sustained pace for 30 minutes! You will be hearing a lot about the Daily5 which will give you many CHOICES on your reading journey. This year we will continue with our new math program called EnVisions.  I think you are going to enjoy learning math with the help of this program!  I have some new and exciting lessons planned in Science and Social Studies as well.

During the summer I went to a conference and found some great websites that will help us as we are learning and make your days in our classroom exciting and fun.  An app I hope to use in the classroom is called "Plickers" and the other is "Do Ink".  We will be using "Class Dojo" to keep track of homework!  Let me know if you can find out anything about any of those apps!

We are going to have a great year!  Looking forward to meeting you and getting to know you.  Please fill out this "All About You" Survey. (click on these words: All About You) It will help me get to know you before we meet face to face!  Click and you can get to know more about ME!

Please leave a comment below and tell me something that got you excited this summer!

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