Research Complete

This week, we finished our research of the medieval period.  The children met with their groups and discussed the information that they wanted to share with the class.  Together, they then created and presented a poster for the class.

As a class, we drew out a story map for what will happen in our movie.  Now, we’re on to the next step in our project: creating everything (from costumes to script to props to scenery) that we will need for our medieval movie.

The children are so very excited. In fact, they asked me if we could start filming; I had to remind about all we needed to do first.  But that is what the next few weeks are for.  Stay tuned…

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Fractions

How many of you read that title and got shivers down your back?  The very word “fractions” can cause fear for many people.

However, fractions are not something that I want the children to fear.  So instead of diving right in and doing lessons about fractions and what they are and what they look like, I bring in why they are relevant.

On Tuesday, after defining fractions, I asked the children, “Where will we use fractions in everyday life?  Why are we learning about them?

At first, the children stared at me.  Then one or two tentative hands went up, “For school?”

Yes, yes absolutely we use them in school.  What else?  What about outside of school?

Finally, we started picking up speed as we came up with things like measurement, art, baking, cooking, shoe sizes, store sales etc.

Then I asked them if they knew that photography uses fractions.  The children shook their heads.

I then had the opportunity to share one of my hobbies with them.  We explored the shutter speed that is written as a fraction (the larger the denominator the faster the shutter speed) and the aperture (the size of hole allowing light in.  The larger the hole, the smaller the number just like fractions).  The children were amazed, and they enjoyed learning about something that I do outside of the classroom.

(side note:  for any teachers reading, in the book Teach like a Pirate, the author talks about finding ways to bring in your passions into the classroom.  What are you passionate about that can engage the children into a lesson?  It’s an excellent book!)

Then of course, what lesson would be complete without some practice?  I cautiously handed both of my cameras to my children to take pictures (after going over of course how to hold and pass off).  One camera was practicing the shutter speed, one the aperture.  They could take 2 pictures of the same thing on each camera–one on varying settings (example a slow and a fast shutter speed).

The children eagerly took the pictures.  All I could hear was talk about the fractions and how the bottom number was larger so it must be faster.  So yes, all the pictures for this week were taken by the children themselves.

Though this was just the introduction to fractions and I recognize that not everyone left the lesson understanding completely how fractions work, the children at least rid themselves of any fear they may have had about fractions.

In fact, several students at the end of the week told me, “Fractions are fun!”  And that is the path that we want to continue on.

New Quarter

I must admit, I was a bit worried about this week because it was the first full week that we have had in over a month.  Surprisingly though it went quickly because the children were excited and engaged in the learning.

As we shift into the new quarter, we begin focusing on faithfulness spreading.  This is our chance to share our faith with those around them sharing God’s love with them.  This is also the quarter that one project spreads throughout every single subject that we cover.  The children have already started it through research about the medieval period.  I love hearing, “Miss Savides, did you know that….?”  as they find those exciting (sometimes disgusting) tidbits about the medieval period.

To introduce our force and motion unit in science, we talked about medieval weaponry, especially catapults.  Within groups, the children had to create a catapult that would go the furthest using 12 popsicle sticks, 1 spoon, 4 rubber bands, and hot glue.  Then, we launched them.  Our first thing we launched was a marshmallow–all traveled rather far.  We then tried an eraser and finally a ball.  Needless to say, the heavier the object was, the closer to the catapult it stayed.  From this the children determined the rule about the greater the mass of an object, the greater the force needed to move it.  A pretty big catapult would be needed for the ball to be launched the same distance as the marshmallow.

Overall, it was a wonderful week as we started on new adventures to spread our faithfulness. I am certainly excited to see the children to continue to grow.

Creativity

Creativity is thinking in a way that is different in order to solve problems and to create new things. In a study, kindergartners were asked the number of uses of for a paperclip.  98% of the children responded at the genius level coming up with 200 or more uses; they did not limit themselves to what we think of as a paper clip (small and made of metal).  As these children grew older, sadly though, they did more and more poorly on this same assignment each time they were tested.  What the researchers concluded was that as the children were exposed to more education, their creativity dropped.  (Here is part of the video that speaks about this study https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzBa-frc2JA).

When I first heard about this study, I was distraught to think that our education today is slowly stifling a part of ourselves, thinking creatively, that God allowed us to have to better understand Him and His ultimate and complete creativity.  God showed us His creativity in creating the world and all the small details (like the smallest bone in the human body allowing us to hear) and the big details (the stars that He knows by name) by creating them out of nothing.  And yet, despite of all the details that he created, He still shows us His love for us, for you personally.  I am amazed as I think about how God reveals Himself through His creation. He gave us a small small portion of this within our own thinking so we could use this to worship Him.

As you may already have realized, I firmly believe that as a teacher I should do all that I can to foster this creativity, not to stifle it.  That is why so often we are creating something or trying to solve a problem or wondering why.  This week was no exception, especially in science and math.

As we are wrapping things up, the children had several opportunities to demonstrate their creativity.  For math, they chose to create a dance to help them to remember the various geometry terms like line, point, and ray etc.  Each child and those they were working with had to choose a song and the order of their motions.

Then, we all voted for the one we liked the best, and as a class, we began to learn it.  The children even decided to show it off at our fruitful event next week (so be sure to check it out on Thursday January 12 at 11).

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Throughout the week, the children worked on their animal habitats.  This is the final step in their zookeeping project; they need to create a model of where the animal would live if their zoo were able to purchase the animal.  As they worked, shared ideas, helped each other, their creativity buzzed throughout the classroom.  I was so proud of the way they were working to solve the presented problem. On Tuesday, I walked back into the classroom when the children had gone to recess; I smiled as I looked around my classroom.  There, where others may have seen a mess, I saw the evidence of unique and extensive creativity.

This week went by quickly, but was very busy as we are preparing for the end of the second quarter.  Throughout the week, we stretched our faithfulness as we practiced upholding the Code of Chivalry.  However, if anything though, we also certainly practiced using the creativity that God has given to us.  Perhaps, we can use this to learn even more about who God is.

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Christmas Part 2

These past few days have gone by in a blur.  The children worked so hard, but yet we still had time for lots of fun celebrating Christmas.

Last week, the children performed in the Christmas play and truly did an excellent job.  They were able to share about Jesus being the greatest gift given to us.  This is why we celebrate Christmas.

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This week, every morning we spent looking at the different passages in the New Testament about Jesus’ birth.  The children recognized the great faith of both Mary and Joseph as an angel came to them to announce Jesus’ miraculous birth. Mary and Joseph did not question God, but humbly accepted what He told them.   Jesus was not only God’s Son, but he came to the world in a way that shows God’s power.

Even the visitors to Jesus show the world how truly miraculous the birth of Jesus is.  Shepherds came and worshipped Jesus because an angelic crowd came and announced the His birth.  Later, perhaps two years later, wisemen come following a star and worship Jesus.  As we were reading, one of the children pointed out that these two examples show us that anyone can come to Jesus, both the poor and the rich and everyone in between.

As the children understood the Christmas story better, their faith was stretched as they contemplated Jesus coming into the world to save sinners because He loves us.

I would also say that our class was the most festive class when it came to Crazy Christmas sweater, socks, and hat day.  Some of them, even decorated their own sweaters.

And then there was PJ day.  We went caroling, watched a movie, ate snacks, and made cards for a Navy ship, and had an ornament exchange.  Overall, it was a great day to bring in the Christmas vacation.

I’m excited to see what the New Year will bring as we continue on our faithfulness journey.

Christmas! Part 1

As December has come, we have been busy preparing for our Christmas program that is happening on December 15.  This year, the fourth graders sing the song that specifically tells the Christmas story.

We have been learning the words, and the children even created their own hand-motions.

The children understand how important this song is because God is giving us the opportunity to share His love with everyone who comes.  We celebrate Christmas because Jesus came to this world and chose to die on the cross for us.  He suffered what we were supposed to endure so that we wouldn’t have to.  Today, He offers us the gift of having a relationship with Him because He did not remain dead.  The greatest gift at Christmas is Jesus.

To go along with our song The Greatest Gift, we created little manger scenes to hang on our school Christmas tree.  For years to come, the children will remember our song because they wrote some of the words on their nativity scene.

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Our first class picture, but certainly not our only.
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Silly picture!

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Coming up next week, I will share more pictures about our Christmas program and more of our learning about Christmas.

Long Division

Whenever we do math, I veer away from just teaching how to do the math; I really focus on  why we do that math.

This week, we started long division.

On Monday, we had three different stations to help us define division.  The first station was multiplication facts where a factor was missing (Ex: 3X___=6).

When we discussed the definition, we came up that division is the opposite of multiplication.

The second station was something along these lines:  Bob had 203 cookies.  He gave out 5 to as many people as he could.  How many people did he give the cookies to?  The children were able to use Diens blocks to help them to solve this.  Many decided though it would be easier to just subtract 5 from 203 until they couldn’t anymore.

This led to our second definition that division is repeated subtraction.

The third station was a bag of kisses.  The children first had to figure out how many kisses were in the bag without opening the bag.  Then they had to determine how many each person in our class would get.  At the end of the day, we divided the kisses among ourselves.

Our definition was that division is the whole broken into equal groups of a certain amount.

Then on Tuesday, we solved this problem: Billy had 307 candies.  There are 11 people in our class.  How many does each person get?  The children had to use repeated subtraction and then toy coins to group them to determine the number.

 

Yes, this was a long process.  We got to talk about stretching our faithfulness and going beyond what we thought capable.  We also got to talk about that some of us did not get the right answer even though we had the right process.

This allowed us to see the importance of solving division problems in the traditional method, which allows us to group the items in a much faster way.  Of course we are by no means experts yet at division, but this week I could certainly feel brain cells growing as they were stretched to think about math.

And of course, how can one learn long division without the long division dance?