The 4th grade class closed down the year with a few big celebrations last week. First, we had our final get together with our Touchmark buddies. Each student sat with his or her buddy and shared the biography they wrote based on their buddy’s life. The pieces were so touching; sad, funny and reflective. I witnessed laughter and tears as the groups were sharing. Afterwards the children and their buddies shared a popsicle and discussed summer plans. Many of our partnerships are planning on staying in touch over the summer and into the future. I am so proud of this community partnership.
Secondly, the fourth grade class ended our American Revolution unit with a full on party. This celebration included the reading of various colonial journal entries describing our journey to America in 1760, our life in the Pennsylvania colony in 1765 and life in the heat of the American Revolution 1775-1776. Afterwards, the class shared the main sections of the Declaration of Independence. Then, it was time to finally celebrate our freedom with a traditional colonial dance and colonial desserts. We so enjoyed our time together with fellow classmates and parents. What a great way to end a most spectacular year in 4th grade!
It is hard to believe that fourth grade is beginning our final Core Knowledge unit — The American Revolution. We began this unit discussing why people immigrate to a new country and what conditions lead to a mass movement from their homeland. Students role played as their journey began as colonists boarded ships for a two month journey across the Atlantic to the Pennsylvania Colony. In journal entries, colonists detailed the what, when, where, why and how of their exodus. Once they arrived in the colony they named, planned and built their town (The Seven Hills), chose a governor (Caleb Kitchens/ as William Williams, Jr.), constructed laws and punishments, decided the tax structure and what they deemed important to fund like roads, a school, a jail and an armory.
So far life in the colonies is hard work, but the colonist see the fruits of their labor and are extremely proud of their new home. Each colonist has job, is paid a wage and contributes to the betterment of our town. Unfortunately, conditions are about to change. King George III is running low on funds (from the French and Indian War) and the Proclamations are about to begin. How will the colonists react to all of this taxation without representation?
To assess the 4th graders on our most recent Core Knowledge unit, Magnets and Electricity, the class was given a challenge to create their own experiment based on static electricity, magnetism and/or electricity. First, the 4th graders had to formulate a question, then search through the classroom and at home for electricity and magnet supplies. Next,each student worked through the procedure and observed their results. Finally, they had to write a thorough conclusion, explaining the science behind what they observed.
Examples of questions chosen:
Can a comb move water? (static electricity)
How does a switch work? (open vs. closed circuits)
What can a magnetic force work through? (magnetism)
Can you make confetti dance? (magnetism)
All steps of the experiment were written down in either a poster form, slideshow form or in a lab report. The concluding task was to present their experiment to at least one other student in class. Once again, I was just a guide and monitor. The 4th graders were in charge and engaged in their own scientific discoveries.
The 4th grade is buzzing about electricity and circuits!! After picking up a Squishy Circuit Trunk from the High Desert Museum, the class was off to discover what makes an electric circuit. After formulating questions, collaborative groups used materials consisting of batteries, wires, clips, LED lights, buzzers, motors, conductive dough and insulating dough to discover what makes a circuit work and what can cause a short circuit. Groups wrestled with many issues, but in the end discovered what was needed to make a complete circuit. Groups also discovered why the conductive dough allowed electric current to flow through it (salt and regular tap water containing minerals) and why the insulating dough, stopped the flow of electrons (no salt and distilled water). At this stage of the year, I revel in the ability to present a challenge, then just step back and watch the curiosity and wonder of the students take flight. I love the teamwork and flowering of ideas that transpire in the classroom. I am just a guide, it is wonderful.
The fourth grade class has been studying Informational Reading and Writing for the past several months. For the final project in this unit, the class is creating a biography piece based on the life of their Touchmark senior buddy. This project requires students to apply what they have learned to create a meaningful piece based on a real person they have formed a special bond with. Our Touchmark buddies have led most interesting lives filled with triumphs and tragedies. They have experienced ups and downs and have so much knowledge to pass along to the 4th grade crew.
To start this project the class had to formulate high-level questions based on their buddy’s early life, main accomplishments plus advice/legacy. The questions the class created impressed and surprised me because of their depth. For example, what did you enjoy doing as a child? Describe what your mother and father were like. If you could change anything about your life, what would you change and why? What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of? Why? What is the hardest obstacle you have faced in your life? What advice do you have for the younger generation
Last week, the 4th graders interviewed their buddies and took structured notes. As I told several parents, “ I cried at least five times”, as I walked around the room listening to the extremely personal interviews. I heard one resident detailing the challenge of having a child with a clubbed foot. Another sharing the recent passing of her long-time love. The interviews were honest and raw.
This week we will begin drafting the actual biographies. The students will formulate their thesis statements and plan their body paragraphs. They will add in transition words, figurative language and higher level word choice. Today as I watched them sharing their ideas and pushing themselves to write more and more complex sentences, I beamed with pride because of the dedication they have to their subject matter. They care so deeply about their buddies and they want to write the “best” piece they can. Their learning has become very personal.
Buen trabajo, Elementary Spanish! I am so proud of all my students this year. My greatest reward in teaching them is seeing their improvement in their conversational skills and written sentence constructions we have been working on since the beginning of the year. I am definitely witnessing it in the classroom. I know some parents have shared with me their enjoyment in having their kids help, by listening and speaking, in the Spanish-speaking countries your have recently vacationed in this past Spring Break. I expect that, and told them before they left, not to be shy. However, practicing their conversational skills with strangers is never as easy as doing it in the comfort and familiarity of our classroom at SPS. I can not begin to tell you how grateful I am for the loving atmosphere, enthusiasm, happiness and the great attitude your kids bring to class everyday. Their willingness to learn, participate, and practice with their peers always goes beyond my expectations.
I would like to witness with your own eyes the progress they have made. In the next few days you will be receiving an email from me inviting you to watch them “show off” how they are developing their gift of a second language. I know they can’t wait and I hope you can find the time to come to watch them. If you are not able to attend, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to meet with you during a time that is more convenient.
The end of the school year is quickly approaching. In the final two months, I will be gradually immersing your kids further in to the language. There will be a little confusion during the first couple of days, but I know by experience they will find it a lot of FUN. Let’s all remember that, at their age, FUN plus IMPROVEMENT is what should be about! Muchas gracias for sharing and trusting all your child to me.
Recently, the fourth grade class went to Camp Hancock in Fossil, Oregon. Camp Hancock is an annual trip and is an OMSI run field station focused on the study of Geology (and more) in our area. Since we are studying Geology in Core Knowledge right now, this experience is a perfect fit. The class made a 2 ½ hour trek (by bus) to Camp Hancock. Once we arrived, it was go-time. First, we unpacked our gear into one of the two cabins, Coyote for the girls and Beaver for the boys. Then, we hiked to the crest of two nearby summits in order to study the many rock layers present and how they were formed (Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic), plus to locate various fossils in the area. After our descent, it was time for dinner at Berry Hall. At night, we attended a “Birds of Prey” discussion with a real great horned owl, named Stu and participated in one crazy campfire filled with songs and laughter. Bedtime arrived and was welcomed by our young campers.
The following morning, the class went on hike starting at 6:30 and in total darkness and finishing with a most gorgeous pink and purple sunrise. Following breakfast and some clean-up duties we attended two last interest groups: Rocks/Minerals and Insects/Spiders. During these activities, we identified rocks by their characteristics and we began to understand the intricate and complicated rock cycle. In addition, the class searched for arthropods and identified their unique characteristics, then had an arthropod race! Sadly, it was already time to head back to Bend (with a civilization stop at the Madras DQ). The 4th grade overnight trip was such a success! The class learned all about Geology and more, but more importantly they learned about each other. We are quite the close knit crew.
More news… 4th graders represented the Seven Peaks’ Elementary program on March 11th at the Battle of the Books Regionals Competition in Sisters, OR. The “Reading Rockstars” team, including Finley Chapple, Madeline Hall, Allison Holdredge, Tenner Reagan and Alicia Watson, competed against and beat 4th and 5th grade teams at Seven Peaks to qualify for the Regionals competition. The Reading Rockstars shone brightly at Regionals and made it to the 3rd round of the competition. Congratulations girls!
Fourth grade has been diligently working on passing as many levels possible in our Recorder Karate unit.
Many of our 4th grade students have auditioned for and received speaking roles in our upcoming Spring Show called Summer Camp. Please encourage your student to practice their lines AND music at home via Canvas (click MUSIC from your homepage). We are very excited about this fun night, as in addition to our presentation, we will also be celebrating Beth Basham’s Retirement. Please add June 1 from 6:30-8:30 on your calendar now to join us for this very special evening.
Fourth grade has been one busy classroom as of late. First, we concluded our study of the Circulatory System by dissecting a sheep’s heart. It is one thing to study the parts of the heart on paper, but when you can touch and cut into a real heart, then you can truly understand how it works. This dissection could never have occurred without seven 4th grade parent helpers and Ms. Brannon, the 7/8th grade Science teacher. This is one of the reasons why Seven Peaks is so special. Parents are always willing and able to assist in so many ways. Plus, the teachers at Seven Peaks collaborate often to create stimulating learning opportunities for our students.
Fourth grade has also been working diligently with their kindergarten buddies on designs for our new “Design Lab”. Mrs. Cauble and I have been so impressed with the creative ideas and energy the children have. They can’t wait to get the lab up and running.
Finally, we are about to depart on our overnight field trip to Camp Hancock. Camp Hancock is an OMSI field station located in Fossil, Oregon. This field trip coincides with our next Core Knowledge unit- Geology. This is always a highlight of the fourth grade year. Hands-on learning while having a ton of fun with your classmates!
In the art room 4th grade has been busy finishing up their myths! Students learned about myths and why they were invented. Then they wrote their own mythological story and drew out their mythical creatures. Finally they put them all together and they are now posted in the MS wing near the art room for viewing! Come by and check them out. 4th was then busy with creating the beautiful art the was recently sold in the auction! Their birds were full of character and expression and I can’t wait to see who gets to take the wonderful piece home. Currently, students are working on marbling paper and creating a wonderful circus themed “fancy cycling” work with trick bike riders! Look for these lovely works of art in our quickly approaching Annual Art Show!
Fourth grade is fully immersed within our Lucy Calkin’s Informational Writing and Reading units. The class has self-selected, not only biographies of famous people that fascinate them, such as Milton Hersey, Betsy Ross, Muhammad Ali and Harry Houdini, but has also selected others types of informational text that appeal to their interests. Whether it is Forest Animals, Mountain Lions, World War II, Mummies or Crystals, we are picking up and learning from nonfiction texts that speak to us. Last week, we noticed text structures, learned how to take organized notes and created informational posters which utilized at least three of the note-taking structures we had just learned. This week, the class will focus on how to teach their information to others and how to best tackle the hard parts of informational reading: complex topics and tricky vocabulary.
As Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, pointed out, “We are confronted by exponential increases of readily available information, new technologies that are constantly changing and more complex societal challenges. Thus, work, learning, and citizenship in the twenty-first century demand that we all know how to think-to reason, analyze, weigh evidence, problem solve-and to communicate effectively.” Please enjoy a photo of the 4th grade class, communicating the information they researched to a small group of peers.