Monday, April 22, 2013

Artist in Residence

This week the West School is so lucky to have an artist in residence.  Bren Bataclan will be at our school all week!  On his website you can see lots of examples of his paintings.  You can also watch a news video about his wonderful mission to spread smiles around the world.

Not only does Mr. Bataclan sell is paintings, but he also leaves them in random places for people to find for free, just to cheer them up.  He has left paintings in over 30 states and almost 50 countries around the world!  All he asks for in return is that the person who finds it smile at a few strangers to brighten their day.

To kick off his week with us, Mr. Bataclan presented an assembly to the school where he showed us some of his artwork, but he also taught us the steps to make some of his favorite characters.  He uses pretty simple shapes to make drawings that have a lot of personality!  The fourth graders in Room 13 were incredibly proud of their drawings and continued to try out different techniques when they had a spare minute today in class.  Here are some of their masterpieces:

Mr. Bataclan will be at our school all week painting a mural in the front entrance to our school.  He will be using drawing made by the fifth graders to inspire his work.  I can't wait to show you how it turns out!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Community Reader Day

Last Friday the West celebrated Community Reader Day.  Each classroom was visited by a special guest from the community who read a wonderful book called Clever-sticks.  Our guest was Mrs. Schwarz, the ELL coordinator at the West!  

We were particularly lucky because Mrs. Schwarz is fluent in Portuguese.  She took the time to translate the entire story and read it to us in both languages!  All the students enjoyed this.  We have several students who understood both languages, but everyone heard something they found interesting.  Some students heard words that sounded like languages they know - Spanish and Polish were both mentioned.  Other students heard words that were very similar to words in English.  We had just learned the word scholar and in portuguese, the word for school is schola.  Did you know that the word for snake is cobra?  
Here is a video of a portion of her reading:

Room 13 has green thumbs!

This week we are wrapping up our science unit about plants, and boy is Room 13 green! We started by sprouting bean and corn seeds in plastic bags way back in February.  We did this so that we could see the germination process as it was happening.  We put in a wet paper towel to keep the seeds damp and then we hung them on the window to make sure they could get some sunlight as they started to sprout.  The kids studied their seeds and drew diagrams every few days.

Once we could see the roots and stems begin to grow, we transfered them from the bags into pots of soil.  The students watched anxiously to see when they would first sprout above the soil.  Some predicted it would take a few hours, while others thought it might take months!  It actually took about a week for most of the pots to have some little green leaves showing.

The fourth graders have been taking good care of their plants and observing them closely.  Look how much they've grown!

It appears that Room 13 has some future gardeners!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mrs. Osborne (a retired Stoughton teacher) came and taught us a cheer that would help us when we were writing great answers to open response questions.  It is quite catchy and has really helped the fourth graders understand the best way to organize their thinking in a way that makes sense.  Check out the cheer and what some of it stands for!
So here are more details about each part.

According to...  This is how we start the response to show that we are referring to the text.
G Genre
T Title
A Author
TTQA... Turn The Question Around - this reminds the kids to use words from the question to frame their answer.
Answer! What is their answer statement for the question being asked?
All of this really goes into the first sentence of their response. For example, a topic sentence we worked on today went something like:

According to the nonfiction article, Menu Changes, by Brenda Iasevoli, schools are trying to persuade kids to eat more frutis and vegetables in many ways.

The cheer goes on to remind students to include 3 examples to support their answer and to include details from the text with their examples.  

The last part of the cheer is I.  This is to remind the kids to go a step further and apply something they read to their own lives.  For example, they might write:

If I was in charge of student lunches, I would have a bunch of fruit available each day so kids could always choose their favorite.

We have been using this cheer for several months now and the kids have shown that they can apply it to just about any question and write a well organized response that shows evidence from the text.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Just made this to remind us of the important steps from the writing MCAS!  Hope everyone likes it...

So sorry that it's been so long!  Things got very busy both in school and out of it, and this seems to be the thing that had to give for a while.  However, I am going to try to get back to it now that spring has sprung (at least according to the calendar).

We are in the middle of our two weeks of state reading and writing tests!  The fourth graders have been working so hard!  We have been learning strategies to help us since the first day of school and we have been doing some specific practice more recently.  

One of tricks we have been using is to make up chants and motions to help us remember the strategies we learn.  Our chant for answering multiple choice questions has 3 parts. 

  1. Read the questions carefully.  Underline the important words.
  2. Read the passage carefully.  Underline the parts that remind you of the questions.
  3. Choose the best answer.  Go back to the text to check your work!
We made a video to help us remember the motions that go along with each step.

Thee tips have been helping us know what to pay attention to while we read so that we can answer the questions to the best of our abilities!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fabulous Field Trip

We had the greatest field trip today to the Blue Hills Weather Observatory! Thanks so much to the awesome kids and parents who went with us!

 The fourth graders were split into two groups.  My group started at the bottom and hiked up the hill.  The kids were full of energy the whole way up.  Cries of "Wait for your poor, old teacher!" were frequent.  Along the way we stopped to admire the colorful leaves and beautiful views.  It was a perfect day for walking - brisk but plenty warm once we got moving.

Once we got to the top of the mountain, we spent a little while at the observation tower.  From the top, there are amazing views of Boston and the Harbor Islands.  It was particularly stunning with the leaves being so colorful.
You can see boston in the distance on the right.

Then we had some time to explore the bridge and area around the observation tower.  There were lots of fun things to look at (and climb on).  We spent some time looking for evidence of weather. We found rustling leaves and blowing branches.  We also found puddles from the rain last night.  There was also an incident of a hat blowing off a head and getting stuck in a tree!

After that we went over to the Weather Observatory.  We got to learn about how they used to use giant kites to fly weather equipment high up into the atmosphere.  They used those tools to find out about the temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity of the upper stratosphere.  Mr. McCasland was full of so much interesting information!

Next we got to do a Balloon Launch.  We wrote our names and date on some neon cards.  Then they were tied to balloons and we let them go.  It was so windy that they flew away faster than I've ever seen!  Be on the lookout for those neon cards!  If you find one while you're walking around or raking make sure you follow the directions on the back so we know where our balloons ended up.  We are really hoping to hear something about them this year.

After lunch, we got to go into the observatory.  We saw meteorologists at work; using barometers, thermometers, hygrometers, and anemometers.
 We had such an amazing trip!!