Today’s tasks brought up lots of questions and piqued our curiosities on a number of topics. Check out a few resources to add to your knowledge of China.
How does the description of this fishing community compare to the description by Gloria Whelan in Chu Ju’s House?
The following video depicts a different fishing strategy.
How is this type of fishing similar to and different from the way Chu Ju fished with Wu and Yi Yi? How are these fishermen problem solvers?
After Chu Ju left Wu and Yi Yi, she ended up at a silk worm farm. Of all the challenges Chu Ju faced in her new “home,” it was the sound of the worms chewing that was most problematic. What will she do with this problem? Will it become an opportunity?
As part of our Dot Day celebration and… our next lesson in math, we started to explore some of the most basic elements of geometry. We began by examining some images of modern architecture in China. We then proceeded to identify the elements of geometry, which we then used in a Dot Day symmetry task. As we worked to complete the task, pondering the problem-solving process was paramount.
Each year, on (or around) September 15, the world celebrates… dots. Well, not just any old dots, The Dot.
This year… we, the scholars of fourth grade, celebrated, too.
We began by reading The Dot. Watch and listen to a reading of the book by the author, Peter Reynolds.
This prompted a brief, but thoughtful discussion of the text. We tracked Vashti’s feelings as she went from thinking she couldn’t draw (sad, discouraged, sore hearted) to anger in response to being prompted to, “Just make a mark.” After her teacher framed her mark, a simple dot, Vashti demonstrated that she had a growth mindset by stating, “I can make a better dot that THAT!”
As she experimented with various sizes, shapes, and colors, Vashti became more creative, joyful, and confident. In the end, she was able to pass on her learnings and encouragement to someone who started out in the same sore-hearted place. How exciting to see Vashti be transformed into a problem solver and a bucket filler.
One interesting observation that was made during our discussion was related to the dot-shaped background that sort of served as a spotlight in the book. As readers, we were curious about Peter Reynold’s (who is also the illustrator) use of this technique to draw our attention to the character. We were also wondering if the color of these spotlight dots had special significance.
If you choose to reread the book or watch Mr. Reynold’s reading of it, use your detective eyes to notice the size of the dots. At the beginning, Vashti makes a tiny speck on her paper. Gradually, her dots grow and grow until they fill large spaces. Why do you think the author-illustrator did that? Does the size of the dots symbolize something? Was this intentional? Don’t you wish we could ask the author? Perhaps we can…
To wrap up our discussion, we talked about the multiple meanings of the phrase “make your mark.” Of course, making a physical mark on a page is one option, but… is there a deeper meaning? Is there a meaning we can apply to our own lives. Indeed, there is… when someone asks, “How are you going to make your mark?” they are really asking,…
“How are you going to change something?”
This will be an important question this week as we continue to inquire about problem solvers.
To learn more about International Dot Day and how other people celebrated, check out the official webpage:
Our week finished off with a mixture of reading, research, and revelry.
MAP Reading was ready for us when we returned from French. Having warmed up with language earlier in the week, we were eager to engage with the texts and put forth a great deal of effort to meet or exceed our goals. It was exciting to see many experience the “exhilaration of victory.”
We were equally ready when it was time to re-research of setting cities. Each internet investigator had his or her sights set on very specific snippets of information. While some scoured the sites individually, others shared the resources… all n very scholarly ways.
Of course, we were most ready for a time of revelry, celebrating Ali’s birthday. We were treated to some scrumptious cinnamon rolls and mouthwateringly (if that’s a word) moist mom-made chocolate cake. Mmmmm… What delight to be able to celebrate this scholars with singing and smiles.
Today we started out with our words for the week. As we made notes and noticings, our powers of observation allowed us to identify synonyms, familiar endings (-er, -or) that change verbs to nouns, and word parts that made us wonder (vis-).
Challenge: What other words can you think of that contain that part?
We also continued our exploration of mathematical structures and patterns in an effort to solve problems, and we got to use our secret agent powers to “crack the muffin code.”
While showing our thinking was especially important, we also:
made mistakes and learned from them.
were open-minded and changed our thinking.
listened to others’ ideas to consider different points of view.
While some might have entered into today with trepidation, it did not show. As scholars settled into their seats after French, they thoughtfully reviewed their goals and plans for today’s MAP session. Scholars took their time, read questions and answer choices carefully, maintained focus, and respected the thinking time of those who took a little longer to finish. The language portion of the assessment is designed to identify next steps for revising for purpose and audience, editing for grammar, and editing for mechanics. It will be exciting to see the specific areas for which goals can be set and growth realized.
MAP testing days do not just happen without a lot of planning and effort. We were especially grateful for all the support we received from Mr. Ricky, Mr. Jean-Marie, and Mr. Minu. On MAP days, they come especially early to ensure that the technology and internet connection are ready and running smoothly. We were also thankful that Mr. Mullen and Ms. Paula popped in to help us get logged in quickly.
Later in the day, we took some time to ponder… packaging. Students were challenged to think about how a set of items could be grouped or packaged for distribution. Using mathematical structures and patterns, students worked to make sense of the problem. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division were all considerations as students sought to box up Bob’s Bagels. To extend this activity, students used a variety of resources, including peers at their tables, to identify an item found in the area of China in which their mystery is set. As problem solvers, students were tasked with creating a company and proposing packaging options for their product in preparation for prospective orders. Clear and concise distribution instructions were also to be composed for all future employees.
At lunch recess, students interested in student leadership were invited to join Ms. Paula for an introductory session to Student Council. This first session involved in inquiry into STUCO:
What is STUCO?
What is STUCO not?
Who is STUCO for?
Why would you join STUCO?
Exercising student agency, a few fourth grade scholars opted in to this first session. I trust more will get involved and will experience the joy of student action. Additional STUCO sessions will be help throughout the week with discussions related to leadership and student action.
Monday morning started out like most, with French. Upon returning to the classroom, though, we took time to talk about tomorrow’s MAP assessment. We began by looking at the learner profile traits and discussing which ones might be most useful during the assessment. While several were initially identified, it was determined that ALL of the traits would probably be beneficial at some point during the process.
Guided by a Prezi, we then examined a set of anonymous results, thoughtfully making observations and inferences about why the results looked the way they did. Students then had an opportunity to review their own results from last year, reflect, and set goals for their beginning-of-the-year assessments. After each goal was set, students took time to write an action plan, specific to each subject. Sentence stems were provided for students to ponder. The process is a powerful one as we seek to show what we know.
Once goals were set, we spent time relishing our read aloud – Chu Ju’s House. The first chapter enable us to get to know the characters – their past, present, and personalities. We also spent time talking about the primary problem facing the main character and her family. Curiosity about the impact of the country (setting) and culture caused a number of critical questions to be asked. Of course, we had to pause -always and inopportune time when reading a good book. There’s nothing like suspense to make us hungry to read again tomorrow.
With a marvelous mentor text as our guide, we started to think about the events that will be pieced together to develop the plot of our own stories. Using the plot diagram, we focused today on identifying the main events that our problem solver will face. Taking time to plan prior to writing and to think about the problem solving process of both our character and ourselves as writers is imperative.
In math, using our UPSC (Understand-Plan-Solve-Check) problem solving process and some of China’s “talls” (the tallest buildings in China), we explored a variety of addition strategies (column, partial sums, algorithm). Always striving to reach the sweet spot, effectiveness and efficiency were key considerations.
This afternoon, the TASOK PTC hosted its annual Back-to-School Picnic. With a bit of a breeze beckoning (and keeping the black flies at bay), families gathered on upper campus to enjoy a lovely and leisurely afternoon of food, fun, and fellowship. Some even brought their furry family members, who managed to make new friends, as well.
We are grateful for all the time end energy that went into the planning of and preparation for this wonderful welcome to the new school year. Thank you to Papa Kabosa, Papa Paul, Papa Tamak, Papa Medard, Papa Gedeon for their faithful service – setting up, service sodas, and cleaning up at the end. Thank you to Mr. Ricky for providing a steady stream of tunes. And, thank you to Madeline for preparing her fabulously flavorful TASOK punch. Mmmm…
Finally, thank you to all of YOU who joined us for a joy-filled afternoon. May our time together be treasured.