Cinnamon, Citrus, and… Celebration of Learning

To finish out our first week of fourth grade, we began by revisiting yesterday’s read aloud and analyzing the text and our central idea through the lens of story elements.

To expand our understanding of problem solving, we read another book entitled The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. As we continued our pursuit of powerful problem solving ideas, attending to the primary problem, proposing possible solutions, and pondering perspective were prioritized. In addition, we examined the illustrations and discussed their connection to the text. As was true in What Do You Do with a Problem?, color was a key to communicating emotion and the message of the text.

Challenge: What do colors communicate? How can we make the invisible visible?

Use the Google Drawing document to create a list of colors and their related emotions. (**You will need to make a copy of the document before completing.**) This final product will come in handy as we write our own compositions.

We also continued our exploration of place value, a key to mathematical problem solving.

How do the following resources expand or deepen your understanding of place and value?

Scholarly Multiple Source: Math is Fun

Make a Multiple Source: Place Value Cups

As part of out first unit of inquiry, we will be contextualizing the power, process, and perspective of problem solvers in China. Today, we started to study a set of snapshots set in China, each featuring a possible problem. Using the visible thinking routine See. Think. Wonder., we began to consider the implications of what we saw depicted in the images.

One of the images we looked at is included in the following video. What do you see, think, and wonder about what you see in this video? What problem is being presented in this video? How could solving this problem impact society? (positively? negatively?)

In addition to being the first week of school, we have had two big birthdays this week – Maada and Mathys. In honor one of our birthday scholars, Maada’s mom brought in some scrumptious cinnamon buns and lemonade. Yum! Everyone was thrilled with such tasty treats. Thank you, Maada, for sharing one of your favorites with us!

Do you have a favorite birthday cake recipe you are willing to share? If your tasty treats are not top secret, please share your recipes using the form below. We will assemble all contributions into a book of birthday bounty. Mmmm…

Finally, to end our week, we had our first assembly, led by former scholars, now in fifth grade, and one of our very own… Celeste. With the guidance of Ms. Paula, our new principal, the fifth (and fourth) grade facilitators presented most professionally. As we entered the CAC, the lights were dim and jazz music, selected by Morgane, created a calm and cozy atmosphere. Photos collected throughout the week were projected on the screen and we all looked on with smiles, snickers, and satisfaction. We were introduced to a number of new and returning teachers. The team also introduced us to our assembly essential agreements. We can’t wait for the next one… next Friday!


In Pursuit of… Problem Solvers

Today, we continued our inquiry into problem solvers by first accessing our prior knowledge. Students began by THINKing about 3 problem solvers (fictional or nonfictional) that they knew. Moms and dad were definitely at the top of many lists. Students then IDENTIFIED 2 qualities the problem solvers shared, and DESCRIBED 1 example of a problem encountered that has or has not been solved.

Once the THINKing had been done, students gathered in groups of 3 to SHARE their thoughts. As students compared listed, they realized that our family members, friends, teachers, and community members can be problem solvers. They also realized that they themselves can be problem solvers. Another big idea that came out of the discussion was that in order for there to be problem solvers, there first must be a problem. As we continue to inquire into our central idea, key concepts related to form, function, connection, perspective and reflection will be explored.

Once we had tapped into what we already know, we shared a read aloud entitled What Do You Do with a Problem by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom. We followed the journey of the main character who encountered a problem that quickly became overwhelming. We discovered, though, that when he became a RISK-TAKER and chose to face his problem, he realized it was really an opportunity. Being OPEN-MINDED, even about problems, can be transformative.

Not only did we analyze the the text, but we also used our detective eyes to examine the illustrations. The author and illustrator collaborated to tell a powerful story about problems and problem solvers. By using our super secret agent skills, we were able to see some of the symbolism associated with this big idea. As you watch this read aloud… what do you notice?

Tomorrow, we will spend a bit more time talking about this text and discussing it through the lens of story elements.

After recess, we had a special guest join us. Ms. TaShawndra, our new elementary counselor, popped in for an introduction. She just happens to be… a PROBLEM SOLVER. She talked a bit about her role and types of problems she can help us solve here at TASOK. At the end of her time with us, she sent us away with a task to complete at home with our parents. Don’t forget, it is due on Monday!

As scholars, we know it is important to use multiple sources, so at the end of the day, we started to look at mathematical multiple sources. This lead to a discussion about tools we can use in our classroom to better understand and work with numbers. Two tools are included below.

Place Value Chart

Place Value Chart (Currency Connection)


Converse. Capture. Construct. Consider.

Today, we started off by thinking about… problems. In preparation for writing about a small moment, a one time when we faced a problem, we brainstormed a list of different types of problems people face.

Made with Padlet

By generating this list of problems, students were able to jog their memories and identify a time when they faced a problem. After taking a mental snapshot and zooming in on one moment, students were challenged to recount the story with as much detail as possible, keeping in mind sensory details, thoughts, actions, and words.

Check out this video of Jack Gantos telling about a small moment problem he had. Pay special attention to how he zoomed in on the moment through the use of juicy details and considered the importance of structure as he developed his idea.

After a focused and fabulous time of writing, our learning community came together to find commonality. This quest for connection began as groups of scholars engaged in conversation in an effort to find things they had in common. Foods, family, feet, furry things, favorites, and foreign lands were discussed. Sometimes, rather creative connections were explored, as well. Each commonality was then captured on a card. Once enough cards were collected, groups were able to construct. The challenge was to create a 10- inch tower of cards that could stand for at least 5 seconds. Tough!


While I don’t think these qualities were captured on cards today, it was clear that patience, perseverance, and problem solving are common characteristics of our learning community.

As is true of the building of any construction, card or otherwise, it is important to establish a firm foundation. Likewise, as we embark on our fourth grade journey together and seek to build real and refining relationships with one another, a firm foundation key.

Consider… how is finding commonalities helpful to our classroom learning community?

Check out this house of cards.

Estimate: About how tall do you think it is?

Guinness Book of World Records: Largest Playing Card Structure

Digging a Bit Deeper

On Day 2, detectives dug a bit deeper into the classroom… decor. Each face and fabric, each flower and phrase, each book and blossom and bulletin board is purposeful and placed for perusal and pondering. Today, our task involved taking notice, so we can access our environment as a scholarly multiple source. 

After yesterday’s introduction to the TASOK learner profile and discussion of classroom and school expectations, today we took some time to wander and wonder around the room. Willing to learn, these thoughtful and curious scholars (a.k.a. fifth grade thinkers) read and reflected on quotes around the room. As COMMUNICATORS, each one posted questions of INQUIRERS and thoughts of THINKERS. As the year progresses, different quotes might catch an eye or spark an idea or inspire an action. Committed to considering different points of view, our OPEN-MINDEDness will allow us to continue to stretch and grow.

In an effort to share our thinking beyond our walls, we decided to walk and “CHALK.” In groups, students sought to describe or draw, what a scholar in a classroom at TASOK would look like, act like, think like, and behave like. 

Back inside, students huddled together in groups of 5 or 6 and prepared to listen to a story about the Wright Family. Each student was provided with a paperclip and instructed to pass it to the right each time he or she heard a word that sounded like “right” and pass it to the left each time he or she heard the word left.


Each group approached the task slightly differently.

At the end of the story, we took time to debrief. Students shared that the activity was confusing at times, but got easier as the story went on. They realized it required teamwork and that distractions, especially from groups that were louder, interfered at times with their ability to listen and focus. These ideas were then connected to how we function as a community of learners.

We also discussed the following questions:

  • How much of the story can you remember?
  • What does this activity tell us about communication?
  • What does this activity tell us about teamwork?
  • What does this activity tell us about listening skills?


Mission Mania on the First Monday

Fourth Grade Scholars eagerly entered the room this morning for their first day of the 2019-2020 school year, ready to learn. Immediately, they were presented with their first of several secret agent missions, which they embraced enthusiastically. This helped us, as scholars, to exercise our brains and become familiar with some of the classroom environment, expectations, and elements (like the new-this-year “Pencil Parking”). With the learner profile in mind, THINKERS read Snapple Real Facts and responded to prompts on a small piece of paper.

Challenge: A Scholar is Curious  If interested in learning more… consult the multiple source you mentioned on your paper.

Curiosity Corner: If you want to read more Real Facts, check out the links embedded in the Padlet and capture your learning on your personal post-it.

Made with Padlet


We then went on  tour of campus to locate important places, especially the bathrooms. Along the way, we met Papa Paul, Papa Landu, Ms. Paula, Ms. Hall, and Mr. Mullen… each a important member of our TASOK community and powerful problem solvers (about which we will be learning more in our first unit).

Upon returning from our tour, we launched into an activity related to the learner profile. Each scholar sorted a set of traits in order of importance. We then compared our lists with others and discussed our reasons for ordering the traits. We are grateful to Ms. Paula, who popped in to ponder the traits with us.


Students then took time to think about which trait most describes them. People with similar traits gathered together to discuss their perspective on their traits. Each group collaborated to describe or draw, what a scholar in our classroom at TASOK would look like, act like, think like, behave like…


After recess, we took time to get to know one another as multiple sources. Based one projected prompts, we organized ourselves in various lines and blobs, ordering and gathering respectively. One such line had us organized from smallest to tallest. We’ll see how this order changes throughout the year.

Of course, in order to be scholars, we needed to know what scholars are. With the blog header as our background and a poster as our multiple source, we highlighted some key qualities and discussed how they shape our words, actions, and attitudes in class. It was exciting to see connections being made to the learner profile.

With a goal of becoming increasingly internationally minded, we took time to reflect on our personal background. Each student independently identified where he or she was born, his or passport country, and a country of interest. Using more multiple sources, atlases located in our resource library, students drew and colored flag and wrote about the importance and impact of each. These will soon be on display in our classroom.

Finally, to end the day, but to get our year off to a good start, we read Carol McCloud’s  Have You Filled  a Bucket Today? which talks and teachers about being “bucket fillers.” Throughout the year, we are committed to finding ways to care for, encourage, notice, affirm, and acknowledge one another in simple, yet significant, ways. This is a mutually beneficial process, as giving and encouraging not only brings joy to the recipient, but it also brings joy to the giver.

In the classroom, we have made mini “buckets” (really, origami envelopes) for our desks into which notes of encouragement can be delivered. We wrote our first bucket fillers yesterday, which will be delivered soon.

Please take a moment to enjoy a reading of Have You Filled  a Bucket Today? by the author, Carol McCloud.

To learn more about being a bucket filler, visit:

Bucket Fillers

Homework for August 19-23 (Week 1)

1. Explore Mrs. Rupp’s blog.

2. Complete the What is your favorite…? form below or use the same linked form on the “A Few Favorites” page (under “About” tab / menu).

3. Based on information gathered from the blog and your own experiences, respond to questions on the form below or on the same  Fun Facts form linked on the “Fun Facts” page (under “About” tab / menu).

4. Examine the word “scholar,” and reflect on the descriptors. Using the padlet below, jot down your thoughts about what A Scholar… is and would look like in our fourth grade classroom. (**Be sure to include your initials in the “Title,” so we can identify YOUR ideas).

Made with Padlet


  1. Library is scheduled weekly on Thursdays
  2. P.E. is scheduled weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays.
    1. Come dressed to exercise – sneakers, hat, sunscreen.
    2. Bring a water bottle
  3. Check your lunch card balance weekly.
  4. Please sign and return your Acceptable Use Policy.


Coming Soon

Below is a list of a few upcoming events of which to be aware.

  • August 18 – First Day of School
  • August 30 – Elementary (ES) Assembly – 2:30 p.m. (CAC)
  • September 2 – Labor Day (No School)
  • September 4 – Elementary (ES) Back to School Night – 5:30-7:30 p.m. (CAC)
  • September 6 – Counseling Workshop – 8:00-9:30 a.m. (SS Lib)
  • September 8 – PTC Welcome Picnic – 2:00-5:00 p.m.
  • September 9 – ASAs begin
  • September 10 – MAP Testing (Language)
  • September 13 – MAP Testing (Reading)
  • September 18 – MAP Testing (Math)
  • September 27 – Elementary (ES) Assembly (CAC)


We’re on Twitter!

Follow TASOK @TASOKinshasa


Follow Fourth Grade @Scholarsare

Hashtag #TASOK


**Check back later in the week for additional homework related to in-class discussions and activities.

And so it ends…

Another year has come and gone… all too quickly.

To close out our time together, we joined with our fellow condors for our farewell assembly. Mr. Chaney led us in a time of reflection before we presented bookmarks to one another.

Our bookmarks were especially beautiful this year as we wrote:

  • I appreciate you because…
  • You have grown as a scholar this year by…
  • I remember a time when…
  • My wish for you is…

It was exciting to read and hear how we recognized and appreciated qualities of a scholar and the learner profile traits in one another.

As we head into the summer… and the many years ahead, our hope is that the bookmarks will fill buckets to overflowing into fifth grade and beyond.

Of course, the year would not be complete with one last secret agent mission… led by the scholarly secret agents themselves. With the help of Miss Fanny, students managed to pull off one of the most incredible and impactful surprises of my entire teaching career. While I knew something was in the works, I had no idea the extent of what was in store. Over the course of the last week, students had worked to create a set of signs that spelled out a secret message “Thank you, Mrs. Rupp.” In an act of trickery, they managed to get me out of the room, so they could assemble themselves in order.  That alone was lovely, but, additionally, the students had put together a video that filled my bucket so full I couldn’t do anything else but cry. It was beyond meaningful as students responded to student-crafted prompts:

  • What do you like most about Mrs. Rupp?
  • What is a time you remember with her?
  • What learner profile trait do you think she mostly demonstrates?

After everyone departed for the year, I found the planning sheet used for this sentimental surprise. I will treasure it… forever!

Goodbye, Dr. Gillespie!

As we approach these final days of the 2018-2019 school year, we also prepare to bid farewell to our fearless leader, Dr. Gillespie. As only secret agents can do, we managed to pull off an extraordinary elementary surprise for him outside his office. Coordinated by Ms. Shortridge, bright and early Thursday morning, the entire elementary school, “snuck” across the road and gathered outside Dr. Gillespie’s office window. Ms. Evelyne was in on the plot, scheduling an “important meeting” for him at the time of our arrival.

While it is difficult to keep over 100 people quiet, Dr. Gillespie did seem surprised to see us when he opened the front door of the administration building, and we broke out into song. He opted to take a selfie to capture the moment forever.

As part of the surprise, Dr. Gillespie was presented with an original pagne blazer and a beautiful drawing / painting by designed by Ms. Shortridge and created by Ms. Yoko. Part of the uniqueness of the piece was that each student had signed his or her name on the frame and placed a fingerprint on the canvas that served as the background for the picture, which featured some special memories of Dr. Gillespie’s time at TASOK. It was fun to see the look on his face as he examined the one-of-a-kind artwork.

We will certainly miss Dr. Gillespie, but we know he will be a precious gift to his new school in Uganda.

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Gillespie!

Sports Day Spectacular!

One of the most-anticipated days of the year is… sports day. Today was no exception. Students arrived ready to run and revel in recreational activities reflecting learning in P.E. With hats, bug spray, and water in tow, we were ready to embrace any exercise we encountered.

Mr. Wilson and Mr. Serge packed the morning full of skill-based activities enabling us to use strength, flexibility,

To begin the day, we gathered on the court for a few instructions. Everyone was excited to get started.

We began our athletic adventure in the gym which featured fitness. This included a push up challenge, a sit up challenge, a plank challenge, and… squats. As you can imagine there were lots of grunts and groans, but also tons of giggles.

We then moved to the cafeteria, to try our hand at hand-eye coordination. Bean bags were tossed, tennis balls bounced, and reaction time refined with cones for tossing and catching.

Before heading out to the field, we enjoyed a brief break. Healthy and compostable snacks included apples and bananas. Fresh. Flavorful. Fantastic!

Once on the field, we had fun with our favorite… football (a.k.a. soccer). Students were challenged to dribble through cones, take shots on a rotating goalie, and pass precisely.

From “football” we moved to frisbee. Throwing and catching techniques were varied as students passed to static and moving partners.

From the field, we made a beeline to the basketball court with a focus on passing, dribbling, and shooting. Bend those legs and follow through.

After refueling with some popcorn, we finished with a trail run through the forest. Students flashed the number of laps on their fingers as they flew.

While tired by the end, the day was nothing less than terrific… like the two thumbs up kids of terrific!

Thank you Mr. Wilson and Mr. Serge!

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