Reading. Rainfall. Sharing. Soccer.

Today started with some rigorous reading. Scholars sought to:

  • apply a variety of skills and strategies when reading and analyzing fiction and nonfiction texts.
  • communicate understanding of context-related texts through thoughtful and carefully-crafted written responses.

All texts were connected with our inquiry into movement, with a specific focus on tsunamis. A poem, a Newsela article, and an excerpt from The Big Wave enabled students to connect what they’ve learned as readers to what they’ve learned as scientists and geologists. As fifth grade thinkers, students were encouraged to use their TTQA (turn the question around) strategy to write complete, thoughtful responses. It was especially exciting to see students read actively and apply annotation strategies to their text, making notes and highlighting key aspects of the texts to support their thinking and responses.

Students also spent time today applying understanding of decimals and measurement to tasks that required reference to rainfall and maps. Comparing, ordering, and applying operations of addition and subtraction were all incorporated into an authentic task. What kind of information do we use in our own lives that requires us to apply understanding of decimals and/or measurement? Is there a task or thinking challenge you could create to apply at home or at school?

Challenge: How can you use the linked resources to inquire further into decimals, measurement, and our countries of focus?

Multiple Sources

Perhaps Filip’s birthday bundt cake could be the beginning of that challenge? Certainly, as we cut the multi-colored cake, fractions were key to successful sharing, but… maybe another mathematical concept could have been applied.

Of course, we didn’t wait around too long to figure out any other options as mouths were watering as we waited for this mom-made masterpiece. What a wonderful way to celebrate Filip’s big day! Happy birthday, Filip!


This afternoon, we made a quick trip to Kindergarten to follow up on our introduction to Seesaw. In this second session, once again we worked with them to record their reading. Our goal today was to ensure they can share their learning with their parents independently.

After school, our scholarly soccer players engaged in a friendly game of football against Congo English Forever. Once again, we were grateful for all the parents who came to cheer us on.

Compass Points. Comparing. Cupcakes.

While we are still finishing up bits and pieces of our inquiry into movement as a change agent, we launched into our new unit today with a reflective quick write and a visible thinking routine: Compass Points. We began by considering our Needs (N) related to struggle and survival. We followed that up by making a Stance (S) and exploring what Excites (E) us about this central idea. Tomorrow, we will consider what Worries (W) us.

Challenge: Compass Points

As an extension of our visible thinking routine, consider the formation and purpose of a compass and compass rose. Start by labeling the four cardinal directions (north – N, south – S, east – E, and west – W). Connect your work with fractions, by dividing your compass into eighths, adding the intermediate directions (northwest – NW, northeast – NE, southwest – SW, southeast – SE). To challenge your brain, divide the eighths in half to make sixteenths. Using your detective skills, determine how to label these tertiary directions, combining the adjacent cardinal and intermediate directions (north northwest – NNW, west northwest – WNW, west southwest – WSW, south southwest – SSW,  north northeast – NNE, east northeast – ENE, east southeast – ESE, south southeast – SSE).

As a connection to our unit on Japan, check out this tutorial on making your own compass rose.

If you’d like to really exercise your brain, check out the following video that includes fractions, directions, and… degrees (angles), a math topic we will focus more on later in the year.

Challenge: Pointing Us in the Right Direction Padlet

  • What questions do you have about the compass?
  • How could you find out more?
  • How could a compass help us explore our area of focus?
  • How does a compass connect to our central idea of struggle and survival?

Made with Padlet



Made with Padlet

We moved further into our exploration of fractions today by considering how to compare fractions using like numerators, like denominators, benchmarks, and equivalent fractions. Number lines and strip diagrams / fraction bars were especially helpful as we tried to grappled with this concept.

To top off the day, we had an opportunity to celebrate Keira. While she is a special ray of sunshine each and every day, today Keira brought an extra bit of flare with her brightly-colored, sparkly-sprinkled cupcakes. Not only were they dazzling, they were delicious! Happy birthday, Keira!


Reading, Reasoning, Recording, and Relishing.

In preparation for three-way conferences this Wednesday, our day began with another round of reflection and goal setting. Today, as scholars, we focused on specific academic disciplines and their descriptors. It was interesting to break down each subject, which is complex, and consider where we soar and strive.

We then moved into our regular time of reading. Our new novel, The Big Wave by Pearl Buck, has begun by introducing us to a number of characters and by setting the scene with several setting descriptions. As we read, we sought to find significance in each setting and considered how it might impact the characters and the plot. It as been interesting to make connections with our previous read aloud, Chu Ju’s House, particularly as we think about characters’ points of view as a result of their work and location. Students then had an opportunity to apply their reading and analysis skills in their reading groups. We also worked on talking back to the text, using our sticky note tracker to save our ideas.

We also continued our inquiry into fractions today, exploring equivalent representations for one whole 1/1. We also looked at the idea of unit fractions and the meaning of one part of one whole and how it can be represented abstractly. As we worked with our fraction circles, the idea of equivalent fractions was also shared as a big idea.

Check out these multiple sources to learn more!

Challenge: Food offers a great opportunity to play with fractions. What kinds of foods can you share equally at home this week? Be sure to pay attention to how you are partitioning.

After lunch, we headed to music. Ms. Hall had us working to clap and capture our compositions on Seesaw.

As we being our unit on fractions, I wonder how many connections we can make to music. In addition to clapping the beat, can we construct a fraction-filled equation to represent our composition mathematically?

Image result for fractions and music

Image result for fractions and music

Multiple Sources for Music and Math

Finally, our day ended in delight as we had the opportunity to celebrate… Zinnah! Her mom and dad arrived secret-agent style, ready at the door with a lit candle.

As is our custom, Zinnah chose two friends to help her distribute cupcakes. Of course, after waiting politely until everyone was served (always easier said than done), we all bit in to a burst of fabulous flavor. Thank you, Zinnah, for allowing us to celebrate YOU today!

As students headed out the door, “golden tickets” and permission slips were distributed.

On Wednesday, please come with your “golden ticket” to be exchanged for something special.

And, please return your field trip form BY MONDAY.


Believe it or not, our day was not done… After school, TASOK hosted Kinshasa Christian School for a superb game of soccer. Fair and fun play is always fabulous! Thank you to Coach Wilson, Coach Shannon, and Coach Eugene for helping us grow our skills, while encouraging teamwork and sportsmanship.


Thank you, too to the many parents who can to support us today. We are grateful for your advice, affirmation, and affection!!


Transformative Talk and Tasty Treats

Wednesdays always welcome us with wonderful words. Today’s were no exception, except they were exceptional. Despite the level of challenge encountered, students were able to make new notes and noticings related to spelling, structure, and sentiment.

We spent quite a bit of time on the prefix “trans,” which TRANSfixed us for a few minutes. After searching one of our multiple sources, we discovered it means “beyond, across.” We then brainstormed a large list of words that begin with than word part:


What other words can you think of that begin with or include “trans”? When you think of some, be sure to TRANSfer them to your word work notebook.


While we started with a mouthful of words, we ended with a mouthful of chocolate as part of our celebration of Liliane. Baked with love, these beautiful cupcakes begged us to bite in just before we headed home for the day. Of course, they brought big smiles and sounds of satisfaction. We were grateful for the treat, but are even more grateful for the gift of Liliane in our classroom. Happy Birthday!


Even Mr. Wilson got in on the food and fun when he popped in to fill our bucket after we filled his to overflowing in P.E. today! Hooray!!

Reading, Research, and Revelry

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.


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!


Deluged with Data and… Deliciousness!

Later this week, we will be diving into some data related to our country of focus, India. As we look at data, we will be considering how data is represented and STRUCTURED. We will be analyzing the effectiveness of various representations, interpreting the information, and

  • Pie Chart/ Circle Graphs

Alert: The following video is for 8th Grade thinkers, so be sure to use all your super scholar strategies to soak up information. 

Tomorrow, we will have the day off. Do take a minute to learn about International Workers’ Day by checking some facts on Kiddle and watching the following mini-video featuring a Google Doodle. (Cool Tools Museum Connection: How many and wht types of “cool tools” do you see in the video and doodle?)

In other parts of the world, May 1 is known and May Day, which has a very different purpose and is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world.

A more important occasion worth celebrating on our day off is… Seojin’s birthday! In advance of his special day, Seojin generously shared some delightfully delicious delicacies… double chocolate muffins. Mmmmm… Singing and snacking… what better way to head into a midweek break?! Smiles all around!


A Marvelous Monday!

We are incredibly grateful that Mrs. Wilson was able to join us today as our guest teacher. Settling right back into our routine, we were ready for analysis of spelling words, Jolly Phonics, math practice, and a series of specials. At the end of the day, Mrs. Wilson shared a strong set of compliments. She noticed how much we had grown since her last visit and is looking forward to spending the day with us again next Monday.

At the end of the day, we had an opportunity to document what we already know about our new country of focus – India. Working in our new table groups, we completed the first three portions of a KWHLAQ table – What do we KNOW about India? What do we WANT to know about India? and HOW do we plan to find out more? Over the course of the next few weeks, as we dive into our new inquiry on structure, we will expand our knowledge based and be able to document our LEARNING. Hopefully, an ACTION and addition QUESTIONS will result, as well.


We finished off our first day back with some festivities. What a better way to break the break than with a birthday and brownies. As someone who shares smiles and conveys caring generously each and every day, it was truly a privilege to sing and celebrate Cadence, a gift to our class.


Literary Symbols, Lotus (and other) Seeds, and… Livia

Today, we read another text set in Vietnam, The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland. Once again, we read with our minds focused on our central idea:

Sometimes species are faced with circumstances that force them to struggle or stretch and strengthen causing them to either succomb or succeed (survive).

Sparked by curiosity about the pictures and content, students posed questions, which prompted a particularly powerful discussion that allowed us to ponder BIG ideas related to power. This discussion crossed countries and continents and connected texts we have been reading and on which we have been reflecting.

Our literary focus was on the significance of symbols. Authors often embed simple symbols in their stories to convey significance. By repeating the symbol, authors promote deeper meaning, create a mood or feeling, or support a theme or message. After our initial reading today, we took time to identify the key events in the story, each connected to the lotus seed. Tomorrow, will we evaluate the emotions related to each event and the role of the lotus seed at each stage.

The Significance of Symbols

Check out this episode of Reading Rainbow, which features the reading of The Lotus Seed. The video also highlights the experience of several young people who emigrated from:

  • Vietnam.
  • Yemen.
  • Russia.
  • South Africa

They compare and contrast their home countries to their new country. They also share some of the things with which they have struggled as they adjusted and how they are not only surviving but thriving in their new homes.

As you watch, think about what learner profile traits are exhibited by each person. Also, pay attention to what “symbols” they mention that allow them to stay connected to their homes.

For some of us, the story of the lotus seed also connected to our research in our nonfiction science readers. Using Cornell notes, we continued our research and our diary entries.


  • How can we connect the story set in Vietnam to the topic of plant reproduction.
  • How are the struggles to survive between people and plants similar and different?

In addition to reading The Lotus Seed, some of us also read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle during buddies today. We then used seeds to help our buddies count and create a collage of beans.


Despite being a short day, our Wednesday was full and finished off fabulously with… cupcakes, marshmallows, and chocolate sauce in honor of Livia’s birthday. We are grateful for the gift of Livia who lights up our lives each and every day!


Beginning with Bucket Fillers. Ending with a Birthday!

Our day began with the reading of the bucket fillers with wrote yesterday, and… a bonus note from Miss Kaun. We were thrilled to receive handwritten notes in brightly colored envelopes, each purposefully penned, particular to each person. Perfectly precious!

Throughout the day, we learned more about our author of the week, Seymour Simon, and dug into a mentor text, Insects. We completed a Frayer model of a new and interesting word – hemiptera – and analyzed a particularly powerful sentence. We then tried to write our own sentence in the same, sophisticated style as our author. We will continue this work throughout the week as we explore other books by the same author.

Affixes: The Building Blocks of English

We also launched an inquiry into a series of nonfiction texts featuring “survivors” in nature. With our table groups, we did a picture walk and did a visible thinking routine – I see. I think. I wonder. We then identified one “survivor” in our text and wrote a journal entry from the perspective of that survivor. At least three additional journal entries will be written this week, enabling us to show what we know about our main idea and about plants and animals… and elements, that struggle to survive.

To end our day, we were able to celebrate another scholar with singing and snacks – delicious Dad-baked delicacies! You can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies! Yum!! Happy Birthday, Isabel! We are so grateful you have joined our TASOK family this year. Know you are an incredible addition!



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