Supporting Smiles. Encouraging Endurance.

Today, TASOK welcomed hundreds of students from schools across the city to join in on a journey through the jungle. The cross country meet provided opportunities for some students to run a rigorous race and for others to stand by and support. As a bunch of bystanders, fourth graders were able to witness the power of words to strengthen and spur others on.  With outreached hands, we heartened competitors and community-members alike, participating in each person’s pursuit of perseverance.  With simple words of encouragement, we saw smiles shine on fatigued and frustrated faces. With the clapping of hands and the chanting of cheers, we saw slow, struggling steps transform into speedy, strong strides.

We were grateful for the chance to serve with smiles and support and to see how easy and essential encouragement is.



The perseverance of the runners reminded me of this baby bear. NEVER give up!

Word Work Sandwich with Movement as the Meat in the Middle

Our morning began with Word Work Wednesday… on Thursday. It was wonderful to see how much agency students showed one words were captured in their journals. Immediately, students began consulting multiple sources and jotting down notes and noticings.

Movement was definitely a change agent today as scholar diligently worked to make progress on their projects. Each idea, selected to communicate learning in a powerful way, began to take shape in kamishibai theaters, folded fans, flip books, volcanoes, and tsunami simulations. We can’t wait to see how our movement museum will manifest and how deep and wide our learning will be evidenced.

This afternoon, we had a special guest join us for a recap of word work. Mrs. Kovacs introduced us to a new word study strategy – the Frayer Model. Having had a preview of the activity, it was exciting to see our English language learners step up as learning leaders during today’s activity. Students were first given a task card containing directions about roles and responsibilities. Once students had identified roles, they were challenged to collaborate on creating posters featuring some of this morning’s words. A definition, picture, sentence, and connection were the critical components for which each group was responsible. We noticed that in our short session, ALL AtL categories were covered. Students had to use their thinking, communication, research, social, and self-management skills to get the task done.

Lessons from the Field: A Trip to C2TV Sports

Today we had the privilege of traveling to the C2TV Sports station. Linked to multiple inquiries, in French and our homeroom, we went with scholarly curiosity and a willingness to learn.

Our goals in venturing beyond our walls included adding to our understanding of the following central ideas and lines of inquiry.


Central Idea: We all belong to the same community of learners.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • The people and members that compose our school community.
  • The roles and responsibilities of members of our school community.
  • Our school system helps us learn.


Central Idea: Unit 1: Individuals approach problems in order to reach solutions.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • Characteristics of problem solvers
  • Problem solving processes
  • Processes applied in various contexts

Central Idea: Unit 2: Movement is a change agent.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • Types of movement
  • Forces that cause movement
  • Changes resulting from movement

In addition to learning how problem solvers at the TV station produce a newscast, we sought to develop a variety of approaches to learning skills.

  1. Self-management Skills
    • I take responsibility for my actions
      • Practice self control with words and actions
  2. Communication Skills
    • I listen to directions and instructions and ask clarifying questions when necessary.
    • I listen to the information and the perspectives of others respectfully
  3. Research Skills
    • I gather information from a variety of resources.


We are grateful to Madame Michele and Madame Eale for coordinating this trip and to Mr. Kibadhi, one of our very own dads, who was gracious enough to allow us this opportunity to explore his facility.


Rockin’ Our Research Skills

Having spent time yesterday conducting research, mostly online, we discussed the importance of print resources and strategies for reading and gathering information. To learn more about the value of print resources and expand our understanding of movement as a change agent, we began with a close look at the rock cycle.  As we began our read aloud of a nonfiction text, we first looked at the table of contents and identified topics about which we would learn. Depending on what we wanted to know, we could have jumped directly to a section of the book that was most relevant to a specific topic.

Prior to reading our first section, we examined the pages and noted a number of important text and graphic features – titles, subtitles, insets, captions, diagrams, photos. Each element was specifically selected to draw our attention to important information.

Multiple Sources:

We then began our investigation with a look at igneous rock. Using a main idea-detail web, we paused to process what we read and capture key ideas and details.

Below is a slightly different version of the same strategy.

Rock Cycle Resources

We spent much of the rest of the day researching. After recess, Ms. Paula came in to observe our inquiry skills. She had some important questions for us as we explored various resources and valuable feedback – both glows and grows – related to our approaches to learning (thinking, research, self-management, social, and communication skills). In the days ahead, we will make adjustments based on her noticings and our own reflections.

Number lines were also on our agenda for today. Exploring how number lines are related to fraction bars enables us to add another tool to our mathematical toolkit.

A Marvelous Monday… BECAUSE of the Rain

While some could easily have said Monday was miserable, in our class, we had a most marvelous day. Despite the rain, or perhaps because of the rain, we managed to conjure up all our creative juices and collaborate on a number of projects.

Of course, a significant amount of time was spent reading and reflecting on our novels with our reading groups. Several groups really dug in and discussed ideas deeply. Many connections were made to our shared text, The Big Wave, and even to our previous read aloud, Chu Ju’s House.

At recess, students continued to work together to build castles and domino trains. In addition to the calm and cooperation, the connections to movement were especially exciting.

During our math time today, we inquired into the identity property and how our understanding of that (connected to our learning about factors and multiples) can help us with equivalent fractions. Knowing how to represent a whole as 1/1, 2/2, 3/3. 20/20, 100/100… helps us understand how to find equivalent fractions using an abstract strategy.

Multiple Source: Math is Fun – Equivalent Fractions

Multiple Source: Khan Academy – Fractions Series


Multiple Source: Math Antics – Fractions Series

This afternoon, we used our time to consult multiple sources and gather information about our research topics. Some resources were worth sharing and occasionally caused a crowd to gather. Conversations around the Chromebook can really push our thinking and cause new questions to be asked.

Fishbowl, Finding Out, Fractions, and… Finishing Well

To finish off our week, we started with a Friday fishbowl activity to observe an effective and efficient reading group. Five scholarly risk takers were willing to be the “fish,” masterfully demonstrating how readers read, speak, think, and write when studying a novel together. Observers were able to notice areas where the group and group members glowed and were able to make suggestions for growth. Through the observation process, both the observers and the observed were able to reflect on their process and make adjustments.

As we have been gathering more and more exposure to and experience with movement as a change agent, we were anxious to continue our reading of The Big Wave. The first chapter introduced us to the main characters and a huge movement-related problem. The details provided by the author caused us, as readers, to QUESTION… an important (and scholarly) reading strategy. Our inquiring minds caused us to wonder about volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and more.

In an effort to satisfy our curiosity, we dug into our resources and worked to collect and cite information about our topics. As we read, we tried using Cornell Notes to save and organize our ideas. Since this was our first official attempt at Cornell Notes this year, we realized there is a lot of room to grow.

To learn about Cornell Notes as a note taking structure, listen to Mr. G explain. While it sounds like he is talking to an older audience, I think his visuals will be beneficial.

If you’d like to take your Cornell Notes to the next level by combining them with Sketchnotes, check out Doug Neill’s video. I think you’ll LOVE this as an option for learning.

In the personal example he shares, I was especially amazed at the neatness of his work and how purposeful and patient he was in putting together all 11 pages. I can infer that the book he read and the topic he was researching was important to him.

Another topic of today was representing fractions on a number line. Like fraction circles and fraction bars, a number line is a great tool for visually representing fractions… including those greater than one whole.

This evening, several scholars participated in the second annual Night Run hosted by TASOK’s cross-country and track teams. Runners embraced the challenge, ran with perseverance, and experienced the “exhilaration of victory” of a race well run. Two of our very own scholars, Celeste and Filip, placed, about which we are very proud! It was especially exciting to see and hear how runners celebrated one another. What encouragement!


Resources and Research

Since we had three-way conferences yesterday, Word Work Wednesday got bumped to Thursday. Using multiple sources, online and off the shelf, students conducted incredible independent inquiries into this week’s words. “Ruminate” was a favorite find.

This afternoon, students entered the library in silence. A seemingly, self-imposed challenge charmed Ms. Kraft and allowed us to get started with our review of Destiny quickly. In pairs, students conducted searches to identify the call numbers and then set about finding each title on the shelves. In addition to using the inquiry-friendly features of Destiny, students became increasingly familiar with the different sections of our genre-fied TASOK library. Today’s exercise will help us next week as we dig in more deeply to our topics.

Once the challenge was complete, students sat down and settled in to reading.

Home Learning for November 4-8 (Week 11)

  1. Read for at least 30 minutes each night. Complete the online reading log OR one on paper. (Copies are available in class).
  2. Reflect back on Week 10, and complete the “Reflection: Learner Profile & Approaches to Learning” form.
  3. Explore the recommendations on These connect directly to what we have been learning in class.
  4. Challenge: Email Mrs. Rupp any photos you took over break that highlight:
    • geometry
    • movement
      • weathering, erosion, deposition
  • **A Scholar has a goal: This week, we answered 458 questions and spent about 4 1/2  hours = 4.5 hours = 270 minutes  on IXL. (Note: Mrs. Rupp has added new recommendations for math and language arts in IXL.)


  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.

Coming Soon

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

  • November 6 – Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences (Be sure to bring your Golden Ticket)
  • November 8 – TASOK Night Run
  • November 15 –
    • 8:00 a.m. – Counseling Workshop
    • 2:20 p.m. – Assembly
    • Trimester 1 ASAs End
    • ES Swim Team in Johannesburg
  • November 25 – Trimester 2 ASAs begin
  • November 27 – International Day
  • November 28-29 – Thanksgiving Break (No School)


We’re on Twitter!

Follow TASOK @TASOKinshasa


Follow Fourth Grade @Scholarsare

Hashtag #TASOK


Learner Profile Trait of the Month – THINKER

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


Approaches to Learning, Arithmetic, Agency and Action

While we didn’t have any tricks today, we certainly had plenty of treats.

W began our day with a time of reflection, in preparation for next week’s three-way conferences. Using a Seesaw sort, students read through a set of descriptors related to the approaches to learning and the learner profile. Each student was to identify things they were proud of so far in fourth grade, and things on which they still need to work. Students were extremely thoughtful, which will provide a very firm foundation on which to develop goals.

Approaches to Learning & Learner Profile Descriptors

While some students were working on their Seesaw sort, others celebrated and showed evidence of learning on their math assessment. By exercising their brains, using multiple sources, and showing a great deal of perseverance, students were able to demonstrate understanding of a variety of important skills and concepts explored over the last few weeks. It was especially exciting to see the level of effort and engagement when presented with the final challenge question.

This afternoon, students spent some time with Ms. Kraft in the library “tuning in” to topics related to our current unit of inquiry. Using the list of ideas brainstormed during a previous session, students identified their top three topics of interest and provided persuasive evidence to substantiate their selection. Ms. Kraft was grateful for the amount of detail provided on the selection forms.

As a PYP librarian, Ms. Kraft plays a critical role in supporting student inquiry and facilitating research and ethical documentation. She is a valuable multiple source, particularly in the development of research skills, one of the five approaches to learning categories.

Article: Tuning in… to tuning in… by Kath Murdoch

Ms. Kraft did a great job tuning in to students’ interests today.

At the end of our day, we finished off with a video about plate tectonics. Pausing frequently, we engaged in really powerful conversations related to our central idea: Movement is a change agent and our key concepts and lines of inquiry:

  • Form – Types of movement
  • Causation: Forces that cause movement

A new idea we learned today was about the role of heat as a force that causes movement.

Thanks to Luca, who demonstrated a scholarly curiosity, willingness to learn, and use of multiple sources, we were able to learn about the idea of convection (and… began to wonder about the con- part of the word found in many other words we know – convergence, continent, convert, convertible, conversation, consider, conveyor. Does con- have the same meaning in each of these words?)

Multiple Source: Windows to the Universe: How do Plates Move?

ALERT: As you are listening, pay attention to words and phrases like:

  • scientists believe…
  • some people think…
  • geologists suspect…
  • one theory is…
  • many hypothesize…

These indicate that these are ideas that people have wondered about and researched, but do not necessarily have definitive proof.

Finally, today, we ended with an awesome example of student agency and action. Since it is Halloween, Alex and Khaleel wanted to do something special for their peers. With much planning and a great deal of time and effort, they hand made a set of foldable drawings… one for each student. At the end of the day, after taking the initiative to tidy off the table tops and keeping it top secret all day, the boys presented their project with an enthusiastic “Happy Halloween.” One of the first responses was… “This is so creative!”

What a bucket-filling way to end the afternoon!!

Challenge: October Observations – Break and Beyond

Over the break, whether you were traveling or stuck close to home, you had an opportunity to be an eagle-eyed observer. As a scholarly sleuth, did you search for clues proving weathering, erosion, or deposition has taken place. If you suspected that wind, water, ice, or roots caused weathering, erosion, or deposition, did you get a picture of the evidence? If so, submit them with the hashtags:




Additionally, were  you on the lookout for landforms and bodies of water – mountains, hills, valleys, plateaus, cliffs, caves, sand dunes, bays, ponds, lakes, rivers,… and so many more. If you saw a landform or body of water, send in a picture with the hashtag:

#Look! A landform

What about other examples of movement?


Or, geometry?


Secret agents, did you accept this challenge? The challenge continues this week…

Send all photographic evidence to Mrs. Rupp’s email.

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