Solving with STRUCTURE

Today, as INQUIRING readers, we set out to use WORD STRUCTURE to determine the meaning of new or tricky words. Affixes were on the agenda.

We began by thinking about a word with the root “touch” introduced in Gloria Whelan’s book In Andal’s House and in Kids Discover: Ancient India.

We then looked at how the word can be modified by adding PREfix before the root and SUFfixes after the root. We also learned a new secret agent code: PqRS. We then had the opportunity to explore the STRUCTURE of words found in one of our resources. Each scholars was challenged to:

  • Look through the Kids Discover magazine.
  • Identify a ROOT word.
  • ReSTRUCTURE the word by adding prefixes and suffixes.
  • Explain how the restructuring changes the meaning of the word.
  • Create a learning poster to make your thinking visible.
  • Seesaw your process. (We did not get to this today, but will try to Seesaw tomorrow.)

Multiple Sources

Ms. Chofi also suggested we try:

We also continued practicing PARTitioning rectangles and connecting our pictorial presentation to the more abstract PARTial products. Using these two strategies, we multiplied four-digit by one-digit factors.

To end the day, students began to access our prior knowledge about India. With STRUCTURE in mind, we began a KWHLAQ process. In small groups, students began to:

  • Ponder what they already KNOW about India.
  • Pick and prioritize things they WANT to know more about. 

As we worked through the remainder of this process, we will be able to narrow down and focus our inquiries.

Math Mania

Today as our first round of math mania.

Students rotated through 4 stations, which included:

  • problem solving multiplication equations using math tiles.
  • applying the concrete, pictorial, abstract process and showing evidence and of thinking in their math journals.
  • modeling multiplication equations by building representations with base ten blocks.
  • collaboratively constructing our puzzle of the Taj Mahal.

This STRUCTURE allowed scholars to really apply their thinking, communication, and self-management skills during each of the 30-minute stations.

At one point, Ms. Paula popped in. Pleased with the progress on our puzzle, she climbed on top of some desks to get a tweetable picture.

Once again today, Ben brought in some samples of his rock and mineral collection. Rather than passing samples around the circle, he opted to share using the document camera and big screen. Very professional!

ConSTRUCTing and DeconSTRUCTing

Today we began to BUILD on our understanding of our central idea by exploring our first line of inquiry. Small groups worked together to make a list of all the different FORMS or types of structure they knew. Initially, many groups focused solely on the physical STRUCTURES they were familiar with, but after a brief time of sharing and considering different points of view, students gradually began to conSTRUCT more comprehensive lists, which included:

  • physical
  • language
  • family
  • social
  • economic
  • organizational

Once we had gathered a good list of STRUCTural options, we decided to deconSTRUCT one of them… language. Our first element of language we looked at were the parts of speech.  Once again, we began by brainstorming what we already know. Then, students worked in pairs to reflect on their winter breaks… through the language lens of parts of speech. Using a Google Doc posted in their Google Classrooms, students using the embedded multiple sources to identify words and phrases in each part of speech with which they could document the last three weeks.

Multiple Sources

You can explore parts of speech further by logging into IXL or Khan Academy. 

While not a part of speech, students also considered homonyms to use in their descriptions.

We then read aloud another one of Gloria Whelan’s book In Andal’s House. As students listened, they were challenged to:

  • Identify FORMS of STRUCTURE evident in the text. 
  • Discuss the FUNCTION of those STRUCTURES and how they affect individuals and societies over time.

Structures were also explored in math as we looked at PARTitioning rectangles. Drawing on our work with basic and extended facts, we looked at how we can use an area model to represent and solve multiplication equations. 


Pens. “Protagonist.” Puzzle-making Provocation. Problem Solving. Pebbles.

As we settled back in to our scholarly routine today, we took time this morning to review a few changes to the schedule and to examine this week’s vocabulary words. “Antagonist,” “protagonist.” and the word part “struct-” seemed to be of greatest interest. Once personal and collective notes and noticings were made, a challenge was issued to be on the alert of clues and multiple sources related to this week’s words.

We then moved into an examination of our next transdisciplinary theme: How We Organize Ourselves. In small groups, students read and reread the title and description and highlighted and annotated words of interest or words that might help drive an inquiry. With their new multi-colored pens, students mused marvelously and considered critical connections and questions. As groups shared their thoughts, it was amazing to see similarities and exciting to see  differences that will lead to wide and wonderful investigations.

As part of the launch of our new unit, students participated in a puzzle-making provocation. As the picture was revealed and the pieces poured out on the carpet, students immediately began to share strategies for sorting. Patient, polite, yet purpose-filled leaders emerged from the crowd and calmly conducted the construction process. Throughout the entire process, students remained respectful, riveted, and ravenous for the challenge.

Taking a brief pause from the puzzle, students also inquired into problem solving processes related to the estimation of large numbers. Data related to food consumption was shared and questions posed. Students approached each question with a variety of strategies, which were shared, compared, and considered by others. Multi-step problems proved to be a tad challenging, but we will continue our work with this in the days ahead.

To end the day, Ben chose to share a portion of his rock collection. With great detail, he described each stone sample, making connections to our work with the rock cycle. We might just have a geologist in the making.

Multiple Sources


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!

Structuring Solar Ovens for S’more Scholarly Synthesis

Over the past few days, scholarly scientists have worked through the structure of the scientific method in response to the question: How can solar energy be harnessed to cook? After conducting research and gathering information about solar energy, students formulated a hypothesis and began planning their experiments. Color, shape, size, and materials were all considerations for the construction of a solar oven. Materials were listed, diagram drawn and procedures documented, keeping in mind independent, dependent, and constant variables. Once the plan was in place, students were ready to test out their solar over structure. After several days of overcast skies, we were grateful for a wonderful window of sunshine that allowed the “mercury” in the thermometers to rise. Carefully, scholarly scientists watched the clock and recorded their observations in a data table. In addition, sensory observations were recorded. In the end, after devouring the delicious marshmallow sandwich, students captured their conclusions and reflected on the key concepts of structure.



New Multiple Source: NoRedInk


Scholars, a GREAT tool for the summer (and for soon-to-be sixth grade readers, writers, and thinkers) is NoRedInk. Your accounts have been created and linked to your Google Classroom account. If you follow the link to NoRedInk, and log in with Google, a diagnostic assessment is ready for you.

One of the fun features of NoRedInk is the ability to customize the interest settings, choosing from a wide variety of interest categories. Your choices will affect the subjects of the sentences and compositions you will work with.

As you work with this tool, reflect on how you are growing as a reader and writer. It is an AMAZING multiple source!

Pondering the Power of Process

To start off week 36, we took  a moment to reflect on our learning journey at our student-led conferences. Together with our parents, we thought about how we have transformed as a scholar. Much of what was shared was purposefully incomplete. Throughout the year, there has been striving, stretching, and soaring, each a powerful part of a perpetual process. Rather than presenting our parents with a polished finished product, however, we invited them to reflect and revise with us. Process is powerful.

As we enter into these final two weeks of fourth grade, desiring to finish well, we also took time to set some goals that will help us begin fifth grade with strength and confidence.

Thank you to each parent who carved out some time today to listen and learn and love. Know your support of your scholar is beyond value!

Student-Led Conferences 2019


Bursts, Big Tree, Building, and Bar Graphs

Today was busy from the beginning. We started by revising “I am” poems to write in our risk-taking bursts. It was powerful to revisit our big ideas related to risk-taking and resilience.

We then had a special time with our buddies. For those of us working with Mr. Matthew’s preschool 1 class, we took time to read a book by Nathalie Slosse entitled Big Tree Gets Sick. As we read, we were able to make connections to our buddies unit of tools, but we also saw connections to our unit on structure and our solar oven project. After reading the book, we took time to think about one of our preschool buddies, Lucas, who also happens to be a sibling of one of our scholars, Liam. Lucas has been very sick, and we wanted to send him something to let him know we are wishing him well and hoping for healing. Each member of the class wrote a note on a heart-shaped leaf to add to a “big tree” of encouragement.


Feel better soon, Lucas!

This afternoon, we took time to continue building our solar ovens and document the experiment process.

Some groups are getting quite close to completion. The question is, which cooker will harness the solar energy the best… and why?

Multiple Sources


Things continue to bustle next door as fifth graders complete their final preparations for their PYP Exhibition. Today, some mattresses arrived!

Donations for the shoes and clothing drive were gathered yesterday. After calculating the items, the coordinators revealed the data today and have set a new goal for their drive. They have extended the deadline until Friday, May 24 to help meet their new goal of 1,000 articles of clothing.

Despite the big pile of clothes collected in our classroom, we are currently running a bit behind in the challenge. At the moment, we are in third place. While our priority is to show caring and kindness, a cupcake party does sound like something worth working for.



Finishing Up with a Fishbowl

While we worked hard on revising our writing and recording our experiment process, the highlight came at the end of the day when the second of two groups got to finish its breakout. Since the first group broke out yesterday, today students were tasked with observing. Teachers  often venture into one another’s classrooms and observe to learn and provide feedback. As scholars, we did the same thing today.

After the second broke out, the two groups gathered together to debrief. Both groups were very reflective about their own team experience and had some incredible insights about the effectiveness and efficiency of leadership, teamwork, and task completion. Many students also highlighted various learner profile traits exhibited throughout the process. Communicators, thinkers, and risk-takers some a few traits mentioned during our discussion.



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