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)


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


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.



Breakout and Blogging

After Ms. Kraft teased us with a “box buzz” on Thursday,…

… we were ready for today!


Due to MAP testing, we have gone three weeks without a visit, so we were ready to roam over to the library. Unlike our last sessions, though, today did not involve a read aloud nor a lesson on citations nor D.E.A.R. time. Today was time to put into practice ALL our problem solving, struggle, and structure skills as we battled… The Box for our first “Breakout.”

Upon entering the library, the two teams settled in on the carpet and were immediately tasked with selecting a team leader. Mohammad and Marylou were identified to lead the learners through the process of reading, rereading, ruminating, running, and revealing the keys and codes for the set of locks. While the first clue tested the teams tenacity, students quickly readjusted, as needed, and confidently and collaboratively continued to crack the code. One team managed to Breakout today, while the other will continue to battle the box tomorrow.


In debriefing with the Breakout team, they highlighted some important aspects of team dynamics, what made their team efficient and effective, and the importance of savoring one another’s skills. Very reflective!

Breakout EDU


Blog Bucket-Filler

This year, the blog has been prioritized as a place to stay informed about events and weekly expectations, highlight happenings in our classroom, share our reflections, extend our thinking with a variety of resources, and scaffold learning. Last week, Kathleen Morris of Edublogs, reached out regarding our blog and requested to feature it in this week’s edition of “13  Examples of Great Class Blogs.” How exciting! Check us out at #6 this week… and be sure to explore the other blogs listed.

*Note: As I was checking out last week’s list of GREAT blogs, I saw a fun feature on Ann Michaelsen’s “Connected Teaching and Learning” blog and decided to add it to our sidebar. Can you find this new feature?


Digital Citizenship

After working with our preschool buddies, we ventured over to the middle school to learn about digital citizenship and citations.

The sixth grade students had prepared a lesson featuring some important information about citations. As students who are to show integrity and be principled, this is important information to become knowledgeable about. It is information we will need apply to our work as scholars this year and in the years to come.

After a brief introduction, students worked in groups facilitated by the sixth grade students to create correctly-formatted citations and sort sources into those that are reliable and unreliable.

In addition to learning the content, we also learned a lot about preparing presentations, sharing information, and facilitating groups. Challenging!

Multiple Sources

The following is a GREAT overview of citing sources.

As we learn more about citations, STRUCTURE will play a key role.


Developing Data Detectives

Today, as we prepared to look at a variety of data representations, we warmed up with a visual activity from Math 4 Love. (*Great multiple source.*)

Working with their tables groups, students took time to make observations, identify relationships, consider the role of STRUCTURE, and connect to our learning.

Scholarly conversations were instantaneous. Without invitation, students instinctively were drawn to the board for a closer look, where they shared their ideas and inferences with other math-magicians.

Mr. Collins was witness to our enthusiasm and eagle-eyed observations. He was almost as excited as we were.

We then took our detective skills to the next level by examining data representations related to our countries of focus. Like our initial activity, we looked through the lens of STRUCTURE and its role in understanding the information.

  • What can you learn from each of the representations below?
  • Why do the STRUCTURE differ?
  • Could the data be represented with a different STRUCTURE? If so, how? Why?


Line Graph

Bar Graph

Stem-and-Leaf Plot

Double Bar Graph


Pie Chart / Circle Graph



Homework for May 6-10 (Week 33)

  1. Read for at least 30 minutes each night. Complete the online reading log OR one on paper. (Copies are available in class).
  2. Explore some lessons on and / or Khan Academy in the following areas:
    • Math
      • *Division (E.21 – E.26) continue
      • Data & Graphs (J.1 – J.12) **Multiple Source** continue
      • Multiplying Fractions (S.7 – S.14) continue
    • Language
      • Organizing Writing (L.1-L.3) *STRUCTURE*
      • Sentence Variety (P.1)
      • Editing and Revising (Q.1 )
      • Verb Tense (HH.9 – HH.17)
    • **A Scholar has a goal: This week, we answered 2,257 questions and almost 20 hours on IXL. Wow!
    • Log on and “Launch” into some learning with Everyday Math. (Note: Log on information is in your planner.) **Alert: Any lessons in Unit 6 can be reviewed.**
  3. Reflect back on Week 32 and complete the “Reflection: Learning Habits” form.
  4. Note: Homework is due on Fridays.**Check back later in the week for additional homework related to in-class discussions and activities.


    1. We will not have Library at our regularly scheduled time this week due to MAP testing.
    2. P.E. is scheduled weekly on Mondays and Fridays.
      • Come dressed to exercise – sneakers, hat, sunscreen.
    3. We will be doing the MAP Reading Test on Monday.
      • Get a good sleep.
      • Eat a healthy breakfast.
      • Relax!
    4. Wednesday will be a bit busy with buddies before recess and a digital citizenship lesson with 6th grade after recess.

Coming Soon

  • May 6 – MAP Testing (Reading)
  • May 13 – MAP Testing (Math)
  • May 17 – No School (Liberation Day)
  • May 27 – Student-Led Conferences
  • May 29 – Elementary Assembly (8:15 a.m.)
  • May 31 – ASAs End


Learner Profile Trait of the Month – REFLECTIVE

The “Phabulous” Phantom Tollbooth

Tonight TASOK middle and high school students dazzled in their debut performance of “The Phantom Tollbooth” based on the book by Norton Juster.

For those unfamiliar with the story, it is about a bored boy named Milo  who transports himself in his toy car through a magical tollbooth into the troubled Kingdom of Wisdom. Along with his dog, Tock, Milo ventures through various peculiar places including the Doldrums, Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. Debate over the importance of letters and numbers creates some conflict among the characters, and the rescue and restoration of Rhyme and Reason become priorities for the pair.

If you want to know how it turns out, take a trip to TASOK tomorrow (Saturday) night or Sunday afternoon. You will not regret it!

Mr. Timmerman, Ms. Dwinell, the atelier construction team, and the entire cast put together a wonderful, whimsical production.

As you watch, think of Miss Kaun. She would have loved this rendition sensational story.


Challenge: If you attend the performance, think about ALL the different forms and functions of STRUCTURE evident throughout.


Reflection: What learner profile traits are exemplified in the actors, writers, and characters?

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