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.



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.



Stand Proud!

As part of their Fifth Grade PYP Exhibition related to the central idea of sustainability, two groups of students have opted to organize projects in response to their trip to Stand Proud, an organization that helps survivors of polio and youth with other disabilities.

Pool Party

One group is organizing a fundraising pool party to help Stand Proud purchase water filters.

After surveying possible attendees (students in grades 3-5), the student organizers decided on this Wednesday, May 15 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. The cost of the event is $7.00 (Note: A discounted price of $5.00 is available for those who bring food donations to share).

Students must have a signed permission slip in order to attend.

Note: The event will have adult supervision.

Shoe and Clothing Drive

Another group of students is organizing a shoe and clothing drive, also to support Stand Proud.

The clothing drive will run from Tuesday, May 14 through Monday, May 20. The student organizers are inviting students and other members of the TASOK community to donate old shoes and clothes that are still in good condition.

Note: Students have specified that clothing donations must be thoroughly washed.


Multiple Sources

To learn more about polio, check out the following links:


As you reflect on this post, the fifth graders’ projects, and polio… what kinds of connections can you make to our unit on STRUCTURE?

What role does STRUCTURE play in organizing these events?

What types of STRUCTURE cause or are affected by polio?

What STRUCTURES have been established worldwide to help prevent polio?

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.


Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Redux.

Once again today was buddy day. This week, PS2 joined us for our extended Earth Day activity.

After our read aloud, students started tracing hands, coloring globes, and sharing ideas related to reducing, reusing, recycling. It was great to see so many students, unprompted, place their excess paper in the recycling tub during clean up time.

In Fifth Grade, students are currently working on their PYP Exhibition projects. I would encourage you to ask them what kinds of things they are doing to reduce, reuse, and recycle and how does those actions connect with their central idea about sustainability.

Multiple Sources


Not for Me, Please…

In an effort to extend our Earth Day explorations, we welcomed our Preschool 1 buddies to participate in the action. We began our time together with a read aloud of Not for Me Please, I Choose to Act Green by Maria Godsey. As we were reading, students were able to join in the repeated refrain, “Not for me, please!”

Due to some absences, we were doubled up  – each fourth grader working with two preschool buddies. The activity involved coloring a globe, tracing and cutting out hand prints, and reflecting on and recording real ways each person can “act green.”

Some suggestions included:

  • using reusable containers for snacks.
  • eating healthier snacks that don’t have packaging.
  • recycling or reusing paper.
  • shutting off water when brushing teeth.
  • composting leftover food.
  • using reusable straws.

Patient and proactive, we managed double duty with great dexterity. Our little buddies were delighted.


Multiple Source

To learn more about Luke (the main character of Not for Me, Please) and “acting green” check out the following website:

Luke’s Story

Earth Day Extraordinaire!

Earth Day was extraordinary! This morning, students came to school ready to rally round the ideas of reducing, reusing, recycling. With only 15 minutes to prepare, everyone sprang into action to finalize the last-minute details.


At 8:20 a.m., after students from third and fifth grade settled into our space, our first group got our attention with a powerful and provocative Google Slides presentation.

Once they had everyone’s attention, the team introduced their “treasure” hunt. Equipped with two baskets, groups rummaged ’round the room for rubbish, which they were required to sort into trash or recyclables. Each items was assigned a certain number of points, which added a strategic element to the search.

After adding up their points, teams dispersed to explore other activities which included a variety of games, videos, an outdoor scavenger hunt, up-cycled creative constructions, and an examination of live lettuce. The variety of activities providing an opportunity for everyone to explore and learn.


This afternoon, we took time to tie our Earth Day endeavor to our central idea. Reflection, a critical part of the process, allowed us to consider the following key components – concepts, clarity, cohesiveness, and creativity. Tomorrow, we will revisit our work and reflect again through the lens of STRUCTURE.





Homework for Apr. 22-26 (Week 31)

  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.11 – E.20)
      • Angles (Z.1 – Z.5) **Multiple Source**
      • Multiplying Fractions (S.1 – S.6)
      • Word Problems (Q. 11, R.7, 12, 15)
    • Language
      • Inference (G.1-G.2)
      • Prefixes and Suffixes (R.1 – R.12) *STRUCTURE*
      • Sentences, Fragments, & Run-ons (CC.1 – CC.10) *STRUCTURE*
    • **A Scholar has a goal: This week, we answered 2,600 questions and almost 27 hours on IXL. What a great start for our final quarter.
    • Log on and “Launch” into some learning with Everyday Math. (Note: Log on information is in your planner.) **Alert: Any lessons in Unit 5 can be reviewed.**
  3. Reflect back on Week 30 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. Library is scheduled weekly on Mondays from 9:30 – 10:10 a.m.
      • Be sure to bring your book bag!
    2. P.E. is scheduled weekly on Mondays and Fridays.
      • Come dressed to exercise – sneakers, hat, sunscreen.
    3. Our new administration team will be visiting this week. Be sure to greet them and welcome them warmly to TASOK.
    4. Earth Day is Monday, April 22. We will be celebrating with students in the third and fifth grades.
    5. We will be spending time with our buddies on Wednesday.
    6. The Celebration of the Arts rehearsal is on Thursday afternoon.
    7. The Celebration of the Arts is on Friday, April 26 at 8:15 a.m

Coming Soon

  • April 26 – Celebration of the Arts
  • April 29 – MAP Testing (Language)
  • May 6 – MAP Testing (Reading)
  • May 13 – MAP Testing (Math)


Learner Profile Trait of the Month – BALANCED

Energized about Earth Day

After reading and reflecting on another chapter of Homeless Bird and working with our thinking buddies on another angle endeavor, we were ready to finish out our “Friday” with reducing, reusing, and recycling in mind.

Earth Day is on Monday, April 22. Having agreed to participate in a collaborative learning experience with students in the third and fifth grades, the room was buzzing this afternoon as each group eagerly assembled its activity. There is a wide assortment of ideas to share with our peers, each needing to be STRUCTURED strategically in order to accommodate various sized groups, ages, and interests. It will interesting to see what other action comes from this initial inquiry.




Puzzling about Poetry, Paper Protractors, and Preserving the Planet

Today, we had a lot of questions about quatrains as we sought to compose a poem related to our text. The challenge involved identifying a topic, crafting phrases with a rhythm, and identifying the rhyme scheme. The sentiment and the STRUCTURE were important considerations. Topics included: the wedding, the market, school, writing, learning, embroidery / stitching, sadness, fruit, and more. Some students opted to write two separate poems, while others drafted one poem with two stanzas.


What is the rhyme scheme of this quatrain poem?

With each stitch worries fade,

While special memories are made.

Maa’s green sari and the tamarind tree,

Embroidered they will go with me.


During math time today, we continued our work with angles, but we definitely stepped it up a bit. Using a paper protractor, folded differently than yesterday, we worked with thinking buddies to identify ALL the mystery angles. If that was not challenge enough, we had to do it without the lights (an unexpected surprise) and with an audience of assistant teachers (not a surprise). In addition to wrestling with the mathematical concepts (shapes, angles, fractions, division), we had the opportunity to put the following math practices in place:

  • Overarching habits of mind of a productive math thinker
    • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
      • a.k.a. Struggle!
  • Reasoning and Explaining
    • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
      • a.k.a. Show evidence to justify thinking!

Everyone chose their thinking buddies wisely today and embraced the challenge together. It was exciting to see students use a wide variety of tools and strategies during this activity.

Being scholars, we were really able to highlight these two math practices in a powerful way.

We ended our day with the much-anticipated planning and preparation session for Earth Day. Students worked feverishly in groups this afternoon to prepare their activities for Monday’s event. A wide variety of ideas was explored.

What Earth Day issues affect India? How could I make a difference?

Earth Day – India

World Wildlife Foundation



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