Well… the day is almost here. April 6. TASOK is going global. Rather than riding the bus, tackling the traffic, or walking the trails, we will be strolling to our sofas, settling ourselves at the kitchen table, and building a bureau in our bedrooms to ready ourselves for reading online resources, tuning in to video lessons, and engaging in scholarly digital discussions. While it will certainly be a shift, I know we are set for success.

As I think about the initiation of the continuous learning plan, which will officially begin on Monday, April 6, I can’t help but think that you, Scholar, have been in training all year long for a time like this. Reflecting back on our year so far, we have inquired into the following central ideas:

  • Individuals approach problems in order to reach solutions. 
  • Movement is a change agent. 
  • People respond to circumstances differently with different results.
  • Structures impact individuals, communities, and societies.
  • Industries are impacted by creativity. 

In one way or another, each of these can be contextualized in our current circumstances. Now is the time for action. How will we put our learning into practice?

As we discovered in our first unit, problems can be opportunities, and that is how I hope we can approach this learning adventure together. Surely, there will be struggle; however, we will not only survive but thrive. Structures we put in place will sustain. And, as many schools around the world have already discovered, creativity will be a key to our success

Prior to break, we spent some time in class ensuring we were familiar with the online platforms and forums we will be using to stay connected and to curate evidence of learning. 

Embedded in these, there are links to a number of other resources that I think you will both find valuable and enjoy. This week, you will get to use:

Note: I’m not sure they will all work the first time, but… we’re going to give it a try and problem solve as we need to. Please be patient with yourself as we try to smooth out the bumps in a road that will be both rough and rewarding. 

As we prepare for learning, our desire is to maintain as much consistency as possible. Each week will include some routine-building tasks and learning experiences including:

  • Daily reading
    • Independent reading, read alouds, read with family members
  • Weekly word work
    • Vocabulary tied to units of inquiry
  • Offline explorations
    • Learning engagements to be completed without devices
  • Online research and reinforcement
    • Inquiry-related investigations and skill practice
  • Seesaw
    • Documentation of and reflection on learning

Scholars, you are encouraged to self-manage as much as possible. This week, we will be working together to develop a daily schedule and introduce accountability tools that you will be able to follow and manage. Portions of the daily plan will include time of unstructured play, the value of which we experienced on Global Play Day. In addition, our single-subject teachers will be providing ideas and information weekly to help us all maintain balance. (Note: Single-subject slides are included at the end of the presentation, but you can jump to them from the schedule at the beginning of the presentation).

As we prepare to embark on a new learning journey, I want to thank you for joining me. I look forward to learning with and from them. Remember:

  • establish a learning space and schedule for yourself.
  • set up scholarly routines and maintain BALANCE.
  • take time to explore before diving in.
    • Imagine your are doing a picture walk BEFORE you read the book.
  • log in to YOUR Google Classroom for access.
    • Note: I will not grant file access to anyone outside our tasok.net domain.

SAISA Spirit and Scholarly Seesaws on the 100th Day of School

Our week ended on the 100th day of school, a major milestone in every school year. Not only was it the 100th day, though, it was the beginning of the SAISA Basketball Tournament. We had the opportunity to witness the Parade of Athletes, including two teams from other countries – The Republic of Congo and Zambia. We also tuned into the welcome address by Mr. Bergh and Ms. Peacock, which included a moment of silence in honor of Kobe Bryant.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without watching a game – TASOK vs. the International School of Lusaka. In true Condor style, we were supportive fans and scholars… often asking thoughtful questions about structure – warm up structures, shooting structures, passing structures, strategy structures… Also, as bucket fillers, we provided support for both the TASOK AND the Zambian team. Chants of Zam-bi-a! Zam-bi-a! confused the TASOK bench, but completely warmed my heart and those of our guests. While the Zambian team of 6 was incredibly skilled, I would like to think our bucket-filling gave them the extra boost they needed to pull off a win.

By the end of the game, ISL had developed quite the fan club and was swarmed by fans during recess who wanted their autographs!

In honor of the 100th day, we inquired into… hundredths. Using base ten blocks, we represented a variety of decimals and fractions and then created our own addition equations written in both fraction and decimal form. The twist today was… we got to use dry erase markers to write on the desks. Fun!

Each equation was then captured on Seesaw. Stay tuned for approved posts.

Comparing, Contrasting and… Collecting.

This week, we have had the opportunity to get into others students’ classroom to observe, using a See. Think. Wonder. visible thinking routine. As part of our research in preparation for I Love to Read and Write Week, we want to see what kinds of structures other classrooms have in place. Since teachers have allowed us into their learning spaces, we thought it might be a good idea to express our gratitude through the writing of a letter. Before doing that, though, we needed to know how letters are structured and how they compare to other forms of writing like essays and poems. As part of our inquiry into letter writing, teaching teams used used multiple sources and a triple Venn diagram structure to identify similarities and differences between the three genres of writing.

Some teaching teams expanded their inquiry to include other genres of writing like emails and stories, which required them to alter their Venn structure.

After a wonderful session during which thinking and research skills were stretched, it was icing on the cake to see self and social management skills applied during clean up! Thank you, gentlemen, for taking action and working together.

In library this afternoon, Ms. Kraft helped us think about read aloud book selection for the upcoming I Love to Read and Write Week. She shared with us a variety of books and highlighted some of the features that made them engaging and appropriate for various levels of readers.

We then had time to select some books and practice reading them outloud in our teaching teams. Holding and reading books aloud is easier said than done.

Finally, to end our day, we revisited our simile of how a poem is like a puzzle and explored the second stanza.

This puzzle’s pieced together

With meaning, shape, and sound in mind.

Each word is chosen carefully,

Search. The perfect one you’ll find.

With a focus on word choice, we examined the words brainstormed yesterday and narrowed our list down to one word we wanted to explore more deeply. Using a Frayer model structure, we considered and collected:

    1. related words (affixes).
    2. synonyms (and antonyms).
    3. adjectives.
    4. rhyming (or similar sounds)

This resource will be valuable as we set out to compose our poem in the days ahead. Again, this will be a lesson that we share to other readers and writers during I Love to Read and Write Week.

MathMania: Putting Together PARTitioning

For math-mania today, we cycled through a series of stations with a focus on our new learning with fractions and our previous unit focused on multiplication. The highlight of the day was seeing how students were able to show so many strategies for solving multiplication problems. Partitioned rectangles, partial products, and the lattice method were all featured on Seesaw posts today.

Partitioned Rectangles

Partial Products

Lattice Method

Alert: This is a GREAT video explaining WHY lattice works. What connections can you see to the PARTitioned rectangle?

An Inquiry Into…

Our Monday started with our usual inquiry into… words. Today’s list lead some into literary terms, while others explored planning structures and mathematical vocabulary. It was especially interesting to see how students are beginning to experiment with visual thinking structures in their word work notebooks. Students captured their learning in charts, tables, webs, word maps, and lists. Some also opted for color-coded systems to expand their thinking and make connections.

Based on feedback received from student-created survey’s, scholars began to think about ideas for their student-planned I Love to Read and Write Week lessons. Together in their teaching teams, students:

  • made a list of reading / writing focus ideas.
  • numbered the choices in order from most to least important / valuable.
  • brainstormed activities to go with each idea.

Similar to what teachers do, students considered the structure of planning and learned about the importance of keeping the end in mind. Throughout the next few days and weeks, we will continue to explore the what, why, and who of learning and teaching.

Today, we also dove in to our new math unit by inquiring into the structure of fractions. The concept of decomposition was on full display as students moved through a variety of stations with a thinking buddy. Methods and models, sums, partitioned rectangles, and more-than-one-answer math tiles were all options open for observation, interaction, and reflection. Many thinkers and problem solvers engaged in thoughtful discussion, posing questions to one another and on paper for further investigation.

Multiple Sources

We ended the day with a read aloud of Varsha Bajaj‘s book T is for Taj Mahal.

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


Fragments or Full? From Parts to Paragraphs.

During our word work time today, Mrs. Kovacs invited us to consider elements of an essay by analyzing and assembling colored strips containing parts of sentences. Working collaboratively, we pieced together sentences. As we explored options, we realized that some strips could be torn in two to create simple, complex, and compound sentences. One of the challenges we encountered was ensuring that the strips made complete sentences and not fragments. Once sentences were assembled, we pieced them together into a paragraph, which included a thesis and supporting details.

To extend our learning, we were presented with another set of sentence strips containing content about different types of rocks. Once again, we pieced together the information considering complete sentences and paragraph structure. When we were done, we captured our final paragraph on lined paper. These informational paragraphs were shared in a jigsaw format, so everyone had an opportunity to learn about the different types of rock.

Multiple Sources

Word Work Beyond Our Words of the Week

After a brief investigation into our words of the week, we continued with some word analysis related to the Primary Year Program (PYP) and our transdisciplinary theme. Using some of the same tools, we broke down the word and gained a better understanding of how the PYP is organized.

We then began to examine our theme for our current unit – Where We Are in Time and Place. Working in our table groups, we read the description of the theme and noted words and phrases that were interesting and into which we might inquire further. Working together, students annotated the description. This will be a document we revisit throughout our unit as we become more knowledgeable about and make connections with our central idea through our lines of inquiry.

We then continued our investigative work by conducting research about… essays (see related post).

We also continued our work with decimals, looking at how to create number lines… with hundredths in an effective and efficient way.

Gallery Walk. Grid Book. Game Time!

This morning, we started by finishing our Compass Points visible thinking routine. We jotted down things what Worries (W) us about the ideas of struggle and survival. Students then conducted a gallery walk, reading and reflecting on one another’s ideas. Observations, questions, and additional thinking were added to our recording sheets for future consideration. A number of powerful ideas worth pursuing were noted and shared. This will definitely be an interesting, introspective, and impactful inquiry.

Today, as we continued to launch into our new unit, we tackled a tough text titled A Song for Cambodia by Michelle Lord. This story takes us on a treacherous journey with Arn, a boy from a village in northern Cambodia. With well-chosen words, the author allows us to step into Arn’s shoes (an idiomatic phrase meaning to see life from someone else’s perspective). This story prompted a number of important inquiry questions related to survival and struggle and Cambodia’s history, which we will investigate further in the days ahead.

Pausing periodically allowed us to ponder Arn’s experience deeply. Throughout, questions were posed – perfect for our pursuit into a tough topic. We also spent quite a bit of time talking about the foreword, which contains important historical information that made us yearn for more information. Another one of our wonderings was about the genre of the book – is it fiction or nonfiction? If fiction, is it realistic or historical? If nonfiction, is it narrative nonfiction? How can we tell? We highlighted a number of keywords we could use to find out more about this story and whether or not it is true? What other factual information related to the setting (time and place) would help use better understand this story? What kinds of multiple sources would be most helpful? Lots to think and wonder about…

In the days ahead, we will complete our summary graphic organizer, which will require us to think critically about the main character’s motivation, conflict, plot, and theme. We will also have opportunity to compare Arn’s story with others as we pursue the following lines of inquiry:

  • People adapt and change over time as a result of conflict
  • People’s personal responses to adversity
  • Action as a result of adversity

Multiple Source

Watch the following video featuring the REAL Arn Chorn Pond. In his own words, he shares about his struggle to survive in Cambodia and the different, but equally challenging, struggles he had in his new home in New Hampshire. It is amazing to hear his story and to think about our own stories and the stories of those around us.

In math, we worked to apply our learning about comparing fractions by ordering a set of fractions. Using pictorial / visual tools like fraction bars and number lines, we were able to consider fractions’ relationship to the whole and to one another. We used what we knew about common numerators, common denominators, benchmarks, and equivalent fractions to help us.

We did not learn the following strategy in class, but it is another way to efficiently compare and order fractions. Your mom and dad probably know this way. The question is… why does it work? Hmmm…

This afternoon, we had a visit from Ms. TaShawndra. She reshared with us one of our favorite books, The Invisible Boy. As with any rereading, we were able to think more deeply about the ideas and were able to connect to our central idea – People respond differently to conflict. After reading and discussing the big idea in the book, we began a game of empathy jeopardy. Teams worked together to respond to the following categories of questions:

  1. Act It Out
  2. Sketch It
  3. True or False
  4. Imagine If…
  5. Risk 

Each group, when presented with a scenario, has a short time to discuss their responses prior to sharing. All groups were excited about the game and thoughtful in their responses. Unfortunately, we were not able to finish the game, but we were able to schedule Ms. TaShawndra for a follow up session tomorrow. Can’t wait to continue conversing about empathy and ways to share caring to our community members.


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!


Skip to toolbar