Determining Importance. Identifying Numbers. Dressing to Impress. Investigating Resources.

Determining importance is a vital reading strategy for scholarly readers. Before reading today, we walked our way through the story mountain (plot diagram) Chu Ju has traveled so far, identifying key events in the text. As we reflected on each one, we considered how each event impacted Chu Ju. Some events were more significant than others in terms of affecting Chu Ju’s development as a person and problem solver.

As we read our self-selected texts or reflect on our own lives, it is valuable to think about how events touch or transform. Some events are just everyday happenings that don’t really impact or influence us or our characters, other events, though, can be both impactful and influential. Often, taking time to think about this can enable us to predict how we or characters we encounter might behave moving forward and inspire action.

Continuing our inquiry into multiplication, we looked at classifying numbers as either prime or composite. Using multiple sources in the room and our understanding of factors, we were able to create a comprehensive list of prime and composite numbers and justify our classifications with evidence.

Try it: Math is Fun

Mid-morning, we paused our work with prime numbers to pose for pictures. Secret agents, in number order, filed quickly in front of the camera and sat with a smile. Those behind the lens were both polite and patient, making it easy for our guest photographer to capture each image. While we had an hour-long slot on the schedule, we set a goal of getting through everyone in 30 minutes, so we could get to recess on time. We managed to beat our goal with 10 minutes to spare. Being patient and principled allowed us to complete out pictures in record time! Impressive!

After art, we spent more time this afternoon tuning in to our topics. As was true with our inquiry into our text this morning, we examined (see) the images and determined importance, identifying details that caused us to think and wonder how they are connected to our central idea of movement as a change agent. Students had the choice to capture their thinking in a variety of visual ways, including an illustration or a web.


Multiple Sources

Weathering, Erosion, Deposition & Plate Tectonics


Mrs. Rupp’s Inquiry

Image Inspiration

Tuning In

In order to tune in to the images of the Japanese potters hung in the classroom, I did a see, think, wonder visible thinking routine.

  • See:
    • a cylindrical shape
    • a man placing his hands inside and outside of a vessel/pot
    • a bucket with water
    • a round/circular base/wheel
    • a grey material
  • Think
    • the base / wheel is spinning
    • the man is moving his hands to change the shape
    • the man is very skilled and patient
    • pottery requires special movement of the hands and body
  • Wonder:
    • How is clay made?
    • Where does the clay come from?
    • What kinds of movements affect the shape of the pot?
    • How does water affect the process of making pottery?
    • What happens when the pot is finished?

Finding Out

In order to find out more about movement as a change agent, I am going to use the following resources to gather information.

Multiple Sources

Analysis. Application. Agency.

During today’s read aloud, scholars were challenged to think back on the characters met in Chu Ju’s House. After generating a long list, students employed another strategy scholarly readers use to understanding characters more deeply, particularly their motivation. Why someone does something reveals a lot about his or her character.

As we were reading, students were encouraged to ask: What do the characters’ actions reveal about who they are on the inside?

  • Identify character traits that describe each character.
  • Provide evidence from the text.

This process is very similar to what we have been doing with the main character, Chu Ju, and is a wonderful strategy students can use when reading independently.

Below is a picture of some text evidence we found to think more deeply bout Chu Ju and Quan.

As an extension or application of yesterday’s work with factor pairs, today we explored how factors, which can represent the dimensions of a quadrilateral, can be used not only to find the area, but also to find the perimeter. Working was various arrays (rectangles), we inquired into efficient ways to calculate the perimeter. As students calculated the perimeter of shapes, we came up with several formulas that could be used effectively and efficiently.

P = (W + W) + (L + L)

P = 2W + 2L

P = W + L + W + L

P = 2(W + L)

Multiple Sources:

Challenge: How can knowing the attributes and formula for a rectangle help you figure out the formula for a triangle?

We also looked at the connection between factors and multiples, which are often confused. As we inquired, we realized a number is always a factor and a multiple of itself.

The follow is a video for teachers, but it might be helpful.

We continued tuning in to our new country of focus and central idea by examining the images we sorted yesterday a bit more closely using the Think. Puzzle. Explore. visible thinking routine.

  • THINK: What do you THINK you know about the the images?
  • PUZZLE: What questions or PUZZLES do you have?
  • EXPLORE: What do the images make you want to EXPLORE?

We then dove into some multiple sources to pique our curiosity. Using the text and graphic clues in the various nonfiction texts, we were able to pose purposeful and powerful questions about which to ponder. This process will help us focus our thinking as we prepare to inquire. Through the review of images and information text, students interests will be activated, so that they might then be intrinsically motivated to pursue information independently – agency.




See. Think. Wonder.

Today offered opportunities to observe on a number of occasions.

First, as we continued following Chu Ju on her journey, we tried to see, think, and wonder about her emotions.

According to Jennifer Serravallo in The Reading Strategies Book,

Attentive readers “notice what happens to the character throughout the book and how what happens causes feelings to change. Think about how the character is feeling at one point of the story. Think, is the feeling a positive one or a negative one? Use a word or sketch to describe it.”

This is a powerful strategy for growing inferring and determining importance skills.

Below is an example of a feelings timeline created by students in Australia about Chrysanthemum, a book we read earlier in the year.


Challenge: How might a timeline of Chu Ju’s feelings look? How are these feelings connected to her journey as a problem solver.

Later in the day, we took time to see, think, and wonder about the idea of rights and responsibilities. Fifth grade students guided us through the visible thinking routine, exposing us to some powerful issues and ideas. Once again, our central idea related to problem solvers and problem solving surfaced.

As problem solvers, we continued our pursuit of knowledge by examining products and their factors. Today’s challenge was to find all the factor pairs of a number. Once again, students inquired into this concept by manipulating centimeter cubes (concrete), recording thinking using arrays (pictorial), and representing findings using equations (abstract).

Multiple Sources

To close out the day, we launched into our next unit of inquiry by conducting an image sort. Standing on the perimeter of the carpet, students SILENTLY examined the images. One voice at a time, a student described the image he or she wished to connect with another. Using only words, the speaker directed another to relocate the image. Once complete, students analyzed the groups of images to identify connections and possible labels or categories.

Digging for Details to Delve into Detective Drafts

Each day (except Wednesdays) begins with French. Today, we headed to two separate classes to engage in language learning.

Upon returning from French, we started with a brief review of Friday’s reading of The Invisible Boy followed by a fresh book by Shirin Yim Bridges, Ruby’s Wish. This reading enabled us to make connections about problem solvers, but it also caused us to inquire about China, our country of focus for this unit.

We then transitioned to our observations of images featuring a variety of problems in China. With fresh eyes, we applied the visible thinking routine – See. Think. Wonder., adding on to the observations, insights, and inquiries of others.

After recess, we reviewed our work in our mathematical multiple source and sought to apply it to problems posed in our Everyday Math Journal. This will be a common practice this year, as we consider different points of view and provide evidence for our thought processes.

In the afternoon, we immersed ourselves in inquiry, examining an assortment of books and magazines about China with the intention of being inspired. Scholarly sleuths were presented with the task of finding something interesting about which they can write a mystery. Similar to Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series, which contains nonfiction companion texts, we plan to use facts to create fabulous fiction.

Here are  a few resources that might get you thinking:

Kids World Travel Guide

National Geographic Kids


Mr. Donn: China

The World Factbook

China Facts for Kids


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!


Measuring Our Mastery of Measurement

Today, we explored one final aspect of measurement – capacity, which includes a very common set of units, particularly for those who enjoy cooking and baking. Unlike the metric system, which is based on multiples of 10 and can be converted in conjunction with one’s understanding of the prefixes, the customary system often does not have an easy way to remember. In our workbook, though, we were introduced to a very valuable visual, the STRUCTURE of which allowed us to explore equivalents and create conversion tables.

As extension of this exploration and a culmination of our year-long journey with the metric and customary measurement systems, students were challenged to create their own visual for a specific aspect and system of measurement, complete a conversion table, and represent equivalents on a number line. Working in teams, students used multiple sources including their grid books, workbooks, and online resources, if needed, to make a multiple source we could reference in the room.

Teams of thinkers really worked well, discussing essential elements, sharing creative ideas, celebrating various skill sets, and delegating roles and responsibilities. STRUCTURE was incredibly integrated, both intentionally and instinctively by these incredible inquirers!


Return for the resource reveal!

Multiple Sources

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



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



A Myriad of Multiple Sources

As we continue to dive deeply into the text, analyzing different aspects of the literature, wonder-filled words and writer’s craft are key.

One of our tasks will be to solve and create anagrams. Anagrams are words or phrases created by rearranging the letters in other words or phrases. They can be related or unrelated.

For example: The letters in L-I-S-T-E-N can be rearranged to spell S-I-L-E-N-T.

This anagram happens to be a set of related words because when you listen, you are silent.

Another example is the word A-N-A-G-R-A-M. These letters can be rearranged to make the phrase NAG A RAM. The letters in the word have been rearranged to make a phrase. This anagram is, obviously, not related.

To learn more and see additional examples, watch the following video.

Secret Agent Tips: How to Solve Anagrams Effectively

Like anagrams, palindromes provide another way to play with the STRUCTURE of words or phrases.

Scholarly Challenge: Find and post examples of anagrams and palindromes in the padlet below. As an extra scholarly challenge, try to create your own.

Made with Padlet

We will also be discussing “the best figure of speech hands down: hyperbole”. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but that’s the point. Hyperbole is meant to be an exaggeration.

Check out the video below to learn more about hyperbole and to take an opportunity to practice.

Don’t forget to add some of your own examples to our figurative language Padlet.

Since our central idea for our unit is related to STRUCTURE, poetry is a perfect genre to explore as writers. After reflecting on Koly and the events in Homeless Bird so far, we will communicate some of our thinking through the writing of quatrain poems. As you will learn in the following video, one of the elements of a quatrain poem is that it is about a specific subject, we will be able to highlight a big idea or theme from the first chapter.

Multiple Sources:

Finally, some of your work this week will require you to think about text STRUCTURES, specifically sequential or chronological text STRUCTURE.We can use this STRUCTURE to think about Koly’s wedding.

The following video is great because is ties into some ideas explored in our last unit on struggle and survival, explains sequential text STRUCTURE, and highlights brain-crossing strategies that help grow neurons! Whoa! (Oh… how might the growing of neurons relate to STRUCTURE? Hmmm…)

Sequential (a.k.a. Chronological)


Throughout our reading and analysis of Homeless Bird, we will be learning about these other text STRUCTURES, as well.

Compare and Contrast

Problem-Solution / Cause-Effect 

Delving into Dictionaries and Division

With only 41 days remaining until we become fifth grade scholars, independence, initiative, and insightful inquiry are areas in which we are desiring to demonstrate readiness for the rigor that awaits. As we stepped into our new unit of inquiry on the sustenance of structure, we were ready to shine.

Working in their table groups, students began the day by establishing a structure for their group. Students discussed and established expectations for how they will read, write, speak, and think. In each group, the standards for success were high.

Once the structure was set, students were introduced to the document that will help guide their novel study. Strategically structured, the document is designed to promote independence, initiative, and inquiry. Our first activity, though, was a guided visible thinking routine – creativity hunt. With our central idea of structure in mind, our challenge was to consider an ordinary object from a different perspective. Our object was… a pencil. As we thought about this everyday object, we really exercised our brains and had a rich discussion about a pencil’s purpose, audience, and unique design and structure.

If you are interested, you can push your thinking about pencils further by reading an article featured on the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) website entitled “I, Pencil,” by Leonard E. Read. It’s worth the read! You won’t believe how many people it takes to make a single pencil.

I, Pencil

After analyzing a pencil, students read a brief biography of our author and put into practice our first reading skill – predicting. Based on a synopsis of our text, Homeless Bird, students recorded ideas using what they know about the author, Gloria Whelan, and prior knowledge of books we’ve read by her.

Then it was time to delve into the dictionaries, previewing some new vocabulary words that will be sprinkled throughout the first chapter. Students showed how scholarly they were by using multiple sources, including traditional and online dictionaries. Each group eagerly embraced the challenge with an exciting level of enthusiasm, engagement, and excellence.

Multiple Source: Dictionary Entry

Quote of the Day: “Mrs. Rupp, I feel like there is big ball of neurons exploding in my brain. I am learning so much!” ~ M.W.

Multiple Sources:

As we inquired into our new topic and text, our work was nothing short of amazing!


The best part is… the excellence was extended into our math lesson about… division. Division is an always-anticipated aspect of fourth grade math. Today, we used what we knew about multiples, fractions, and area to lay the foundation of our thinking and problem solving. Attentive and active during the lesson, scholars were ready to show what they know when it came time to work with a thinking buddy.

Alert: As you watch the previous video, what is one REALLY important math idea we, as math-magicians, know about extended facts that this video is missing. In other words, what is the mathematical reason why we can use basic facts to help us with extended facts? If giving feedback to the creator of this video, I would encourage her to revise her thinking about how the extended facts are formed.


The following image features extended facts for addition, but the creator of this image understands the secret to extended facts. Can you see his or her evidence?


We are looking forward to digging deeper into division tomorrow with specific division strategies.


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