Tackling Triangles

Today, we tackled triangles. After discussing the properties or attributes of triangles, Miss Kaun challenged us to make an obtuse isosceles triangle. Some scholars used their multiple sources as a reference and subsequently adjusted angles and switched out sides. By manipulating straws and twist ties, many more triangles were made. In addition, a number of thoughtful math conversations occurred as we challenged one another to consider different points of view.


Check out the following multiple sources to help you inquire further into the ideas investigated today.

Flocabulary: Types of Triangles

Here are a couple other videos from Math Antics on some related topics – polygons and quadrilaterals

Math is Fun

In addition to reading and ruminating on some rigorous ideas, you can use Math is Fun’s online tools to play with polygons and their angles.

As we continue to become more powerful math-magicians, we will be able to use polygons and our understanding of them as multiple sources. We will use polygons as tools to explore concepts related to angles and fractions, as well as, problem solving and algebra.

The Geometry Collection

Our first geometry gumshoe has found some figures and captured them with her camera.

Thanks, Renee, for getting our scholarly search for shapes started!

And, Cadence has contributed her fabulous figure finds. I see some symmetry. What do you see?


Mohammad found some lines and angles, as well.

Jessica’s geometry journey lead to these pictures… all found on TASOK’s campus!

Look what Leo found “hiding” in his house!

Now, Noah got really nimble to nab some of these shots. Nice!









Multiple Sources for Math (and Music)

Tomorrow, we will have an opportunity to show what we know from our first unit, which focused mostly on:

  • place value.
  • comparing and ordering numbers.
  • estimating and rounding.
  • adding and subtracting up to 3-digit numbers.

We also did a quick preview of topics we will cover more in depth throughout the year including:

  • customary units and conversions.
  • geometric representations, including angles.
  • perimeter of rectangles.

If you have time, review some of these topics on IXL and / or explore Math is Fun (Math is Fun is a very informative multiple source.).


Also, in preparation for the 3-5 musical, Mr. Jimmy has encouraged you to check out his blog.

Mr. Jimmy’s Blog


October Break Challenge #1

For October Break, keep your eyes open for examples of geometry. Remember to take a picture and politely ask your parents to help you send the images to me. Below are some inspirational links.

Geometric Shapes found in Nature

This last one is a TEDx, which is a bit more complex.

Making Senses IN Our Writing

As readers, we rely on writers’ words to paint vivid pictures in our minds. Revered writers tap into the five senses to transfer images from their imaginations to those of their readers. As writers, it is our responsibility to use sensory details to make the invisible VISIBLE, to allow silent pages to SOUND, to enable fingers to FEEL something other than flat pages, to cause our TASTEbuds to tingle, and to stimulate the sense of SCENT.

As writers, we are working to craft a movie-making-in-the-mind-type mystery, and attention to detail is key. Whether it the setting or the suspect, the detective or the dilemma, it is our responsibility write in a way that readers relish each word.

This week, during our Wonder-filled Words groups, we took time to examine excerpts from mentor texts, looking for sensory words and phrases. Subsequently, we will seek to examine our own work, identify descriptions that could be revised, and transform the plain into the picturesque.

Linked here is a copy of the multiple sources we will use to reflect and refine.

Using Sensory Details to Paint Pictures with Words

Homework for October 1-5 (Week 8)

  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 IXL.com and / or Khan Academy in the following areas:
    • *Number Sense*
    • *Addition & Subtraction*
    • Logical Reasoning
    • **A Scholar has a goal: So far this year, we’ve answered 10,778 questions and spent a total of 101 hours on IXL. What a milestone! Challenge: About how many questions is that per hour?**
  3. Option: Research the plants, animals, and/or landforms of China in preparation for writing pourquoi tales.
    • Kiddle (Safe visual search engine)
    • Kidrex (Safe search engine for kids)
  4. Reflect back on Week 7, and complete the “Reflection: Learning Habits” form.

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.
    • Bring your book bag and books.
  2. P.E. is scheduled weekly on Mondays and Fridays.
    • Come dressed to exercise – sneakers, hat, sunscreen.
  3. Common Writing Assessment– Tuesday, October 2
    • There is nothing you need to do to prepare.
    • Just be ready to write.
  4. Buddies – Wednesday, October 3

Practical Problem Solving with… the Plumber

This past weekend, Mr. van der Merwe and Michel, TASOK’s plumber, sacrificed a significant slice of their weekend to tackle a preventable problem in our pod. One of the toilets was clogged after someone flushed a light switch down the drain.

While not very nice for Mr. van der Merwe and Michel, it provided a perfect opportunity for us to invite real life problem solvers in as our guests. During their time with us, they gave us some insight into the function (process) of problem solving, allowed us to see the connection of the process applied to multiple contexts, and provided us with some perspective by encouraging us to consider how someone’s “solution” can be another person’s problem.

We are grateful for their willingness to share their experience and to challenge us to think about how our choices impact others. As scholars who consider different points of view, it was important for us to think about how our actions affect others and at times create unnecessary and preventable problems. This was a powerful message!

Here’s a peek at the problem they faced and the process required to fix it. (Photo credit: Mr. van der Merwe)

We are grateful for their selfless service and for their willingness to tackle even the toughest problems.


After several hours work, they were able to answer the question posted in the French room… “You may go to the toilet as Michel the plumber has repaired it.”

Below are some additional photos of our time with Mr. van der Merwe and Michel.


Make YOUR Mark

To finish out our week… we held student council elections to choose our class representatives. Ten (10) candidates prepared and presented speeches with the hopes of being selected to “make their mark” at TASOK by serving on the student council. The speeches were thoughtfully prepared and confidently delivered. It was wonderful to hear so many share about what they have to offer our classroom and greater TASOK community – kindness, caring, problem solving, listening, encouragement, communication, support, and organization. It was especially exciting to hear so many candidates describe themselves using the language of the learner profile (principled, open-minded, reflective) and our problem solving unit. In listening to the speeches, clearly each individual seeks to promote and model TASOK’s beliefs of Excellence, Integrity, and Inclusivity. Regardless of who is selected to serve on the student council, it is obvious each person has a desire to be a learning leader.








With so many qualified candidates, it made the decision difficult. But, voters, too, had a chance to “make their marks.” After we listened to each candidate share, we privately listed glows and grows about each scholar, so we could make a principled decision about who would best represent us. In the end, voters chose three representatives who will serve them well. While some may be disappointed on Monday, I know everyone will handle the results with grace and maturity, which will be a true testament to their character and their qualifications. We are grateful that ALL, whether on the student council or not, will continue to exemplify Excellence, Integrity, and Inclusivity.

Made with Padlet

As an extension of our celebration of Dot Day and our continued pursuit to understand the form, function, connection, and perspective of problem solvers, we read another book by Peter Reynolds – Ish! This allowed us to engage in another thoughtful discussion, this time adding a layer of comparison and contrast.

As you think back on this week, on Vashti, Ramon, the STUCO candidates, and YOURSELF, consider how YOU can “make your mark” as you continue on your learning journey. Add your ideas to the Padlet. (Note: Please be as reflective and specific as you can).

Made with Padlet


A Week Dappled with Dots

Each year, on (or around) September 15, the world celebrates… dots. Well, not just any old dots, The Dot.

This year… we, the scholars of fourth grade, celebrated, too.

We began by reading The Dot. Watch and listen to a reading of the book by the author, Peter Reynolds.

This prompted a brief, but thoughtful discussion of the text. We tracked Vashti’s feelings as she went from thinking she couldn’t draw (sad, discouraged, sore hearted) to anger in response to being prompted to, “Just make a mark.” After her teacher framed her mark, a simple dot, Vashti demonstrated that she had a growth mindset by stating, “I can make a better dot that THAT!”

As she experimented with various sizes, shapes, and colors, Vashti became more creative, joyful, and confident. In the end, she was able to pass on her learnings and encouragement to someone who started out in the same sore-hearted place. How exciting to see Vashti be transformed into a problem solver and a bucket filler.

One interesting observation that was made during our discussion was related to the dot-shaped background that sort of served as a spotlight in the book. As readers, we were curious about Peter Reynold’s (who is also the illustrator) use of this technique to draw our attention to the character. We were also wondering if the color of these spotlight dots had special significance.

If you choose to reread the book or watch Mr. Reynold’s reading of it, use your detective eyes to notice the size of the dots. At the beginning, Vashti makes a tiny speck on her paper. Gradually, her dots grow and grow until they fill large spaces. Why do you think the author-illustrator did that? Does the size of the dots symbolize something? Was this intentional? Don’t you wish we could ask the author? Perhaps we can…

To wrap up our discussion, we talked about the multiple meanings of the phrase “make your mark.” Of course, making a physical mark on a page is one option, but… is there a deeper meaning? Is there a meaning we can apply to our own lives. Indeed, there is… when someone asks, “How are you going to make your mark?” they are really asking,…

“How are you going to change something?”

This will be an important question this week as we anticipate student council elections.

To learn more about International Dot Day and how other people celebrated, check out the official webpage:

International Dot Day

Listen to a presentation of Dot Day 2016 featuring author Peter Reynolds and the teacher who started Dot Day.

Discovery Education: International Dot Day 2016

Check out some other ways International Dot Day was celebrated as highlighted on:

The Edublogger

(Do any of these activities look familiar?)

Finally, be dazzled by Peter Reynolds as he dapples with dozens of dots. Be inspired!

Homework for September 17-21 (Week 6)

  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 IXL.com and / or Khan Academy in the following areas:
    • *Number Sense*
    • Logical Reasoning
    • **A Scholar has a goal: This week we answered 2,890 questions and spent a total of 18 hours and 42 minutes on IXL. How does that compare to last week?**
    • Challenge: We are still looking for a way to keep track of our progress (individually and as a class) in a way that highlights our diligence and determination? Any ideas?
  3. Option: Log in to Newsela this week.
    • Refer to your password paper for log in information (most are connected to your Google Classroom log in).
      • Secret Agent Tip (Special thanks to Mr. Rossi. He was a most patient and persistent problem solver last week.):
    • If you are unable to log in, please let Mrs. Rupp know.
    • There are two new articles assigned that are connected to our reading of Chu Ju’s House AND our work with “Walls and Talls.” Apply your comparing skills to these two articles and our work in class.
  4. Reflect back on Week 5, and complete the “Reflection: Learning Habits” form.

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.
    • Bring your book bag and books.
  2. P.E. is scheduled weekly on Mondays and Fridays.
    • Come dressed to exercise – sneakers, hat, sunscreen.
  3. International Dot Day was Saturday, September 15, 2018
    • Wear something with DOTS on Monday.
  4. School photos will be taken THIS week.
    • We are scheduled for Thursday, September 20 at 9:05 – 9:55 a.m.
  5. MAP Testing will begin THIS week.
    • Math – Tuesday, September 18, 8:15 – 10:00 a.m.
    • Reading – Wednesday, September 19, 8:15 – 10:00 a.m.
    • Language – Friday, September 21, 8:15 – 10:00 a.m.
    • There is nothing you need to do to prepare.
    • Just remember to be sure to get a good sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and relax.

Walls and Talls

Did you know…

as of 2017, China had 586 buildings 200 m or more tall.

Yesterday, we put our math-magical minds to work to compare and order a set of 64 of China’s tallest towers. Students dove in to thoughtful conversation about the different identified characteristics of the buildings, debated the importance of different units listed, and discussed the effectiveness and efficiency of sorting strategies. During this process, key ideas about place value were explored and applied.


As we worked, a group of teachers, along with our visiting math consultant, Ms. Holmstrum, watched our work, wondered with curiosity, and walked away with some fresh ideas about math.

Today, we took time to review some key ideas, reference important information, and reflect on other resources and strategies we could use to push out thinking to the next level. There are still other pieces of this problem to ponder.

A representative from each group shared his or her experience with members from each of the other groups and took time to consider different points of view. In addition, we reflected on the traits of problem solvers and how those traits were applied to this problem.

If you are interested in learning more about eh Great Wall of China or some of China’s “talls,” check out the following resources.


UNESCO World Heritage List

Kiddle Encyclopedia: Great Wall of China Facts


Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

The Skyscraper Center

Wikipedia: List of Tallest Buildings in China



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