Problem Solvers in Action

Since our Who We Are: Problem Solvers unit is yearlong, we are always on the lookout for real life problem solvers. Today, they were out in full force, trying to find and diagnose a problem with… the power. Early this morning, long before students arrived, Papas Louis, Dennis, Medard, Axel, and Ricky were hard at work tracking down the trouble. With extreme efficiency, they tested the lines, turning lights on and off to isolate the missing link in the line. Before the bell rang, they found the fault in the server room and were able to find a temporary fix to ensure learning continued throughout the day.


Grateful the lights were on, we got into some serious problem solving of our own. With self-selected thinking buddies and an opinion writing checklist in hand, we sat down and shared our essays and evaluated ourselves in the areas of structure, development, and conventions. Using teacher, peer, and personal feedback, we proceeded to make adjustments to our writing. Development or elaboration seemed to be the most common area in need to revision.

We also continued our work with fraction decomposition, looking at home to represent fractions as sums of unit fractions and sums of fractions.

The Delivery

Today was THE day we have been waiting for ALL week.

After securing permission from Ms. Paula and Ms. Peacock, it was determined that 10:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. were prime times for introducing our survey to our school community.

Prior to heading into other classrooms, though, we took time to practice in our pairs and present to the class. Each group walk through the entire process, including knocking politely on the door and getting permission to make a presentation.

After each presentation, our peers offered feedback on what we still needed to work on to ensure our delivery was as clear and professional as possible. Volume, eye contact, and modeling were all areas were needed to work on a bit more before venturing out.

In response to feedback, students took a bit more time to make adjustments. Before long, though, it was time to head out for our first appointment in the elementary school. The risk-takers were ready!

As was anticipated, some groups encountered a few problems because the students were in specials, but in true problem solving style, each scholarly pair managed to arrange another time to return and share the information.

Our second round in secondary school resulted in similar challenges, as students were scheduled for tutorials. Once again, though, scholarly problem solvers either made individual presentations to teachers or planned to return at a later time.

Now comes the hardest part… waiting for the results. We will return next Friday to pick up the packets. We can’t wait to see what the most serious and most frequent problems are at TASOK. Even more interesting will be… who are the most helpful problem solvers!

The Key: Collaboration and Communication

Crafting and composing while collaborating was key part of our day. These writers are always eager to engage their pencils and papers in the problem solving process that is writing. Whether it is identifying ideas, incorporating interesting details, or improving sleepy sentences to make them sizzle, there is always a buzz of excitement around the process. It is especially exciting to see the scholars use multiple sources like dictionaries, thesauruses, Chromebooks, and one another.


Extending yesterday’s exploration, students worked to expand their understanding of arrays and their connection to multiplication by building with 36 centimeter cubes. In addition to manipulating the blocks, an important part of the process was capturing and communicating thinking on paper.

Several students took it a step further to share their thinking and problem solving process on SeeSaw. These will be shared with fellow scholars tomorrow and with our parents… soon.


In preparation for our survey distribution, the entire class contributed to a shared writing of the script, to ensure that all participants received the same directions and information. Students then worked in pairs to divide up the parts and practiced their delivery. Reading fluency and expression were key aspects of reading worked on today.

A Rainy Day Resulting in a Flood of Fabulous Thinking

Despite being a rainy day, fourth grade scholars were ready risk-taking and reflection.

Even before the bell rang, students found friends with whom to play some games that got everyone thinking.

While Wednesdays are short, we managed to pack in a plethora of powerful ponderings, and projects.

After recording our words for the week, but prior to capturing our notes and noticings, we did a sort to help use inquire into our words. Some groups examined spelling patterns, others explored syllables, still others sought to sort by categories of meaning. It was amazing to see how many different ways we could look at our words and wonder.


Part of our discuss focused on our word “composite,” which reminded us of a lot of other related words – compose, company, compass, compose, companion, and… dot com (.com). This, then, launched us into a discussion of other “dots” and their meanings. We are definitely interested in exploring this further.

I wonder if these were the result of the problem solving process.

We were grateful to have Mr. Sheldrick join us as a special guest for this portion of our day. He got to see some incredible inquiry in action!

Not done yet…

After word work, we engaged in the Visible Thinking Routine: Think. Puzzle. Explore. to help us dissect dozens of diagrams.

Students started with a set that they scrutinized alone for several minutes prior to sharing. Scholars then circulated to additional sets of images to add to their thinking and begin puzzling about what they thought.

Some of students’ thoughts and puzzles were share with the whole group.

This activity is the first in a series that will help us design our own problem solving process.

As we neared the end of our Think. Puzzle. Explore., two fifth grade students arrived to introduce themselves and to share a bit about peer mediation.

They were very professional and knowledgeable about the process (which just happened to be one of the diagrams we had just examined). Hmmm… I wonder why these diagrams were included in our collection.

  • What do you THINK about them?
  • What questions or PUZZLES do you have?
  • What do these diagrams make you want to EXPLORE?

Our last inquiry before we headed home for the day launched us into the world of… multiplication (with a touch of geometry).

After clarifying the difference between a ray and an array, students were tasked with using 25 centimeter cubes to create as many arrays as they could.

Before using the blocks, though, this group of gentlemen built an array with their clipboards. Clever!

Students were excited by their discoveries and were eager to communicate their learning in concrete, pictorial, and abstract ways.


This is where we are headed…

Multiple Sources to exercise your math-magical brain:



Sentence Starters, Seesaw, and Surveys

We took some more time today to explore some more sentence starters. Starting with a simple subject starter, we reviewed and wrote adverb and present participle options before adding AAAWWUBBIS (subordinating conjunctions / dependent clauses) to our list. While we found it was a bit tricky, we will continue to work on varying our sentence starters.

As part of our PYP Assessment Plan at TASOK, which involves monitoring, documenting, measuring, and reporting learning, students will have the opportunity to document learning and build a portfolio through Seesaw. Today, we had our introduction to what will be a terrific tool for reflection and communication. Students were eager to try out the new forum and were equally eager to problem solve. While our first journal entry is intended to document our knowledge of geometry and descriptive writing, our second activity will be a reflection on our first encounter with Seesaw. It was truly a example of problem solvers in action.

We also spent some time today preparing instructions for a school-wide survey we will be doing about problems and problem solvers at TASOK. Materials will be distributed on Thursday. We are already excited about seeing and analyzing the results, which we be collected next Thursday. Stay tuned for the results.


Assessment of, for, and AS Learning

What a marvelous Monday we had! It began, as usual, with French. How wonderful to have Madame Eale back with us this week.

We then did a mini-inquiry into sentence structure. Starting with a look at sleepy sentences, we looked at parts of speech and word order and discovered that sleepy sentences begin with a noun, pronoun, or article followed by a verb. Desiring to spice up our sentences, we took a peek at two possible alternatives – sentences beginning with adverbs and sentences beginning with present participles. After reviewing some sleepy sentences, we tried out some of our new tools.

Multiple Sources

We also completed our Unit 1 math assessment today, including a couple challenge questions. Using many multiple sources, students worked thoughtfully and diligently to show what they know, with evidence. Each math-magician was incredibly focused, put forth a great deal of effort, and took time to reflect and self-assess in a principled way. As we discussed prior to starting, this was an opportunity to of learning, for learning, and AS learning. By considering assessment from these alternate points of view, students were able to tackle the task with calm, confidence, and a growth mindset.

After school today, our elementary soccer teams competed against students from CS Diome Malumba. In true TASOK style, our condors embraced the challenges encountered and play with positivity and perseverance. We were grateful for all the support received from our peers and parents. What a great day for a game!!

Home Learning for September 30-October 4 (Week 7)

  1. Read for at least 30 minutes each night. Complete the online reading log OR one on paper. (Copies are available in class).
  2. Reflect back on Week 6, and complete the “Reflection: Learner Profile & Approaches to Learning” form.
  3. Explore the recommendations on These connect directly to what we have been learning in class.
    • Note: Password papers were distributed last Monday with MANY scholarly multiple sources.
  • **A Scholar has a goal: This week, we answered 1,245 questions and spent almost 8 hours on IXL. 


  1. Library is scheduled weekly on Thursdays.
  2. P.E. is scheduled weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays.
    1. Come dressed to exercise – sneakers, hat, sunscreen.
    2. Bring a water bottle
  3. Check your lunch card balance weekly.

Coming Soon

Below is a list of upcoming events of which to be aware.

  • October 10 – School Photos
    • 11:00 a.m. – Come dressed to impress!
  • October 14-15 – PYP Consultant Visit
  • October 14-18 – Congo Week
    • All Week – Pagne Contest – Wear your pagne proudly this week.
    • Tuesday, October 15 – Denis Copper Wire Art
    • Friday, October 18 -Whole School Assembly
      • 2:00 – 3:10 p.m. (CAC)
      • Pagne Fashion Show & Awards
      • Papy Pemba Dance & Traditional Congolese Music 
  • October 21-25 – October Break (No School)
  • November 2 – Student Leadership Halloween Carnival
  • November 6 – Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences
  • November 8 – TASOK Night Run
  • November 15 –
    • 8:00 a.m. – Counseling Workshop
    • 2:20 p.m. – Assembly
    • Trimester 1 ASAs End
    • ES Swim Team in Johannesburg
  • November 25 – Trimester 2 ASAs begin
  • November 27 – International Day
  • November 28-29 – Thanksgiving Break (No School)


We’re on Twitter!

Follow TASOK @TASOKinshasa


Follow Fourth Grade @Scholarsare

Hashtag #TASOK


Learner Profile Trait of the Month – KNOWLEDGEABLE

**Check back later in the week for additional homework related to in-class discussions and activities.


Transformative Talk and Tasty Treats

Wednesdays always welcome us with wonderful words. Today’s were no exception, except they were exceptional. Despite the level of challenge encountered, students were able to make new notes and noticings related to spelling, structure, and sentiment.

We spent quite a bit of time on the prefix “trans,” which TRANSfixed us for a few minutes. After searching one of our multiple sources, we discovered it means “beyond, across.” We then brainstormed a large list of words that begin with than word part:


What other words can you think of that begin with or include “trans”? When you think of some, be sure to TRANSfer them to your word work notebook.


While we started with a mouthful of words, we ended with a mouthful of chocolate as part of our celebration of Liliane. Baked with love, these beautiful cupcakes begged us to bite in just before we headed home for the day. Of course, they brought big smiles and sounds of satisfaction. We were grateful for the treat, but are even more grateful for the gift of Liliane in our classroom. Happy Birthday!


Even Mr. Wilson got in on the food and fun when he popped in to fill our bucket after we filled his to overflowing in P.E. today! Hooray!!

Beyond the Surface of Simple Shapes and Sentences

Today, we continued to consider problems writers faced and possible solutions. As we strive to move from simple to sophisticated, we considered connecting with coordinating conjunctions to form compound sentences. With this inquiry, came a new secret agent code: FANBOYS = for, and, nor, boy, or, yet, so. We examined mentor sentences crafted by the author of Chu Ju’s House, Gloria Whelan, color-coding complete sentences, conjunctions, and commas.

We also continued our work with our table groups to complete our geometric multiple source.


Considering Different Points of View

Multiple Sources:

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