Trunk Creatures Under the Sea

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This week the students are observing creatures that are elongated like a human’s trunk. We can find several creatures like this in the ocean, mainly looking at different types of fish. On Monday the students learned about the amazing salmon, which travels up to 25 miles a day to return to its birthplace in order to spawn. The class had a discussion about how they feel similar to a salmon since many of them would want to raise a family in their hometown as well.

Today the students learned all about the flounder, which is a very strange and unusual fish. The flounder starts out as a typical fish, but eventually its left eye migrates to the right side of its face. Its left side is completely white, and eventually it begins to swim with the left side facing down. The kids laid down on the floor to help better understand what it would be like to be a flounder! The flounder can also use camouflage to blend into its environment, similarly to the octopus and cuttlefish. We talked about how these creatures use this adaptation to protect themselves from predators.

During math workshop yesterday the class played a very interesting game called “garbage” in order to practice their multiplication facts. Ask your child about it! In reading workshop today, we met in small groups to read about different oceanic creatures.

More Sea Creatures

We have continued learning about sea creatures this week, starting with the cuttlefish, then the octopus, and today oysters and clams. The students were amazed to learn that the octopus can squeeze its body within a two-inch wide space, and that its beak is the only thing preventing it from fitting into smaller spaces. We have been discussing traits and adaptations for survival. Both the cuttlefish and octopus use camouflage of the color and texture of their skin to hide from predators. They also shoot out ink when in danger to screen themselves from enemies.

Today the class learned about oysters and clams, and how some characteristics of these creatures can relate to humans too. Just like a clam, people can become shy or “clam up”. We also talked about how a pearl is worked on for months or years to become polished, and how this is similar to an idea or “pearl of wisdom”. Tomorrow we will be learning about the snail, which has many similarities and differences to the previous animals. Next week the class will be focusing on different types of fish and how they differ from the creatures of this week.

The class has done an outstanding job memorizing their 4 times tables at circle time. Next week we will be focusing on our 6 times tables too. The students love playing a simple beanbag game of catching the bag and giving the answer. I have never seen them so energized to learn their multiplication facts!

Zoology

img_2081img_2080After a very restful Thanksgiving break, the students have returned this week to an all new block. We are studying zoology, which will take us to the winter break. We will then return to this block in the spring. Yesterday we examined the human being and how they essentially have three parts; the head, trunk and limbs. We also discussed how Waldorf education teaches to the three parts of the human. The head, heart and hands!

For this science block, we will be taking a discovery approach to the animals we study. Instead of laying explicit facts out for the students, the class will begin to see similarities and differences between the animals and come to conclusions about their classifications. Today we studied the cuttlefish, which is a small and strange sea creature. We looked at how the cuttlefish camouflages its’ skin to blend in with the surrounding area when in danger or stalking prey. We also discovered that the cuttlefish shoots out ink when in danger to create a screen to hide behind. From the observations the students decided that the cuttlefish is naturally equipped with traits to help it defend itself. Tomorrow we will be looking at the octopus to see if there are any similarities and differences between the two. Students are also practicing their writing skills during this block to describe the creatures in their Main Lesson books. Eventually in the spring the students will pick an animal and write a research paper on it!

 

Concluding Our Norse Mythology Block

This week the students are finishing their Norse Mythology/Writing block. On a Friday the class, like Odin, was given the power of understanding the runes. Students were able to learn to write their names in this secret language and decode messages. On Monday they pretended to write to a character using the tune system.

Also like Odin, this week the students have been unlocking the secrets of poetry. Today we learned about a basic rhyme structure and the class practiced writing a poem with a partner. Today we also heard the story about the magical Valhalla, a place where feasting and fighting never ends. Students write descriptive words in their Main Lesson books about Valhalla and will use them tomorrow to write a poem about the great banquet hall (Just in time for Thanksgiving!).

When we return from break the class will begin their next block, Zoology. We will begin to examine different creatures in the world, starting with the sea.

Our Week

The class is continuing to work on writing while in our Norse Mythology block. We have been working on structuring a clear re-telling of a story, starting with a topic introduction, sequencing events from a story in the correct order, and writing a conclusion. I am astounded by the quality of work that 4th grade is producing! They are writing pages and pages, adding in small details to make their work even better. During this block we are also discussing the writing process, with students making a rough draft in their journals, revising it, having it edited by peers and myself, and then placing their finished copy in their main lesson books.

As we are hearing these stories, the students are also focusing on character traits and trying to understand motives. To do this, today we learned about “point of view” and the students re-told the story of Thor’s hammer being stolen from either the perspective of Thor, Loki or Thyrim, the giant who stole it. The tale is a humorous one, and the class interjected a lot of comedy into their work.

In math workshop, the students are continuing to work on the four processes, but we have also started a new subject: lines, line segments and rays. This is something we have already briefly covered during morning work, but now we are going into more detail. The class practiced identifying each and practiced taking notes in their math workshop journal. In our reading workshop tomorrow we will begin a new unit on poetry. We just received our Where the Sidewalk Ends poetry collection from the book fair (Thank you Schwartz family!) and I know the students will be very excited to hear Silverstein’s poems.

Comparing and Contrasting

As we continue our Norse mythology block, the class has been working on their writing. Yesterday the students went back to their character traits chart to examine the character Odin and write a descriptive paragraph on him, using examples from the text to support their statements.

Today the students heard a story involving Thor and the mischievous Loki. Thor’s wife Siff has beautiful hair, and Loki decided to sneak into her room at night and cut it all off. When Thor threatens his life, Loki pleads that he will get the dwarves to make her new hair spun from gold. He succeeds in doing so, but always the trouble-maker, he thinks of a new plan that endangers him further. At the end of the tale his wit saves him from Thor’s wrath, and Thor obtains him infamous hammer. The class loved the story today and were very impressed by Loki’s twist at the end. After our story we created a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the two characters. The students then took the information in thr Venn Diagram to create a paragraph discussing how the two characters are different. When they were finished, they had to find a place in their work to add an example from the text to support their claim.

Odin’s Three Quests

The students are continuing to learn about the elements of literature, focusing on character traits today. We examined how a character’s traits are more than their looks, but also how they act and interact with other characters. We used the acronym “STEAL” to help us remember the different qualities to look for when describing a character.

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The students then used that information to create a descriptive paragraph about Odin, one of the main protagonists in Norse Mythology. In our story today, the students learned about the heroic figure of Odin and his journey for more knowledge and power in the world. We learned about three quests in which Odin drank from a magic well, unlocked the power of runes, and was given the gift of poetry. Tomorrow the students will learn more about setting in a story, specifically the tree Yggdrasil that houses the connects the nine worlds in our stories. The class is synthesizing their knowledge about the elements of fiction and applying it to their own writing.

Norse Mythology and Writing

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This week begins our Norse Mythology block, in which we are learning about the elements of literature and practicing our writing. Yesterday the class heard a tale they are familiar with, “Hansel and Gretel”. Using this story the students were able to identify the elements of literature, such as plot, conflict, resolution, setting and characters. They also discussed what makes good writing and how they can implement those features into their own writing.

Today we continued talking about elements of literature and discussed the type of conflict a character may face. The students had a lot of fun coming up with examples of conflict that can be found in their favorite stories! Afterward, we began discussing Norse Mythology and went into some information about the audience for these stories; vikings. We learned how according to legend, the world was divided into frost and fire with a void between the two. The fire eventually started to melt the ice, and from this the frost giant Ymir was born, along with an ice cow. From him the Aesir were created, who decided to overthrow Ymir.

Tomorrow the students will be taking this creation story and rewrite it in their own words, using the structure we have established for good writing. We will continue learning about story elements this week and see how they tie into the Norse tales.

This week is our final week reviewing the four processes. The students are doing an excellent job with finding the prime factorization of a number and determining whether it is prime or composite. We also learned a trick to using subtraction in order to divide. Students determine how many times they need to subtract the divisor from the dividend to get zero. The number of times they need to subtract is the quotient. For example, when looking at 20÷5,

20-5=15 (1)

15-5=10 (2)

10-5=5 (3)

5-5=0 (4)

You must subtract 5 from 20 4 times to get 0, so the answer is 4. It is a neat trick that the students can do and helped them visualize the concept of grouping in division.

Today the class took an assessment to measure their understanding of our block. There were practice problems of addition, subtraction, multiplication, number patterns and prime factorization. The class did very well, and I love how much they enjoy prime factorization! When we return from break the students will begin their writing block that focuses on Norse Mythology. They will be learning the elements of literature and also fine-tuning how to construct an answer to a prompt that draws from text evidence.