Thursday, November 17, 2016

Human Body Unit Update

The theme of our current unit of inquiry is Who We Are. In fourth grade, the Who We Are unit is about the human body. The central idea and the lines of inquiry focus our inquiry. So do the concepts.

Although there are eight concepts (causation, change, connection, form, function, perspective, reflection, responsibility), we generally emphasise only three during a unit.

For example, during the explorer unit, we focused on causation, perspective and reflection. Causation and perspective were clear choices. See if your daughter remembers why!

Here are the main concepts we are using for the human body unit:

function, connection, and responsibility

Although it is difficult to explain the function of a human body system without some knowledge of form, we are more interested in how the systems work than on memorizing lots of parts.

Students should know the purpose (function) of many of the systems. As students learn more about how the systems work (function), they will notice links (connection) between them. Finally, they will use function and connection knowledge of the body systems to explain ways of taking care of ourselves (responsibility). 

This week fourth graders created a model of the circulatory system using both classes. One class formed the structure of the system while the other class moved through the system as blood. The learning intention was to understand the function of the circulatory system.

You will know that your daughter was successful if she is able to explain the flow of blood through the heart, to the lungs, back to the heart, through blood vessels and around the body and back to the heart. She should be able to identify significant points in the circulation such as where red blood cells picks up oxygen and where they exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide.

Other systems we are focusing on include the nervous system, the respiratory system, the digestive system, the skeletal system, the muscular system and the immune system.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Exploration Through Dance

Explorers can be found in many walks of life.  In dance we find many dancers who have pushed the limits of the current thinking to create a new way of thinking about dance. 

Learning Objectives:
The goal of this unit was to view the work of "dance explorers" and in turn create something new and unique through a dance exploration.

Explanation of Learning Engagement: Students learned about the life of Martha Graham and her ballet collaboration with Aaron Copland and Isamu Noguchi.  Her ballet  "Appalachian Spring" was a revolutionary piece that's still being performed today. Students watched the original performance and responded by exploring some of the dance concepts. 

By exploring and connecting two different elements, such as relationships and levels, students discovered ways to create something new.  Students also learned to read and write about their dances using dance symbols called "labanotation" created by Rudolf Laban.

In this video, you can see their work after receiving peer feedback.

They will spend a little more time polishing their work, adding more expression, body extension, and opportunities for group formations.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Refugees International Japan Concert

Last night, fourth graders participated in a benefit concert at St. Mary's International School for the nonprofit, Refugees International Japan. In addition to our fourth graders, Seisen students from third grade, fifth grade and the high school participated. Other performers included groups from the British School and from St. Mary's International School.

A few weeks prior to the concert, representatives from Refugees International Japan gave a presentation to the fourth graders about the mission of their organization. Taking action by raising funds for their projects is a great way for students to start tuning into the big ideas present in our third unit of inquiry: Rules, Rights and Responsibilities.

During the Rules, Rights and Responsibilities unit, fourth graders will inquire more into human rights, including children's rights.

Video of the concert will also be available here:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Publishing Party!

    Fourth graders developed their skills as writers during our first Narrative writing unit this year. After working vigorously through the writing process, collecting ideas and drafting; fourth graders picked their favorite draft to develop, edit and publish.

    The fourth graders got into groups where they celebrated each other's writing. They listened to each other's stories and gave compliments about the techniques used such as dialogue, "show don't tell" and powerful leads. They also asked questions related to how they pushed through the challenging parts of the writing process. 


Everyone was very excited to share their stories and celebrate the effort and creativity that went into writing some excellent narratives.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Sakura season ... but its winter?

The Sakura Medal program brings together students from the international schools across Japan each year to vote for their favourite books. Each year, librarians from various international schools meet and select 10-20 books in each of the Sakura Medal categories. Only students are eligible to vote for this prestigious award, but they need to read the minimum number of books to vote.


Our aim is not only to encourage students to read a variety of high quality books but to give a real life opportunity to set a meaningful goal.  The program will run from November to April. Students will decide how many books they realistically hope to read. This forms the basis of their Sakura reading goal.  An important part of goal setting is to think about how to achieve a goal. Students are required to write down two things that they can do to achieve this goal. They had some good ideas:

"Try not to buy new books." --Student in 4B

"I will stop by the library every morning before class and look for Sakura Medal books." --Student in 4A

Equally important is considering what 'road blocks' might get in the way of success. Students had many idea:

"I forget to take the books home to read."
" I don't check out Sakura books."
"I don't have time with all my other homework."
"Other people have the books I want to read."

Both homeroom teacher and parents must sign the goal setting sheet. Please look out for this over the next few days. Forms are already being returned. Once the form has been returned they will be able to start the exciting process of checking out the books and reading them to achieve their goal.

Here are some of the girls in Grade 4 setting their goals for this year. They have reflected on last years experience and are setting realistic and achievable goals.