Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dancing Parallel and Series Circuits

How could students "translate" their knowledge of parallel and series circuits into creative dance pieces?

First of all, students discussed what they knew about how electricity moved in a parallel circuit and a series circuit.  They looked at simple diagrams to clarify their thinking.

Students imagined that they could be one of the light bulbs in these diagrams.  How could they show each of these circuits?

They began by creating an 8 count sequence in a small group.  

As a parallel circuit, the energy flowed between all of the "pathways."  All of the dancers moved in unison.  Even if one dancer stopped, and the others could continue the sequence to show the flow of energy.  

In a series circuit, however, the students imagined that the flow of energy passed through each dancer at different times.  One dancer began their sequence, and the others started in a "contagion" or "canon" one after the other.  In this way, the dance showed how the energy flowed through the circuit.  

Students used some of the following dance concepts:
 Shapes (based on poses of professional dancers)
 Use of various body parts
 Energy: sharp or smooth energy
 Weight: powerful or delicate 
 Levels: high, middle, low
 Use of varying relationships
 Choreographic devices: canon

They are learning to collaborate in small groups to express their ideas.  By using classroom concepts in dance, they nurture their creativity and make new connections in their learning.

These videos are not their final work, but a snapshot of where they were at during their class. 


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Elements of Art & Reading

During student-led conferences on Monday, you had the opportunity to visit a gallery of elementary art in the Multi-purpose Room - thanks to Ms. Diane! Since our current unit, How We Express Ourselves, focuses on art, we took the opportunity to hunt at the gallery for examples of artwork that features each element of art. We did not come away disappointed.






& Reading...

Both fourth grade classes are engaged in reading groups. Fourth graders in 4A are finishing up their books today. During the first week back after break, they will be busy responding to what they read with more discussion, more writing, and projects. Their books should be filled with sticky notes that show their thinking. Here are examples of the kinds of thinking that will push them to develop a deeper understanding of the story or text: 

Questioning - We write questions that show curiosity.
Monitoring Meaning - We write questions when confused.

Determining Importance - We keep track of what's important.

Using Schema - We make important connections.

Applying Fix-Ups - We do something about it when we're confused.

Synthesizing - We reflect on our thoughts and make statements about the big picture, explaining what we think overall.

Visualizing while we read, using all the senses - sights, sounds, feeling, smells, textures, tastes - helps us understand the text too.

Drawing Inferences - Making predictions and guesses about what we read also helps us dig deeper into the overall meaning of the text.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Electric Toys

As the Energy Unit came to an end, fourth graders shared their learning by presenting their very own electric toys. Fourth graders designed toys using electric circuits and materials such as motors, lights, batteries, switches, and wires. As collaborators they worked in partnerships to create a toy that was functional and interesting to play with. 

Using their communication skills they presented how their toys functioned making sure to discuss the type of circuits they used, and the energy input and output devices. 

Electric Kitten
Toy Presentation
Disco Boat
Spinning Plate
Bubble Maker

Spinning Plate

Bubble Maker and Fan
Frog in Pond

Easy Working Dustpan 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Another Transition: How the World Works to How We Express Ourselves

Last Friday, illustrator Ross Kinnaird shared his artwork and skills with us, as well as his sense of humor. Although we have not ended our inquiry into energy, it was a good opportunity for the students to get started with the next unit, How We Express Ourselves.

Thanks, Mr. Brittain, for the photo!

During the unit, children will analyse and create visual art. In order to prepare for Ross Kinnaird's visit, some of the fourth graders responded to a poem that felt funny, cozy, and comfortable by experimenting with some of the elements of art (line, shape, color, space, value, form, and texture) to create a similar effect in an illustration:

Some of the fourth graders also had the opportunity to analyse art that has strong connections to the next unit's central idea: Creating and responding to art develops understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Using knowledge gained during the Rights, Responsibilities and Rules unit about social issues, the children observed artwork by graffiti artist Banksy and artwork by Pawel Kaczynski, recording their connections and other observations beside the artwork: 

As part of How the World Works, children prepared for the summative task by experimenting with electrical circuits. Although they made simple circuits earlier (noting how energy is stored and transformed), using other energy output devices and batteries to create various series circuits and parallel circuits was an enjoyable challenge.

The summative task is to use our knowledge of circuits to create a "toy". Here are some of the fourth graders hard at work:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Growing As Informational Writers

Self Assessments and Peer Feedback in Informational Writing

In the Writing Workshop, fourth graders are currently writing informational drafts. They are using their power as communicators to inform and teach readers about a topic they know well. They collected ideas for their topic, organized the structure of their writing and drafted their first informational piece of the unit. 

After completing their first draft, writers were reflective by self assessing their writing using the Information Writing Checklist. They checked the areas they felt they had included in their drafts such as organization, strong leads, ending, elaboration, etc.  The areas they may have left out or not yet developed, will most likely become their writing goals to develop in their next draft.


Peer feedback is one of the most effective ways that writers in the workshop can grow and improve their writing. After each writer reads a classmate's piece of writing, they share useful and specific feedback that will help the writer. Often times, feedback includes a compliment on a technique the writer used well, and a piece of advice the writer could use when working on their next draft. 

 As the unit continues, we look forward to continue growing as reflective learners and writers by using our self assessments and peer feedback.