I apologize for the delay in getting to these blog updates. Know that it's my goal to publish a new one more frequently than I have! Here are some updates to what we've been working on. Please be in touch with any questions.
We have moved onto our second reading unit, which focuses on informational texts. We started by looking at headings, subheadings, and text features before reading to try and think about what we expect to learn when we read. This past week we started to think about the main idea of an informational passage or article, and support that with details from the text. In particular students have been trying to distinguish the topic ("lacrosse") from the main idea ("Lacrosse has changed significantly since it was invented.). Students are still reading independently for about 30 minutes and writing journal responses.
In Writer's Workshop most students have finished the true story narrative that they've been developing over this unit. About a week ago students did a writing assessment that focused on the features of narrative writing we studied. While each student has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, as a class I noted that students were writing strong leads that convey the characters and setting, and draw readers into their story, while elaboration and punctuation are areas that we'll continue to work on.
Next week we'll start an informational writing unit where students will work to write about a topic in which they consider themselves and expert. We will focus on strategies for organizing and presenting information in ways that make it easy for their readers to understand and learn from their writing.
I usually try to summarize what 4th graders have been doing with Mr. Menz, however, his blog has a detailed update, which 4th grade parents can find here.
3rd graders completed a short data unit where they built bar graphs, pictographs, and line plots out of categorical and numerical data. We have moved into our third unit, called Travel Stories and Collections. This is a big unit, and focuses on place value, addition and subtraction strategies, and problem solving. The problems students solve can be grouped by the story situation; put together/take apart problems, add to/take from problems, and compare problems. Compare problems tend to be the trickiest of the problem situations students will face in this unit.
We are finishing are geology unit, and are in the middle of the culminating activity, and engineering design task where students need to design and build a model of a building that can withstand an earthquake. Concurrently, Dr. Jo came in last week to build seismographs with our class, and then use them to measure the seismic activity of events like bumping the table. We will have one more session with our seismographs next week.
During the engineering design task, as well as the seismograph project, working as part of team has been difficult at times. Today I introduced students to a rubric on effective teamwork. This rubric provided clear success criteria, and also provided students language for talking about ineffective teamwork sessions that allow for growing and learning from the experience. For instance, when asked how things went, instead of answering, "lousy", they could say, "one person did all the work".
We'll be continuing to use these rubrics for team activities as they come up during the year.