Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why did this week have 2 Mondays?

After an eventful couple of days off, we went straight back to work today. The first order of business was to let the class vent about Igor, the infamous "Tropical Depression". More than a few classmates seemed to be going through their own tropical depressions, but an equal number were bouncing off the ceiling with excitement about what they had seen, heard and done during the storm.

It was a great chance to explore ideas we are currently looking at in a variety of subjects, namely Habitats (Science), Community (Social Studies), Numbers (rainfall, wind, etc. in Math) and Emotions (Health). A couple of students even spontaneously wrote a paragraph or two about what they thought of the whole ordeal. These paragraphs are now adorning the area behind my desk, and will be sent home by the end of next week after I get a chance to photocopy them.

Later in Science, we used a tree seedling that a student had brought in to talk in more details about the components of a Habitat. we made a big drawing on the board, then each student made their own. Again, I was blown away by the terminology, relationships, information and vocabulary they were able to contribute. I don't remember understanding photosynthesis that well as an 8-year-old. We will continue this exercise later, in more detail.

In math we are clipping right along. We got through another worksheet (not my preference, but a good way to evaluate), and they had a chance to use the Base 10 blocks and play a dice game. I'm happy to say this lesson went quite smoothly, to the point that I had some of them explaining ideas and concepts to the class and to their friends.

We have started a DuoTang for Science and Health as well, each of which now contains a variety of sheets that will act as reflective activities. The students will have ample time to learn, discuss and complete these sheets, so if they have to finish a sheet at home it means they perhaps weren't working their hardest when they needed to do so.

We started Religion in earnest today. I had been integrating the initial Curriculum Outcomes into Health and Language Arts thus far, with the intention of giving them some context before we jump right in. The book this year is called En Route, and focuses on the experiences of a boy named Daniel from St. Anthony. We had a great discussion to start with, where the students reflected on what Religion was, and what parts of it were important to them. I was happy about how much they were willing to share about their own beliefs and morals, as well as what they knew about others.
The focus of the Grade 4 Religion curriculum is on exploring the nature of belief in a personal context, as well as studying a number of world religions. My focus in instructing Religion, never a straightforward topic, is to spend time talking about what values people share and how we can be different as well. Individual religions will be studied in context, as will belief systems that do not center around a Judeo-Christian ideal. As with all other topics we are dealing with, I will be stressing the importance of inclusion, equality and compassion above all else. I will use relevant current events to draw attention to these, and frequently ask students to reflect on their personal history and have discussions with their parents, grand-parents and members of their community.

Beside a little bit of bickering, the $$$ incentive program seems to be doing well. The class is speaking at least 90% French during class time, and even starting to speak it during Recess and Lunch. They (as a class) have almost filled a container with Language-Reward tokens, which means a class surprise before long.

A few housekeeping notes:
  • I have extended the deadline for the Scholastic book orders until Monday. Thanks to all those who have gotten them in so far on such short notice.
  • I will also be sending home an outline of the first chapters in Math, Science, Language Arts, French and Health for evaluation purposes, if not tomorrow then on Monday.
  • Buddy Reading starts in a week. We will be reading to the Kindergarten children in Ms. Barela's class.
  • I have been told by students that they are required to bring in a bag to hold their recorders and recorder books.
  • When students leave class with a family member at the end of the day, please make sure they have told me they are doing so! Last week, I was beginning to suspect we were falling victim to alien abductions.
Hope everyone weathered the storm well. I will post a couple of new links tomorrow. As always, please to not hesitate to contact me at if you have any questions.

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