Lights...camera...action! Our classroom has been transformed into a video production studio, and we have been hard at work creating multimedia presentations about magnets and magnetism. Our presentations are designed to both inform and entertain.
What in the World is a Magnet?
We began our study of magnets with three important questions.
Now it was time for exploration and discovery!
Of course the more we learned, the more questions we had! We brainstormed our wonders and identified which ones we could research and which we could investigate. We read articles and watched videos. We designed and carried out investigations. Before we knew it, we had become experts on magnetism! Now it was time to demonstrate our understanding and share our expertise!
A Lesson from Bill Nye
We started by "close reading" a Bill Nye "The Science Guy" video about magnetism. We were specifically watching for presentation techniques that helped to make the video interesting and informative. Next we created a list of these techniques to refer to as we worked on our projects.
Creativity in Action
Now it was time to get our creative juices flowing! We had a list of questions about magnets that we needed to answer within our presentations and creative freedom to decide just how we would present the answers to those questions. We started by creating storyboards on large sheets of paper. We collaborated, compromised, revised, rehearsed and laughed...a lot!
It's All About the iPads
It's truly amazing what you can do with an iPad! We were able to video tape, create animations, make stop motion videos , import green screen backgrounds, and edit our final projects all on an iPad! We used the following apps during the process:
~Tilt Shift Video
Multimedia Magnet Mania
Here is our magnet presentation. We only hope you have as much fun watching it as we had making it!
So much fun! We planted about 2,900 eggplants today (about 34,000 servings)!
"Think about it...While we are out here not having lunch, we are providing lunch for others." -Ryan
Students are spread out around our two rooms. Some sit at their desks updating their reading records or jotting down their thinking before nestling back into their books. Others stretch out on our "Groovy Grape" rug, books propped before them in various positions. Reading partners sit head to head in quiet corners sharing their "noticings" and thinking about a book or article. A few students sift through book containers searching for their next read. They pass books back and forth enthusiastically recommending books to one another. Teachers confer with individual students and meet with small groups . They marvel as students dig deep and share their thinking. Suddenly the book bell rings. Everyone pauses to give a silent shout out to the reader who proudly holds up the book he has just completed. Another student eagerly snatches up the much sought after title. This is what reading looks like in our classroom.
We started our reading year with the question "Why Read?" Once we established the motivation to read, we worked hard to build our reading community.
What We Do
We get excited about books in our classroom. Together we explore our classroom library, chat about books, make recommendations, and create "Books to Read" lists. We pass our favorite books around the classroom, design eye-catching displays, create our own book trailers, and add book quotes to our "Book Grafitti" wall.
Student created book trailer.
Fourth graders are social beings. We learn best when given ample opportunities to wonder aloud, share our thinking, discuss possibilities, and create collaboratively. So how do we take a solitary activity like reading and turn it into a social experience? Book clubs of course!
This year in our classroom each one of is striving to read at least 40 books spanning different genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, traditional literature, poetry, informational texts, biographies, graphic novels, and picture books. We choose our own books and keep careful records of books read. We check in often to reflect and set goals.
We are reading tons! More than many of us dreamed possible! Our genre bar graphs are filling up quickly. We are choosing more complex texts and digging deeper than ever! We are well on our way to becoming the best readers we can be and life-long lovers of reading!
Some of our favorite reads:
In Preparation for our "Igloo" Design Challenge, read the Wonderopolis article "How Many Blocks Make an Igloo" and watch at least one video. Share one "noticing" and your thinking in a comment below. Be sure to edit carefully.
We began our study of science this year with an important question: What do scientists do? After a lively brainstorming session, we were impressed with our findings-scientists do a lot! With our roles clearly defined, it was time to become scientists.
First we explored the world of mealworms. We examined the tiny organisms closely, identifying their structures and observing their behaviors. We provided them with a suitable environment making sure we included the factors necessary for growth and survival: air, food, water, and space. Over time, we noticed changes. We identified the stages of development as our mealworms transformed first into pupae and then into darkling beetles. We asked questions, created models, designed investigations, and supported our claims with evidence. Throughout our research, we jotted down and sketched out our findings in our science notebooks.
Next we conducted some "field research." We split into two groups of scientists. Half "observed" (watched videos) and researched (read articles) about the monarch butterfly's lifecycle while the other half did the same with the darling beetle's lifecycle. We came together at our Science Summit to compare our findings. After presenting our arguments, we agreed that we had made a truly amazing discovery: the graceful monarch butterfly and the pesky darkling beetle actually have a great deal in common. These two seemingly different species have so much in common in fact, that they share the same classification: insects! Next we worked in collaborative writing teams and wrote articles to share our findings.
We followed up our study of life cycles with a close look at interdependence. First we created models of food chains and food webs. Next we identified a variety of ecosystems including their living and non living factors.
Now it was time to establish purpose with a "Big Thinking" question.
A Surprising Scene
To help answer our question, we "close read" the first scene from Pixar's WALL-E. Pausing and rewinding our way through this wordless but detailed scene, we jotted down our noticings and then looked for patterns. We coded the commonalities and used this evidence to "figure out" or infer what the writers wanted us to know and understand. We were amazed at what we discovered! Due to over consumption and ignorance, humans had depleted all resources and destroyed all ecosystems. Earth had become uninhabitable!
Soon after watching WALL-E, we read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. We were only a few pages into the book when light bulbs began to go on. We were struck by the similarities between the seemingly unrelated stories. Once again, we worked in collaborative writing teams to "scoop" the story.
Now we had the answer to our question: we need to learn about life cycles, ecosystems, and interdependence, so we can understand that all organisms including humans are part of the giant ecosystem called Earth. We have to take responsibility for the care of our planet and its resources to ensure a healthy environment where all organisms can thrive!
Click on the image below to read more of our groundbreaking articles.
Who we are:
What we are Working On:
~Close Reading fiction and informational texts
~predicting, wondering, picturing, making connections, figuring out
~Identifying "Big Ideas"
~Supporting thinking with text evidence
~Writing to express an opinion
~STAR revising (substitute, take-out, add, rearrange)
~ Magnets and Magnetism