On Thursday, May 17, 2018, fourth graders went on a field trip to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Students experienced a full day of hands-on science. They had access to over 165 interactive exhibits in ten galleries. There was a special traveling exhibit and live science demonstrations that could be attended.
Students were assigned to a small group and volunteer chaperone. Together, they explore the Science Center by creating, trying, and doing at each exhibit. Students learned about bionics, aerodynamics, engineering, electricity, weather, outer space, sight and sound, rivers, and much more.
A May newsletter went home with fourth graders today. Because there was not a section about math on it, I included one in the newsletter below. Please notice the upcoming events. The date for the invention fair has been announced and there will be a writing celebration this spring. I hope you and your family will be able to join us for both. We also have the field trip to the Connecticut Science Center next week.
Today, fourth grade scientists learned to keep a log of their ideas and the outcomes of the implemented ideas. Students were given a challenge: to build the tallest, free-standing creation possible using only three pieces of computer paper and three paper clips. The structures had to stand on a desk, table, or tiled floor for at least five seconds. Before getting their supplies, students wrote down their first design for the free-standing creation and drew a picture of it. Once having it approved, they were handed the paper and paper clips. Most students discussed their ideas as they worked, sharing why they thought different designs would be most successful. After the attempt, students wrote down whether the attempt worked or not, and why. They then had to record their second idea on the piece of paper, gather materials, and implement the second idea. All students practiced keeping a log of attempts today, and the outcomes of those attempts. This skill will be utilized when students begin building their inventions for the annual invention fair.
Thanks to our fantastic library, students were able to complete inventor investigations in class today. I feel so fortunate that our school library has a plethora of inventor biographies. At the start of reading today, the biographies were spread out on the carpet in our classroom library. Students were called up to pick a book. After reading a few pages, students could decide to either keep reading or to trade the biography in for a different one. All students found biographies that interested them. They could read alone or with a partner. This allowed students that were interested in the same inventor or invention to share a text and discuss it as they read. It also allowed students of all reading levels to access the biographies they were interested in. While reading, students took notes about the inventor and the invention. At the end of class, each student gave a mini-report about the inventor and invention.
Students have been hard at work this month reviewing reading and writing skills, continuing to build writing stamina, writing poetry, dividing multi-digit numbers, measuring angles with protractors, and beginning to think like inventors. During the invention unit, each student will come up with and build an invention. Their inventions will be showcased at our invention fair this spring. All fourth grade families will be invited to attend.
MCAS testing, two more trips to Morse Hill, and a spring field trip are also coming. The field trip will be announced to families once it is announced to students.
A printout of this newsletter went home with each fourth grader on Friday, April 13th.
Fourth graders have been learning about mapping, the United States, and its regions. To complete this project, students were grouped into research teams. Each team found their region’s climate, natural resources, physical features, historic sites, state names and capitals, and Native American tribes. After taking notes by hand and typing the notes into Google Docs, students wrote reports. Thanks to Ms. Gravina, students learned to use Padlet. Each team shared their reports by creating a Padlet project for their region.
If you click on the following pictures, you will be able to view a larger version of each region project.
Fourth grade students have been reviewing and practicing many reading and writing skills. Most recently, they have been working on author’s purpose, making inferences, identifying characters’ points of view, identifying themes in texts, writing complete sentences with a subject and a predicate, and fixing run-on sentences. Students are also using the vocabulary associated with each skill.
Fourth grade students have been reviewing and learning about the five main non-fiction text structures. These structures are not only used in non-fiction, but are also found in fiction works and some poems. Fourth graders learned to identify and analyze description, compare and contrast, problem and solution, cause and effect, and sequence/chronological texts. These classroom anchor charts remind students of the organization of information and the key words often found in each text structure. Both elements help readers identify a text’s structure.
Fourth graders are studying poetry. They are learning about many poetic elements and how to incorporate them into their innovative poems. They enthusiastically want to share their original works with one another. Students are given opportunities to share their poetry at the end of each writing class. We snap for each presenter, as is the custom in most coffee houses and at poetry slams.
Students are learning about sound and how it travels. They have learned that sound travels in waves. These waves are like vibrations that travel through a medium, such as air, water, string, or metal. To solidify this understanding, students conduct experiments. Currently, students are exploring how far a whisper can travel, given two cups, string, and two paperclips. Many students figured out that to send their whispered message to their partner, the string had to be pulled tight. The tighter the string and metal were pulled, the stronger the vibrations, and the clearer the message.