Today in literacy we had the students take a small quiz that we refer to as Checkpoints. We wanted to get an idea into how the students are faring with their comprehension skills. It was not a long quiz as it consisted of two short passages and only 6 questions. Therefore, it was important for me to go over in the beginning the importance of reading the text carefully, reading each question carefully and taking each answer choice into consideration, and going back to the passage itself as many times as needed (referencing the text). Just as important: good time management! It is important to take one's time without spending too long on it. This checkpoint was done completely online.
The reasoning behind both the emphasis on time management and for doing it online: the End-of-Grade tests this year will be done online using their Chromebooks instead of the traditional paper-and-pencil approach. Despite the change in format, students will still have a strict time limit of up to four hours, unless they have a documented accommodation that allows for extended time. This means that students should pace themselves accordingly.
If your child was not here today due to either being absent or on the chorus field trip, they can take it Monday. Or, they can take it over the weekend if they access MasteryConnect through their Clever account.
While we have been covering and analyzing primary sources, we covered secondary. Primary sources are firsthand accounts actually written by someone, or created by someone. With secondary, they are secondhand accounts, sometimes written long after the fact but based on research. An example would be of the lost continent of Atlantis.
We have no primary sources at all. If there were primary sources and we had them in our possession, it would instead be the historical lost continent of Atlantis. What is known about it is largely what was written down by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, thousands of years ago.
Below is the document that was examined today. It is more recent but pretty accurate depiction of what the illustrator thought was a typical scene in a typical home hundreds of years ago. This is based on the illustrator's research but is obviously a secondhand account of someone who was not there.
In science, we did the warm-up and then I demonstrated the three things: the property of reflection, the law of reflection (light always reflects at the same angle from which it came), and that the three primary colors of light are magenta, green, and cyan NOT red, blue, and yellow!
We returned to school for a full day - no delays at all though I did experience some patches of black ice coming in. All-in-all, the roads are much better. Also, CMS has changed a few things in regards to make-up days. February 18th and March 29th are now regular school days instead of teacher workdays as originally scheduled.
In literacy, we discussed the importance and value (priceless value) of primary documents. Students examined a copy of a map and determine its purpose, the type of document, who made it, what is was about, and its purpose.
In science, we went over light and three of its properties. We first started with a warm-up but since this was an older one from a different pacing calendar, I had them disregard question #5.
We then discussed the following concepts about light and optics:
- Light travels out in all directions from its source
- Light goes in a straight path indefinitely unless something gets in its way
Properties of Light:
Absorption - light can be blocked and its energy taken in completely
Refraction - light can bend when it enters something more dense than air, such as water
Reflection - light can bounce back at the exact same angle from which it came
Everything you see is the result of light being reflected
Light is white but is made up of seven colors of the spectrum:
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.
White is the result of all colors being reflected back
Black is the result of all colors being absorbed
When you see a color, you are seeing only that part of the spectrum being reflected back. The other colors are absorbed.
Then, we did an experiment by answering the following question:
Students were split up into small groups and each group was given a blank sheet of paper and a flashlight. The important part was to not touch the paper to avoid messing with the experiment.
I went around with my non contact IR thermometer and took an initial temperature reading of the center of each paper. Then, the students turned on their flashlights and shined them at the paper's center continuously for at least 3 minutes. I then went to each group, had them turn off their flashlights, and I took another temperature reading of the spot where the light was shining. In almost all cases, the temperature slightly increased.
Why? Because as light is absorbed and more light is coming in continuously, the absorbed energy has nowhere to go so it builds up and then transforms into thermal (heat) energy.
Students and staff returned to school after missing yesterday due to inclement weather, two hours later than normal. The southern part of the district, where Winget Park is located, opened on a two hour delay. That was a good idea since there were some icy patches as I turned into the school's parking lot. The northern part of the district was actually closed since a number of schools were without power and/or were still too treacherous for driving. They will have to make up this day. while delays are not penalized.
What we did was resume working on the activity from Friday in literacy. Since we were on a shortened schedule, there was no science instruction today. When science resumes tomorrow, we will cover light and optics.
No School Due to Inclement Weather
Today is Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which pushed the US into World War 2. I decided to veer off from the standard lesson plans of the Colonial era and instead used primary sources from December 7th, 1941. After reviewing what a primary source is, I then played for them an except of a live broadcast as the attack happened. You can easily tell that the reporter is shocked and stunned by this.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, stunned virtually everyone in the U.S. military. American intelligence, with the benefit of intercepted Japanese messages, had known for some time that Japan was planning an assault, but military leaders had no idea precisely when and where. Hawaii, they assumed, was so far away from Japan that the Japanese navy could never mount an effective attack. Japan’s carrier-launched bombers found Pearl Harbor totally unprepared. A radio broadcast from station KTU in Honolulu the day of the attack captured the events as they unfolded over several hours. From the roof of a Honolulu office building, the radio reporter described significant damage. Apparently, he was calling New York City on the phone, while the New York station broadcast his call to the nation at large.
Below is the transcript and then the audio file.
Students then saw a newsreel that was typically shown in movie theaters before the actual movie began This one is a Japanese version of events but in English, which was more for propaganda purposes..
Here is an excerpt of a football game that was interrupted by the news of the attack:
The actual in-class activity involved reading two different perspectives on the attack. One was a transcript of President Roosevelt's address to the nation and a joint session of Congress, asking for a formal declaration of war. The other one is a propaganda piece from the Japanese government. The students then filled out the graphic organizer.
FDR Pearl Harbor speech audio:
In science, students continued with the assignment from yesterday.
Today we continued with social studies integrated within literacy. Students got to continue with their North Carolina Native American slides with new addition: find and insert a primary source document about that tribe.
In science, the students read a section of the old science textbook and answered questions.
Early Release Day 2/4
Since today was an early release day, we did not switch for blocks. We began with math and the students who needed to re-test did that while others worked on other assignments. Then we did science, where students finished up copying the rest of the notes. The study guide for the energy unit can be found HERE.
For reading, we continued with primary source documents and interpreting them using the skill of inference (reading between the lines; taking a limited amount of information and drawing conclusions; explicit text + existing knowledge = inference).
Below is the text from another colonial era child's diary:
April 5, 1706 -
What a long day! By seven o’clock, I had been awake for two hours and had washed and dyed fleece for spinning wool. Afterward, I milked the cows and ground some grain. At eight, I served up breakfast, and then set to simmering a stew.
Then, taking advantage of the daylight, I did my sewing and needlework. I mended a gown for Mistress Walpole, tatted lace for the minister’s cuffs, sewed buttons on my brothers’ breeches, and darned a multitude of stockings.
The stew I made turned out extremely well, and the entire family enjoyed a hearty dinner at midday. Mother showed me more about using herbs to make medicines. If I were permitted to attend school like my brothers, I would pursue the healing sciences. I hope Mother’s lessons will allow me to someday help people in need.
After spinning the yarn I had dyed earlier, it was time for a light supper. Just before sunset, I read aloud a sermon to the younger children. When it got too dark to read, I was finally able to crawl into bed and end my day.
What did students notice? This is an open-ended question since there are multiple ways that this can be seen and interpreted. I noticed that she isn't given a formal education ("If I were permitted to attend school like my brothers.....). However, I can infer that she has gotten an education at home or otherwise, how else could she not only write this down in her diary, but to also write coherent sentences. That also allows me to infer that she is pretty intelligent and has a strong desire to learn. See how amazing that is??? We took a small sample of text and yet we were able to get an insight into this person.
Tomorrow is the second of the four early-release days so please plan accordingly as school is dismissed at 1:15.
In literacy, our focus is still on incorporating social studies curriculum (North Carolina History). We are again looking at primary source documents (see yesterday's entry) but this time, we are using some first person accounts to bring long-gone people to life. This allows us to really delve into the person and to see them as people very much like ourselves, just living in a different time era. It is always amazing how we can feel empathy for people from long ago!
Here is a sample diary entry from a child of the colonial era, to give you an example:
October 17, 1631
— It was cold and dark when I woke, so I stoked the fire in the hearth, and got it ready for the girls to cook breakfast. Then I chopped and stacked enough wood to get through the frigid day.
While securing the shutters to keep out the wind, I discovered a hole in the daub. The sun had risen by the time I patched the hole with a mortar of clay, earth, grass, and water.
After feeding the swine and watering the horses, I was famished. At breakfast, Father sat in his big chair, while Mother, my sisters, and I found seats on the bench. When we finished eating, I left for my apprenticeship. By the time I walked to Master Wilkins’ bookbinding shop, I was frozen to my fingertips. But a blazing fire soon had me warm enough to stitch together the pages of a book.
Then Master Wilkins had me treat the leather to make the book’s cover.
Later, at home, we ate a quick supper. Then I helped Father clean and salt the day’s fish. After that, I gathered thatch to fix the roof before winter really arrives. By the time I finished, the sun had set.
I was bone weary as I said my prayers and went to bed.
In science, I had the students continue with their notes from yesterday. Then, they watched an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy on energy and filled out the video quiz as they watched it.
Once we reviewed the video quiz, I again did the demonstration of how heat can make things get bigger (thermal expansion) by using my ball and ring apparatus. I have a ball about an inch in diameter made of brass at the end of a rod with a wooden handle. At the end of the other rod of the same length is a brass hole that is roughly 1/32 inch diameter larger than the sphere. At room temperature, the sphere easily slides in the hole. But, then heated enough (using a blow torch is faster) the sphere expands making it impossible to slide through the hole.
Two weeks from today is the science fair. I still have my Science Fair page with a downloadable copy of the science fair guide if anyone happens to need another one.
In literacy, we are learning about primary source documents and how they help historians learn more about the past. Primary source documents are things written or made (drawings, carvings, etc.) in the time period and are what is left over and available. I showed the classes two different primary source documents and they had to answer (orally) the five questions at the side.
Since all we have to go on are the documents (or artifacts) themselves (explicit text) and our own knowledge, researching history requires a lot of inference, which is exactly the skill 4th graders have been learning about all year thus far.
During WIN Time (What I Need) our focus has now shifted to math. Since students are still on multiplication of multi-digit numbers using area modeling, I did a mini-lesson on it while other students finished up their assignments from math or the test from last week. Please believe me when I say that I had no complaints about teaching the math! :-)
To do area models, a grid is drawn. The numbers are then broken down into expanded form. See the example below of 42 x 57:
In science, we began the Energy: Conservation and Transfer unit. We started out with a warm up.
Then, I had the students begin copying the following down in their science notebooks: