On this last day of September and first full month of the school year, we continued the introduction to the new unit: Matter: Properties and Change. As I had mentioned earlier, the whole unit is divided up into three parts and the first part is the study of the physical properties of matter with an emphasis on solids.
We began with a different warm-up:
Then, since it is necessary to condense a lot of content into a 35-40 minute lesson, we had to move fast. The first activity was to watch this brief video:
Next, we did our first experiment/activity which was a room walk. With a partner, the students went around the room and made a list of things that were hard and things that were flexible. Afterwards, I had different pairs share their findings.
Before doing the second activity, I reviewed the double Venn Diagram.
The second activity was back at their desks. Students saw the following on the screen:
Here is a slideshow of the students in action:
Here is the correct response:
Afterwards, we did an interest inventory for JA Biztown.
Today was the day that the students took the first set of notes. Since it is necessary to devote about half the class period to both social studies and/or literacy, I had to break this up into two parts. What the students copied into their science notebooks today was a series of key words and definitions. Tomorrow, concepts that students will need to know will be written down but it won't take as long.
The warm-up for the students was shorter in duration but gave me an idea of their knowledge of matter and mass.
I also talked about a closed system being something that does not exchange matter with anything else. The Earth is a closed system because we are surrounded by space. Very little is added to the Earth (meteorites and comets crashing on the surface would be examples) and very little leaves (gasses, space craft sent out, etc.).
Here are the notes:
Mass - a measure of the number of atoms in something. How much “stuff” is in something.
Density - how tightly packed something is.
Volume - how much physical space something takes up.
Matter - something that occupies space and has mass.
Solid - has a definite shape where atoms and molecules are slow moving and tightly packed.
Liquid - molecules and atoms are moving more freely but don’t separate, spread out more, will take on any shape it fills.
Gas - molecules and atoms are faster moving and tend to separate, no definite shape or size.
Strength - the ability to withstand force.
Hardness - the ability to withstand deformation and puncturing.
Flexibility - the ability to bend without deforming and breaking.
Conduction - the ability of a material to allow energy to pass through it.
After the notes were taken, we quickly moved on the JA Biztown. Today was important since two things needed to be accomplished:
When we get to JA Biztown, each student will have a job so I divided up the various jobs and had the students apply for them by filling out an application. I did stress to the students that merely applying for a job does not in any way guarantee being chosen for it. I will do my best to match students with a job that is best for them but I will not assign anything to a student whom I feel isn't the best candidate.
For mayor, I opened the floor to nominations and then allowed the class to vote on ONE person. Since there are five classes in the 4th grade, there will be five candidates who will have to come up with a speech to convince the rest of the 4th grade that he/she is the person to vote for.
Note: I did have to reserve the right to block nominations of students whom I felt were not qualified based on academics and/or behavior.
In science we began our new unit, Matter: Properties and Change. I didn't have a hands-on activity today so the warm-up had to be more intensive. Below is what the students did. As I have shown already, this class places a high emphasis on literacy which includes writing.
Afterwards, I had students volunteer to share their responses. Once we finished with the discussion, I moved on to introduce our new unit.
Next, we turned to Bill Nye the Science Guy to get deeper into matter and what it means by showing a video from his TV series. I actually used a DVD but here is the YouTube version. The quality is not as good but you will still see what the students saw.
After the video, we moved ahead to JA Biztown and discussed basic economics such as the different types of resources (human, natural, capital) and how businesses exist to provide goods and services. In essence, the economy exists to meet one's needs and to share one's talents.
Lastly I was able to demonstrate heat conduction for my first block class by using a blow torch and a piece of fence post with a steel mesh square stuck inside. The flame heats up the mesh and when it begins to cool off, the heat rises and vibrates causing it to make a sound like the light sabers in the Star Wars movies.
This is truly an appropriate day for endings. While it is obviously the end of the week (number 5 if anyone is counting) it is also the official end to our forces and motion unit. It was also more of a celebratory day because so many of the kids have shown mastery on BOTH assessments (the quiz and the test), meaning that they scored at least an 80%.
While I did my best to prepare them for the big assessment,I still feel that so much of the credit goes to the parents for their encouragement and to the students themselves for making the effort.
On Monday we will begin the unit Matter: Properties and Change. This is a long unit and will last all the way until Tuesday, November 24th, which is the day before Thanksgiving Break.
Why so long? It has three components and each one has a lot of content. In a nutshell, here is what the students will be learning for the next unit:
Since this was the final day of the unit, we still had the following warm-up first thing:
I did a final demonstration (for two classes there was a second and I will get to that class on Monday) of magnetism but with a tie-in with energy transfer. I used what is called a magnetic cannon. Basically, it uses a magnet to attract a steel bearing. As the bearing slams into the magnet, the energy transfers down the line until the final bearing is shot outwards since its energy has nowhere else to go.
We then did JA Biztown's second unit on communities and will go more in depth about rights and the responsibilities that accompany one's rights.
My weekly parent email has gone out. We decided to combine ours into one email with Mr. Thompson's and Ms. Fletcher's newsletters attached. This will cut down on the amount of emails that parents get but will keep the amount of information the same.
Lastly, mid-quarter progress reports have gone home with students. Parents: please sign and have your child return it as soon as possible. Thanks!
It was definitely strange coming back after having a teacher workday in the middle of the week! It felt like Monday morning again though in reality it is Thursday, or Friday Eve as I like to call it.
It was also the day after the unit test. Again, all-in-all I am very pleased with the results. While it can be time consuming for me to create and post things on Discovery Education, it is truly worthwhile when students log in and practice multiple times.
What we did today was to review the test and the important concepts learned so far. I also mentioned that Monday we will begin the new unit (Matter: Properties and Change) a day earlier. Besides, I would rather start fresh on a Monday rather than stretch out material that has been clearly mastered just to keep on schedule. For the students who did not show mastery (>80%) they will re-take the test tomorrow to allow them one more opportunity.
While the students copied important dates into their agendas back in August, it never hurts to remind them. The following dates are quiz or test days: October 8th, 22nd, and 30th are quiz days. The 22nd is also the final day of the first quarter. Friday, November 20th is the unit test. There are four formal assessments for this unit since it is a larger unit that covers more material and is six weeks in duration. All of this information is on the calendar page on this Weebly.
Also, the unit test will be longer too because 4-5 questions will review concepts from the Forces and Motion Unit (magnetism and static electricity). The reasoning behind it is twofold:
After reviewing the test we did a reading passage using nonfiction text. I went over some of the things that good readers do (make a prediction, read carefully, go back and re-read the text if uncertain, mark/highlight/circle/underline/etc. important information in the text, number the paragraphs, etc.). Then the students were able to work together as long as the noise level was similar to what we refer to as "restaurant voices."
When that was finished, we continued with JA Biztown and the skill of check writing and using the register (withdrawals and deposits). Tomorrow we will move on to another concept: citizenship and its rights and responsibilities along with communities and their make-up
Now that we are at mid-quarter (already!), it is time to mention the upcoming parent-teacher conferences that begin towards the end of October, which is when the first quarter ends. This year there are three of us on the team and though we haven't yet met to discuss it, we will likely use a Survey Monday sign-up form. As soon as it is ready and everything is planned out, we will be emailing all of the parents as well as posting the link on all of our Weebly pages. As soon as we know more, we will be sure to inform you.