Social Studies unit test: May 22, 2018. Study guide sent home on May 14, 2018. Students placed this study guide in the front plastic insert of the agenda:
This week 4F and 4E made Easter eggs. In Social Studies, we consider how the art, narratives and literature of various ethnic groups have contributed to the vitality of the culture, language and identity of diverse Alberta communities over time. We were very lucky to welcome Jean to our class. She explained to students the significance of making Easter eggs for the Ukrainian community here in Alberta. Students were very intrigued by her explanations. They watched her demonstration of how to design eggs and were able to use beeswax, candles and tools to create their own designs on eggs. We very much appreciated that grade 8 leadership students came to our classroom to assist grade 4s in making their eggs. Jean will varnish the eggs and we will likely be able to bring their eggs home next week as a unique and beautiful souvenir of Jean's visit and of the knowledge we have gained from this unique and worthwhile cultural activity.
Weekly spelling list. There are 12 words this week. On next Monday's test students will need to write 6 sentences using words from this week versus the usual 5:
Spelling quiz - Monday May 14:
Weekly words in alphabetical order:
Monday May 14 - Hats on For Mental Health
Tuesday May 15 - Dance and Activity Afternoon: Dance tickets on sale for $2 in the front foyer of N.C.S.
Wednesday May 16 - Mindfulness in Flex
Thursday May 17 - Pajamas Day
Students discussed oil sands development and began writing a short opinion piece on this subject from either the point of view of:
This week in Humanities, students continued to develop reading comprehension strategies in class. During classroom discussions, students brought in information from what they already know & what they have read before about topics brought up in class. These discussions about the novel Stone Fox increase their understanding of the text and prompt them to remember what they have read. On a number of occasions during classroom discussions students raised their hands to say how they had connections between the text and their own experience. As students read, they were encouraged to listen and talk about the story. When reading books on their own, students are encouraged to think about how what they read reminds them of things they have done or read before. This can lead them to a deeper understanding of what they read.
Due to the swimming program this week the progress through Stone Fox varied with classes. 4F read up to chapter 6 in Stone Fox while 4E students read fewer chapters. Next week 4E will be doing some catch up.
Both 4E and 4F did get some time to in class to finish up legendary stories. Mr. Brewer encourages any student who has not finished their story to complete it by typing it in Google documents then sharing it with me at: email@example.com Luckily, most students now have already done so. I am currently editing student work and giving feedback on it. I have noticed that many students used the red flag words and phrases we studied in class and that most stories have essential story elements like main characters, story problems, settings, climax of action and solution to the story problem. The current crop of stories is among the best I have read in several years. Good work 4E and 4F!
I am also encouraged by the amount of improvement I am seeing in many bi-weekly spelling quizzes and word work exercises. Many students are writing longer, more complex sentences nowadays as compared with what they wrote in September 2017. Over the course of this week, I have been reading aloud with many students to gauge their reading levels. In these instances, students have likewise been showing improvement over where they were mere months ago. Keep up the good work grade 4s!!
Friday Challenge Day 2: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdtkj-8JzWWPskGUo_11edTOdOqLL08GLVrO04xlEd3PGPfjg/viewform
Weekly spelling list: Social Studies and Science vocabulary: test: Mon. April 30, 2018
Field trip to the landfill and composting facility: Students of 4E and 4F had the opportunity this week to visit Shepard landfill and composting facility on Thursday. We saw the 'throw 'n go' where citizens bring old appliances, old furniture, old mattresses and building materials. These things are placed in the landfill. Bulldozers spread and compact these waste materials. Drywall, shingles, metal from old refrigerators, old bicycles and freon are all reused or recycled. Private citizens may bring fluids like used oil from doing an oil change to the dump where they can be treated or recycled. Old paint is made into new paint and metal is melted down and reused to make new items.
A landfill is layered. There is a layer of clay. It is difficult for leachate (waste liquid) to penetrate through a layer of clay to contaminate ground water. There is also a plastic liner deep beneath the garbage. Each layer of garbage is covered with soil and a landfill is built on an angle to allow for drainage. Students were shown yellow pipes that protrude from the landfill. These pipes are there to collect leachate (i.e. garbage juice). The leachate is pumped into trucks and is taken to a waste water treatment facility.
Calgary is a leader in taking organic waste and making it into usable compost which is re-sold to farmers and city dwellers. All the food waste, lawn clippings, branches, bones, shells and peelings can be placed in green bins. These bins are brought to the Shepard composting facility where their contents are treated and made into compost. In the following pictures we can see how our guide explained this process to 4E and 4F students:
Through our weekly word work using spelling words and while reading the novel Stone Fox we learned to tune into interesting new words and use new vocabulary when speaking, drawing and writing. We learned that when students have at least six multiple exposures to new words in a variety of contexts they develop better levels of comprehension. In the novel Stone Fox students heard words like: errands, twilight and city slickers. Some students knew the expression 'to run an errand' and many could imagine what city slickers might mean based on the passages from our novel. Students defined new words from the spelling list by writing definitions, drawing pictures, and alphabetizing them. They also wrote sentences using these words. Mr. Brewer showed a powerpoint presentation that illustrated all the words. Luckily, we now all have our own copies of Stone Fox courtesy of Ms. Bennet in the Learning Commons:
This week 4E students decorated our door with recycling materials. Our decorated door hanging was chosen from among many and is now on display in the main foyer of N.C.S. Grade 4E & 4F students, you did great work on this!!! It has been an exciting week at school. Over the weekend please study the spelling words from this week. They are challenging to use in sentences. Many of the words are new ones that are being used in both social studies and science.
Next week we begin Swim lessons: April 30 ~ May 4. An e-mail reminder and telephone message were sent out on Friday April 27.
In Alberta, agriculture and the establishment of communities are interconnected. In lessons this week we learned that most farms in Alberta have crops or livestock or both. To grow crops, farmers need open, level fields, water, soil and sunshine. In some cold places crops still grow during the summer. This is the case in the Peace River country of northern Alberta. It is far north at 55 degrees N. latitude, but is still an important major agricultural area in our province. The average temperature, landforms, precipitation and number of frost free days relate to the types of farming that can take place around different cities and towns in Alberta. These factors have contributed to the growth of settlements. In the far northern region of Alberta around Fort McMurray or Fort Chipewyan there are few or no farms because of the soil, climate and lack of frost free days. Where crops don't grow well, farmers may raise livestock instead. This is largely the case in the Foothills region of Alberta where ranching is common.
We began a new novel study this week. Stone Fox is a novel that takes place in Wyoming in the United States. Students learned that the climate, vegetation and soil in this part of the United States is very similar to Alberta. In the story the main character Little Willy, his grandfather and dog Searchlight live on a potato farm. It is notable that potatoes are grown in Alberta too. Alberta’s potato-growing areas are mainly in southern Alberta around Taber and are among the very best in the world. The cold weather we experience in Alberta much of the year defeats a lot of the insect pests that are common in other places where potatoes are grown commercially.
This week we re-visited one of the reading comprehension strategies we studied when reading Superfudge. When students listen to or read a text, they can create pictures in their mind or make a mind movie. When readers visualize what is happening in a story they can remember more of what they read or hear. This week in class students listened to chapter one of the story and were asked to imagine in their mind what it looked like. In their visual journals they drew pictures of the story:
Next week we will visit the Shepard Landfill. Parents/guardians are reminded that swimming will commence in May! We will walk to and from Vivo.
Weekly spelling list:
In Humanities this week, some students completed their legendary stories. Others continue to work on them. All students are using Google docs to write these stories and have learned how to submit their stories to Mr. Brewer using this program. When stories are completed, Mr. Brewer will read through them and offer feedback on how they may be improved. This is the revising part of the writing process where we rework the organization and details of the stories. In class, students learned a variety of means of improving stories such as describing the setting, using red flag words and phrases to build tension, using word referents and having a definite story problem which is solved by the character(s). Typically stories build up a level of anticipation or tension until there is a climax to the story. The resolution of this tension constitutes the conclusion of the story. Mr. Brewer will read through student work in order to identify characters, plot and story problem. These are integral parts of a good story. Typically, if a story does not have these story elements, students will need to re-work the details to improve the narrative.
This week's spelling list focuses on agriculture. Agriculture is an important natural resource in Alberta. Students have completed a map of Alberta's natural regions and resources. They are developing an understanding that the location of agriculture within the province is affected by geography and climate. Ranching and beef production are common in the Foothills natural region while the Grassland and Parkland regions are where many cereals are grown. In the Boreal Forest and Canadian Shield regions viable commercial agriculture is generally not possible due to the cold and terrain.
Students completed their First Nations research and presentation this week. Then, Mr. Brewer introduced the topic of Alberta's French and British history. This represents a new chapter is the story of Alberta's history. We learned that by the 17th century, Europeans were beginning to come to the area now known as Alberta in increasing numbers seeking furs. In Friday's lesson 4E and 4F viewed the following movie by the NFB: www.nfb.ca/film/voyageurs/ While this film was made in 1964, it does give a reasonable impression of what daily life was like for voyageurs. In addition, 4F practice the song Alouette in class with Mr. Brewer. This was one of many songs that the voyageurs sang to keep pace as they paddled across Canada. Presently, Mr. Brewer is reading a book about the travels of Alexander Mackenzie. Alexander Mackenzie was a Scottish born explorer working for the Northwest Company. Here is some additional information about him: www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sir-alexander-mackenzie-explorer/ Our weekend homework assignment is all about the importance of the voyageurs to Canada's (and by extension Alberta's) history. While we tend to think of Alberta as a predominantly English speaking province, many of the earliest settlers, traders and missionaries who came here were Francophone and Métis.
Spelling quiz: Mon. April 16. Please study the words in the list above this weekend.
Homework assigned Fri. April 13. Due Mon. April 16.
This week, most students did their First Nations oral presentations in front of the class. Oral language is the foundation of literacy. Through listening and speaking, students communicate thoughts, feelings, experiences, information and opinions, and learn to understand themselves and others. When students introduced their First Nations group to the class the audience listened and at the end of the presentation they were encouraged to ask questions. Both listening and speaking enable students to explore ideas and concepts, as well as to understand and organize their experiences and knowledge. They use oral language to learn, solve problems and reach goals. To become reflective, lifelong learners, students need to develop fluency and confidence in their oral language abilities. While many students were nervous about doing a presentation for their peers, the experience was invaluable.
Reading homework: The Fur Trade - Assigned Fri. April 6. Due Mon. April 9:
There are 46 First Nations in Alberta. We have been learning about the culture of First Nations people in our province. Our project work has allowed students to be active in developing research strategies.
This week students worked collaboratively to organize and present their information. They created posters that they will show to the class. The posters form the basis for their presentations. Listening to the opinions and ideas of others, working collaboratively towards a goal and demonstrating an ability to compromise and find roles within groups were skills students worked on. For the presentations that will take place following the March break, each individual within the research group will report on a different aspect of the First Nation they have been researching. When the students present before the class each person will have a role. Students have come up with unique and novel ways to present their information such as incorporating videos, using music, gestures and referring back to the poster. The process has not always been easy, but it is part of the process of developing skills of cooperation, conflict resolution and consensus building that will benefit students as they move through their education and in the future when they have their own careers.
A number of groups were able to film themselves presenting (i.e. a practice presentation). After presenting they viewed the videos and rated their performance on the scale seen below:
It is hoped that by viewing themselves, students can pinpoint areas where they did well and likewise where they feel they could improve. They were encouraged to watch themselves and be critical about how well they could be heard, whether or not they were facing the audience, using gestures and if there were miscues or instances of indecision. Students have created scripts that include a beginning, middle and end. Many students are keen to present in front of the class even if they are nervous about their performance. By watching themselves, and reflecting on their performance when they were not in front of the class (and presumably a little more relaxed), it is hoped that they will be able to present to everyone in a confident manner.
I was very pleased to meet the majority of parents / guardians of the children I teach at Parent/Teacher conferences on March 22 ~ March 23. Over the break I would encourage students to read 20 minutes per night. Setting aside a specific time for reading is a often a good way to encourage development of reading skills.
Here are some tips for parents reading aloud with children:
In Social Studies, students learned about natural resources this week. In Alberta we have different types of energy reserves such as wind power, coal, oil sands, natural gas, solar power and even power generated by manure. We discussed how the Alberta oil sands are an integral part of the economy of our province. Students reflected on the benefits of this resource as well as the controversies surrounding its ongoing development. We learned that much of the infrastructure around extracting and upgrading bitumen is located near Fort McMurray in northeast Alberta. Alberta's forests and especially our agricultural resources are important too. Alberta has 22.5 percent of Canada's land suitable for agriculture. This is more land than any other province except for Saskatchewan. More than 20 million hectares of land are used for farming and ranching in Alberta and many Albertans work on farms or in jobs related directly to agriculture. Among the crops grown in Alberta are wheat, canola, potatoes and sugar beets.
Spelling quiz - Mon. March 19. Spelling words appear below:
Homework: Assigned Tues. March 13. Due: Fri. March 16. On a piece of lined paper, please list Alberta's natural resources. Below are two items that may assist in creating this list. Students are likewise encouraged to ask parents/guardians about the types of natural resources known to them in the province. Agriculture, forestry and mineral/fossil fuel extraction are major economic activities in the province:
On Monday of this week students had a spelling test. The focus of the weekly spelling word list was identifying and knowing the meaning of some frequently used suffixes. Through this study, students further developed their ability to apply knowledge of root words, and suffixes to understand complex words in context. As part of our weekly word work students write sentences using these words. On Tuesday when students got their tests back they edited and revised their sentences through feedback given by the teacher. They concentrated on meaning as well as use of punctuation, capitals, subject-verb agreement and proper verb tenses. Many students have made great strides in writing more complex sentences with fewer errors.
Throughout the week students were given time to complete the first portion of their First Nations project work. In this portion of the project work students have been locating information to answer research questions. They have used a variety of sources, such as maps, websites and the textbook. In small groups of four students they have been working collaboratively to communicate ideas and information in a posters. Students have been selecting appropriate visuals, to add interest to their posters and to engage their intended audience of peers. The due date for the posters was extended from Thursday to Friday.
On Thursday we began to discuss natural resources in Alberta. A major focus of Social Studies is learning to appreciate the variety and abundance of natural resources in Alberta. Students learned that we have both renewable and non-renewable resources that are important to Alberta's economy. We began to talk about oil production in Alberta and the importance of agriculture. Students began a mapping assignment based on the map of natural resources that appears below: