One focus this week in Humanities was on beginning our First Nations research projects. Earlier students learned online about designated First Nations in Alberta like the Kainai, Nakoda or Dene. The information was recorded on Google docs. In forthcoming classes, students will work together collaboratively to extend this understanding. They will discuss with others how best to present their research and will identify various ways that information can be recorded and presented visually. This will culminate in a presentation. Students watched a presentation done for a T.V. show in class. The presentation was made by two brothers who are around the same age as the students in 4E and 4F. These children made a product pitch to a panel of adults. 4E and 4F students were surprised that children so young could do such a competent job. They commented on how confident the two boys were and how well they understood their topic (hot chocolate). We all agreed that the ingredients to a good presentation are that the presenter should:
Our second area of focus this week was on writing. Students learned that writing a paragraph is like a hamburger. A good paragraph should have a topic sentence (top bun), supporting sentences (condiments and fillings) and a concluding sentence (bottom bun):
We all agreed that a hamburger that is lacking in one or more of these things wouldn't be a delicious hamburger regardless of the type of hamburger (could be a veggie burger or a chicken burger too!). The supporting sentences must have information relating to the subject sentence. The conclusion sentence re-states the topic, but doesn't offer new information. For practice, students wrote a 100 word paragraph about the long weekend.
Learners in 4E and 4F are being encouraged to use paragraphs when writing their legendary stories. Building on previous lessons, we know stories can use red flag words or phrases, word referents, and this week we talked about how good stories have a beginning, middle and end. A climax in a story is when all the action in the story builds up to a certain point. This is also known popularly as a cliffhanger. It's the point in the story where the tension or action reaches its highest part. Sometimes, the climax is a "crisis" point in the plot. Students read a sample story about finding a treasure. In this story they identified the beginning, climax, solution and use of a red flag word. Students used the strategy of visualization when listening to this story too. The author was very descriptive about the setting. He/she talked about a tropical island with swaying palm trees, warm water and beautiful, lush tropical greenery. When we write our legendary stories we will try to include details about the setting that will make it seem real by including lots of good adjectives:
Amazing how a story could transport us to a time and place that is very different from February in Calgary! Mr. Brewer is looking forward to reading stories that are imaginative and fascinating.
Weekly spelling words: Feb. 26 - Suffixes
This week students had a spelling quiz on Monday. They received back quiz results on Tuesday. Students receive a mark on the test itself and on the quality of the sentences they write using weekly spelling words. The test and sentences are graded on a 1 ~ 4 scale. In a previous blog post I uploaded a picture of the rubric I use for this. Most students have spelling edits which they do when they receive back their tests. They write in their student agenda that they had to re-write 2 out of 5 sentences or 4 out of 5 sentences; however many they needed to edit for capitalization, organization, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar or syntax errors. In some instances I stipulate that they must use curricular words to write their sentences, though typically they usually have a choice about the types of words they use from their weekly list. Over the course of the year we have been working together to write longer, more detailed and complex sentences. Many students have improved markedly in this ability since September 2017. Most students were able to write the 'ee' words from last week's list like 'keen' or 'seen' though the more challenging word 'guarantee' which follows both an 'ee' spelling pattern, but also contains the unusual 'ua' vowel combo was quite challenging to many students.
In their legendary stories, students have been working to improve the quality of their writing by trying out new ideas. They have been introduced to the idea of using 'red flag words' to indicate suspenseful elements in the story writing. This week we learned about using word referents. These ideas were introduced to me through the work of Barbara Mariconda:
In class, we talked about how using the same word over and over again can make for a dull story. Word referents are other words that mean the same thing as the main word you are using in a story. As an example, if the legendary story's main character was a tiger, a student could say, snarling beast to describe the tiger or feline predator rather than repeating the word 'tiger' over and over again. Students often do not realize that they can also use pronouns as well rather than repeating the same words over and over again. 4F were introduced to Iris:iris.cbe.ab.ca/Account/Login Most students in class were able to upload a picture of the main character in their legendary story along with a brief description of the character. Most of them wrote the title of their stories on Iris and shared their work with me (and in some instances with Ms. Ross or Ms Asis too). Students can log into IRIS with their CBE student number and password to see the work they've already contributed.
Please have a happy & safe 5-day break from school. I look forward to seeing all my wonderful grade 4 students back on Tuesday Feb. 20. Please read for 20 min. each night over the weekend.
Spelling list: Published: Feb. 5, 2018. Test: Mon. Feb. 12, 2018. Focus: curricular words: Social Studies/Language Arts + 'ee' words:
This week in Humanities students worked on completing their preliminary research about First Nations. Each student is in a group of 4 to research a select First Nation. Students are learning about First Nations in Alberta like the Stoney Nakoda, the Dene Suline, the Kainai and the Piikani (formerly Peigan) First Nations. We did the research using our text books and Internet sources. Students are learning about the culture of First Nations and how people adapted to living in different regions of the province. The types of resources available to the Dene in the Boreal Forest region differed a lot from the types of resources used by Plains First Nations. The types of dwellings and technology were dependent on the climate and the resources available in each region. Some Dene Tha' technology is snowshoes and sleds for moving about in the deep snow in winter time. It is noteworthy that the climate and vegetation of natural regions affect the material culture. Archaeologists can find remains left behind by people. These remains are called artifacts. In discussions in class we talked about teepee rings and the use of obsidian to create arrowheads or knives. In some instances old artifacts are known as historical cultural items as they were made in the past and are still currently in use by First Nations people.
In addition to our research, we did a lot of word work this week. Our spelling list includes words related to our current study of First Nations and the common 'ee' pattern in spelling. One noteworthy exception in the list is the word 'treaty'. A treaty is an agreement between two nations. Treaties were signed by the crown and the various First Nations in Alberta. An important goal is for students to identify and apply common spelling generalizations in own writing. Students used alphabetical order by first and second letter to write out the words, illustrated, defined and even wrote out words using letters cut from magazines. This was something they hadn't done before, but plainly enjoyed.
On Friday students engaged in a hands-on design challenge. In this activity they learned about working together in groups. A vehicle was designed for a specific purpose. This is a good prelude to our First Nations research as students again will be collaboratively working towards the goal of presenting to their peers the knowledge gained from researching their First Nation. Below are some pictures from this Friday activity. Students did a short reflection piece at the end of the activity:
On Friday the majority of students received their Term I report cards. Parents and children are encouraged to reflect on the successes and think about areas for improvement in the coming term. Parents/guardians can sign the envelopes on the line next to where it says Term One. There is no need to re-seal the envelopes. Please return the envelope to school with the signature. The same envelope will be used in Term II. The report card contained within is the property of parents/guardians.
Homework: Assigned: Fri. Feb. 2 Due: Mon. Feb. 5
Stories provide an amazing opportunity to bring history to life. Through stories, people share information, values and attitudes about history, culture and heritage. Stories are communicated through legends, myths, creation stories, narratives, dances, oral traditions, songs, music, traditions, and celebrations. In class this week, we have been reflecting upon the importance of legends and stories, particularly as they relate to our ongoing study of First Nations in Alberta. We learned this week that First Nations people have an oral tradition about hunting for buffalo. Before hunts, the Blackfoot people danced and prayed for good luck in finding the buffalo herds. When they captured a buffalo very little of it went to waste. Students learned that virtually all parts of the buffalo were used by First Nations people:
At one time, millions of buffalo ranged across the plains of North America and were a major resource for First Nations peoples. Nowadays there are far fewer buffalo. We learned that buffalo were hunted for sport and profit in the 19th century. This led the buffalo to the brink of extinction and was a tragic circumstance for the First Nations peoples who largely depended on the buffalo for food and sustenance. Fortunately, in Alberta there are a number of provincial parks, protected areas and the national parks that are important to the sustainability of Alberta’s natural environment. In these places, there are herds of bison. Wood Buffalo National Park is largely in Alberta with a northern extent into Northwest Territories. In this largest national park in Canada is a herd of more than 5,000 free roaming wood bison. Students in 4E and 4F looked at pictures of the park with Mr. Brewer and talked about the importance of the bison.
We have begun to write their own legendary stories in class. Students will go through the different stages of the writing process to plan their stories. This week we began at the pre-writing stage. We have been thinking about our topic, planning and brainstorming. Students have a provisional title for their stories, have an idea about characters, setting and story problem. They have begun to think about what will happen in the story. In the coming days we will begin drafting, revising and editing our stories: