If I had to pick my all time favorite comments from students, those would be "this is fun", and it makes me really happy that at least on a few occasions these past two weeks I've heard those words. Interestingly enough, students have said those words during or after a collaborative activity. Of those, we've had quite a few: collaborating during science projects on energy, like creating a "bumper coaster" with paper and marbles, where the students had to make sure that the last marble was not swallowed by the alligators. The students first work in groups of three or four students creating their group tracks, and after that, I challenged them to put the tracks together for a super long and fun bumper coaster. With a lot of tinkering, collaboration, readjusting, and shared responsibility, the students finally got it to work, and oh, what a cheerful scream we all did!It was fantastic to witness. The students also collaborated during reading, switching the roles of moderator, summarizer, vocabulary searcher, and character finder to read and discuss a book in Spanish. They also collaborated during their learning about the Early European Explorers and started presenting on them. And finally they also collaborated by debating on a couple of topics as an introduction to the final written piece that they will have to produce on argumentative writing. The topics we chose were "Should kids be payed to do chores?" and "Should your recess go longer?". I divided the classroom in two groups and we placed the desks and chairs in two lines facing each other. I gave each group an "in favor" or "against" direction, and they had to come up with reasons to support their point of view. For the purpose of the activity, their real opinion might have been different that what they had to defend, so that proved very eye opening for the kids regarding listening to others' points of view. The children thoroughly enjoyed the activity. We practiced respectfully listening and kindly or strongly disagreeing, taking turns speaking, and drawing on the other's arguments to support our reasons. Yes, it has been fun!
Take a look at these two week's pictures.
Two weeks have gone by and a lot of things have happened. The students have been working hard on measurement conversion, and addition and subtraction using the standard algorithm. During reading, we have started working on team building activities through literacy circles, where each student has a specific role to fulfill. Students choose a book from a curated collection on Epic, and then each of the four members works on either asking questions, summarizing, describing the characters or finding interesting vocabulary and definitions. The group monitor makes sure each member reads the book, stays on task and does his/her work properly. After all the members have completed their paper, they all take turns sharing and then the whole group rotates the roles and starts over with a new book. The kids have been fantastic and they seem to enjoy the process. They have been very responsible with their tasks and have practiced their Spanish skills all the way.
During writing the students have continued working on their poems, adding "list poems" to their notebooks. The classroom anthology currently has about 85 poems and will be soon published for your view. Finally during science, we have kept on exploring how sound waves travel, using a balloon to perceive the vibrations of the human voice. And in Social Studies, students have been working on a book on Primary Sources, again working in a group and with each group presenting on a chapter to the rest of the class. I would say collaboration is a word that could define these two weeks.
On another note, we had to say farewell to our Spanish Cultural Assistant, Elba, as she worked with us last week for the last time. We have been so lucky to have her here during this school year. We are going to miss her very much, but we will stay in touch for sure.
Take a look at these two weeks slide show!
Hello! My name is Esther Willinski, and I am a fourth grade teacher in Massachusetts. Join us in our journey through 4th grade!