Saturday, 28 January 2012

Student Blogs

The biggest event this week in Division 9 was launching students' individual blogs.   After learning a bit about blogging with this class blog, I wanted to share the fun with the students. The computer lab was a flurry of excitement as students learned to log in, write posts for the world to see, and comment on what others had written.  To see their blogs, click here or on the tab that says "Student Blogs" at the top of the blog home page.

Besides being lots of fun, having a blog has lots of educational benefits:

1) Blogs give students more opportunities to write, and give them a worldwide audience which can be really motivating. The more you write, the better you get!

2) Blogs help students learn how to be safe on-line and be good on-line citizens. We are using a site called Kidblog,which is a blogging site especially for students.  All posts and comments are moderated by Ms. Birdsall which means she reads them before they are posted to make sure that no inappropriate content is posted.

3)  Blogs give students the chance to build technology skills.  Right now, we are focusing on writing and commenting on blog posts.  Soon though, we will incorporate pictures, audio and other Web 2.0 tools (like the Wordles, Vokis and Animotos you see on this blog) into students' individual blogs.

4)  Blogs serve as on-line portfolios of progress.  As students build their writing skills over the coming months, you will be able to see improvements by looking over their posts from different times. We will also be using blogs to complete assignments on various topics we are learning about in class.

The most exciting part of having a blog is knowing that other people are reading your posts.    Please, please, please take some time to visit students' blogs and leave them comments on their writing!

If you have a blog, what do you like most about having one?

*Div. 9 students - I will not be able to change your blog passwords until Monday, so please continue to use your old passwords this weekend.  Thanks, Ms. B.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Fit Kids

Once a month at our school we have a great opportunity to get active through a program called Fit Kids. A group of wonderful Grade Seven students act as trainers, running classes through fitness stations in the gym. The stations challenge our agility, balance and strength. It's a lot of fun and a great work out! We always come back to class with rosy cheeks. Check out the video below to see some of us participating in the stations.

If you participate in Fit Kids, or something similar, which station is your favourite?

Student of the Week - Olivia

Olivia is our student of the week for her terrific improvements in our weekly Run Club. She has shown great determination to become a better runner. Way to go, Olivia!

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Monday, 23 January 2012

Aboriginal Drumming, Singing and Dancing

Today we had another wonderful presentation from one of our district's Aboriginal cultural workers.  Ms. Merrier spent the afternoon with all of the Grade Four students at our school.  First, she talked a bit about her Aboriginal heritage, and the protocol (rules) about Aboriginal drumming, singing and dancing.  She also spoke about how the drums and rattles are made.  Next, it was time to give it a try!  Students got opportunities to drum, use rattles, sing and dance.  It was a lot of fun, and the students did a wonderful job.  Check out the video below to see them in action.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Inuit Wordle

In Social Studies, we have just finished our unit on the Inuit. As one of our final activities, Ms. Birdsall asked each of us to write down ten words to show what we had learned about the Inuit. Using these words, she created the word cloud below using the cool Web 2.0 tool, Wordle( The size of each word is determined by how often it was mentioned. For example, everyone wrote down Inuit as his/her first word, so that is why it is so large in the Wordle.
Wordle: Inuit
If you double click on the Wordle image, you will be able to see a bigger version.

Using Thermometers

In Science this week we talked about why meteorologists use instruments to measure weather rather than just relying on their senses. We realized that weather forecasts would be pretty confusing if meteorologists just walked outside and said how the weather felt to them. It might sound something like this:

Meteorologist #1 (who has just moved to Surrey from Nunavut): It's warm today!

Meteorologist #2 (who has just moved to Surrey from Hawaii): It's very cold today!

We wouldn't know whether to wear shorts or parkas! We realized that with instruments, meteorologists can be more accurate, and everyone will give the same information.

The first instrument we talked about was thermometers to measure temperature. First, we learned how to properly read a thermometer:

1) Hold the thermometer at eye level.
2) Hold the thermometer at the top so that your hand does not cover the bulb of the thermometer.   Otherwise, the heat from your hand will heat up the liquid inside the thermometer and make it seem like the temperature is hotter than it really is.
3) Each little line means one degree.
4) If the liquid is below zero than we read these numbers as negative numbers.
(ex. -2 degrees Celsius)

Next, we practiced using thermometers to measure the temperature in different areas inside the school. We found that the temperature varied from one place to another. The coldest place was the gym (about 20 degrees Celsius) and the warmest place was our classroom (about 24 degrees Celsius).

Finally, we went outside to measure the temperature.  Wow, was it cold!  It was about -5 degrees Celsius!  This is very cold for Surrey.  


If you are visiting our blog from somewhere far away, what is temperature like in your part of the world?  If you live near Surrey, have you ever been to another place where the temperatures were much hotter or colder than here?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Student of the Week - Pawan

Pawan is the student of the week for her incredible work habits. Her homework is always done, her assignments are neatly presented and she uses her class time well. Congratulations, Pawan, keep up the fantastic work!

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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Water Cycle Videos

In class, we have been learning a lot about the water cycle as part of our study of weather.  Below are some videos to help you learn more about the water cycle.

Which song do you like the best?  Which song helps you understand the most about the water cycle?  Why?

Edit - Jan. 18:  Alexandra watched the videos above and commented.  In her comment, she recommended another video she found about the water cycle.  I have added Alexandra's video to this post.  (I hope it's the right one, Alexandra!  If not, you can let me know tomorrow.)  Great initiative, Alexandra, thanks for the suggestion!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Deep-Thinking Questions

For me the key to learning is curiosity.  I love to see students wonder about the world and nothing makes me more excited when I'm teaching than a juicy question!

Recently, we have begun to really dive into deep-thinking questions in our classroom.  We just read the fantastic book Q is for Question by Tiffany Poirier.  This is a book of philosophy for children that focuses on many deep issues like utopia, truth, and nature versus nurture.
After reading the book, each student wrote his/her own deep-thinking question, something that they have always wondered.  Here are their questions:

Why do people and all living things exist? -Pawan
Who made light? -Navi
What if there was no gravity? -Hareum
Why is the Earth bigger than some planets? -Nathan 
How was any living thing created? -Steven
If the world is so great, why is there war? -Roy
Why is Pluto a dwarf planet and not a normal planet? -Jayda
What makes people good or bad? -Michelle
What if the sun blacked out? -Langson
Why do birds chirp? -Ryan W.
Why do flowers have pollen in them? -Madison 
If the sky is blue, why is space black? -Jordan
Will everything ever be free so poor people can buy everything they want? -Juliet
Why doesn’t life exist on other planets? -Jasmine
Why is pollution bad for the environment? -Mario
When is the world going to end? -Aero
What if there are no black holes in space? -Alexandra
Will scientists be able to create new things? -Franchesca
Why are there trees everywhere? -Alena
What would it be like if humans were animals and animals were humans? -Ryan A.
What if everyone lived forever? -Alta 

What do you wonder?  We would love to read your deep-thinking questions in our comments section!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Student of the Week - Nathan

Nathan is our student of the week for being such an enthusiastic scientist. He is always a great participant during science lessons, and during our water cycle lesson on Thursday he did a particularly good job. Way to go, Nathan!

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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Inuit Traditions

In Social Studies, we have been learning about the Inuit.  Below are videos about three Inuit cultural traditions from the Inuit Cultural Online Resource.

Division 9 Students -  After watching the videos, post a comment explaining one new thing that you learned from each video.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Personal Inventory Vokis

One of the learning outcomes for grade 4 Health and Career Education is:

  • Students will create an inventory of their own attributes, including skills, interests, and accomplishments

This learning outcome seemed like a perfect match for using the Web 2.0 tool, Voki.  Voki is a website where you can create speaking avatars.  An avatar is a sort of cartoon version of a person (like the avatar of Ms. Birdsall in the top right corner of this blog).  To meet this learning outcome, students needed to create a Voki of themselves that told about their interests, skills and accomplishments.  Students had a lot of fun exploring this web tool and were very successful in meeting the learning outcome!  Click on the link below to see Division 9's avatars.

 (Please note:  The program only allows up to 90 seconds of speech per Voki.  This meant that unfortunately for a few students who went into a lot of detail the last little bit of their inventory was cut off.  Ms. Birdsall was still able to read what they had typed though.)

*Div. 9 students- If you do not see your Voki on the website, it is because we still need to fix something on it.  We will do that at school tomorrow, then your Voki will be published too. - Ms. B.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Student of the Week - Ryan A.

This week our student of the week is Ryan A. Ryan has been doing an excellent job asking deep-thinking questions during reading. Your curiosity is inspiring, Ryan!

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Aboriginal Storytelling

Yesterday was our first day back to school after the winter break. We were lucky enough to start the year off with a very special guest, Mr. Bandura, who works for our school district as an Aboriginal cultural worker. He is one of several workers who present workshops to classes about different parts of Aboriginal culture. We are so lucky to have these terrific presenters available to us, especially since studying Aboriginal cultures is such a big part of our Social Studies curriculum in Grade 4.

Mr. Bandura explained how Aboriginal cultures traditionally told stories to pass on information from generation to generation. One important thing we learned is that stories are traditionally told orally without the use of books. We were impressed to learn that a master storyteller might know as many as 250 stories from memory!

Mr. Bandura also makes traditional drums, so he taught us about how drums are made and how they can be used in storytelling. He used one of his deer-hide drums as he told us a legend about how the stars were created. It was a beautiful story.

At the end of presentation everyone got to try playing the drum which had very deep sound.

Hych'ka siem, Mr. Bandura!
(As you can see we also learned how to say "thank you"!)

Learning About the Water Cycle

For our new science unit we will be studying weather. In preparation for learning about the water cycle, tonight students need to do two experiments at home:

1) Fill a glass with a very cold liquid (add an ice cube if possible). Leave the glass at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

2) Take a plate and put a little bit of water on it. Leave it out over night.

In each experiment what is happening? Why?

Stay tuned for our results . . .