New Reading Signpost

We don’t get a lot of time together on Day 3- music, french, and gym- but we did introduce a new reading signpost called, Contrast and Contradiction. Basically, when a character does something ‘out of character’, an action that contradicts their earlier actions, the author is signalling to readers, “Pay attention, this part is important!”

Again, we used a shorter text to highlight the strategy and make it easier to see how the signpost helps reader determine the bigger message.  After some modelling, and reviewing the features of an effective answer, students were asked to do a written response. 

In the following text, Rafael, who normally likes to follow instructions precisely, decides to join his friend Maya and her out of the box thinking.

Homework Question: We glued a math question into our agendas today which is due on Friday. If they were listening to instructions, students realized the fraction question could be answered in different ways. They were reminded that we know of 3 fraction models: fraction of an area, fraction of a set, and fraction of a length. They should choose the one that makes the most sense to them. And if they find they don’t understand how to answer the question, or forget, or ahem, were not listening, they are invited to show responsibility and ask for clarification (before Thursday at 3:20!!:)

Fraction Challenge Cont’d & The Virtue of Service

Today, we continued with our S.A.M. challenge from yesterday. We left off with students working to calculate and execute measurements that would divide their page into eighths. The next part was to select four habitats, and then, select four colours to represent those habitats. One colour was to cover half the page, one colour to cover one fourth, another to cover one eighth and the last colour to cover one sixteenth of the page.  With eight sections marked on their page, they had to really think about the area of the whole page more than the number of ‘boxes’ on the page. 

Part 3 of the Challenge was to add suitable plants to each habitat. The first plant had to meet a specific height requirement and the rest were a fraction of that original height. Students who got to that part shared helpful tips with the others. We’ll see if they remember them on Monday!

The last part of the challenge will involve adding animals to the habitats while working on fractions of a set.


In other news, everybody in the class kindly volunteered their services to help get students in the primary hall outside for recess in a timely manner. Wearing pinnies/vests, so they can easily be identified, a rotation of volunteers spend the first few minutes of recess offering help where it is needed, and then head out themselves. They have been doing a fantastic job of showing responsibility and leadership. 

Picture Day – We were called for photos around 12:30 today. Ties were still in place, and some of the hair gel was still holding!! 


Speaking, Listening, and ‘Feedbacking’

Today we ‘zoomed in’ on some oral language skills. Groups were given the challenge of making a simple text interesting to listeners, with the use of expression and phrasing.  The job of the listeners was to identify and record key words/information from the text they heard. After some rehearsing, each group had their time to shine:)

Throughout the day we have many opportunities to provide one another feedback, so, we have been working to ensure our feedback is helpful and delivered with tact. Receiving feedback is also a skill, we realized, so this book, Thanks For the Feedback, was a helpful tool to guide our learning.

New Math Challenge: We are calling this one the S.A.M. challenge because it involves some Science, some Art, and some Math. We also acknowledged it may require some persevering.

Part One of the Challenge: Divide the page into eighths.  Once they determined which measurements to use, drawing a straight line on a paper (that was longer than the ruler) took some skill right off the bat. Of course, the challenge could have been prevented by giving them a page prepared with the lines, but, I think the extra time is worth the effort, because there is so much more thinking and learning this way. And a new skill is being developed! 

More on our SAM challenge next post.

PICTURE DAY tomorrow!!


Painting: Let’s Explore and Reflect

Student’s curiosity was peaked today when they were presented with a variety of materials and various painting ‘stations’. We began by generating some wonder questions so that our explorations were purposeful. Several students wrote down discoveries and new wonders as they went along. Others waited until the end.


Some of our wonders and discoveries:

Is it better to paint on a flat surface, a vertical surface, or on an angle (like on an easel)?


Some artists found that tempera paint did not stick to the aluminum foil well, while others had success.

Tempera paint actually sticks to fabrics and wood.

I wonder if the fabric will make a texture (like in print making)?

I wonder if the paint will glue the fabric to the wood?

I wonder if the paper bag will be see through (transparent) when it dries?

The tissue paper was delicate to paint on.

There were many more observations/thoughts, but with so much going on, taking pictures was a challenge!

I feel very strongly that students get opportunities to explore and discover before they are asked to create a final product. Today, the students really enjoyed the experience, did a lot of thinking and reflecting, and, we even got to wash the paint shirts since we have a washing machine in our room!!

In other news….We had a Bus Safety assembly today. Now that we are in Grade 4, no more Buster the Bus!

************************Picture Day is Friday**************


Fractions of Our Day

A fraction of our class worked in small groups today with a manipulative called Cuissenaire Rods.

We had previously explored this tool trying to determine, what they might be used for ? 

Creating shapes, pictures, and structures were popular thoughts.

So were symmetry and fractions.

Staying with that last idea, students were asked to find out, Which fractions do the coloured rods represent?  We discovered, it depended on which rod was the whole. For example, the red rod could represent half if the whole was the purple rod, one third if the whole was teal, half if the whole was orange, etc.


If students were not in the small group today, they were working on geometry (location). We have been reinforcing this skill in our agendas as well. When they arrive in the morning, students identify their location in the room by coordinates and a description in relation to an object. E.g. I am sitting at G8 which is 3 spaces south of the fish tank. Working back from the object is often tricky for students. They have a tendency to use the opposite direction (going to the object.)

Another part of our day involved a fitness break as we tested out which exercises would elevate our heart rates.

We also held an acknowledgement circle at the end of the day, where we thanked/acknowledged a classmate for a good deed, showing a virtue, and/or good example of a learning skill. 

We acknowledged one of our classmates for demonstrating initiative. Learning happens when we are curious and take action to find an answer. E.g. “How much time does the sand timer actually measure? I know how to find out!”

Fractions With Tiles

When using tiles to explore fractions, the students discovered there are different ways to respond to the same challenge. For instance, when asked to “show one fourth, some of the students shared the following: 

“Red is one fourth of the larger square.”


“One fourth of the tiles are blue”

“One fourth of the set is missing”

Then, when asked to show one fifth, students were given the chance to challenge or question other students about their representation. Which of the following do you think was challenged?


The next question challenged their understanding of a fraction being a part of a whole. If all four tiles represents one fourth, what does the whole look like?


Now, what if those eight tiles represent one third? The whole might now look like…

Next blog post, we’ll show how we used another math manipulative called Cuissenaire Rods.

Thursday Update

It was Cross Country Day for some of our classmates today and since about 2/3 of the other grade 4 class was also going, their remaining third, joined our classroom and helped add some finishing touches to our habitat displays. We really challenged our decision making and collaborations skills, and later shared our successes and challenges.

As a follow-up to our Food Chain discussions this week, we added in a little spontaneous drama moment by responding to a text in character.

Students spoke from the point of view of an animal ‘character’, explaining whether or not they would recommend the book. E.g. “I am a lizard and I do not recommend this book to my lizard friends because it is frightening to know we are prey for the bobcat.” “I am frog and I do recommend this book because it warns animals like me, about some predators they should look out for.”

In writing workshop, we have discussed a strategy called “Hook the Reader” that many students have started to use when revising. The idea is to get readers interested right from the start. E.g We got three fish in our aquarium…..could become…… Finally! Our classroom fish have arrived!

In math, we have begun looking at fractions. The jump from Gr 3 expectations to Gr 4 expectations in connection to fractions is a big one. Listening to students during our first baking experience, and again, during some followup math conversations,  confirmed for me that we would start early in the year working with fractions to allow students the time to deepen their understanding. I will blog more on this in the near future, things are just a bit ‘crazy’ right now!!

Reminders: Bulldogs form due tomorrow. Several students brought home sub/pita pit forms today. Photo Day next Friday (1 week).


Science Puppetry

Today we incorporated a little puppetry into our science reading.

Students paired up to read a portion of a text on omnivores. They selected the most important parts of the text to present to their class and used puppets to do the talking. The challenge was that their animal puppet did not match the animal they were reading about, so they had to think from another point of view. Not everyone got the opportunity to present today but we did use the puppets during our community circle to speak on behalf of their puppeteer. Many students mustered up the courage to have their puppets come alive with creative voices. We were so entertained we forgot to pick out the fish names!

Have a fantastic weekend!  

Recapping some Conversations

Thanks to all who were able to come out tonight to Meet the Teacher. It was lovely to meet so many new people, and get reacquainted with others. And welcome to those who subscribed to our blog this evening.

I had several conversations tonight about how we have been working daily at taking moments to identify/acknowledge/celebrate different ways to demonstrate our learning skills. I strongly feel that most students will strive to show responsibility, self regulation, initiative etc. if they have a clear understanding of what it looks like. Today one our friends took the initiative to generate a checklist for themselves, so they could check off the work they needed to complete. Taking a moment to recognize this action as a show of self regulation (initiative, responsibility and organization) resulted in several other students following suit.

While students read their books yesterday, they kept their eye out for some ‘triple scoop words’. These are words that are not ordinary, but unexpected. They might make us say, “wow” what a great word. Just as if you expected a single scoop of ice cream, but got three instead! We shared words with our classmates, and recorded the words we wanted to collect to possibly use in future pieces of writing.

Many of you met our new class fish and we thank you for all the name suggestions. We have some important decisions to make tomorrow.

In a quest to develop our curiosity, students generated some questions for us to explore. For example,“What is the lifespan of a fish?” “Do fish sleep?” “Do they poop or barf?” There were some other good ones, but, it’s been a long day/week!

And last, but certainly not least, we welcomed our 3 new classmates today – bringing our class total to 25. Our new timetable also kicked in today. Meaning, tomorrow is the weird day I only see them 1/2 the day. Period 1 – Music, Period 3 – French, Period 4 – Phys. Ed. And before you picture me off relaxing, I will be teaching music to a couple of Grade 1 classes!



Curiosity and Perseverance

After a virtues assembly, where we shared how the class best demonstrated the virtue of respect during the month of September, 

we took on some challenging ‘wonder’ questions.

Last Friday, a curious classmate asked, “I wonder how many laps we would have to do (on the high school track) to run the same distance as Terry Fox did?”

Though some of the numbers went beyond the Gr. 4 curriculum, the process itself required us to look at what information we needed, what we already knew, collaborate and persevere, and reflect on whether the calculations made sense. In the end, we discovered we would have to run almost 15 000 times around the track to match Terry Fox’s efforts!!!!

Our curiosity was also peaked when setting up our aquarium, “Does the tank really hold 37.8 L (like the box says)?”

Since everyone in last week’s aquarium group wanted to contribute to the pouring, they used cup that we had multiples of, and kept track of the pouring. In the end, 107 cups of water were added to the tank, and each cup held 300 mL. After some calculating and converting, we discovered that we put less water into the tank than the box said it held. To extend our thinking, we also speculated on why the amounts did not match.   (e.g. we could have made a mistake on our counting, the decorations take up some of the space, we didn’t quite fill the tank to the top, the number on the box might not be accurate) 

Please Note:

Mme. DiPelino sent home some work in agendas today.

Forms were sent home for students involved in running club and swim team.

A note was also sent home regarding reorganization. Our class numbers and class schedule are affected slightly. We’ll update our timetable tomorrow but it will not take affect until Thursday.

Thursday: AAG Celebrates/Meet the Teacher