Friday, September 25, 2015

Geography and Skype - It's a Mystery!

Students in Samantha Fletcher's 4th grade class are broadening their horizons beyond the four walls of their classroom.  They are preparing to participate in the "Global Read Aloud" - one book to connect the world.  This was started three years ago by Pernille Ripp, an elementary teacher.  She had a vision to connect teachers and students around the world through the "shared love of a book."  A book is chosen, and then during six weeks in the fall, classrooms connect with each other to discuss what they are reading!

Hear from Pernille Ripp to better understand the "Global Read Aloud" project!

Go to this link to find out more about the books classes are reading for the "Global Read Aloud."  2015 Global Read Aloud Books

This week Mrs. Fletcher's students participated in a "Mystery Skype" with another classroom in California.  The premise of a "Mystery Skype" is that two classrooms connect, and then ask each other a series of questions to come to a conclusion about "where in the world" they are.

Student practiced both "geography" and "questioning" skills while doing this, and they had tons of FUN!

Here is what Mrs. Fletcher had to say:

In preparation for the Global Read Aloud, my class engaged in a mystery Skype with a fourth grade class in California. We spent a couple weeks familiarizing ourselves with a US map. One student would choose a state, and the rest of the class had to ask yes/no questions, such as "Are you east of the Mississippi River?" to find out which state it was. Our mystery Skype was tons of fun, and we will be Skyping with our new friends in California as we read the book "Fish in a Tree" with them to discuss it.

Here are a few pictures of 4th grade students during their "Mystery Skype."

Here's a picture of our class giving our new friends a "ten finger woo" for correctly namimg our state. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Jigsaw - A Strategy that is an "Oldie," but it's definitely still a "Goodie!"

The "Jigsaw" is an instructional strategy that has been around classrooms as far back as the 1970s.  It is definitely not "new," but it is still a strategy that can take students deeper into understanding content.  This strategy organizes an activity in such a manner that it makes student dependent on each other to succeed.  An activity is broken into "pieces" and students work in groups to put the pieces together.  There are many different ways that teachers utilize and design the "jigsaw" instructional strategy.

Mrs. Samantha Fletcher, a 4th grade teacher at Summit Elementary, recently used this strategy to help her students gain a better understanding of story structure.

Here is how the activity went:

My students love scary stories, but have struggled with story structure and citing evidence all year. I decided to tie the two together with a jigsaw story. 

Each student got a colored index car with a number on it, and a group discussion worksheet. We read our story out loud, together, first. 

Then the kids got into their groups based on the color of their cards. They read through the story again in their groups. 

Next, I had them get together in groups based on their numbers. The new groups read through the story a third time, but this time each group had a different "lens."

  • Group one focused on the main character. 
  • Group two focused on the setting. 
  • Group three focused on the supporting characters. 
  • Group four focused on the main plot points. 
  • Group five focused on the problems and solutions. 

Each student had a set of sticky notes, and wrote down what they learned about the focus topic. They then got back in to their color groups, shared what they learned, and put the notes on a poster. 

I saw "lightbulbs" go on, and was impressed with some of the higher level thinking I saw taking place. One group had to a lot of inferring and inferencing finally clicked for them!

Here are some pictures. The two are the color group, the next two are the numbered groups, and the last couple are the kids sharing and putting their notes on their poster.

Poetry Cafe at Summit Elementary

Although this is now May, April was National Poetry Month.

During April, Mrs. Anita McClure and Mrs. Samantha Fletcher joined classes for a Poetry Cafe.  Their classes worked on reading and writing poetry. Each student, or small group of students chose their favorite poem and memorized it. 

Yesterday, they got together outside, had some lemonade and popcorn, and enjoyed everyone reciting their favorite poem. 

Mrs. McClure and Mrs Fletcher We are so proud of our kiddos and the effort they put in to writing and memorizing their poems. 

Here are some pictures from the event.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

More STEM at Summit Elementary - Engineering on the Oregon Trail!

Mrs. Samantha Fletcher's 4th grade students are in the midst of a Social Studies unit about the Oregon Trail.  In addition, they continue to have STEM challenges.

Here is an update from Mrs. Fletcher:

This week's STEM challenge was to see who could build the strongest covered wagon out of the available materials. The kids were given scraps of cardboard, straws, toothpicks, construction paper, and pipe cleaners. They were allowed to use scissors, tape (12 inches only), and glue to modify their materials. We tested the "strength" of their wagons by seeing how many full cans of soda pop they could hold. Our leader right now is 6 cans, but we have a few groups left that are still constructing their wagons.

Here are some pictures of students building their wagons!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Summit Elementary 4th Graders - STEM Days

Students in Mrs. Samantha Fletcher's 4th graders spend some time every other week focusing on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) challenge.

Here are some of the challenges:

Greek MythologyIn this challenge, we used we had learned about Theseus and the Minotaur in our Greek Mythology unit to build a marble maze. The kids were given a cardboard lid, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, and glue to construct their maze. It had to have a beginning and an end,and the marble had to travel through it by tilting the box lid side to side. These pictures show kids in the planning and building phases. There is also a picture that shows the challenge posters, and the questions the kids are supposed to thinking about and discussing as they work.

Tall Tales Unit This is set of pictures was a STEM challenge we did in conjunction with our Tall Tales Unit. The kids were given 5 plastic shopping bags and some duct tape with which to create a working lasso like Pecos Bill's. The pictures show some kids in the designing/creating phase and the testing phase. They had to be able to lasso their chair!

Balloon Rockets This is the last set. In this challenge, the kids were tasked with getting Tom the Turkey off the farm before Thanksgiving. The kids were given a couple of different shaped balloons, and three different types of "string" on which to test their rockets. They tested them on fishing line, ribbon, and yarn. They measured how far each rocket traveled on each of the lines, and the selected the rocket and "string" they wanted to use for a competition at the end of the challenge. We had great discussions about propulsion and friction. These pictures show kids in the planning/building process and setting up for their test runs.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Summit 5th graders Participate in Project #TWIMA

Two 5th grade students at Summit Elementary have been taking part in Project #twima. #TWIMA is an acronym that stands for "The World is my Audience."  

The project was started by Mr. Smith, a teacher in Ohio, who began having his own class create books using iBooks Author or the Book Creator iPad App.  He wanted to show elementary students that writing is for more than just "the teacher" - there is an audience who is interested in what they write outside of the classroom, outside of their town, and even outside of their state.  

That initial project then evolved to students and teachers outside of his own school.  The goal of this current #twima project is to create a poetry anthology collaboratively across the United States. So far over 170 classrooms have joined! Poems have been collected from all 50 states as well as several countries around the world. 

A poem representing Idaho was written by Quincy Brown and Lily Farnsworth.  Their teacher, Maggie Stump first heard about the project on Twitter.  She thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for her class.  Quincy and Lily also worked with their TAG teacher, Miriam Brown to learn several poetry techniques.  They wrote several poems before deciding which to submit to the iBook.  The iBook is free and available for download!

Here is a copy of the poem that will be published:

For more information about Project #TWIMA click  HERE.

To download a copy of the book from iTunes click HERE!