Our Class on Social Media

Friday, December 9, 2011

Build Incredible Educational Experiences Through Local Experts!

For the last two years, I have invited Chief Meteorologist Kendra Kent of FOX Carolina to come speak with the 4th graders of Wellford Academy and share her vast experiences and expertise in the area of weather.  Each year the students have been ecstatic about this special visit and have built so many wonderful curriculum connection to our classroom learning. Of course, I wanted to learn more about Kendra's job, so I visited the studio to see Mrs. Kent in action.  What a neat experience and how much fun it was to be able to capture this time in pictures and video for my students and fellow bloggers!  I was amazed at how different it was sitting in the studio watching the show as opposed to watching it on my couch at home; for some reason I thought it would be the same.  Getting an inside perspective to a news broadcast production would be a very cool experience for any class, and when I found out the studio offers tours, I put this activity on my list for a future field trip.  I'm crossing my fingers hoping to soon introduce my students to the the TV studios of FOX Carolina!

 As Kendra and I were talking after the show about how we got in touch a couple years ago, I remember it started with a simple introductory email asking "Would you be willing to come?"  Fellow teachers, step out and don't be afraid to contact your local experts in the curriculum fields you study.  You will be amazed about the community relationships you can build and develop!  Today, I am blessed to call Kendra Kent my friend, and I am even more blessed to have a professional join me in the realm of educating future professionals for our state, nation, and maybe even international endeavors! From the bottom of my heart and the hearts of my students, THANK YOU Kendra Kent for the difference you've made in our lives!

Mathematical Analyzer and Thinker Award Goes to Rebecca!

This week, our class has been analyzing the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, and using some very important math thinking skills to solve two major problems I developed from this favorite Christmas tune.  One of the problems was to determine how many total items were given to "the true love," the recipient of the lavish gifts mentioned in the song. Students analyzed each stanza to build a number line outlining how many items were given each day and then used the daily totals to figure out their final answer.  Once they had finalized and checked their work, they wrote their answer on a slip that was placed in our drawing.  After I took out all those who submitted the wrong answer, a winner was chosen. Congratulations to Rebecca, our Mathematical Analyzer and Thinker!  She won a New York City t-shirt bought from the heart of NYC in Time Square when Miss Tripp visited there earlier this fall.  A special thank you to all the students for their hard work and dedication in developing their math thinking skills this week!

Check out our blog post on the Twelve Days of Christmas activity if you would like to enjoy the challenge of math with a festive Christmas flair!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Many Miles Till Bethlehem? The Christmas Story From a Modern Day Perspective

We have all been in the car when someone's asked, "Are we there yet?" or "How many more miles till we are there?" Experience the book, How Many Miles to Bethlehem in a different light as you consider how much money the traveling groups in this story saved by walking.

Using today's scenarios I created in the handout below, infuse a modern day perspective into the timeless Christmas story.  Students will refine their long multiplication skills while taking on the challenge of figuring out the costs of these traveling groups in today's different vehicles.  Happy calculating!

For students finishing early, allow their creative language arts juices to flow as they rewrite the Christmas story incorporating the travelers use of the modern day vehicles listed in this activity!

Long Multiplication With Christmas Flair and Pizzaz!

There's nothing like trying to teach long multiplication right before Christmas break, but using this activity infuses the excitement of Christmas while still practicing the technical process skills of long multiplication.  I have seen motivation and excitment for learning long multiplication as we've worked through this challenging activity!  The long multiplication process can sometimes be "tedious," but because my students have been focused on the challenge of solving the problem of how many gifts and how much was spent, they have shown an enthusiasm for learning that has warmed my heart! The extened learning and challenge with a language arts focus has left my class buzzing with excitement on who to write their adventure about.  I'm anxiously awaiting to read the many ideas they've come up with.  Join in the fun, and may your students have a joyous Christmas math experience.

The Twelve Days of Christmas handout (2 sheets, front/back)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Astronomy, Geography, and Cultural Celebrations the Christmas Way!

With only two weeks until Christmas break, I decided to create several Christmas activities that engaged and motivated my students in learning the planned curriculum skills, but also incorporated the seasonal excitement everyone is naturally experiencing this time of year. In science, we are currently studying astronomy, specifically the moon phases and how earth's rotation and revolution create night/day and the seasons.  The activity below incorporates these skills as well as many valuable social studies and time zone skills.

Students will choose a country from the Christmas Around the World website and complete the following research below.  Dependent on the our time schedule, students will present their researched information through blogging,  multimedia presentations, podcasts or a simple informal class presentation.

I'm looking forward to seeing my students experience the excitement of this "across the curriculum" Christmas extravaganza.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Data Analysis With a Mission!

For the last two weeks, my students have been on a math mission that has taken them through the exciting world of data analysis.  They were presented with a special request that brought them excitement, fervor, and purpose for delving into this very important world of math learning. Follow us through our mission as we take on data analysis with a mission!

The mission:
After dividing into groups, the students were assigned a part of the planning process for the Christmas party. Each team brainstormed to develop their question that would help them collect data for their simple survey. We drew our tally tables that listed our categorical data, and once we were ready, we set out to collect our numerical data.

As we marked our tallies, we noted it under either the boy or girl column to later be able to build not only single bar graphs, but also double bar graphs; keeping boys and girls votes separate would also be another way to help us further analyze our collected data.

Using our collected data, we set about creating our different types of graphs to communicated our data. We used an online program called Kids Zone, Learning with NCESS, Create A Graph.  We drew single bar graphs to represent the frequency of our categorical data and double bar graphs to further note the differences in our data between the boys and girl's choices.

Below are two books created to display our single and double graphs.  As you read our book, look under the graphs for our observations and party recommendation we made for the teacher we worked with.

Single Bar Graph Book by Ms Witherspoon's Class:

Double Bar Graph Book by Miss Tripp's Class:

After completing this project, here we brainstormed on how we could improve our work:

1. Many of us needed to make sure the intervals on our graphs were not decimals but whole number.  Therefore we needed to change the range we entered into the computer program.

2. Carefully consider the differences between an observation and recommendation and make sure both of these we wrote were solely based on our data.

3.  Analyze our written ideas to see if we have clearly communicated our ideas. 

4. Spend more time proofreading our work, checking carefully for capitalization, punctuation, and complete sentences.

5. When we developed our choices for our survey, we tried to use variety of ideas, especially offering healthy choices in the foods and drinks.  We could have researched for a greater variety of choices that were more likeable. 

A very special thank you to Mrs. Spillers for allowing my homeroom class to work with her class in collecting data for this special project.  Also, thank you to Mrs. Connelly for allowing Ms. Witherspoon’s class to do the same with her students.  Ladies, you both helped “hook” my students' interest in helping you out, and in turn this sparked their motivation for learning.  Thank you for being a part of the fourth grade learning process! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Reluctant Good-bye to a Very Special Person!

An Amazing Man Who Will Not Be Forgotten!
Last week, we learned our assistant principal, Mr. Eric Hansen will be leaving us this week to move to an assistant principal position in Charleston, SC.  We all know this move will bring great opportunity for Mr. Hansen and his family, but we are still sad to loose such a wonderful leader who made such an impact on our school.  What has Mr. Hansen meant to you?  Has he helped you succeed in school?  Do you have a funny story or favorite memory of Mr. Hansen.  Please share your thoughts and ideas below, and let's send Mr. Hansen off with a lot of wonderful thoughts and a ton of love from his Wellford family!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day 2011

Our Local Hero and Vietnam Veteran!
Thank you Kain for sharing your grandfather, Master Sergeant Payne.  He served for 30 years in the army starting in Vietnam and then retiring many years later in 1999.  The flag shown above is a homemade Vietnam flag he found in a cave while pursuing enemy soldiers; he has now carefully kept this flag for over 40 years. We honor Mr. Payne for his bravery, dedication, and service to our country. Thank you for serving to provide our freedom today!!!

Mr. Payne also brought us medals, small soldiers replicas, and challenged us with and excellent lesson about the following three words: task, conditions, standards.  We learned about his experiences through these three words, and he challenged us about our task at school, accomplishing it no matter what the conditions so that we can then achieve the set standard.  What an amazing parallel between Mr. Payne's and experiences and what we are trying to accomplish each day in Miss Tripp's class.

Task: (our class motto) "We are here to listen, following instructions, and motivate ourselves to learn."

Conditions: Sometimes we may be tired, frustrated, confused, upset, excited, nervous, distracted, and a whole myriad of emotions events we have to work under.

Standard: Give our very best to learn what a 4th grade student should know and go above and beyond this if possible.

Freedom isn't free, so take a minute or two each time you see a veteran to thank them for their service to not only our country but specifically for you!

Inventors' Biography Fair

For the last 2 months, 4th grade GT students have been researching the life of an inventor. From this research they developed a presentation highlighting the most important information learned. The big day for presentations arrived where the students dressed up as their inventor and presented their finding to their classmates.

Thank you GT students for all your hard work and dedication to the learning process!  We loved your presentations ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Introducing Our November Terrific Kid!

Congratulations to a very special girl who has been elected by her fellow students to represent our class as November's Terrific Kid!  See the comments below for why Hannah's fellow students elected her and felt she deserved this honor.  Keep up the GREAT work in school Hannah!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Adventures Galore @ Stone Mountain Georgia!

There are times in your teaching carer that bring a smile of satisfaction and Friday, November 4th was one of those times! To see the enthusiasm and delight in my students eyes as they encountered new and exciting adventures was priceless.  You would have thought I had given them the most spectacular grand prize!  Well, in a way, I did.  I could have never done this on my own, though, but with the help of Mrs. Showalter, our principal, PTO, and some very gracious chaperones, we gave these students a day full of memories and experiences that some of them have never known.  My students eyes were opened to the world around them as they traveled beyond their state to an unknown world where history came alive like an "amusement park of history" one student said.  Through intriguing challenges, engaging activities, and captivating scenery, I saw my students fall in love with Stone Mountain Georgia!  A toast to the learning experiences of this day which will continue to pay dividends in the academic lives of each one of my students!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Conga Line of Learning!

Do you ever had a time where students jump into the learning process and bring a fun attitude for learning?  Well, my students certainly brought this perspective as they decided to turn our skip counting by 12's into a conga line of learning.  It's exciting to see the students use their creativity to make learning more enjoyable and dynamic!  Way to go students...all of you shine brightly as you motivate yourself to learn :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

This Wednesday's Exciting Skype with Antarctica!


Over the weekend, I had the most awesome opportunity come up that I would love you to be able to experience.  A Twitter contact (@ksivick) helped connect me with Michael League, an explorer, researcher, teacher at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica!  He works with an organization called PolarTREC which stands for teachers and researchers exploring and collaborating.  Mr. League is currently in Antarctica, but will be returning this Friday. We don't have much time to prepare, but we are busily get ready for this exciting event!  My class is thrilled we could sqeeze in this excellent learning opportunity.

Mr. Leagues's Latest Polar Connect Session from Friday, October 14, 2011(AMAZING pictures!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Storm of Learning Captivates Students' Attention!

Mrs. Kendra Kent, chief meteorologist of FOX Carolina joined our class to share her professional knowledge and real world experience about weather developed through her past and present experiences as a meteorologist.  Before Mrs. Kent's visit, students blogged the questions they wanted to know about her experience in this field and what it was like to do her job. We also worked with our German teacher, Mrs. Kristen Ferre, to learn several German weather words to teach Mrs. Kent.

For our exciting day, we choose students to perform specific jobs to document this special visit.  Students asking questions, used iPads to not only ask their question from the blog, but to take electronic notes to be used in their future blog posts. Six other students used the iPad cameras and flip videos to capture important details from this meeting we wanted to have for future learning.  The exciting day finally arrived!

* Severe Weather Challenge Question at the end of this post!

The bloggers and questioners were ready!

The videographers were ready!

The intriguing time of learning began, and boy did Mrs. Kent know how to teach and share a wealth of information, especially about severe weather!

Mrs. Kent shows us how to be safe during a thunderstorm!

As she spoke, students recorded ideas they learned, thought were interesting or wanted to learn more about in the future.  If students were not working on an iPad, they documented their ideas and thoughts in their writer's journal.

I LOVED the curriculum connections Mrs. Kent helped students see; math and 
science can be found in weather!

Mrs. Showalter, our principal and Mrs. Snow from our district office
joined us for this excellent time of learning!

Towards the end of the presentation, Mr. Riordan, a 4th grade teacher asked Mrs. Kent what advice would she give 4th graders about preparing now for their futures and how to deal with the challenges and difficulties of school.  Here is what she had to say.

I am so proud of all the students as they listened quietly, but then came a live with knowledgable questions and ideas for discussing during our added time of questioning Mrs. Kent! At the end, we presented Mrs. Kent with a beautiful weather cookie to show our appreciation and thankfulness for her spending time with us!  

On a side note, I think my teaching partner, Mrs. Witherspoon found a wonderful weather friend in Mrs. Kent.  For those of you who don't know, Ms. Witherspoon is an MAJOR weather enthusiast!  One day she would love to chase storms and live in extreme weather somewhere in Antarctica!  Check out Ms. Witherspoon in the background of this picture...her face says it all when it comes to her weather enthusiasm!

In the time since Mrs. Kent's visit, my students are still talking about this special lady and have been blogging about this day, drawing pictures, and acting as if they were a FOX Carolina meteorologist! The thoughts and ideas captured from their time with Mrs. Kent can be found on our Math/Science Student Blogs.  Please join the continuing conversations from this exciting day on each students' blog; we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Student's, don't forget Mrs. Kent wants you to submit your weather pictures to the studio!  The contact information is below.  Let's see if our class can have pictures broadcasted on Fox Carolina!

If you would like to stay in touch with Mrs. Kent and FOX Carolina, here are several ways you can:

Mrs. Kent's Twitter name is KendraKentWx
Thank you Kendra for making a difference in our lives and showing my fourth graders the passion, enthusiasm, and excitement for learning about weather!  We love you Kendra :)

I am always grateful, Kendra
for you willingness to come!

Severe Weather Challenge Question:
What are the highest wind speeds recorded for a tornado and where did it occur?  Watch this video for the answer!