Bonsai, Word Study, & Multi-Digit Multiplication

Hello, division 4 families!

Today in Social Studies, we connected to our unit on Japanese Canadian interment with an extension into the world of Bonsai and the related symbolism. We read aloud and discussed a beautiful book called “The Peace Tree of Hiroshima” that told the true story of how Japan gifted America a collection of sacred bonsai trees as a gift for their 200 year anniversary—an acknowledgement of the peace between the countries since WWII. I shared my own journey with making bonsai and we watched videos about the meaning of this art form.

During our Language Arts “word study” lesson today, students wrote creative sentences to express the meaning of their top ten most challenging spelling words.

Today in Math we also began our unit on multi-digit multiplication by reviewing previous grade content and then by giving a look to what grade 4 and 5 math curriculum covers in this area.

A goal for the end of term 2 is that grade 4s will be able to multiply 1-digit by up to 4-digits and grade 5s will be able to multiply up to 3-digits by 3-digits. We will be seeking to strengthen our multiplication facts recall and to solve parts of questions with mental math where possible.

Students will be supported to learn and practice the traditional algorithm (a.k.a. the regrouping method) if they like because many of our Div. 4 students already know and use this method successfully. However, we will diversify our approach and foster number sense by using the distributive property and solving by breaking up numbers, using arrays, using the box/window method (area model) and partial products method—and using lattice multiplication for those who show solid number sense and want to try a cool challenge! I will help students sufficiently explore all methods to empower them to decide which method works best for their learning style.

I encourage all students to spend 5-minutes about 3 or 4 times per week reviewing multiplication facts up to 100 at home. (Tip: Try searching up and watching “Multiplication Facts” song videos on YouTube for fun—or make up your own song!)

Here is a sneak peak at some of the multiplication strategies we will explore…

Distributive Property

“Wild Winter Stories” & Quotation Marks in Dialogue

Hello, division 4 families!

We launched our day with an invitation to try math enrichment questions reviewing using BEDMAS and introducing square root. (This math content shown on the whiteboard is above grade 4/5 and is optional learning.)

Next, we focussed on developing skills to help us write “Wild Winter” adventure stories.

Last week, students created artwork by cutting out photographs of themselves, glueing them to card stock, and illustrating “wild winter” scenes around the photos. Today, students made up and told stories to go with their artworks in small groups.

Then, we reviewed the parts of a story, recalling what we learned through making a “story map” of the “Beaver and the Echo” story a few weeks ago.

Next, I incorporated students’ ideas while modelling how to build a “wild winter” story using the story map template.

Then I modelled how I would flesh out the details of story map into a first draft of a story. I talked through my choices as I made them, especially around use of indents, paragraph breaks, descriptive language, and the correct use of quotation marks.

Students had a focussed lesson today on how to correctly use quotation marks, and we discussed the purpose, some challenges, and some tips of writing dialogue in stories.

As well, I introduced a helpful “Story Proofreading and Editing” checklist I like use with students to teach them more skills and increased independence as writers.

We will continue writing, proofreading, workshopping, and polishing these stories this week.

Please note that students brought home their wonderful “Animal Paragraphs” today!

“I Am” Metaphor Poems

Hello, division 4 families!

We are delighted to share with you these beautiful, well-written “I Am” poems! They are rich with powerful metaphors and imagery. Students illustrated the poems with watercolour self-portraits.

As a teacher, this was one of my favourite activities this term because I felt privileged to see students express the culmination of so much learning in such beautiful, personal ways.

BEDMAS, Armadillos, “I Am” Poems & Self Portraits

Hello, division 4 families!

ARMADILLO DAY: Today our reading comprehension activities centred on the topic of armadillos and students made some charming pencil sketches as a bonus activity. You may want to ask your child, “What did you learn today about armadillos?”

QUIZZES: This week, students wrapped up the Rounding unit in math, and they brought home their quizzes to share with their families. (See the answer key below.)

REPORT CARD REFLECTIONS: The students were involved in our end-of-term self-reflection process this week. They had a chance to preview and meet with me about their report cards, and they wrote reflection pieces that will be included with the reports. It’s important to me that students understand they are partners in their learning and assessment of their progress. Report cards are not about a “grade”—they are a chance to be specific about where good progress is happening and where to focus more support and effort. I am very proud of our students for all they have learned this term.

SPELLING: Division 4 students helped build our spelling word study list today. Please below…

MATH ENRICHMENT: I invite all students who enjoy math to try “Math Challenge” sheets and explore our special collection of math games and books. Every math lesson is differentiated and personalized for students to cover (a.) any necessary review content from earlier grades, (b.) grade 4 and grade 5 curriculum targeted as needed, as well as (c.) higher order thinking provocations and math learning extensions. As well, this week in our “Sneak Peek at Middle School Math” activities, we centred learning on how to use exponents and follow the order of operations (BEDMAS). See the image below for a sample of the question types and see the videos below for a review of this advanced content.

“I AM” POEMS & SELF PORTRAITS: We are so excited to have finished and posted the students’ beautiful and profound metaphorical “I am” poems. I will post close up photos tomorrow. You will be enchanted and inspired—these works are truly creative and deeply meaningful!

Animal Paragraphs

Hello, division 4 families!

I’m so pleased to share with you the wonderful finished “Animal Paragraphs”, presented with illustrations in beautiful watercolour. The students have received many compliments from folks in our school on their work and we are so proud!

As described in a previous blog post, this project involved students in researching, brainstorming, writing multiple drafts, and editing with educator support. To support their growth as writers, students were given a list of assignment criteria and several full-in-the-blank frameworks to use or adapt, and they considered numerous good examples of animal paragraphs. Students self-assessed their own work against the criteria to help create writing goals for the future.

Bonus: We had fun last week getting comfortable to watch the big soccer game together! Our kindergarten buddies joined us too. Great effort, Canada!

Hummingbirds & French

Last week, students enjoyed a read-aloud of the story “Flight of the Hummingbird” that features illustrations by Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. Then we watched this video illustrating the story. They also explored the science of hummingbirds and made beautiful hummingbird watercolour paintings.

In French, we have also begun learning basic French greetings and learning to count to 20. Here is a video that can help with pronunciation. Students have also been taught to use Google Translate.

Figurative Language Letters & the History of Internment in BC

Hello, division 4 families!

Today each student wrote and brought home a “Subtraction Unit Quiz”—I am so proud of how hard everyone has worked to achieve so much growth in this area! Great job!

We also continued our rich learning in the area of figurative language today. We reviewed some more examples of simile and metaphor, and then students gave themselves a self-quiz to check their own understanding.

Next, I shared with students this example of a letter written to include examples of simile and metaphor.

Then, I modelled how I would personally prepare to write an appreciative “figurative language” letter to my own mother by starting with a brainstorm of her qualities and traits.

In the next step, I talked through and modelled my own creative process of how I would turn each of those qualities and traits into similes and metaphors. After that, I presented this challenge to students…

Get ready to feel charmed and moved by the poetic and personal letters students wrote and shared. (Before posting, I asked each student if they wanted to consent to sharing their letter. Some other letters are still being finished.)

In the afternoon in Social Studies, we began our unit of study on the history of Japanese internment in British Columbia. The students connected to their prior knowledge around WW2 and the events at Pearl Harbour through dialogue. Then we viewed and discussed the following videos. Key themes we discussed included discrimination and human rights violations, which we connected back to recent unit on residential schools.

We also made local connections, discussing the history and then the wartime vandalism of the Japanese Tea House in Esquimalt. We watched and discussed this video…

Metaphors & Practice Quiz

Hello, Division 4!

Today we did a “practice quiz” on subtraction. Students marked their own quizzes, and I demonstrated how to find each answer. Students brought home their quizzes to share with family today.

Please remind your child to keep practicing subtraction at home. Thank you for observing your child solve a few subtraction questions before Thursday if possible. For example, ask your grade 4 child to solve 8934 – 1831 and 1900 – 7496. For grade 5s, ask your child to solve 67 291 – 39 282 and 22 021 – 4872.

NOTE: Many students have been using the “traditional algorithm/method” for efficiency since this is what they have been taught previously and the method they are most comfortable with for multi-digit numbers. However, there are other subtraction strategies we’ve touched on and which we will explore further. This video gives an overview of other subtraction strategies, including compensating, give & take, and decomposing numbers. LINK: Here is yet another subtraction strategies video showing the add-up method and using an open number line. LINK: It’s not necessary to review these alternative methods now, but I link to them so you can see options and preview alternative pathways we will be exploring more in the future.

Today we also played another fun game of Multiplication Bingo to keep sharp.

In Language Arts, we reviewed figurative language again: simile and metaphor. Students sorted a stack of mixed examples of simile, metaphor, and non-figurative language. Then they had the chance to create and share their own similes and metaphors. *Ask you child to give you an example of each.

We spent the last hour of the day reviewing sketching and watercolour painting techniques as each student worked on a painted portrait of the animal they have been researching. There will be more lovely examples of student work posted on Monday!

Subtraction Puzzles & Story Structure

Hello, division 4 families!

Today in math we got playful in reviewing multi-digit subtraction and mental math skills. Students shared and discussed their solutions to various challenges (see below). We will have a subtraction practice quiz tomorrow and do a subtraction unit quiz on Thursday.

In Language Arts, I told students about how my three-year-old son loves to make up and tell very simplistic stories—and then he giggles. For example, he recently said, “Once upon a time there was a knock at the door. It was a sausage! The end!”

The class discussed how my son’s sausage story could grow to become more interesting with more sophisticated story structure. Specifically, the story would benefit from more information about setting, characters, a sequence of events, a problem, a solution, and an ending.

Then I invited students to get into groups to make up and tell their own stories that built upon my son’s sausage story. There were wonderfully whimsical stories and lots of laughs! We will continue to build our oral storytelling skills throughout the year with free form exercises such as these.

Next, I read aloud “Little Beaver and The Echo” and we discussed the story’s message about the power of friendship. Then, we mapped the story with the story map framework shown on the worksheet below. I then invited students to use the same framework to map out their own original story to tell. *A fun homework challenge to practice storytelling would be for students to retell the story of “Little Beaver and The Echo” or to share their own made up stories.

In the afternoon, students further refined their “animal paragraph” rough copies, had a writing/editing meeting with me one-to-one, and then wrote good copies.