Busy Month

Last week, we had Todd Warren, meteorologist for channel 6, KTAL introduce us to forecasting weather.  We’ll be participating in a program that he offers for grades 4 - 8.  It sounds like a fun way to learn.

We also began our unit on rocks and minerals.  We are continuing our unit on research by trying to classify rocks by their attributes.  We introduced the attributes with the book Rocky Road Trip.  It discussed the attributes that scientist use to classify rocks and minerals.    We opened oysters and extracted pearls.  Pearl are a composite of minerals and animal protein, so they don’t fit with any of our other samples.  But, they are a fun way to learn.  We will also look at amber, which doesn’t quite fit with the other samples, because it is from a plant.  Look for our rock collections at Open House and at the grandparents day activities.  

 

Pat Wagy
December Break

The fourth graders have accomplished a lot of their first of the year goals.  They did 1,000 extra math problems to raise money for the Texarkana Alzheimer Alliance.  At a penny a problem, they raised over $100.  

They set a goal to earn marbles for good behavior in art.  They earned enough that they were allowed out of homework in December.  We worked the spelling and Wordly WIse assignments into group work during the school days.  We decided to give all of our marbles back and start collecting more, so that the other classes wouldn’t feel like they can’t win.  Now, some of the other classes have a head start on us.  We think we can still beat them by the end of the year.

The class did so well in music, that they are going to start learning the jimbe drums.  They had to accomplish a set of lessons before they would be allowed to start, and they did them quickly, correctly, and in a well behaved manner. 

I am very proud of all of their hard work and good behavior.  

We are still working on our “life skill” goals of 1. listening to and / or reading directions carefully; 2. following directions carefully; 3. staying on task; and 4. completing our assignments in a timely fashion.  If they can obtain and maintain these skills, it will make  their lives a lot easier.  

Pictured above : We are working on equivalent fractions.  We play a game that requires students to match equivalent fractions from the board.  Once we get the concept, we will work on speed.  The winner gets some extra credit math points.  

Pat Wagy
The First of December

With only two and half weeks of school in December, and a lot of things to accomplish, the fourth graders have been very busy.  They are presenting at SAU - Magnolia, so they had to have their robots and slide shows ready.  They are singing in Candlelight at the Church, so they had to practice, practice, practice.  We needed to finish our book reports on Treasure Island, so that we could complete reading The Whipping Boy before the holidays started.  We were finishing up our reports for our international project, that we will do in January, and planning our backboards for that activity.  And, of course, all of our daily math, science, language arts and other subjects had to be covered.

Fortunately, we still had time for recess.  Some pediatricians are prescribing walks in a wooded area instead of medication for certain students with hyper-activity attention-disorder, as well as for those with depression.  St. James has a lovely natural setting, so when we walk from class to class or play at recess, we benefit from our surroundings.  That might be one of the reasons the fourth graders love school.  What could be better than learning and playing with your friends in a peaceful setting. 

 

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Pat Wagy
St. James Family

Our school is very fortunate to have a family atmosphere.  We are able to pull in some of that family, from time to time, to enrich our classes.  This month we invited the mother of one of our teachers, who is also the grandmother of a current and a former student, and the aunt or great aunt of both current and former students.  With those outstanding credentials, Mrs. Mayo did a presentation on some of her travels.  

This was a great introduction for our fourth graders, who are beginning to research a foreign country.  We intertwine social studies ( the immigration to Texas /America), our computer (research skills and word processing), and our language arts ( writing good paragraphs and sentences, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, topic sentences, detail sentences, etc.) for our major class project.  The reports will be used in an international fair that we present to the rest of the school and our families in January.

This project is also a great way to introduce plagiarism and how to select words that you understand when writing a report.  

Mrs. Mayo’s presentation gave us some ideas for topics that would be interesting for our audience in January.   She is a very knowledgeable and animated person, so her style of presentation was also a great model for our students.  After she told us about the countries she had selected, the fourth graders sat down and discussed what we learned  that would help us with our project.  I was impressed with all that the fourth graders garnered from the presentation.

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Early November Activities

The 6th grade went to Mo Ranch for a week, and the 5th graders went for an over night at the 4H Camp in Arkansas, so the 4th graders raised the flags on two mornings.  We also practiced our civic duty by going around and collecting Box Tops from all the classrooms this month.

We are doing some science activities with the selaginella lepidophylla this month.  It is also called the dinosaur plant or the resurrection plant because it is a prehistoric plant that can stay dormant for years and then come back to life.  One student mentioned that it was also known as a tumbleweed.  I looked that up, and it is one form of tumbleweed.  There must be other similar plants.

We observed the ball, while making some scientific notations about it.  No opinions were allowed, so we were able to incorporate the difference between fact and opinion in the activity.  Then we added water and waited a day to make notes on the changes.  After that we added various food colors (our variables) and made further observations, each student was assigned the task of coming up with an experiment to try with their plant.  They are not allowed to get an idea from the internet or another source, because then it would be a demonstration, not an experiment.  

 

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Pat Wagy
Mid-September

The first month of school has flown by. "Has flown by" is an idiom. The fourth graders are learning figures of speech: idioms, metaphors, similes, as well as, homophones and homographs, and onomatopoeia. That is a lot to work with when reading and writing on the fourth grade level. After learning about these techniques, the students are always surprised at how often these features appear in the books we read.

We have begun our first chapter book, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. It is our selection from the genre: realistic fiction. I like to use this book for the study of “setting”. Before beginning the book, we learn about a time frame, the late 1940’s. We learn about China, where the story starts, and then about America following W.W.II. 

We are also able to use the setting as an introduction to researching. Students choose a product from that time period and then try to rewrite what they learn from their research. We discuss plagiarism and the importance of using words that you can define, and not using someone else’s words.

We also learn some important vocabulary : integration, segregation, immigration, emigration, symbolism, heritage, and ancestry. 

1947 is a great starting point to introduce extended topics for the students who can go a little farther on their own. Not only did Jackie Robinson integrate baseball, it was the year the term “U.F.O.” was first used (coined) in Roswell, N.M., Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, India became independent, and the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. If you toss in Shirley Temple, you can even touch upon entertainment beyond the baseball field. 

So many new things to learn and play with, and so little time. I am hoping that this next month doesn’t go so quickly. We want to have time to enjoy what we learn.

savannah jarratt