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.


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.  


Pat Wagy

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
First Week of School

The first day of school gave us a unique learning experience.  We discussed what happens in a solar eclipse.

The school gave us solar glasses, and for safety purposes, we attached them to a paper plate.  This gave us an a strange appearance, so the students were allowed to make them look like space aliens.  This worked with the background we are doing for the book In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.  The book takes place in 1947, the same year of the mysterious landing in Roswell, N.M., which was the first time the term UFO was used.

We discussed that the word solar refers to the sun.  We had some solar beads that could be taken outside and would change color in sunlight (solar power)  Addison and Zachary showed us that their scissors changed color with heat, (thermal power).

The next day we looked at some simple items that could move with solar power or with thermal power. We noticed that the two sources of power weren't always interchangeable, so there must be more than just the heat of the sun involved.

savannah jarratt