Thursday, October 31, 2013

Celebrating Wackiness!

Today it was Wacky Hair Day at Bear Creek, and boy oh boy, did Team Kit Kat ever show off their school spirit! We are definitely Bear Creek Proud! I hope everybody who is going out tonight has a safe, fun evening, and we hope you enjoy some laughs courtesy of our Wacky Hair. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Special Social Studies Visit

Over the course of the last month we have been learning all sorts of different map skills. We've talked about hemispheres, lines of latitude and longitude, locations of continents and oceans, and map scale. While we've been talking about how these skills will help us in real life, yesterday we had a chance to really make our map skills come alive.

Lauren's mom, who works at the State Museum in Harrisburg (where we are going for our field trip!), brought in a 20 foot by 30 foot map of the state of Pennsylvania. This map had a compass rose, lines of latitude and longitude, a scale, a grid, cities, counties, county seats, rivers, and landforms. We talked about so many different things that we could learn from this map. We discovered that most people in Pennsylvania live in the southeastern corner of the state, and that is where the best farming land is found. In the northwestern corner of the state there are not many people, but there are many mountains, forests, and wild animals to enjoy.

Kids from our class and Mrs. Towsen's class had the chance to locate the different parts of the map, use the scale to find out it's about 300 miles from Erie to Philadelphia, and use the grid to find some of Pennsylvania's cities and important highways. At the end of the presentation partners and groups of three each got an animal that was native to Pennsylvania and had to find its habitat on the map. We had to work together to use our map skills to correctly place all of our animals.

We really appreciated that Lauren's mom was willing to take time out of her day to come in and show us how we can apply map skills in a different way. We are looking forward to having her come back to make Pennsylvania's history come alive!

Harlem Globetrotters

On October 9 the students at Bear Creek were treated to an amazing display of basketball skills and some great lessons on standing up to bullies. Handles Franklin, who is originally from Harriburg, PA, showed off his basketball talents by doing amazing spins, dribbles, and shots.

While he was mesmerizing us with his skills Handles also shared some ABCs of bullying and how to reach your dreams. The ABCs of bullying are:

  • A - Action - take action to be kind and caring to people; take action by telling adults when you see bullying happening
  • B - Bravery - be brave when you see bullying and stand up for those people who are being bullied
  • C - Compassion - care about all people and always do the right thing
Handles shared that he had ALWAYS wanted to be a part of the Globetrotters team after he saw them when he was a little kid, and with hard work and perseverance he reached his dream. He encouraged all of the students at Bear Creek to work hard, believe in themselves, and never give up on a dream. 

We all enjoyed seeing Handles and hearing his message, and we hope he has a great season with the Globetrotters!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Our Science Experiments

Last week you got to see how we've been learning about the scientific process. Now we want to share the results of our own science experiments! Our groups chose the following materials to redo the paperclip experiment:

  • push pins
  • staples
  • bingo chips
  • small letter tiles
  • fat letter tiles
  • dice
  • small snap cubes
Some of the information for our experiment paper was filled in, but we had to complete some of the parts ourselves. We had to make observations about our materials, ask questions, and come up with a hypothesis about how many items will make the cup overflow. During the experiment we had to carefully keep track of how many things we added to the cup, and then we had to talk about our results and tell what we learned. It was exciting to see how many items it took, and we're still thinking about why we got the results we did. We're excited to continue using the scientific process to do other experiments this year.

Take a look at these pictures of us writing our responses and carrying out our experiments!

Reading Strategies You Can Do at Home

We've been working on reading strategies here at school that you can use at home to talk about the books you are reading. They don't require any special materials, and each of these strategies will help improvement your comprehension.

One strategy is picking out story elements. While we were reading the stories Akiak, about a dog running the Iditarod, and Ghosts in the Attic, about a girl whose family helps fugitives move along the Underground Railroad, we talking about things that are included in every fiction story: characters, setting, a problem, events, and an resolution or solution. There's a fun way you can show these elements in a visual way. It's called a plot map, and it helps you see these important elements in order from beginning to end. You could use a plot map for a whole book, or you can even use it for a chapter in a book.

Our plot map for Akiak
Another strategy that goes along with story elements is summarizing what you've read. When you summarize you only tell the most important information, although we all decided we like to give LOTS of information about stories we like so it's sometimes challenging to pick out the important parts. Using a plot map can help with that!

Our first draft of our summary

When you summarize what you've read it means you're putting things in your own words and that shows you reading understood what you're reading. We do a lot of summarizing when we start our book The Boys Start the War and the Girls Get Even so we remember where we left off the last time we read.

The two other strategies we've been working on are predicting and inferring. Predicting is an easy one! You look at the title and the book, and you make a guess about what you think might happen. But did you know you're actually supposed to stop in the middle of your reading to see if your prediction is on the right track?? You are!! Then you can keep your prediction or change it to what you think might happen now that you have a little background knowledge about the book. We were all very surprised to know you're supposed to go back and see if your predictions are correct!

Finally we make inferences when we try to figure out why things are happening or why characters are acting certain ways in books. Another shocking thing we learned?? Authors don't always give you all of the information you need! Can you believe it? Well, they don't. So you have to read carefully to look for clues to try and figure things out. We had to do this in Ghosts in the Attic. Virginia thought there were ghosts in her attic, and she kept asking her parents questions and telling them things that were happening. Her parents kept ignoring her, giving each other glances, or saying things that didn't seem quite right. We had to use these clues to figure out that her parents might be keeping a secret, and sure enough they were!!

Each of these four strategies can help improve our reading comprehension, and they are easy to practice at home with questions like these:

  • Can you tell me about the plot of your story?
  • Can we make a plot map about what you read?
  • Can you summarize what happened in that chapter?
  • What do you think might happen next? Why do you think that?
  • Why do you think the character did / said that? What do you think that means?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Exploring the Scientific Process

We've started off 4th grade science by taking a closer look at exactly how scientists have to be precise and specific when they do experiments to help others understand what they've done. To do this every scientist follows the scientific method or scientific process when they are doing an experiment.

We have taken a close look at the different steps of the process. They are:

  • Observe - look at the world around you and notice things that make you curious
  • Ask Questions - ask some questions about why those things happen, or ask questions about what would happen if you did something different
  • Hypothesize - predict an answer to your question
  • Plan - make a plan for the experiment you'd like to do
  • Perform the Experiment - follow your plan to see what happens
  • Analyze the Data - draw diagrams, take pictures, record movies, or make charts and graphs so that you can show people what happened
  • Draw Conclusions - see what you learned, if you're hypothesis was proven, and how this could help other people; sometimes this makes you want to do another experiment

We did a different experiment to learn about each of these different steps. Our class and Mrs. Towsen's class developed our observation skills by trying to figure out what was in Mystery Boxes. We practice making hypotheses by trying to figure out what would happen if we put gummy bears in a cup of water for 24 hours. Our All About Me Bags helped us practice diagramming, and we surveyed our classes to learn all sorts of favorite things.

To see how all of the pieces fit together, we did a Water Cup and Paperclip Experiment. We talked about what we knew about full cups of water (did you know that water can actually go ABOVE the top of the cup??? How crazy is that!?!) and paperclips, and then there was a question. Mrs. Bair asked us, "How many paperclips will it take to overflow an already full cup of water?" Many of us hypothesized it would take between 5 and 10. Boy, were we ever surprised!!!! Check out these pictures taken by Woodner:
Getting started - many of us were already way off

Holy Moly! Over half full and still not overflowing!

Can you see the meniscus on the top of the water? 

FINALLY!!! It overflowed! You can definitely see how the water is over the top of the cup here!
It took 507 paperclips to make the cup overflow!! Mrs. Towsen's class only needed 178 to make their cup overflow so we talked about some variables, the things that might have been different. One was our paperclips. We had very tiny paperclips, and Mrs. Towsen's class used bigger ones. Another variable was the amount of water in the cup to start. Our cup only had a tiny meniscus so that may be why it took longer.

We had a lot of fun talking about our results and how far off our hypotheses were. Now that we completed this experiment together we are branching off and doing the same type of experiment on our own. Seven different groups are using different classroom materials to design and complete and experiment to learn more about water and how it works. Check back here at the end of the week to see the results!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dot Day

On Monday, September 16 our class participated in Dot Day, a worldwide day to celebrate what makes us all unique and special.

Dot Day is based upon the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. It's the story of a girl named Vashti who is just no good at art. One day after class her teacher asks her to just "make her mark" on her paper. The next day Vashti comes to art she finds her dot framed and hanging above her teacher's desk. From then on Vashti recognizes that she can do amazing things with her dots, and she even convinces a young friend to make his mark.

Our class talked about how this book wasn't just talking about art. We figured out that what the author was really trying to tell us was that we can make our mark anywhere and doing anything if we really put our mind to it. So that is exactly what we did. In honor of Dot Day, we made our marks, and now they are proudly displayed in our downstairs gallery for everybody to see on their way to lunch, specials and the walking path. We are proud of our dots, and we hope that we can make many other positive marks on Bear Creek.

Since you may not be able to come in to see our dots, we'd like to share them with you! Please enjoy our little Dot Day video!