Monday, November 18, 2013

Checks and Balances

Fourth grade students spend the second marking period learning about what makes Pennsylvania a unique part of the United States. An interesting fact about Pennsylvania is that the format of our state government was used as a framework for the new United States government.

Last week we learned that Pennsylvania's government has an executive, legislative, and judicial branch. Our state government's executive branch is led by the governor and lieutenant governor, and the legislative branch is made up of the General Assembly. Like our federal Congress the General Assembly is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Our judicial branch also has a Supreme Court that interprets laws for the state, but our Supreme Court still has to follow the rulings of the United States Supreme Court.

The unique thing about the branches of our state (and federal) government is that they all have equal amounts of power. Each branch has unique jobs, and those jobs help them keep the other branches from having too much control over what happens in the government. Understanding how checks and balances works can be tricky so we did a little activity to help us understand. Students worked in groups of three, and each person had to hold one corner of a triangle to represent one branch of government. The groups had to balance a marble on the triangle, and while it seemed like it was going to be easy there were marbles bouncing all over the room! We quickly learned that even though each branch has it's own special jobs, it's not easy to work together on a tricky task.

Check out the slideshow below to see the pictures of us practicing our checks and balances!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fit and Fun!

On Friday, November 8 students and teachers at Bear Creek celebrated their school spirit with Fitness Day. Everybody wore their best workout gear, and we even headed outside for a little fitness session. We did exercises, team-building activities, and we ended with a running race for those who wanted to participate. Check out their pictures of our class and Mrs. Towsen's class enjoying our exercises!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


The more we talk about our reading strategies, the more we realize that actually all of the reading strategies go together. Let's look at synthesizing. Technically synthesizing means that you take the information you read and see if it makes you change your thinking from before you started to read. But here's what we realized!

  • This is actually the same as making a prediction. You think about what the story will be about before you read, and then you see if you are correct while you read. If you are, you keep going. If not, you change your prediction!
  • It's also just like noting details because we're looking for important information that tells us whether our thinking was correct or incorrect.
  • It's also just like summarizing because you have to take what you've learned and put it into your own words to make sure you understood it.
  • And along the way you ask questions about thing you didn't understand or facts you want to know more about!
So maybe they call the skill synthesizing, but really it's just using ALL of the reading strategies at the same time! If you take a look at the pictures below, you'll see how we synthesized information to learn about a capybara. If you've never seen a capybara, we've included a photo of one at the end. What something you have read about and the reading changed your thinking or helped you learn something new? Please leave a comment and tell us all about it!

This was our thinking about capybaras before we did any reading.

As we read we recorded important details that we learned, and we talked about some new vocabulary.

We summarized what we learned to show how differently our thinking is now that we've read.

A capybara

Monday, November 4, 2013

Exploring Science Tools

As we wrapped up our study and summary of the scientific process, we had the chance to go to the lab and try out many of the different tools that scientists use as they work through experiments. During our lab time we had the chance to use all of the different tools that are on our study sheet. From trundle wheels to microscopes, graduated cylinders to thermometers, we experienced how tricky it can be for scientists to be precise and measure things accurately. Check out the pictures of us using the tools of scientists!