Students have been hard at work preparing for student-led conferences. Today we practiced with classmates and figured out what we needed to adjust for the big day next week. We are all looking forward to sharing our reflections with parents!
Today we spent our morning at the Oregon Food Bank, helping to prepare soy milk for distribution in food boxes. Students had a great experience volunteering their time and working together to help other people out.
Today we took a field trip to City Hall to speak with the enthusiastic and friendly John Morgan, the project manager for West Linn’s Waterfront Project. Our objective was to become more familiar with the Old City Hall District because students will be creating a model featuring their ideas for redevelopment of the area.
Mr. Morgan taught us about the history of the Willamette Falls area and the old Willamette Paper Mill. We learned that the closing of the old paper mill presented an opportunity to the city to develop the land for more public use. We learned about the city’s guiding principles for the project, which included river access, transportation improvement, preserving the historic character of the area, and the opportunity to reinvest in the community. We also learned about the many options for improving traffic as well as the pros and cons of each idea.
Lastly, students got together and brainstormed ideas for what they would like to see in the area. The long list of ideas included a dog park, an aquarium, a space for food carts, a gym, a hotel, and a boardwalk. Mr. Morgan plans on sharing this list with City Council members soon. Who knows, maybe a Willamette fourth grader will be responsible for one of the features in the waterfront development.
This year’s Oregon Battle of the Books ended today with the final battle in the gym. After months of hard work, students competed for a chance to represent Willamette in the regionals. Congratulations to all of the students in our class for making it through this year’s competition and for representing the fourth grade with pride. Job well done!
Today we had a meaningful conversation about the value of feedback. We watched a video called Austin’s Butterfly which taught us how to give helpful, specific feedback to others and how to use feedback to improve the quality of our work. We then went around the classroom and gave each other feedback on a recent assignment where students made posters about the Winter Olympics. After receiving critiques from our peers, we shared what we learned and talked about how to effectively give and receive criticism. We all agreed that the feedback we received today was doable and would help make our work look more aesthetically pleasing. We will find out how much we learned from this exercise as we put together our science projects over the next few weeks.
This year’s Read to Us Week brought in a variety of professionals for the kids to learn from. On Monday, we had baker Leslie, who explained everything that goes into making incredible cakes and owning your own business. On Wednesday, beekeeper David and his dad Mike came in to teach us about the inner workings of a bee hive. Thursday got us ready for the Olympics as curler Bruce and his team came in to explain the sport of curling. Today we had 911 operator Kris come in to explain how to help people through emergencies. Next week, we get a bonus professional as animator/artist Romero joins us to explain how our favorite animated movies are put together. As always, Read to Us Week was fascinating and worth our time. We certainly learned a lot.
Wednesday, February 7 was Global School Play Day, a day in which kids around the world were encouraged to enjoy unstructured play time with their peers. Several classes at Willamette participated in this event and every teacher I talked to excitedly said that it was a success. This was also true in our classroom. As I observed students I noticed several positive things.
First of all, the level of engagement was sky high. Every student was actively engaged for the entire day. Their brains were moving from start to finish.
I also noticed interaction between classmates who I wouldn’t normally see playing together. It was nice to see so many students being kinder than necessary, warm, and inviting.
Another thing I noticed was self-management. To be honest, I was anticipating a day in which I would be spending a good amount of time managing student behavior. I didn’t have to deal with student misbehavior the entire day because there was none!
Lastly, the mood in the room was light, energetic, and happy. Having a day like this was a great morale boost and a nice break from the heavy lifting we normally do in here. It’s a good reminder that sometimes we simply need to unplug and just play.
I am hoping that we can do something like this again later this year because it was such a positive experience.
We recently began a program called Architects in Schools in which fourth graders are taught basic principles of architecture, engineering, and design. Students then use what they learn to create a final project (our class will be designing and building a model of a portion of the West Linn waterfront development).
Today we met our resident expert, Mike, a local structural engineer who has been involved in many projects in our area, including the local fire station down the street. After Mike talked to the kids about his job, the students did a lesson in which they learned what it feels like to be a structure. Hopefully this lesson on what makes a strong, dependable structure will help students make wise decisions with their future designs.
Here is a fun way for students to practice dividing using the partial quotient method. Try to solve problems in the most efficient way possible!
Over the break, I was listening to a podcast while working out in my yard. The podcast was a conversation between Oprah Winfrey and Phil Jackson, the former head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers who has won 11 NBA championships. During the interview, Jackson talked about how he used mindfulness with his teams to help them focus and calm themselves during practice and games. I shared this with the class today because Jackson’s teams (some of the most successful teams ever), practice the same sort of mindfulness techniques we do in our classroom. It’s pretty cool to see that we are doing the same thing to help us achieve success in our classroom as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal were doing to help them achieve success on the court.