SAIS 4th grade Rock Stars are taking a deep look into the earth this term.
Our 4th grade scholars are full of curiosity, so they have created a “Wonder Wall” in the classroom for them to post any questions they may have. During the term they will try to find answers to their questions.
Some of the questions students asked are: “What is beneath our feet, and why is it there?” “How deep is the deepest hole, and where is it?” “How do scientists know the core is metal?” “Why are volcanoes so hot?” Traditional education would have the teacher answer the questions with a lesson or lecture but with project Based Learning these become the questions that drive the project. What is beneath our feet is the question. So let us find out together and in science class they began studying about the earth.
Then they started digging deeper into the crust to learn more about the rocks and minerals that are under our feet. The students had a lot of fun looking at rocks with a magnifying glass and under the microscope to better understand their qualities.
Another question that came up was ‘Do the rocks and landscape of our earth stay the same?’ Students then began to learn about erosion and how wind and water can make changes to the earth. They then decided to experiment by creating their own erosion boxes to show what wind and water can do to the earth.
With this foundational knowledge the students will be analyzing the many landforms that exist and explain how they came to be. We will take a close look at deltas, particularly the Pearl River Delta, where we live. The students have decided to make a sand table and time lapse a river delta.
Population affects how the earth is shaped. It also involves large units of measurement. In Maths students are learning about conversion of units – metres to kilometres; Place values so they understand tens of thousands, millions and billions. All of these are important for a student to comprehend that studies of earth and its population involve large numbers and large distances.
To answer these questions and many others, students need to do a lot of reading. To help with this they are engaged in our Reader’s and Writer’s workshops. By Grade 3 students are learning to transition from learning to read to reading to learn. This process is continuing in Grade 4 and to help with this process students are tasked with building stamina in both reading and writing. Just as an athlete works toward improving their stamina and speed through a careful programme of exercise and activities, our students develop a programme designed to improve their reading stamina. They record how long they read and write for, make notes on when they begin to lose focus or become tired and try to use these observations to improve their race to fluency and comprehension.
Ms Ellie, the Grade 4 teacher, uses strategies to help with reading comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and vocabulary. They include: Check for understanding - Back up and reread - Identify beginning and ending sounds - Skip the word and then come back to it - Read the punctuation - Use prior knowledge to predict meaning to name a few.
Writing a piece will involve several stages before it will be presented as a finished item of work. They will produce a draft followed by personal edit and revision, other classmates reading and suggesting edits and revisions and finally the piece is ready for publication.
We know that with the combination of classroom teaching and the deeper learning Project Based Learning develops, that our students will continue, not only to be Rock Stars, but Stars of our future society.