Friday, August 29, 2014

Apple Observation

An example of our apple observation
Today in science we practiced our observation skills by observing an apple. There were two reasons we did this: 1. To practice what documenting a good observation in our journals should look like. 2. We had just finished learning about the difference between an observation and an inference, so I wanted the kids to practice strictly focusing on observing the facts. They did a great job! We're going to have some good-looking journals this year!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Observation vs. Inference

Observation vs. Inference Journal Entry
This was our journal entry for observation versus inference. I began this lesson by acting out a skit (the kids not involved in the skit had no idea what was going on!) while we were cleaning up our math centers to get ready for science. I purposely had a few kids leave a mess at their center, then I made a scene about how upset I was. The children who made the mess had a really hard time keeping a straight face, but they did a great job! Now, let me make it clear I don't do this for very long because I don't want the other kids to start to worry. But boy, talk about hooking their attention! Their eyes were glued! I basically just acted WAY over the top and told them they were never doing centers again as long as they were in the 4th grade, and they were going to clean my room during recess for the next month. Once the kids and I started to laugh because we couldn't hold it in any longer, we discussed what they observed me doing, and what they inferred from their observations. Then I acted out a few more scenarios and we looked at some pictures and discussed those observations and inferences as well.

The kids will learn about making an inference in language arts, but it never hurts to hit it a little in science as well. This always proves to be a hard concept to grasp at 9-years-old! Really the main idea I wanted the kiddos to grab was that observations are strictly the facts about what's going on. When making an observation in science, it's very important to keep opinions and prior knowledge out of your observations. Those can be brought in later, when analyzing data and deciding which direction to go in an experiment.

One thing that's not on our journal page (and we'll probably add Tuesday) is the idea of using our prior knowledge. We discussed it in class, but forgot to add it in the journal. In class, we talked about how we make an educated guess by using the knowledge we already have that's stored in our little "file folders" in our brain.

Journal Example


When we begin our journals, I really try to emphasize the importance of neatness. Clean lines, neat handwriting, clear messages, etc. all make it much easier to find helpful information. We added our first journal entry together as we discussed what guidelines we should follow when writing in our journals. The student picked any two-digit number, and then completed three activities using it. We walked through neatly dividing our page into three sections, giving each section a title, then completing the activity. What do I know about the number? How can I get to the number? and Word problem where my number is the answer. I kept in fairly simple, since the main goal was to discuss journal guidelines.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Introducing Centers with Wipe Out!

Wipe Out game card
Center response card

This week I introduced how centers will work in my room. We always start small with only one center so we can discuss expectations and practice appropriate behavior. I introduced a new game called Wipe Out. In this partner game, the kids cover up all the numbers with a marker. They take turn rolling two number cubes and using any operation to remover a marker. For example, if the child rolled a two and a three, he could add the two numbers and uncover the five, he could multiply to uncover the six, or he could subtract and uncover the three. The strategy comes in when they realize their first operation choice may give them an answer that's already been uncovered. They must then see if another operation will work. The winner is the first to clear the board. I always love to hear the discussion that comes with this game. They kids are always good about helping each other out!

When the students finished playing the game, they were responsible for filling out the center response card. I try to always have some sort of accountability in my game centers. Because I'm pulling a small group in the back and can't always see everything that goes on in the game centers, this helps me see who really played the game and who wasn't as involved as was expected.
 A pretty logical explanation for a 4th grader! Great thinking!