Friday, August 24, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We've had a great first week getting to know each other, learning class procedures, and previewing our social studies curriculum.

Here are some third graders demonstrating our rules this morning.

Fourth grade during their initial research to decide which presidents they would like to learn about for their upcoming project.

One of our fifth grade group's brainstorming about government.

Fifth grade during our introduction to representative versus direct democracy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Morning Soundtrack

There is always a buzz at the beginning of the day. Students have a lot to unpack. They have pencils to sharpen. They want to catch up with each other. To help calm the chaos, our class will use a "morning soundtrack."

Right after the class answers the daily attendance question, I start the song. Students have until the song ends to complete the process of unpacking and getting settled. They will become familiar with the songs and anticipate how much time they have left. This allows them to pace themselves and get our day started in a very timely manner.

For the first trimester, I selected five upbeat songs that I hope will appeal to the kids and provide just enough time to take care of business. I play a different one each day of the week. Students' suggestions will determine the second and third trimesters' morning soundtracks.

The album cover of  Tuesday's song: Upside Down by Jack Johnson 

Friday, August 10, 2012

What We're Learning in Fourth Grade

These are the units we will be learning this year along with a few of the activities we will participate in to develop our understanding.

The third grade social studies units can be found here.

First Trimester


A project-based unit in which students utilize print and electronic resources to research a president of choice. Students will discover presidential, i.e. party affiliation, world events during term in office, and personal information, such as occupation before president, as well as American life during the president’s term(s), i.e. how he traveled and communicated with friends. Fourth graders will present their knowledge in the form of a wax figure, time capsule, or interactive exhibit in our culminating presidential “museum.”

We will write a class constitution and celebrate Constitution Day on September 14th. Students will learn how the constitution protects the rights of citizens and outlines the structure and purpose of our government.

Presidential Election

Fourth graders will determine their own leadership abilities before analyzing presidential requirements while creating “Perfect President” job descriptions in small groups. An extensive political parties simulation is the highlight of this unit. During the simulation, students will discuss public issues that impact the daily lives of citizens and support their stance on these issues. By the end of the unit, students will be able to identify ways citizens work together to influence government and help solve problems.

Second Trimester 

America's Five Regions

A geography-emphasized unit which begins with students creating and explaining a bird’s-eye view map of their home divided into regions. Fourth graders will also differentiate between relative and exact location, transfer their knowledge of map symbols into producing a classroom map, and demonstrate using a map scale.We will explore special-purpose maps and evaluate the effect of population density on the lives of Americans in urban and rural communities.

Students will apply their map skills to indicate the route of their unique cross-country “trip” on a U.S. map. Fourth graders will learn about the economy, geography, history, people, and government of each of America’s regions. Some highlights of the trip include deciding the pros and cons of mass production through a Hershey, Pennsylvania assembly line simulation and discussing difficulties that colonists faced in Jamestown, Virginia after playing a survival board game. The trip also consists of comparing southeastern musical traditions and planning a midwestern shopping mall based on knowledge of the region. There will be a culminating project on each student’s region of choice for which they will try to persuade others to visit their region by highlighting its remarkable attributes.

Third Trimester 


Fourth graders will begin this unit by using print and electronic resources to research one of the five main Native American tribes of Florida. They will then create an artifact that represents the tribe’s culture. We will partake in a discovering The Fountain of Youth mapping and scavenger hunt experience as we identify the motivations of explorers who came to Florida.

Students will learn about the effects of European colonization in and Spanish rule of Florida. Fourth graders will explore daily life on missions. A Cracker Country field trip will wrap-up our learning about pioneer life in Florida. The year will conclude with researching the geography, government, people, history, or economics of Florida. Students will design a game, create a Prezi, or make an interactive map (by hand of digitally).

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