Greetings from Tr. David
I love the beauty of the changing colors painted against a crystal blue sky. Lately as we have been walking in from recess, I have been taking notice of the beautiful sugar maple down by the bell on the playground. It is a spectacularly beautiful tree, especially from a distance when one can truly appreciate the magnificence of its size and splendor. Take a peek the next time you are on campus. While the season has been busy changing, fourth graders have been busy as well.
We started a new guided reading book called The Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Bruchac. Based on a true story, the book follows the lives of two young boys over the course of a few days in the summer of 1777, just as the Revolutionary War is really heating up. For a young Quaker named Samuel Russell, it’s a time of fear. The British army is approaching, and the Indians in the area seem ready to make allies with the British to fight the colonists. To Stands Straight, a young Abenaki scouting for King George, the Americans are dangerous enemies and a threat to his family and home. However, when Stands Straight’s party enters the Quaker Meetinghouse where Samuel worships, the two boys share an encounter that neither will forget. The book has been a terrific introduction to Quaker beliefs and also the Revolutionary War.
Fourth graders continue to work on writing tight, well constructed paragraphs. To celebrate the Halloween season, we have been learning how to write a spooky story. Students have been learning how to incorporate all the elements that make up a suspense story: spooky sounds, the feelings of the adventuresome character, the spooky setting, etc... and how to make a story spooky in the mind of the reader without having to resort to violence and murder.
We recently finished pattern analysis and rounding whole numbers. Now we are quickly reviewing how to add and subtract large numbers in preparation for the real fourth grade work - multiplying and dividing two and three digit numbers. We will be spending several weeks on these skills and by the time we are done, our fourth graders will know their math facts cold and will be very fluent and comfortable with bigger numbers. I am glad and even privileged to teach them this vital skill. When is the last time you multiplied 3,562 X 67? (Yes, I mean by hand) The skill is vital because as they advance through the curriculum they will begin using calculators (as they should) for operations like this, but unless they have really learned this skill, they won’t have the ability to ask themselves whether the answers they get are reasonable or not.
Last week we went to Bellingham retirement community for the conclusion of our immigration unit. We interviewed four women who are first generation immigrants. The children asked them lots of questions about their journey and how their lives are different today from the time when they immigrated. We recorded these interviews and took pictures and videos. During November and December, fourth graders will take the information they gathered and turn it into a power point presentation which should be complete some time in January. Stay tuned and hopefully a link will be live on the website sometime after winter break.
We recently started our year long investigation of Pennsylvania. We have learned who the founder is, how he acquired such a large piece of land, and how he intended to make Pennsylvania different than the other colonies. Just last week, we took a field trip to the Chester County Historical Society to take part in a program titled, “Growing up in Colonial Chester County.” This was a great trip and made even more enjoyable because we were joined by fourth graders from West Chester Friends School. Children had the opportunity to dress in period costume, and apprentice as a farmer and a furniture maker. As you can see from the photos, they were very busy!
Very soon, we will backtrack and look at the geology of the state and its physical features. The highlight of this work will be to make salt dough maps of the state!
We recently started our physics unit on simple machines. So far we have learned what friction is and how it can helpful and ways in which simple machines help to overcome the effects of friction. Most recently my friend “friction” and I took on the entire fourth and fifth grade to a tug of war and won! How? I wrapped the rope around a tree and the friction created gave me a huge mechanical advantage. In the coming weeks, students will be introduced to the lever, the inclined plane, the wedge, the wheel and axle and the pulley. Children will all have a chance to experiment with these machines and learn how to use them most effectively.
November 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10: ERB testing November 6 and 7, parent conferences November 7: NO SCHOOL November 10: field trip to the Chester County Food Bank November 17: field trip to the Philadelphia Orchestra November 24: family Meeting for Worship November 26 - 30: Thanksgiving Break
We are a Quaker school. Our values are not taught in isolation – they are woven into the fabric of Goshen Friends School.