Years 3-4 Group News
It's hard to believe that we are halfway through Term 2. Although time has flown, it feels like far too much time has passed since we were together. Undoubtedly, many students feel isolated from their peers and teachers, and the idea of returning to Penbank is a welcome prospect for all. In talking with other teachers via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, one thing is unanimous: we all want to see you again as soon as possible!
Despite the challenges of this term, students have engaged positively in the Continuous Learning Program overall. We have tried to make the learning as engaging and stimulating as possible.
In Year 3, a Star Wars theme marked May the Fourth (be with you) and Revenge of the Fifth (of May). Star Wars fans and non-fans alike took the opportunity to dress up. Both days involved many tasks and activities veiled in a Star Wars veneer.
Also, Year 3 shared a positive message throughout Penbank and Woodleigh, to help combat the Covid-19 blues.
Year 3 Unit of Inquiry (UoI)
Our focus this term has been Sharing the Planet. Predominantly, we have been looking at the features of environments concerning living things. A big word that we have been exploring and unpacking is 'interdependence.' Based on their interests, students have been researching specific animals and looking to identify several aspects of how their living thing relies on its environment and how the environment relies on that living thing.
The UoI research project
Year 3 have embarked on their first research project, drawing from a MoSCoW menu to guide their progress. The MoSCoW outlines what students Must do at a basic level to show they have engaged in the research task. Following these essential points, students can include further elements to expand on their research and presentation (i.e., elements that students Should, Could and might Want to add).
It has been challenging to guide all students through the research project remotely, as researching is a task that requires a lot of teacher support and guidance. It can be easy for students to become confused, uncertain, or overwhelmed at the complexities surrounding researching. However, I am pleased to see that most students have been working on their projects very well. I have been pleased with the students' willingness to share their work on Zoom. In doing so, they provide excellent examples for other students to draw inspiration from.
We will wrap up the current UoI this week. In Week 7, we will move onto our next theme, Who We Are, where our Central Idea is 'People's choice of role models can influence their actions and behaviours.'
Aspects of literacy have been linked to our Unit of Inquiry, and have focused on features of informative texts. Students have been encouraged to identify text features and include them in their research projects. Such features include headings and sub-headings, tables, charts, graphs, indexes, imagery, captions, and glossaries. Students' research projects have promoted vocabulary development.
In our Zoom sessions, verbal expression and conversation skills have been worked on with the help of conversation starters in Zoom breakout rooms, so that students can converse in small group settings.
Despite the dependence of technology throughout the CLP, it has been an expectation that students complete some of their daily tasks in their English book, to ensure students continue to develop their handwriting skills and letter formation.
As well as honing estimation skills, we have been focusing on length measurement.
We have examined the use of standard and non-standard units of measurement, particularly millimetres, centimetres, and metres. We have explored ideas connected to the telling of time, including duration. In the area of addition, we have looked at the decomposition of numbers to assist with mental addition and looked at how this translates to written stacked addition sums.
We are always mindful of the need to disconnect from devices and appreciate more tangible aspects of life, such as spending quality time with family, playing sports and other physical activities, cuddling pets, enjoying time in nature, and being out in the vegetable garden.
However, it is essential to note the many gains students have made with their involvement with ICT (Information Communication Technology). All students have become adept at using some or all of the following ICT tools, skills, and resources:
- Outlook (email)
- Screenshot and/or screencasting
- QR codes (generating and accessing)
- Saving, exporting, and uploading files
- Bensounds.com (for royalty-free music)
- pexels.com, pixabay.com, and unsplash.com (for royalty-free stock photos and videos)
There are quite a few regular activities in our Seesaw tasks. Many students enjoy the familiarity of tasks, and there is an increasing level of success that comes from repeated exposure to the tasks.
An excellent tool for building estimation skills. Students are encouraged to look at visual prompts and estimate how many, how long, how long, how heavy, etc. Students enjoy the ability to engage in a maths task without the expectation of being correct. The most important part of this task is the reasoning which students apply to their estimation.
While challenging, this activity rewards tenacity and improves logic, literacy, creative thinking. Each day a new secret code is displayed, and students use various clues and strategies to decipher the code.
Special thanks to Aviv Gerszonovicz from Woodleigh for his awesome Mindfulness videos. As well as Aviv's videos, students are encouraged to draw, listen to music, and play board games with family members.
In Year 4, we have enjoyed themed Zoom sessions that have seen us share and celebrate our group's diversity. One of our favorites has been "Bring your pet to tuning in," where we met many dogs, cats, and even Jinxy the horse! We have also celebrated a couple of birthdays with singing and well wishes and the return to school date announced by the premier. We're all looking forward to being back in the classroom!
Unit of Inquiry
Our unit of inquiry, 'Sharing the Planet,' has seen us explore harmony and conflict from many different angles over the past few weeks. We have looked at both in regards to being on Zoom, at home, at school, out on the broader community, and circled right back to looking at ourselves and the significant differences we can make with small acts of kindness.
The children have been given their Research Project brief, which asks them to focus on a particular area they connect with:
- Conflict resolution
- Being a responsible citizen
Using previous activities as a guide, they will propose an idea of how to promote these ideas in the future. The discussions this morning with the group were rich in breaking down ideas and beginning to plan the 'how to' of their research task. We are all looking forward to understanding, planning, designing, sharing, and celebrating our unit's ideas, knowledge, and expressions over the next week. Partway through next week, we will begin our next unit of inquiry - 'How We Organise Ourselves.'
In reading and writing, we have inquired into the purpose of persuasive texts, including features, structure, and how the strength of these directly connects to the level of persuasion.
This week, children have been asked to apply their knowledge of these concepts and design a Seesaw Class Mascot, persuading the group why theirs should be chosen. So far, I have seen this tackled with creativity involving everything from speeches and comics to songs and advertising style clips. The children are having lots of fun with this one and showing me their understanding.
In spelling, we have been focusing on expanding our vocabulary around conflict, harmony, persuasion, addition, and subtraction. It has been exciting to witness the children using these words in their related seesaw tasks, showing a deeper understanding of the associated concepts and word meanings. Spelling tasks are an ideal opportunity for cursive handwriting practice. Like anything else, this needs to be kept up to maintain and continue to group their cursive handwriting repertoire. For assistance, a handwriting chart was sent to all children via Seesaw notifications.
We have begun to explore addition, subtraction, estimation, and problem solving as a part of our weekly sessions called '3 Act Maths'.
The first act is all about estimation, questioning, and wondering. Estimating is an important skill when calculating, and children are taught to use their estimations to check their answers.
In Act 2, children were given all the relevant information they need to solve the problem and were asked to consider how and why they go about solving it in the way they have
This leads us to Act 3, where they need to prove why their strategy was the best way to solve the problem. I have seen informative, persuasive, and confident acts here where the children sometimes agree that one was quicker or more straightforward than the other. At other times they have had to understand that everybody's brain works differently, and while one way worked well for somebody, it may not be the best for another. Vibrant discussions indeed!
In both Years 3 and 4, we have been most impressed with how well the students have organised themselves as learners using tools like the weekly timetable to organise their day, and MoSCoW Menu to extend themselves.
We have certainly had our challenges during this time. However, the kind, caring, and considerate nature of students have shone through in small acts of kindness seen and heard on Zoom and Seesaw: Children offering technical advice and guidance, sharing and complimenting student work, and allowing each person to share their voice while on a group Zoom. Just heartwarming!
Thank you for all of your support with the CLP. We understand that times are different and challenging. Please remember that we are eager to assist as much as possible. While teaching via the CLP, we are only an email away, and we will endeavour to respond to your email, when required, as soon as we can.
We are looking forward to resuming regular face-to-face teaching in a few weeks! To keep yourself busy between now and then, check out Myles' podcast: Keeping Busy in Quarantine! Scan the QR code below with your phone camera. Enjoy!
JUSTIN, HANNAH, SALLY & GAYLE
Years 3 & 4 Classroom Teachers