Mr. Boehmer’s Class: Grade 4 (June 2017)
Learning Verb Tenses
This week, my class reviewed how to write verbs using the past tense. To start, the class was given a worksheet to complete. The worksheet required them to read the sentence and change the verb from present tense to past tense. They worked hard to change the verbs into their proper past tense form. The students enjoyed working independently to complete their task.
The teacher monitored them and answered questions when they were having difficulties. When they finished the class started to mark it together. The teacher wrote the questions on the board and asked the students to answer them. Students raised their hands and, when called upon, approached the board. Students wrote their answer on the board. The teacher corrected them when they were wrong. If they were right the teacher celebrated with them.
Students enjoyed walking to the front of the class and writing on the board. All of the students practiced writing the proper verbs and saying the verbs. Students practiced pronouncing the new words with each other, the teacher helped with pronunciation when it was needed. The students learned how to correct regular verbs. They also learned how to change the tense of irregular verbs. The students were quickly able to learn the difference between how to change regular and irregular verbs. The class was satisfied with how hard we had worked and how much we had learned. We worked hard and had fun!
Mr. Nishimura’s Class: Grade 4 (June 2017)
In Grade Four, all classes reexamine many of the science, math, and social studies concepts that the students learn in their Chinese classes. Instead of focusing on the content, we focus on the English vocabulary involved with each subject. In our class we recently looked at the math concept, graphing. The main things that we focused on with this unit were the names of the important parts of graphs. Specifically, we looked at the x axis, y axis, the title, the labels, and the scale.
We first practiced reading and answering questions about the information in bar graphs and line graphs. Students are not only learning about the different parts of graphs but also about the language we use to compare and contrast the data we find in them. For example, students need to answer questions that ask which of the data points is larger, smaller, etc. They also need to answer questions that ask about the sum of the totals, or about how the data changed over time.
In our activity, teamed up with another grade four class in a collaborative statistics and graphing exercise. Students were tasked with creating 4 related questions, asking 30 or more other students their questions, recording their data on a paper, and plotting their data on a graph. Their graphs were expected to be done with the highest quality. In this way, students practiced their English speaking skills since they had to ask and answer each other’s questions. They were simultaneously working on the related math graphing vocabulary, as well. A great activity for a Math concept where students were learning, practicing and also having fun!
Mr. Walker’s Class: Grade 4 (June 2017)
Guided reading is an important part of our school curriculum. Students are encouraged to read orally, both in a group and individually in a non-threatening setting with their classmates. It is also a great time for me as the teacher to be able to assess students reading abilities one on one. Lately in our Guided Reading we have been focusing on volume, sounding out words, and expression.
A practice that has been really helping students develop in these areas has been choral reading. In our groups we have been working on reading loudly and in time with one another. This has been a great way to take the stress out of just one person reading to a group and has allowed students who may be more reserved and naturally soft spoken to really try and use as much volume as possible.
Another aspect of Guided Reading that is very helpful for a student’s reading development, and one that they really enjoy, is ‘Story Time’. When we’ve accomplished our reading tasks on time and the students have behaved well, we take time at the end of class to read an interesting book together as a class. The teacher always makes sure to model good reading techniques such as volume, sounding out words, and expression. Our Guided Reading classes have been very successful this year and have helped our students develop into more confident readers who read with good volume, expression and can sound out words well.
Ms. Doty’s Class: Grade 4 (June 2017)
Learning about Sports and Health
This semester our science unit is on Sports and Health. The students are learning about different kinds of exercises to strengthen different types of muscles in their body. The exercises we are focusing on are jumping jacks, jump rope, sit ups, leg extensions and push-ups.
As a class, we looked at the different exercises and how they strengthen the different areas of muscles. In this case, the muscles are abdominal, hamstrings, quadriceps, triceps, and biceps. The students were then asked to label the muscles. They were surprised to know that you can work more than one muscle at a time when you play sports!
The students were shown clips of children playing sports and asked what muscles they were using. When we swim we use almost all of our muscles. The students were asked to draw a picture of themselves playing a sport and write sentences about what they were playing and what muscles they use to play that sport.
Then, we all strengthened our muscles by going outside to do some exercises! We kept an exercise journal of how many jumping jacks, jump rope, sit ups, leg extensions, and push-ups they could do in 1 minute. We kept this routine up for three weeks to see if we could progressively do better each week. The students found out that they all progressed in these exercise activities over the three weeks and so did their English!
Mr. Little’s Class: Grade 4 (May 2017)
This is how we practice oral English in my class. We have speeches every week. The students begin with the teacher directing the students on how to set up their page. Then the teacher gives them their subject. Subjects that we’ve had so far include “My Holiday”, “My body”, “The Benefits of Generosity”, etc. This week we’re speaking about “School Rules and why they are Important.”
We begin by talking about the school rules, and then I let the students write their speech on their own. The students have until Friday to complete the writing, and memorize their speech. Then, they will go to the teacher and speak while the teacher checks their paper for grammatical accuracy and good sentence structure. The teacher also encourages them to speak loudly and stand straight and tall, showing confidence.
If a student has more than two or three grammar errors, the teacher will send them back with the corrections to memorize their speech again, this time using the grammar corrections. When the student has learned the speech a second time with correct grammar, he or she returns to say it again. In this way, the speech is a very effective teaching tool as well as a tool for practicing oral English. There is no pressure, and the teacher gives the students lots of encouragement and congratulations. When they have completed their speech with little or no grammar errors, they bounce away happily to do some other work. Good job! Everyone is very proud of you!
Ms. Doty’s Class: Grade 4
Word Study Lesson
At Clifford School we have a Word Study program where our main focus is to teach the students how to study words. We make sure we cover all aspects of learning a word. A student needs to pronounce words correctly, incorporate words into their writing and be able to discuss new words orally in discussions demonstrating their knowledge of the new words. First, we drill and model how to say and pronounce our words. The teacher will say the words for the students so they know how to say them correctly. Secondly, we will have an open discussion about the new words. If the students have questions about the meaning or how to use new words, the teacher will provide explanations. Students will also start using new words in sentences in open class discussions. Lastly, students will incorporate new words learned into their journal writing. Students use spelling strategies and grammar points learned in class to write their stories.
There is always room for fun with Word Study. Near the conclusion of the word study lesson, students have the option of getting with a partner and quizzing each other using their small whiteboards. This helps students practice writing the words and using the correct pronunciation. Students also have an option of playing the game “unscramble” where students have to unscramble letters to make the words. At the end of our word study lessons, the students learn how to use the meanings of “prefix”, “suffix” or “root” words to figure out the meaning of the whole word. Breaking down words or decoding, so students can understand the meaning, is the basis of our word study program.
Ms. Lis’ Class: Grade 4
One of the best ways to improve English is to read. Reading allows students to learn new vocabulary, improve pronunciation, increase understanding by focusing on fluency and reading with expression. Reading out loud also increases confidence speaking English increasing use of English daily. The students are separated into 3 smaller guided reading groups based on their reading and comprehension levels. We spend 2 class periods a week in guided reading groups. The small groups work with the same short story for 4 weeks. The first week students read the story in a group out loud. While they are reading they write down any unknown words. After the story has been read, they work as a group to go through and define the unknown words. Any words that are unknown by the entire group are then defined through discussion or using a dictionary.
Over the next few weeks we re-read the story once a week to improve pronunciation, fluency and expression. While students are reading, they can ask other students what words mean or for help with pronunciation. During the last period with the story, each group reads their story out loud to the class and the students listening are asked comprehension questions to show their listening and comprehension skills. The students have quickly come to think of guided reading as a favorite class and they enjoy the experience and are improving their English skills at the same time.
Mr. Nishimura's Class: Grade 4
Having Fun with Word Study
In our class we do a specialized word study every week. The words change week to week, with a focus on important prefixes and suffixes, and common English words. The goal with each word study is to add to the student’s understanding of English words and their parts, rather than just focusing on the meaning of each word. We begin each word study with a PowerPoint presentation that doubles as a friendly competition. Students are encouraged to put up their hands and try to offer an explanation of each new word as it is presented. They gain Class Dojo points for their table for each explanation they give.
Sometimes the students are asked to make up their own word using whatever prefix or suffix we happen to be working with. Each slide we look at comes with a visual representation of the word, so that students can conceptualize the word in a different way. Whenever possible, the pictures are interactive, so that students can earn more reward points by guessing which information or context is missing, and then see the answer visually. This all serves to make word study lessons more interesting and fun while encouraging participation. Next, we review the words on a separate handout that has the definitions written out for further reference. Using this, students then copy out the words in alphabetical order and separate the syllables for each. My students enjoy word study, which is both productive and fun!
Mr. Little's Class: Grade 4
Using English with Classroom Projects
It’s good to hear a lot of English speaking in my class so we will occasionally do individual or group projects that open the classroom up and allow for free communication. The students in the class have become accustomed to speaking English exclusively, so the more communication chances they have, the more practice they have using English. In our science unit about weather, we decided to make a water-cycle craft utilizing our listening skills, writing skills and thinking skills to allow for ample opportunities to speak freely.
We began with detailed instructions on how to fold and organize our water-cycle craft. Students needed to think, watch and listen as they were shown how the paper needed to be folded, where lines needed to be drawn, what sentences needed to be written where, and finally, where to draw the detailed pictures. The students also had a lot of fun putting it together as they learned vocabulary related to our science theme. It was very rewarding as a teacher because there was so much spontaneous English being spoken at the tables. It was great to see leadership shown by some of the boys and girls who reminded a classmate of instructions, or encouraged them by commenting how nice their pictures and handwriting looked. I love to see teamwork in my class! When they were finished, we took turns answering questions about what we did. Creating interesting projects in the classroom can provide an environment to practice speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.
Mr. Walker's Class: Grade 4
As a review of our unit on weather, we are preparing and presenting speeches using our new knowledge. We started out by reviewing the different seasons and associated vocabulary words that we have learned to describe the weather for each one. Students were then asked to brain storm a list of clothing articles that would be appropriate to wear during the different seasons. After we reviewed all the necessary information, students were asked to create their own sentences describing the seasons, their weather conditions and the types of clothing one should wear during the respective seasons.
As a class, we have been practicing public speaking for over two months now and the students are becoming comfortable with the process. In an effort to continually challenge and encourage students to push themselves, we are working as a class on making our speeches longer and being able to recite them from memory, instead reading from a prepared speech. The rest of our time spent on our speeches this week has been used putting our thoughts in order, reviewing and editing our work, and committing our speeches to memory. The practice of preparing and giving speeches to the class is not only a great way to review and use new vocabulary, it is also a invaluable exercise in speaking to an audience and practicing listening skills.