The 4th graders continued to work on their Genius Hour projects this morning, and two groups did “practice” presentations.
The students also learned about the history behind the Faberge eggs. We talked about empathy, and how the designer of the beautiful eggs must have had great empathy to produce such masterpieces. Unfortunately, the person who commissioned the eggs, the Czar of Russia, did not have enough empathy for his own citizens – leading to a violent revolution that resulted in the death of his family and some of the treasured eggs disappearing forever.
After working on Genius Hour projects today, the 4th graders learned more about tessellations – how to make them, where they can be found in nature, and how mankind finds them useful and beautiful.
They aren’t quite finished with their tessellation art work, but I will share a few pieces of their products so far below.
In addition to studying tessellations, the students also did some challenging math called, “Algebra Antics,” where they learned more about the x and y axis and the order of operations.
The 4th graders have been working on research for their Genius Hour projects, and many of them are at the stage where they can now plan how they want to present what they have learned. When they get to this phase of the process, the students must determine their intended audience(s) and mode of presenting. They are also required to include an interactive portion, which could be a game reviewing information or any other activity which involves the audience.
Many students like to present using slides, as this is a tool most of them have used many times. So, we went over the World’s Worst Slide Presentation to discuss some of the things a good presenter does NOT include in a slide show 😉
We also discussed some more Courage scenarios this week, as well as attempted to create Thinglinks of their hexagonal learning about Tuck Everlasting. (We’re still working on the latter due to some technical difficulties!)
Following an excellent presentation in the library about the Battle of the Alamo, the 4th graders pondered what it means to be “courageous.” They came up with criteria, and discussed different scenarios. This tied in well with our book discussion of Tuck Everlasting.
After relating the book to what it means to be courageous, the students were given hexagons with different symbols, themes, and characters from the book. They worked in partners to piece the hexagons together, making numerous connections about the details of the book. Their discussions were complex, and so was their thinking!
Both 4th and 5th grade GT classes finished their 1st semester novels: Tuck Everlasting and The Giver, respectively. To think more deeply about the books, they each played “The Whatzit” game in their classes this week. During the game, the students compete in teams to answer open-ended questions such as, “What was your favorite feature of the Whatzit, and Why?” (Substitute the novel title for, “the Whatzit.”) They submit anonymous responses and I choose the ones that I think are the most creative and meaningful. I was very proud of how both grade levels worked hard to write “deep” answers!
In other news, both grade levels also did their report card self-assessments, and should return their signed report slips by next week.
This week, the 2nd-4th grade GT students played, “Reindeer Games.” This was a puzzle modeled after the “Escape the Room” games, where you have to solve different challenges. It was a test of their logic, problem-solving, collaboration, and growth mindset. I’m happy to say that all teams were able to reach the solutions and they worked very well together! (Don’t forget that you can click on each picture to see it full-size!)
The 4th graders did some heavy mathematical thinking this week as they figured out the true cost of the 12 days of Christmas in 2016. With the help of a website that estimates the cost of each gift with the current market rates, they were able to find out the total cost of all of the gifts given during the 12 days of the song. (They also calculated the true cost of the “Straight No Chaser” version of the song!) They learned that swans are extremely expensive, and looked at some trends over time as costs rose and fell.
The students also finished discussing the “Wheels of Life” they designed for the Tuck Everlasting characters and talked about how their own traits would compare to the book characters. Most of the students felt like they were more intelligent, but not very helpful. However, when asked if they would rather have a friend who was intelligent or one who was helpful, they almost all agreed on helpful! Interesting!
The students spent a good amount of time working on their Genius Hour projects this week. There are still some topics being refined as they learn that their research is leading them in different directions the more they investigate.
4th grade also spent time for Hour of Code in GT class on working on Scratch programming. They easily created great programs in Scratch, which is a big difference than when Hour of Code began a few years ago and it was the first time many students had even been exposed to coding. We also made some efforts to program a drone in the classroom, but got foiled by a quickly depleted battery.
As we continue to read Tuck Everlasting, the students are analyzing the characters quite a bit. Today we used a graphic called, “The Wheel of Life” to visualize the traits of some of the characters. It was interesting how the students could identify most of the characters by looking at their final graphs! You can see some examples below.