Learning Through Leadership

Monthly Archives: November 2013

I hope you are all enjoying your first day of our Thanksgiving break and are staying warm. My little ones didn’t get the memo that they could sleep in this morning, I hope you all fared better!

I just wanted to post some pictures from the Fourth Grade Feast yesterday and thank all of the amazing parent volunteers that came in to help serve the meal. The food was all delicious and our kids had a great time. We enjoyed reading their recipes and the paragraphs describing their traditions behind the food. This is a wonderful event each year, and this was no exception!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your families, Mrs. Kenney and I are thankful for your children, and count each of you among our blessings this year. Have a wonderful long weekend and safe travels!

Mrs. Bristle









Wowza! We had a super busy week last week! We were very busy with our STEM project (post on that to follow) and with our division unit in math. Ask your child about…

  • Building a Tar pul
  • Soil Compaction
  • The three methods for division
  • Their readers theater during E and I
  • Why we “Smile” when we factor a number
  • What is the difference between a Prime and Composite number
  • Which habit we talked about this week
  • What are some of the Historic Tribes that lived in Ohio
  • What Mrs. Gossett Talked about during her lesson


This week is short but BUSY!

Monday we will continue working on weathering and erosion in science and language arts. These are SLOW process that change the Earth’s surface as opposed to the RAPID processes we learned about two weeks ago (Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides). In math we will finish up our discussion about division and factors and multiples. We continue to work on the Historic Tribes of Ohio in social studies and will talk about them some more tomorrow. 

Tuesday we will do some Thanksgiving themed activities in the morning and then get ready for our Fourth Grade Feast. We have loved reading all of the recipes and are looking forward to tasting all of the delicious foods that are coming in on Tuesday. Please see the One Call Email for reminders. 

We are having a recycling drive at school and are collecting magazines and catalogues for recycling. The winning class gets 30 minutes of extra gym time! Please send in any magazines that you are ready to part with or any of those holiday catalogues that are clogging up your mailboxes. The school earns money every time we fill the recycling bin by the playground!

Have a great Sunday, stay warm and hug your kiddos!

Mrs. Bristle


The paper above was our morning starter today for Language Arts. The students do this everyday as an activity to warm them up for what we are doing in class. As you can see the little girl in the prompt didn’t make a good choice, and when I was reading the responses to question 3 from our kids I was so excited to see what they wrote!

“No, because she wasn’t being proactive, she should have worked first and played later.”

“No, she didn’t put first things first, she should have done her homework before playing with the computer.”

“No, Her end in mind should have been to get her work done so she was successful in school.”

“No, she wasn’t living the habits and doing her work first!”

These kids are living the habits and doing a great job becoming Leaders! YEAH!

Today our friend Kathlyn is going to be a guest blogger! She is going to tell us about how water causes erosion in a river.


Erosion is when wind, water, and ice wears away at soil or rock. At a beach you’ll see the waves coming in and out. Every time the waves take a little bit out and give a little bit back. In a river the water is going one direction. It takes away soil and doesn’t give it back. For instance, if you put a rock at the bottom of a river, in ten years or so it’ll be smooth. In river bends the water is pressed against one side of the river. If a river turns one way it will erode the other way. If a river turns right, the water will erode the left side of the river.


Didn’t Kathlyn do a great job explaining erosion? When she gave this explanation to the class today the other kids clapped when she was finished! These fourth graders are doing some amazing thinking, we couldn’t be more proud!

We spent yesterday being geotechnical engineers in the classroom and had such a great time doing so! The kids learned about the layers of the earth, and the different layers of soil. They learned why it is important to choose building sites carefully. They reasoned and explained why buildings need to be built carefully in areas prone to earthquakes and problem solved to find ways to make buildings more stable during earthquakes. It was truly impressive… And we’re not done yet!




First we looked at a sample building site and determined the layers of soil that we saw (sand and clay)


Then Mrs. Bristle placed a skyscraper on top of our site and shook the site to simulate and earthquake…tragically the sky scraper fell down!

That led us to the question of “How can we make buildings more stable?” We decided that we could anchor the buildings using piers, but didn’t know how far we needed to anchor the piers in order to be stable. From here, the kids took over!

Each group was given a model building site and a skyscraper.

First the kids took core samples of the soil so they could determine the ground make up of their model site.




Then they predicted which layers they would need to anchor into in order to make their building most stable. One site had 4 layers (soil, sand, clay and bedrock) and the other site had 3 layers (soil, sand and clay). Once they made their prediction they attached anchors (dowel rods) to their building and tested the anchors at each layer by simulating an earthquake.






We then came together as a class and debriefed. We found that anchoring the building into the clay or bedrock was the most stable, and that of the two sites the site with bedrock would be the preferred building site.

The kids worked so hard on this and used awesome thinking and reasoning skills. We are so excited to start the next part of this next week!

Today ask your child:

1) What is a geotechnical engineer?

2) What is a core sample?

3) What did you do for your STEM project today? (Blog post about this coming tomorrow)

4) What are the layers of the Earth?

5) What did you do in Art/PE today?

6) What book are you reading? What is it about? What Character Traits does your character display?

7) What does the remainder in a division problem represent?

8) Show me how to divide using the place value method or using partial quotients.

9) How many books have your colored in on your book stack?

10) What was your favorite thing about today?

We will post pictures from our STEM project tomorrow, for now talk to your engineers about what they have been doing!

Mrs. B and Mrs. K

We are reading a book in class called “Suman crosses the Karnali River”. In this story, a boy named Suman is working to help his village solve a problem. Each year during the rainy season the river floods and they are unable to cross to get to school, the medical facility, and to other towns. The story tells how they use engineering and technology to solve their problem. Once we finish the story we are going to try out some of the engineering processes here at school.


Our book

The students are using the Close Reading process to make sure that they understand the reading and to make connections to what they are reading. A Close reading has 3 parts. The first part is where they read along while the teacher reads the story to them. Here they are getting the basics of the story, listening for difficult vocabulary, and listening as the teacher helps to decode unfamiliar words and concepts.


The second part of a close reading involves reading with your pencil. Students read and make notes using symbols to indicate words they are unfamiliar with, important facts, connections they made and so on. We use a bookmark with the symbols to help remind the students how to code their writing.


Here are some students doing part two of a close reading.




The third part of the Close Reading involves sharing the connections, unfamiliar terms and important concepts with the class or a partner and then doing a third reading of the material. This time the students are reading in order to answer questions or demonstrate comprehension.




Tomorrow we will finish our story and then get ready to start our work engineering a solution to the problem!