Planet Presentations by Fourth Graders

Last Wednesday the English Class fourth graders presented Google slide presentations about the planets of the solar system to English Class first and second graders. Working in small groups the fourth graders had researched a planet and then prepared their presentations on their Chromebooks.

The first and second graders were very attentive during the presentations. English Class second graders have been studying space and the solar system in their environmental studies lessons for a while now so this was the perfect end to their unit of study.

Spring Litter Clean up

 

It is a sure sign of spring when English Class pupils, armed with gloves and trash bags, spread out in the general neighbourhood of our school. Recently English Class fourth and fifth graders demonstrated active citizenship by picking up trash litter that had accumulated over the winter months.

Besides being a great opportunity to get exercise and fresh air, picking up litter makes volunteers feel productive. It also sends a message to the community that we care.

Trash litter on the ground is an eyesore. Besides being unsightly, it can also pose danger to wildlife and young children.  Let’s keep our environment litter free and beautiful.

 

Our Class / “Meidän luokka” on TV!

Imagine what a surprise it was for English Class fourth graders one day a couple of weeks ago when their teacher, Ms. Anu, introduced the class to Daniel, a famous European fashion designer, who had come to their class to ask for their opinions on 3 different prototypes for school uniforms. The pupils were much too polite to mention that the uniforms were not to their taste. (One uniform prototype resembled a super hero costume!) Nor did they mention that matters were not being translated properly. In fact, it took a while for the pupils to catch on to the fact that they were actually being PRANKED! Only when the TV crew came into their classroom did they fully realize that they had been chosen to participate in a popular children’s programme called Meidän luokka which translates as “Our Class. The fourth graders became very excited  indeed when they finally understood that they would be traveling on the following Wednesday to Tampere to engage in all sorts of fun activities in the studio of Meidän luokka .

Fourth and fifth grade classes throughout Finland are selected to participate in Meidän luokka.  In every episode of Meidän luokka / “Our Class” a 4th or 5th grade class faces challenges that require good teamwork, communication skills and good group dynamics. Members of that class are also tested on how well they know one another. In the course of completing challenges, the class collects points that go toward collecting supplies that they can use for holding a class party.

 

Our fourth graders managed to win a large box of party supplies and treats for a class party. They had a fantastically fun-filled memorable time doing so. Readers of the blog can see the programme here.

English Class 4th Graders & SAMK Physiotherapy Students “Travel” Through Sports

For many years now students from the English bachelor degree programme in physiotherapy at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) have worked together,  as part of their studies, with a class of pupils from Cygnaeus School English Classes for a few lessons. Last week our fourth graders visited the new SAMK campus to participate in activities that the physiotherapist students had planned and organized.

The warm-up session started with an all-group activity where an inner circle and outer circle of participants was formed. Together they practiced various rhythms, ways of moving and squatting that related to Africa. One example of their efforts follows.

 

Then three groups were formed and the remaining time was divided so that each group could participate in three different activities. In a nod to Brazil and beach volley ball, fourth grade pupils and SAMK students played a variation  of beach volley ball using several balls.

A variation of indoor rugby was  another activity groups participated in.

 

The fourth graders also participated in paralympic activities, including going over hurdles and walking hoops while being blindfolded, signifying being sight-impaired.

Distance throwing from a seated position was a new experience for the pupils, and one that offered lots of food for thought.

The session with SAMK students and our fourth graders ended with a unifying team challenge of building a tri-layered “pyramid”. You can tell just looking at their faces that they are all pretty pleased with the activities, as well as with themselves. Fun was had by all!

 

Learning Grammar Can be Fun

English Class fourth graders are revising what they have learned about parts of speech in their English lessons by playing Parts of Speech Quest at abcya.com.  The pupils were challenged to collect keys and parts of a broken shield in a cleverly contrived story. In order to obtain a key and a shard of shield at each stage of the quest, a pupil needed to identify one of eight parts of speech. This is a grand way of motivating pupils who might not otherwise have any great interest in learning grammar.

Sledging at Kirjurinluoto

Yesterday, after lunch during their physical education lesson, English Class fourth graders and their teacher, Mr. Gregg, walked to the island of Kirjurinluoto where they enjoyed sliding on their sledges. Because Pori is a coastal town, winter weather can be quite capricious, which is one very good reason to enjoy winter sports when weather permits.

Shrove Tuesday, which falls on Tuesday, February 13th this year, is traditionally celebrated as Laskiainen, the mid-winter sliding festival day in Finland.  The fourth graders took a head-start on this day that celebrates winter fun.

With high spirits and red cheeks the fourth graders posed for a group picture at the Kirjuri park. They returned to school tired, but satisfied with the delightful day of outdoor activity.

Coding Animations in Fourth Grade

Few fourth graders in the world can say honestly that they have been coding for four years. However, that happens to be true for our English Class fourth graders. In second grade they were part of a pilot project promoting coding basics via a Dutch application called Bomberbot. That training lasted for half a year. The pupils have also used Hopscotch and Kodable applications to learn the basics of coding. What all of these programmes have in common is that they are structured on 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional labyrinth types of learning scenarios. Ultimately, as the children advanced through levels of difficulty, a point would be reached where the children were unable to figure out the exact solution. Frustration levels would mount. Perseverance would wane in spite of encouragement from teachers. There was not enough motivation in the structure of the game to encourage stick-to-itiveness. Finally, the coding didn’t progress any further.

ScratchJr was developed for young children, but offers open-ended challenges for older programmers as well.   Scratch, the predecessor of ScratchJr, is described by Wikipedia as  a free visual programming language and online community used by millions of children around the world. With Scratch and ScratchJr, children can create their own interactive stories, games and animations, then share and discuss their creations with one another.

It is just this open-ended creative approach that motivates children to work through challenges and difficulties without giving up. Check back with our blog in a couple of weeks to see what the fourth graders have been able to programme.