Sunday, April 27, 2014

Human Footprint

Did you know that the average American will consume 43,371 cans of soda in their lifetime?  You would use enough cans to stretch 3.42 miles.  That's 50 football fields with end zones.  The human footprint on the environment is enormous.

Around Earth, wild habitats and the wildlife they support are threatened because of human activity.  Only 17 percent of Earth's surface remains untouched by human influence.

In fourth grade, we have been studying the human footprint on the environment.  National Geographic has some amazing resources to assist in teaching and learning about this interesting topic. 

We started out by reading the Human Footprint, By Ellen Kirk.  The illustrations and facts in this book are really eye opening.

Then we explored National Geographic's Human Footprint website interactive.  You can type in how much you consume and it will calculate and compare your lifetime average to that of other people around the world.

There is also an amazing map on the National Geographic website that shows what parts of the world have had the greatest human impact.

After spending a lot of time researching and discussing our human footprint we completed a culminating activity with a reading from the National Geographic website.  Students read an article about the human impact on the environment of two animals:  the gorilla and the okapi.  
Although this was a challenging text, students were easily able to use their comprehension strategies, and a dictionary, to decode and comprehend the text.
As a group, students selected one animal to focus on and then brainstormed a list of steps people could take to reduce or reverse the problem. 
Lastly, students created a presentation consisting of a poster, storyboard, PSA, graphic novel, skit (or any other idea they prepared) that communicated the key issue and suggested action steps.

I recorded each group's presentation so students could watch themselves while completing a self-evaluation.

After about two weeks of researching and learning about the human footprint, students were still eager to learn more. 

Be sure to check out all the amazing resources on National Geographic's website!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Friday Before April Break - 5 for Friday

As I sit here, typing away on my laptop, I can't help but smile.  Not only have we had the best week (since I returned from Maternity leave) but I am now officially on April break!  That means more family time, more sleeping in, and more blogging and creating!

Here are some of the highlights of our week in 4th grade:

 The 4th grade New York State English Language Arts test is finally over.  After three rigorous days of testing I decided to reward students with a little treat!

Today we had a Bear Hunt!  Students were given a specific type of bear to become and imagined that they were in a forest foraging for food (a.k.a. colorful eggs filled with food cards).  This was part of our lesson on key science concepts such as survival of the fittest and animal adaptations.

After finding their eggs, students recorded the amount of food they found, made predictions about how much food other bears found, and discussed our data.  Then students created a "super hero" bear with a special adaptation.

Have you seen these National Geographic Ladders books?  They are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  They come in various Lexile levels so that all students in your class can read the books at their own reading level.  Each book contains 3 different genre stories/articles that focus on the same science topic.  Throughout the book there are various text features and thoughtful questions to ask students.  I am currently using these books during guided reading so that I can integrate science with language arts to better prepare students for the upcoming NYS Science Test.

We have been using Kindles in our classroom for over a year now.  I am very excited that we will finally be getting wireless Internet installed in our classroom.  I'm to receive permission shortly to use the wireless Internet on our Kindles so we can finally access apps such as RazKids and Brainpop!

Last but not least, don't forget to link up with your 5 for Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching!