Archive for March 2014

Dual Language Texts

There is lots of research on the importance of developing a English language learner’s first language (mother tongue).  It is so important to remember that just because a student is unable to express her/himself fully in English, it doesn’t mean they are illiterate.  Allowing students to write in their mother tongue provides freedom for the students to express themselves in more detail and share their culture.

Grade 4 has just started non fiction reading and writing.  In order to activate prior knowledge, I asked my beginner fourth grader to create a dual language text on any topic she choose.  We started by reading several non fiction texts at her level, and then she choose to write a narrative expository text on Spring.

She created the story by hand and then used Book Creator to take photos of her drawings, and Chinese text, before adding English text using the iPad.



Exploring Magnets Part 1

Grade 4 students just started their latest unit of inquiry for Sharing the Planet.  It’s titled, It’s Electric! and the central idea is: We can harness and direct electricity to meet our needs and wants.

The beginning of the unit focuses on magnets and their connection to electricity.

EAL students explored different inquiry circles with magnets and after pair work, the pairs formed groups and came up with some sentences regarding magnets and what they do:

What magnets do

Here is a video of the students showing their inquiry into magnets:

Exploring Magnets part 1 from AISB EAL on Vimeo.


New Unit of Inquiry: Electricity and Magnetism

This week marks the new unit of inquiry for Grade 4.  We are entering into the world of science and we will be reading about electricity, writing as scientists and studying the world of Electricity and Magnetism.

I absolutely LOVE science units, as the students are so motivated by the experiments and there are so many hands-on activities.  I also love that it is very black and white.  There isn’t a lot of grey where electricity is concerned!

The central idea is: We can harness and direct electricity to meet our needs and wants.  It is all about the science behind electricity and the students will be inquiring into the forms and properties of electricity, the role of magnets in electricity, electricity within circuits and the impact of electricity on our lives.  This particular unit falls under the Sharing the Planet transdisciplinary theme and therefore part of the unit will be about inquiring into the “rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people”.

There is quite a large vocabulary list to accompany this unit.  It would be wonderful to discuss the questions that will drive the unit and the vocabulary in your home language with your son/daughter.  As always, please feel free to email me if anything needs clarifying.

Teacher questions driving unit:

  • What are the forms and properties of electricity?
  • What is the connection between electricity and magnetism?
  • How do electrical circuits work?
  • How does electricity affect our lives?


Electricity, harness, needs, wants, electric current, amperes (amps), static electricity, lightning, atom, nucleus, proton, neutron, electron, circuit, series circuit, parallel circuit, battery, conductor, insulator, magnet, magnetism, magnetic field, attract, repel, north pole, south pole, power lines, transformer, voltage, electromagnet, and electromagnetism.

For an English version of the vocabulary sheet please click on: Electricity wordspicdef

Non Fiction Text Features using Chatterpix

The latest and greatest free app to have crossed my path recently is Chatterpix Kids by Duck, Duck, Moose. This app allows you to take a photo (or choose one from the camera roll), add a mouth and record up to a 30 second message.  This movie file can then be quickly exported to the camera roll and either used as a stand alone video, or a section with an iMovie (for example).

Grade 4 used it when they wanted to talk about what they wanted to be when they grew up and now Kindergarten is using it to teach others about features of non-fiction books.

They are making posters about non-fiction books and therefore we will turn the videos into QR codes that can be attached to the posters and used either by the kids to remind them of the various features or to teach someone else.  It has been so much fun!

Olga – heading from Mariana Achim on Vimeo.

Santi – Table of Contents from Mariana Achim on Vimeo.

Paul – Glossary from Mariana Achim on Vimeo.

Liam – Table of Contents from Mariana Achim on Vimeo.

Bassam – I like non-fiction books! from Mariana Achim on Vimeo.

Carlitos – real stuff from Mariana Achim on Vimeo.


When I Grow Up, I’d Like to Be…

To follow on from their first ebook “What Do You Want to Be?”, fourth graders moved into creating their own book about what they want to be when they grow up.  They created their own job card to complement the My Future, My Choice cards and then used that card to create a page in a new ebook titled When I Grow Up, I’d Like to Be.

This time, we tried something a little different with the photos….

Using the app Face in a Hole, we swapped the faces of several photos to add our personal touch!  As if that wasn’t enough, we then used ChatterPix to make the picture talk!

Please enjoy!

When I Grow Up, I’d Like to Be from AISB EAL on Vimeo.



The World of Work

For the latest unit on the World of Work, students in fourth grade have been learning about many different jobs around the world and the important skills needed for those jobs.  I found a great resource on the web, titled My Future, My Choice.  This organization introduces children to the many different opportunities that are available to them in the world.  Using a pack of cards, where each card represented a different job, students were able to learn about the different skills sets people need for various jobs.  Skill sets such as working as a team, using numbers, and creativity were among the seven identified.  The students also came up with additional skills such as organizational skills and technological skills.

Following this introductory lesson, the students created a couple of pages in a book titled, What Do You Want to Be?  Please enjoy the finished book, which we published to the web using

Connor McGovern Jersey