A Sneak Peek…

It has been an amazing year of reading, writing, word work and community building in 4th grade. Students have used the iPads to create, communicate, connect and collaborate. They are becoming critical thinkers!

At MJGDS, we strive for student-centered or “student-owned” learning. Blogfolios and student-led conferences are two steps on the path of reflective learning. What does it really mean for students to own the learning?

I want to share a wonderful example.
Our last read aloud was Chris Grabenstein’s new book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. We enjoyed this book a LOT (many students said it was their favorite or one of their favorite books ever).  With all of the puzzles and games, it was an especially fun book to read together as a class.
A few days after we finished the book, Allie, came to me to tell me that she was checking out Chris Grabenstein’s website and, “LOOK what I found! Chris Grabenstein Skypes with classes for free!” She asked if she could email his assistant to set up a Skype for our class.

Let me repeat that.

And that is what she did. She wrote a beautiful email. I love how her voice, personality and enthusiasm shine through her words.


As a language arts teacher, I also happen to notice how much Allie’s writing has improved over the year. But what delights me is her choice to include information like “Our class loves to read books and write.” If you ever wondered what is meant by students “owning their own learning” this is it.

I don’t quite know how to thank amazing authors such as Chris Grabenstein who care about helping to create the next generation of readers and give generously of their time.We have  scheduled our Skype visit for early September, and we are excited. Thank you, Allie, for giving us something to anticipate!


Parashat Tazria and Metzora-Allie

Allie explained that there were three kinds of Tzarat:  on clothes, on the walls of your house and on your body.  All were warnings from God because a person gossiped (spoke Lashon HaRah). Her life lesson was to “tie your tounge” – don’t gossip and don’t lie.  Allie’s activity was to act out different scenarios from the Parasha.

St. Augustine & Sea Turtles

We had a really fun field trip on Wednesday. The Old Florida Museum was a hands-on, experiential learning experience that included an archeological dig (with billion year-old dinosaur poop), dipping candles, playing antique games and crewing a Spanish sea vessel. The narrated trolley ride around town was a relaxing and interesting way to end the day.



We are wrapping up the year with a research and informational writing unit. Students are creating sea turtles in art, so we are researching sea turtles. There is a lot to learn about these fascinating creatures!

Parashat Emor-Abigail

Abigail explained that the Parasha was about the Jewish holidays from the Torah:  Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Her life lesson was that time is important and we need to observe the holidays that God commanded us.  Abigail’s activity was to create a picture which incorporates the symbols from each of the holidays and hide them within the picture.  The students had to find the hidden symbols and connect them to each holiday.

Parashat Acharey Mot – Isa

Isa’s Hebrew summary was very good.  It reminded everyone that in this Parasha there is a review of how to observe Yom Kippur.  Next Isa connected the Parasha to our first unit of the year which was about the steps of T’Shuva (Repentance).  After reviewing the steps, each group of students acted out their assigned step.  The students commented that even though they already learned this information, this was a fun way to review the steps of T’Shuva.

4th Grade Superheroes

As Isa shared in her scribe post, we are learning about character strengths. It is very empowering to recognize that each of us is unique and has a special blend of positive traits. We are also learning to recognize the positive traits in others, as well as the fact that our strengths are not fixed. We can grow and develop new strengths!

We watched a wonderful video called The Science of Character.

Many of our vocabulary words, such as persevere and optimist, were reinforced as we discussed the different character traits.

Our next activity was to use an online superhero creation tool to create our self as a superhero. Our top 3 character strengths are our super powers.

You can read our individual blogs to find out how we use our super powers to affect the world.