Adventures are the best way to learn!

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Recreating the Past: Making Our Own Polis

As we enter our final quarter of the school year, I am excited to have the opportunity to explore and teach about a civilization that has had such a rich, vibrant and important past–Ancient Greece!

To begin this final unit on ancient Greece, the students had the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of those they often meet on vacation, tour guides. The students grouped up and created posters based on the research they conducted. The students were tasked in creating posters that informed their readers of what to expect when visiting ancient Greece: from the geographical features to everyday life. Below you can see photos of their finished products:

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As we took a closer look on everyday life in ancient Greece, the students were able to see how the ancient Greeks organized themselves into city-states called polis. Interestingly enough, the ancient Greeks did not view themselves as natives to the country of Greece but instead associated themselves more to the city-state they lived in! In addition, each city state was unique different. Some put more importance on education and the arts–Athens– while others put more importance on warfare and their army–Sparta. While city-states differed in many ways, there were certain features that each city-state contained. These characteristics included a city wall, an acropolis, an agora, farmland located outside the city walls and most importantly temples.

With all this knowledge under their belt students were tasked with another project that required them to create their own polis! Students worked in pairs creating a 3D version of their imagined polis. I was impressed with the students’ ability to plan and collaborate with one another. There was clear teamwork going on between the pairs of students as they supported each others’ ideas or made compromises to create an agreed upon polis. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing students bring out their creative side. The Gr. 4 students brought their ideas to life as they used various materials to create their polis–from clay, to popsicle sticks, to toothpicks and even sand! I am proud of the work the kids have created thus far in this unit and cannot wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us! Below you can see photos of their polis:

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Publishing Party: Graduating from Informational Essay Writing

As March comes to a close, it is safe to say that it was another successful month full of learning and growth! As writers, the students accomplished writing narratives that carefully and thoughtfully illustrated each of their chosen “small moments.” However, it was clear that by our publishing party that they were ready to move on to the next unit of writing!

Over the course of this semester the students had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the art of nonfiction writing. I personally enjoy teaching this unit because it is an opportunity for students to try a different genre of writing, while also having them work on another important skill–researching. As a result, I was pleased to see the positive reaction the students had when they found out they would be writing informational essays–they were all enthusiastic and cheered!

In accordance to all of our writing units, the students would undergo the whole writing process: brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing/peer editing, and finally publishing. As I mentioned above this writing unit would mainly focus on a different style of writing for the students while also touching upon the important skill of researching. The students had the opportunity to choose any topic that interested them so long as it was “researchable,” which meant there was both print and online sources they could take information from. With full control of the topics they could write about I was not surprised to see the wide range of interesting historical events, important people, notable inventions the students wanted to talk about.

While the researching portion of this writing unit was tedious the students powered through it. I enjoyed listening to the new bits of information and facts the students learned about each of their chosen topics, which they eagerly shared with me and their other peers each day during ELA.

As the students moved on from brainstorming and researching, our Grade 4 writers found themselves at the next point of the writing process–drafting. During this stage, students were tasked to gather all their information to look for the “bigger picture” to see what they would want to ultimately teach their peers or future readers. This task helped the students narrow their focus and also helped them segregate their research into two groups: information and facts that they could use and information and facts that they would not use.

Drafting was also a difficult part of the writing process, since they were encouraged to further deepen their understanding of their topics. As researchers, the students were presented with a lot of information. Now with all of their collected data, they needed to analyze and come to a conclusion on what all the information they were given meant to them. This sometimes left the students stumped. Although, as a whole grade level they were ultimately able to reach a new understanding and appreciation for their topics in the end.

Once students neared the end of the writing process–some revising and others editing. A helpful trick the students learned was reading their work out loud. Not only were students able to practice their reading fluency and accuracy, but they were also able to catch all of the mistakes they may have not seen the first time around! During the revision stage, students were reminded that their writing did not need to be perfect and that it was always a work in progress. As a result, the students moved information around, deleted unnecessary words or sentences, and sometimes added more of their own thoughts on their chosen topic. With editing, students were given a check list that they used both on their own writing and others to ensure that all the writing conventions were being followed: spelling, capitalization, punctuation.

Before finally printing out and publishing their written pieces, the students needed to add some final touches. Students were able to add title pages, a table of contents, and of course photos/illustrations to enrich their informational essays. I truly enjoyed watching the students go through the whole process! As writers, it is easy to get stuck and remain stuck, but our Grade 4 students have definitely shown resilience when it came to each obstacle they were faced with. Through every struggle the students experienced, there was a big leap of growth that followed after. And for that, I am very proud of what these writers accomplished and how far they have come!

To finish of this writing unit, the students were given a well deserved publishing party! However, this publishing party had a special twist as they were each able officially “graduate” and were now certified experts in each of their chosen fields! With a wide range of snacks and sweets to pick from, the students gathered together each day to listen to their classmates read aloud their finished published pieces with pride. It was a wonderful sight to see and a treat to hear each of them read their writing aloud. A special thank you to the parents who help support their children at home with their writing and also provided all the wonderful treats that we happily ate and enjoyed in school! As writers I can proudly say we are officially going onwards and upwards from here on out!

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Our New Adventure Awaits: La Mesa Eco Park

I wholeheartedly believe that students learn best through real life experiences. As a result, I was pleased to know that we would have another opportunity to take the students out of school and into a different and far greener setting–La Mesa Eco Park!

Early on in the school year the students learned about ecosystems and the different ecosystems that dot our planet. The Philippines is home to many beautiful and interesting ecosystems. That being said, we had the opportunity to go visit one just a bus ride away in the middle of Quezon City.

In the La Mesa Eco Park, the students participated in various activities. One of which was learning about the butterfly species found in the Philippines and their life cycle. The students even had the chance to go inside a dome filled with butterflies! In the dome, the students either completely enjoyed being surrounded by butterflies, or had the total opposite reaction as they ran away from these graceful creatures!

Next, the students were given a personal tour of the eco park, where they learned about different types of trees (both their Tagalog and English names) and what their different uses were. One of the highlights to this part of the field trip was the opportunity to climb up a few set of stairs to get a wonderful view of the eco park as well as the watershed next to the La Mesa Eco Park that holds the water that a majority of Metro Manila uses on a daily basis!

The final activity the students participated in was tree planting. Students learned the proper way of taking care of and planting trees. While placing soil into the potters, the students found various materials in the soil that made it nutritious, as well as some living organisms such as bugs and earthworms! It was a treat watching students get to contribute and leave their own mark on the eco park by planting a tree. In the end, they even had the chance to take home their very own tree sapling!

While the students look to various parts of the field trip–interacting with the other homeroom class, bus rides and sing alongs, I was glad to see that they had the chance to be surrounded and interact with nature! I hope they had just as much fun as the homeroom teachers did on this field trip!

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Human Rights: Everybody’s Different, Everybody’s Human

As we continue our exploration of the ancient Hebrews’ history, I cannot help but be inspired by the inner historian in each and every one of my students! Recently we had the opportunity to discuss the rights of women during of this time period. After reviewing the expectations and rules that girls/women had to follow in an ancient Israelite society, I was met by many shocked faces and loud sighs of disapproval. As a whole, we discussed how many different ancient societies did not treat girls/women equally to their male counterparts. We came to the conclusion that the unfair treatment of women was a common pattern seen throughout history!

I then posed this question to the students, “Do you think men and women are treated equally in today’s society?” The students had many wonderful observations and pieces of evidence that proved that many women and men have more or less the same experiences/opportunities. Although, after looking at the treatment of women on a global scale, we noticed that girls/women still do not always have the same opportunities as we expected. Again, I was met by many confused faces wondering how “basic rights,” like education are still not given to everyone!

This led us to delve deeper by brainstorming what are important rights that all human beings should have. Many students believed that having a right to the following things: shelter, education, food/water, and freedom of speech were important for everyone to have access to.

As a result of the students reaction and interest in human rights, students had the opportunity to participate in a simulation where the class was divided into two groups–the buyers or sellers of  human rights. After reflecting on this activity (and playing two rounds of it). It was interesting to see how the “human rights sellers” initially placed high prices on their chosen human rights because they are important and should reflect that in how much they cost–the more important the human rights were, the more expensive they were. However,  “the human rights buyers” noticed that the sellers were selling similar human rights and chose those who were selling it at a cheaper price. Over time, the “human rights sellers” adapted and lowered their prices noticing that the cheaper they sold the rights the better it was.

Pictures from the Human Rights Simulation:

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The observations that students left me in awe and taught me more about what they thought about human rights. Many students believed that human rights shouldn’t be sold at a “high” price because then not everyone will have the chance to have them, and that there are some rights that should be given for “free” even. In the end, the students realized that human rights are important, but even if we have an agreed upon idea of what everyone deserves, that does not mean it is being followed or agreed around the world.

To end our discussion or exploration of human rights. Students were tasked to research on a chosen human rights hero/heroine. As a whole class, we had the opportunity to discuss various people in history who made an impact by fighting and standing up for the right thing. Some of the human rights heroes/heroines that were discussed included: Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Jose Rizal, Martin Luther King Jr.,  Liu Xiaobo, and many more.

Below you can find some videos that we watched about Human Rights:

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Sports Day: Round 2

It is that time of year again–Sports Day! I can’t help but get excited every time Sports Day rolls around. I enjoy watching and cheering all the students as they participate in various physical activities. My favorite part is watching students from various grade-levels come together to support and encourage one another. This semester’s Sports Day did not disappoint and was nothing short of amazing!

The students began the day by participating in various activities in the MPH. The students had the opportunity to play relay games that focused on many of the skills that they practiced in PE class.

After snack time, students went straight into playing more games as they participated in the “Amazing Race,” which required them to complete various tasks and had them running around the school!

After, students made their way up to the gym where they joined in, in more games such as basketball and volleyball games. To top of the day, the Elementary School students had the opportunity to showcase their creativity as they created and choreographed their own cheers and dance moves that they presented to the rest of the school.

To officially bring Sports Day to a close, the winning team was announced. This year’s winning team was no other than the Red Tamaraws!

Below are some photos from today’s eventful day:

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Jumping right into January

After three weeks apart, I could not be more excited to welcome the Gr. 4 students into the new semester. With only one last Chinese Dynasty–Han Dynasty–and the Silk Road to cover, the students were eager and ready to jump back in to the world of Ancient China.

Before the Christmas break, the students took a close look at the different Chinese dynasties–Shang, Zhou and Qin–and their impact on ancient societies and influence on even today’s world. The numerous inventions, discoveries and contributions made by the Chinese have been a stepping stone to many important gadgets, and other pieces of technology we still use today!

One of the most exciting of those contributions and beginning to world trade was the Chinese’s contribution of silk. Silk was a well-sought out commodity that had traders/merchants traveling far and wide just to get their hands on the finely made textile. With the trading/selling of silk, the Silk Road eventually emerged.  Although the name came later on in history, the Silk Road was a network of trading routes that stretched as far as the Roman Empire, to the Middle East, to India and back to China.

To give the students a taste of what it would be like to be a merchant traveling and trading on the Silk Road, the students had the opportunity to represent various regions that partook in the trading. They each then had the main objective of selling, trading or bartering their products in hopes of getting foreign products and more money. Throughout this simulation the students were met by a series of obstacles or changes. This was to give students a better understanding of what it would be like to be a trader. For example, students needed to take loans from a money lender to ensure they would have enough money for the the duration of their time on the Silk Road. Upon returning back to their assigned posts, the money lender would usually ask for their loaned money back plus interest! Another scenario that would take place on the Silk Road would be a run-in with bandits. Bandits were one of the main reasons why the Silk Road was sometimes deemed dangerous. Bandits would go as far as stealing or even killing merchants for their products and money.

After two days of this simulation, the students had a better understanding of why the Silk Road was a big part of Ancient China’s history, as well as world history too. The Silk Road did not only allow for the exchange of goods, but also allowed for ideas, inventions, and even cultures to be mixed and borrowed from various regions around the world. The students truly enjoyed this experience and it is safe to say that they also learned the tricks of the trade when it comes to bartering!

Here are some pictures from our Silk Road Simulation:

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Walk Through the Past: Bahay Tsinoy

In the Philippines, it comes as no surprise that Christmas is a holiday we all look forward to the most. In fact, we begin playing Christmas music the moment the “ber” months roll around!

While December ultimately marks the beginning of most cheerful time of the year, we cannot forget that it can also mark the most busiest time of the year. That being said the Gr. 4 students had many things that needed to be checked off their December To-Do list before  the semester was over. One of the first few things to check off our list: the Gr. 4 Field Trip to Bahay Tsinoy!

The students have had the opportunity to explore the physical landscape that help shape the civilization of Ancient China, they delved deep into the various philosophies that originated from some of the greatest minds in China and lastly they uncovered important contributions, inventions and discoveries made by Chinese people over time. While all of these many milestones in China’s history have been exciting to learn about inside the classroom, it is also important to find historical connections between that of China and our home country, the Philippines. It turns out that the Philippines and China have had a longstanding relationship that even predates the arrival of Magellan!

With the help of our knowledgeable tour guide, the students set off to learn more about Chinese people in the Philippines Chinese/Filipino cultural museum based in Intramuros. The Gr. 4 students were able to go back in time and retrace the steps of the Chinese people from their first encounter of the inhabitants living in the Philippines to their eventual assimilation into our country and Filipino culture.

Despite the long trek to and from the museum, based on the students’ reactions from the moment they stepped into the museum to the moment the tour was over–the students were excited and engaged–I can confidently say that our first Field Trip was a great success! I was proud of the many interesting and insightful questions the students asked as well as the connections they were able to make to their own background knowledge throughout the duration of our tour. I cannot help but already look forward to having more memorable learning moments such as this one with all of the Gr. 4 students next semester!

Here are some photos from our time in Bahay Tsinoy:

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Mov-Ed to Spread the Christmas Cheer

With Christmas just around the corner, nothing helps us get into the Christmas spirit more than our annual Service Learning event with our partners, the Mov-Ed Foundation.

A part of this on-going tradition, the EY/ES students welcome Mov-Ed students into CISM and their classrooms. To ensure the students get the full experience of school life in CISM, our EY students began the day with sharing their snacks and toys with the Mov-Ed students.

With full bellies and new buddies in hand, the students visited various Elementary classrooms and participated in student led activities. The Gr. 2 students tapped into their artistic side as they helped the Mov-Ed students create paper plate christmas tree decorations. The third graders had the EY and Mov-Ed students cozying up with some sweet treats–sandwiches and hot chocolate– and a Christmas movie to get them in the spirit. Lastly, the Gr. 4 students put on a puppet show and read aloud some Christmas stories, which had everyone laughing and engaged throughout the whole performance.

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Before we wrapped up our time with the Mov-Ed students our EY students bid their new friends adieu by giving them each a Christmas present to take home. During our closing program the Glee Club, 3rd Grade, and 4th Grade students sang and danced for our visitors, which had some of the Mov-Ed students dancing and singing along with them. Our Christmas Cheer event finally ended with Santa Claus making a surprise appearance in the MPH!

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Overall, the EY/ES Service Learning event was a great success, but could not have been accomplished without the many teachers, parents, and students who helped in every way possible. I was most particularly proud of the Gr. 4 students who gave each puppet performance and read aloud their all. To end the day, the students reflected in each of their classrooms–I couldn’t help but giggle with the responses the students wrote down in Gr. 4DD. Most of them voiced how fun it was to be with all the Mov-ED students but how tiring it truly is to have to take care and entertain them! Hopefully this experience does not deter but instead encourage aspiring teachers to work with kids!


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Storytelling through Their Eyes

Storytelling is no easy task, however the Gr. 4 students were up to the challenge as they took their first unit of writing very seriously. After weeks of brainstorming, drafting and revising (sometimes even scrapping a whole draft!) the students finally made it to the finish line–publishing their Personal Narratives.

It fills me with much pride when I compare the students’ work from the beginning of the semester to the moment they finished their Personal Narratives. The accomplishments the students made individually and as a class are a true testament of what can happen when hard work and determination come together.  Through their written works, it is evident that the students learned the power of words–their ability to recreate moments from the past and allow others to relive the authors’ memories which hold a special place in their hearts. As a result, the students’ writing pieces “showed” and did not “tell” their readers what happened.

To wrap up our first writing unit, we held a publishing party where students had the chance to celebrate and share their stories with the class. Through the many reactions the students had it was clear that each writer was able to successfully engage their audience as they had us laughing, gasping, and sighing with relief.

Below are some photos that highlight our special celebration:

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Gr. 4 Assembly: What does it mean to be Principled?

As October draws to an end, the Gr. 4 students had the great privilege of presenting on the very next I.B Learner Profile—Principled. Over the course of October the students explored the true meaning of what it means to be principled.

We watched various videos, had whole class discussions and even drew examples from their own lives. Once the students had a deeper understanding of what it means to be principled, the students went straight to work practicing for their assembly.

The two songs we decided upon put a spotlight on what the students truly believed being principled was all about. “Brave” by Sara Bareilles encourages people to do just that, be BRAVE! The main chorus of the song calls everyone to action to be principled and honest by saying “what, what you wanna say and let the words fall out. I wanna see you be brave!”

The second song, “Where is the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas, sheds light on how our world still lacks many people who are not principled and kind. The song encourages all of us show one another more love and compassion–ultimately, to do the right thing!

After weeks of practice the students were excited to present their Assembly to the CISM community and to their families. Overall, Ms. Maritoni and I were proud to see all of the students’ hard work come into full display through their Gr. 4 Assembly. Below are a few photos from the Gr. 4 Assembly.

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