Monday, June 4, 2012

Synthesizing, Counting Change, & Dewey!

That's right, folks. It's the last week of school and you better believe we're still learning! I know, I'm an eeeevil teacher. :)

Today we talked about synthesizing - when our thinking changes as we read. I read The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss last week to introduce the idea of nesting dolls and how the littlest doll fits inside of the next doll which fits inside of the next, and so on. The nesting dolls become a concrete example for explaining synthesizing. We start with a small idea of what a topic or book is about, and as we read more, we add more and more layers to our original thinking to deepen our understanding of a text.

During the mini-lesson, I actually modeled my own process of synthesizing using a non-fiction text on competitive horse shows. I started by writing on my first post-it what I knew about competitive horse racing. As I read a few more pages, my understanding deepened which caused my thinking to change so I recorded my new thinking on the next post-it, and so on. As I wrote each post it, I used my real nesting dolls to show how each layer built upon the one before it. Concrete examples are so helpful for kids learning complex processes like this! (The idea came from Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor!)
Through my project that I proposed and got funded in March of 2012, I was able to purchase several high-interest non-fiction readers of varied reading levels that I decided to have my students use to practice synthesizing. I gave each student a book at his/her reading level and also had them glue a similar nesting doll anchor chart into their Thoughtful Logs.
As students read through their readers, they stopped after every of couple pages to put together their new learning with what they already knew to form new thoughts about their topic.

Thank you to all my donors! Even when I told the kids they could put their books away, I found that most of the class didn't want to! They just wanted to finish 'one more page'! Not too shabby for the last week of school! Go, 4B!

Last week we also started working more with money and using the 'counting up' method for making change. I put students in pairs to work together to find the right amount of change without needing to use subtraction at all!

Lastly, Casey (my boyfriend) and his dog came down to visit this weekend. Casey and I did a workout (Insanity!) video in my classroom since my home DVD player wasn't hooked up. Dewey (Casey's adorable Vizsla (pronounced 'veesh-la')). came with us into my classroom and found a nice home ... IN THE BATHTUB! He didn't want to go outside, and his ears perked up when I asked Dewey if he wanted to read a book! Love that dog! :) I tell stories about Dewey often to my fourth graders so I showed them this video this morning of Dewey in the tub, and they loved it so much they asked me to put it on the blog. Here it is!
A few more great shots that we got...

Too cute!


  1. Hi Leanne,
    I just love your video of your dog Dewey!! I wish I could have my dog at school all the time. Pets are such good therapy for many people for different reasons. Dogs make me so happy! On another note, would you be able to give me some guidance on how to implement Thoughtful Logs? You did such an excellent job having your students write about their reading as well as explicitly teaching reading skills. My hope and goal for next year with my 4th graders is to write more about reading. Did you have them write an entry every day? I love keeping up with your posts trying to put all the pieces together. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Hi Miss Bongers,
    Thank you for your posts. I am from Melbourne Australia and a graduate teacher.
    We teach very similar content to you at my school.
    This weeks focus has been synthesising (we spell it with a 's' :) ) and I have been using nesting dolls,
    I love your anchor chart and work sheet ideas.
    Keep your posts coming!!
    I'm sad you will be going on your summers break as we are now in Winter and still teaching :)
    I will have to wait until September
    Enjoy your summer
    - Miss B

  3. Thank you! Your chart was very helpful!)
    Miss L (4th grade teacher)