Grade 4/5 Science Unit: Pulleys and Gears & Forces acting Upon Structures and Mechanisms

Gr 4:5 badgeWe have been hard at work!  Here is another great science unit for Grades 4/5.  Our first unit on Habitats and Communities and Human Organ Systems was a great success.  With great feedback from other teachers, we know that you find our products engaging, thorough and distinguished!

This new unit is a cross curricular Gr. 4/5 Science Unit  which allows teachers to meet the Ontario Science curriculum expectations all the while teaching a split grade!  Our science unit: Pulleys and Gears (4) & Forces Acting Upon Structures and Mechanisms(5)  combines the following overall big ideas:

  • Machines, mechanisms, and structures are designed to improve efficiency or simplify tasks
  • Forces act on and within structures and mechanisms
  • Mechanical systems have various impacts on society and the environment

Our Lessons include the following:

  • Learning centres: students work in small groups or individually to rotate between four centres over the course of the activity (four types of centre activities: technology, reading/writing activity, creative response, and a fun or hands-on activity);
  • Whole class lesson/discussion followed by either small group activities or whole class activity

Our unit is cross-curricular and integrates the following subjects:

  • Language Arts (Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Media Literacy)
  • Math
  • 21st Century Learning
  • Art

We have many activities that are both engaging and active.  Differentiated instruction is also key and diverse assessment methods are incorporated.  We hope you find this unit useful for your classroom.

Here is a preview of our Gr 4/5 Science Unit.  Click on the picture above and you will be taken right to the full product!

Part 3 of 3: Music and the Social and Emotional Development of the Child

Music and the Social and Emotional Development of the Child

This is the last part of a 3 – part post.  Music has always fascinated me and to understand that it has great value in the physical, cognitive and emotional development of a person makes it more intriguing.  My first two posts were entitled:  The Effects of Music on the Brain and Music and its Value in Education (click on the links to be brought to those posts), todays post discusses how Music develops the child socially and emotionally.   The basic reason that every child must have an education in music is that music is intrinsically woven into our daily lives and within society as a whole.  Every human culture uses music to carry forward its ideals and concepts.  Music possesses the ability to shape individual abilities and character and contributes to broadening the students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. Through music, educators can introduce students to the richness and diversity of the social constructs of the world.   It allows for the development of  “self esteem as a learner, long-term pursuit, empathy, self assessment, peer and parent collaboration” (New England LTM Conservatory, 2003, p.12).  Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits, which lead to effective study and work habits. Essentially, we as educators must realize that music is about communication, creativity and cooperation and by integrating music within the school, our students will have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives and experience the world from a new perspective.

We hope that you find today’s post and the previous posts of value.  Have you attempted to integrate Music into your curriculum delivery?  What suggestions, advise or ideas do you have?  Share, so together we can grow and learn.

 

Part 2 of 3: Music and its Value in Education

Music and its Value in EducationIn my previous post, The Effects of Music on the Brain, we discussed how music helps develop the brain by building connectivity between the two hemispheres.  In this post, we discuss how this knowledge helps us to understand its value in Education.

Every stimulus that is inputted into our senses allows for us, as humans, to interpret information and to generate new information.  We can use all of our receptors or only one, but regardless of which one, the brain will allow us to interpret, deduce, recall or create information ourselves stimulated by external variables.  Also, different people interpret, create, and process this information in varied modes.  As humans we relate it to our environment, our experiences and our life.  What I have experienced is quite different from what another experiences.  When I smell the sweet scent of gardenias, my mind transports me to a place and time that reminds me of where and when the smell of gardenias had an impact on me.  I cannot expect that anyone else would have the same experience as I.  This thought can also be transferred to Music.  I can relate a song to a specific event in my life that no one else has experienced. Maybe that event was a negative occurrence and therefore, I find displeasure in listening to a specific song.  Others have a different reaction to the same song as well.  If information has a certain significance to me, how do I determine whether that significance is personal to me or whether it is actually conveyed in the external information and therefore available to others who receive the same information? How do we communicate those aspects of our knowledge that are personal?  We rely on a system of symbols that helps us communicate, our language.

The successful acquisition of reading and writing in early childhood depends on a solid background in oral language skills. Oral language is an interactive and social process, and music is a natural way for children to experience rich language in a pleasurable way.   Young children are naturally at ease with sound and rhythm.  Besides providing enjoyment, music can play an important role in language and literacy development.  Strong social bonds are encouraged through music and songs beginning in preschool.  Toddlers can begin to experiment with grammatical rules and various rhyming patterns in songs and other written text.

Establishing a sense of rhythm can be used to increase a student’s awareness of rhyming patterns and alliteration in other areas of reading and writing.  Through music, “memory skills can be improved, and aural discrimination increased” (Chong & Gan, 1997, p.98). Music can focus the mind on the sounds being perceived and promote learning through an interactive process.  It is important in teaching early childhood students to be conscious of auditory and discrimination skills.  Music and songs help increase these listening skills in a fun, relaxed manner. As Wolf (1992) stated,  “Listening skills are key in singing, language and expressive movement, and later reading and writing” (p. 92).

Music has always been a way for children to remember stories and learn about the world around them.  Using music as a stimulus can effect one’s emotions and make information easier to remember.  Music also creates an environment that is conducive to learning.  It can reduce stress, increase interest, and set the stage for listening and learning.  As Davies (2000) has noted, “The similarities between literacy acquisition and musical development are many, therefore, teaching that combines music with language arts instruction can be the most effective ”(p. 327).  Furthermore, it is important for emergent readers to experience many connections between literacy in language, music, and in print.

Language in music and language in print have many similarities, such as the use of abstract symbols.  Both oral language and written language can be obtained in the same manner “that is, by using them in a variety of holistic literacy experiences, and building on what the students already know about oral and written language” (Clay, 1993, p. 232).  For example, emergent readers will attempt to read along in a shared reading of a familiar text, just as they will join in a sing along to a familiar song.  Similar to emergent reading and writing which are acquired to drawing and pretending to write, musical learning is connected to song and movement. According to Jalongo & Ribblett (1997), “Children instinctively listen to music and try to identify familiar melodies and rhythms, just as early readers will look for words that sound alike, have patterns, or rhyme” (p. 86). For example, song picture books illustrate how the use of familiar text, predictability, and repetition can encourage children to read.  Using songs put to print can expand vocabulary and knowledge of story structure, as well as build on concepts about print.  Repetition in songs supports and enhances emergent literacy by offering children an opportunity to read higher-leveled text and to read with the music over and over again in a meaningful context.  Print put to music also allows children to build on past experiences, which in turn invites them to participate in reading and singing at the same time.  Brain function is increased when listening to music and studies have shown that music promotes more complex thinking. Basic skills are generally regarded as reading and writing for the communication of thoughts and experiences. Music learned and appreciated enhances the basic skills of thought processes inherent in critical reading and writing.  The positive link that is apparent between reading, writing and music also extends to mathematics.

Rauscher, Len and Shaw, while studying higher brain function found a connection to the brain linking music with improved spatial temporal reasoning abilities.  While music is viewed as a separate intelligence, as per Howard Gardner, there is a high correlation between mathematics and music.  Music involves ratios, regularity and patterns, which are all mathematical concepts.  An example of this is the musical scale, which is a “neat logarithmic progression of frequencies” (Harris, 2002,  p. 3).  There are also similar connections between patterns of notes and patterns of numbers.  With such connections the concept of odd and even numbers are also interplayed. In addition, music enables students to learn multiplication tables and math formulas more easily and through rhythm students learn the concept of fractions at a quicker pace.  The research conducted by Harris (2002) found that “students who were taught using rhythm notation scored 100% higher on fractions tests” (p.8).  Music is able to stimulate children in order to make new connections among music, math, and science activities by encouraging them to probe into what Jeanne Bamberger (2003) terms “underlying conceptual structures and problem-solving strategies”(p. 34) shared among these core subjects. Essentially, concepts embedded in musical activities and their representations can be used in elementary schools to facilitate new understandings of fundamental concepts, processes and representational systems utilized in core curriculum.

Within all academic subjects there are fundamental concepts and processes, which are present within music. There is extensive literature with these correlations and I have highlighted the ones for Language and Mathematics.  The reason for this is due in part that Language and Mathematics are viewed as the back to basic core subjects.  Other benefits and correlations are found in Science, such as “utilizing experimental methods, research skills, systems analysis, investigation and discovery, observation, metamorphosis, cause and effect, and classification” (New England LTM Conservatory, 2003, p. 11).  Such correlations are extended to History, Social Science and Art as well.   Processes such as “time line event ordering, diverse social perspectives, interpretation of events, understanding diverse cultures, expressivity, form, character, colour, design, movement and composition” (New England LTM Conservatory, 2003, p.12) are all found within the context of Music.

Again, we hope that you find this information and research valuable.  The 3rd part of this series is on Music and the Social and Emotional Development of the Child.  Let us know what you think thus far.

Part 1 of 3: The Effects of Music on the Brain

The Effects of Music on the BrainI have always been interested in Music.  As a child I participated in choir and then instrumental music. My early education was in Europe and when I moved back to North America, I was an ESL student.  I did not know a single English word but found that my language acquisition and mathematical skills developed quickly due to learning and participating in music.  Once I began studying to be a teacher, I was even more interested in how Music aids the learning process.  This post is from my research and will be a 3 part series.  I hope that you will find these interesting and of value as you plan your lessons for your students.

In Frames of Mind, Howard Gardner provides evidence that there are different aspects of intelligence.  He posits that every individual has a diverse learning style and that not all are being addressed in the context of the classroom.  Musical intelligence is identified as an independent intelligence without any association to linguistic, mathematical, or spatial intelligence.  Howard Gardner (1993) wrote “eliciting the use of musical intelligence the learner will be able to better acquire skills and knowledge since the framework of the mind is being utilized” (p.312).  Rauscher, Len and Shaw have brought this argument forward with their research project titled Music Exposure and the Development of the Child’s Brain.

Neurophysiology tells us that at birth, the human brain has 100 billion neurons, which are not connected to form a network.  Connections among neurons are formed rapidly in the early years of life as the growing child experiences and forms attachments to their surrounding world.  Huttenlocher (1984) discovered that if “these synapses are used repeatedly in a child’s day to day life, they are reinforced and become part of the brain’s permanent circuitry. If they are not used repeatedly, or often enough, they are gradually eliminated in the second decade of life” (p. 283).  In essence, as the child grows and the more connections made, opens the door to create a more complex, powerful system of neural pathways.  This is directly related to how the child learns and thinks, and greater academic success in the future. Rauscher, Len and Shaw tested children to discover if music would help create these pathways and discovered that through music instruction, even as little as four months, “children displayed a significant change in spatial temporal reasoning”(p.53).  At risk (low academics, and socioeconomic factors) children displayed a significant increase and other children displayed an above average increase in their abilities to complete tasks that measured recall, tactile and reasoning abilities. The research team also demonstrated measurements of brain activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine, which showed that both the right and left hemispheres of the brain are responsive when listening and creating music.  “When listening to music, both sides of the brain are being activated, one side to follow the rhythm and the other to follow the melody.” (Rauscher, Len, & Shaw, 2002, p. 56). This provides proof that in creating the neural pathways as Huttenlocher described music would create more connections as it is developing the whole brain instead of one side.  Rauscher, Len and Shaw also discovered that “musicians who began their training before age six or seven have a larger left planum temporale and corpus callosum” (p. 32). These results infer that all musical engagements activate both brain hemispheres and involve cerebral cortex activity and memory retrieval mechanisms.   This is the basis for all academic success; having a developed and functioning brain in order to process higher level thinking.

So what does this all mean for us as educators?  See my next post : Music and its Value in Education.

The Circumference and Area of a Circle: Student Learning Centres

When we return to school next week, my students and I will continue to explore the circumference and area of a circle.  We had begun to work on circumference prior to Christmas holidays and my students seem to be grasping the concepts well.  We did a GREAT activity in our math journals (I’ll post that soon) and that helped them to understand Pi, circumference, radius, diameter, and the circumference formula.  We will work on the area of a circle when we return.  After introducing the concept of area through a few math journal activities (more on the next week), we’re going to amalgamate, explore, and review these concepts through math centres.  I’ve created the following math centres to help students apply the skills and concepts they are learning about circles and have some extra practice activities.  Student worksheets are included in this package.

There are five math centres:

  • Reviewing the Circumference and Area of a Circle
  • Circumference Extra Practice
  • Area of a Circle Extra Practice
  • Calculating Radius and Diameter
  • Circumference and Area Word Problems

Students will take part in the following activities:

  • extra practice questions
  • practice using proper problem solving format (record given information from the question, formula, calculations, and final statement)
  • solving word problems
  • working backwards using algebra to determine the radius and diameter when given the area or circumference
  • developing their own word problems to trade and solve with a partner
  • review sheets to aid in recapping and studying

Just click on the image below!

circumference and area

Grade 5 Science Human Organ Systems Cross Curricular Unit

We have been hard at work and have prepared a new and exciting Science Unit!

This grade 5 unit meets the Ontario Science Curriculum Expectations for Understanding Life Systems Strand (Human Organ Systems). We strive to create units that are cross curricular and engaging for all students.  Furthermore, technology integration is key in meeting our 21st Century Learning Goals!

Here’s an overview of the unit:

Learning centres: students work in small groups or individually to rotate between three centres over the course of the activity (five types of centre activities: iPad integration, technology, reading/writing activity, creative response, and a fun or hands-on activity);

Whole class lesson/discussions followed by either small group activities or whole class activity

Cross-curricular integration with other subject areas, including Language Arts (Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Media Literacy), Drama, Physical Education, Art, and Health

A focus on Assessment For and As Learning through student self-assessments and group assessments, KWL charts, exit slips, anticipation guides, and project planning sheets

Reading strategies addressed include making connections, inferring, determining important ideas, drawing conclusions, and cause-and-effect

Differentiated Instruction is achieved through Learning Centres, choice board for the end of unit project, RAFTS assignment, and a variety of hands-on activities and labs.

The entire unit, including lessons, assignments, assessments, printables, and centre activities comes to over 140 pages!

Want to see a preview? Click on this link!

We hope you and your students will enjoy learning about the Human Organ Systems! Just click on the image and you will be brought to the unit!