Shapes, shapes and more shapes: PreK Art Update!

PreK has been visiting (and revisiting) the role of shapes in an artist's work. From September through November, they have inquired into the nature ofcircles, rectangles. squares and triangles, and tried out many different ways to make each.

We started the year off by tracing shapes from items found in the classroom. We then practiced to paint inside those shapes.

We also used different tools such as spatula and sticks to make squares and rectangles with paint. When finger painting, we discovered our digits make circles in the paper.


We also worked a lot with clay. First the students would make a free hand drawing of any shape and then they would "color" the shape in with modeling clay.

So far, I have seen my students coming into class a whole more confident about their art and excited to learn how many amazing things we can do by adding shapes together!

For Your Information @ TIS Library Media November

Happy Fall! This year, classes come to the Library biweekly to check out books and enjoy quiet reading time.

Fifth graders can check out 3 books at one time during the library class, but he or she may check out more books after school. Library is opened until 4 o’clock this year! Parents are welcome to get their own library cards and check out library materials. Books are due in two weeks from checkout date but students may renew them, if desired. If student have an overdue book, he or she may not check out another until it is returned.

Not sure when your child has library class? Look below to find out!

WEEK 1 - Nov 9-13, 23-27, Dec 7-11, Jan 4-8, 18-22... WEEK 2 - Nov 16-20, 30- Jan 4, Jan 14-18, 11-15...

This year’s library reading challenge, We love oregon, has begun and we are so happy that many students are perticipating the challenge. Keep reading! CLICK HERE for the Grade 3 through t book list

Fifth Grade PE Update

The fifth grade students remain a good, cohesive unit. This class focuses well on objectives, can commit to executing the work, strive to accomplish, and are showing very good responsibility for their selves. We've talked a bit more on the topic of Maintenance Health this year. Making healthy choices with food, exercise, and safety. With the construction taking our outdoor space away, we spend additional time handling basketballs and playing games with strong basketball tie-ins, even when no basketball was used. I was happy to observe good sportsmanship on display during a two-class Bean Bag Toss Tournament. The development exercise has been going very well, the majority of classes do contain a 7 to 9 minute workout followed by a 1/2 mile run. We will not increase this distance until the spring as we prepare for our final timed mile at the end of the year.

Robert Briglia

-- Robert A. Briglia The International School Athletic Director/Instructor

May 15, 2015: PE

For each of the lower grades I teach, I have given them a representative example of the running paces a class has performed during our distance and stamina training working towards our mile run.

For fourth grade, I am very happy to illustrate a class exhibiting what I have come to witness as, 'A High Tide Lifting All Boats.'   This illustration is not representative of all my students, but it is an ideal that I work to achieve as an educator.   This class has embraced and actualized my underlining creed that I stand by,  STRIVE, ENDURE, ACCOMPLISH.   This was the motto of my own high school cross country team.  I have been bringing it to TIS for 11 years.  The high level of commitment and 'buy-in' by these students has pulled out great effort and performance from the entire class.  Easily one of the highest achieving classes I have had.  

Here is a slice of the body of work performed by this class.  It will show 4 lap intervals, 8 lap intervals, and their 16 lap interval run this year.  8 laps is close to 730 feet longer than a mile.  In each of these runs, the runner ran at least 6 laps.  I will report the four lap (half-mile pace),  For races over a mile, I will include the mile time of 8 laps as well.  DNF means Did Not Finish.

        4 laps             4laps             8 laps         8 laps            4 laps             8 laps            8 laps              16 laps                           4 laps x 3   2 minute rest inbetwen
        3/30/15          4/2/15          4/7/15          4/15/15          4/20/15          4/23/15          4/28/15          4/28/15                             5/6/15
1)       3:42              4:10        4:06/8:19        4:09/8:25           3:56           4:00/8:13       3:58/8:16       4:12/8:45 &2mile 17:50     3:54/3:45/3:47
2)       4:00              4:11        4:05/8:26        4:10/8:37           3:59           4:01/8:15       3:59/8:17       3:54/8:09 &2mile 16:52     3:57/4:09/4:20
3)       4:26              4:51       4:59/11:42       5:00/10:07         5:29           5:20/10:22     4:44/10:03     5:01/10:33 2mile  22:12    4:53/4:51/injury
4)       4:00              4:44       5:10/10:19       5:13/10:59         5:23          5:02/10:22     4:59/10:19     5:32/11:10 2mile   22:47    4:34/4:54/5:06
5)       4:52              5:04       5:05/9:56         5:50/12:30          injury       6:02/13:26     5:30/11:36      5:32/10:58 2mile  24:07    5:05/4:46/4:51
6)       4:24              4:54       5:10/10:04       4:50/9:46           4:52         4:52/9:51        4:56/10:11            absent                        4:58/4:59/4:59
7)       4:26              4:54       5:19/9:50         5:10/10:14         5:23         6:10/13:28         absent        6:22/14:17  2mile 29:20    5:53/6:30/5:16
8)       5:10              5:42       5:23/11:34       5:18/11/04         5:07         5:45/12:11          absent        5:32/11:36  2mile 25:30    4:43/5:03/5:20
9)       5:51              5:51       4:38/11:15       6:06/13:15         5:24        5:34/12:00       5:56/12:35     5:46/12:16  2mile 27:06    injury
10)     5:12              5:42       4:59/10:47      5:50/12:30         5:37         6:02/12:21       5:25/11:02     5:40/12:11  2mile 26:57     5:17/5:38/5:36
11)     5:02              5:17         DNF              5:36/11:39        absent         absent             absent        5:43/11:15  2mile  25:50    5:13/5:23/5:49
12)    5:05              5:42        5:24/11:14      5:48/11:58          5:30        5:45/12:11        5:45/12:21    5:36/11:36  2mile 25:28     injury
13)    5:31              5:50       4:38/11:14       6:06/13:15          5:43        5:42/11:59        5:56/12:35    5:46/12:16  2mile 27:06    5:02/5:31/6:17
14)    6:25              absent   5:55/14:41       8:50/DNF            7:37       17:17/36:26      7:42/17:08    6:20/12:41  2mile 25:53     absent    

If you would like to check to see how your child is progressing, just send me an email.

Mark your calendars for May 19th at 9:30 am to watch my fourth grade class run the mile at Duniway Park Track.  This will be an exceptional run!

Coach Robert

May 11, 2015: Library

Fourth graders played Jeopardy in library this week!  Most classes played a version about volcanoes and earthquakes.  It will be interesting to play the same game after they have finished their new PYP unit on earth science.  This version of jeopardy is web-based and users can create their own games.  If you would like to create your own Jeopardy game, go to

Summer is fast approaching!  Please make sure your child returns all his or her library books at the end of this month, May.  Invoices for books lost or damaged during the school year will be sent home in early June.  Also look for information on this year's summer reading challenge to come home at the end of the month, or visit the TIS Library website for information.

Thanks for having such great kids who love to read!

Tamara Beecroft

May 11, 2015: Art

Collaborative Storytelling:

  The fourth graders are working on a a Visual Storytelling Unit of Inquiry in which Art and Music classes collaborate to tell a story. Our central idea is that Artists can show narrative in many ways. This year, we chose "Where the Wild Things are" by Maurice Sendak. This unit also connects to the storytelling unit in the Homerooms and English classes that focused on Myths, fables and legends.

  We are exploring as a class how to retell the story in a visually different way than the original book. The students have each designed, drawn, inked and painted their own original "wild things" monster characters. They worked as a group to decide what is the most important visual information to include in each scene. Students are not only working on improving their ability to work successfully as a group, they are also developing their understanding of how to create/use organizational systems to complete a collaborative project.

  Currently, the students are brainstorming and practicing their illustration plans and gearing up to make final versions of each scene. Each of the 3 fourth grade art/music classes will create their own collaborative story. We have been reinforcing content covered in homerooms about the five main elements of a story and the many modes of storytelling. The students have discussed a variety of modes that we could utilize to tell our story visually. Two classes have chosen to use an old fashioned "Crankie Box" to videotape a moving illustrated scroll. The other group is going to put together digital photos of their artwork and use iMovie editing tools to create their video.

  Through years of a spiraling curriculum, the students have been increasing their understanding of texture. This project asks students to use their skills to create depth in landscapes and to draw and paint a variety of objects and textures. and The fourth graders have also been introduced to several new techniques in shading such as stippling, cross-hatch, hatching and pencil shading. All year, Fourth graders have been developing their skills in using color to create shading and highlights.

I look forward to helping these great kids complete this important collaborative project!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Harpole
Art Specialist
2nd-5th grade

May 11, 2015: Music

"Imagination is Unleashed!" - (Karuna)

We are deep into our music and art connection with the fourth grade fictional stories unit.

Central Idea: Orchestrating a Fictional Story enhances the drama of the storytelling.
Is this true?  Let's consult an expert.

Leitmotifs - (Darth Wagner)
A "Leitmotif" is a musical motive that is associated with a person, place, thing, or idea, and is integral to the plot of a story.  Kids listened to the beginning notes of Siegfried's leitmotif from Wagner's epic opera, "Ring" cycle.  We paused the music for a second, and immediately kids started saying that it sounds like Star Wars.  It's true.  While we may be familiar with music being associated with a character or idea from modern cinema, this idea comes directly from Wagner's operas. 

We are approaching this concept from a few directions.

Music that tells a story-
Students listened to a piece of recorded music and they considered a few questions:
1. How many characters are in this story?
2. How do you know that they are different characters?
3. Is there conflict?
4. Is there resolution?

Listening notes

Fourth graders had some strong opinions of what the story was about.  They guessed that there were two characters.  One was softer, higher, happy, Major key, shy, alone, and probably a girl.  The other was deeper, more mystical, angry, evil, scary, and in a minor key.  Probably a man, they said.  They knew they were different because of the contrasting instruments, tune, and rhythms.

They heard some conflict and resolution during the piece, and had some fascinating ideas about the plot.  The man is looking for the girl?  When you hear them at the same time, maybe they're arguing?  Not in harmony?   There's resolution at the end because it ends higher.  Maybe the man is in love with the girl?  Is it "Little Red Riding Hood?"

The piece was Ravel's "Conversations of Beauty and the Beast." 

Retelling a story through Art & Music
We are now in the process of enhancing the drama of a story with visual art and music:

"Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak.

They are learning quite a few pieces from the Orff/Keetman "Music for Children" Volumes, and deciding which music should be associated with which person, place, thing, or idea in the story.  With some lyrics written by the students, some by me, and some with no lyrics at all, these pieces are a rich resource for exploring moods associated with some unusual modes.  (Dorian, Aeolian, Phrygian, so far, if you know your modes)

Students created the lyrics for these rhythms as an overture.  They summarize the entire plot in four short sections!  Listen to this brief excerpt.. which part of the story do YOU think this belongs? 

Learning a body percussion rhythm through lyrics:
This rhythm piece is getting a melody makeover - a different melody composed by each class.
"What's a Rumpus?"  It happens after Max tames the Wild Things with the magic trick.  Here is a working version of one class's composition and arrangement. 
For those of us who would just rather read the notes, thank you very much:
The up and down contour of this chord progression suggests waves - could this be the music for Max's ocean voyage?

Learning a piece through lyric rhythms and melodic contour:
Mysterious!  Maybe this piece can be for Max's room's magical transformation?


April 3, 2015: Art

   These last several weeks the 4th graders have been working on our Modern and Contemporary Art Unit, which ties into the content we will focus on for our Portland Art Museum field trip. We will have guided tours in small groups that explore 20th Century Abstract Art.
    In class, the students have researched different types of Contemporary Art using iPad apps and presented information to their classmates. The types of art we covered were Pop Art, Performance Art, Land/Earth Art, Body Art, Op Art (Optical Art), Political Art, Minimalism, Feminist Art and emerging forms of art such Graffiti/Street Art, Video Art and Video Game Art. Now, we are focusing our attention on Op Art AND they are loving it! We also looked at many examples of Trompe-l'oeil which is French for "Fool the Eye". Many students have been experimenting with techniques to create a variety of Optical Illusions that give the viewer the feeling that there is depth and/or movement happening on the flat surface of their paper. In the photos below, you can see the variety of ideas the students are exploring.
    We soon will complete our Op Art and will move onto the next Unit of Inquiry in which Art and Music collaborate in a Storytelling Unit. This unit also connects to the storytelling unit in the homerooms that focuses on Myths, fables and legends.

Field Trip Info: (Also sent via email)

Our field trip to The Portland Art Museum is next Wednesday on 4/8.

1.) Please read our Trip Plans:

Leave school at 10:30 am
10:30am - 10:45 - Travel to PAM  (Chaperones ride buses with Students)
10:45-11:00 - Snack (1st Lunch) in the Park in front of Museum
11:00-11:10 - Put away Lunches.  If needed, Chaperones take groups to Restrooms inside the museum (side entrance). Students & Chaperones get ready and lined up with your group.
11:15-12:15 - Docent Guided Tour - Enjoy the Art!!! :)
12:15 - 12:25 - Choose favorite area from the Modern & Contemporary Art Galleries. Each Chaperone will go to a certain area with a group of students.
12:25-12:45 - Students use sketchbooks to draw and take notes about favorite works of art. Chaperone will take several photos of the favorite artworks using an Art Class iPad while students sketch and take notes.
12:50 - Chaperones help students pass out lunch bags for Snack (2nd Lunch) in the Park in front of Museum
12:50-1:05 - Eat snack, chat, sketch, put away lunch bags, line up with your group, back on buses by 1:10
1:10 - Buses Leave Portland Art Museum  
1:15 - 1:30 - Return to TIS in time for class starting at 1:30. - Say THANK YOU to our bus driver and awesome chaperones!!!
All Transportation is via two school buses

2.) Please be sure that your child wears their BLUE TIS shirt AND a brings a JACKET with a hood in case of some wet or chilly weather.

3.) Students all need to BRING LUNCH FROM HOME since we are eating while away from school. We will be eating lunch in the park in front of the museum.

The kids and I are getting very excited for this great trip!  Thanks so much to all the volunteers who have signed up.

 I hope you have enjoyed the the 4th graders beautiful Color Theory Artwork that is currently hanging in Stearns Hall. Feel free to contact me if you want to volunteer to help hang artwork for the upcoming Art Show in May. I will need all the help I can get with over 550 pieces of artwork to hang!!! I very much need volunteers Friday and Saturday, May 8th-9th.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Harpole
Art Specialist

April 3, 2015: Music

Individual freedom, with responsibilities to the group.

Congratulations to all the 4th graders.  The presentations of "To Be a Drum" were phenomenal.  Thank you for coming to the performance, and for your thoughtful reflections on their learning.

Over the course of the project I observed many examples of our students working through problems together, students who are refining their IB Learner Profiles "Inquirer," "Open-Minded," "Communicator," "Knowledgeable," "Thinker" as well as IB Attitudes, "Commitment," "Confidence," "Curiosity," "Enthusiasm," "Cooperation" to name a few.

As you know, our "To Be a Drum" project connected to the 4th grade Migration unit by studying forced migration.  We are now connecting to the "Government" unit through a brief study of Jazz.

Exploring Jazz music and history through the lens of the US Constitution and Democracy

Over only a few classes we have been exposed to music performed or composed by Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Scott Joplin ("Hey that's the Ice Cream Truck song!"), Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Branford Marsalis, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.  We listened to it, moved to it, played with it.  As different as all this music is, with musicians of so many different backgrounds, it is all Jazz. 

How are Jazz and Democracy related?  In a perfect democracy individuals have freedom to do what they wish, hopefully improving the group's overall experience.  In a Jazz band, each musician agrees on the structure (Tune, Key, Form etc.) but is free to improvise through solos or by comping the soloist.  Hopefully by listening carefully to each other, and responding with what we feel at the moment, our musical choices will improve the group's musical experience and start to "Swing." 

Please enjoy and perhaps revisit these delightful short conversations between Sandra Day O'Connor and Wynton Marsalis with your child: 

How a Jazz band has checks and balances like the branches of government:

How Jazz has bridged the gap between races in America:
An article that we read as a class:  
"How Jazz Helped Hasten the Civil-Rights Movement"  (WSJ Jan 15, 2009)

During our discussion of this article, one student made a connection between the stories in this article and the book "Bud, Not Buddy."  Please continue this conversation at home if you're inclined. 

Listen to a 4th grade Jazz Band balance their branches on a version of Miles Davis' "So What."  I'm including this example because I wanted you to appreciate how much the first player struggles with getting the piece started.  Through those phrases, he remained Committed to making it work.  He could have given up.  At the same time, the entire class practiced Appreciation, Empathy, Respect and Cooperation.  Listen to the bass player come in with a walking bass line to support the 2 soloists' improvisations.  The players comping the soloists are actively listening and Balancing and the whole thing starts to Swing.

"How can we figure out to meet each other objectives, and be together, and for it to feel good?" - Wynton Marsalis.  This will be our mantra going forward. 

We begin our Art & Music connection to the 4th Grade "Fictional Stories" unit next week.  Let there be Leitmotifs.
Peter Musselman
2-5 Music Specialist

April 3, 2015: PE

The agility and dexterity work we started with jump ropes continued on with juggling.  Fourth grade students are asked to assess on a three scarf cascade style of juggling.  When they accomplish this task they are given juggling balls.  I have taken the opportunity to discuss with them that complex actions are made up of smaller components and the proper flick of the wrist and toss of the ball is vital to master with both hands before smooth juggling can be accomplished.  Usually at this point I will also talk about the 4 lap, 'half-mile' we have been running for quite a while now as our 'smaller component' of the mile run training we are now embarking upon.

I put them through some paces using agility ladders, coaches of many various sports will (or already have) make their own introductions to agiltily training using the rope ladders.  For fourth grade, I string two ladders together lengthwise and discuss the fatigue factor in performance and the 'vertigo' aspect of looking at equal sized box after box as they traverse the length of the ladders performing varying complex steps, jumps, and hops.  I stress performing and concentrating throughout the whole ladder and can point out mistake after mistake occurring near the end of the run.  They strive to perform accurately, then speed up, all the while staying in balance and under control.

The major activity now until May 19th or 20th will be training for our mile run.  We will progress with stamina and endurance training until they reach a two mile run.  Then they will run a series of shorter runs with varying recovery time in-between to increase their wind capacity.

Now would be an EXCELLENT time to acquire new running shoes for your child.  We will be putting the miles in, and the arch support, heel support, and cushioning factor will be well worth the costs.

Robert Briglia

2-5 PE Specialist

April 3, 2015: Library

Fourth graders are always looking for the next great book.  I have compiled some resources to assist students and parents keep up with books new, classic and undiscovered!

Brave Girls and Strong Women
Mighty Girls
Guys Read
ALA Notables
Lake Oswego Booklists for Kids
Oregon Battle of the Books

Author and illustrator Arthur Dorros will be visiting TIS on April 9!  Students in grades K-5 will participate in an assembly.  Additionally, fourth graders will attend a workshop with Mr.Dorros in connection with their PYP storytelling unit. We will be reading his books during library classes. You may learn more about Arthur and his work at

Tamara Beecroft

Feb 22, 2015: Library

Our first year participating in the National Geographic Bee was a wonderful success.  The top ten scorers on the written test competed in a fun, challenging and nail-biting bee with the entire fourth grade in attendance.  An overwhelming majority of the students voted to continue this event in the fifth grade! Alex C. from YuMin's class won first place!

The Across Time and Culture Reading Challenge art projects are in and on display in the main campus library.  It is an amazing and impressive gallery of work by our students.  About 200 students in grades K-5 participated. My sincere thanks to all the parents and grandparents who supported these dedicated readers and artists from securing and reading the books to creating such thoughtful artistic responses to their reading.  We celebrated our readers/artists with certificates, rewards, games, cookies and cupcakes!  If you are unable to stop by the library to see the art in person, see the slideshow below.

The America Library Association recently announced the 2015 Youth Media Awards..  Click here to see the complete list .

Feb 15, 2015: PE

This was a busy time for my fourth grade classes.  We talked about several things including setting goals, maintaining health and increasing performance.  We did an exercise in goal setting and looked at our past mile run times over the years and attempted to come up with realistic, motivational mile run goals for our run this year.  Our unit on jump ropes is very useful in understanding how they can be used for both maintaining health and improving performance.  We were exposed to 16 different jump rope styles:  Basic, Single and Double Side Swing, Skier, Bell, Side Straddle, Straddle Cross, Scissors, Twister, Jogging Step, Backwards, Heel to Heel, Wounded Duck (alternate heel and toe), Criss-Cross Arms, Double Under, Crazy Duck (jump Wounded Duck while alternating each foot.  Heel and Toe one foot with Toe and Heel on the other foot.  Rotate.   And finally, the Behind the Back Cross.

We learned the Basic Jump, when performed at a rate of 110 jumps per minute for 10 minutes equals the workout in a two mile run!  We learned about empathy for people who do not easily get physical challenges that may come easier to others.  The last four jump styles are difficult enough that most of us can not perform them well, or at all.  It takes plenty of practice.  As in the mile run, we realize that our bodies can adapt to greater work loads as they progress in getting stronger.  Skill levels also increase through repetition (practice).

Here is an example of one of our hardest jumps, the Behind the Back Cross:   About 5 or 6 students were able to perform this jump this year.

- Coach Robert Briglia


Feb 22, 2015: Music

To Work Together Play Together, Overcome

Fourth Graders are working hard every time we meet to be able to finish all the creative tasks that will come together to tell the story of "To Be a Drum."  A couple groups are beginning to work together consistently with cooperative musical flow, using their positive collaboration skills and Learner Profile traits.

Stay Tuned - Music Class performances!  
We aren't finished polishing it yet, but over the next couple class meetings I think we will be ready to perform it for you, proud parents!  I will let you know what day each ABC group will perform their integrated performance in the Music room - I hope you can come in!

Here are a few visual examples of how we are collecting ideas for telling the story:
Interlocking Rhythms & Improvised Melodies - Sample screenshot of our sketches for an integrated presentation of "To Be a Drum."

Recorder note reading (1st, 2nd endings, new notes - F# & G')
What role did music (Fife & Drums) play a part in wars?  We adapted this revolutionary war tune to be played on our soprano recorders and a snare drum.

Research about African American inventors informed later creative movement invention representations.

Creative Movement solutions to represent a moving and sounding invention inspired by this student sentence: "Inventing is like a bucket brigade, people in line pass to the person in front of the line and puts out the fire, but he's the only one who gets the credit, but everybody helps." - Karuna & Marina
Information and poetic phrases based on student library research about slaves who used quilting as a way of communicating.


Grace M. gave a report about her research on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, "I Have a Dream."  Using no written notes, she recited a few of the lines that resonated with her the most.  The screenshot above became the foundation for the class's rhythmic speech ostinato.   


    All of the above creative tasks and more will become musical vignettes within the whole piece.   I can't wait!
    The Art, Music, and PE specialists are rethinking our assessment structure a bit, in an effort to make the process more useful for the students.  If students are involved in their own assessment, they have a way to apply an Action Cycle (Reflect, Choose, Act) to their future steps in their learning.  
    In Music the students reflected on 5 main components of their work: Positive Contributions, Showing Interest, Musical Skills, Movement Skills, and Ensemble Skills.  For each of these areas, they reflected carefully about their work recently, and spent some time identifying their own next steps to improving.
    "It's hard, but maybe I'm still not trying enough." = Additional Growth Needed
    "Practicing it feels awkward, but I'm getting the hang of it!" = Developing
    "I can do this!  Consistently!" = Meeting
    "I don't have to think about it.  Now it comes naturally." = Exceeding
    With a few exceptions, the students self-assessments generally reflect my own observations.  Bear in mind that high-performing students in a particular area often hold themselves to a higher standard, and might assess themselves lower than I would, and that under-performing students sometimes might not recognize what they are not achieving yet. 
    Their next steps are all a little different, guided by themselves as independent learners.  Of course eventually the goals will be met, or not met, but we can consider this work a practice that is never complete.

Looking ahead: 
March 2nd
Oregon Symphony Young People's Concert
"The Seven Wonders of Oregon"

Upcoming Unit in 4th Grade Music:
Jazz & Democracy- freedom within a governing structure.

-Peter Musselman, Music Specialist

Feb 22, 2015: Art

Weaving Unit:
Our most recent unit on Weaving is nearly complete! The students are in the process of learning how to take their weavings off the loom successfully. They focused on making aesthetic choices regarding pattern, color and texture. Some chose to create a design inspired by a natural landscape while others made a weaving that evolved as they went through the process.

I was impressed with how well the students did right from the beginning; especially knowing that almost no students had ever done any weaving before! They learned three different weaving techniques: rya knots, dovetail and regular or plain weaving. The fourth graders got to see amazing examples of traditional weaving from around the globe. They also learned about a specific fiber artist who makes African Kente Cloth with the help of his family. Each day they also observed a wide variety of contemporary weavings as inspiration for their own designs.

Grading/Assessment (Please Read All Info):
After each project, the students always fill out an evaluation sheet that helps them assess to what extent they achieved a variety of requirements during the course of the unit. Having these evaluations is a great way (in addition to their artwork) to assess students understanding of concepts and help them to be aware of on being kind, safe and helpful. The evaluations also give me a chance to learn more about the student's thoughts on how well they did during a specific unit.

This week, the fourth graders used our Art iPads to fill out an overall self-evaluation that relates directly to the parameters used on the Art portion of the report cards. (see image examples) We have been working to further develop our grading system to make the information more relevant and meaningful to the students. The Art, Music and P.E. teachers have incorporated descriptions of what the grading parameters mean from a student's perspective. This clear, uncomplicated language is helping them assess their current performance level while connecting to the AGN, D, M, E Scale.
Additional Growth Needed: It's hard, but maybe I'm still not trying enough
Developing: Practicing it feels awkward, but I'm getting the hang of it!
Meeting: I can do this! Consistently!
Exceeding: I don't have to think about it. Now it comes naturally.

Upcoming Unit/Field Trip:

Our next unit will be Modern and Contemporary Art, which ties into the content we will focus on for our Portland Art Museum field trip. Thanks so much to all the volunteers who have signed up. Because of you, we now have enough volunteers to make the trip happen! If you receive an email from Meredith Fleming, please be sure to update your paperwork in the next few days so there is time for information to be processed at least a week prior to the trip on March 11th. Please keep an eye out for some new 4th grade student artwork in Stearns Hall early next week. Feel free to contact me if you want to volunteer to help hang artwork sometime!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Harpole
Art Specialist

Jan 16, 2015: Music

In connection with the fourth grade Migration unit, and in collaboration with Library, music students in fourth grade have started to become familiar with the book, "To Be a Drum," by Evelyn Coleman, with art by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson.

I discovered this book through Sue Mueller at an Orff-Schulwerk professional development workshop a couple years ago, (thanks to Run for the Arts) and was inspired to bring this story back to school for our children to explore.

It is the story told by a father to his children about the forced migration of Africans into slavery. Evelyn Coleman's story introduces us to a time "before hours and minutes and seconds on the continent of Africa, when the rhythm of the Earth beat for the first people."  "The spirit rose on the wind and flew into our bodies.  And our own hearts beat for the first time."  "The beat pushed out from our fingers and our drum was born."

To provide some musical context for this story we have been singing a few songs from Ghana.  I can't stress enough how Run for the Arts is impacting our children's global awareness.  When I was in Nashville for the AOSA conference I participated in two sessions with J.S. Kofi Gbolonyo.  One session was exclusively Ghanaian children's games.  Kofi explained that in Ghana five year-olds start playing them with older kids up to teenagers.  Here's one example of a game song we are learning in class, "Moma Kofi Oseei." Fourth graders remarked that children's games from Ghana are complicated.  "And Musical!"

You'll hear a name game in the middle.  This is a name game that we have actually been playing together here at TIS since kindergarten.  I learned it from someone, who learned it from someone else.  Turns out we've been playing a Ghanaian game all along.  The song means "Lets all give Praise to ___."  When someone makes a mistake, we praise them for being part of the group and doing their best. 


Through heartless, cruel, and unimaginable hardship, the Earth's heartbeat never stops beating.  "The Earth's spirit moved through us still and pushed not only out our fingers, but out our entire bodies."
Here is a rhythmic speech piece that was written partially by the students in response to reading the story:
To Be a Drum, 
to work together, 
play together, 
Overcome - 
To Be a Drum, 
to work together, 
play together, 
Please view this telling of the story by James Earl Jones.  I find his telling particularly moving because he explains at the beginning that as a child he didn't speak.  He actually refused to speak because of a severe stutter.

Our project in the classroom uses the story "To Be a Drum" as inspiration for creative responses through music and creative movement.  Students are doing library research to prepare for a number of tasks related to the story. 
1. Fought in Wars - "made our courage drums."  Find out about African Americans' role in fighting wars. 
2. Inventions - "made our minds drums" - What inventions were invented by African Americans?  Create an "invention" through creative movement and instrument props that moves through space and makes sound.
3. Civil Rights - "made our communities drums" - Find excerpts from speeches or songs from the Civil Right movement that we can compose a layered speech piece with.
4. The Arts- Dance, Drama, Music, Art - Create a movement piece that is inspired by African American artists.

Please ask your child about this story.  Feel free to share any insights and discoveries your child has made through this inquiry and creative process.
- Peter Musselman

Jan 16, 2015: Library

Fourth graders have a lot going on in library classes this month!

We have been collaborating with Peter in music on his To Be A Drum unit.  The students used library books and to research historical figures and events in African American history.  The goal in library for this collaboration is to teach the students learn to dig deeper into topics through critical reading and online searching.  The students then needed to analyze and interpret this information and connect it the idea of being a drum through music, innovation, determination, creativity and community spirit.

The GeoBee is soon upon us.  All fourth graders will be taking a preliminary written bee to determine who will participate in the School Bee in February.  It is amazing to see how much they have learned in a few short months.

There are three weeks left to complete the reading challenge and gallery project. Please sign your child's reading challenge form and return to the library with his/her project by February 6.  If you are having trouble finding a particular book for the challenge, please email me and I will try to set one aside for your child when it comes in.  Information about the reading challenge is on the library website, including reading lists and project ideas. Thank you all for supporting these great readers!

Jan 16, 2015: PE

Many students of all grade levels were asking when we were going to get to start hockey.  We are now into hockey.  Fourth grade works on being aware of how to get open to receive a pass (moving from behind a defender) with positioning, movement, and communication.  Puck handlers learn to look for teammates and beat defenders through teamwork.  Both of these skills reduces the amount of scrums that are prevalent in the 2nd and 3rd grade games.

We are touching on the concept discussed last year regarding Fitness Characters.  If your character means who and how you are when you are not being watched, then your Fitness Character is the person you are when you are involved in sports and working your body during our workouts.  You can strive to modify your character and strengthen it as that is what I hope for my students.  

- Coach Robert