Investigating How the World Works

Hello again Grade 3 Families and Fans,

Here’s post #2 today! Last week, we began unpacking our new unit of inquiry under the trasdisciplinary theme of How the World Works. We began by giving students time to research the solar system and come up with their own guiding questions. We could have spend days just reading about space, we were so excited!


Grouping our questions together, we noticed a few trends to pull from and guide our next activities. For example, several students had questions on the Sun and Moon – how were they formed, where do day/night come from, and why does the moon disappear? We started here because just a few days later was the total lunar eclipse.

We learned how light is actually all colors of the rainbow, and the different light waves can change the color of the sky depending on the position of the Sun!

Using globes and flashlights, we could simulate day and night.

Using the darkness of the theatre, we were able to see how the moon reflects sunlight.
The phases of the moon are only what we can see from our position on Earth!

Finally, we used Oreos to document what we understood as the phases of the moon.
They were delicious!
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are in complete alignment, and the Earth blocks the sunlight.
Light is every color, but only the red waves travel through the Earth’s atmosphere to the Moon, making the Moon look red.

After the eclipse, the next set of questions we tackled were about other cosmic bodies. Using virtual and augmented reality tools, we were able to see the planets orbiting the Sun, and we could compare and contrast asteroids, meteors, and comets. We could even drive rovers around the Moon and Mars! It was such an interactive way to learn about our solar system.


As the week ended, we were able to tie both areas of focus together. We presented our understandings of the difference between asteroids, meteors, meteoroids, and meteorites. And we discovered how they impacted the surface of the Moon by hurling our own asteroids. 🙂

The surface of the Moon looks like this because the Moon has no atmosphere. So none of them can burn up before impact!

For details on our current Unit of Inquiry, please review our How The World Works Unit Overview attached here. Next week, we will unpack our second line of inquiry and look into features of Earth that provide for life. So stay tuned!

Fabulous Friday

Hello everyone,

Because I am so late posting (sorry!), I’ll do two posts today. Here is a reflection of our Fabulous Friday.

First, we practiced our presentations with Grade 4. They helped a lot by providing thoughtful feedback, which we used to reflect on our presentations and prepare for Fabulous Friday.


The day of our presentations, we set up our spaces, and listened to one another one last time, to make sure we all felt confident.

Finally it was time for the real thing! We started with students in the multi-purpose room, and led them through a silly episode of Jeopardy. Then students visited our tables, and we used our Google Slides, atlases, and art pieces to provide our understanding of the central idea: landforms impact the development of settlements.



We were proud of our presentations, and thankful for feedback from our peers. It was a wonderful way to wrap up yet another successful inquiry.

Another Successful Inquiry

Happy New Year, Grade 3 families and fans!

2018 has already been busy here, as we wrap inquiries, practicing for Fabulous Friday, and preparing for the upcoming ACER ISA exam. More information on the ACER ISA will be uploaded soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you how successful our Unit of Inquiry has been.

I’ve heard from several of you already, with stories about your children sharing their knowledge and questions with you at home. Our students have more questions now than they started, which means they will continue to think about the impact of landforms after the inquiry! It’s always great to hear how engaged and inquisitive the students are outside of the classroom, so thank you all for sharing with me your evidence of student action.

Where We Are in Place and Time

From day one, students have been hard at work investigating into how landforms impact the development of settlements. Using the conceptual lenses of form, change, and causation, students researched a landform of their choice. Using text and digital resources, they discovered how their landform was made over time, how it continues to change, and how people adapt to live there. Students then organized their research into a ‘writing to describe’ informational report, and used their report to create a Google Slides presentation.  Below are copies of their final writing products; their Google Slide presentations will be uploaded next week when they are complete, so stay tuned!

Seo Yeon       Andrew      Texas       Joshua      Keanu      Ethan

In addition to their written reports, students used elements of several content areas to deepen their understanding of the central idea. For example, in visual arts, they created a papier mache model of their landform. They used several photographs and satellite images of their landform to gain a better understanding of how to sculpt it. Not only did this help build their art skills, but it also helped students construct a more macro understanding of their landform, how it is built, and its affect on the local landscape.

[photos coming soon – sorry for the delay!]

Students also were tasked with applying their mathematical skills for their presentation. Earlier in our inquiry, students explored the purposes of scales and legends in maps. In addition, students studied measurement of distance, surface area, and time. For their summative assessment, students were asked to use their understanding of measurement, and developing multiplication skills, to calculate a trip from Bandung to their landform. After researching flight options, students had to use atlases to calculate the total distance of their trip, as well as calculating the total amount of time they would spend traveling. It was a practical way to connect their understanding of math to their Unit of Inquiry, and show me their understanding of the math learning outcomes at the same time.

The last step for the Grade 3’s is their presentation. This week, we will look into what makes an effective presentation, and practice the communication skills needed to successfully lead their individual presentations for Fabulous Friday. We are so excited to share our understanding with the elementary school community, and we hope to see you there!

Next week, I will post information on our fourth Unit of Inquiry, as well as photos of Fabulous Friday and our field trip. So stay tuned!

A Final ’17 Update

Hello Grade 3 Families and Fans,

Can you believe it’s already the mid-year holiday?! I certainly can’t. Here is a quick update before the new year.

Where We Are in Place and Time

To extend our understanding of how landforms impact the development of settlements, students took a field trip to see part of the local landscape. First, we visited the Stone Garden to see limestone formations, created from sea life millions of years ago. It was incredible to imagine these hills were once part of the ocean floor! Next, we visited the Pawon Cave, to see the effects of weathering and erosion. It was a great way to see how these forces of nature work slowly over time to change the landscape!

The bats sure made the cave smelly!

Fossils of cavemen were found here

Mapping our Travels

For our related math inquiry, we have been focused on measurement and shape and space that help us with mapping. After understanding the concept of scaled maps, we broke into small groups and used atlases to calculate a trip of our choice. The itineraries were pretty interesting!

[photos to come soon]

Sports Day

This week, we had our elementary and secondary Sports Days. The Grade 5 students led different groups through a series of sport-related activities, from relays, to handball, to volleyball with a twist. The students had such a fun time participating, and showed great sportsmanship across different teams.



When we come back from the holiday, we will be wrapping up this unit and presenting our understanding to you and the school community. But until then, I hope you all have a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday – and we’ll see you back January 4!

Where We Are in Place and Time

Hello Grade 3 Families and Fans,

It has been yet another exciting, busy week at BIS! Students have been inquiring into the related concept of plate tectonics, to develop their own understanding of how the Earth continues to change over time. We built models of tectonic plates out of paper, and out of peanut butter and biscuits! We also started using different digital tools and websites to collect information for our upcoming research project.

The Earth’s crust is broken into several tectonic plates. These plates float on thick, molten rock called the mantle.
When plates push together, a lot of pressure builds. Sometimes this causes earthquakes and tsunamis.
When plates spread apart, magma bubbles up from the mantle, forming mountains or underwater ridges.

When plates are pushed together, mountain ranges can form from the crashed plates and the hardened lava from the mantle.
This is how the Himalayas were made about 80 million years ago!

Next week, we will look into how weathering and erosion impact our landscapes over time!

Vocabulary Word Clouds

Each Unit of Inquiry is supported through the Daily 5  via the center Word Work. Students have a list of unit-specific vocabulary words and a variety of activities to encourage choice and independence. One new activity is using Word Clouds – a digital tool to visualize thinking. The largest word in the center is the vocabulary word, and the others are related. Check out some of our Where We Are in Place and Time word clouds!

Seo Yeon
Area and Perimeter

Our new math unit is integrated into our unit of inquiry, as it supports our understanding of how landforms impact where people live. We started by applying our numeracy skills to calculate area and perimeter (of rectangular spaces). The students particularly enjoyed finding the area and perimeter of our classroom!

Measuring the carpet
The surface area and perimeter of the door is tricky to measure!
Measuring the sides of the cupboard helps us calculate the surface area and perimeter.

Working together to measure the dimensions of the classroom
Breaking the room into two rectangles helped us calculate the surface area and perimeter of G3!

Unity in Diversity

Good morning Grade 3 Fans,

A full update on our transdisciplinary and stand-alone inquiries is coming later this week, but in the meantime, I wanted to share photos of and information on Unity in Diversity Day.

Students started the day with the entire school, parading around campus with countries that represent their cultures. Then we formed groups from EC3-G2 and G3-G5, and rotated through different activities. For lunch, the parent community prepared an incredible display of food that represented our different cultures! We all stuffed ourselves silly, before sharing our understanding of the day during a special assembly.

It was a lovely day of celebrating our uniqueness and learning how diversity unites us!

We are IndONEsia!
Our United Kingdom families
We learned the difference between “equity” and “equality” with Ms. Drezgic.


With Ms. Katie, we made “diversity flowers,” and read a story about a woman who’s diverse ideas helped change her community.



We learned how to play Continuous Cricket and Rob the Nest with Mr. Markey and Mr. Lane.


At the end of the day, we shared our understanding of different activities with the PYP during a special assembly.

Onward and Upward!

Hello Grade 3 Families and Fans,

Happy Book Week! Students had several activities this week to celebrate our love of literacy. The “Book Pirates” visited the classrooms, warning students they needed to read every day. We wore our pajamas for Snuggle Up and Read Day, and enjoyed some hot cocoa and Grade 4 friends during a special double-period of Daily 5. We learned how to “bind” our own books, and we dressed up as our favorite characters for the Book Character Parade. We had so much fun celebrating literature!

Mr. Toomer stopped by to hang out and read!
Combining with G4 was extra fun!


Little Red Riding Hood
Our very own Harry Potter and his feathery pal Hedwig 🙂
Ms Elena read some lovely stories to us, reminding us of how minding our manners is a sign of respect.
Happy Book Week!

We also ended our Unit of Inquiry this week, and led the Book Week Fabulous Friday. Students showed great commitment and enthusiasm with writing their own fiction stories, and shared them with the school community. Please find copies of our students’ stories below.

Ethan    Joshua    Keanu    Seo Yeon    Texas    Oliver    Andrew

Next week, we will start to unpack our next inquiry into Where We Are in Place and Time. Students will investigate how landforms impact the development of settlements. We will look into science concepts such as plate tectonics, weathering, and erosion, and we will take a field trip to see for ourselves how these forces create different landforms. Students will apply their new understandings of multiplication to read, understand, and design their own to-scale maps, and calculate the area and perimeter of different landscapes. And they will write a 5-paragraph research paper, using Writing to Describe to communicate how a landform of their choice could impact a settlement of their own design. More details of the inquiry can be found below.

G3 Where We Are in Place and Time Unit Overview

Next week, we also have Unity in Diversity Day. We hope to see you there as we celebrate the diversity of our school community!

How We Express Ourselves

Hello Grade 3 Fans,

We have had a busy few weeks inquiring into How We Express Ourselves! To further our understanding of how a writer’s voice can communicate cultures, ideas, emotions and values, we spent a few days completing an author study of celebrated author Mem Fox. Students explored several of her books before reflecting on how she exemplifies the central idea. They completed several activities connected to her writer’s voice, identifying local and global connections, central themes of books, and even researching biographical information on Ms. Fox. To conclude the author study, students created either a book cover or bookmarks that represent her stories and her voice as a writer.


We have also been creating our own stories. Using Writing to Entertain, students have been developing characters, mapping out their plot, and using descriptive language to “show” instead of “tell” the reader what it is their voice is trying to convey. Since this unit is language-focused, we will be developing our understanding of using simple present and past tenses appropriately, as well as using proper punctuation in sentences. In Visual Arts, students have been creating separate stories, and investigating the role that the illustrator plays in voicing cultures, values, ideas, and emotions. Hopefully, all of these stories will be ready to publish and share with the school community by Book Week as we lead Fabulous Friday – more details coming soon!

Moving to Multiplication

Our stand-alone math inquiry successfully helped us to develop different addition and subtraction strategies. In our “math tool box,” we now can use strategies like open number lines, and breaking apart large numbers by their place values. To check our answers, we can use addition to help us with subtraction (and vice versa). We can apply our understanding of odd and even numbers to help us verify our answers, too. To visualize our thinking, we created addition/subtraction strategy posters – come and see them hung up outside!

We have starting to shift to developing our understanding of multiplication. Students already understand how multiplication is a simplified way of adding large equal groups, so our next step is to get more comfortable with our multiplication facts. In addition to practicing in the classroom, flashcards will be sent home targeting the readiness of each student. Practicing at home is a great homework activity! Once they memorize one set of facts (like x3’s), they can take home more difficult cards. The goal is for these multiplication facts to build on each other, so students can use this knowledge to solve more complex equations later. For example, our third Unit of Inquiry will task students with applying multiplication to calculate the area of a map, its scale, and create their own to-scale maps!

Progress reports go home today, and conferences will be held on Friday. I look forward to seeing you all then!

One Unit Ends, Another Begins

Hello Grade 3 Fans,

Thank you to all who were able to attend last week’s Fabulous Friday! The students successfully led the elementary school through a celebration of the International Day of Peace. Please enjoy some photos and a short clip of the hilarious Adventures of Captain Andrew Pants.

Link to Video

We have since begun unpacking our new inquiry into how a writer’s voice can communicate cultures, ideas, feelings, and values. Students began with reading/listening to “The Jabberwocky” as a provocation into how language can tell a story, even with nonsense words. Then, we explored several stories and poems that portray different cultures. We had to investigate each one, looking for clues that the authors give to tell the reader what culture(s) should be represented.

At the same time, we have begun the process of writing our own stories! We brainstormed what all “good” books have, and explored the organizational features of story exemplars. After looking into different character traits and plot “story mountains,” students have begun independently drafting. We hope to have our stories published by the end of the UOI.

We have begun our second stand-alone math inquiry into how by understanding the properties of numbers, we can choose suitable strategies to solve problems.  We began this unit by investigating odd and even numbers, with the question below. After wrestling through several possibilities, they came to the conclusion that it was impossible – but why? This started a week-long inquiry into odd/even numbers, rules surrounding them, and new “hypotheses” around adding, subtracting, and multiplying with odd and even numbers. Understanding these properties will help us with checking our answers, and for recognizing other patterns in numbers.


For the next few weeks, students will continue to make connections between the different operations, with the hope of developing more strategies to test the effectiveness of their answers. For more details on our Unit of Inquiry and our stand-alone math inquiries, please review our unit overview: How We Express Ourselves G3 Overview.

That’s all for now! As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend.


Wrapping Up Who We Are

Hello Grade 3 Fans,

We are wrapping up our first Unit of Inquiry into Who We Are. Students have successfully investigated cultural and religious traditions, and made connections to their identity and communities around the world (including Bandung). They also started to develop their own understandings of what it means to be internationally minded, and continue to initiate discussions on our responsibility to be open-minded. They wrote their own short skit to demonstrate what it means to be open-minded to different religions, and in one day! I am quite impressed with these young empathetic global citizens!

Putting our ideas together to make a script

Now it’s time to practice!

As closure for this inquiry, students will use their understanding of international-mindedness to lead all of elementary in activities that celebrate the International Day of Peace. We will be doing this for Fabulous Friday next week, but the time is changing. Please continue to check your emails to learn more details on the new time/place. We look forward to seeing you there!

Writing to Recount

To support our inquiry and develop our literacy skills, we wrote recounts for our first writing products of the year. Students chose a cultural or religious holiday that they celebrated in the past, and they used the writing process to create their own recounts. First, we brainstormed examples of holidays that we could recount in detail. After making their choices, they started to flesh out their drafts. I led mini-lessons on past tense, adding details, the importance of transition words, and how to self- and peer edit effectively. After several drafts, the students were finally ready to publish!

Please find copies of their final products below. It’s important to note that I did not fix every mistake they made, but encouraged them to try and recognize their own errors. Some were pointed out and some were left in, so we have an authentic product by the students. Please enjoy!

Joshua        Keanu        Oliver        Seo Yeon        Texas         Ethan        Andrew

Spelling Program

On Monday, we incorporated spelling into our G3 literacy program. After combing through their recount drafts, I noted spelling errors that students are making consistently. Then I added a few more examples of words that follow a similar spelling pattern, and asked students to complete the list following that pattern. For example, if a student was consistently struggling with the -ure ending, their list is full of words with -ure, including the word they misspelled. This means each student’s spelling list is different, aimed at individual spelling needs. I will keep track of the students’ lists and their progress, and hopefully we will see those common errors become a thing of the past!

Students will build new lists every two weeks or so, depending on the school schedule and their progress. During the Daily 5 Literacy Hour, students will visit Word Work to practice their spelling words through a series of activity choices. They will also complete activities for homework. Below is a list of their spelling activities for your information.

Place Value Wrap-Up

We have also wrapped up our first stand-alone math unit on Place Value. Students created their own assessment tasks by creating “testing games.” In small groups, they used the learning outcomes we are assessing and created question cards for board games. The questions had to ask students to demonstrate different levels of understanding for each outcome. For example, one group made a game where students had to model large numbers and decimals. One of their outcomes was to “model numbers to thousands or beyond,” so they wrote cards to challenge students at different levels, modeling numbers from hundreds to ten-thousands. That way, each student built in differentiation into their games – and more importantly, showed me what questions they are capable of creating.

While students “tested” their friends, I had several opportunities to observe what students know and still need to improve. And we all had so much fun!

Working hard to make their games


Peer assessing is valuable and fun!




We even got to share our games with the accreditation team!


In our next blog, I will share information on our next math, literacy, and unit of inquiry expectations, so stay tuned. I hope you all have a lovely 4-day weekend!