Saturday, October 21, 2017


What a beautiful October day we had for our field trip to Agate Fossil Beds.  We learned a lot about the fossils found there and enjoyed the Cook Native American collection.  Students shared that some of their favorite things were seeing and touching the Buffalo/Bison Walmart items, hiking to see the corkscrew burrows, and the room where all the Native American gifts are displayed.  Students were very well behaved, and it was a great learning experience.  Check out their website at this link.  Agate Fossil Beds . Also remember that all 4th grade students and their families are eligible to go to all National Parks for free--great time to plan a trip to Yosemite or Yellowstone!  This link will give you the information.   EVERY KID IN A PARK--free pass for 4th graders

We learned the tassels were to keep flies away!  Jenny looks great!

The sassiest boy got to try on the boy's skimpy summer attire!  I think
Destinh is wishing he wouldn't have raised his hand!!

The bison robe was very heavy!!

And some said itchy!

but most said that it would be very, very warm!!

What a great diorama!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Grant's 4th graders have been learning about how their brains work and how they can take control of their learning.  We've been learning how by practicing and reviewing, we can grow new dendrites and strengthen the networks in our brain!  Our pictures show our class making a model of a neuron--the pull and peel licorice are the dendrites!!  Also attached is the information we have been learning about the brain!

What you Should Know about your Brain

How can you take control of your learning?
Every time you come to school, you bring your most powerful tool with you!  Your brain is your power tool!  Learning about how your brain works can help you get smarter!

When sensory information (things you see, hear, touch, taste, smell, imagine) enters your brain, it has two routes it can take.  It can go to the prefrontal cortex (the thinking brain) or it can go to the lower, automatic brain (the reactive brain).  The reactive brain reacts to information instinctively rather than by thinking.  When it goes to the reactive brain, it is like “going in one ear and out the other.”  This is the part of the brain that makes you blurt out, daydream or space off, or act inappropriately.

The goal is to get the information you are learning into the thinking brain.  You can control that!  When you are in a bad mood, feeling frustrated, angry, sad, or stressed by negative emotions, the brain filters the information you are learning into the reactive brain.   

When you are calm and in control and have a positive attitude, you can better control what information makes it into your brain.  

The first part data passes through when entering the brain is the reticular activating system (RAS).  We will refer to it as the gatekeeper.  You will learn more if you let the information you want to through the gate.   

Now if it gets through the gatekeeper, it travels to the limbic system which is your emotional core.  Let’s say that you have a bad morning.  You don’t want to get up, and you have a fight with your mom.  Or maybe one of your siblings made you mad, or you forgot your homework, and so on.  Your brain gets stressed and closes off the pathways to your thinking brain.  Unless you get yourself in a positive frame of mind, you will have trouble learning that day.

What you can do to help get learning to the thinking brain?
*Make sure you are getting exercise and are well-rested
*Develop awareness of--and some control--over your emotions.
*Take deep breaths
*Clear your mind
*Think about taking control of your brain
*Positive self-talk
*Think calm and control
*Let go of things that you can’t control.
*Think of a good feeling, and try to get to that place in your mind.
*Don’t give up.  You can turn things around to become calm and focused and get data to your thinking brain.

It is a quite a route to your thinking brain.  Next is the hippocampus.  Once data gets here, the brain links the new input to both memories of your past and things you already know that are stored in your long-term memory.  This is why teachers try to find out what you already know and try to connect it with new information--to make that connection!

If the data makes it this far, it is in your thinking brain!!  Here is where you do all of your best thinking and problem solving.  And here is where it can be coded into long-term memories and knowledge.

Do you think that some people are just smart and others are not and there’s nothing you can do about it.  That is not true!  There are things you can do to become smarter.  Nerve cells are called neurons.  Neurons send messages to other neurons through branches called axons and dendrites.  When you review and practice something you’ve learned, dendrites actually grow between neurons.  Just think--you can control growing dendrites in your brain!  Every time you review or practice or use what you know to solve problems or create something,, it makes the network stronger, just like muscles become stronger when you exercise them.  And that makes the memory stay in your brain.  Practice makes permanent.

Another important part of your brain is dopamine.  This is a neurotransmitter.  Neurotransmitters help carry information from neuron to neuron like a current of electricity.  Neurotransmitters are like the wires that connect the network.

Your brain releases extra dopamine when you feel good.  When an experience is positive, it boost dopamine.  This also helps you be alert and more focused.  Certain activities, such as interacting with friends, laughing, physical activity, listening to someone read to you, listening to music, and acting kindly increases dopamine levels.  Experiencing pride at accomplishing something also boosts dopamine.  It will increase your learning power if you do some things that make you feel good.

What can you do to improve learning and grow dendrites?
*Take brain breaks every so often.
*Get moving when you are on the playground.
*Practice and review often.
*Your teacher knows about the brain--so listen to her advice!
*Be kind to one another--help boost dopamine

Take control of your learning--and use your power tool to grow some dendrites!

neuron dendrites diagram.jpg

Developed by D. Grant 2017 from research and information from by Dr. Judy Willis

Sunday, October 1, 2017



In Nebraska Studies, we have been talking about heritage, and how heritage is the history of your own life!  Students were challenged to take time to visit with parents or grandparents about their childhoods and their heritage.  Here are some photos of some of the students sharing about their heritage.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

How Strong is an Egg???

Friday in 4th grade, we explored some egg science.  We learned about inertia!  I showed students the flying pizza pan - egg drop experiment.  Then we explored the strength on an egg.  These pictures show a raw egg mounted in clay and two towers of washers the same height as the egg.  We added dictionaries until the egg finally collapsed.  We got two more dictionaries after the photo was taken, but I thought we better get the photo prior to the collapse!  Chickens and engineers both know the value of the arch shape of the egg!  Now we do too!

Friday, August 18, 2017

BACK TO SCHOOL 2017-2018

We are off to GREAT start!!  What a great group of students--2017-2018 looks like it will be a memorable and exciting year full of fun and learning.

"We're Back Snack" activity - First Day of School - We did some estimating, measuring, and snacking!

Checking out the Book Nook and our Bonus Folders!

Mr. Cogdill joining in on a game of UNO