Ms. Surber’s 2002–2003 Class
4th Grade, Barron Park School


2002-2003 Class Statistics


Interesting Facts

On September 11, 2002, we recorded interesting facts about our class that were displayed in 84 bar graphs, circle graphs, and Venn diagrams in our room. Here are some examples of the charts and graphs we used to collect and display our data. Two Venn diagrams show how many prefer mint or vanilla ice cream and how many in our class have attached earlobes and can roll our tongues. This bar graph illustrates our favorite mammals. Two circle graphs (pie charts) show our favorite subjects and favorite colors.


The Arrival of Our Families in California

When Who From WhereJourney Why
1926 Ms. Surber West Brook, Texas Truck, 3 years good farmland
26 Years Later
1958 Alison
O’Neill, Nebraska
Kiefer, Oklahoma
Train, 3 days
Car, 4 days
to find work
new job
8 Years Later
1966 Kiana Michuacan, México Car, 3 days better life
5 Years Later
1971 Tommy Brooklyn, New York Plane, 6 hours job transfer
11 Years Later
1982 Martin Jalisco, México Plane, 3 hours to find work
2 Years Later
1984 Sam
Rhode Island
Bern, Switzerland
Plane, 8 hours
Plane, 13 hours
wanted to live in California
3 Years Later
1987 Sydney Bethesda, Maryland Car, 5 days graduate school
3 Years Later
1990 William El Salvador Walking, 28 days better life
1991 Edgar Ciudad Juarez, México Walking, 3 days better life
1992 Daisy
Guadalajara, México
Nayarit, México
Walking, 4 days
Plane & Walking, 1 week
better life
better life
2 Years Later
1994 Joyce
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Toyko, Japan
Truck, 5 days
Plane, 10 hours
job at Stanford
job offer
1995 Yesenia México, DF Walking, 15 days to work
3 Years Later
1998 Bill
Denver, Colorado
Daejon, Korea
Plane, 3 hours
Plane, 18 hours
job relocation
2 Years Later
2000 Jonathan
Hartsdale, New York
Raanana, Israel
Plane, 5 hours
Plane, 26 hours
job transfer
work relocation
2 Years Later
2002 Nicole Arkadelphia, Arkansas Car & bus, 6 days job & graduate school


Nogylops & Neilas


The Tulip Project

We joined classrooms all across the Northern Hemisphere in a telecommunication project to track the progress of spring by observing the emergence of tulips. Tulip Map Our class serves as one of the 13 Official Journey North Tulip Gardens. Our first activity was predicting what order the 13 Official Tulip Gardens would bloom. Students used three main strategies for deciding which locations would experience spring first: spring would come later to latitudes closer to the North Pole, for locations at the same latitude those nearer an ocean would bloom first, and personal experience with climate in locations close to the official gardens. Our class prediction: Tulip

  1. Kingwood, Texas
  2. Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  3. Palo Alto, California
  4. Bowie, Maryland
  5. Hyrum, Utah
  6. Woburn, Massachusetts
  7. Mississauga, Ontario
  8. Hood River, Oregon
  9. Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
  10. Bamberg, Germany
  11. Newport-on-Tay, Scotland
  12. Soldotna, Alaska
  13. Utsjoki, Finland
Each student measured the circumference of a tulip bulb, weighed it, and then predicted when that bulb would emerge and bloom in relation to the rest of the class bulbs. The range of the circumference of our bulbs was from 113 to 143 mm; most of our bulbs were between 120 and 135 mm. The range of the weight of our bulbs was from 19 to 35 grams; most of our bulbs weighed 25 grams or less. We made sketches of our bulbs (more sketches) and learned about the parts of the bulb. We dug six inch holes and planted our bulbs on November 27th. The soil was dry, so we watered them well. Last year the squirrels thought our tulips bulbs made tasty snacks, so the Barron Park parent volunteers built us an impressive squirrel guard to put over our planter box. We cut the extra bulbs in half and sketched the internal structure of the tulip bulbs (more sketches). We discovered that the tulip bulbs are made of many layers surrounding the bloom bud. On January 29th, we observed that our tulips had emerged; here is our data report. You can track the progress of spring (measured by the blooming tulips) by looking at the weekly maps. Our tulips finally bloomed on March 7th. Our tulips are gone now, but we can still admire our inflatable French tulip indoors.

Our class Tulip Project is featured in An Innovation Odyssey: The Wave of Spring.


Matadero Creek Data

We started collecting data about Matadero Creek in March. You can learn more by visiting our Matadera Creek Data page.


Social Studies

California Relief Maps: We sketched the major geographical features on large boards and modeled the mountains and valleys. After the “goop” dries, we will paint the elevations and the surrounding states. Finally we located five important cities and made a key. We agreed that this was a fun and messy project! The finished maps were quite impressive. Here are two examples and two more.

Investigating Artifacts: In the first section of this unit we walked to Bol Park to collect natural materials which we sorted and classified. We used our natural materials for a math lesson on Venn Diagrams. It was fun trying to guess the Secret Sorting Rule of each Venn Diagram: Venn Diagram #1, Venn Diagram #2, Venn Diagram #3. Then we made masks (more masks). In the second section we listened to myths, wrote our own myths, created posters (more posters) to illustrate the myths, and shared our myths around a “campfire” in our classroom. In the final section of the unit we excavated “middens” by carefully sieving the soil, cleaning and polishing the artifacts, and recording the spot where each artifact was discovered with a sketch. The completed midden maps (another map) and museums (another museum) helped us draw inferences about the culture from the artifacts we found.

California Explorers: Each group chose an explorer who was important in the history of California. Students made timelines of California and placed their explorers in time, made maps to show where the explorers traveled, drew portraits of what the explorers might have looked like, and wrote essays about the goals and accomplishments of the explorers. Then each group created a poster and made a presentation to the rest of the class. Explorers we learned about:

Mission Period: Each student chose one of the 21 California Missions as the topic of a research report. We learned how the Spanish changed the lives of the Native Californians and wrote letters from the perspective of a Native American who had joined a mission. Our final project was creating a HyperStudio stack to publish our reports.

Gold Rush: The Room 17 Gold Rush was a great success! Our miners struck it rich at the Bol Park Gold fields and then spent most of their money in our gold rush town. The Gold Assay Office was efficient and well organized. The Golden Bank did a booming business buying gold from the miners for $16.00 an ounce. Our hungry and thirsty miners didn’t mind the high prices at The Golden Nugget Café, there was a good selection of goods at the Wiggly-Piggly Store, and the show performed by The Gold Entertainment Company was hilarious.



All About Us: Our first math unit was an introductory statistics and graphing unit. We learned all sorts of interesting things about our class and organized our data with bar graphs, circle graphs, and Venn diagrams. Two Venn diagrams show how many prefer mint or vanilla ice cream and how many in our class have attached earlobes and can roll our tongues. This bar graph illustrates our favorite mammals. Two circle graphs (pie charts) show our favorite subjects and favorite colors.

Mathematical Thinking in 4th Grade: We finished our second math unit by creating symmetrical designs. We began by reviewing Mirror Symmetry. Then we created designs that had both Mirror and Rotational Symmetry. The hardest was creating designs that had Rotational Symmetry but NOT Mirror Symmetry.

Arrays and Shares: In our third math unit we practiced our multiplication facts through 12x12 and worked on multiplication and division problems.

Landmarks in the Thousands: In our fourth math unit we investigated our number system by working with problems in the 100s and 1000s. The final activity for this unit was making a 10,000 chart, which was huge!

Equal Shares, Different Pieces: We explored fractions in this unit. While looking at fractions as equal area divisions, we made Quilts of Fourths (more examples). We also used the area model to divide Squares and Rectangles into fractional parts.

Money, Miles, and Large Numbers: We worked with decimal numbers in this unit. The final project for this unit was to figure out how to measure a tenth of a mile from our classroom door.

Area and Perimeter: In this unit we began by figuring the area and perimeter of our feet. Then we investigated the different perimeters possible for one area and the different areas possible for one perimeter. Our final activity was to create a Zoo Habitat and figure the area and perimeter.

The Shape of the Data: In this unit we collected and organized data and learned about statistics. We collected data about our families, compared the heights of 1st and 4th graders, and investigated sleep patterns. The range of our school night sleep was 3 1/2 to 11; the range of our weekend sleep was 5 to 11 1/2 hours. The results of our Sleep Research were quite interesting. We discovered many things about the sleep patterns at our school:

Packages and Groups: In this unit we practiced multiplication and division with two and three digit numbers. Sunken Ships and Grid Patterns: We learned how to do coordinate graphing in all four quadrants and how to program the computer using LOGO commands to make geometric shapes and patterns.



Appearances: This book had two stories linked by the theme of not judging by appearances: “Brother to the Wind” and “The Cat Who Thought She Was a Dog and the Dog Who Thought He Was a Cat.”

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell, helped us understand the life of the Chumash. We illustrated our favorite parts of the book captioned with a quote from the novel (two examples and two more examples). We wrote poems using similes (a favorite literary device of Scott O’Dell) and created crayon and water color art projects featuring organisms from the book (two watercolors and two more watercolors). For our final activity we watched the movie adaptation of the book and discussed the similarities and differences.

Babe, the Gallant Pig, by Dick King-Smith, was fun to read even though the dialect was often difficult to understand. We learned many new vocabulary words about sheep herding and discovered how being brave and polite can lead to success. The final activity for this book was to create ribbons (three examples & three more) summarizing how each character helped Babe achieve his goal.

Literature Circles: In Literature Circles we practice and refine the skills needed to participate in book discussions: choosing discussion questions, leading a discussion, making connections between literature and real life, learning new vocabulary words, identifying and appreciating literary elements. Here are the books we have read with some culminating activities.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, by Bette Bao Lord, helped us to understand what is was like to immigrate to the United States from China in 1947.



Water: Our first science unit is the study of water. We have observed several properties of water: surface tension, rate of flow, and expansion/contraction with changes in temperature. We also investigated how location and surface area influence the rate of evaporation and explored condensation. Using a chemical indicator, we tested to see if water samples were hard or soft. We investigated what happens when water flows over different Earth materials and tested water from home. The final activity of our study of Water was a Water Taste Test comparing five different types of water.

Magnetism & Electricity: In this unit we experimented with magnetism, conductivity, series and parallel circuits, and electromagnets. The final activity of our study of Magnetism & Electricity was to build a telegraph and send messages in code.

Frog Animal Studies: In this life science unit we observed and cared for Dwarf African Frogs, Fiddler Crabs, and Land Snails for five weeks. We learned many interesting things by watching our animals and learning to take accurate observational notes. The final activity was a group project to investigate a question about our animals.

  1. What things make our male crab wave his claw? (crab waving)
  2. If we dug another burrow, would our crabs use it?
  3. How long would it take for our snails to travel six inches? (snail race)
  4. Will our crabs eat different kinds of foods? (crab food)
  5. If we put our snails in the middle of the floor of the tank, how long will it take them to get to the top?


Rouault Music & Art

Creatures: Three students worked together to make different sections of imaginary creatures. Here are two examples and two more.

Quilts: Each student made a Crazy Quilt with a different design in each quilt piece. The finished individual quilts are displayed together in a class quilt which symbolizes all of the different personalities that are joined together into one whole classroom community. Here are four example quilts.

Folding Books: We started the year by writing two short personal experience stories, published in a small folding book format. Here are four book covers and four more).

Island of the Blue Dolphins: After reading Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell, we created crayon and watercolor pieces depicting symbols from the book. Here are two examples and two more.

Native American Symbols: After studying Native Americans we created works featuring symbols like the thunderbird, the bear, the bison, and the sun.

Explorer Portraits: We learned to make portraits while studying explorers. Here are portraits of Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, Hernán Cortés, Sir Frances Drake, and Gaspar de Portola.

Music K-8: Mrs. Floersheim’s Music students were encouraged to enter the annual contest to design a cover for the Music K-8 magazine. This year there were 19,615 entries, and Jonathan was a semi-finalist and received an Honorable Mention in the Most Humorous category. You can see Jonathan’s illustration on the Music K-8 website.

Name Bugs: These art pieces (NameBugs and More NameBugs) illustrate the work we are doing with cursive, mirror symmetry, contrasting colors, and positive and negative space.

Rouault Court: We painted self portraits in the style of Georges Rouault, who was a stained glass artist before becoming a painter.

Houses: Created with white paint and chalk, this class series included houses with pointed roofs, houses with round roofs, houses with double pointed roofs, and houses with chimneys.


Theme Days

Crab Hat Crazy Hair & Hat Day: On December 11th there were lots of crazy looking heads in Room 17!
Clone Day: On January 22nd the 4th Grade Clone wore blue pants, a white or red shirt, and a bandanna. The staff at Barron Park also cloned themselves!

100th Day of School: On February 6th we did lots of activities with 100 to celebrate the 100th Day of School. All of our math problems featured the number 100, and we created a class list of 100 Math Terms. Lots of people wore 100 things: stripes (Tommy and Helen), flowers (Joyce and Yesenia), bees (Jonathan and Sam), little squares (Kiana), soccer banners (Hope), little words (Sophie), circles (Nicole), swirls (Sydney), cowboy boots (Ms. Surber). Many of us brought 100 things to eat: jelly beans (Hope, Tommy, Joyce), granola (Alison, Edgar, Sam), almonds (Sophie and Ms. Surber), pretzel goldfish (Kiana), chocolate covered raisins (Helen), Cheerios (Jonathan), pieces of fried roll (Sydney). At recess we did 100 activities, like spinning around in a circle 100 times. These students earned certificates for being at school on time for 100 Days: Helen, Tommy, Jonathan, Bill, Alison, Sophie, Sam, and Sydney.

Stuffed Animal Day: March 19th was Stuffed Animal Day. We graphed the 65 animals visiting in our room by type, color, size, number per person, and species. We discovered that 4/5 of our class brought animals, most of the stuffed animals were mammals, bears and dogs were the most numerous, most were between one and ten inches wide, and the most common colors were brown, white and black. Here are the animals for each seating group:

Number of Animals Brought by Each Person
  X X X X

  0     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10  


Website for Ms. Surber’s Current Class