February 16

Today, the 2nd Continental Congress met in Room A205 of Independence Hall (also known as Holmes Elementary). John Hancock presided over the Loyalists and Patriots as they were debating the fate of the colonies!  The debate was well argued and rebutted, and the colonists adjourned to take time to determine the next course of action.  We had a great time with this reenactment of the Second Continental Congress, as it was a culmination of all of our historical reading and researching up to this point. Great job, delegates! Check out our class Facebook page for video and pictures!

Class Facebook page

In Reading Workshop this week we spent much of our time preparing for our debate! The students surpassed my expectations and surprised me with their debating skills! Students had to state their position, support it wit a reason and give evidence that supported the reason. Students also had to prepare rebuttal arguments.

In Writing Workshop we continued to work on our All About the American Revolution books. Students worked on writing a 1sst person account (historical fiction) of their focus topic.

This week in Math we have worked on adding and subtracting fractions, adding and subtracting mixed numbers, converting improper fractions to mixed numbers and vice versa, as well as simplifying or reducing fractions. Whew!

In Social Studies we are wrapping up our Black History month studies on slavery and civil rights by creating a class quilt. I will post pictures when we complete the display. It will be in the hallway during conferences for you to see.

Important Dates

 

Wednesday and Thursday, February 28 – March 1 – Parent Teacher Conferences

Thursday and Friday, March 1 and 2 – 1/2 days

Friday – Sunday, March 30 – April 8 – Spring Break

Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day! Today we had a chance to watch Punxsutawney Phil look for his shadow! We heard that he predicted another six weeks of winter!

This week in Reading Workshop we have continued to research our selected focus topics within the scope of the American Revolution. Students have learned that in reading history the details and the drama are what makes it interesting and memorable. Students also learned about primary sources, and how to evaluate these sources. We spoke a lot about differing points of view and the authors purpose for writing it.

We have been taking our research from Reading Workshop time and using our notes to help us write our All About the American Revolution books. Students began by flash drafting a section that is an overview of the revolution. They used their notes and a class timeline to briefly write about significant events throughout the course of the revolution. Next, students drafted a section about their focus topic. Students chose to focus on the Intolerable Acts, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Boston Tea Party or the Boston Massacre. Students learned that they need to add  interesting details into their writing to make history come alive.

In Social Studies this week we have been learning about the Civil Rights movement. We focused on the brave actions of Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Next week we will be watching the Disney movie about Ruby Bridges. Students will then be creating a quilt square (paper) for our Black History Month Quilt. (This is a paper quilt that we construct).

In Math this week we are continuing to work with fractions. Students learned how to add fractions with like denominators, how to decompse (take a part) fractions and we learned about mixed numbers; how to turn them in to improper fractions and what a mixed number represents.

Important Dates

Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6 – Winter Break – No School

Friday, February 9 – Chaperone lottery results sent home and chocolate sales wrap up

Thursday and Friday, March 1 and 2 – Half Days – Parent Teacher Conferences

Friday, March 30 – Friday, April 6 – Spring Break – School resumes Monday, April 9

Tuesday, April 10 – No School – S.A.T. testing 11th, Professional Development

 

January 26

This week in Reading we have continued to research All About the American Revolution. Students have also begun to research their chosen focus topic.

In Writing Workshop students chose a cause of the American Revolution that they were interested in and are researching it during reading time. In writing time they will be writing an All About book about the American Revvolution. On Monday we will begin by drafting our first section, All About the American Revolutuion.

In math we have been learning how to compare fractions. We reviewed how to compare fractions with like numerators or like denominators. Then we learned how to compare fractiuons using benchmark fractions like 1/4, 1/2, 3/4. We also learned how to compare fractions by finding equivalent fractions with like denominators. Finally, we learned a shortcut to use to compare fractions. The online test will be on Monday, review on Tuesday and the paper test on Wednesday.

In Social Studies we have begun our Black History studies. We began by talking about the start of slavery in the United States and we discussed how people escaped from slavery. We have watched a few videos and read the books Follow the Drinking Gourd, Henry’s Freedom Box, and Sweet Clara’s Freedom Quilt. Next week we will begin to learn about the Civil Rights Movement.

We have completed our 3 Science units. Mr. Overway will be teaching the last science unit, Energy Transfer, in STEM.

Important Dates

Friday, January 26 – Chicago chaperone requests due and BINGO Night from 5:30-8:00 PM

Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6 – Winter Break – No School

Friday, February 9 – Chaperone lottery results sent home and chocolate sales wrap up

 

 

December 20th

Happy Winter Break! Now, if only we would get some more snow…

We have had a lot of fun this week!

In Reading Workshop students finished up their individual Natural Disaster or Extreme Weather presentations (most used Book Creator) and then presented to the class. Students came up with a question about a topic they were interested in and then researched. Students had to decide what information to present to the class and how to present it. We learned about thunder snow, how to prepare for an Earthquake, how to stay safe in a tsunami, how volcanoes erupt, how to stay safe in a blizzard etc.

We finished up Topic 6 in math. Although students struggled with the online practice test, they did much better with the final test. The questions focused on making comparisons and multi-step word problems. Students learned that they need to read carefully, think and then check their work! The tests were sent home Monday.

In writing we made sure we completed our final copy of our personal essay. Some students shared their essays with a partner.

I hope everyone has a safe and restful break (after the excitement of the holidays) and returns in January excited to learn!

A huge thank you to all those that donated items for our class raffle!

I also thank you for all of your generous and thoughtful gifts!

School Resumes Wednesday, January 3 full  day!

December 15th

Only 3 more days until Winter Break! You can sure feel the excitement in the air!

We have had a busy week this week trying to wrap up a few loose ends before the break.

This week in Reading students learned about the techniques author’s use to elicit a response or an emotion from the reader. Non-fiction writers do this too! (This is called author’s craft). We have learned that nonfiction author’s can use comparisons, anecdotes, quote an authority, incorporate humor and even use shocking facts! Author’s do this to manipulate the reader to feel or act a certain way about the subject.

In writing students have been working hard to complete the final copy of their essay. Students have revised, edited and then put their essays together paying attention to proper conventions and structure.

In math this week we completed a short unit on comparison situations using times as many as or more than. We also worked at solving multi-step word problems with hidden questions. While the problems themselves were not difficult, students struggled with perserverance and grit. We talked about reading problems a few times and solving them step by step. Making sure that they have answered all parts of the questions asked. Our test will be on Monday. Your child is bringing home a few review sheets this weekend to go over.

In Science we have continued to learn about the properties of matter. We found the volume of solids by using a graduated cylinder to measure the amount of water each object displaced to find its volume. We also explored liquids. We found that liquids have no definite shape, take the shape of their container, have mass and weight. We also learned that oil has less mass than water! We floated vegetable oil on top of water! So cool!

Remember next week is only 3 short days of school!

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break

January 3 – School Resumes

December!

I can’t believe how fast last month flew by! We have 2 1/2 weeks before Winter Break! We will be working hard to tie up all of our loose ends before break.

This week in Reading Workshop students continued to research their topics. They learned how to write about their research in a way that helps them to synthesize the information that they are learning. Students met with their groups Thhursday to plan out their posters. Today groups got together to work on and complete their posters. Students will be presenting their research on Monday!

In Writing Workshop students are continuing to develop their personal essays. They wrote mini-stories that give an example for each of their reasons that supports their thesis. Students also learned how to create parallelism in lists as a powerful alternative to writing a mini-story. Next week, we will be working on writing introductions that hook our readers.

Math this week was all about long division! Students learned how to use an area model to divide, how to use the partial products method to divide and today they learned the “old school” short cut. (This is the method you and I learned in school). Please ask your child to show you how all three methods work. We will be practicing one more day (Monday), before our online practice TEST on Tuesday.

Students took their test for our Science unit: Organisms in Their Environment on Thursday. I am hoping to have these graded and handed back next week. Students made vocabulary cards, and took home a review sheet to help them study for the test. We also played a few online Kahoot! and Jeopardy! games, with test like questions that covered the concepts taught, as part of our review. We will be starting our last science unit on the States of Matter next week.

We have also been practicing grammar and conventions each week.  last week we reviewed some things we all know, but do not always use – when to capitalize a letter and when not to.  We learned terms like proper noun, common noun, abstract noun, and concrete noun.  We also talked about when to use “a” and when to use “an.” This week we talked about plural nouns and the importance of having noun agreement in sentences.

Has your child come home saying words like amygdala, hippocampus, and prefontal cortex?  We have been learning about the parts of our brain and what the do as part of our “Mindfulness” lessons.  Ask your child about these parts of your brain.  Last week we  talked aboutamygdala, hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex and what the do. Students learned some strategies to calm their amygdala in order to get new information to our PFC and store the important things in our hyppocampus. Today, we learned the difference between mindful and unmindful thoughts and actions, we talked about bringing mindful awareness (focusing attention and withholding judgement) to our lives.

Important Dates

December 14 – Build a Gift

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break

January 3 – School Resumes


 

November 17

In Reading Workshop this week students were grouped in to research teams. Each team is researching a different form of Extreme Weather. Students created a research plan and divided up the work based on subtopics the group decided to research. We have talked about taking notes from what we read and summarizing it into our own words. Groups will be creating posters in class to present what they have learned to the class.

This week in Writing Workshop we have continued to develop our personal essays. Students have chosen a topic that is important to them and have supported their opinion with three reasons. Students are now coming up with mini-stories for each reason to give an example that supports their reason.

We began the week in Math with an Online Assessment that covered the first 4 Topics we have studied this year, ask your child to share their results with you on their iPad. We then started Topic 5…Division! It is absolutely imperative that your child have instant recall of their basic multiplication and division facts (through the 12s) as our math gets more challenging, those that struggle with basic facts have a very difficult time. (Basic fact matery is a 3rd grade skill).

We are finishing up our Science Unit on Organisms in Their Environment. This week we learned about beneficial and harmful relationships and invasive species!

Important Dates

Monday and Tuesday, November 20 and 21 – 1/2 days, dismissal at noon.

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break

Vetrean’s Day

Happy November! I did not blog last week as I was in Sarnia, Canada for the CCM World Invite Hockey Tournament. Unfortunately, Clayton’s team did not do well. The good news is he is now plating for the Grand Haven/Spring Lake varsity team!

Your child did blog last week, and as always I encourage you to read their blogs and comment on what they wrote. Student Blogs

This week in Reading Workshop we have begun our first nonfiction unit. Students have been selecting nonfiction books to read for their independent reading time in class and for their 20 minutes of reading at home. During the course of this unit ALL students are expected to read nonfiction for their 20 minutes of reading homework each night. We discussed the difference between reading nonfiction like you are waiting for the dentist (flipping through pages) and reading to learn. We decided that when we read nonfiction for our school work we want to be readers that learn. Students also learned that good readers preview nonfiction before reading in order to warm up their minds and connect the topic they are reading about to their lives. Students also worked on summarizing chunks of text by using the main idea and supporting details.

We also began a new unit in Writing Workshop, Essays. Students had a mini essay bootcamp where we flash drafted an essay about why we love ice cream. We than began generating ideas for our own essay. Students thought of a person, place or an object that is important to them and then started to write down their thoughts about that person, place or object. We will continue to work on generating ideas before we choose 1 idea to draft into an essay. Students also blogged about their week in school (don’t forget to read your child’s blog!).

In Math this week we continued to practice different strategies for multiplying 2 digit by 2 digit numbers. We practiced rounding to make estimates and finding compatible numbers (numbers close to the actual number that are easy for us to multiply mentally) to make estimates,arrays and area models to multiply 2 digits by 2 digits, the partial products method and the shortcut. Students took the online practice test for this topic on Thursday. Students do have some review homework this weekend as the math test is on Monday.

This week in Science we explored food chains and food webs. Students drew simple food chains and played a food chain card game. We also looked at many different food webs and discussed what happens to the ecosystem when one part is taken out of the food web. Last we in science we observed the last two species in our pond habitat. We studied the pond snail and the guppy to see what physical characteristics they have that help them survive in their environment.

We observed the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald by reading a book about the last voyage and listening to the song “The Wreck of the Edmnd Fitzgerald”. We also observed Veteran’s Day today, we read the book The Poppy Lady and watched a brief video that explained why we have the Veteran’s Day holiday.

Typically the students and I only blog about lessons from our 4 main subject areas that we study, but we actually do a lot more in our day that we do not always blog about. We have Art, Gym, Music and STEM, and you know that we blog, but did you know that we also learn 6 new vocabulary words a week? We also read a picture book together and talk about different ways to comprehend text.  We read fiction and nonfiction picture books, textbooks, and articles. We also have been learning how to write in cursive by learning the cursive alphabet and writing words in cursive! We are even getting extra practice in math that is differentiated for each student, or we practice the computation part of what we are learning in class. We have also added in Word Study and Conventions of language! Everything we do falls under one of the core subjects like reading, writing, math, or science and works toward making us better at those subjects! (Social Studies will replace Science in January).

Important Dates

Monday and Tuesday, November 20 and 21 – 1/2 days

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break

October 27

In reading this week we finished our class read aloud, The Tiger Rising, we talked about how to savor endings and we talked about how the books we choose to read and love are books that help shape us as a person. Students created bookmarks with book titles and a quote or phrase from the book that was meaningful to them. Your child will be adding to this throughout the year. Ask your child about their bookmark. Last week we discussed how we can grow complex ideas to help interpret our books by connecting the smaller ideas we have. Often two thoughts that may seem unrelated can really be connected when we look for patterns. We then discussed how we can find the theme of a book. One easy way is to wait for the end of a story and look for a lesson the main character learned. Students also discussed trying the strategy of thinking about common life issues found in many books such as dealing with a loss, sibling or family issues, and friendships or fitting in. We then make a theory as to which one of these issues fits our book, and think about the message the author is trying to give about that issue through the characters, the setting, the beginning, the middle and the end of the book. This strategy can happen even from early in the story. We are growing and developing as readers, and every level of book that we are reading lends itself to finding the theme at some level.

During Writing Workshop time students have been writing the final copies of their fiction stories. We will be having a “Gallery Walk” in class soon to read and comment on each other’s stories. Ask your child what they wrote about and what they think of their finished piece.

In Math we have started Topic 4: Multipling double digit numbers. We started with reviewing the strategy for multiplying by tens and hundreds.  Students then learned how to use compatible numbers to make estimates. Next, students learned how to use area models and arrays to break the problem into basic facts that are easier to multiply. We will be continuing on with the partial products method and the shortcut next week. I am still noticing that many errors are being made  due to students not knowing their basic multiplication facts. It is imperative that your child have instant (correct) recall of all of their basic facts. This is a 3rd grade concept that was to be mastered in 3rd grade. We don’t have time in the day to practice math facts here at school, so please have your child practice at home. Moby Math Fact Fluency or the Timed Test app are great apps for practice. Flash Cards or practicing in the car on the way to and from school are also great!

We have started our second Science unit: Organisms in Their Environments. We began by discussing habitats and what animals need in their habitat to survive (air, water, food, shelter). We have also added to our classroom zoo! We know have a tank with 16 African Dwarf Frogs, 10 Guppies and 8 Mystery Snails! Students observed the frogs yesterday and we looked at physical and behavioral adaptations. Students also compared two frogs side by side, noticing differences in size and shape. We discussed how bigger, longer back legs can give one frog and advantage over a smaller frog, the big frog can swim faster and escape predators or catch prey easier.

We will begin our Swimming rotation for Physical Education next week. Our class will be swimming on Thursday and Friday next week. Your child will need to bring a swimsuit and towel to school both days. A letter from Mr. Robinson should be coming home soon.

Important Dates

Tuesday, October 31 – Halloween parade (9:00 AM) and party (9:30 AM)

Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3 – Swimming with Mr. Robinson

Monday and Tuesday, November 20-21 — Half Days (Records Days)

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school

 

October 20

There has been a lot of learning happening in 4th grade this week!

This week in Reading Workshop we learned how to build an interpretation of a story by reading and thinking about many aspects of a book and connecting different parts of the book so that we can think across the whole story. We practiced this using the class read aloud Tiger Rising. We looked specifically at Rob and noticed how he was sad and lonely throughout the book, but we also noticed two times when he felt really happy. What we discovered is that Rob feels happy when he is with people who “get him”, for example, Sistine and his mom. We then took this idea and tried to make it in to a “big idea.” Students came up with the theme: “People are happiest when they are with people who understand them.”

During Writing Workshop time students have been writing the final copies of their fiction stories. We will be sharing these in class soon. Ask your child what they wrote about and what they think of their finished piece.

In Math we have learned different methods to multiply multi-digit numbers by 1 digit. Students started with using the distributive method, then we learned the partial products method and final we learned the “shortcut” method (old school method that you and I learned in school). We completed Topic 3 with our test this week. I am noticing that many of the errors are due to students not knowing their basic multiplication facts. It is imperative that your child have instant (correct) recall of all of their basic facts. This is a 3rd grade concept that was to be mastered in 3rd grade. We don’t have time in the day to practice math facts  at school, so please have your child practice at home. Moby Math: Fact Fluency or the Timed Test app are great apps for practice. Flash Cards or practicing in the car on the way to and from school are also great!

We also started our second Science unit: Organisms in Their Environments. We began by discussing habitats and what animals need in their habitat to survive (air, water, food, shelter). Next week we will be adding to our classroom zoo! We will have a tank with 16 African Dwarf Frogs, 10 Guppies and 8 Mystery Snails!

We also participated in an assembly to congratulate Mrs. Smits on becoming a citizen of the United States of America!

Important Dates

Tuesday, October 31 – Halloween parade (9:00 AM) and party (9:30 AM)

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school