February 24, 2017

I hope everyone has been enjoying the warm weather! I hear it is going to get cold out again! Please remember to make sure that your child is dressed appropriately for the weather. They can be outside for recess for up to 30 minutes on some days. The weather changes quickly and many students have been coming to school with out jackets!

Last week in Reading we had a blast re-enacting the Second Continental Congress! This week in reading we are continuing to learn how to research. Students have been working on researching a new topic to add to their informational books they are writing. We have learned that it helps to read an easy text about a subject so that you can gain some background knowledge before you read a harder text about the subject. We also learned how to tackle complex words, you don’t know a word just by knowing its definition. You really know a word when you can give an example of it, explain how it goes and tell about different kinds of it. we practiced using the word boycott. Students read 3 different passages about the American Revolution that had the word boycott. Students came up with a definition, gave examples of different kinds of boycotts and explained how boycotts tend to go.

In writing the students are continuing to draft their All About books. students focused on writing an essay that explains why the topic they are researcing was an important event in the American Revolution. Then students selected a new subject to write a 4th chapter about, some are writing about the role of women in the American Revolution, or comparing soldiers in the Continental Army to soldiers in the British Army. They are researching and wikk be drafting this next section on Monday.

This week in math we have been working on adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators. The math has been relatively easy so we have added the challenge of reducing fractions to their simplest forms. I have noticed that many students do not read word problems carefully and make careless mistakes vecause of this.

In Social Studies we are finishing up our Black History month studies. Each student is creating a “quilt square” on paper that depicts a famous person and event from both slavery and civil rights.  Our next Social Studies unit begins next week. We will be studying the government of the U.S. Starting with the Constitution and the Preamble to the Constitution.

Important Dates

Thursday, Friday, and Monday, March 9, 10, and 13 – Parent Teacher Conferences (March 9 and 10 are half days)

Friday, March 31 through Sunday, April 9 – Spring Break

February 10

I hope everyone enjoyed their Mid-Winter Break! We spent the weekend in Jackson for MAHA District hockey playoffs! Clayton’s team ended up losing in the semi-final game so we were able to make it home just in time for the Super Bowl!

This week in reading students are continuing to read non fiction and historical fiction accounts of their American Revolution focus topic. Students have learned that it is important to pay attention to the details that make history come alive and make it memorable. We learned that you read narrative non-fiction (written as a story) differently than your read expository non-fiction. Good readers are aware of when the text changes and adjust their reading and note taking styles accordingly.

In Writing Workshop we learned how to add details to our drafts to make what we had already written come alive and be memorable. We also practiced teaching about our focus topic. We learned that teaching about your topic to a real audience helps prepare you to write about your topic, being able to anticipate and answer questions your reader may have. Next week we will be adding in a first person story from our focus topic.

The week in Math we have been working on finding equivalent fractions. Students began by using fraction bars and number lines to find equivalent fractions and then learned how to use multiplication and division to find and generate equivalent fractions. (Wow! Knowing those basic multiplication and Division facts really pays off here!)

This wee we began our Social Studies Units for the year. We have started with a Black History Month study. Students began by learning about slavery through read aloud books and videos, we discussed abolitionists, the underground railroad, Harriet Tubman and many others. We will be moving on to The Civil Rights movement next week.

Growth Mindset: Last week we completed a growth mindset activity with Mrs. Smits. Students had to create a structure to protect something. They did not know what the object was to start. They later learned it was a potato chip, and Mrs. Smits dropped a book on their structure. They then had time to rebuild and retry. This week we tried another challenging activity. I showed the students a sample of a paper structure that I had created. They were then tasked with recreating it on their own only using a notecard and scissors. They could look at the structure, but not touch it. We had many failures that encouragd us to not give up and to try a new approach. It was interesting to see all the different ways students tackled the problem and their levels of perserverance.

Important Dates

Friday, February 10 – Chaperone lottery and the notes will come home

Friday, February 17 – Holmes Parents Club Bingo Night 5:30-8:00PM

January 20, 2017

Wow! It has been a very short week, but we still managed to get quite a bit done!

This week in reading students focused on making sure that they were selecting Just Right Books to read and that they were writing responses to their reading. Next week they will be reading more nonfiction about the American Revolution with a focus on taking notes.

In writinng this week we have continued to learn more about the causes of the American Revolution so that students will be ready to select a subtopic that they know about and are interested in writing about. (Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party etc). Students will be creating an All About Book about an American Revolution suptopic they choose.

In Math we finished up our Topic 6 final test ( look for these to come home Monday) and have started Topic 7: Factors and Multiples. In order to be successful with finding factors and multiples students need to have automatic recall of their multiplication and division basic facts. Please help your child by doing flashcards and having them practice their facts on their ipad (Timed Test). Practicing facts for 5 minutes each day is a great habit to develop.

In Science we have been exploring the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) and looking at the different properties of each state. Students have been comparing the properties of each state using Venn diagrams and writing paragraphs that compare and contrast the differences.

Important Dates

Thursday, January 26 – World’s Finest Chocolate sale begins ( a note with this information went home today)

Friday, January 27 – Chicago chaperon request due

Monday and Tuesday, February 6 and 7 – no school – Mid-Winter Break

Friday, February 10 – Chaperon lottery and the notes will come home


Full Moon and Friday the 13th!

What a pleasant surprise to have the day off!

This week we have been learning a lot about the American Revolution. In Reading Workshop we are learning how to read for research and how to read history. We began by reading some articles to help us find suptopics for the causes of the American Revolution. We then re-read the articles looking for the text structure it was written in (problem/solution, chronological, compare/contrast or cause and effect). Knowing the text structure helps the reader find the main idea and supporting details. Students also took notes on their articles according to the text structure. We also listened to historic speeches by Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams and identified the text structure used in the speeches.

In Writing Workshop we are working to ‘front load’ some background knowledge about the American Revolution in order to start our research writing unit. To do this we have been watching The Liberty Kids video series which has great videos on the American Revolution that are geared toward 3rd-5th graders. We will begin our writing unit next week. As always, students blogged about their week on Friday. Make sure you read you child’s blog. We have connected with a class in England and they commented on the students blogs this week.

We have finished Topic 6 in our Math book. This Topic was all about solving problems and having perserverance when tackling lengthy or difficult problems. Students took the ionline test on Wednesday (it was challenging) and will be taking the final test on Monday. They are bringing home a study sheet tonight. Our next topic is Factors and Multiples. Have your child keep practicing their multiplication and division facts to be prepared for this topic.

In Science we have been studying the properties of matter. We first learned how to describe items using physical properties (color, size, shape, texture, hardness etc.). We began with solids. Students then learned how to find mass (the amount of matter in an object) using a balance scale, how to find weight (the force of gravity on an object) using a spring scale and measuring in Newtons and how to find volume (the amount of space an object takes up) using a graduated cylinder. Then we explored liquids and students wrote paragraphs comparing liquids and solids.

Have a great weekend!

Important Dates:

Thursday and Friday, January 19 and 20 – 1/2 days

Friday, January 27 – Chicago chaperone request due (note came home on Monday, January 9)

Monday and Tuesday, February 6 and 7 – no school – Mid-Winter Break

January 6

It sure has been a cold first week back. Two and a half days of indoor recess due to cold temperatures (windchills below zero). Finally, today at lunch students were able to go out again! A balmy 6 degrees above zero! Please remember to send your child prepared to be out in the cold during recess for 15-30 minutes. I have seen many students without the appropriate winter gear.

We have jumped right back in to our curriculum this week. In Reading Workshop we learned about craft techniques that authors use in their writing. Students worked on identifying these techniques and being able to explain why the author used that technique and how it helps us as a reader. We also took a reading pre-assessment before starting our next unit on The American Revolution.

In writing workshop we put the finishing touches on our opinion essays and wrote our final copies. Students also did an on demand piece (writing assessment) to showcase what they learned about writing essays. They were given the question, “Should 4th graders be allowed to use the internet?” They needed to generate a thesis (their opinion), three reasons that support their thesis and evidence or stories that supported their reasons. Students then wrote it out in essay form with an introduction and conclusion (I hope).

We began Topic 6 in math and have been working on perseverance in problem solving. Students have worked on comparison problems (more than, times as many as) and on solving multi-step word problems by first finding and answering the hidden question and then using that information to solve the problem.

In Science we have started our last Science unit for the year. States of Matter. First, students learned that matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. Then, students used the properties of matter to describe objects (color, shape, size, texture, hardness). Students then began to investigate how to find the mass (how much matter something has) and weight (the force of gravity on an object) of solids. We created balance scales to find the mass of a variety of objects (in grams) and then used a spring scale to find the weight of different objects (in Newtons).

A huge thank you again to all of the parents that donated items for our Christmas Party and our raffle! Your generosity is much appreciated!

Important Dates:

Thursday, January 19th – Half Day students am.

Friday, January 20th – Half Day Students am

Monday, February 6th – No School – Mid-Winter Break

Tuesday, February 7th -No School – Mid-Winter Break


4 Days Until Break!

We have been working hard  these last few days to get all of our loose ends tied up before break. Next week will be a quick 4 days culminating in with our class Christmas Party! Next week we will be taking the final Math test on long division on Thursday. The snow day this week set us back a day. Hopefully, all of the students pass the practice test and we don’t have to give the final test at all.

This week in Reading Workshop students have continued to research their topics. We learned how to write about our research in a way that helps us to synthesize the information that we are learning. Students met with their groups today to plan out their posters and to begin to work on their individual part of the poster.

In Writing Workshop students are continuing to develop their personal essays. We wrote a mini-story that give an example for each of our reasons that supports our thesis. Students also learned how to create parallelism in lists as a powerful alternative to writing a mini-story. Yesterday we worked on writing introductions that hook our readers. We followed a recipe of Hook. Hook. Thesis, reason 1, reason 2, reason 3. Ask your child if they remember their hook.

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 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 before break. Students made vocabulary cards, and took home a review sheet to help them study for the test. We also played a few online Kahoot! games, with test like questions that covered the concepts taught, as part of our review. We will be starting our unit on the States of Matter after break.

A HUGE thank you to all that quickly donated raffle items for next Thursday! The students are super excited about the raffle!

Important Dates

December 23- January 2 – Winter Holiday Break

School Resumes – January 3

Week of December 5

What a cold snowy week! I have a few students who were certain that today would be a snow day. I do think we will be getting a lot more snow tomorrow though!

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. Students have also worked on synthesizing information from different texts. They asked “How does this new information support or change what I already learned?” When reading a second or third text on their subtopic. Groups will be creating posters 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 writing mini-stories for each reason to give an example that supports their reason. We also had the opportunity to visit Ms. Burdis’s Kindergarten and help the kindergarten students write letters to the North Pole.

We began the week in Math with an Onlin Assessment that covered the first 4 Topics we have studeied 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 wrapping up our Organisms in Their Environments unit in Science. Students will be bringing home Science vocabulary to study tonight and a Review sheet to study from on Monday. Our SCIENCE TEST will be on Wednesday next week. As our unit comes to an end we are looking for homes for a few guppies, African Dwarf frogs and snails. These animals need a fresh water habitat (aquarium). If you would be interested in your child bringing home a new pet, please let me know. I hope to find homes for all of them before Christmas.

We have also had a number of other great activities that we participated in this week. Mrs. Smits taught us all about our brains and what we can do to grow them! We even made our brains from candy and whipped cream and ate them! We are working hard to develop a growth mindset in all of our students! We helped the kindergarten classes make fleece tie blankets for the People Center and we participated in The Hour of Code! Students learned the importance of Coding Jobs now and in the years to come. Every student knows how to code! Check out code.org if you too would like to learn more! We also created our Build a Gift craft! Thank you to all of the fabulous parents that came in to volunteer!

Don’t forget to check out our pictures below.

As always you can get your child’s take on their week by checking out their student blog at: Kid Blog

Important Dates

Friday, December 16 – Honors Choir Caroling

December 23- January 2 – Winter Holiday Break

Our Week in Pictures

November 18

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 30 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!). We also read our quadblogging friends blogs and commented on them. This week we commented on posts made by Ms. Azzopardi’s Year Two (8 year olds) class from Sydney, Australia.

In Math this week we are working on different strategies for multiplying 2 digit by 2 digit numbers. We started with 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. Next we learned how to use arrays and area models to multiply 2 digits by 2 digits, and last we learned the partial products method today.

In Science we have been looking at different adaptations that predator and prey animals have, such as eye placement. (Eyes in front better hunt, eyes on the side better hide). Students also learned about biodiversity and what can happen when one organism disappears from the food chain.

Important Dates

Wednesday – Sunday, November 23-27 – Thanksgiving Break

Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2 – 1/2 Days (Records Days)

December 23- January 2 – Winter Holiday Break

Veteran’s Day

Happy November! I did not blog last week as I was in Port Huron and Sarnia, Canada for the Nike Bauer Hockey Tournament. Unfortunately, Clayton’s team lost in the semi-finals. Your child did blog last week, and as always I encourage you to read their blogs and comment on what they wrote. Student Blogs

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.

This week in writing we worked on writing Power Paragraphs. These are paragraphs that have a topic sentence, main supporting detail sentences and minor supporting detail sentences. Students were tasked with writing a final power paragraph to convince me to pay them $5 in Fourth grade money.  Last week in writing we spent a few days just editing and rewriting our final copies of our realitic fiction stories. Students then wrote an “on demand” fiction story from the beginning. On demands serve as our writing assessments, kind of like a test. When we wrote our first story  we were learning new techniques. Our “on demand” stories were written in a short time period, completely on our own. We spent one writing session just planning our stories, then one session drafting and revising our stories using everything we learned about fiction writing.

This week in Math we took our Topic 3 final test and started Topic 4: Multipling double digit numbers. We started with reviewing the strategy for multiplying by tens and hundreds. Next, students learned how to use area models and arrays to break the problem into basic facts that are easier to multiply. Last week in math we finished our unit on multiplying  by 1 digit numbers. This unit started with the distributive property of multiplication, then moved to writing the answer in partial products, and ended with learning the “old school” short cut we are familiar with so that students have an understanding of what they are doing in the short cut meathod and why it works. This unit also focused on mental math strategies and multi-step word problems. Sudents took the practice test on Friday.

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.

This week we have also begun our first quadblogging rotation. In a quadblog, 4 classes are matched with each other. One class writes a blog post each week and the other 3 classes post meaningful comments. THis week we posted comments on a 5th grade students blogs from Illinois. We are also partnered with a class in Australia and a class in New Zealand. Quadblog groups are matched up by age and grade level and teachers monitor the blog posts and comments. We only use our first names to keep us safe online.

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. Next week we will add word study to our day too! 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

Wednesday – Sunday, November 23-27 – Thanksgiving Break

Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2 – 1/2 Days

December 23- January 2 – Winter Holiday Break