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


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

Reminder: Parent Teacher Conferences are on Wednesday and Thursday this coming week!

In Reading Workshop this week we have continued to grow insightful theories about the characters in the books we read. We have searched for precise, true exact words that we can use to describe the characters in the stories we read and supporting our theories with evidence form the text. Example: Sistine isn’t just bossy and sassy, she is passionate about the things she believes in. Sistine doesn’t take no for an answer when Rob tells her that they can’t let the tiger go, she fights for the tiger and even says she will saw through the locks! We also discussed finding the arc of the story. We used this format to help us: “Somebody (main character) Wanted (What he/she desires) But (obstacles in their way) So (how does the main character respond) to help us. As books become more complicated, answering these questions becomes more difficult. We are also looking for ways that our characters are complicated, how are they more than one way?

During Math students took their Topic 2 Practice Test and if needed the Topic 2 Final test. Students are still getting used to the language used in this program and the types of questions being asked. Rest assured, for the most part, scores were much improved on the final test. We also started Topic 3: Using Strategies and Properties to Multiply by 1 digit numbers. Continue to encourage your child to practice their basic math facts at home. I still see a lot of students counting on their fingers for addition and subtraction. It is imperative that your child has instant recall of all of their basic math facts (this was a 3rd grade skill), especially multiplication and division. Practice at home is a must!

In Writing Workshop we continued to draft our scenes. At this point drafting should be complete. Next week we will revise our drafts making sure we have stretched out the heart of the story, and we will work on editing our work for complete sentences, paragraphs, punctuation and capital letters.

This week in science we came back down to earth and looked at fossils. Students examined different fossils and made observations. We also talked about the layers of the earth, from oldest to youngest. (oldest on bottom and youngest layer on top). We took our first Science test today!

Important Dates

Wednesday and Thursday, October 11 and 12 – Parent/Teacher Conferences

Thursday and Friday, October 12 and 13 – 1/2 days – Noon Dismissal

Monday, October 31 – Halloween Parade and Party (more details to come)

Week of September 25

Another great week of fun and learning in the books! It’s hard to believe that earlier this week temperatures were in the 90s! We were all thankful for the air conditioning in the new building!

This week in Reading Workshop we continued studying how authors make characters complicated (more than one way). Students noticed what an author repeats about a character. We talked about authors put things in books for a reason. Good readers pay attention to the details and use these ‘clues’ to help develop theories about characters.

In writing we drafted scenes 1 through 3 of our stories, students worked on making sure they had S.A.I.D.  ~ Scene description, Action, Internal thought and Dialogue ~ in each paragraph. We also worked on not changing tenses in our story (present/past) or Point of View, students should be writing in 3rd Person.  Next week we will learn how to stretch out the most important scene using details so that a moment in time fills a page and we will begin drafting  our final scene.

In math this week we practiced rounding large numbers in order to estimate answers.  We then practiced adding and subtracting large numbers, and using them in word problems.   Although the math concepts are easy at this point, some students are struggling with reading questions and figuring out what the question is asking.  We took our online PRACTICE test today. Monday we will review concepts and Tuesday will be the ‘Real’ test. The best way to help your child be prepared for the test is to have them practice adding and subtracting large numbers and rounding large numbers to estimate sums.

In Science we had a great time visiting the Planetarium at White Pines to learn more about the moon phases and the reason for the seasons (tilt of the earth on its axis). We also had fun making a few projects to help solidify our learning.  We made a vocabulary booklet, a cut-out of the sun, moon, and earth to show revolution and rotation, and a season flip book.  Ask you child if they can explain why we have seasons.

As always, please check out your child’s blog at Kid Blog


Important Dates:

Wednesday and Thursday, October 11 and 12 – Parent Teacher Conferences

Friday, October 13 – Half Day, Noon Dismissal

Week of September 18

First, I would like to thank all of the parents that donated Oreos for our Oreo cookie lab! Thanks to your generousity our Moon Phase Lab was a huge success! I have posted the pictures on the classroom Facebook page. You can check them out here: Mrs. Lannon’s classroom Facebook page

This week in Reading Workshop we have been working on “Growing Ideas About Characters.” Students have been paying attention to details and noticing what a character says and does, asking ‘Is there a pattern here?’ If so what doe it tell me about the character. We also learned that it is especially important to pay attention when a character does something different from the pattern. We need to notice and then think about what that tells us about the character. For example, in Tiger Rising, Rob’s pattern is to not stand up for himself and to not engage or talk with other characters. He acts out of character when he suddenly stands up for Sisitine when she is being bullied. This is surprising, because Rob won’t even stand up for himself.

In Writing Workshop we have learned that good writers plan out their stories. We used a Story Arc to plan out our stories scene by scene, focusing on setting the scene, developing a problem, making the problem worse, having a turning point and then a solution/resolution. Next week students will begin drafting their stories scene by scene.

We started a new Topic in math this week. Students are learning how to use the standard algorithm to add and subtract large numbers. Remembering to regroup when necessary. Students also learned how to use inverse operations to check their answers and how to estimate answers using rounding to see if an answer is reasonable. The online test for this unit will be on Friday next week. I noticed a lot of students using their fingers to add and subtract! 4th graders are expected to know their basic facts automatically (no fingure counting) one way to achieve this is to have your child practice with flash cards or Timed Test on their iPads. We have been practicing our multiplication facts in class, but addition and subtraction will need to be done at home as mastery was to be achieved in 2nd and 3rd grade.

In Science this week we continued to learn the phases of the moon and completed our Oreo cookie moon phase lab. (see the link above for pictures!) Next Thursday we will be heading to the planetarium at White Pines Intermediate School. Space is very tight and we are going with another class. Unfortunately, we do not have any seats (in the planetarium) for chaperones. In fact, I may have to sit on the stairs!

Important Dates

Tuesday, September 26 – Picture retakes

Thursday, September 28 – Planetarium Field Trip