May 5, 2017

In Reading Workshop this week we started to talk about “Literary Elements” or little tricks that some authors may use.  We discussed and found examples of flashbacks, foreshadowing, and personification. Being able to recognize and talk about “Author’s Craft” is an important 4th grade skill.

In writing we continued to work on our Literary Essays. Students wrote introductions and conclusions and then began putting their essays together in Google Docs.

In math we started our unit on geometry by reviewing lines, points, line segments, rays and angles. Students measured angles with protractors and figured out problems with angles.  Next week we will be composing (adding smaller angles together to create a larger angle) and decomposing angles (subtracting angles to find a smaller angle). We will have our Topic 15 practice test on Tuesday and the Final test on Thursday.

In social studies we learned about positive and negative incentives that are used in the world,  we played a game to help us learn about profit, revenue and expenses.  Market Day is coming up fast, Friday, May 12!

Important Dates

Tuesday, May 9 – Front Porch “Cool School” Night for Holmes

Friday, May 12 – Visit SL Intermediate School and Market Day

Tuesday through Thursday May 16-18 AND May 23-24 MSTEP Testing

Thursday, May 25 and Tuesday, May 30 – Discovery testing

Thursday, June 1 – Chicago Trip 6:45 AM-9:00 PM

Friday, June 2 – Bocce Ball Day

Wednesday, June 7 – 4th Grade Celebration Night – 6:30 PM

Thursday and Friday, June 8 and 9 – 1/2 Days

Check out our Market Day Commercials!

April 14

We have had a great week coming back from break and getting right on to the swing of things. There is a lot going on the next two months so please note the important dates at the end of this post.

This week in Reading we have continued to work on reading Historical Fiction. We worked on finding themes that connected to the whole story and revising our theme to fit as we read on and learn more. We also discussed how when reading Historical Fiction we can search out actually images from that era to help us visualize the place and character’s perspectives. When we look at an image we look at the big picture and the little details, we talk about what part of the story it fits with and we ask how does it fit with, change or add to what we were already thinking.

We have started a new unit in Writing Workshop. Students will be learning how to write a 5 paragraph Literary Essay. Students have a short story that they are reading closely (finding little details) to help them understand the characters traits, motivations, struggles and relationships. They will be using these observations to create a thesis for their Literary Essay.

In Math we have finished up Topic 12: Decimals. Students will be taking the Final test for this topic on Monday. They have a practice test coming home with them tonight that they should review to be prepared.Our next Topic is Equivalent Units of Measurement both Customary (U.S.) and Metric (the rest of the World).

We have begun our Economics Unit in Social Studies. This unit culminates with our 4th Grade Market Day. Information about Market Day went home prior to SPring Break. Students will need to have a completed product plan turned in by Monday. Please help your child figure costs to make 12-15 of his/her chosen item and the cost of 1 item. They should also price their item between $1 and $2. The date of Market Day has been pushed back to May 12. We have discussed that nothing is “free” at somme point in time, someone had to purchase it.

Important Dates:

Monday, April 17 – Orange Out

Tuesday, April 18 – Talent Show 7PM at the Middle School auditorium

Fruday, April 21 – Swimming (we are swimming prior to the movie)

Friday, April 21 – “Born in China” movie field trip (cold lunch needed) more info to come on 4/17

Friday, April 28 – Swimming and Hawaiian Day

Monday, May 1 – GVSU Science field trip (cold lunch needed) more info to come

Friday, May 5 – Crazy Hair Day for $1

Friday, May 12 – Visit SL Intermediate School and Market Day

Tuesday through Thursday May 16-18 AND May 23-25 MSTEP Testing

Thursday, June 1 – Chicago Trip

Friday, June 2 – Bocce Ball Day

Wednesday, June 7 – 4th Grade Celebration Night – 6:30 PM

Thursday and Friday, June 8 and 9 – 1/2 Days

We had a great time at Link-Up and swimming at the Aquatic Center! I have attached some pictures.



It certainly seems like March has flown by! We have a quick 4 days next week and then, Spring Break! Next week we will be working hard to get some things completed before break.

This week in Reading Workshop we have been working on reading Historical Fiction. The class was divided in to book club groups and each group is reading a different historical fiction novel. Students have been keeping timelines of the history of the time period and of the main character’s history. We have discussed how a character’s perspective is shaped by not only the time period that they live in, but also by their role and their age. The have also learned to look for symbolism in the small details.

Students are continuing to work on ‘publishing’ the final drafts of their informational books that are about the American Revolution. We are planning to share these with our classmates on Thursday.

This week in math we worked on creating line plots from data, interpreting line plots and using line plots to answer questions about data. Students will be taking the line plot final test on Tuesday. We will then begin our unit on decimal numbers.

In Social Studies we are continuing to learn about our federal government. We have discussed the Separation of Powers and the system of Checks and Balances, next week we will be learning about the Bill of Rights. Also we will be sending home information pertaining to our Market Day pproject that is part of our Economics unit.

As a part of our Read-A-Thon today, we had a great assembly with Poet and Puppeteer, Kevin Kammeraad. we rehearsed and performed some Reader’s Theatres and we spent a lot of time reading everything from poetry to non-fiction! We also had the opportunity to plant a little surprise in the greenhouse!


Important Dates: 

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

Wednesday, April 12 – Link Up Concert

Tuesday, April 18 – Talent Show

Thursday, May 5 – Market Day



Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I love seeing all the green today! We had a little fun after recess today and did a St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt using the QR Code reader on the iPads to learn more about St. Patrick’s Day!

This week in Reading Workshop we have started our Historical Fiction unit (please see the email I sent this morning). Students will be working in book clubs reading carefully selcted Historical fiction novels. As we work on the skills need to read Historical fiction we will be reading Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. This story is set in Copenhagen, Denmark during World War II. This week we began by learning taht when reading idtorical fiction it is imperative to pay attention to the who, what, where, when of the story right from the beginning. Students also learned about being aware of when the author uses flashbacks. Students also read The Yellow Star, the Legend of King Christian X.  We used this story to build a little background information for the novel and to talk about foreshadowing. Your child may express an interest in reading non-fiction books that tell about historical events that correspond with their book club books (Westward Expansion, Civil Rights, Dust Bowl, World War II). I will have some titles on Epic! for them to read.

In Writing we are continuing to revise and edit our final drafts of our informational books about events leading up to the American Revolution. Students have been working to add in text features and to create a glossary for their books.

In Math this week we finished a mini-unit of mutiplying fractions. Our next unit will be on Line Plots. Students will be using data to create line plots, interpret line plots and solve problems using line plots. We will be testing for this unit the last two days before Spring Break.


Important Dates: 

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

Wednesday, April 12 – Link Up Concert

Tuesday, April 18 – Talent Show

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