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

October 28th

I can’t believe how fast this month has flown by! Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

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). 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 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!

This week in Science your child brought home their first science test. 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). We then observed our school yard habitat. Ask your child what animals they saw! 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.

Wesco Popcorn Buckets – We still have 54 buckets left that can’t be returned and need to be sold. Please let me know if you would like to sell more or know of someone who would like one! Thanks!

Important Dates

Monday, October 31 – Halloween Parade and Party

Wednesday – Sunday, November 23-27 – Thanksgiving Break

Thursday – Friday, December 1-2 – Half Days (Records Days)

*Change in Halloween parade route- we will parade out the old K doors around the River St. side of the building through our bus loop  and pick up lane and not down River, Prospect and South Streets as mentioned earlier.

Here are a few pictures of our Rivalry gear and the Holmes Rave.









Conference Week!

It was great to see everyone at conferences this week. I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with you and talk about your child!

During Reading this week we continued to look closely at the characters in the stories we read and develop theories about them. Students also learned how to find a debatable position in the books they read and how to construct a debate with reasons and evidence from the text that supports the position they are taking. It was a lot of fun to hear their debates!

In Writing Workshop we revised our drafts making sure we have stretched out the heart of the story, and we worked on editing our work for complete sentences, paragraphs, punctuation and capital letters. We will be writing our final copies next week!

This week in math we started Topic 3: Using Strategies and Properties to Multiply by 1 digit numbers. It is imperative that your child has instant recall of their basic math facts (this was a 3rd grade skill). Practice at home is a must! This week we worked on using the Distributive Property to multiply numbers. For example: 4 x 1,237= 4 x(1,000)+(200)+(30)+(7)

We will be moving toward the shortcut method (the way you and I learned) next week. Please don’t jump your child ahead, as it is important that they learn the steps in each method.

In Science we have finished up our first Science unit. I hope to grade the tests this weekend or early next week. Our new science Unit will be Organisms in Their Environment.

Ask your child about today’s Be Nice. assembly. They played their BE A Superhero song, on their recorders, for the entire school! WE talked about how we can all be everyday superheroes.

A huge thank you to all of the families that have donated items for our raffle! Thank YOU!

Important Dates:

Monday, October 31 – Halloween Parade and Party – an email was sent about donations and volunteers
Wednesday, November 23 – Friday, November 25 No School – Thanksgiving Break

*Change in Halloween parade route- we will parade around our bus loop and pick up lane and not down River, Prospect and South Streets.

Here are a few pictures from our Be Nice Assembly.






October 14

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

In Reading Workshop this week we have been working to grow insightful theories about the characters in the books we read. We have learned to notice anything about a character (traits, details, objects) that the author repeats and ask ourselves, “Why is this important? Could it be…” 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 also are looking for what the author emphasizes or repeats, and asking ourselves why they may be doing this.

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, scores were much improved on the final test. Next week we will begin Topic 3 Multiplication! 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.

In Writing Workshop we continued to work on our fiction stories. We finished up our drafts, revised our leads by trying out different types of leads. and students learned how to “tag” their dialogue with who is talking, adding an action and scene description so that the reader can create a mental movie of the story. Today we also talked about how boring the word said is and came up with other words to use instead of said.

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). Students then draw a model showing Earth’s layers. We will be taking our first Science test next week. A review sheet and vocabulary flip book will be coming home on Monday to help your child study.

Important Dates

Wednesday and Thursday, October 19 and 20 – Parent/Teacher Conferences – look for email to sign up online

Thursday and Friday, October 20 and 21 – 1/2 days

Monday, October 31 – Halloween Parade and Party – an email was sent about donations and volunteers (volunteers need to have volunteer forms on file with the office)

Week of October 6th

Last week in reading we discussed how we “read” people in real life and in our books. We look for patterns in their behavior and why they may act the way they do. We also discussed paying attention to those moments when a character acts “out of character,” and investigating what this reveals about the character. On Friday wrote a letter to Mrs. Lannon in which we take a few of our stop and jots from the week (which are our thoughts while reading) and then expand on them to go deeper. I am looking for evidence in their thinking of them using things we have talked about – visualization, motivations, theories, etc.

During Writing Workshop we continued to draft scenes 2 through 5 of our stories. We learned how to stretch out the heart of the story by using details to stretch the moment to fill a page. This week we will be writing our final scene and work on leads and tagging and punctuating dialogue.

In math this week we continued to work on rounding large numbers help us estimate answers. We also focused on adding and subtracting large numbers, and solving word problems. Currently, we are using a combination of paper and online homework, with the hopes of transitioning to all online. The concepts are easy at this point, but figuring out what the question is asking can be frustrating to students at times. This week will be the week of reviewing and testing for this unit.

In science we have continued to lear about the reason for the seasons on Earth and have created a few different projects to help understand the concept. 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 the can explain the reason for our seasons.

Important Dates

Wednesday and Thursday, October 19 and 20 – Parent/Teacher Conferences – look for email to sign up online

Thursday and Friday, October 20 and 21 – 1/2 days

Monday, October 31 – Halloween Parade and Party – an email was sent about donations and volunteers(volunteers need to have a volunteer form on file with the office)