Friday, January 23, 2015

Week of January 26

Hello Parents!  Boy, this month seems to be flying by!  I'm not sure where this month has gone!  Here's some of our latest news: 

Guest Presenter:  We have a guest coming to speak to our kids on Monday. He's an Israeli Olympic swimmer and also coaches in the area.  He will be talking to our kids about life skills, hard work and motivation.  Pretty cool...take a look!

WIG:  We're rolling right along with our school wide goal of mastering our basic facts!  65% of our class has their facts mastered!  It's going up every week so keep working on those facts!  Congratulations to Kevin for mastering his facts!!  He helped us move from 60 to 65%!  Keep up the hard work at home!

KID Time:  We're thrilled to be starting KID (Koality Instructional Day) groups on Wednesday, January 28th.  Students will meet with their KID group Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday's from 8:45-9:15 on a weekly basis.  Our focus will be on math and all students have been placed in a math group based on their learning strengths and weaknesses.  In order to group the students, we have analyzed fourth grade NWEA (taken in January) data and have established five small math instructional groups.  Therefore, your child may be working with me, Mrs. Linderburg/Zurawski, Mrs. Dew, Mrs. St. Andrew or Mr. Rubin/Mrs. Chalifoux.  We have been planning and organizing KID time so that all students get exactly what they need.  Your child will also be receiving daily math instruction in our classroom as well, so the KID time does not replace our daily math lessons.  This is simply a double-dip of math.  We're super excited to get this going!

Language Arts:  In Reading, we will continue working with our book clubs.  Some groups will be finishing their books this week so we'll focus on reading short stories while the other groups finish their books.  We will be doing another round of book clubs before we start our informational unit later in February.  In book clubs, the kiddos have done an amazing job discussing their books, making connections, digging deeper and asking questions when something doesn't quite fit.  In addition to this, we've hit Inferring very hard and will be focusing on Visualizing next week.  They have been taking this very seriously and have been doing a great job coming back to school prepared for their group! 

In Writing, we're continuing with our Persuasive unit.  We have analyzed persuasive texts, discussed the audience, issues and the importance of having convincing evidence.  Your child brought home their latest writing piece this week and asked you for some feedback.  Thank you so much for helping out with this and giving such wonderful feedback to your child.  I loved reading your sweet notes!  We worked really hard to make sure our evidence was convincing enough. This was a difficult task at first but we're getting better at it each time we write.  We'll write a few more letters but this time, our focus will be a different approach....maybe persuading people to stop littering, persuading others to join their club etc.  We should be wrapping up persuasive writing by mid-February and we'll be onto research papers. Can't wait! 

Math:  Over the next two weeks, we'll be learning a few more concepts and wrapping up Division.  Next week, I'll be introducing the long division strategy and we'll doing some more word problems along the way.  Those have been very tricky for us so we've spent a little longer on them to make sure the concept is mastered.  You probably noticed that the homework I've been handing out lately has a lot of review problems on the back.  These have been very helpful because I'm finding that some of the kids are forgetting a few of the concepts we've learned earlier in the year.  In addition to this, I've been creating many short, review lessons on our Smart Board so we don't forget those valuable skills!  If you ever have a few minutes at home or in the car, quiz your child on some multiplication and division facts.  Since they already know their facts, they can do problems like 700 X 4 or 630 divided by 9 in their head.  Sometimes, I'll make those questions our "ticket out the door" and they love it! 

Social Studies: We will be having another social studies test within the next few weeks but we'll keep you posted.  In cooperative learning groups, students created an immigration poster that they presented to our class this week.  The job was to read and effectively summarize a story that was related to immigration and present it to the class.  Next on our agenda will be to study the impact of immigration on culture, importance of adapting to new environments and we'll also be getting into Natural Resources and land use.  Our next unit of study is Economics!

Science:  Corrected science quizzes are in Friday folders.  Everyone did quite well!  They have been having a blast building vehicles and testing them to see how they perform!  We have some future engineers in our classroom! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Week of January 12th

Welcome Back!!  I hope you had a wonderful break!  It's going to be a busy few months as we continue getting your kiddos ready for 5th grade!  Bridget Jahn, our student teacher started Monday and it's been wonderful having another set of hands around the room. 

Your child will NOT have spelling words this week.  I'll be kicking off book clubs so they will need extra time at home getting accustomed to how book clubs work.  Spelling will resume again the following week. 

On Monday, I handed out January reading logs.  I've reminded them that the time they spend reading for their book club or Raz-Kids can also be recorded on their logs. 

Also, we took the Math portion of the NWEA on Tuesday and will take the Reading section on Monday morning. 

Here's our plan for the week...

Language Arts:  In Reading this week, we will continue charging through our Character unit.  We'll continue working on strategies such as inferring, questioning, predicting, and visualizing as we connect and empathize with our characters.  We'll be applying all of our reading strategies to our book club books.  Students will have nightly reading homework every night except Friday.  It's very important that they not only do their required reading, but they also complete their reading packet.  If they are not prepared for their book club the following day, they will not be able to work with their group and will miss the valuable discussions their group is having.  Students will be meeting with either me or Mrs. Jahn everyday in Book Clubs.  On Monday, ask your child to show you their reading packet and give them some feedback about their responses.  I will be using these packets as well as their participation in book clubs when I assign grades for report cards. 

Our persuasive writing unit is well under way.  We have analyzed persuasive letters and books, looking for audience, issue and three pieces of evidence.  Next week, we'll begin writing our first persuasive letter.  I'll be conferring and giving feedback along the way and when they're finished, we'll look closer to determine if their evidence is strong or weak. 

Math: I'm sending home the latest multiplication timed test as well as the graded multiplication test (Unit 2) we took before break.  We started our Division unit on Monday and have been slowly making our way through this.  In this unit, I'll be introducing many different strategies to solve division problems. This week, we estimated quotients and found compatible numbers when dividing and also divided using multiples of ten.  Next week, we'll continue using arrays while dividing and I'll be introducing partial quotients.  Next week, we'll also be playing a few division games to help reinforce the concept.  Mrs. Jahn and I will be breaking up the class in two so we can move some students forward but also slow things down for some.  Division can be a very tricky concept so it's important we slow down when we need to instead of speeding our way through just to finish.  Later in the month or early February, we'll be starting our Fractions unit so the time we spend on this unit will be very helpful for the next! 

Social Studies:  Human geography is our umbrella topic with several concepts falling under that.  We have focused on learning how people have changed the Earth in positive and negative ways, push and pull factors tied to immigration, and a brief touch on slavery.  In small groups, students are looking at picture books, writing summaries and presenting their findings to the rest of the class. 

Science:  We are in the midst of our Motion and Design unit.  This is an engaging unit where students work in design teams to create vehicles according to a given set of criteria.  They modify their vehicles each week based on the scientific principles introduced.  Students have to work together cooperatively in order to solve the problem at hand. There are so many wonderful things going on in science and it's definitely a favorite for most! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Week of December 8

Here's our plan for the next few weeks...

Language Arts: In Reading, be have been focusing on short stories in our reading groups and we'll be practicing many strategies to prepare us for the book clubs that will start in January.   We will spend the next few weeks before break working through our character unit.  We are using our character's actions and dialogue to infer their traits and emotions.  As we move through this unit, we will be putting ourselves in the shores of our characters to help us understand the story better.  We'll also continue to compare and contrast characters, themes and we'll also be pulling out story elements of our short stories so we can summarize them.  Reading logs were sent home on Monday and I've reminded students to keep these in a safe place throughout the month and add to them as they read each night.  I will be periodically assigning Reading homework and they can add this time to their reading log as well. 

In Writing, we just started our Persuasive writing unit.  We finished up our Personal Narratives last week and I'll be assessing those and sending home both their pre and post tests for you to take a look at.  I was really proud of their hard work throughout this unit and even more excited to begin this next unit of study.  This is a fun unit because kids get to pick a topic that they're passionate about and persuade someone to see their point of view.  We'll start by taking a look at different persuasive letters and deciding if they have enough convincing evidence to persuade their reader.  Get ready for your child to persuade you to do something.  You'll be surprised by how convincing students can be!  

Math:  In Math, we've been working through our multi-digit Multiplication unit.  The standard algorithm has definitely been the most tricky strategy so far.  We've been doing a lot of partner work where kids are working together, sharing answers and teaching each other the concept.  This has definitely helped!! I sent home a lot of corrected Math work in your child's folder today.  I've been assessing daily so I know who's understanding the concept and who is still having difficulty.  So sorry about all the papers.  If you notice that your child is having difficulty with the standard algorithm, please take some time to review these at home....I did make a note of it on their work.  Today, we took a short quiz assessing the concept and I'll have those corrected and sent home next week.  Next, we'll be working a bit on Multiplication comparisons and then spending time next week working on solving multi-step story problems.  We'll be testing on this unit before holiday break and then we'll be heading towards Division. 

Our Race to the Finish board looks great!!!  Congratulations Chelsea, Kortney, Cameron, Mary, Marcus, Deborah, Michael, Loureen and Kelly!  They have all mastered their facts and have signed their foot!  Now we only have 11 more students that need to race to the finish!  We'll be taking a timed test on Monday so I hope to add more names to our list!  Keep up the good work at home!  I'm so proud of their hard work and it's made our Multiplication unit so much easier! 

Social Studies: We're beginning Unit 3 in Social Studies which focuses on Human Geography.  In this unit, we spend a lot of time learning why people might migrate to different areas.  Next week, part of your child's homework will be to ask you some questions about why your family might have moved to the United States. This will help us as we move into factors that push us out of our country and pull us to different ones. 

Science: In Science, we just finished up our Electricity posters and will be starting our new unit next week.  Our next unit of study is Motion and Design.  Kids love this unit because they get to work together to build some pretty cool vehicles! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week of November 17th

Language Arts:  In Reading, we've been working on how to infer character traits and emotions and  by using evidence from the books we're reading.  We have done a lot of whole group work on this but soon, kids will start to do this independently in Reading groups.  In the next few weeks, we'll also read short stories and look for the story elements as we begin moving towards summarizing a text.  As we're reading our stories over the next few weeks, we'll also be talking about theme and begin comparing different themes.  In January, we'll be starting book clubs so all of these skills are very important to master.  I've reminded everybody to make sure they are reading and recording their minutes on their reading log.  I look at the reading logs at the end of the month, we reflect on them and I give students a grade for independent reading at home.  Look for that to come home next week in Friday folders.  Raz-Kids is also a nice option at night.  There is a Raz-Kid app you can download on an IPad or a Kindle.  That's been a lot easier in my house at night because I don't have to give up my computer when my girls do Raz-Kids. :)
In Writing, we're continuing our work with our Personal Narrative unit.  Right now, kids are publishing one of their stories on the computer.  The students who aren't able to finish their writing will need to take their flash drives home and finish up there.  Next week, we'll begin our final Personal Narrative write.  This is where the kids independently demonstrate what they've learned over the course of the unit.  Once I have the final writes graded, I'll attach them to our pre-writes and send them home to you.  Our next unit of study is Persuasive writing. 

Math:  We're continuing to Race to the Finish!!  Wow, I can tell the kids have been studying their facts at home!  The amount of motivation and growth I've seen over the last few weeks is HUGE!  This week, we had another 5 students meet their goal of earning 95% or more in 5 minutes or less.  Congratulations to Chelsea, Marcus, Deborah, Michael, Kortney, Loureen, and Kelly!  They have all met their goal.  Now, we only have 13 more students who need to race to the finish!   Keep up the good work!  Results have been recorded in our Data Notebooks and will be in Friday folders today.  This week in Math, we started our unit on Multiplication with Larger Numbers.  We've explored how to build arrays with larger multiplication problems.  We have a strong understanding of how to build multiplication arrays so we'll continue building on that foundation as we work with larger multiplication problems.  Next week, we'll build some skeleton arrays and learn some different strategies to solve larger multiplication problems. As the concepts get more difficult, I'll be grouping the kids so we can move some forward and spend some time with others concentrating on this skill. 

Social Studies: We are at the end of our Geography unit and we'll be spending next week tying up loose ends and reviewing concepts we'll see on the test.  Students will receive their review sheet on Monday and we'll be testing on Thursday 11/20. 

Science:  We took our last I-Check in Science this week.  Scores from this test will be sent home next week in Friday folders.  We'll be spending time next week tying together loose ends and also reading some Science stories that go along with our unit. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Week of November 3rd

Race to the Finish

What is Race to the Finish? 
  • All Kenbrook students have a goal to improve fact fluency.  Our goal in 4th Grade is Multiplication so we're having a friendly competition between 4th grade classes.  Each foot represents a, in order to sign a foot, students must earn a 95% on a timed test (5 minutes) with 100 problems.
What should 4th grade students do to help them "Race to the Finish"? 
  • Study their facts!!  Students should be studying their multiplication facts just about every night for about 20 minutes.  Please encourage your child to study their facts...this will help them achieve their goal more quickly. 
When will students be tested? 
  • Every other Monday.  We just tested Monday, Oct 27th, so we'll be testing again on Monday, November 11th. 
  • Look for corrected timed tests in Friday folders and look for growth.  If your child is showing growth, encourage them to keep studying.  If your child is not showing growth, help them set a realistic goal they can achieve. 
*******We already have 2 students who signed their foot.  Congratulations to Michael and Kortney for earning a score of 95% or above in 5 minutes!  Now we need 18 more students to race to the finish.  Let me know what I can do to help support your child.  Let's do this! 

Here's our plan for the week....
Language Arts:  In Reading this week, we'll continue to focus more on types of inferences which focus on small ones like meaning of words to larger ones like inferring theme, character emotions and traits.  Up until now, students have been guided through inferences.  We've worked together on the rug and I've showed them how to look for "clues" so they can make a proper inference.  This week, we'll have a couple of graded reading assignments that will assess their ability to infer on their own.  Next, we'll move into our Character unit and continue inferring traits, emotions, and theme using action and dialogue. 
In Writing, we have been working on the strategy, Show, Don't Tell.  Our goal is to write so our reader can infer our feelings and emotions just as we do when we read our books.  Some of the other things we've concentrated on are strong introductions, paragraphing, and how to make our sentences stronger using strong verbs and adjectives.  In the next few weeks, I will be passing back the writing pieces I shared with you at conferences so students can spend some time reflecting on their writing.  This will help them determine what kinds of writing goals to make for themselves over the next few months. 
Math: This week in Math, we'll be finishing up Unit 1 and testing.  Our big focus for the unit has been to build multiplication models, find factors and multiples of numbers, prime and composite numbers.  Early next week, we'll do a little problem solving where we solve multiplication problems and also write some.  I haven't set the date of the math test but I'll the kids know early next week.  Look for a review sheet sometime next week.  In Unit 2, the numbers get much larger as we multiply multi-digit numbers.  Thanks for all your hard work with the multiplication facts!  They are really coming along and there's a lot of enthusiasm in the air.  Keep the momentum going!!
Social Studies:  We finished up relative location and absolute location and have moved into our study of landforms.  We'll be doing some fun activities next week and we'll also be using the computer as we look closer at landforms.  Our next stop is regions and special purpose maps! 
Science: We're continuing our study of electricity in science.  The students have learned to create electrical circuits using D-cell batteries, wires, light bulbs, and small motors.  They even know how to add in a switch which opens and closes the circuit turning the power on and off!  Next week, we will be wrapping up this investigation and will be testing soon.  The test on the Making Connections investigation will be on Thursday, November 13.  The students will have a review sheet to use to help them study.   

Friday, October 17, 2014

Week of October 20th

Here's our plan for the week...

Language Arts:  In Reading, well continue working on reading strategies such as making connections and inferring.  In reading groups, we have been reading small paragraphs and using the clues the author gives us to make an inference.  As we go, we've been underlining the words or phrases that helped us make the inference we did.  Eventually, we should get really good at thinking deeper and drawing conclusions on our own.  I've broken the class into 4 reading groups and during reading time, we rotate from one activity to the next.  Rotations include guided reading with me, responding to reading, independent reading, and practicing strategies on the computer. Reading rotations are going very well and everyone seems to really enjoy them.  Once we get good at our strategies, I will hand out novels that students will be required to read nightly and discuss the next day in their group.

In Writing, we'll continue working on our personal narratives.  We have talked a lot about watermelons vs. seeds and as we think about topics, we decide if it's a small moment (seed) or a topic that's too big to handle (watermelon).   So far, we have listed a variety of topics we would like to write about, made a plan for a small moment, brainstormed grabbers and have written an introduction.  A few of the mini-lessons over the next two weeks will include how to add feelings and emotions to our writing by using a strategy called, "Show, Not Tell."  When we show the writer how we're feeling and what we're doing, it makes our writing a lot more interesting to read.  As I'm grading writing papers, I'm noticing students are having difficulty with run-on sentences so I will be doing a few lessons on grammar and conventions as well.

Math: This week, we have been focusing on making Multiplication arrays and making the connection with Division.  This week, we worked on Multiplication and Division story problems.  This was challenging for some so we spent two days on it.  We focused on remembering to write an equation, draw a picture and restate the answer in a sentence.  Next week, we'll move ahead with factors, multiples and prime & composite numbers.  We'll also be doing some factor trees too.  Remember those from elementary school?  I know I do!!  Now that we are farther along in this unit, we're really understanding why it's so important to have our facts mastered.  Without knowing those basic facts, factor trees will be very difficult. Keep reminding your child to study at home.  I've noticed a HUGE improvement!!!  Keep up the good work! 

Social Studies:  We are well on our way in our geography unit.  Our lapbooks look amazing and it is a great way to showcase our learning.  We'll actually be using the lapbooks to study for our geography test once we've finished them.  As we move through this unit, we will focus on absolute versus relative location, landforms, physical and human characteristics, special purpose maps and regions.  We have a lot to cover but we're up for the challenge! 

Science: We have had a great start to our science unit and are concluding our work with magnets.  Students should have brought home their science quiz this week.  If they did not do as well as they hoped, reassure them that there will be more quizzes and plenty of opportunities to raise their grade.  Next, we'll begin looking at electrical currents.  Kids will love making circuit boards in the coming weeks.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Week of October 6th

Hello Everyone!

Thanks so much for all of your support over the past few weeks!  We're rolling right along with curriculum.  Here's a sneak peak into next week....

Math:  Now that we're finished with our Place Value unit, we'll be starting Unit 1 which focuses on Multiplication and Division models.  Some of this will be a review from last  year and we'll be building on those skills as well.  We have been spending some time practicing our multiplication facts in class but kids need to be spending time at home mastering them as well.  I'm sending home our latest corrected timed test so you can see your child's progress.  Once the facts are memorized, they are there for life so I'm trying to come up with some things that might motivate the kids.   We're planning to have some friendly competition between the other two fourth grades to hopefully motivate us to practice our facts more.  More about this to come as this is still in the planning stages.  If you don't have flash cards at home, you can either buy them for pretty cheap or make them with index cards.  I'm more than willing to help kids make flash cards if they'll study them at home.  Let me know.  Thanks!!

Language Arts:  I'm thrilled to have the F and P assessments finished because they give me so much useful information about your child's reading skills.  I've compiled the information and will start grouping the kids next week.  We have been reading some great mentor texts as we learn more about connections and how to find "strong" connections versus "weak" ones.  Next week in reading groups, we'll be working on making connections and I'll also reintroduce Visualizing. This is a strategy they have learned in past grades but I always want to remind them that good readers always have a movie playing in their head as they read.  I'll also be working more in Inferring.  Inferring is probably my favorite reading strategy to teach because we use it so much when we read.  When we infer, we "read between the lines" and draw conclusions to better understand what we are reading.  Now that your child is encountering more difficult books, they will be inferring a lot more.

In Writing, we'll continue working on our Personal Narrative unit.   Before each unit, we do a pre-assessment and then once we're finished with the unit, we do a post-assessment.  All students should see a lot of growth from the pre to their post test.  Next week, we'll start digging a little deeper as we work on organization.  We'll be thinking of the end in mind as we learn a beginning, middle and end strategy.  In addition to this, we'll be taking a look at how to "hook" our reader with strong introductions.  We'll have time to practice the strategies and should be able to finish at least one writing piece next week.  Details, revising, and editing will also be implemented along the way.

Social Studies:  In social studies, we'll continue working through our Geography unit.  We started a Geography lap book last week and we'll continue working on these as we learn new concepts.  Some of the concepts we'll focus on next week will be relative location, and latitude & longitude.

Science:  We continue making our way through the Electricity and Magnetism unit.  Our focus right now is Magnetism and we're learning about these concepts through hands on lessons.  We will have a quiz on Thursday.  Students received study guides already so they can use this to study from.