Friday, March 27, 2015

Week of March 30th

This week at conferences, many parents were asking what they could do over the summer to ensure their child stays current with their skills.  Every summer, I order the Summer Bridge book for my own girls and it really helps to not only structure our day but also helps review some of things they learned in school that year.  The books are only $10 and well worth it.  Here's the link in case you're interested:

Important Dates to Remember:

Spirit Week - Next week is spirit week but the 4th grade team had to make a little change because of our field trip.  On Monday, the students are supposed to wear their Kenbrook apparel but instead they are going to wear their PJ's.  Thursday, they are supposed to wear their PJ's to school but we are going to wear our Kenbrook apparel since we're going on the field trip.  There are no other changes on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Field Trip - Thursday 4/2: Please remind your child to bring a disposable lunch to the field trip. 

Spring Break - 4/2-4/13 

FLE - 4/22 and 4/23: Your child will not be allowed to participate in the FLE program unless they have a signed permission slip on file.  Please let me know if you need an additional copy.   

M-Step - 4/28, 4/29, 4/30, 5/7, 5/8, 5/12, 5/13:  Note -  Because of the availability of the computers, all 4th grade classes are not taking the M-Step on the same day.  We have been doing many things to get prepared here at school for this online assessment that has replaced the MEAP.  We are trying to make it as stress free for your kiddo.  I know it seems like a lot of testing but we'll try to make sure we find the healthy balance between doing their personal best without putting on too much pressure.  We are good at that around here. :) 

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

KID Groups: Your child might have mentioned that our KID groups have changed a bit.  We have completed our work with Place Value and have moved onto some different skills.  Earlier last week, we gave the kids a pretest involving concepts such as multiplication, division, and word problems.  We divided up the groups based on how they performed on this test.  The students are either working on skills that weren't mastered earlier in the year or they're learning new skills that haven't been covered yet.  In either case, kids are getting what they need and having fun too!!  We love the KID groups! It's our favorite time of the day and it's nice mixing up the students so we see new faces!  

Math:  We just tested on our Fractions unit and I'm in the midst of grading those tests but should have them for you next week.  We started our Decimals unit today and will be delving into that more next week.  We'll be pulling out our place value blocks so we can the relationship between the tenths, hundredths and whole numbers.  Then we'll be moving onto finding equivalent decimals and comparing them as well. This will be a shorter unit since it's at the tail end of our Fractions unit.  Our next larger unit will be Geometry.  There is a lot of vocabulary involved with this unit so we'll be getting out of our seats and learning some fun songs along the way!  

Language Arts:  In Reading, we're continuing to move through our Nonfiction unit.  We have been examining non fiction pieces and locating the text features and we've starting working a bit with text structure as well.  Next week, we'll continue working on main idea and pulling out the topic, topic sentences and supporting details. In writing, we're in the midst of our research project.  We'll continue finding information on the next few topics and then the following week, we'll begin to use our notes and organize them into paragraphs.  This is the hard part and what we're doing in Reading will really help us with this process.  This is a BIG unit and will most likely take a good 6 weeks.  After we're done writing, we'll put it together in a book.  

Social Studies:  We're continuing our study of Economics.  There are many vocabulary words tied to this unit so we've been doing some fun activities with our product we have made to help us understand these concepts.  This week, we took a vocabulary quiz to see how the students are progressing so far in the unit.  We can tell that some students are putting in the time it takes to do well on a quiz and some students are not.  We have had these conversations with the students as well.  These results will be sent home next week as well.  

Science:  We're in the midst of our Sun, Moon and Stars unit. We'll be learning about the sun and shadows and the kids will be doing some outdoor activities as well.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Week of March 16th

Hello Families!!  Here's the scoop for the next two weeks...

Math: We're trucking right along with Fractions!  This week, we worked on Mixed Numbers and Improper Fractions.  We're also very comfortable making equivalent fractions.  This will be helpful as we compare fractions and eventually add and subtract fractions.  This year, the fourth graders are responsible for adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators and they should be able to add and subtract with unlike denominators using models and pictures.  Next year in fifth grade, they'll build on that and extend their learning even further.  I've been trying to send home corrected work in Friday folders so you can see how your child progressing with this concept.  If you notice your child is having difficulty, you might want to spend some additional time at home working on these skills.  Mrs. Jahn and I both have our own groups so the students are getting a lot of additional one-on-one help.  It's been a gift to have the extra hands in the room!!  Next week, we'll be solving some story problems involving fractions, working with fractions on a number line and also reviewing some of the concepts we've already covered.  We're just about at the end of our unit so we'll be testing soon.  I'll be giving a  short quiz early next week to assess their learning so far.

Language Arts:  In reading, we have been looking at the layout of a non-fiction piece and discussing how text features help us understand the article.  We have also worked hard this week paraphrase short pieces of text after we have read it.  This will be helpful as we continue the research process next week.  Next week, we'll focus more on reading short articles and discussing the main idea and we'll pull out supporting details as well.  We'll also spend some time pulling out important details to help us write a strong summary of an article.  Reading and writing will begin to go hand in hand as we work through our informational unit.  In Writing, we've been getting the kids geared up for our research papers.  As you know, there is so much involved in a research paper so we have started small and focused on paraphrasing.  Students picked their topics this week and began taking notes on their animal.  Next week, I'll have them check out a book at the library on their animal and we'll continue the note taking process on the computer.

Social Studies: We're continuing our study of Economics in Social Studies.  The students are creating a product to market and will be learning about the economic concepts through the product they create.  As you know, there are many vocabulary words in our Economics unit and it's difficult for the kids to understand all of them.  Creating a product will make it easier...and fun!

Science: We are just at the end of our Motion and Design unit.  Our next unit is Moon, Sun and Stars.  We'll be doing a little research along the way and tie in some fun activities as well.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Week of March 2nd

Here's the plan for the next two weeks...

Field Trip: We have a field trip coming up on Thursday, April 2nd.  We will be going to the Ford Rouge at Greeenfield Village.  I'll be sending home more information and permission slips later next week but wanted to give you a heads up on the date. 

Language Arts: In Reading, we've been working hard in our book clubs. In our groups, we've been focusing on digging deeper into our books and thinking deeper about character's actions and thoughts.  This helps the flow of our book club discussions the next day. We have also been working hard on visualizing.  I'm impressed that just about all of the students are visualizing while they read.  They do it without thinking and it's wonderful they're doing it naturally!  When you read with your child at home, practice this strategy by discussing the pictures they make in their head. Compare their movie with yours.  This will help them practice the strategy and understand the story better.  Next week, we'll begin our informational unit which will pair nicely with our research papers.

In Writing, we're finishing up our Persuasive letters and then moving onto our research papers.  After the final papers are graded, I'll be passing them back and kids will chart their progress in their data notebooks so they can see their growth from the pre to the post test. Next week, we'll be starting research papers and our focus for the project will be animals.  All the students will pick an animal they want to learn more about and then I'll take them through the research process.  It will be a lot of reading, paraphrasing information and then putting their information into organized paragraphs!  We've got some good little writers in this room so I'm excited to see how well they do!  

KID Groups: KID Groups are going really well and the kids are doing great!  We are currently focusing on place value and some of the groups are working with powers of 10.  The instruction is geared to what your child needs and they might be coming home with additional math to work on if they weren't able to finish it in their KID groups. During this time, we are either extending their learning or getting some extra practice on a concept that was tricky for them earlier in the year.  As you have probably noticed, Numbers and Operations in Place Value was our first unit that we taught back in September.  Based on your child's test results and our data analysis, we strongly felt that it was important to your child's academic progress to reteach some of the skills they missed. Therefore, it may be necessary for you to help them at home to deepen their understanding of these concepts. In addition to this, they may be coming home with additional homework if they weren't able to finish it in their KID groups. Thank you for your continued support as we work to get your child what they need.

Math:  The Division test was corrected and placed in Friday folders this week.  We are in the midst of our Fractions unit and rolling right along!  We've been working with egg cartons and clocks to learn more about the fraction concept.  We're becoming more familiar with  equivalent fractions and will eventually realize that you make equivalent fractions by multiplying the numerator and denominator by the same number.  Next, we'll be focusing on adding and subtracting fractions and we will play a few games to reinforce the concept.  

Social Studies: In Social Studies, we're wrapping up our unit on Human Geography.  Corrected tests were sent home in Friday folders. This week, we have been working on a fun project called Oregon Trail where kids go back in time to learn about the hardships people faced while traveling west.  They are having a blast with this activity!  Our next uint of study is Economics.  We'll be taking a field trip in about a month that will help the kids learn more about some economic concepts.  In the next few weeks, however, we'll be focusing on needs, wants, scarcity, and supply and demand.  We'll be doing some fun activities to learn more about these concepts.  

Science: The students have just took their second quiz on motion and design, which focused on the concepts of rubber band energy and friction.  Those quizzes should be graded and placed in Friday folders next week.  Our last unit of this unit will focus on propeller-driven vehicles.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Week of February 9th

Hello Parents!  Here's a quick update on what we're learning the next few weeks. :)

KID Time:  Koality Instruction Day has been going great!!  Kids are excited and are doing an amazing job in their groups.  KID time rolled out very smoothly last week and everyone benefited from the smaller, individualized instruction!!

Language Arts: In Reading, we're just about ready to start round 2 of book clubs.  I had anticipated starting them this week but the two snow days interfered with my plans.   I'll be mixing up groups just a bit and they will run similar to how I ran the first round.  Mrs. Jahn will be working with two groups and I will work with the other two.  Everyday one of us will be running your child's reading group and discussing their books.  Thanks so much for being so diligent about making sure your child is ready and prepared for their reading group the following day.  I know evenings are busy and homework has increased a bit.  Kids are handling it though and making school a priority.  Thanks a ton for your support!  Soon I will begin individually assessing your child's reading level.  I'll be pulling kids while Mrs. Jahn is teaching and I'll be discussing levels with the kids as well as noting them on report cards in March.  Our next unit of study is non-fiction which will fit in nicely with our  research papers!  Stay tuned!

In Writing, we're just about at the end of our Persuasive unit.  Again, the snow days slowed us down a bit so my timeline is a little off. I anticipate finishing this unit mid February.  Next week, we'll write one or two more pieces and the following week we'll start our final writing piece.  Just like our writing units in the past, I'll be sending home graded pre and post tests so you can see how much your child grew.  Many are doing an amazing job adding details and staying organized!  Very impressive!

Math:  This weekend, your child has a Division review sheet to work on.  They didn't have homework yesterday but will have homework over the weekend...that was our deal. :)  The review looks pretty similar to the actual test so please take some time this weekend to work on this with your child.  I'll review a little more on Monday and we'll test Tuesday.  This unit was pretty tricky because we learned so many different strategies along the way.  They pushed through and I think we're ready to move on!  We'll begin Fractions on Wednesday.  We'll start the Fractions unit using Geoboards and rulers to help us learn more about fractions.  After that, we'll use egg cartons to learn more about numerators, denominators, and equivalent fractions.  Also, we're continuing to make progress

Social Studies:  We're just about at the end of our Social Studies unit and will begin reviewing next week.  As of now, I'm planning to test next Friday but will give the kids more of idea next week.  As we do in the past, I'll be handing out a review sheet the kiddos can use while they study.

Science: In Science, we're currently using rubber bands on our vehicles to learn more about kinetic energy.

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!