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Friday, September 17, 2021

Sorry for the late blog -- it was a busy afternoon and I completely forgot! I'll keep this brief since the weekend has already started and I don't want to bore you... 

I am really impressed with this class! They absolutely love to read, and they already have the stamina to read quietly for at least 30 minutes without interruption. That is a skill that is usually not seen at the beginning of 4th grade. They are continuing to read books that they have chosen, and we have short lessons daily about how to figure out unknown words, how to know what genre you are reading, how to make sure you are comprehending, etc.  

This week's writing focused on what is meant by the word "sentence." We practiced framing sentences and looking for the subject and the verb. We discussed capital letters and ending punctuation. Today we discussed paragraphs and topic sentences. This basic nuts and bolts learning will set them up nicely for writing their first narrative piece in a few weeks.

Math this week was all about factors and multiples. Do you know the difference? See if your children can tell you! We also learned about multiplication problems with comparisons, such as "I read 6 pages. Bob read 4 times as many pages. How many pages did Bob read?" This is a whole different kind of problem, and it is good practice for them to conceptualize what that means! 

In science, we moved on from learning about plant parts to learning about animal parts. Each student is working on a short research project -- researching an animal and making a poster of some of its body structures and their functions. We are learning that all of the structures help the animal survive in one way or another!

Since we have no Open House planned and you can't come into the school, I have been trying to email all of you with some updates about how your child is doing. If you haven't received an email from me about your child yet, you will get one next week! If you have received one, I'd love to hear back from you. Let's keep the communication going!

Here are a few important announcements:

Please check your child's backpack for permission skips. I am still missing a few, and our first trip to Camp Swampy is this coming Friday.

Parent conferences are coming up in less than a month. I will be sending out information about them soon, so keep your eyes out for a sign-up email.

As a way to celebrate learning about plants, I am  hoping to make terrariums with the class. I am in need of the following items:

  •     2 liter soda bottles (1 per student)
  •     potting soil (1 large bag)
  •     natural (undyed) aquarium gravel (3 - 4  bags)
  •     fish tank filter charcoal (available at places like PetSmart)

If you would like to donate any of the above, please let me know. I hope to  make the terrariums the week after next.

That is all for this week. As always, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. I hope you all have a splendid weekend with your sweet children!


Friday, September 10, 2021

 Happy Friday everyone! It's been a short week, but it has been full. I am continuing to get to know the students and I am really enjoying them! They are good at being silly when appropriate, and good at getting serious in a hurry when it is work time. They love to read, they are fully in the swing of math, and they know the classroom routines and expectations. I'm feeling very lucky!

We started our first math unit this week. While some of it is review, there are some new concepts as well. The main focus is on factors and multiples (and keeping track of the difference) and using arrays as a representation for multiplication. We will continue to practice our multiplication facts and learn to use the ones we know to figure out the ones we don't know. Today we learned about prime numbers and square numbers. Ask your children to explain them to you!

During reading time, the class is learning routines and procedures like how to choose books, how to "buzz" about their books with their reading partners, how to write about their books in their notebooks, and when it is okay to abandon a book. When it is time to read, they are completely engaged! I love seeing them relax with a book.

During writing time, we finished making collages on the covers of our journals and we did a little bit of writing based on a silly photo of a dog. Next week, we will learn about sentence structure (subject/verb) and practice, practice, practice using capital letters and punctuation (which 4th graders always seem to hate using!) We will also learn how to take an ordinary sentence and "explode" it by adding who, what, where, how, why, etc.  Finally, we will learn how to use paragraphs by writing a simple letter. After all of that, we will be ready to start our narrative writing unit!

We started our first science unit this week. The unit is called "Structure and Function" and we are learning how the characteristics of living things help them survive. Today we dissected some marigolds and discussed the function of the leaves, the stem, the roots, and the flowers. I am impressed by how much this class knows!

Here are a few important updates:

Please look in your child's folder today. There is a school photo envelope as well as a permission slip. Please let me know if you have questions about either. I'd love the permission slip returned by next Friday.

The class earned their first celebration. On Monday, we are having "bedtime day." This means they can come in pajamas or comfy clothes, they can wear slippers (or socks) in the classroom, they can bring a blanket, and they can bring a stuffed animal (please be reasonable -- it should fit in a backpack!) They have PE on Monday morning so they need to bring appropriate footwear as well. This is a choice -- they can wear their regular clothes if they don't want to participate!

I think that's all for this week. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, September 3, 2021

 It feels good to have one full week off school in the books! We had a very busy week getting to know each other, settling into the classroom routines and expectations, learning where to put our folders, our notes, etc., and figuring out how to behave in the classroom space. I am pleased with how well I feel like I know each student already!

During our reading time this week, we learned about how to select just right books, how to distinguish fiction from nonfiction, and how to write about our reading in our journals. The students practiced all of these skills, and they read quietly most days as well. They love to read, and they know that it is always an option when they are finished with other work. We will take some time next week for me to read with each child and to learn a few more routines. The following week, we will begin our first official reading unit. Of course they will read every day in the meantime!

We haven't started our first writing unit yet, but we did do a little bit of free-writing this week. We also wrote some "biopoems" that I hope to share with you all soon. They are lovely! Next week, we will take Tuesday to decorate our writing journals. Then we will begin our first writing unit on Wednesday. Our first unit will be a narrative (story) writing unit -- always a favorite!

In math this week, we learned some really fun Math Menu games. These are mostly for reviewing addition and subtraction facts, but caused some giggling too. Today the students completed a pre-assessment for our upcoming math unit, which will begin on Tuesday. This is the first of 3 multiplication units. This first unit is mostly review of what they learned last year, and will boost their confidence before we get into harder concepts with larger numbers later.

I love teaching science, so we took some time this week to play with a variety of fun "science" toys. We learned to make observations, ask questions, and write down what we THINK we know. We also learned about the scientific process and how to conduct a lab. We had a blast trying out 2 different kinds of vinegar with baking soda! We will do a few more labs in the coming weeks.

In addition to all of the above, we learned the importance of having a growth mindset, we wrote our hopes and dreams for the year, and we continued with our "I can use my hands to..." posters. These kids have beautiful ideas for how to protect their planet!

Finally, if you haven't sent in a foot photo yet, please do that between now and Monday. It is fine to email me a photo. I can print it here! We will do the foot photo challenge on Tuesday and I am hoping no one will be left out.

I hope you all have a wonderful and restful weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2021

 Wow! One week of school down already. We have had a lot of fun getting to know each other this week. The students are learning the classroom routines and expectations, and they are learning how to be part of a team. They  have all decorated their name tags, gotten to know our class library, learned how to have snack and lunch safely in the classroom, and filled out a variety of "getting to know you" sheets. We will EASE into academics next week, and hit the books in earnest right after Labor Day weekend. We will start next week with some fun science so that we can learn the scientific process -- lots of messy fun will happen!

Thank you all for sending in photos of your children for our Cheetah Den bulletin board. If you haven't had a chance to do this yet, feel free to snap a photo over the weekend and email it to me. I will print it here at school and make sure it gets hung up. The same goes for the foot photo!

I am noticing that students are leaving the classroom frequently to go to the water fountain. I never want to say no to thirsty kids, but it does cause a disruption. Sending in a water bottle with your child would solve this problem. Please try your best to get one sent into school. I will buy some plastic disposable ones to have on hand, but I don't like using them unless absolutely necessary.

We got out our chromebooks for the first time today, and made sure everyone could get logged on and use google drive and gmail. All went well! Many of the students complained that their track pads did not work well. Unfortunately this is a reality with our school-issued chromebooks.... I do have a few external mice here at school, but feel free to send one in for your child to use if she or he complains about the "glitchy" mouse.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that many students have fidget toys with them, and these are also causing a distraction. Additionally, the students tend to want to share them, and that concerns me in the midst of a pandemic. Please ask your children to leave their fidget toys at home. If you believe your child really benefits from using one, contact me and we can make a plan.

I am really enjoying all of your children! I hope they are enjoying school so far, and that they are coming home happy and ready for more. Please feel free to be in touch with any feedback so that we can work together to make sure this is a successful and fun year for everyone. We are a team!

Enjoy your weekend!