Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 27, 2015

I'm really excited about something new we're going to try in March. There is a community of bloggers who write something called a "Slice of Life," where they tell a story about one small part of their life or something that happened to them. In March, they challenge bloggers to write an entry for every single day. We're going to be participating in this as a classroom! To get ready, we've been practicing what it means to write a slice of life story. I've made our blog public, so everyone can see the entries, but only the students may post and all comments must be approved by me before they appear. We also all changed our profile pictures into drawings, so the photos and names will not be linked. If students wish to participate, they should link their blog post in the comments section of the entry that I'll be writing each day. I'll then post this page to share with a community of bloggers, and I'll include the link for students to see other class's blogs. We'll have a celebration at the end of the month for anyone who has completed an entry for at least 21 of the days! Here's a link to our blog here.

TerraNova testing does begin next week. As a reminder, please make sure that students get a good night's sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and have 2 #2 pencils. I'll have some extra pencils at school, too, if students need them. We will be testing every morning, so it's important that students arrive on time. They may wear their gym uniform every day next week and bring a healthy snack.

Finally, we will have several tests the week after TerraNovas, in religion, science, and social studies. We will start studying for them in class next week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 18, 2015

We began the season of Lent today with an all school Mass. Yesterday, we created a calendar in class that tied the different activities we do during Lent with the Ten Commandments. For example, the class decided to wash the dishes one day, which connects with the fourth commandment: honor your mother and father.

We've been doing a lot of great writing activities lately! Students wrote about what their life will be like when they're 100, and we used an aging app to change their photos to make them look older. We just finished working on some special letters for people, and I'll be sending those home in the next week or two.

In reading, we finished reading our historical fiction books and are about to start a non-fiction unit. Quite a few students lately have not been doing the assigned reading and have come to our guided reading groups unprepared. I emphasized with them that they get graded on having their work completed, and the work I assign needs to come first during reading time. All the students have at least 45 minutes of class time in between meetings to get their work done, and I expect them to use that time wisely.

We're learning about physical and chemical changes in science, which includes one of my favorite lessons: making pancakes to observe physical and chemical changes! We'll do that this Friday.

Our current math unit is about decimals. We will have a test next week on Friday, February 27, about place value, rounding, and ordering decimals. Also coming up are the TerraNovas, which will take place the first week of March. Please make sure your child is well-rested and arrives on time to school. They are welcome to bring a healthy snack with them the first week of March, as we will be having snack time in between testing. This week students will be receiving their progress reports. If you'd like to meet to discuss anything, please let me know!

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9, 2015: Inquiry Projects

Many of the students were finishing up their inquiry projects today, where they researched a question they had from what we learned about the Northeast. You can see the movies they made below, and I've also included some pictures from those students who chose to create a poster.

The Wampanoags

The Immigrants

Niagara Falls News Station

Winter Blizzards

Pocahontas's Tribe

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 29, 2014

We've had a very busy (but fun) week during Catholic Schools Week! You can see pictures below from the talent show and our visit with the illustrator and author Jan Spivey Gilchrist, as well as students using the iPads during our social studies lesson and making a density column for science. I especially loved the author visit since it's something we've never done before! Ms. Spivey Gilchrist shared a story she'd written and several poems she'd illustrated, while telling us what inspired her to create her books. She also signed lots of books afterwards.

Don't forget that tomorrow is the school Olympics, and students should wear their gym uniform. We'll also be showing the movie Frozen that night.

Looking ahead, we have two tests next week. Our math test is on Tuesday and will cover adding and subtracting fractions, changing a mixed number into an improper fraction and vice versa, and finding the fraction of a set. I'll have a study group after school on Monday from 3:00-3:45 for anyone who wants some extra practice. On Wednesday, we have a science test on the properties of matter.

Registration for the 2015-2016 school year went home this past Tuesday. As a reminder, current students are guaranteed spots if you register before February 3! After this, registration opens up to the public. Since we have a full class right now, please get your registrations in early for next year. We'll have an Open House on Monday, February 2. This will be a chance for you to visit the grade your student will be going into next year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 13, 2015

Welcome to a new year! I'm glad that the students seemed to have great breaks, and it sounds like many good books were read, too.

In writing, we're reflecting on 2014 by choosing three objects that symbolize the year (or that we'd put in a time capsule) and writing about them. We've also been blogging more often and discussing "Slice of Life" writing. Many bloggers and classroom students across the country participate in Slice of Life, which is a short story from your own life! I'm excited to see what the students write about.

We've started another cycle of guided reading groups. Students are either reading The Whipping Boy, The Secret School, or The Liberation of Gabriel King in small groups with me. We've already had some great discussions about the time periods these books take place in, since they're all historical fiction.

We're learning about fractions in math. When finding equivalent fractions and simplifying fractions, it seems like many of the students still struggle with division facts. I definitely encourage you to use flashcards and continue practicing these at home! If you're looking for some math games to play specifically about fractions, a good website to start at is here.

Ms. Perkins and I are working together to integrate more technology into our social studies classes. So far, I've created a website on that has lessons, videos, and pictures posted to it that we've been using to supplement our textbook. Students can log into this site at home, too, if they'd like. They each have their own user name and password. The students also are working on creating product maps for the Northeast on their iPads. Eventually, students will have an opportunity to research their own topic about the Northeast, so we've been gathering ideas for topics that sound interesting.

Looking ahead, Catholic Schools Week is quickly coming up! It begins the week of January 25. I know Mr. Bennett sent home information today with the schedule. In case that gets misplaced, here's a run down of some of the important events for each day:

  • Monday: Students may dress down with a crazy hat or crazy hair. This will also be the day of our student showcase.
  • Tuesday: Students may wear pajamas and bring in a pillow or blanket. We will also hear a presentation from the author and illustrator Jan Spivey Gilchrist, and some of her books will be available for purchase.
  • Wednesday: Students may dress down in green (the same color our preschool buddies will be wearing). We will have an awards ceremony at 8:30, and families are welcome to come and visit the classroom between 8:00-12:00. That evening will be Family Game Night.
  • Thursday: Students may dress up in nice clothes. We will have an all school Mass that morning.
  • Friday: Students should wear their gym uniform. The School Olympics will be that morning. We will have a movie night that evening, watching Frozen at 5:30.

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas, everyone! I wanted to share a few pictures from this month.

First of all, we completed our Jesse Tree:
We also had an award winner this month! Priya won first place in the 1st-4th grade division for an essay contest on school choice sponsored by the Office of Catholic Schools:
Next, we have some pictures of students taking measurements of the weather during science class and reading with their buddies:

Finally, don't forget about the work over break! Students need to complete the midyear review in their math book, pages 181-191, except for most of the problems about fractions. We crossed those out in class already. They also need to read a book and either leave a review on kidblog or write it out on a piece paper.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 11, 2014

The Christmas concert was a great success! Thank you to everyone who attended. I was very proud of how many fourth graders were there and how well they sang.

In class, we're reading non-fiction articles from National Geographic as we talk about text-features. In writing, students are working on their persuasive essays. We made our own barometer, anemometer, and wind vane in science and have been using these to record the weather each day in groups. Instead of a paper and pencil test next week on Thursday, students will need to use these tools to make their own measurements. We have a social studies test on Monday, and we'll also have our geography bee next week. In religion, we're continuing to learn about the Jesse Tree, in addition to our weekly Advent prayer services. In math, we're going to review fractions and learn how to make equivalent fractions this week and next, before diving into the next unit on adding and subtracting fractions after break.

Students will have two assignments over break. The first one is to read any book they'd like and post a book review on Kidblog. We'll go over next week what the book review should look like. If students don't have access to the internet, they can write their book review on a piece of paper and use a computer in school to publish after break. The second assignment will be the cumulative review in their workbooks. I'll have students cross out certain problems we have not covered yet next week. Please help your child use their time wisely to get their work done!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Prairie (Video from the Nature Museum)

November 24, 2014

Students were very excited to receive their Bibles two weeks ago at our Bible ceremony. You can see pictures from that below. We learned last week how to use them to look up verses, and today I explained how we'll be creating a Jesse Tree during Advent. Each student has a story that they should summarize and create a symbol for, and these will be due throughout the month of December. The Jesse Tree traces the family tree of Jesus, beginning with the creation of the Earth and Adam and Eve, leading all the way up to the stories in the New Testament about Jesus' birth.

We're almost done reading The Bad Beginning. We've been talking lately about how we can look for certain signs in the reading, such as "again and again" and "aha moments" to help us understand what's happening in the text. Once we're done with this book, we'll begin a unit focusing on non-fiction.

I've been loving the students' writing lately! We've been working on several persuasive essays. The most recent one was written from the point of view of a turkey in disguise. I was impressed by all the humor and the sentence variety in these! We'll keep on working on persuasive writing in December.

In math, we're doing a unit on tables, graphs, and data. Many students are already very familiar with how to read graphs, so hopefully it'll be a nice brain break before we start fractions. This unit is very short, so I expect our test to be Thursday, December 11. This may change based on how quickly the students grasp the material, though.

We've been continuing learning how to read maps in social studies. We made our own maps of the classroom last Friday, with an X marking "treasure" that students had hidden. Students then switched maps and had to use their new map to find the other group's treasure. We'll also have a test on this the second week of December, on Friday, December 12. Students will need to know the continents and oceans, as well as how to read a map.

Finally, in science, we had a great time at the Nature Museum on Friday! We took iPads with us, and students worked in groups to take pictures that will help them create a movie about ecosystems today. We'll take our test tomorrow, and then begin a unit on weather in December.

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014

One of our most news from this past week is that all of the students have become bloggers! We are using a site called Kidblog, which you can find here. This is a very safe site, since only users that I register can log in and read or comment on the students' writing. Our first blog entry was what it's like to be 9 (or 10), but I'm excited to see many students publishing their own writing, too.

In science, we're learning about ecosystems, and we have a field trip to the Nature Museum next week on Friday the 21st that will tie in perfectly with this! In social studies, we're just beginning our unit on maps. The students will learn how to read longitude and latitude and use a map scale, compass, and key. We'll also take part in the National Geographic Geography Bee in December, completing the preliminary round in our classroom. If you'd like to get a preview of the questions (and begin practicing) you can find the website here.

This Friday, we'll be attending  a Bible ceremony where all fourth graders will receive their own Bible. We'll be keeping them at school since we'll be learning how to look up verses in the next few weeks, but these Bibles will be for the students to keep. They'll take the Bibles with them to fifth grade next year, and then can keep them once they graduate.

Finally, in math, I expect the students to take their math test next week on Wednesday. It will cover long division, two digit multiplication, and word problems. We're going to be spending several lessons this week on word problems, so that students become more comfortable with them and better problem solvers.

Below, you can see pictures from the Halloween Fun Fair, our craft time with our buddies, and the students' ofrendas.