Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015

The students did a fantastic job on the science fair! I was very impressed with all their presentations and how much they had learned. We have our science fair Open House tonight, and everyone is welcome to come see the whole school's projects between 5:30 and 7:30.

We've been busy with a lot of great projects in school, too. Students are continuing to meet with their literature circle books and we've been discussing protagonists and antagonists, how to use quotes from the book to describe characters, and different points of view. Next week, we'll begin using the iPads to create movie trailers. In writing, students have been busy researching different types of animals. They're starting to put their notes together into outlines now, we'll start typing them in computer class next week, and then use different text features to help our readers understand our topic better.

We're continuing our study of geometry in math, looking at squares and rectangles and how to find the perimeter of figures made up of different rectangles. In science, we're studying heat, light, and sound. There are tons of hands-on activities we're doing with these, such as testing to see if a thermometer inside of a mitten will be warmer than one outside, using tuning forks and making our own instruments and telephones to explore sound, and using spectroscopes to see the different colors in light. We will have a test in math and science before the end of May. Math will most likely be on Wednesday, May 27, and science will be on Thursday, May 28.

There are many other fun activities coming up as we wrap up the year! These include our awards ceremony at 6:00 on Wednesday, May 28 (students can dress down the next day if they come to our evening event) and a field trip to the Shedd Aquarium on Wednesday, May 3.

Friday, May 1, 2015

May 1, 2015

We began the ABC countdown yesterday! It's hard to believe there's only 25 more days of school left, and they'll be busy ones.

We'll take our test today on electricity, and then begin studying heat, light, and sound next week. We'll also share our science fair projects next week. Students will have time in class on Monday to work on their presentations, and then the projects are due on Thursday, May 7 (this is pushed back one day from the original due date). We'll share them with our own class on Thursday and Friday, and with the rest of the school on May 11, 12, and 13. You can see the circuit rooms students made for the electricity unit below, along with an art project we've been working on.

 In math, we're learning about parallel, perpendicular, vertical, and horizontal lines. This unit and the next are both short, so we do already have a test coming up on lines. The test will be Thursday, May 14.

Students are reading their books in a new set of literature circles this week, and they are continuing to have great conversations about their books. After writing several poems, we're about to start working on research projects. I'm going to have lots of books about animals, but students are welcome to choose any subject they'd like to research. They just need to have three books about that topic by Thursday, May 14.

Finally, congratulations again to the winners of the UIC economic poster contest! There was an awards ceremony on Wednesday. (Not pictured is Angelis.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015

As Mr. Bennett mentioned in yesterday's Tuesday letter, TerraNova scores are in and will be sent home on Friday. Please remember that the scores the students receive do not reflect a percentage of how many questions they got right (like our tests at school do), but how well they did compared to the rest of the students across the country who took this test. If you have questions about their results, please let me know and I'd be happy to set up a conference.

In science, our test will now be on Friday, May 1. I moved the date back since I gave students some extra time to work on their circuit rooms. Any students who aren't done with the project at this point will need to work on it either during recess or at home. They will be due on Monday, April 27, and we will share them with the class at this point. Don't forget that the science fair is coming up, too! Those projects are due on Wednesday, May 6.

Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17, 2015

Happy Easter! Even though many of us just celebrate Easter on Easter Sunday, it is actually a season that lasts for 50 days. Many students in the school today did something fun in recognition of this. We created poems and made pictures of animals with our buddies!

Students have been doing a great job on their literature circles, and I've enjoyed listening to their discussions, especially the follow-up questions they ask each other. In writing, we're almost done with our five paragraph essays about Chicago. We'll be writing a few poems in class next, since April is poetry month, before moving on to our final research paper.

In math, we'll be working on geometry until the end of the year. Right now, students are learning how to measure and draw angles. We did a fun scavenger hunt yesterday for angles, and next week we'll learn how to decompose angles before taking our test on Thursday. We also have a test coming up in science. It'll either by Tuesday, April 28 or Wednesday, April 29. The students in science have been engineers lately and are designing a circuit to go inside of a shoebox room. I've been emphasizing that many designs take a lot of trial and error before finding the one that works best, and students are doing a great job of being persistent.

We also have a field trip coming up! We'll be going to the Museum of Science and Industry on Monday, April 27. The permission slip for that is coming home today.

Friday, April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015

I hope everyone is having a blessed Holy Week! There were a few things I wanted to share. First, congratulations to all the students who participated in our Slice of Life challenge this month! I really enjoyed reading everyone's blog entries and commenting on them. We had 8 students in our class who posted at least 21 times, and we'll have a celebration once we return to school. If you'd like to see what the students wrote, you can go here.

Science fair is coming up, and I wanted to clarify a few things. First, the students do not need to do the experiment in class for the presentation. They only need to talk about how they conducted the experiment and what they learned. I was able to see or talk to almost all of the students about their questions before break, but as a reminder, the project needs to be an experiment. This means that there needs to be a variable that should get changed between trials. Also, as I told the students, this should not be an expensive project. There are many things students can do with the materials they have around the house, so please do not feel like you need to go out and buy something. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

Finally, I wanted to share some pictures from Catholic Schools Week that I realized I never posted. You can see them below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Go West! Pictures

We are really excited about performing our play tomorrow night! Students did a fantastic job during our dress rehearsal today, and all the other classes loved it. Don't forget that students should arrive tomorrow (Thursday) night between 5:30-6:00 and should come straight upstairs to get their costumes on. Here are some pictures from today's performance to whet your appetite.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22, 2015

We're excited that our play is just around the corner! The students have been practicing very hard and are doing a great job with their lines, songs, and dances. Thank you to all the parents who came to help us make costumes and sets on Thursday. Our dress rehearsal will be on Wednesday during the school day for the other grades to see, and the play will be on Thursday at 6:30. Please make sure your child brings his or her costume to school on Wednesday and wears it on Thursday night. All students should be here by 6:00 that evening. Tickets for Thursday's performance are on sale now!

In reading, we've started doing literature circles. Each student chose a book to read, and they're meeting weekly with others reading the same book to discuss, just like they would in a book club. There have been several great discussions about predictions, why characters behave in a certain way, and the morality of different decisions.

We've also been having some great discussions in science. We're exploring energy right now and began by trying to figure out how an energy ball works. Students drew models and then had a scientist meeting about what they observed and inferred. We're going to make circuits, explore positive and negative charges, and find out how electricity is created. We'll be doing a project later that involves a shoebox, so please save any that you have!

In writing, we're working on multiple paragraph essays and introductions that include a planning sentence. Right now, we're writing about Chicago. Students are also doing a great job of blogging, and we've been getting lots of comments from people! In math, we just finished our unit on decimals and will be doing geometry for the rest of the year. Our first unit will be about angles.

Students have been observing Lent through the practices of fasting, praying, and almsgiving. We came up with a calendar at the beginning of Lent with a different activity for each day, and many of the students have been completing these activities. We'll participate in a living Stations of the Cross next week.

Finally, thank you to everyone who came to conferences today. I appreciate having the chance to sit down and discuss your child's progress to far. It's always amazing to look back at my notes from the first quarter conferences and realize how far the students have come. Thank you for all the work you do at home with your child.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5, 2015

Thank you to all you've done to make sure your kids come to school rested and ready to do their best on their tests! Tomorrow will be our last day, and then we'll be back to our normal schedule.

Many of the students have been doing a great job of blogging! There are several who have blogged every day this month. It's been great to see so many comments on their writing, especially from people in other schools. If you'd like to see what they're writing, you can go here. Don't forget to leave comments!

We do have several tests coming up. On Thursday, March 12, we have a religion test, and a science test (I moved this back a day to give us an extra day to review in class) and on Friday, March 13 there will be a social studies test. Since it is time for third grade to start preparing for their First Communion, Ms. Jones and I will be begin switching classes next week. I will be teaching third grade religion, while she teaches the fourth graders social studies. Finally, there will be a math test on adding and subtracting decimals on March 20.

Below, you can see pictures from several activities we did in February: making pancakes to explore chemical and physical changes, mining for "coal" during social studies, and creating and testing water filters.

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!