Fourth Grade, 2013-2014

Fourth Grade, 2013-2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014



I haven't posted pictures in a while, so there are a lot to share! Above, you can see the students creating water filters and electric circuits, at the Museum of Science and Industry, performing in our play, and working on an art project.

The students did a fantastic job at our play! I've had many compliments from people about their wonderful performance. I had a lot of fun directing, and I hope everyone enjoyed watching, too.

We're doing a lot of fun projects right now! In math, students were given a budget of $100.00, then looked through catalogues for things they could buy. They had to buy at least seven things, and the total amount needed to be at least $95.25. They practiced adding and subtracting with decimals to make sure that they spent all their money and stayed within their budget. In reading, students are using the iPads to make book trailers for their literature circle novels. I'm really excited to see how they turn out! When we get back from break, students will become electricians and design a circuit for a shoe box room. If anyone has any extra shoe boxes, please send them in with the students.

We also started working on five paragraph essays this week, which we will be working on until almost the end of the year. The first one that students are writing is going to be about why they like Chicago. There will be homework over spring break, and part of it will be to finish this essay. They will also have a math packet, and they should be working on their science fair experiments which are due May 5.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dig It!





Hope to see everyone tonight!

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014

We're so excited that our play is almost here! We will be having a dress rehearsal in school this Wednesday, and the will be performing for the families and community on Thursday at 6:30. Tickets are for sale at the office. Buy them now, because the prices go up at the door! Please make sure your child brings his or her costume with him or her to school on Wednesday. You should have received a note last week explaining what your child needs to wear.

The students are still reading their literature circle books and meeting about every other day to discuss them. They've been taking a big leadership role and guiding the discussions themselves, and they've had some really interesting debates.

We're going to have an English test on adverbs and prepositions this Wednesday. After the test, we're going to begin working on five paragraph essays! The students have really impressed me with their writing this year, and I'm excited to see them continue to grow.

We've been busy in science class making circuits and electromagnets. We'll have a test on that next Thursday, April 17, as well as a math test on decimals.

Last week, we had a great awards ceremony honoring those students who won the economics poster contest. Out of the 27 winners, 9 came from our class! It was wonderful to see all of the students' work recognized.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Long Division Video

Two of our students, Gabriel and Adam, created a video today about how to do long division when there are zeroes in the quotient. Here it is!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 6, 2014

Thank you for all the healthy snacks you've been sending in! They definitely give the students a boost of energy during our testing. The TerraNova testing is going well so far, and we are set to finish on Tuesday of next week.

We will have two tests next week on Friday, March 14 as we wrap up units in math and English. Those tests will be on adjectives and long division, and I will give students the study guides tomorrow. Several students are still struggling with remembering the steps of long division. I've been working with them in small groups every math class, but I'd appreciate it if you could help them at home as well. I've marked down which students need extra practice on their responsibility reports.

We had our first play rehearsal yesterday. The students did a fantastic job. Please continue practicing their lines and songs with them at home. We will perform the evening of Thursday, April 10.

I want to acknowledge several students who have won competitions recently! Jailene placed second in a city-wide essay contest about DuSable, the founder of our city. She and I were able to go to the awards ceremony on Tuesday, which was also Chicago's birthday celebration, and she met Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. We also have several students who won a regional economics poster contest that we entered in November. Congratulations to Leila, Zoey, Jasmine, Rosie, Sammy, Josiah, Daniela, Andrew, and Zethiana. That awards ceremony will be April 3.

Finally, I want to let people know that the current marking period is nearing its end.  For fourth graders only, the 3rd quarter will be ending on Monday, March 17 instead of Thursday, March 20.  In order to count for this quarter, any make-up work or extra credit must be handed in by Monday, March 17. The reason for this change is that I am going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Old St. Patrick’s church and I will be gone from March 20-March 28.  We are very fortunate that Ms. Claudio, who is obviously fully familiar with all of our classes and procedures, will be here to take over.  She will be teaching the class during that time.  I will be back in time to meet with everyone for report card conferences on March 30, and I look forward to seeing everyone then!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 28, 2014: TerraNovas

We begin TerraNova testing next week, and I wanted to give people a little bit more information about it and some hints to prepare your child.

We begin testing on Monday, March 3, with the Inview, an aptitude test. On March 4 we're taking the TerraNova reading test, on March 6, we'll take the language test, and on March 7, we'll take the math test. The following week, we'll take the social studies test on Monday and the science test on Tuesday. We will not be taking the TerraNova test on Wednesday, March 6, because that is Ash Wednesday. I expect mass to be longer than usual, and I don't like having the students test in the afternoon. We will have our religion test on the Old Testament that day instead. I also will not be assigning normal homework during that time. They will, however, have their religion study guide that is due on Tuesday.

The biggest thing you can do is to make sure your child arrives at school well-rested and prepared. Please make sure your child gets plenty of sleep and eats a healthy breakfast (without too much sugar). Encourage them to take their time, not to rush, and double check their answers. They should come to school with two #2 pencils and a healthy snack, since we will be taking snack breaks on the days we are testing. Good ideas for snacks are fruit, vegetables, granola bars, whole-wheat crackers, string cheese, or raisins. I will not allow the students to eat during the snack break anything that has lots of sugar in it (such as candy or chocolate chip cookies).

I also wanted to congratulate Jailene, who won second place in the DuSable essay contest hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Chicago History Museum! She'll be going downtown next week to Chicago's birthday celebration to receive her award.

Don't forget about our science test and spelling tests tomorrow!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 20, 2014

I can't believe how fast February is flying by! It's almost time for TerraNova testing, which will begin on March 3. I'll post more about that later. It's also time for progress reports, which will be going home tomorrow.

We've just finished reading our historical fiction novels, and I've had some great discussions with the students about the themes in the books, how the characters have changed, and what the characters have learned. We'll begin reading some non-fiction articles next week and discuss the different text structures found in non-fiction.

In math, we're learning long division. It's really important that students know their division facts, so if you haven't gotten out the division flash cards lately, now's the time! It'd also be helpful to go over with the students the steps in long division: divide, multiply, subtract, bring down. We drew division bots in the math notebooks yesterday to remember the steps, and we'll also learn the mnemonic: Does McDonald's Sell Burgers?

Science has probably been a lot of students' favorite subject lately since we've been talking about chemical and physical changes, and they made pancakes yesterday to observe the chemical changes taking place! We'll talk about mixtures and solutions, and the differences between acids and bases this week and next, and our test on this will be on Friday, February 28.

February 28 is also going to be our celebration of Black History Month. The class has been learning a song by Sam Cooke, which we will be singing at a presentation at 8:30 that morning. You're welcome to come watch! All of the other classes have also learned songs by famous African-American singers that they will be sharing.

Below, you'll see lots of photos from February, including pajama day, our Valentine's Day buddy activity, a play about Moses, and making pancakes.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014

While we didn't expect to start Catholic Schools Week on Wednesday, I'm excited we're finally back to school and ready to begin our activities! Just as a reminder, tomorrow is a dress down day as long as the students have something that is red on. We'll also have our awards ceremony following the all school Mass. On Friday, students can wear their gym uniforms since we will have the school Olympics. We will make up crazy hat day and pajama day next week. Thank you also to everyone who sent in food for the teacher's lunch today!

Next week we'll have several tests, whose dates have been moved around a bit due to the snow days. Our English test on verbs will now be on Tuesday, February 4. Our science test on matter and its properties will be on Wednesday, February 5. The students have already received these study guides. The following week, our math test on multiplying two-to-four digit numbers by one-digit numbers will be on Monday, February 10, and our social studies test on the Northeast will be on Thursday, February 12.

We had a lot of fun at the Shedd last week! Below are some pictures of the students getting ready to watch the Beluga whale/dolphin show.






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15, 2014



I hope everybody had a fantastic Christmas! Above, I've posted some pictures from before break of the students coloring with their preschool buddies and completing a parachute experiment.

Now that we've begun studying the regions of the United States, the students are going to have quizzes on the locations of the states. I gave students a blank map of the Northeast on Monday and had them fill in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. On Friday, they'll get a copy of the same map and need to fill those states in. Spelling does not count, but they may not use the abbreviations. We are also continuing to take our times tables test. Now that we've started multiplying numbers with multiple digits, it's really important for students to know their facts!

We finally have a field trip coming up next Friday to the Shedd Aquarium. I sent the permission slips home today. We'll need a few chaperones, so if you've completed the necessary steps, please let me know!

Catholic Schools Week is coming up from January 27-31. We will be doing a poster contest with the theme "What My St. Sylvester Community Looks Like." I gave the students their posterboard yesterday, and this will be due on January 27. Below, I've listed some other highlights for the week:

Monday, January 27: dress down with a crazy hat day, parents are welcome to visit the classrooms until 11:00

Tuesday, January 28: pajama day, students may bring pillows and blankets to school for DEAR time

Thursday, January 30: dress down in red (so we'll match our buddy class), awards ceremony

Friday, January 31: school Olympics

Don't forget that it will soon be time to register for next year! Registration for currently enrolled families begins on Tuesday, January 28. I'd definitely recommend sending in the registration before February 4, since on that day it opens up to new families as well, and several of our classes are at or near capacity.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

I can't believe it's only one more week until Christmas break! This month has definitely been flying by. We've been learning about what makes somebody a scientist with Ms. Lynn and Ms. Sophie, who brought in chocolate chip cookies today to help students make scientific claims about the number of chocolate chips. We've been discussing different text features in non-fiction, and in math we've been making different types of graphs. One of my favorite activities this month has been the Jesse tree. The students have been doing a great job of sharing the stories of people from Noah to Abraham, Ruth to Solomon, and now we're hearing about Jesus' immediate family!

We do have two tests this week: social studies on Thursday and English on Friday. If you are helping your child to study at home, please make sure they are reviewing the difference between plural and possessive nouns, as many students get these confused. We also have our normal vocabulary test this week on Friday. We will not be doing a times tables test this week.

Students will be receiving a Christmas break packet on Friday, which has some pages to practice their multiplication and division facts and a reading log. I expect this to be turned in the Monday after break. They are also going to be bringing home a survey from me today for you to fill out. It's a chance for me to get feedback on how you feel the year is going so far. Feel free to fill this out anonymously, or if there's something specific you'd like me to know regarding your child, to put your name on it. The more specific you can be, especially in areas that you believe could be improved, the more it helps me to form goals for my own teaching in this new year. Thank you in advance for your feedback!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Concert 2013 St. Sylvester School

Christmas Concert

The students did a wonderful job performing at yesterday's Christmas concert! Here are some photos and videos I took of them.







Sunday, December 8, 2013

Adding Fractions


Here is a video that some of our fourth graders made about adding fractions. Enjoy!

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013



Our school is very lucky to be working again this year with the Notebaert Nature Museum. This month, our class will be completing a Science on the Go unit, where I will collaborate with the Nature Museum staff to teach on what it means to be a scientist. We had our first lesson with Ms. Sophie today, on making observations and inferences. Students practiced by observing live beetles she brought in! She'll be back the next two Mondays as well.

Yesterday marked the beginning of Advent. To celebrate this time, we'll be going to weekly school-wide prayer services and creating a Jesse Tree in the classroom. Each student has a story to share with the class. They need to summarize the Bible verses I gave them and create a symbol for their story. Everybody's is due on a different day, since we'll be sharing 1-2 stories each day. Gabriel and Jeremiah shared the stories of creation and Adam and Eve today, and they did a great job!

We are winding down our unit on fractions, and our test will be next week on Monday. I am passing out a study guide today, which has examples of all the types of problems that will be on the test. It also has an answer key, so students can check their work. Please have your child work on this early so if he or she has any questions, he or she will have plenty of time to ask! Students will be allowed to use their fraction strips during the test.

We're also almost done reading How to Eat Fried Worms! There will be a test on Friday. The best preparation for this is to make sure your child has read the book and understands it. The sequence worm that I assigned at the beginning of the unit is also due on Friday. This needs to have six circles, the first which has the title, author, and their name. The next five circles should have five events from the book and include pictures and transition words. This week, students will work on creating new book covers for their books and practice plays from the book, which they'll perform next week on Monday.

Don't forget about our school Christmas concert on Sunday! It starts at 4:00, and students should be there at 3:45. Due to the concert practices, we will not have a spelling test this week.

Progress reports are being sent home on Friday. If you'd like to meet with me, please just indicate that on the form!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

All the students in the class became bloggers today! Using kidblog, each student has his or her own username and password. They can go onto this site as part of the class I set up and write their own blog posts or comment on other people's posts. We practiced commenting today, with students listing the book they are reading right now. To keep this blog safe and private, only the students can log on and see the posts. They all know their user names and passwords, though, so if they'd  like to log in at home to either write or share with you, they're welcome to! Our website is here. In the future, I hope to have students type out some of the writing they've done.

We've been learning about how the Earth is shaped in science class. We've learned about how plate movement created mountains, and how weathering and erosion created the Grand Canyon. We'll learn about glaciers, fossils, and renewable/nonrenewable resources, and then students will have their test next week on Friday, November 22.

Students all received their own Bibles last week! This is their Bible, but it should be kept at school since we will be using it regularly for the next few months. One way we'll do this is through creating a Jesse Tree together. Each student will have a story to look up and create a symbol for. The students will choose their stories next week.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7, 2013



I was very impressed with all the ofrendas students shared last week! I could tell they'd learned a lot about their families and were eager to share that information. The church bulletin article this Sunday will be about our class, so be sure to look for us if you go to mass.

In reading, we've begun to read How to Eat Fried Worms. The students are very excited about this book, and so am I! We read a Scholastic article earlier this week about people in different parts of the world who eat bugs, and we'll learn about sequencing and characterization as we read, as well as identifying different types of writing like poetry, prose, and drama.

Social studies is going to be a quick unit this time, since there are only two chapters on government. I expect the test to be on November 20, and I'll pass out the study guide next week.

In math, we're learning all about fractions. Today we discussed equivalent fractions and made fraction strips to help us visualize what that meant. If you have an iPad or other tablet, McGraw-Hill is offering a few of their math apps for free through tomorrow (November 8). They have a great one on equivalent fractions. You can find them here.