Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Fourth Grade 2014-2015

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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at conferences on Sunday! Conferences will last for ten minutes, and we'll go over your child's report card and progress in fourth grade so far. Since this is a large class, I am meeting with a lot of people that Sunday, especially between 8:00-11:00. Thank you in advance for being on time. Don't forget we turn our clocks back an hour that night, too.

I know everyone is excited about Halloween! Students are welcome to wear costumes to school tomorrow. If they have a mask, they cannot wear it while we're in the classroom, but can bring it to the Halloween Fun Fair. During the Fun Fair, students will receive some free tickets. Additional tickets can be purchased for 25 cents each. We'll also visit the book fair tomorrow if students would like to bring money for books.

Mr. Bennett has also asked the teachers to pass along the message about parking that was originally in last week's Tuesday letter. Please be sure not to double park, as this can be dangerous and cars do get ticketed. There is usually parking farther south on Whipple (which is the street by the door we leave from) or on the other side of Palmer Square.

The students' ofrendas look great! I'm going to leave them in the hallway until next week so that everyone can see them after conferences this weekend. I've also been very impressed with all the information students learned about their family members and how well they wrote about them. We presented about half of our projects today, and we will share the rest tomorrow. All of the students were very attentive and asked great questions during the presentations.

We finished our guided reading books last week. As a final project, students created their own Amazon listings on a poster, including a summary, review, and similar books they would recommend. I passed out our next book, The Bad Beginning, yesterday. We'll read this one as a whole class. It is the first in a series of 13 books, and I'd be happy to let anyone borrow the next book in the series if they've finished this one.

The students seemed to have learned a lot about the economy! They had very creative and well-thought out business plans. I mailed their poster contest entries, so we'll cross our fingers that we have some winners this year, too! In the last two weeks, we've been learning about government, including the difference between local, state, and national governments and the three different branches. We'll have a quiz next Friday on this topic.

In math, we're learning to multiply by two digit numbers and divide three digit numbers by one digit numbers. Many of the students have already gotten the hang of this, but some could use extra help! Please make sure they're looking back at their notes in their notebooks while they complete their homework, and let me know if you see them struggling at home, too.

Finally, in science, we just completed a unit on how the Earth is shaped. We studied mountains, earthquakes, erosion, weathering, and fossils. We also looked at landforms on other planets and how they are similar to Earth. We combined this activity with art by drawing pictures in pastels of other planets. Now, we're studying ecosystems and how energy flows throughout it. We began by observing all the living and non-living things in the ecosystem outside our school. You can see pictures from both of these activities below!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Free Everyday Math Apps

I just wanted to let everyone know that McGraw-Hill is offering several Everyday Math apps free today! I have the ones on fractions, multiplication, and division on my iPad at school already. These would be a great way for your child to practice his or her facts.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Long Division with a 2 Digit Number Video

Here's another video, this time about two digit long division!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October 8, 2014

Students are going to have a chance to retake their math test this Friday, October 10. Many of the students did not do as well as I expected, especially since they forgot the difference between factors and multiples. This was especially disappointing since I knew this was a new concept and so we made a poster defining each, and I pointed out where it was in the classroom immediately before the test and told students they could come look at it if they needed to. We went over the test today, discussing how to read the problem carefully to figure out what it's asking and how to use the resources in the room. The test will have the same format, but with different numbers in the problems. Students should get their original test signed in order to retake it on Friday.

We also have tests coming up in social studies on Tuesday, October 14, and in religion on Thursday, October 16. In social studies, we've been talking about the economy. The students created business plans that explained the resources they'd need to start a business, who their investors would be, and the supply and demand they would have. We've also been working on posters for the UIC Economics contest. In religion, the test will cover the first three commandments and the covenant God made with Abraham.

For Hispanic Heritage month, students have been learning a song with Ms. Fox that comes from Ecuador. We'll share the song, the Ecuador flag, and some facts about the country with the school on Thursday, October 16. We are also learning about Day of the Dead. To celebrate this day, students are interviewing two people about a person who died that they would like to honor. We'll be writing paragraphs and creating shoebox ofrendas (or altars) for this person. We'll have time in class to create the altars on October 24, so please make sure your child brings in his or her shoebox and anything they'd like to put inside it on that day.

I sent home a Scholastic book order form on Friday. This one will be due on Tuesday, October 14. If you'd like to order online, simply click the link below. Scholastic is also having a promotion, where if students spend $10 they can get another book ($5 or under) for free. Students who wish to get a free book should let me know which one, as I need to enter that information from the teacher order page.

Finally, in science we are learning about forces that shape the Earth. We discovered how the Grand Canyon was formed by completing investigations about weathering and erosion. You can see those pictures below.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Our Visualizing YouTube Video

In reading class, we've been discussing the comprehension strategy of visualization. We practiced this last week while reading the book Koko's Kitten. Students drew the picture they saw in their head on the iPad, using Drawing Pad, and then used Book Creator to add text to explain their picture. I was able to upload most of these onto a YouTube video, which you can see below!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Multiplication Video

Aaliyah and Angelis created a video to show everyone how to multiply by a one-digit number. You can see it below!

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014

I handed out books to students last week that we will be reading in guided reading groups for about the next five weeks. Students have all been assigned a book, either Frindle, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Fudge-a-Mania, or Tiger Rising. We will be meeting two to three times a week in small groups to discuss the books, while working on visualizing, making connections, and asking questions. Students do have time to read the section that is due in class, but if they do not finish, they should read the book at home. This can count towards their reading log. I also wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who ordered from Scholastic! I'm glad the students will have books at home to read, and I was able to buy over thirty new books for our classroom library, too.

I was very impressed with the stories students handed in last week! We began writing a new story this week inspired by the book The Hundred Penny Box. Students made a timeline of their life and then chose three important events to write about. We're talking about how to show that something happened instead of just telling the reader it happened and other ways to add details to stories.

In social studies, we're studying economics. Each student is choosing a business idea, such as selling cookies or dog walking, and writing a business plan for this idea. They'll have to figure out their investors, profit, and resources they'll need for the business. So far, they've been great! We did a fun experiment on Friday about supply and demand. Students could see how the price of Sour Candy Kids (the most popular candy) rose because more people wanted to buy it, but then after several rounds of it becoming more expensive, demand changed and less people wanted to pay the new price.

We have a few tests coming up. This Thursday, September 25, we have a science test on classifying organisms, especially animals. We'll have a test soon in math, too, on using estimation to solve problems. This will probably be on October 6. As a reminder, we have no school on Friday since it's a teacher professional development day. That means our vocabulary test and times tables test will both be on Thursday. I am also sending home progress reports on Thursday instead of responsibility reports. After receiving the progress report, if anyone would like to meet to discuss your child, please just let me know!

Finally, we have our first field trip coming up! The Lyric Opera is performing an opera that was written just for students called "The Brothers Grimm." We'll be going to see it at Lane Tech on Monday, October 6. I'll send home that permission slip later on this week. Students each received a booklet with information about the opera last week, and we'll be doing a few activities to prepare for the trip.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014: Pictures

Below, you can see a slideshow of pictures from the beginning of the year! The students are making observations about mealworms, practicing read to someone, drawing pictures with their buddies, and launching parachutes.