Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Fourth Grade 2014-2015

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.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 4, 2014

We've definitely been busy this week in fourth grade, so hopefully everyone was able to rest over the long weekend! I enjoyed seeing so many people at Back to School Night last week. One thing I passed around then was a contact list that we will be sending home to students in the fourth grade that has families' phone numbers and emails. If you'd like your information be included on this list and were not at Back to School Night or forgot to sign it, please let me know before September 12.

We have our first math test tomorrow. It will cover place value, writing numbers in standard, expanded, and word form, comparing numbers, and finding patterns. Next week, we'll do a quick overview of multiplication and division using the third grade books, before starting our next unit on rounding, factors, and multiples.

We will also have a social studies test in about two weeks. Right now, I'm planning to have it on September 16, but this may change depending on how quickly we cover the material. For this test, students will need to know the regions and some of the major landforms in each one, the definitions of different landforms found in the United States, and the patterns of weather here (for example, people who east of a lake are more likely to have snow).

Students have been having a lot of fun in science! We're still talking about how the students are scientists and doing different experiments together. We had some visitors from the Nature Museum on Monday. The museum has given us all the great materials we've been using in science lately, so they came to see how the lessons were being taught. The students did a great job while they were there making claims about which brand of cookie has the most raisins. We're making parachutes now, and each group came up with their own question to test. Next week, we'll begin studying how to classify animals.

In writing, we've made word webs and beginning/middle/end books to help us organize ideas for stories. Students will be writing a paragraph using these next week, then revising and editing their work. In reading, we're continuing to practice our routines of read to self and read to someone, while learning different strategies to become better readers. We're learning how to write a reading letter, a letter students will write to me every other week throughout the year about a book they're reading. We'll talk about genres next week, and the week after that I hope to pass out our first guided reading novels.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21, 2014

Welcome to a new school year! I'm really excited about this class and can already tell we'll have a great time learning together. We've spent the first few days discussing rules and procedures, checking out books from the library, and setting goals. Next week, we'll start the units in all our different subject areas. We'll be talking about place value in math, reading comprehension strategies, how to use a writer's notebook, how to conduct an experiment, and the different regions of the United States. We'll start having nightly homework next week, and I'll send responsibility reports home on Friday, August 29.

Next week is also Back to School Night! It begins at 6:00, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there. I'll go over our curriculum and my expectations in more detail then.

Our Mass days are moving to Tuesdays this year for grades 1-4. We'll be leading the Mass on September 2 at 8:30. Family members are always welcome to join us.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recommend Books on Padlet

I love reading all the responses people have left about books! Since it seems like some people are checking back regularly, I thought it would be fun to share some of the books you've been reading this summer and would recommend to others.

I've created a padlet wall where we can share our recommendations, which you can see below. You can click on the picture below and add things to that, or go to the link here. To add something, just double click anywhere on the sky where there's not a note already. Write your name, and the title, author, and a quick description of a book you're reading. You can add pictures, too. If you can figure it out on your own (or with a parent's help), go ahead and add a picture of the cover! Otherwise, we'll talk about how to do this once school begins.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer 2014 Reading: Fantasy

Welcome to our new fourth graders! This year for our summer reading, instead of doing a written report, you have the option of participating in a discussion online. I hope this will let us all see and respond to each other's thoughts about the book.

As a reminder, you need to begin each comment with the book you read, and should write your first name only under "Comment As." You should then write down the number of the questions you are answering, followed by your answer. Later on, you should check back and respond to another student's comment.

For your fantasy book, you need to answer two of the following questions:

1. Who is the main character and how would you describe them? Are they like you at all? Why or why not?

2. What do you think are the three most important things that happen in this book? Why are these the most important?

3. What in this book happens that makes it a fantasy? List at least two things, and be specific.

4. Is the "world" that the author created one that you would like to live in? Why or why not?

Summer Reading 2014: Realistic Fiction

Welcome to our new fourth graders! This year for our summer reading, instead of doing a written report, you have the option of participating in a discussion online. I hope this will let us all see and respond to each other's thoughts about the book.

As a reminder, you need to begin each comment with the book you read, and should write your first name only under "Comment As." You should then write down the number of the questions you are answering, followed by your answer. Later on, you should check back and respond to another student's comment.

For your realistic fiction book by Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume, you need to answer two of the following questions:

1. Who is the main character and how would you describe them? Are they like you at all? Why or why not?

2. What do you think are the three most important things that happen in this book? Why are these the most important?

3. Do you think that this book could really happen in your school, family, or neighborhood? Why or why not?

4. If you could change something about the book, what would you change? (Do not write down "nothing" as your answer!)

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6, 2014

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for helping to make this a great year! I've really enjoyed this class's energy and enthusiasm for learning. They are great performers, readers, and thinkers. I'm sure they'll be fantastic middle schoolers now!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 3. 2014

I can't believe it's almost the end of the year! Among the fun things we are doing to wrap everything up is Humboldt Park Day with the rest of the middle school. Unfortunately, since there is 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow, we are going to reschedule this day for this Thursday. All students who had originally planned on being dropped off will now be walking over after Mass on Thursday. Otherwise, all the plans will stay the same, just moved over a day!

We're also going to be going to the Nature Museum on Friday, finishing up our ABC countdown with our division, and reflecting on the past year. Students will be receiving their summer math packet and reading packets later on this week. These will be due to their middle school teachers when classes resume in August.

Below, you can see pictures of students' state projects (they did a great job) and Mr. Lindo showing the students a flame tube, which he brought in to show them how sound is a wave.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014

Above, you can see pictures of all the great science things we've been doing lately, including the science fair experiments and students' circuit rooms! Now, we've moved on to learning about heat, light, and sound. We've experimented with tuning fork, made sound sandwiches, and created our own instruments. We'll learn more about light this week and next, and I expect the test to be on June 2.

Since it's the end of the year, we're wrapping up several units, which means there are other upcoming tests. The math test on multiplying two digit numbers is tomorrow, and our social studies test on the Midwest will be on Friday, June 30. Students are also going to be presenting their projects this Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They signed up for a specific day last week, so everyone should know when they are going to share.

The students' research papers are turning out really well! I've been excited to see all the facts they've learned and how well they've organized their papers. We'll type them up in computer class next week and create a cover page and bibliography for them. They will be very professional looking!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8, 2014

We've been very busy with science lately! This week was the science fair, and the students' projects look great. I've had many compliments from other teachers about how professional and interesting the projects look. So far, we've shared them with the third and fifth graders, and each other. The students gave fantastic presentations, and I could tell that they had learned a lot. We also had students share their circuit rooms yesterday. Everyone came up with different ways to use the light bulbs and switches, and I think we have lots of future engineers here! Next week, we'll begin studying different forms of energy: heat, light, and sound.

In math, we're working on multiplying by two digit numbers. We're going to do a lot of practice this week and next, and I expect the test to be sometime the week of May 19. In reading, the students are reading The Bad Beginning, the first in a series of 13 books. I told students that I have all the books in the series and if they finish one, they are welcome to borrow the next. Some of them are racing through the books! While we read, we're discussing protagonists and antagonists, how to infer character's thoughts, and the theme and tone of the book.

The students have been doing a great job with their five paragraph essays! Next week, we'll begin working on a research paper. I'm going to bring in lots of books about animals, but I know some students would like to research a different topic. If they'd like, they can bring in at least three books about a person, place, or invention and use that as their research topic. These books should be brought in by Monday.

May is definitely a busy month, and we have some important dates coming up. Next week, on Wednesday, is the walk-a-thon. Everyone will participate, even if the students are not doing it as a fundraiser. It is gym uniform that day, since we will be outside in the park. At the end of the month, on May 28, is the awards ceremony where we will be giving out the peacemaker and effort awards. Each class will also perform a song, and we'll have work on display from all the classrooms.

Finally, we've started our ABC countdown! Each of the last 26 days of school has a letter, ending with Z on June 11. Yesterday was bubble gum day, today is carrots, and tomorrow will be a free dress down.