Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rebekah's Book Talk

Rebekah's Review of Charlie Bone

This book is about a boy named Charlie Bone. He finds out that he has the power to enter paintings! This has him go to a school for his kind. Then there are the Bloors and the Yewbeams. They make him have an arch-enemy watching at school and at home! What's happening to Charlie Bone?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Members of our Class

Did you hear that we have two new classmates? They are very quiet and remain focused on their work throughout the entire day. Please welcome hermit crabs Secretariat and Cheetah to the Rencher/Merritt class! Sophie and her family have donated these crustaceans to our class and everyone is enjoying getting to know them.



Moravian Sugar Cake RECIPE

Perhaps your family would like to try to make this over the Christmas vacation?

Moravian Sugar Cake

Yield: 4 9x9 cakes
Ingredients
    1 package active dry yeast 
    1/2 cup warm water 
    1 cup plain mashed potatoes 
    1 cup sugar 
    1/2 cup butter 
    1 teaspoon salt 
    2 eggs, beaten 
    *6 cups flour 
    Brown sugar 
    Cinnamon 
    Butter

Directions
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Once the yeast has "proved" itself (gotten bubbly), mix potatoes, sugar, butter, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add yeast mixture and stir well. Stir in eggs and enough flour to make a soft dough -- this can be as little as 5 cups or as much as 6 1/2 depending on the humidity the day you make the cakes.
  3. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough in four equal pieces and roll or stretch out to fit into 9x9 greased pans.
  5. Cover and let rise again.
  6. When doubled, make indentations in the top of each cake about 1 inch apart with your fingers.
  7. Sprinkle each cake with brown sugar, about a 1/4 cup per cake, sprinkle with cinnamon, about 1/2 teaspoon per cake, and set small cubes of butter into the holes in each cake.
  8. Bake in a 375-degree F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Moravian Sugar Cake Baking Experience

Our class made Moravian Sugar Cake today! It was a great learning experience to see and smell the yeast and to watch the dough rise. It requires a lot of patience to make homemade bread! Our hard work paid off as we enjoyed tasting our delcious Moravian creation at the end of our school day. We were very pleased with the results. It was delicious!



















    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Newsflash about TUESDAY!

    Our class will have the weekly spelling test tomorrow. It will be on last week's Word Sort words and each child's personal spelling list. We have let them know about this in class.

    Also, our class will not head to Imaginon again before the Christmas break. You may return library books to any PLCMC branch, or your child may bring his or her books back to our classroom and Mr. Merritt and I will be sure they are returned.

    Camp Read-a-Lot


    Thursday is the big day we've all been waiting for! Students may bring a sleeping bag or blanket and a pillow. We will have big blocks of time for reading, so the 4th graders should be sure to bring plenty of reading material...novels, magazines, newspaper, informational texts, etc. Of course, our classroom library will be open as well. We will enjoy going to the 3rd Grade's Castle Play in the morning. To celebrate completing our current read-aloud text, Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, we will watch The Muppet Christmas Carol at the end of the day. It is certain to be a day to remember!

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Old Salem


    We had a great experience in Old Salem. The drizzle didn't spoil our learning adventure! I hope your student has shared with you the highlights of this trip. We are making postcards in class to reflect on our day.

    *If any parents who went on the field trip with us took photographs, please share and I'll post on our class blog along with these shots I took. Thanks!








    Spelling Bee Winner

    We were so proud of our class during the spelling bee on Friday.  Each contestant did his or her best and had good sportsmanship. Congratulations to Will for winning our class bee. He will head to the school wide bee on Friday morning. Good luck! We'll be cheering for you!




    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Sam's Book Talk

    Thomas R's Book Talk

    Annie's Book Talk

    The Trumpet of the Swan
        If you like books about adventure and animals, then I think you should read The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.  This book is about a young swan named Louis. Louis is a sad swan because he was born without a voice. Because Louis was born without a voice, it will be hard for him to get a mate and be happy. What this book teaches me is that you shouldn't judge someone if they can't speak, look different, or even like something that you don't like. This book also teaches me to be myself.  This book is about Louis's adventure in finding a voice. if you want to find out what happens on his adventure or to see if he finds a voice, I think you should read The Trumpet of the Swan.



    Old Salem

    In preparation for our field trip to Old Salem, we have been learning about the original settlements in Virginia and North Carolina. Ask your 4th grader to share some highlights of this learning with you. Why did the early Carolina farmers have to sell their goods to merchants in Virginia? What were the early relationships like with the Native Americans? What are imports, exports, cash crops, and surplus goods? Why did colonists move to Carolina? Who were the Moravians?

    Check out these videos from the Old Salem website. They provide a thorough history of Salem from the time of its inception by Moravian residents of Bethabara up until modern day when it was historically restored.









    Word Study Update

    We have finished our unit on subjects and predicates. Expect a packet to come home soon to go over with your student about his or her progress on this skill. We are continuing to work on verbs. Expect an assessment before the Christmas break on action and being verbs, main and helping verbs, separated main and helping verbs, forms of be, contractions, and negatives.

    Readers' Workshop Update

    In Readers' Workshop the students have been hard at work on learning the ways characters change. We have explored the internal and external journeys that characters make, the relationships between these journeys, and how conflict is often the impetus for this change. This culminating lesson of our character study unit has helped students develop their ability to identify the main idea of the books we read.

    One of the ways we have engaged our students has been through writing advice column letters in the style of "Dear Abbey." One of our shared texts was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We modeled this letter, written in the voice of the Grinch:

    Dear Abby,

    I live in a cave with my dog Max just above Whoville. The Whos drive me crazy. They are so happy and love Christmas. They spontaneously burst into Christmas carols at the drop of a hat. I hate the Whos and hope to ruin their Christmas. Do you have any advice for me on how I might ruin their positive attitudes and joyful spirits about Christmas?

    Bah Humbug,
    The Grinch

    Then, in the voice of Abby, we wrote this advice column in response:

    Dear Mr. Grinch,


    Your letter is the meanest letter I have ever received. I cannot understand why you would want to ruin Christmas for the Whos. Perhaps it is because your heart is two sizes too small. I recommend that you take a closer look at the Whos and see that they celebrate Christmas, not for the packages, boxes, or bags, but because of the love in their hearts. Maybe if you see this, your heart might grow three sizes. I hope you will return all of the stolen goods to the Whos and enjoy celebrating Christmas with them.


    Fondly,
    Abby

    P.S. Be sure to try the Roast Beast!

    Students then wrote their own letters from the independent reading that they are doing. The study of character, change, and conflict is helping the students in Writers' Workshop as well because it is helping them to see the difference between "diary entry" lists of events and the changes in character and lessons learn that are the hallmark of a real story.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Spelling Bee


    Our class spelling bee will be held this Friday, December 9. Your student does not need to study for this. While we will encourage everyone to take part in the fun, participation is optional. The winner of our class bee will head to the schoolwide spelling bee on Friday, December 16.

    Word Sort Words -- Week of December 5

    Long-A Patterns in Accented Syllables

    Notice that all the words have the long sound of a. The long -a sound is in the first syllable of rainbow and in the second syllable of awake. Chocolate and again should go into the oddball column because they do not have the sound of long -a even though the last syllable has a long -a pattern.

    1st
    rainbow
    painter
    raisin
    crayon
    mayor
    maybe
    bracelet
    pavement
    basement
    payment

    2nd
    awake
    contain
    complain
    decay
    mistake
    parade
    escape
    amaze
    today
    explain
    remain
    obey

    Oddball
    chocolate
    again

    National Geographic Bee


    The schoolwide geography bee will be on Friday, January 13th. In order to select our class's representative, we will have our class bee on Thursday, January 5. If your child wants to study for the Geo Bee, use the daily quizzes from National Geographic at...

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    December Calender



    Some Exciting Happenings in 4th Grade 

    Thursday, December 1
    12:30-1:45 Rehearsal for Winter Band and Strings Concert at First United Methodist Church
    *We will stop at Imaginon on our way back from the rehearsal

    Tuesday, December 6
    Metro

    Wednesday, December 7
    Old Salem field trip (more information to come)
    We will depart from school on the charter bus at 8:15 and return to Trinity for a 5:30 pickup

    Wednesday, December 14
    Math Test

    Thursday, December 15
    Camp Read-a-lot (details to come on this exciting day!)

    Friday, December 16
    School Spelling Bee
    Lessons and Carols
    Last day of school before the holiday break! (3:20 dismissal time)

    Word Sort Words -- Week of November 28

    VCV
    hoping
    quoted
    faded
    racing
    skated
    saving

    VCCV
    hopping
    plotting
    wrapped
    nodded
    painted
    painting
    winning
    hunted
    telling
    letting
    skipped

    VVCV
    cleaned
    leaking
    greeted
    shouting
    needed

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Ben's Guacamole

    During Wellness class, Mrs. Pursley is encouraging the students to try new foods. They have a "Food Passport" that they can write down all the unusual foods they taste. A particular emphasis has been placed on vegetables. Ben wanted to make sure his classmates had tasted avocados. He made guacamole for our class by peeling and mashing the avocados, adding homemade salsa, and letting everyone taste. What a yummy and healthy snack!

    Thomas R's Birthday Book

    We enjoyed celebrating Thomas's birthday with a visit from his mother who shared the first two chapter from The Hardy Boys: The Missing Mitt.

    Sophie's Book Talk

    The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snickett is all about Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Their mom and dad died in a fire at their home. They were rich so they left a fortune to them. Violet would get it when she came of age. Now the orphans have to go live with Count Olaf.  He is so horrible, and he really wants their fortune.



    William's Book Talk


    William's Review of Niagara Falls, or Does It?

    My book is called Niagara Falls, or Does It? by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. It is about a boy named Hank Zipzer, who has to do a five-page report about his summer, but decides to do a sculpture instead. He also enters a contest at a bowling alley, but is grounded the day he has to be there. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes some suspense and a little bit of a silly story. 

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Bella's Book Talk

    Bella's Review of Savvy

    Savvy is by Ingrid Law. Savvy is about a girl named Mibs who is waiting for her 13th birthday when she will get her very own savvy. A savvy is a special power that you get when you turn 13. Not everyone has a savvy, only a few people, and they keep it a secret--at least they try. What will Mibs's savvy be? This is a very exciting book. It will always keep you with questions! The second book in the series is called Scumble. The second book is just as good as the first!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Lattice Multiplication

    Greetings 4th Grade Friends!

    The students are making a great start on our newest math unit: Multiple Towers and Division Stories. An important part of this unit is two-digit multiplication (for example, 56 x 24). We will talk about many strategies for solving these problems. One neat method that students are learning and that may be new to parents is called lattice multiplication. The following videos from Khan Academy offer a very good explanation of lattice multiplication and how it works.





    I would also encourage you to spend some time exploring the Khan Academy website. There are excellent explanations of many topics in mathematics, the sciences, the arts, and the humanities. If your student would like to learn new concepts, or practice old ones, there are a myriad of resources on this website.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Book Fair



    The 4th and 5th Graders will have the opportunity to hear AJ Hartley speak about his newly released book Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact. Mr. Harley will speak at 11:00 in the TED Room on Wednesday, November 16th. Parents are invited!

    Our class will head to the Book Fair on Friday morning after chapel. Feel free to join us during this time if you wish. You will also have an opportunity to visit the book fair on Monday and Tuesday during Fall Conferences.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Word Sort - Week of November 14th

    Sort 15: Syllable Juncture in VCCCCV and VV Patterns
    (Ask your 4th Grader to explain this rule to you!)

    VCC / CV
    athlete
    kingdom
    pumpkin
    halfway
    English
    mushroom

    VC / CCV
    pilgrim
    complete
    monster
    kitchen
    control
    hundred
    inspect
    children

    V / V
    create
    poet
    riot
    duet
    trial
    cruel
    lion
    diet
    poem
    giant

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    North Carolina State Toast

    Did you know we had a state toast? Well, we do, and our class intends to memorize it. We will work on this predominantly in class. The students are very excited about it and love recognizing the various symbols they learned about while researching the regions.


    Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
    The summer land where the sun doth shine,
    Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
    Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State!

    Here's to the land of the cotton bloom white,
    Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
    Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
    'Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!

    Here's to the land where the galax grows,
    Where the rhododendron's rosette glows,
    Where soars Mount Mitchell's summit great,
    In the "Land of the Sky," in the Old North State!

    Here's to the land where maidens are fair,
    Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
    The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
    The blest land, the best land, the Old North State!

    NC Region Project Update



    The students have been very engaged in learning about the regions of North Carolina. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we have been immersed in the NC Region Projects where each of the three groups was hired by the NC Tourism Agency to advertise a specific region of our state. In each group, a manager was elected to oversee the efforts of the group members. Students took the list of the expectations for the project and divided them among the seven members of their group. Along with the NC textbooks we have in our classroom, we shared 3 websites with the students that they were to use for their research,. Mr. Merritt and I loved helping the students as they learned to navigate online and explore these sites looking for specific information.

    The sites were:

    www.visitnc.com

    http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/kidspg/

    http://www.governor.state.nc.us/NCkids/default.aspx

    In each group the students were to create a map of their region, design a postage stamp representing their region, write a persuasive letter detailing why people should visit, and to include information about the climate and topography, famous people, tourist attractions, historical sites, and agricultural products. We used the laptops in our classroom each day for the past two weeks and students practiced their research skills, word processing skills, and imported pictures from websites into Word documents. I am so proud of their work and loved seeing them begin to post all of their hard work on their presentation boards on Friday. 

    This project was a tremendous learning opportunity for the students. We talked about how they probably learned even more about responsibility and working with a group to accomplish a goal than they did about their region of NC. The majority of the students worked hard every day and completed tasks in a timely manner. A few did not use their time wisely and ended up in a bind at the end. All students learned a lot about what it means to be a good member of a team. Students will have time to reflect  about how they personally contributed to their group and if they used their class time wisely. 

    I know you will be excited to see the finished projects when you come in for your Fall Conference in the next weeks!


    Math Fact Practice


    We continue to stress to the students how important it is to have mastery of the basic math facts. It will be very difficult to do muli-digit multiplication and division problems if you do not have a strong foundation with the basic math facts. We had a great discussion recently about how quickly you can improve your skills with a bit of determined focus. One classmate improved her time by 20 seconds in one week because she took time to practice her facts each night. That's great motiviation that a little work will yield great results.

    I am going to repost the link to the incredible resources I found on another teacher's web page. I am in awe of all the great sites that this lady found and organized. Oh, the wonder of the world wide web!

    Hope you and your student will find some of these links to be a fun way to practice math facts.



    Click here for the 

    Readers' Workshop: Story Quilts


    In Readers' Workshop we have continued with our Character Study groups and Guided Reading Groups. As a group finishes their Guided Reading group experience, they are creating a story quilt. The story quilt squares represent each chapter of the book. On each square, there is a picture depicting the most important scene in the chapter along with a description of what is happening or a quote from the book. The edges and corners of the story quilt square have to use images or symbols that represent things that happened in that chapter. The first two story quilts are almost finished and are a beautiful representation of the stories.

    Math Update

    Your student will be bringing home his or her Unit 2 Math Assessment on Monday. Please take time to look over both this test and their Student Activity Book.


    We have started Multiple Towers and Division Stories: Multiplication and Division. In this unit, students will develop strategies for solving multiplication problems with two-digit numbers and deepen their understanding of the operation of division by focusing on the relationship between multiplication and division. Using story contexts and multiple towers, students continue their investigation of the relationship between numbers and their factors. Students practice multiplying by 10 and multiples of 10, break problems into smaller parts that can be multiplied easily, and find the multiples of two-digit numbers. They gain fluency with all multiplication combinations to 12 x 12. Students solve, represent, and discuss division story problems, including some that have a remainder.


    Your student will also be bringing home the parent letters that accompany our newest math unit. Reading these will help you have a deeper understanding of the work we are doing in class.

    Thomas Y's Book Talk


    Thomas Y's Review of How to Train Your Dragon

    When Hiccup has to fight as a dragon who is the size of thirteen great white whales. He has to think of a plan and fast because the dragon threatened to kill the tribes and the island they live on.

    Patrick's Book Talk


    Patrick's Review of James and the Giant Peach

    This book is about a boy named James, who is four years old when his mom and dad died. He was forced to move in with his two aunts. One day, he looks up into the peach tree and sees a peach the size of a house. So, he makes his way into it, and he opens a door that goes to the center of the peach. He finds insects, and he felt a tug, and all of a sudden, he is rolling down a hill in the peach. He ends up in the Atlantic Ocean. So, he started sailing and then creates a sail from silkworms and seagulls, and flies into the air all the way into New York City.

    Louise Nevelson Recycling Day Project

    In classic Trintiy fashion, all the students in our school have been working on a collaborative project to celebrate National Recycling Day on November 15th. Mrs. Pursley, resident Green Team advisor, and Ms. Rankey, art teacher extraordinaire, put their minds together and came up with the idea to use objects from our recycling bins to create a large piece of art work in the style of Louise Nevelson. She was an American sculptor known for her monumental, monochromatic, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures. 


    Over the past week cardboard boxes, egg cartons, soda cans, and spaghetti sauce bottles have been migrating into our classroom awaiting their magical transformation. On Thursday the students divided into teams with the NC Region Project groups to create a "box" representing their region. See their great work below! Ms. Rankey is assembling the collective boxes from classrooms around the school and will paint them one color, just as our mentor artist did with her work. The grand reveal will be on National Recycling Day.  Ask your 4th grader about Louise Nevelson and their collaborative work on this project!


    From Trash to Treasure


    The Coastal Region: The Wright Brothers' First Flight


    The Mountain Region: Majestic Mountains and Clouds


    The Piedmont Region: Eagle from the Carolina Raptor Center

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Note About Spelling and Word Study

    Dear 4th Grade Families,

    Mrs. Rencher and I have been impressed with the improvements our students have made in their grammar and spelling, but we have a long way to go! We thought it would be a good idea to share our weekly plan for Word Study this year.

    On Mondays, we will have our weekly word sort. Each word sort teaches the students a spelling rule, and sorting the words allows the students to construct the rule and to discuss it as a class. The students will copy these sorted rules into their language spirals.

    Throughout the week, we will do activities in class to apply the word sort rules. Through daily in-class oral language assignments, we will combine these rules with punctuation practice. We will also spend the year mastering the parts of speech and the parts of the sentence.

    On Fridays, students will be assessed on their ability to spell some of the words correctly and to apply the rule to words they were not exposed to during the week. The spelling test will include 25 words: eight will be words from the word sort; eight will be words that test the knowledge of the week’s rules; the remaining nine will be Core Words and Personal Missed Spelling Words.

    Students have glued a list of “Core Words” on the final page of their language spiral. The Core Words List has hundreds of words that they should know how to spell. We are working in class on identifying the core words individual students cannot spell. Students also created a Personal Missed Spelling Words List in the back of their language spiral. Students have begun a running list of the words that they misspell. They will place the word spelled correctly on the Personal Missed Words List.

    Mrs. Rencher and I encourage you to work with your child on their Personal Missed Words List. Starting next week, we will post the week’s rules and words on the blog. The language spiral will come home on Thursday nights for the students to study.

    Cheers,

    Mr. Merritt

    S'Khaja's Book Talk

    S'Khaja's Review of Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl

    Nikki's friends are Chloe and Zoey, her enemy is Mackenzie. Nikki likes this boy named Brandon. Brandon asked Nikki if they can be lab partners. Nikki thinks he's going to make a move on her, but he's not. Mackenzie really likes Brandon too, but she follows him around so Nikki barely has a chance to make her move. There is a big Halloween dance coming, and Nikki wants to ask Brandon. On the day of the dance Nikki has her hands tied because she has to be at two places at the same time. And she has to keep leaving the dance. Nikki's at the bottom of the dork chart.


    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Georgia's Book Talk

    Georgia's Review of Welcome to the Bed and Breakfast

    My book is called Welcome to the Bed and Breakfast by Joan Carris. It is about a pig named Ernest, a bird named Gabby, and a cat named Milly, all who live with Grampa Bender on an animal farm. When a plaid blanket made from Grampa Bender's old shirt goes missing, the animals set out to find it. Mysteriously, Milly has disappeared as well. Luckily, the brainiac pig knows exactly where a cat would be hiding. Do you think Ernest climbed the ladder? At the end of the book, Milly is home safe and they welcome a new family member. This is the first book in a trilogy. The next book is Wild Times at the Bed and Biscuit. If you like funny animal books, I recommend this series.


    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Metro Visit

    We were so glad to head back to our service learning partnership at Metro this week. Enjoy these photos of the swimmers and the 4th-5th grade helpers.





    Princeton's Footnotes

    The Princeton Footnotes, a men's a cappella group, visited Trinity on Monday morning. We loved hearing their amazing talent! After the performance in the gym, we invited a group of the guys to visit our classroom. They shared about their love for singing and performing and taught us a bit about college life. Enjoy this song they performed for us.



    video

    Zac's Book Talk


    Zac's review of The Red Pyramid

    Carter and Saidie Kane and their dad go to the museum to just look at some stuff, but what they don't know is that their dad is a magician, and he is trying to summon the God of Dead to bring back the death of Carter and Sadie's mom. The reason he goes to the museum is because there is a special artifact that can summon gods. But while doing it, he accidentally brings back the three most powerful gods: the God of War, the God of Evil, and the God of Dead. While he dies, the God of Evil imprisons Carter and Sadie's dad. So it is up to Carter and Sadie to learn magic and defeat the God of Evil and bring back their dad and maybe their mom.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Katelyn's Book Talk




    Katelyn's Review of The Girl Who Could Fly

    The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester is about a girl named Piper. It takes place a long time ago on a farm. Piper discovers she can fly and loves it, but her parents don't want her to fly. They don't understand it and are afraid about it so they keep her hidden from the world. When they notice how sad she felt about not flying, they took her to a community picnic. After everyone ate, the children started playing a game of baseball. Piper's team was losing so she flew up and caught the ball. She thought it would make the kids like her, but instead they thought she was creepy and left. After that, she was reported in the newspaper and all the news people showed up at her house. Piper and her parents were afraid about what would happen to her now that everyone knew she could fly. Then a lady named Dr. Hellion showed up and said the only way for Piper to be safe was to come to a special school far away from her parents in the mountains. A bunch of strange and magical stuff happens there, but to find out more, you will have to read the book. If you like fiction and magical stories, then you would probably like this book.

    Charlie's Book Talk




    Charlie's review:

    I finished a book this weekend called The Secret Agent on Flight 101. It is about two kids and their dad. They all go to a magic show. After the show, Hexon the magician shows them how he did the disappearing act, but their dad disappears. The Hardy brothers and their friend Chet try to find their dad. Frank is one of the Hardy brothers. He is a good mystery solver.

    Will's Book Talk




    Will's review of The Island of Adventure

    The book I did my report on is called The Island of Adventure, by Enid Blyton. It is the first book in a series of eight books called the Adventure Series. The main characters are Phillip, Dinah, Lucy, and Jack. They are on summer vacation in northern England, along the coast. When they decide to explore a nearby island called the Isle of Gloom, they discover some mysterious things going on. It became clear that the old copper mine on the island was not abandoned as they had originally thought. The kids and anew friend, Bill, decide they must stop the villainous counterfeiters that they discovered in the copper mines under the island. Jack gets caught by these bad guys, and so the friends then must rescue jack, escape, survive the flooding copper shafts, and make sure that these dangerous men are brought to justice! I really liked this book because it was so exciting, and Jack has a talking parrot named Kiki as a pet -- which I would really like, too!

    Hooray!! ERB's are complete!



    Elizabeth and her mother baked banana chocolate chip muffins for everyone to enjoy last Thursday on our last day of testing.





    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    What's Up in Readers' Workshop?

    We are continuing to focus on character development in our novels. We are taking a close look at the three ways we learn about the characters in our books: through what the character says or thinks, through what the character does, and through what others say or think about the character.

    During our class time each student is either part of a Guided Reading Group or doing an independent study on character. Students will alternate between the two.

    Guided Reading Groups
    Guided reading is part of a balanced literacy program .  During guided reading, students read as the teacher guides them through the story.  I pause to ask questions and prompt readers to use multiple reading strategies to decode words and comprehend the text.  Great discussions arise from our guided reading sessions as students learn to make connections to the text, predict what will happen and ask questions as they read, visualize events happening in the story, make inferences, and respond to stories in their reading response journals. It is also a time for the teacher to observe whether or not students are using the reading strategies taught during shared reading and teacher read-alouds.

    Independent Character Study
    Students are reading books of their own selection. Each day they select one of the questions below to think about as they read. During the conclusion of the Readers' Workshop time, they respond to the question in their RW notebook.
    • Are there any powerful characters in the story? What makes them that way?
    • Who is the most interesting character? Why?
    • Who is the most important character? Why?
    • What character is the fairest? Why?
    • Who is the bravest character? Why?
    • Which character taught you the most?
    • Who else could be in the story?
    • What choices does a character have?
    • How does the author reveal the character? (Look at what the character does, thinks, or says; or what others say about the character.)
    • How does one of the characters change? Why?
    • Which characters change and which don't? How is character change important in the story?
    • Who is a character that plays a small role? Why is this character necessary in the story?
    • What did you learn from one character in the story?
    • How did characters feel about one another? Why?
    • Are the characters believable? Why or why not?

    Breaking News!

    The 4th graders have been hired by the North Carolina Tourism Industry to create a new advertising campaign to bring more tourists to our state. More to come on this exciting learning opportunity!

    Math Update: Describing the Shape of Data

    The 4th graders are having a great time exploring the magical world of data collection and representation. We have been meauring our height and the heights of our 1st grade reading buddies, counting how many raisins are in a box, sharing the most slices of pizza we've ever eaten, and counting cavities. Once we collect all this data, we have been deciding what type of graph or chart could best represent that information. Students are reviewing how to make bar graphs, double bar graphs, line plots, and charts. We are analyzing the data by using math terms such as mode, median, range, and outliers.

    Please take time to look over the Investigation parent letters that your child is delivering to you to learn even more about this math unit.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Our New Read Aloud Book


    We have started to read this classic winner of the 1963 Newbery Award. Do you have fond memories of this book? My 4th grade teacher, Mr. Henderson, read it aloud to my class many moons ago!

    Here is a book review from the Scholastic website:

    Everything is wrong in Meg Murray's life. In school, she's been dropped down to the lowest section of her grade. She's teased about her five-year-old brother, Charles Wallace, who everyone mistakenly thinks is dumb. Not to mention that Meg wears braces and glasses and has mouse-brown hair. Much will be better in her miserable life when her father gets back. But gets back from where? Meg's physicist father had been experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. One dark and stormy night, the family is visited by a disheveled heap of a woman named Mrs. Whatsit. Eccentric and brilliant, she will turn out to be the force who spurs on Meg, Charles Wallace, and their new friend, Calvin O'Keefe, to embark on a dangerous quest through space to find their father. In doing so, they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos.

    Before long, the trio discovers that Meg's and Charles Wallace's father is being held prisoner by evil forces on the planet of Camazotz, an eerie place where complete conformity is expected in exchange for personal freedom. There they engage in the fight of their lives against a giant disembodied brain named "It." And soon, Charles Wallace must be rescued, too.