Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011

Dear Families,

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in school for a month! The cooling weather signals that time of year when the students understand the rules and expectations of fourth grade, and are ready to really get down to work.

In math we are assessing Unit 5: Landmarks and Large Numbers on September 21. After the assessment, we will begin Unit 1: Factors, Multiples, and Arrays. We have been impressed with the progress students have made in their timed addition and subtraction tests. Accuracy has improved, as have times. To further improve the automaticity of these computations, we will continue to ask that your child practice math facts every night.

Today was a big day for our fourth grade class: the first visit to the Metro School! We were so pleased with the poise and enthusiasm our students showed in the Metro School classrooms; they were true ambassadors of the Trinity Way. When we returned to Trinity, the students wrote down their reactions to their first visit after weeks of anticipation. Here are some of their thoughts:

“There were 2nd and 3rd graders in our group. We were a little nervous at first. But it was fun.”

“At the end we all agreed it was fun. We were working on fractions with the children and were using Play-Doh to show them. We were making all kinds of shapes with the Play-Doh and cutting it in half and stuff. We were saying this is a whole and this is a half.”

“This was a great experience because we had butterflies at first, but when we met our partners they disappeared. This was an awesome place because all three of us got to have a partner to ourselves and just have fun together. After going to the Metro School for the first time, I wanted to go every week!”

Here are a few important dates to mark on your calendars:

9/23      Community Chapel: Installation of Tom Franz
9/27      New Parent Volunteer Training and Fall PA Meeting
9/28      Class trip to Seussical at Imaginon
9/30      Early Dismissal at 11:40  (TED Half-day Childcare Available)
10/7      Community Chapel: Blessing of Pets
10/10    Long Fall Weekend

As always, thank you for sharing your children with us,
Alex Merritt and Mandy Rencher

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12th

Dear 4th Grade Families,

Thank you so much for coming out on Back to School Night to learn about our curriculum, procedures, expectations, and activities for the year. It was a lot of information to share and a lot of information for you to listen to….whew!

Metro School
Sheila Abraham, our service learning coordinator at The Metro School, came to talk with the 4th grade classes on Friday morning. She told us about the students at Metro and the work we will do. Please know that she shared with the students that they will most likely be uncomfortable during the first weeks. We will have many conversations about our experiences and hope that you will with your child at home. Our first date is September 20. Many thanks to Sydney Burgess for organizing our volunteer calendar for the year. I look forward to sharing this experience with you and the children this year.

**In order to volunteer with us at Metro, you must complete the CMS Volunteer form online.  I completed the form last week and within a day or two, received a confirmation e-mail that I had the green flag to volunteer.

Please go to the following link and click on register to volunteer

The students will get to check out books at Imaginon tomorrow. Our visit two weeks ago was an overview of library skills from Mrs. McDonald, Imaginon librarian.

Our class has been learning about literary elements. We have talked in depth about the title, lead, setting (time and place), movement through time, suspense, and narration. This week we will focus on theme and character. We use our read aloud texts to discuss and enhance the students’ understanding of the literary elements. We are reading What’s Wrong with Timmy? by Maria Shriver which is a beautifully written story about a girl’s encounter, and subsequent friendship, with a boy with disabilities. This is an excellent story to discuss as we prepare for our service learning at The Metro School.

Writing and Word Study
We continue to talk about what writers include in their writing notebooks. Last week we worked on how an object can be connected with a specific memory. We read several picture books that illustrated this idea and worked in our writing notebooks to record our own object memories. The class surprised me with how much fun they had doing our first letter edit. They were near giddy as we corrected the many grammatical and spelling errors in the letter. Editing marks were introduced and the class will use them throughout the year both in these letter edits and in their own writing.

Last week we focused on addition using an expanded addition method and the US algorithm. This week will be all about subtraction. Students will use number lines and other methods to ensure they understand what is happening mathematically when we subtract. They will also have time to practice and perfect the US algorithm. We have been working with place value in numbers up to the hundred millions. The class loves to explore these large numbers in expanded form and written form. Ask your child about Factual Feud, a game we played for the first time last week. Also, please continue to encourage your child to practice his or her addition and subtraction facts. Times are improving! A little bit of practice goes a long way to ensure mathematical fluency.

Social Studies and Science
We are launching our geography unit this week. The students will be using atlases to learn about our great state of North Carolina, its cities and regions, the rivers and lakes. They will also learn about the flag, state symbols and emblem. This week in science class we will conclude our introductory unit of “What is a Scientist?”. Students will head upstairs to the lab for the first time on Wednesday as we conduct two experiments about hypothesizing and controlling variables.

As you can see, we are busy! Our days are filled with learning and laughter.

Mandy and Alex

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Parent Volunteer Information / Metro School

In order to volunteer with us at Metro, you must complete the CMS Volunteer form online.  Please go to the following link and click on register to volunteer:  http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/volunteersandpartners/Pages/default.aspx

You must also be approved as a Trinity volunteer.  Please make sure you have filled out the volunteer application.  It can be found on the TES website.

Back To School Night!

Friday, September 2, 2011

August 25, 2011

Dear 4th Grade Famlies,

It’s hard to believe that we’ve only been back in school for 7 days. We have hit the ground running! I wanted to touch base with you and share some information about our curriculum and some 4thgrade logistics.

Readers’ Workshop
At the beginning of the year our focus will be on reading for meaning. We are working to help students be able to identify if they are reading an easy, just right, or challenging book. Our goal is for students to be reading just right books that allow them to successfully be applying many reading skills and strategies. We have had lots of great discussions about how you know you are an effective reader and are asking the students to write and prove that they are using these strategies. We expect the children to be reading the same book at home and at school. This is an important consistency to establish at this point in the year. Please remind your child to not leave his or her book on that bedside table!

We are beginning our math journey with the Investigations unit “Landmarks and Large Numbers: Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System.” We will be focusing on the base-ten number system, computational fluency, and whole number operations. I have talked with the students about how important it is for mathematicians to have all the tools they need for success: one incredibly important tool is mastery of addition and subtraction facts. We will have timed math tests each Monday and Friday to help the students track their progress in this area. We talked about how there are many fun way to practice facts. Here’s the helpful list of suggestions our class came up with:

Our first trip to ImaginOn will be on Tuesday, August 30. We ask that new students bring in their PLCMC library cards that day. We are working on our class website and will let you know when it is up and running. Ask your students about the scientific observations they made with play-doh and about our first word sort in Word Study. Please see the attachments that include our daily class schedule and the Investigation parent letters.

We treasure the letters you wrote to us communicating your hopes and dreams for your child. Thank you for sharing such personal information with us, and thank you for entrusting us with your children. We’re enjoying getting to know them! Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Mandy and Alex