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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jaylen's Book Talk

Jaylen's review of Captain Nobody

This book is called Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford. This books starts off with this ten-year-old boy named Newton, but everybody calls him Newt. Newt has an older brother named Chris, who is in high school. He is the star of his football team. During the biggest game of the season he gets injured and was in a coma. Newt's friends decided to try to cheer Newt up by making him a Halloween costume because it was Halloween. Newt came up with the name Captain Nobody for his costume because it was a superhero costume and they went trick-or-treating. After they were done, Newt really liked his costume and liked it so much that he kept wearing it after Halloween. While wearing the costume Newt starts helping people. One thing that he did was he ran into Mr. Clay, who was a locksmith in his town. Mr. Clay went for a walk and got lost because his mind gets fuzzy sometimes. Newt told Mr. Clay, "Don't worry Captain Nobody is here to take you home." Newt walked six blocks to Mr. Clay's house. Mrs. Clay was so happy to see Mr. Clay. They were both very thankful. He helped more people but this was just one of the things he did to help people. Newt's brother Chris got better and Newt was happy about his brother getting better and also he was happy because he was helping people.

Grace's Book Talk

Grace's review of The Lemonade War

I thought that this book was meant for people who have "annoying" (not really) siblings. It also gives some advice about making money. This book is called The Lemonade War. It is about a boy (Evan) and a girl (Jessie) who are fighting about school. I hope that my school friends will enjoy reading The Lemonade War! One of my favorite books!

Take a Look!

Enjoy the amazing resources available through this link. Please explore the collection of websites about math, social studies, Language Arts, Internet resources for kids, science, and information about North Carolina. There are infinite possibilities to explore!

Amazing Link to Math Websites

I am so excited about this link that I found! It has links to every strand of mathematics. Take a look with your child and explore!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Your student has received a Scholastic math magazine called DynaMath. It is a fun collection of problems for them to work through as the month progresses. They will also receive a monthly "Problem of the Day" calendar, which will be due at the end of each month.

Jeff Kinney is coming to Park Road Books!

Park Road Books shared this informaiton with Chris Weiss, and I wanted to pass it along to you.

Who, you might ask, O Reasonable Reader, is Jeff Kinney? If you're a parent of a young reader, you probably know, but for the uninitiated, Mr. Kinney has struck gold with his Diary of a Wimpy Kid novels. It's currently the hottest series for middle-grade readers, and the first novel has been made into a hit movie. And we are extremely pleased to announce that Mr. Kinney will soon be visiting our store! Yola was so happy to hear this that she barked with delight and then ran around the store before collapsing exhausted in one of the chairs!

Jeff Kinney will be appearing at Park Road Books on Friday, November 18, at 4 pm. This is gonna be a big one, folks, so please plan to arrive early if you want to get in line. Following are the details:
First of all, there will be a snow truck there. Yes, you read that right: there will be snow all over the place. The new Wimpy Kid book takes place in winter, so the publisher wanted to create an authentic winter feeling! (Better get the winter clothes out, if you haven't already.) I myself have no idea how a snow truck looks or works, but rest assured, it's gonna be pretty spectacular.

Second....restrictions. Yes, there are always restrictions; remember, these come from the publisher and not the store. You MUST have a line ticket to meet the author (though you can play in the snow without one). One line ticket is good for one family, and you'll get a line ticket with each copy you purchase of the new book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever.

Mr. Kinney will sign any and all books purchased at Park Road Books plus up to two books brought from home. If you plan on purchasing large numbers of the books, please let us know in advance so we can accommodate you. Mr. Kinney will not be able to personalize books because of the size of the crowd we expect. He will allow pictures as you reach the front of the line at the signing table, so please make sure your camera is on hand and ready to go. A representative of his publisher will assist with this. We want everyone to be able to meet the author, so we'll need to keep the line moving as smoothly as possible, and we appreciate your help in this.

If you have any questions prior to this event, please contact the store at 704.525.9239. You can also email the store at or me at (remember, I rarely check my Park Road Books account, so if you ever have a question for me, this is the best email to use). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever releases on the preceding Tuesday, November 15, and we are taking reservations for it now. Come and join us for this one--it's gonna be a blast!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Celery and Food Coloring

How did this happen? Talk with your 4th grader.

Science Lab: Water

We visited the science lab this afternoon to conduct some experiments on water.

Water on a Penny
First the students predicted how many drops of water they could put on the surface of a penny before it overflowed. Everyone was surprised by how many drops they were able to put on. Next, we smeared a thin layer of dish detergent on the penny. How would this effect the number of drops of water that would stay on the surface of the penny? Ask your student! Now that we have gathered this information we are trying to understand why these things happened and to draw conclusions from our experiment.

Taking in Water
Our second experiment was designed to help us think about why some objects take in water and others do not. Students put a dropper full of water onto a variety of objects to determine if they kept out water, took in some water, or took in all of the water. The objects were a micro-fiber towel, cotton ball, sponge, newspaper, plastic wrap, Kleenex, play-doh, and wax paper. We looked at the more porous objects under a magnifying glass. Our 4th grade scientists will be busy trying to figure out why the Kleenex was absorbent but the wax paper was not.

Freak the Mighty

We finished our class read-aloud of Freak the Mighty written by Rodman Philbrick. Our class had an interesting discussion in the front lobby. Ask your student about the ending of the book. Here is a review of Freak the Mighty from the School Library Journal.


From School Library Journal

A wonderful story of triumph over imperfection, shame, and loss. Large, awkward, learning- disabled Maxwell Kane, whose father is in prison for murdering his mother, and crippled, undersized Kevin are both mocked by their peers; the cruel taunting they endure is all too realistic and believable. The boys establish a friendship-and a partnership. Kevin defends them with his intelligence, while Max is his friend's "legs," affording him a chance to participate in the larger world. Inspired by tales of King Arthur, they become knights fighting for good and true causes. But Kevin's illness progresses, and when he dies, Max is left with the memories of an extraordinary relationship and, perhaps, the insight to think positively about himself and his future. The author writes with empathy, honoring the possibilities of even peripheral characters; Kevin and Max are memorable and luminous. Many novels deal with the effects of a friend dying, but this one is somewhat different and very special. 

Sammy's Book Talk

Written by Roald Dahl

Sammy's Review of The BFG

I just read this great book called The BFG by Roald Dahl. It is about a girl named Sophie that gets taken from an orphanage and gets taken to Giant Land. Well, it turns out that she gets taken by a nice giant, which all the others would eat her. When she is in Giant Land, she has to live the "Giantly" life by eating some gross stuff and having to hide from the bad giants. While she is at Giant Land, the bad giants are trying to eat all the other humans on earth. Will Sophie find a way to stop the giants? Find out in this book, The BFG.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Liza's Book Talk

The Gollywhopper Games
Written by Liza 

If you like adventure and mystery you'll love this book. It is about 12-year-old Gil, who enters The Gollywhopper Games, an event hosted by Golly Toy and Game Company with a series of puzzles and stunts that gradually eliminates people. Gil enters the games to win the money you receive if you win so they can move. Away from the gossip. Away from the rumors that dad is a criminal. It was Golly Toy and Game Company that had his father arrested.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Class Photo!

We stopped by Marshall Park on our walk back to Trinity from Metro School. They were filming a scene for a Showtime series and the park was full of excitement. The sun was shining brightly as we enjoyed this moment of serendipitous learning.

(Absent: Thomas R)

Metro School

When our class visited the Metro School for the second time, I had the opportunity to be in the bakery with S'Khaja and Bella. The girls were so kind and helpful to the Metro students and had a great time making cookies. I look forward to having an opportuntiy to be in each classroom with each student throughout the year.

Elizabeth's Book Talk

Elizabeth gave our first book talk of the year on Wednesday. She did a great job telling the class all about Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements. We look forward to each student having a chance to tell us about a book they would recommend to their class.

Elizabeth's review:

Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements is a page-turner. He writes it so detailed and exciting to read. It's about a boy named Bobby Philips and he woke up one morning and could not see himself in the mirror. I recommend this book to people who like adventure, a bit funny, and people who like a little drama in their book.

Rebekah's Birthday Book

We loved Rebekah's father coming in on her birthday to share a book in her honor.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Interim Report Cards

Check your child's backpack on Friday afternoon for their interim report card. We are using a fabulous new format that I think you will find to be a great snapshot of your child at this mid-trimester point. Please read the letter from Chris Weiss that will be included with your child's interim report which will explain the changes. Please contact me if you have any questions.

ERB testing

It's that time of year. ERB testing will take place on October 17, 18, 19, and 20th. In the weeks leading up to these important testing days we will take some class time to prepare for the tests. It is our goal to give the students experience with multiple choice testing and to have the tools they need in order to do their personal best. As you probably know, it is very important that the students get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast throughout the week.

Factors, Multiples, and Arrays

We are in the midst of Investigations Unit 1 on Factors, Multiplies, and Arrays. The students come to 4th grade with a solid conceptual understanding of multiplication. Our work concentrates around three mathematicla emphases:

Whole Number Operations
Understanding and working wiht an array model of multiplication

Whole Number Operations
Reasoning about numbers and their factors

Computational Fluency
Fluency with multiplication combinations to 12x12

We will take our Unit 5 assessment at the end of next week. Happy multiplying!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Multiplication Facts

The students are to be congratulated on great improvements in their addition and subtraction timed math fact tests each Monday and Friday. Now it's time to add multiplication to their repetoire. Below is a list of websites that the students might enjoy:

BBC Multiplication Practice

Meteor Multiplication

Multiplication Station

Mulitiplication Battleship

Multiplication Madness

Learning the Bones

During the month of October, we are working to learn the scientific names of the bones in our bodies.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grace's Birthday Book

Grace's father came in today to celebrate her 10th birthday and shared The Tale of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling with the class.

We Are a Community!

Have you seen this incredible video that Jessica Massonatti and Kyle Rippey put together? Our 4th graders have several cameo appearances. Take a look!
We are a community of scholars, of learners, of friends, of problem-solvers, of writers, of readers, of givers, of athletes, of different cultures, of alumni...we are a community where you belong!