Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Current Read-Aloud: Wonder

Has your 4th grader told you about our current read-aloud book? Wonder by R.J. Palacio is an amazing book! It is beautiful in so many ways and is the perfect connection with our service learning partnership at Metro.

Here is the link to a great review from the New York Times:

Typing Club

I hope that each of you received the e-mail from Chris Weiss and Dee Lanier about our new keyboarding work in the Lower School. Tuesday, we will glue a reminder slip into your student's agenda that will provide information on how to practice their keyboarding skills at home. It will include the website address, your child's user name, and his/her password. We will work to have time in class each week to work in Typing Club and want to remind you that your student is also expected to practice at home 2-3 times each week. Please refer to the aforementioned letter for specific details.

Our goal for the 4th graders is that by the end of the year, they will reach the following benchmarks:
Words per Minute: 15-25
Accuracy: 90%


Readers' Workshop: Following Characters into Meaning

Our work in Readers' Workshop is shifting to focus on character study. We are inviting our readers to dive head first into the worlds of the books they are reading - and to do so wearing the shoes of the characters who inhabit those worlds. By doing this work, readers will develop  their skills at predicting, envisioning, and reading with fluency. We will work to notice characters' personality quirks and habits, inferring to develop ideas about characters' traits, motivations, troubles, changes, and lessons.

Great questions to ask you 4th grader about their reading at home are:

  • What kind of person is your character? How do you know?
  • Do you like him/her? Why?
  • Why did the character do that? Where could you see parts that led up to this?
  • Why is the character feeling that way? Are there clues?
  • Do you think he/she did the right thing? How does it compare to what another character might do?
  • What do you think will happen next, based on what you know about the character so far?

Describing the Shape of Data: Unit 2

After taking our Unit 1 math test on Monday, we will launch Describing the Shape of Data on Tuesday.

These are the key math focus points in this unit:
*Representing data
*Describing, summarizing, and comparing data
*Analyzing and interpreting data
*Designing and carrying out an investigation
*Describing the probability of an event

Please read the parent letters for more information on our upcoming unit:

Family Letter about the Mathematics in this Unit

Activities To Try At Home


Good news! We will not assign any homework on Halloween. This is our treat to our favorite 4th grade trick-or-treaters! Students should come dressed in their uniform on Wednesday - no costumes! We will have a class celebration at the end of the day working on our Monster Match writing activity and having a healthy snack. Hope that the "Frankenstorm" doesn't put a damper on the fun your family has planned.

The Monster Match

Ask your student about the Monster Match! We asked the students to imagine a monster. After creating a drawing of that monster, they were asked to write a descriptive paragraph describing every physical detail about how their monster looks. On Halloween afternoon we will exchange Monster Match writing. Each student will receive another student's writing and have to sketch that monster based on the details included in the writing. It is such fun to see if you were able to thoroughly describe your monster well enough that someone else could envision it. This is great opportunity to work on descriptive writing in a fun way!

Election Work continued....

The countdown is on! Election Day 2012 will be here in the blink of an eye. Last week students worked to understand the important issues in this election and where each of the candidates stood on them.  Students analyzed taxes, economy/jobs, health care, education, and defense. We used the two websites below to research the information and then analyzed the information using a graphic organizer.

This week students will learn more about the life and service of each candidate. We will watch a short video on Obama and Romney and then read a condensed biography of their lives. Students will then be asked to write an editorial endorsing their candidate. They will be asked to back up their choice using specific reasons from the research they have done. This will be a great opportunity to think about the qualities of persuasive writing.

Monday, October 22, 2012


It is hard to believe that Election Day is only two weeks away. We will spend our Social Studies' time learning about the Executive Branch of government, the election process, and the electoral college. Students will also have time to learn more about President Barrack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney and their stances on the main political issues.

Mr. Smith's 7th grade class is going to have all students in the school register to vote and then participate in a mock election on November 6.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Mr. Dia

Mr. Dia began visiting us on Wednesday afternoons to share his Gullah / Geechee heritage. He is using the storytelling medium to share his cultural history.  We will continue to welcome Mr. Dia into our classroom on Wednesday afternoons. Mr. Dia is a Middle School Language Arts teacher who received a Light the Fire grant this summer to study the Gullah / Geechee culture. Occasionally he'll bring along middle school social studies teacher, Grady Smith, to help spin his tales. 

Emma's Book Talk

I did my book talk on The Mystery of the Biltmore House by Carole Marsh. It is about four kids: Stacy, Wendy, Trent, and Michael. Their parents are at a writing workshop at  the Biltmore House. Napoleon's  chess set has gone missing, and it is Stacy's job to find it. The other three just tag along and act like they are interested. This book is full of clues and even missing children! I highly recommend it!

Hannah's Book Talk

I chose The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White because it ties in with the Metro School. Louis the swan isn't like the others, and he can't speak or talk like the other geese.  Sam, a boy who loves nature, was with his dad in Canada traveling.  Sam sat on a log and watched the swans when they were born. Louis and Sam became best friends and have all these adventures together. So, if you really like animals and nature, I highly recommend this book to you.

Sykario's Book Talk

Great Moments in Basketball History by Matt Christopher is about old legends like MJ, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Dr. J. It is also about new players like Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Shaquille O'Neal. it takes hard work to be as great as some of these players. Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in one game. MJ won six championship games. I learned those things and many more in this book. My book was fun to read and it is very popular.

Mac's Book Talk

I picked Frindle by Andrew Clements for my book talk. This book is about a fifth grade boy named Nick Allen. He is a really creative boy and he makes up a new word called "frindle" that means pen. One of my favorite parts is when Mrs. Granger makes everyone who says the word "frindle" write, "I'm writing this punishment with a pen" one hundred times because she loves the dictionary so much. I think you should read the book.

Book Talks

In addition to the oral presentation in class, I have asked the students to also write a paragraph endorsing his/her selected book. I will post this writing on our blog with the student's picture. Scroll back in the blog if you'd like to read book reviews given by students whose pictures were previously posted on the blog.

Hope that this will be exciting for our students to have their writing published on the blog!

Unit 1: Factors, Multiples, and Arrays

Take a look at the attached information about our work in Unit 1.
We will have our end-of-unit assessment on Friday, October 26.

Family Letter About the Math in this Unit

Related Activities to Try at Home

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Faith Studies Homework

Mr. Burton asked me to post this on our blog.


This week in faith studies we read 1 Kings chapters 5-8 and learned about Solomon's plan to construct the temple. For next class, look up Ziv, bring in pictures of what the temple looked like and see if you can make a song using the following words:


(Your song should help educate someone who has never heard of Solomon's temple and let them know what it's all about!)

Grace and peace,

Mr. Burton

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cursive and Keyboarding

4th graders will work on both of these skill sets this year. Students are using the Handwriting Without Tears workbook “Cursive Success” to further their penmanship skills. We will specifically work on connecting letters and increasing fluidity.  It is with great excitement that our class has starting using Typing Club to work on keyboarding skills. It is a happy occasion when we get out the Chromebooks and log into this program. In the coming weeks we will share information with you so that your child can also work on this at home.

Click here to learn more about Typing Club

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 mathematical emphases:

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

Whole Number Operations
Reasoning about numbers and their factors

Computational Fluency
Fluency with multiplication combinations to 12x12

Reader's Workshop

A primary goal continues to be to ensure that all students are reading just-right books. How do you know if it is an appropriately challenging text, not too hard and not too easy? Ask your student to share some of our strategies for how you know this. Please note that most students are drawn to books that are a bit too challenging, therefore impending reading with fluency and for meaning. We have asked that each student run their book by us to get our approval before they begin reading.

Students are doing more and more writing in our Reader’s Notebooks.  We have been talking about  literary elements and working to be able to apply them to your book. Students are asked daily to write a paragraph in their notebooks to analyze their book. This will ensure that students are genuinely engaged in their books and are thinking as they read. They know that each day they will be asked to write a thoughtful entry about their book.

Raising the Quality of Narrative Writing

With our first personal narratives published and celebrated, we are living the writerly life.  Our class is looking at mentor texts such as “Eleven” by Sandra Ciscernos and Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe and reading with a writer’s eye, looking for writing moves we hope to use in our own personal narratives. Additionally, we are generating lists of important stories in our lives. Ask your student how to start with an important person or place and then to let that invoke memories connected with it.  Students will soon select their most meaningful story to write. We will work this round to push the story to also include why it is significant and what lesson the student learned from it. I can’t wait to see where this round of personal narrative writing takes our class!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Word Sort Words

Mrs. Rencher's Group
Short -a and long -a
CVC, CVCe, CVVC -ai, and Open Syllable -ay
past, glass, stand, slave, taste, trade, gain, nail, raise, gray, play, tray, they

Mr. Merritt's Group
VCV, VCCV doublet, VCCV different, oddball
female, moment, fever, happen, better, pattern, problem, window, chapter, water, only

Monday, October 8, 2012

Parent - Teacher Conferences

Thank you all so much for our time together last Thursday and Friday. Mr. Merritt and I really enjoyed getting to celebrate everything we admire about your child while also setting goals for the year. Please let us know if you have any questions after our time together or remember that important question that you meant to ask! Conferences are such a powerful time to put our heads together on strengths, goals, and what makes each student tick and desire to do his/her best. Many thanks for sharing your beautiful children. It is a joy to spend our days with them learning and growing together.

Please remember to return your child's writing folder along with his/her first published narrative writing.

Claire's Book Talk

 I did my book talk on 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. it's about a girl named Amanda and a boy named Leo. They were born on the same day and their parents agreed to celebrate their birthday together every year. On their 10th birthday, Amanda overhears Leo say that he doesn't want to spend his birthday with a girl every year. Amanda doesn't talk to Leo for an entire year and on their 11th birthday they don't spend it together. On the day after their birthday, or at least that's what they think it is, it's actually their birthday all over again. You'll just have to read the book to find out what happens next....!

Jake's Book Talk

The Comeback Kids by Mike Lupica is about two boys who play football. One of the kids has dyslexia and if he does not pass the next test, he can't be on the football team. The other kid tries to help him pass the test, and they become best best friends.

Christian's Book Talk

the book I chose for my book talk was The Big Field by Mike Lupica. the book is about a kid named Hutch who played baseball. He thinks he is the best. A new kid joins his team and all that he believed about himself changed. I think this is a very good book. If you like baseball, you will love it.

Gigi's Book Talk

Rule of Three is about three sisters named Joey, Stevie, and Alex. Stevie and Alex both want to be the lead of the school musical. In the story, Joey is a secret teller. Alex uses Joey to find out what Stevie is going to sing in her audition and visa versa. Stevie bakes, bakes, and bakes when she is mad. If she is mad at Alex she will make cupcakes and name them something like "I hate Alex," or something else mean. Who will get the lead? You should read the book and find out!

Parker's Book Talk

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is a New York Times bestseller. It is the exciting beginning of The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It's full of action, adventure, and various Greek gods and monsters. It's about Percy when he first finds out his father is Poseidon, god of the seas. In another way he is half god, half human which means he has strong powers like controlling water, using water as strength, and he is a wonderful swordsman. He finds out he is not alone because he is one of many half bloods. All these skills come in handy when Zeus's main weapon, the master lightning bolt, has been stolen and Percy is the prime suspect. Zeus is the king of the gods and goddesses. Percy must find the lightning bolt, return it, and reunite with his father, Poseidon, all in three days. Read this book to find out more....!

Blair's Book Talk

The Genius Files #1 Mission Unstoppable is about Coke and Pepsi (Pep McDonald on their road trip across the country. They started in L.A. and end in Washington D.C. On their way across the country, Coke, and pep are getting chased by their evil health teacher, crazy bowler hat dudes, and even Dr. Warshaw who entered Coke and pep into the Genius Files program. (The genius Files is an organization/ mission for "geniuses" to try to figure out a way to send messages through the air and the messages will end up in other people's minds.) You will have to read The Genius Files #1 Mission Unstoppable to find out why all those crazy people are chasing Coke and Pep across the country. After that, I recommend you read Genius Files #2 Never Say Genius to find out even more. i highly recommend these two books to people who like adventure books. 

Blessing of the Pets

Friday is a special day at Trinity. It is time for the annual Blessing of the Pets. This custom is conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures. Bring your furry or scaled pets for this memorable occasion.

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Tuesday morning we walked up to ImaginOn for our first Children's Theatre show of the year. Ask your student to tell you about the performance. The blurb below is from the theatre's website.

"The Peanuts gang’s all here – Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder and Sally – in this delightful musical that will have you celebrating childhood, or revisiting it! Charlie Brown just wants to win the heart of the Little Red-Haired Girl, while Snoopy and Linus want to daydream. Meanwhile, the rest of the group battles book reports, kites, baseball and misunderstandings in this classic Broadway musical based on the iconic comic characters of Charles Schulz."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Word Sort Spelling Words

We are learning about VCV and VCCV words. Ask your student to explain what this means! Our driving goal with the word sorts is that the students understand the spelling rules and how to apply them.

Words for the week:

"Mr. Bones"

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


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. Read the information below from the Scholastic website to learn more about this math magazine.

An innovative way to build core math skills and connect math to the real world

Here’s how DynaMath makes math relevant and engaging:

  • 8 issues reinforce core math concepts by showing students how they apply to current events, science, and everyday experiences.
  • Standards-based practice problems in each issue build the critical math skills students need to succeed on standardized tests and in higher grades. 
  • Common Core Connections: In each issue we cover the grades 3–6 math standards, including basic operations, fractions, decimals, measurement, geometry, and graph/chart reading.
  • STEM Connections–DynaMath relates math to technology, invention, and careers through features like our popular math-in-careers series.

Personal Narratives

We are working on our first personal narrative stories and hope to have them published before parent conferences. Students thought of a personal story that had a clear beginning, middle, and end. We then worked to break it down into a timeline with five distinct points. After writing a first draft, students looked to see how much they had written about each portion of their story. We then worked to stretch those parts of the tale by adding dialogue, more detail, and character development. It's been so exciting to see the students progress through the stages of the writing process with this first story. We can't imagine where they will go with their writing with this as our starting place!

Author Visit

Shelby Bach came to speak to the Trinity 3rd and 4th graders today. She is a Charlotte native who always knew she wanted to be a writer. She likes to write books that take traditional fairy tales and twist them, often incorporating characters form several tales into one.

Check out her website if you're interested: