Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Supplies Needed

We are in need of some supplies for our rocks and minerals unit. If you have any of these items at your house leftover from a home-improvement or arts-and-crafts project, we would love your leftovers. We are not asking anyone to go out and buy anything, just to share if you have any remnant materials at your house.

Tiles (approximately 4" x 4" x 1") 
Alabaster Tiles
Granite Tiles
Limestone Tiles
Marble Tiles
Pumice Tiles
Soapstone Tiles

Terry Fabric (100% cotton, any color)
Twill Fabric (100% cotton, any color)

Writers' Workshop Update

 I couldn't be prouder of the great work our class has done with our second published narratives. We spent a great deal of time talking about the structure of stories and used a 5-part timeline to plan our writing. We are learning that most of the hard work in writing happens after you write your first draft. The magic happens in the revision process. Ask your student to tell you about the following revision strategies.

  1. Look to S T R E T C H out the shorter sections
  2. Fix any "plot holes"
  3. Use specific dialogue that is believable for your characters
  4. SHOW, don't TELL
  5. Include SENSORY details
  6. Use strong "said" or "went"

We will have an in-class writing celebration on Tuesday, November 20. I hope that you will enjoy celebrating your child's writing during your student-led conference. We are sending home the timelines and drafts so that you will be able to see how your 4th grader worked to revise and edit his/her writing.

Portfolios and Student-led Conferences

I know you are looking forward to sitting down with your 4th grader and celebrating his or her academic accomplishments. The portfolios will be full of each student's evaluations and goal setting along with selected work from each subject area. Please have your 4th grader return the portfolio some time the week after Thanksgiving. The following advice comes from Chris Weiss's e-mail: 

Here are some tips that may prove helpful to you during this meeting with your child:
  1. Let your child be in charge, ask clarifying questions, and focus on the work and the student’s growth—think big picture.  
  1. Listen to your child’s self-report and reflections.  Ask supportive questions to gain clarity.
  2. By the end of the conference help your child have a clear and realistic assessment of themselves along with a shared plan for approaching the trimester ahead.
Talking Points:
  1. What I think I hear you saying is…
  2. You seem to really enjoy…Why do you think that is?
  3. You seem to be having a difficult time with….Why do you think that is?
  4. If you know why…is happening, what would be a possible solution?
  5. Tell me what is the most important thing that you learned in…
  6. What is your favorite time during the school day and why?

Thank you!

I can't imagine a better way to have spent my birthday than with our wonderful class! Thank you so very much for the beautiful flowers and sweet cards. Your precious children and this wonderful school are such tremendous blessings in my life!

Scottie's Book Talk

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

This book is about a 13-year-old girl named Mia Winchell. Mia has an exceptional ability called synesthesia. It is where sounds, words, and letters have color for her. That is how she got her cat Mango's name. This book is a fun-filled and if you read it, I think it will change your life.

Sammy's Book Talk

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

This is the best book ever! It's about a brother, Conner, and a sister, Alex, who are twins and fall into the fairy tale world. They meet someone who tells them about a spell where you can make one wish called The Wishing Spell. They go on amazing adventures and see all the fairy tale world. The spell can only be used once more, and someone else is also looking for it, and you also figure something out about their dad that is very surprising. I really recommend this book!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

NCAIS Conference

Last Friday morning as your children were nestled in their beds enjoying a day off from school, the Trinity faculty and staff boarded a bus at 6:15 am (yikes!) and cruised up 85-North to Forsyth Country Day School in Winston-Salem. We went to attend the North Carolina Association of Independent School's biennial teacher conference. The theme for the conference was "Back to the Future: Sustaining Tradition, Promoting Innovation." Pat Bassett, president of NAIS, was the keynote speaker.He emphasized the Five C’s: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Character.  I was extremely proud of Trinity as I listened to his presentation and honestly believe that we are ahead of the game in our teaching approach and philosophy. 

After the keynote speaker, we were able to go to four sessions of our choice. Mr. Merritt and I attended workshops on topics including current brain research, math differentiation, entrepreneurship in schools, service learning, engineering, digital storytelling, twice exceptional students, and developing cyber-smart kids. It was a day full of learning for us and we are excited to bring back our new knowledge and ideas to our classroom. 

Word Study Update

In addition to our word sort work, we have started to work on grammar skills. The students are working to identify what makes a sentence a sentence. It must have a subject, a predicate, and must communicate a complete thought. We are also reviewing the different types of sentences: statement, command, question, and exclamation. Identifying simple subjects and simple predicates is also part of our work.We will continue with this work throughout the year and ensure that the students have a solid grammatical foundation.

New Science Unit: Rocks and Engineering

Our class is beginning an engineering unit called Materials Engineering: Replicating Artifacts, which is part of the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) curriculum developed by the Museum of Science, Boston.  EiE is a curricular program that integrates the science students are already learning in school with engineering design. Through this unit students will use what they learn about the science of rocks to design and improve a replica of an artifact. The unit will begin with a story about twin girls from Russia who solve a similar engineering design challenge.

There are many reasons to introduce children to engineering in elementary school:

  • Engineering projects integrate other disciplines. Engaging students in hands-on, real-world engineering experiences can enliven math, science and other content areas.
  • Engineering fosters problem-solving skills, including problem formulation, iteration  and testing of alternative solutions.
  • Children are fascinated with building and with taking things apart to see how they work. By encouraging these explorations in elementary school, we can keep these interests alive. Describing their activities as "engineering" when children are engaged in the natural design process can help them develop positive associations with engineering, and increase their desire to pursue such activities in the future.
  • Engineering and technological literacy are necessary for the 21st century.  As our society increasingly depends on engineering and technology, our citizens need to understand these fields.
If you have expertise about the science, field of engineering, or have any general questions or comments about the engineering and design unit we are about to begin, please let us know. 

EiE: What is it?

To learn more about EiE, please visit the following link:

Engineering is Elementary®

Report Cards and Portfolios

Can you believe the first trimester is almost over? Your student will bring home his/her report card this Friday afternoon. Students will be busy over the next week preparing a portfolio of selected work from our first trimester. Additionally they will reflect on their strengths and accomplishments in each subject area as well as to set goals for the upcoming trimester. We will send home portfolios on Tuesday, November 20. Each family will find a spot of time to have a student led conference at home for your child to share his/her work. We will send home more specific guidelines closer to the time.

Sheila Turnage

Sheila Turnage will talk with TES 4th graders on Tuesday, November 13. Ask your student what he/she learned about the writing process from our guest author.

"Sheila Turnage lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, a blind dog and an ill-tempered cat.  A native North Carolinian, she's spent most of her life surrounded by the poetry and humor of rural NC. She writes books, articles and poems, and enjoys writing about the South in general and NC in particular. Her books include Compass American Guides: North Carolina and Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Three Times Lucky is her first novel for kids. It's set in the fictitious town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina - population 148 minus one (murder)."                                   
                                        -information provided by author

TES Book Fair

Monday, November 12
Cardinal Lanes Book Talk in our classroom

Monday, November 19 from 12:30-1:00
Our class will visit the Book Fair.
Please send in money if you wish.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Will's Book Talk

The Twits by Roald Dahl

At the beginning of the story, Mr. Twit and Mrs. Twit do a lot of pranks on each other. Every Tuesday and Thursday, they have bird pie. They love bird pie. Mr. Twit puts the stickiest glue on the tree because when the birds sit on the branches and their feet get stuck, Mr. Twit shoots the birds. The couple has a family of monkeys. They make them sit on their heads all day. The monkeys do not like standing on their heads. They speak African, and they try to tell the birds not to sit on the branches. One day, an African bird came across the yards and the monkeys yelled at the bird. They said to tell all the birds to not sit on the tree and to sit on the monkey's cage. It was Tuesday, and he saw all the birds sitting on the cage. He got so angry! The next day, he put the glue on the monkey's cage. Then all the birds sat on the tree. Now he was really angry. They monkeys decided to do a prank. You will have to read the book to find out more.

Keith's Book Talk

I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney. In fact, I'm reading the whole series. The main character is Greg H. He is a wimpy kid. Wimpy means he can't stand up for himself. I like Greg because he's funny and he's always getting himself embarrassed. When you read the books, you're actually reading his diary. So you read about his day, feelings, emotions, friends, and family. You also see his funny pictures. The Last Straw is about when Greg's dad tries to send Greg to military school. It's really funny. I highly recommend it.

North Carolina

In addition to all of our research about the candidates and the election, we are still working on learning more about our state. This week we are going to focus on famous sites in each region. We are using the VisitNC website to help us search by region for interesting places that are an important part of our cultural heritage. Mr. Merritt showed the class how to research the Alamance Battlefield and to write some important facts about it from the website. After the election, we will look again at the three branches of the North Carolina government and update our prior knowledge and learn a bit about our newly elected officials. From there, we will do research on some of the major industries that drive our state economy, as well as our agricultural resources. 

Parent Workshop

I wanted to share information with you about Celebrate Calm, a workshop offered by the Fletcher School's Rankin Institute. They offer a great variety of parent and educator workshops throughout the year. I've been to many of them through the years and have always been impressed with the quality of the speakers and program. I have heard that this is supposed to be an especially great program, and I'm planning to attend.

Celebrate Calm

Celebrate CalmThis exciting workshop, perfect for parents and teachers of all ages, will give strategies to stop power struggles; eliminate defiance, disrespect, and sibling fights; improve focus, attention, and behavior in school; as well as create stress-free mornings, homework time, and bedtime.

Registration is required.  We are offering this workshop two different times:
  • To register for the morning session from 8:30am - 10:30am, please click HERE.
  • To register for the evening session from 7:00pm - 9:00pm, please click HERE. 
Where & When
The Fletcher School
8500 Sardis Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 28270
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Faith Studies Homework

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

This week in Faith Studies we are studying the adventures of the prophet Elijah. We'll be looking at 1 Kings 16-19 in The Action Bible. Please feel free to read the story with your children at home. 

Below you will find 25 keywords from the story. For our next class on November 12, students need to create a song that would explain Elijah's story to someone who had not heard it before. They do not need to use all the words in the list (some of them have even created their own list!) but can feel free to use the list as a starting point. 

Words for song
  1. kingdom
  2. Israel
  3. Ahab
  4. Jezebel
  5. Baal
  6. queen
  7. temples
  8. Elijah
  9. drought
  10. ravens
  11. Obadiah
  12. widow
  13. famine
  14. Mount Carmel
  15. bulls
  16. fire
  17. prophets
  18. lightning
  19. rain
  20. miracle
  21. despair
  22. mountain
  23. earthquake
  24. storm
  25. whisper