Monday, April 29, 2013

Poetry Websites

Click to visit these great poetry websites for kids!


We have been writing poetry during Writer's Workshop. The students are amazing us with their beautiful, imaginative work. We can't wait for you to see the collections of poetry that each child is writing. Chuck Sullivan, our poet in residence, is coming to our class on Tuesday. We can't wait to have him come and share his talent and inspiration.

In addition to writing poetry, we have also been analyzing poems during Reader's Workshop. Students are being asked to memorize a poem by Langston Hughes.

Math: How Many Packages? How Many Groups?

Last week we began our work in Unit 8 about multiplication and division. We will work to have many strategies to solve these types of problems including arrays, the US algorithm, and the expanded algorithm.Goals of this unit include:

Multiplication with 2-Digit Numbers
Students estimate products and practice strategies for solving multiplication problems with 2-digit factors.

Strategies for Multiplication
Students practice strategies for solving 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication problems. 

Solving Division Problems
Students use representations and story contexts to develop strategies for solving division problems with 1-digit or small 2-digit divisors. 

Narrative Report Cards

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns after reading your child's most recent report card. We truly love your children and hope that the words we wrote helped you to get a snapshot of their life as a learner. 

Math Fact Benchmarks

We included  information in each student's narrative about how he/she was progressing towards meeting the 4th grade benchmarks. Fluency with math fact combinations is so important! It is frustrating for the students who have to stop to think about a math fact when they are working to solve a multi-step problem. We encourage your kids to "hunker down" and really work to meet these goals. 

Here is a reminder of the benchmarks:

4th Grade
  • Demonstrate mastery of addition and subtraction facts at a timed rate with a minimum of 96% accuracy: be able to complete 50 addition and 50 subtraction facts in 2 minutes)
  • Demonstrate fluency with multiplication facts to 12 x12 with a minimum of 96% accuracy and be able to complete 50 facts in 2 ½ minutes
  • Understand the inverse relationship between multiplication and division and the resulting “fact families” of four equations: be able to complete 50 division facts in 3 minutes, 96% accuracy rate.

The best ways t practice are with flash cards, having someone call out facts, playing war with cards, or taking timed tests. Here is a great website for printing timed tests for your child to take at home:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

School House Rock!

You Are Invited to the

4th Grade Performance

Friday, April 26, 2013

2:30 PM

Dickson Dining Hall

Reception to Follow

What Are Literature Circles?

During the final trimester of 4th Grade, students will read various short stories and novels in literature circle / book clubs. I wanted to share the following information from Getting Started with Literature Circles by Katherine L. Schlick Noe & Nancy J. Johnson: 

What Are Literature Circles? 
In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students' response to what they have read. You may hear talk about events and characters in the book, the author's craft, or personal experiences related to the story. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. Collaboration is at the heart of this approach. Students reshape and add onto their understanding as they construct meaning with other readers. Finally, literature circles guide students to deeper understanding of what they read through structured discussion and extended written and artistic response. 
Perhaps the easiest way to understand what literature circles are is to examine what they are not. 

Literature Circles are . . .

Literature Circles are not . . .
Reader response centeredTeacher and text centered
Part of a balanced literacy programThe entire reading curriculum
Groups formed by book choiceTeacher-assigned groups formed solely by ability
Structured for student independence, responsibility, and ownershipUnstructured, uncontrolled "talk time" without accountability
Guided primarily by student insights and questionsGuided primarily by teacher- or curriculum-based questions
Intended as a context in which toapplyreading and writing skillsIntended as a place to do skills work
Flexible and fluid; never look the same twiceTied to a prescriptive "recipe"

Gearing up for Literature Circles

We will spend the next several weeks getting the students prepared for literature circles. If we put them in a book club at this point and turned them loose, some good conversations would come. However, with the mini-lessons and activities that we will do in the weeks leading up to our literature circles, the students will be well-equipped to have meaningful conversations. We will study about the social skills necessary for effective small-group discussions, the cognitive strategies that help readers understand texts, and the literary sense that smart readers use to examine and appreciate what they read.

This week we have been focusing on asking thoughtful questions about our texts. I read aloud to the class a Japanese folktale from the Junior Great Books collection called "The Magic Listening Cap." We came up with bad questions that are off-topic, have a simple answer, have a yes or no answer, and are about factual information. Next, we worked to write thought-provoking questions that are analytical, have you looking back in the text, make everyone want to share their ideas, and really make you think. Ask your student about this story! As they are reading independently they are writing their "good" questions on sticky notes.

All Trinity Reads

It's not too late! If your family would like to attend to All Trinity Reads Event this Friday night from 6:00-7:30, please RSVP using this link:

Social Studies Update from Mrs. York

As you may know, we have begun building colonial Boston, a  muti-dimensional representation in the hallway outside of our classrooms.  (Should you be interested in helping out on this, contact me and I'll let you the next time we'll be building.  We are trying to represent the city life and discuss the concerns of this historically successful part of the New England.  At the same time, we are ready to talk about what struggles these colonists are having.  As you know, one of them, is misrepresentation in Parliament which led to disagreements over taxes among other laws.  We will be watching videos from a wonderful series produced through PBS called "Liberty! The American Revolution".  

From,  "Liberty! The American Revolution" is a dramatic documentary about the birth of the American Republic and the struggle of a loosely connected group of states to become a nation. The George Foster Peabody award-winning series brings the people, events, and ideas of the revolution to life through dramatic reenactments performed by a distinguished cast.

These videos will help us understand the urgency an intention behind going to war and the sacrifices the earliest colonists made to protect what they thought was right. 

Hungry for more?  This part of the PBS website is incredible and loaded with details related to the videos as well as more specific information and documents to consider.  Follow the link below.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Science Update

In our study of the Human Body, we have learned about following systems: skeletal, muscular, digestive, and circulatory. With each system we have focused on two major topics: the purpose of the system and the jobs of the different organs that work together in each system. We are currently studying the respiratory system, and will conclude our unit with an in-depth study of the nervous system. During this portion of our unit, we will learn about some of the neurological disorders that affect our friends at the Metro School.

Interesting facts about the respiratory system:

  • Your lungs contain almost 1,500 miles of airways and over 300 million alveoli.
  • Every minutes you breathe in about 13 pints of air.

Pencil Fee

As we are sure you have heard from your student, we are in a dire situation with the school supplies in our classroom. Our classroom has used over 1,800 pencils this year. We are requiring students to pay 5 cents per pencil to help alleviate the cost of the school supplies. We are hoping that this will help the students to learn a  valuable lesson about responsibility. Thank you for your understanding and support.

Read Aloud

We are so excited to be reading this beloved classic as our new read aloud text! 
Air-raids over London during WWII compel four siblings — Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy — to be sent away from the city to the house of a kindly, but remote Professor "who lived in the heart of the country." There is much to discover in the country: woods, mountains, owls, eagles, maybe even hawks and snakes. But the children will soon discover that the Professor's large house, staffed by three servants, holds even more mystery. It is a house filled with unexpected places, including a room which holds nothing but a large wardrobe, which Lucy opens one rainy day, never dreaming that the wardrobe is a passageway into Narnia.
A once peaceful world inhabited by Fauns, Dwarves, Giants, and Talking Beasts, Narnia has been frozen into perpetual winter by the fiendish White Witch who rules over it. Before long, Edmund steps into the wardrobe, and, in spite of himself, into Narnia, where he has a chilling encounter with the seductive White Witch. Soon, all of the children become embroiled in an adventure that includes themes of betrayal, forgiveness, death, and rebirth.

Upcoming ERB testing

 ERB testing will take place from April 15th to 18th. In the weeks leading up to these important testing days we have been taking 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. 

Want to support your child for ERB's?  Routine. Routine. Routine.  Anything you can do to re-establish a consistent routine with sleep and meals will be helpful, this week and throughout testing.  Successful children usually have predictable routines, but it can be especially important during times that require more focus or test the emotions. 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.

Important Dates

ERB Testing - April 15 -18
Early Dismissal Wednesday, April 17 - (this is not a N.U.T.S. Day)
No Backpack day - Friday, April 12

April N.U.T.S day - Friday, April 19

Schoolhouse Rocks - Friday, April 26 - 2:30pm in Dining Hall

Reading Strategies

Good readers are constantly stopping to think as they read, to ask questions, to analyze a character's motivations, and to make predictions. Over the past few weeks we have been learning some new strategies to apply as we read to take us to a new, more thoughtful level of understanding and interacting with our books.

Golden Lines
When reading you may come across a sentence that is beautifully written and begs you to read it again. It has meaning that applies to the book you're reading but also applies to life outside your book. These lines often point to the theme or big understanding in the book. An example from Pam Munoz Ryan's book Esperanza Rising is, "Wait a little while and the fruit will fall into your hand."

Contrasts and Contradictions
You will notice this in your books when a character acts out of character. Readers get to know their characters so well, and they begin to feel like our friends. When an author chooses to have a character say or do something that doesn't fit with his/her personality, it stands out to a good reader. It leads you to wonder what is going on with the character to make him/her act that way. What does this reveal about their inner conflict or emotions?

Tough Questions
A tough question is leading, insightful, thoughtful, and probing. Often in our books a character is asked a tough question either by himself through internal dialogue or by another character. What does this show you about the character, and how will he/she respond?

As our beloved characters travel through  trials and tribulations, they will periodically have an Ah-Ha moment. This will be when he/she realizes or comes to understand something that therefore changes his/her thinking and actions. Fans of Oprah are familiar with her famous Ah-Ha moments! Good readers will wonder how does this change things? How will the character respond?

Again and Again...
As good readers read, we'll often see things come up again and again. It might be an object or a phrase. There must be some reason the author keeps including it, and it's our job as a reader to stop, take notice, and try to understand what it might mean or represent. These are recurring images or motifs in a book. Often the recurring object will represent some idea much bigger than the object itself.