Monday, August 26, 2013

Mrs. Rencher and Mr. Merritt's 4th Grade Class

What a great crew! We are looking forward to a wonderful year with this amazing group of children!

Math Update

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 talk about how there are many fun way to practice facts. Here’s the helpful list of suggestions:

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. 

A big focus as we are reading for meaning is about story elements. Good readers are constantly thinking about these as they are reading and are easily able to identify and discuss them.We will be focused on characters, setting, plot, change, and movement through time. Ask your child to tell you about how these are at work in his/her book!

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!

STEM Project

What can you do with some old magazines, newspapers pulled out of the recycling bin, and 4 pieces of 3-foot long tape? You can build a bridge! On Friday afternoon the class worked with their table groups to complete a STEM challenge. What is STEM? A project that combines elements of science, technology, engineering,and math. We loved watching the groups as they put their heads together to decide how to use the meager supplies to build an object that a book could pass underneath and that would hold up when a book was dropped on top of it. The various groups approached the challenge in such different ways. In the end, the winning "bridge" was able to remain standing after I dropped FOURTEEN student math handbooks on it! Last year the winning group's bridge only withstood six books. 

We had a great follow-up conversation about this project to discuss several things:
1) What worked well in your group?
2) What didn't work with your group?
3) What would you do differently if we did this project again?
4) What did you notice about the winning group's design?
5) What were the benefits of stopping during the process to re-evaluate the work you were doing?

We will do various STEM projects throughout the year and will look forward to seeing how the students thinking evolves throughout the year.

Enjoy these photos!

The Winner! 
This "bridge" held the weight of 14 books being dropped on it!

Interview Writing

We can't wait for you to have the opportunity to read the interviews our students have written! We have spent these first days of school getting to know one another and working through the writing process.  After interviewing their partner and taking detailed notes on the information he/she shared, students wrote a first draft. We were impressed with the way they were able to jump right into revising their papers and to recognize what was great about their first drafts and what they hoped to improve. Many students chose to focus on improving their lead, create varied beginnings to their sentences, and write a better summary/closing sentence. We are so proud of the PROCESS and PRODUCT.  If this is the starting place of these 4th grade writers, we can't wait to see where this group will go in their writing lives this year!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Welcome to Our Fourth Grade Class!

Welcome to Fourth Grade!

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Here's to a great year!

Mrs. Rencher and Mr. Merritt