Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our Christmas Gift to the Students

Ho! Ho! Ho! 
Happy Reading!

Mr. Merritt and I are giving each student two book coupons as their Christmas gift. To order the books, please log into the Scholastic website (use link below) and order any two books, each up to a $5 value. Don't forget to use our class activation code in addition to the codes on each coupon. Encourage your child to place their order by Wednesday, January 8. We will place the class order at that point and all the books will be shipped to our classroom.

The class activation code is MK4MW    

Click here to order!

The BIG Map

I  hope your student told you that we visited Mr. Smith and his big map of Europe. The map is enormous, and all the students have a grand time running around on the map looking for the countries, capitals, bodies of water, and famous landmarks. Enjoy these photos!

Photos from Camp Read-a-Lot

The kids had a WONDERFUL day reading! Doesn't that sound rather heavenly to cuddle up with blankets and pillows and read for several hours in peace and quiet? Sounds like a vacation to me!

Story Quilts

In Readers' Workshop we have been in Guided Reading Groups. After finishing their books, each group is creating a story quilt. The story quilt squares represent each chapter of the book. On each square, there is a picture depicting the most important scene in the chapter along with a 3 sentence summary of the chapter. The edges and corners of the story quilt square have to use images or symbols that represent things that happened in that chapter. The first two story quilts are almost finished and are a beautiful representation of the stories. We hope you'll enjoy seeing these in the hallway outside our classroom after the Christmas break!

Moravian Love Feast

The 4th grade students will have a traditional Moravian Love Feast on Thursday afternoon at 2:00. We learned about this tradition on our trip to Old Salem and look forward to experiencing it together. We will light the traditional candles and enjoy hot apple cider and Moravian cookies. Ask your child about this experience! Many thanks to the 4th grade room parents who provided the treats for this event.

Read more about this timely tradition here:

Moravian Sugar Cake Recipe

Our class made Moravian Sugar Cake on Wednesday during Camp Read-a-lot! It was a great learning experience to see and smell the yeast and to watch the dough rise. It requires a lot of patience to make homemade bread! Perhaps your family would like to try to make this over the Christmas vacation?

Moravian Sugar Cake

Yield: 4 9x9 cakes
    1 package active dry yeast 
    1/2 cup warm water 
    1 cup plain mashed potatoes 
    1 cup sugar 
    1/2 cup butter 
    1 teaspoon salt 
    2 eggs, beaten 
    *6 cups flour 
    Brown sugar 

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Once the yeast has "proved" itself (gotten bubbly), mix potatoes, sugar, butter, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add yeast mixture and stir well. Stir in eggs and enough flour to make a soft dough -- this can be as little as 5 cups or as much as 6 1/2 depending on the humidity the day you make the cakes.
  3. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough in four equal pieces and roll or stretch out to fit into 9x9 greased pans.
  5. Cover and let rise again.
  6. When doubled, make indentations in the top of each cake about 1 inch apart with your fingers.
  7. Sprinkle each cake with brown sugar, about a 1/4 cup per cake, sprinkle with cinnamon, about 1/2 teaspoon per cake, and set small cubes of butter into the holes in each cake.
  8. Bake in a 375-degree F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Photographs from Old Salem

We had a beautiful day in Old Salem. The sky was clear, the air was brisk, and the sun was shining. While the bakery was most likely the students favorite attraction, they certainly learned a lot from visiting the other houses and buildings. Many thanks to our chaperones: Katherine Addison, Jenn Siegfried, and Linda Sprague (Emma's grandmother.)

Enjoy these photos! If any of the chaperones took some good shots, please share and I'll add to our blog.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December Calendar

Some Exciting Happenings in 4th Grade 

Tuesday, December 10
Metro School Service Learning
Choral Ensemble to Wells Fargo Atrium to perform!

Wednesday, December 11
Old Salem field trip
We will depart from school on the charter bus at 8:15 and return to Trinity for a 5:15 pickup

Wednesday, December 18
Camp Read-a-Lot
*Bring wrapped book for class book exchange

Thursday, December 19
Unit 3 Math Assessment
Moravian LoveFeast

Friday, December 20
Class Book Exchange
Lessons and Carols
Last day of school before the holiday break! (3:20 dismissal time)

Professional Development

I wanted to share with you about the Professional Development opportunity I had last week. Fran Landess, 5th grade instructional assistant, and I headed to Hauppauge, New York, to attend Jennifer Serravallo's workshop entitled "Teaching Reading in Small Groups." She is the author of several respected books about the art of teaching reading including: Conferring with Readers: Supporting Each Student's Growth and Independence (coauthored with Gravity Goldberg), Teaching Reading In Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers, and The Literacy Teacher Playbook: Four Steps for Turning Assessment Data into Goal-Directed Instruction. 

Big takeaways from the workshop include learning how to use assessment lenses of engagement, fluency, print work, comprehension, and conversations as keys to helping match kids with like-learners in small groups. Instead of thinking in a "yes" or "no", "deficit" or "strength" model, we should analyze kids' work along a continuum to be sure we're always teaching within learners' zones of proximal development.   Also, I learned practical ways to think about the individual student before, during, and after small group instruction. I gained specific strategies to help students achieve deeper understanding of the texts they read through small group instruction. This will ensure that small groups feel like one-one-one conferences. I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to learn more about literacy education. 

Class Spelling Bee

We were so proud of our class during the spelling bee on Friday.  Each contestant did his or her best and had good sportsmanship. Congratulations to Taylor for winning our class bee and to Emily for being our runner-up. Taylor will head to the school wide bee next week. Good luck! We'll be cheering for you!

Camp Read-a-Lot

We will have Camp Read-a-lot on Wednesday, December 18th! Students may bring a sleeping bag or blanket and a pillow. We will have big blocks of time for reading, so the 4th graders should be sure to bring plenty of reading material...novels, magazines, newspaper, informational texts, etc. Of course, our classroom library will be open as well. 

Christmas Book Exchange

We will be having a Christmas book exchange. Each student is asked to bring in a book that any of our classmates would enjoy; it should not be gender specific. The book can be either a gently used book from home or a new book. Students should wrap their books in holiday wrapping with a tag to indicate who it is from. Please have your child bring in their book by Wednesday, December 18th.