September 30, 2022
This week in our classroom:
Students have been learning about different multiplication strategies that they can use whenever they encounter factors difficult to remember. They have practiced strategies such as double-doubles to multiply by 4, and half-tens plus one to multiply by 6. Students have also played several games involving multiplication facts, like Arrays to 100, and Multiple Wheel. To become better mathematicians, students have been trying to use more math vocabulary like factors, product, factor pairs, dimensions, and arrays when explaining their thinking. Students have been participating more and more this week.
For about an hour each day, students have been taking the i-Ready diagnostic assessment for reading and math, that will help narrow down the skills that they need to work on to become proficient readers and mathematicians.
In the afternoon, students have been creating their North America map books, using transparencies and generously donated Sharpies. Thank you to those of you who purchased those markers for us, we deeply appreciate it!. Students have been learning about the countries that form the continent of North America, are learning to outline its shape, find the most important rivers, mountain ranges, deserts and other bodies of water. We will continue with this unit next week, and students will have to complete a questionnaire upon finishing their maps. Students have also reviewed the most important features in a map, such us the compass rose, scale, cardinal directions, key or legend, and title.
Take a look at this week's slide show!
September 23, 2022
What a fun filled week we've had!
This week we have successfully launched a new math structure called "Math Rotations", where the students work together in a small group, partner work, or work with me in different math related activities. When a small group of students works with me, I explain a Bridges Math lesson, review math concepts, and students feel less intimidated to participate than with the whole group. When I worked with small groups yesterday, there were many aha moments for students when concepts like prime and composite numbers were finally understood. Small group interactions work better for many students. In the meantime, other students were working on Work Places (games), Math pages, quizzing each other on vocabulary, practicing math facts on XTra Math, or other skills on STMath. Even though some adjustments need to be made to our structure, I was very impressed with my students, that showed amazing problem solving skills, collaboration and independence.
During Daily 5, this week we have been working on setting the purpose for reading, and tuning in to interesting words. We have added more words to our Word Collectors, and depending on their choices, students have been able to work on their drafts for writing, read with a partner, or practice vocabulary.
Yesterday for our Read Aloud, our very own Principal, Mrs. Garden, came to our class to read a beautiful book to our students, titled "My First Day", by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien, a story about a Vietnamese child's first day of school. And Principal Garden impressed all of us, but learning the names of all the students right away!
On Science, students have explored what makes our hands and fingers move, learning about muscles, tendons, joints, and bones, and creating their own robotic fingers and hands.
Finally, the students have completed a 5 Love Languages questionnaire, so that I can make sure that I "speak" their love language in every interaction.
Take a look at this week's slide show :)
September 16, 2022
The first full week is coming to an end. The students have been busy working on several projects and reading for longer periods of time. Here are some of the highlights:
During Math, we have been working on practicing four different strategies to explain multiplication problems: number lines, ratio tables, tiled arrays and area models. Students have taken on the challenge of learning to use models that are a little out of their comfort zone, and then using the ones that work for them. We have used the same models to review division problems, and have been working on finding factor pairs of different numbers and create array posters.
During Literacy, this week we have continued adding lessons to our Work on Writing Daily 5, and we have also introduced Listen to Reading, bringing our choices for Daily 5 to four. Students are starting to master the mini-lesson and independent practice model of work, and are up to 11 minutes of independence. When called their name, the students are able to verbalize their Daily 5 and literacy strategy choices, and move to their chosen spots. This has given me a chance to confer on reading with all my students one-on-one and to start a round of writing conferences. The strategies that the students are able to practice during reading are "check for understanding", "three ways to read a book", "coaching or time", "generating tiny thoughts for writing", "generating bigger ideas", and what to do when they encounter a word that they don't know how to spell when writing.
This week we have also celebrated "International Dot Day", based on the book "The Dot", by our local author Peter Reynolds, a book that celebrates creativity and courage. Also, during Social Studies, we have rolled up our sleeves and created three dimensional world maps using continents cutouts and balloons.
Take a look at this week's slide show:)
September 9, 2022
Welcome to the classroom blog!
Every week (or every other week) I will post a summary of the week's events in our classroom, along with some pictures, so that you can take a peek at what your children have been working on, and have a broader context for your conversations about school with your child :)
These first six days of school have started in high gear. Your children have been incredibly flexible in adjusting to the new schedule, agenda and routines for every day. Changing from a summer vacation mode to a 6 hour daily learning mode is not an easy task, and it takes some adjustment, but your children have shown me from day one that they are ready for the challenge.
This week we have already been working on the following topics:
During Math we started by introducing some community building activities, writing down on a chart what we like others to say and do when we are working on math, and what we don't like them to say and do. Some of the things your children said were that they like to be encouraged, but not to be told the answer, that they don't like to be rushed, that they don't like to be distracted, and that they like to receive positive feedback. Creating a community of learners that care about each other and respect each other's way of learning is extremely important. Our math time has been filled with independent thinking, partner sharing, and group work, as it will be throughout the year.
We have also talked about the learning zones circle, and that even when we are able to solve a math problem right away, we can challenge ourselves to figure out different ways to get to the answer, for example, how can they use (4 x 2) and (8 x 2) to solve 12 x 2? Is there more than one way?
During reading we have started practicing Read to Self, where students get their book bags, find a spot in the classroom where they feel comfortable, and start reading independently for a short amount of time. We are slowly building up our stamina to read for longer periods of time without any interruptions and distractions, staying in one spot, and reading all the time. Yesterday we also learned how to read with a partner in a way that both students practice the same skills as in read to self, but together, helping each other, reading the same book, and checking for understanding. Your children have been so fantastic during this reading time, that I have had the chance already to use their independent and partner reading time to confer with individual students and get to know them better as readers. As we start reading for longer periods of time, both Mrs. Parent and I will be able to create reading groups based on skill building, and practice more close reading activities that will help your child become a better reader. Students have also learned to pick the just right books for them, using the acronym I-PICK that stands for I- I (your child) choose the book, P - Purpose, I- Interest, C - Comprehension and K - Know the majority of the words. If you want to know a little more about the Daily 5 literacy structure, click here.
And finally, your children have also been working on the All About Me poster, and have been sharing their summer adventures with the rest of the class.
I hope your children have enjoyed getting back to school as much as I have! Please, don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
I am looking forward to the rest of the school year!
Hello! My name is Esther Willinski, and I am a fourth grade teacher in Massachusetts. Join us in our journey through 4th grade!