,This week my students have been working full speed ahead! In math they have been playing "Racing Fractions", by finding different ways to add fractions with a different denominator and to get to the end of different number lines first. Students have also been introduced to decimal counting, how to write decimals with numbers and fractions, and how to name decimals. Students have been forming decimals using mats, strips and units of the base ten pieces. During our guided reading group sessions, students have learned how to compare and contrast two different types of avalanches by grouping the comparable topics, we have also worked together to find the main idea of the story, and investigated causes and effects in the text. Students have also been introduced to the different types of Context Clues when finding difficult or interesting words, using the acronym "I.D.E.A.S." Inferring, finding the Definition in the text, finding the Explanations, or finding Antonyms or Synonyms. During their independent reading rounds, students have continued working on different choices for reading and writing. During our Trickster Tales writing block, our Writer in Residence Motoko has guided our students in choosing one major natural disaster for their stories, and describing it using the 5 senses. In the afternoon, we have continued reading The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor, and we have explored the different types of lava during our Science unit on the Birth of Rocks. Students have been hypothesizing about why some volcanos have a cone shape and others a shield shape, and how the consistency of the lava affects the type and form of the volcano.
Take a look at this week's slideshow!
Another week full of interesting activities is coming to an end. This week the students have continued comparing fractions with different denominators, and creating equations with fractions. During reading we have been working in guided reading groups, learning comparing and contrasting strategies in our close reading of complex texts journey, while the rest of the students worked on their different choices of Daily 5. Their reading and writing stamina has grown so much from the beginning of the year! On Wednesday, Motoko worked with our students on the second session of the trickster tales, and students were able to get their stories started by completing a paragraph with their main character and setting. Students have also been working on a school wide writing prompt on a favorite memory. In Science, students have discovered the pattern of the Ring of Fire by combining the continent maps that we worked on last week. And as a cherry on top, my students have been able to read to Mrs. Pilkington's and Mrs. Smith's students in Kindergarten. Your children are the most caring, responsible and knowledgable mentors. The little ones had a blast, and my students felt so proud of their work. It was such a cute thing to witness! Take a look at this week's slide show :)
One short week into the new year, and my students have already done so much. The holiday break seems to have had a good effect on their motivation to learn, because they have been incredibly focused and engaged this week.
In Math, we have been exploring fractions on the geoboards and finding equivalent fractions. We've also explored several geoboard regions that represent a different fractions, and how we can express those fractions using addition or subtraction of other fractions with different denominator. Our rounds of Daily 5 choices and independent reading practice have started with the introduction of close reading strategies of short complex texts. I have assigned my students into new groups, and we are working on simple steps that will help them find deeper meaning in the stories, and organize their thinking. In one of the steps, students have to learn to use annotation marks to circle important passages, make connections, or underline confusing words. Each layer of reading uncovers different levels of comprehension, from key ideas and details, through the structure of the text, to finally integrate the ideas from the text. We read and analyze together, we talk about the passage and we answer the questions using the RACE method that the kids know very well by now. In Writing, we are super excited to have our writer in residence, Motoko, a Japanese story teller that will be with our fourth graders for 10 weeks to guide our students to write "trickster" tales. Her storytelling skills kept us all completely engaged in the folktales that she narrated. You could not hear a pin drop. During the first session we started with an assembly in the cafeteria, and Motoko came to our class at 11:05 when she gave our students different stories to read in groups and present to the whole class, while finding the "trickster" in the tale and the lesson learned. We can't wait for our second session!
Finally during Science, we have started exploring if a volcano could erupt where we live, and students have been finding volcanos in different continents, using coordinates in maps, that we will put together to find the pattern of The Ring of Fire.
And finally, as a highlight, because we reached 20 points for positive behavior and participation, the students got to enjoy their board game time this afternoon, and read under forts during Daily 5.
Fantastic focus and participation throughout the week!
Take a look at this week's slideshow!
The Holiday Break is here! And this week, regardless of the the excitement, our students have been able to keep (some) focus on school work :)
During math, we have started exploring fractions, mixed numbers and improper fractions, using a model of a 12 egg carton, yarn and tiles to represent the equal parts and the amount of "eggs". During language arts, we have watched Mickey's Christmas Carol to talk about the major and minor characters, the plot of the story and the various themes. Students have also been finishing assignments for reading and writing. During Science, we have sharpened our engineering abilities by creating STEM Holiday trees using gum drops and toothpicks, and we have also enjoyed singing along some Holiday songs and listening to the Nipmuc high school band and chorus group. On Thursday we've also had tons of fun during our fantastic holiday party, thanks to Mrs. Bodio and Mr. and Mrs. Halnon, that helped the students create a really cute tree ornament and participate in a fun gift exchange. You will see by their smiles and goofiness that they are all so ready for the Holiday Break!
Thank you all so much for a fantastic first term. I wish you and your families happiness this season and in the coming year.
This week's work could be summarized in two words: choice and agency. For the past few weeks we have worked together to learn about big literary themes during our reading block, the students have also been writing entries about their independent chapter book stories and have been working with a partner, a guided reading group or by themselves on their Story Works story to dive deep into the theme of short stories. Adding to that plethora of choices, this week I have introduced the Book Talks, where students collaborate with a partner, working with a picture book, reading the book, completing the graphic organizer on theme, and presenting to the class. During their independent reading time, students have been able to work on the five choices of Daily 5 throughout the week, focusing on a specific goal and sticking their names to their work of choice. After the round is over, we gather back together at the carpet to discuss our progress on their goals. Take a look at the slide show to see the choices and the books for book talks.
For writing, we have introduced the R.A.C.E. method to answer open response questions, after an honest review of their previous work on a classroom reading assessment. After briefly introducing it to my students, I took a step back, shared the resources with them, and working with a partner or in a small group, the students are now using the method to respond to questions for another story. With the R.A.C.E method, students Restate the question, Answer it, Cite evidence, and Explain or Expand the answer. Ask your child how this method is helping them to answer these type of questions.
During math, the students have continued working with multiplication area models, and have been introduced to division with remainders. Students have also presented their models to the class for discussion. Clearly these students know how to be effective collaborators and problem solvers!
Have a fantastic weekend!
: Back to full speed after a week of half days and fun play, the students have been learning a few new things.
In math, we have continued working with double digit multiplications, story problems, and area models. We have also been practicing elapsed time during our Number Corner time, collecting cups of water to fill quarts and gallons, and using the number line to add. In language arts, we have been diving into the world of literary themes. Last week with the story "A Bad Case of Stripes", by David Shannon, we explored the themes of self-concept, bullying, being true to oneself and accepting each other's differences, and this week with the beautiful anthem of "Change Sings" by poet laureate Amanda Gorman, we are discussing the themes of hope for the future, creating positive change, and standing up for justice and equality. This week I have also introduced the assignment of the reading response journal, where students are expected to write two weekly entries about their independent chapter book reading, choosing a different focus each time from the ones we have already practiced in class: main idea and details, character change, theme, prediction, connection. Students have guiding questions and charts in their notebooks to write their entries. In Social Studies, we have worked with the second major theory of the origin of the first people of North America, the "Kelp Highway Theory", that states that the first people migrated from Asia to America by boat, following the rich oceanic life provided by the kelp forests of the Pacific coastline, deeply connected with the lives of many tribal nations of North America. Students also learned about the counter theory based on new evidence of foot prints found in New Mexico (link here), that the first people might have been already here before what the Clovis First Theory explains. A lot of food for thought, and high interest topics four our students to discuss and learn about. After this lesson, I have asked my students to create a Google document that will be their final assignment for this topic. If you get a chance, please ask your child about the theories learned in the classroom.
Take a look at this week's slide show!
This week in our classroom, the students have been learning all about how to use quick sketches of arrays to solve multiplication equations of two digit factors, finding partial products and adding them up at the end. We started by working with base ten pieces and linear pieces, then making sketches of mats of 100, lines of 10 and dots of 1, to finally creating area drawings with labeled dimensions and products. We have also tried to focus on understanding the story problems without jumping to conclusions about the numbers that show up in those problems, reasoning about what the problems are really asking, and figuring out the best way to solve them. During Number Corner time, we have started a new month, calculating the elapsed time of the cards that show different clock hours. And we have been playing a division game and practiced adding larger numbers using the number line and splitting one of the addends to make our addition effective and accurate. In reading, we have continued working with analyzing character change, and the event in the plot that turns things around for the character. We have been using Janell Cannon's beloved books "Crickwing", "Stellaluna", and "Verdi". Students have continued using richer vocabulary for emotions, and finding evidence in the story to support their thinking. During group work, students have continued working on their assignments with the stories "The Ghost of Specter Elementary", and "Clean Start" in Story Works. And finally, fourth graders have been introduced to the Lending Library, created by our Curriculum Coach, Mrs. Desruisseaux, and our Reading Specialist, Mrs. Zalusky. They have been able to borrow more books for their independent reading time. During Social Studies, this week we have started the unit on The Early People of North America, in order to evaluate competing theories about the origins of the first people of North America. Students have learned and taken notes on the meaning of certain vocabulary words, like "scientific theory", "artifact", "archeological site", "carbon dating" and "ancient migrations", and we have started generating questions using the Project Zero thinking strategy called "Creative Question Starts", while looking at a map of North America during the Ice Age, and using the brief entry to our first theory to investigate, the "Clovis-First Theory", that states that the first people migrated from Asia to America through a land bridge. We have used primary sources like the Smithsonian Magazine. The topic has generated lively discussion and curiosity in the students.
Last but not least, the students could enjoy a fantastic Halloween Day on Monday, filled with activities and fun. In the morning, students collaborated in the engineering of a structure that could hold a candy corn cauldron. They designed, built, demolished and built again, always trying to improve their models and persevering through setbacks. After that, we played the matching game with the pumpkin vocabulary and the fun pumpkin drawings. In the afternoon we had super fun activities thanks to the creativity of Mrs. Bodio and Mrs. Halnon, with Halloween Bingo, unwrapping candy and feeding the box monster. Students had a blast! We finished the day with the fun parade where students showed fantastic costumes. It was a day to remember.
Take a look at this week's slide show!
Here are the highlights for the week:
In math we have been creating the Great Wall of Base Ten with square centimeter pieces, from 1 to 10,000, finding the area of rectangular arrays and practicing multiplication facts. In Language Arts, we have completely focused our attention on how characters' feelings change throughout the story, and how there is usually a specific event in the story that turns things around for the main character. Students have been learning and practiced identifying feelings other than "happy" or "sad". What about "discouraged", "delighted", "furious" or "annoyed"?, And what are the evidence in the story that show that the characters are having those feelings? Students have been learning the process of close reading the stories, identifying the feelings and finding the evidence. Additionally, the students have started writing their own letters to me about the books they are reading independently, so that eventually they can get a real pen-pal from another class. During Science the students have been learning all about the nervous system and how the brain receives information a creates a response or reaction to an event. We have practiced some interesting activities in the classroom to measure the speed of our responses to stimuli, like the reaction to a falling ruler between our fingers, or the speed to read color words that have different colors than what the words say.
Take a look at this week's slide show!
Learning by experimentation. That could be the summary of this week. This week the students have rolled up their sleeves and used a bunch of tools to learn about units of measurement. We have been going every day to the science room to find the mass, weight and liquid capacity of different objects, using a pan balance, platform scale, and several measuring cups. The students have tried and many times succeeded in finding the accurate measurement of a gram, a kilogram, an ounce and a pound of playdough and beans, to find measurement benchmarks, and to understand the different scales of the metric system and the standard units. For liquid capacity, the students have been calculating how many times 250 mL fit in a 1 L container. They have followed up with measurement work in their math books, and with ratio tables in their notebooks. For reading, the students have finished their first assignment on finding the main idea and important details in the story of The Hindenberg, a famous and luxurious zeppelin that went down in flames in the 1930s, and have started working on the same skill in a similar story about a war ship during WWII. The students have been fantastic managing their independent reading time to work on the assignment and also read their own choice of books. The guided reading work has been filled with interesting conversations about the story at hand. This week we have also finished a book by Patricia Polacco titled "Thank you, Mr. Falker", that has given us the opportunity to talk about character change and the different stages of the problem of the story. We have also been exchanging letters between Mrs. Keenan's and Mrs. Rutkowski's class about books. During Science, the students have continued learning all about human and animal eyes, how nocturnal animals can see in the dark, and why when we take pictures of animals in the dark, their eyes glow in different colors.
Take a look at this week's slide show! If you don't see your child's photo in this show, it is because I had to crop the photo as the school still hasn't received your permission to publish photos of your child. If you wish to take a peek at what your child is doing in the class, make sure your fill out the form that was sent online at the beginning of the school year.
Have a great weekend!
This week the students have been working hard, and showing responsibility and ownership in completing several assignments. In math, we have been wrapping up the unit on multiplication and division strategies, practicing related vocabulary like factors, multiples, product, factor pairs, multiplicative comparisons and other, playing multiplication games during our work places time, and completing a checkpoint and an end of unit assessment (results for these will be coming home next week). During reading, we have been working on finding the main idea and supporting details of a story, and rereading for deeper understanding, and we have started a letter exchange about books with the other two fourth grade classes. Additionally, we have started reading our next chapter book, titled "Restart", by Gordon Korman, where the main character wakes up from a coma with his memories wiped off and a new chance to clear his past as a bully.
During writing, students have been creating a story inspired by the book Tuesday, by David Wiesner, asking questions about the magical event of flying frogs. Finally, during science the students have been learning about the process of seeing, the parts of the human eye, and have created a model of the eye using a lens.
Two special events that have also happened this week have been the school wide walk, and the presentation on washing hands by BVT students.
As a final note, a million thanks to those of you who bought the special prizes for my students. My Amazon wish list was emptied quickly and I received all the new rewards. The kids are excited about them!
Take a look at this week's short slide show.
Have a great weekend!
Hello! My name is Esther Willinski, and I am a fourth grade teacher in Massachusetts. Join us in our journey through 4th grade!