Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week of December 19

This coming week is a bit funky with two full days and two half days before our winter break. Since things are a little hectic this time of year, why not add Spirit Week to the mix?!

(Fun Hat Day)
Monday is a full day, but we will be having our holiday gift exchange in the afternoon after Art from 2-2:45.  With the unpredictable weather and two half days, I was worried that we may have trouble fitting this in.  Therefore, I don't want to wait till the last minute and disappoint students by missing their exchanges.

(Twin Day)
Tuesday morning students in the elementary grades will have substitute teachers so that elementary teachers may meet with our literacy specialist in the morning and work as a team in the afternoon looking at data and our instructional practices.  This is a half day for students.

(Crazy Hair Day)
Wednesday is a full day and regular schedule.

(Pajama & Stuffed Animal Day)
Thursday is another half day with a special all school event taking place in the gym from 8:30-9:30.

In between all these events this week, we will have reading, writing and arithmetic.  I look forward to returning to our normal schedule after our break so that we can delve deeply into the light unit in science.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season; enjoying family and friends!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week of December 5
This week we will begin a formal spelling program called Words Their Way.  The first week we will be working on words and word patterns with the long o sound.  After assessing the students there are apparent holes in skills that need review.  Your child will come home with a packet of words for the week that they should work with each night.  The first night they should sort them into three categories based on the spelling patterns of the words.  The next night they need to write 4 complete sentences using as many words as they can in the sentences (within reason, so that the sentences make sense). The third night they need to write a rhyming poem using these long o words. There is no defined expectation of the length of the poem. Finally, on Thursday night they should study the words whatever way works best for them, in preparation for a test on Friday.

We will resume our light study and; look at how light is produced, the big ideas about light that we have learned so far, and how visible light creates the "ROY G BIV" spectrum. (You can ask your child about this.)

We have been working on procedural writing and will learn about the use of white space in writing for this genre.  Students will learn about using bullets and number sequences as they type their written pieces.  Toward the end of the week they will also learn a new procedure and we will begin a couple of holiday projects.

This week (December 5-11) there is a national awareness of computer coding called "Hour of Code." I have a few websites noted in my resource section that students may link to in order to problem solve and code programs. These skills that they learn through coding will most likely be everyday skills our students will need in their future work lives doing jobs that haven't even been thought of yet. It's very exciting trying to "break the codes" and move to the next levels.  Through computer coding I have watched students take challenges, be willing to fail yet keep trying, and move from a fixed mindset to flexible thinking, not to mention great collaboration among all the learners. During this week, many apps are also offered for free to raise awareness and enthusiasm for coding.  If you go to the app store and type in hour of code, or coding, several apps appear.  Lots of math skills are also included in many of these programs!

I will try to get more pics this week to add to the blog. I sometimes get so involved with helping students that I forget to seize the moment to capture them working.  Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Week of November 28 - December 2

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to a full week of school this coming week.  We have an exciting week ahead with our Artist-in-Residence Steve Ferraris drumming with our students.  Our light unit will be on hold for one week to fit this program in.

I am currently taking a literacy course along with all my elementary colleagues and have come across two new resources that I plan to integrate into our literacy program to augment spelling skills.  We will still be using WordlyWise daily, but I will incorporate individual spelling work with all students as well.  More details to come...

It's hard to believe December begins at the end of this week.  I will begin to ask students to write out their Secret Pal messages this week and will have them work on them over the next two weeks, so they are all done and passed in to me by December 16.  This way they won't have to rush and can give meaningful thought to the messages they wish to relay.

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Week of November 21

We continue to read about intriguing animals, exciting places, and amazing events around the world in our Leveled Literacy program.  Students are very excited to receive new books each week to delve into another fascinating topic.  I am as excited as they are; learning about how engineers created "gecko tape" based on close observations of gecko's  feet and their abilities to scale walls,  ice sculptures in Sapporo, Japan to honor cultures around the world and raise awareness of global concerns, as well as taking a closer look at the origin of root words and investigating how words are related, yet change with different prefixes and suffixes.

Last week I attended a workshop with a focus on computer science.  During the week of December 5-11 there is a national initiative to raise students' awareness and interest in computer coding/programming called "The Hour of Code."  It was a fascinating class and I went home and further investigated coding apps for my iPad/iPhone.  I introduced these apps and programs to the students on Thursday and they were totally engaged and interested in solving the challenges set before them. The wonderful aspect of learning computer code is the ability to problem solve.  You can be wrong, but there is no judgement, you just try something else to see if you can make the program run correctly.  Students are also collaborating and sharing ideas with one another in how to succeed.  Computer coding will most likely be a necessary skill in many of our students work lives in the future, doing jobs that haven't even been created yet.  I have added a couple of links in the resource folder if you are interested in viewing or even trying to code yourself. During the Hour of Code week, we will spend more time in the classroom working together running programs and coding.  If your child is interested in having coding programs on their device, go to the app store and type in "code or coding" in the search bar.

We began our light unit and one of the first misconceptions we were faced with was the ability to see in the dark.  We went into a pitch black space and I pulled mystery items out of a bag.  All students thought that if they let their eyes adjust to the dark, they would be able to see the objects even though comments like, "I can't even see my hand that's right in front of my face!" were being made. We also tested items to see if they were transparent, translucent, or opaque.  During the week of November 28 we will be looking into how light behaves and what happens to the light when it hits different objects; is it reflected, absorbed, or refracted or some combination of those? We will not have time in our schedule for science during this upcoming short week.

I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Week of November 7

Life got a little crazy last week and I was unable to spend time on this blog with an ailing parent and 7 hours in an emergency room.  Please know my first commitment is to be prepared for the classroom and teaching, so I will try my best to keep this blog updated on a weekly basis, but it may take the "back seat" when needed.

This coming week is a four day week with Friday off for Veteran's Day. I also have a professional development day on Wednesday from 9-3 and the fourth graders will have a substitute.  I dislike being out of the classroom and try very hard to be here on a daily basis.  At this point in time, I am not sure who the substitute is, but will let students know as soon as I know.  I would greatly appreciate parental support in reminding your child that a substitute is a guest in our school and it is the student's job to be as courteous and well behaved by following the directions they are given.

We have begun our science unit on light.  This unit is both filled with science concepts and engineering tasks.  We worked on our first engineering task last week where students had to build a square or rectangular boat (so they could determine the volume) that would hold at least 25 pennies, but sink by the time 30 pennies were added. Students learned about the engineering process and quickly understood that redesigning and recreating prototypes are a huge part of the engineering process.  This next week we will be delving into science probes and testing what we think we know about light.  An experiment in the dark will be occurring. (More about this later, as I do not want to spoil the outcome.)

Thank you to families who are helping their children learn their times tables.  Many students are progressing nicely and have put mastery stars on their chart for specific times tables.  Those students who are motivated are putting in the effort and it shows!

Here are some pics of students working on their boat designs and tests:

I can't seem to get the pictures to sit where I want them, so sorry for the layout.  (Sometimes technology is too much fun!) Looking forward to a great week ahead.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Week of October 24

Thank you to all the parents who took time to meet during parent teacher conferences! It came up in a couple of meetings that it would be good to have printed out copies of students' vocabulary lists for the week so students could study them at home.  I have printed out two copies of each student's list so they can have a hard copy here at school and one for their homework folder.  It is most important for students to understand the meanings of these words, but in some of the program practice they also have to spell the word.  So if you want to challenge them to spell the words, as well as know the definition, you can.

This week we will have make up times for the students who missed Star 360 testing.  Students will take a Number Corner Check Up 1 assessment to see what kind of growth they are showing in what they have learned in Number Corner. (This is the supplemental part of Grade 4 math that I teach them.) They took a baseline assessment earlier in the year, so this will show how they are progressing.

Also, the fourth graders have had fun learning how to make graphs using Microsoft Excel.  They will all be printed out this week and added to their science notebooks.  We will use the graphs to interpret our scientific experiment and results. Our bubble unit will conclude this week and we will be beginning our Light unit on Thursday.  This upcoming unit will be filled with science and engineering concepts.  The first time I taught this unit, it was eye-opening how many misconceptions children of this age have about light.  It is thrilling to have them discover concepts about the behavior of light and how it all works!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week of October 17

Students will be assessed this week in our district assessment called Star 360 to get a baseline score for this school year.  They will be assessed each trimester in both reading and math in order to track their progress.  In our Leveled Literacy Reading Program, students are regularly assessed to check comprehension, fluency, and accuracy.  Star 360 provides specific skill areas that need attention for individual students.  The results of both of these assessments will appear on their report cards in November.

Last week we created 3 different bubble recipes and students had the opportunity to test each of them to see which bubble concoction created the largest bubbles.  We are in the process of collecting all our data and creating graphs in order to interpret our results.  Fourth graders will be using Microsoft Excel to add their data to a spreadsheet then learn how to transform it into a bar graph.

We are continuing to work on developing our sense of community and working together.  Some days are more challenging than others, as several of us need to learn to manage our own behavior rather than keeping track of others and all that they may or may not be doing.

Progress is being made in learning our times tables, but I ask all families to please help your child learn these facts as it will be crucial and beneficial in moving them forward in math.

Below are a few pics of our most recent bubble adventures.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Week of October 11, 2016

Week of October 11:
Today students altered our original giant bubble recipe trying to answer the question, "What ingredient will make the bubbles larger?"  Some of the students felt more soap would do the trick, while others thought more cornstarch was needed.  As a class we split into two groups; one group changed one variable adding quadruple the amount of soap, and the second group added quadruple the amount of cornstarch.  Results are pending and we'll let you know our results next week. Predictions will be made on Thursday and we will attempt to measure our largest bubbles. Stay tuned...

We are continuing to memorize our multiplication facts and any work you can do with your child at home would be greatly appreciated.  We have a mastery chart here at school and are working on a group of facts each week or two using YouTube videos, bal-a-vis-x balls, and chanting memorization skills. Currently most students are working on mastery of 3's or 4's, but some are already working on their 6's.  These skills are essential tools allowing students to have fluency in their mathematical thinking as they think about number relationships and begin working with larger numbers.

I look forward to meeting with you all next week during parent/teacher conferences.  You should have received a notification in the mail.  If you need to change your day or time, please call Lisa Blair and she can reschedule for you.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Week of October 3, 2016

Although it is a four day week, we have lots of learning ahead of us. The fourth graders are enjoying our reading program called LLI (Leveled Literacy Intervention).  The program offers students excellent book choices that are informative and exciting to read.  Each week, students engage in learning opportunities that include; comprehension activities, word study, and integrated writing lessons.

In math, (number corner) we are working on skills that students are now recognizing as skills they are working on in math with Mrs. Stringer too. They recognize ratio tables and are just beginning to become fluent in their use.  Our new calendar will focus on learning about money and coin equivalence written as fractions and decimals. Bridges does a great job introducing these concepts in a way that makes sense to children. During conferences, you will be able to view the work your child is doing in the classroom.

In science, we will be talking about the engineering process and actively using this process as we begin making our own bubble solutions.  Science meetings, testing our products, and redesigning will all be a part of our week this week.  Math skills will be used extensively as we reduce the size of our solutions.  Last week students made bubble strings with straws to create large tubular bubbles.  We also discovered that dish detergent that was not the "ultra" concentrated type made better, stretchier, and longer lasting bubbles.

 Just a reminder that all Meadow Farms materials are due on Tuesday of this week.  Thank you all for your efforts in helping with our sale.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Upcoming Week of Sept. 26

Week of September 26:

We have a very busy week ahead of us with lots of special activities planned.  As always during the week it is the expectation of all students to read at least 20 minutes per night and record what they have read on the reading log.  This log should be passed in daily as it will become a resource to record students expected 25 books read per school year.  Most students are becoming responsible about handing this in, but others are needing reminders, so I ask parents to help out with getting your child in a good routine that we will follow throughout the year.

Wednesday will be our Fall Hike Day and papers have gone home with a checklist of items students should bring to school.

Thursday is the rescheduled Picture Day.  Reminder; money and envelopes were returned to students, so check backpacks if you did not receive them back.

Friday is the annual cardboard challenge and Ag Day.  Special events are planned throughout the day and students will have opportunities to share their creations as well as try out other students' masterpieces. Let's hope for nice weather!

Fourth graders are continuing to work on mastery of multiplication facts.  Many students have mastered their two's times tables and are currently working on their threes.  There are lots of YouTube videos available to help students learn these facts through movement and song. Any extra practice at home will help anchor their memorization of these crucial skills. In the classroom we are also using bal-a-vis-x balls to bounce and recite to a rhythm.  Students can do this at home also using a ball that can bounce.

In Science this week we will explore making giant bubbles and testing three different bubble solutions to determine which one makes the longest lasting bubbles.  We will investigate the variables of the recipes and share ideas about what ingredients make the solutions better than others.

Each week I will include more pics of students working/discovering here at Rochester School.  Have a great week everyone!


Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016

We have had a very busy week in 4th grade.  Students have received laptop computers that they will use in the classroom, but will not be bringing home.  They are using a new vocabulary program called WordlyWise that is all online and allows me to see their progress and areas of struggle. They can only move forward in the program when they answer the questions with proficiency which forces them to truly do the work and gain understanding.

In science we have been learning about the behavior of bubbles; how they respond to dry surfaces, the causes that make them pop, and ways to extend the life of a bubble. Ask your child about bubbles and listen to their newly gained knowledge about bubble-ology! Below are some pictures of students created their largest bubbles, bubbles inside of bubbles, and creative bubble structures.