Monday, March 11, 2019

Friday Gathering

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it to Friday gathering. I am posting our slideshow presentation for those who were not able to make it.

Friday Gathering Slideshow

Also, don't forget we have Curriculum Night this Thursday at 7:15. We will be discussing math.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Better Late Than Never

I admit it . . . I'm have never been good at keeping everyone up to date on what's going on in the class. But I guess late is better than never. Here are a few notes before I share what's going on in class.

  • We have our final 4th grade gathering this Friday at 2:20.
  • We also will be heading to the Sandhills Library on Friday.
  • Next Thursday, March 14 is Curriculum Night. We will most likely focus on math.
  • Thank you for making Student-led conferences such as success. When students share it is just as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. This year's group of students were such strong speakers. We should all be proud!
We have finished working on how to solve multiplication problems using a variety of strategies including the traditional algorithm (that's the one you and I grew up). One of the things parents can do to help out in this area is to help their child get their multiplication tables memorized. One website that helps do this is

We have moved into division. Right now we are reviewing division concepts. But just like multiplication, we will discuss division strategies, such as partial products, before moving into the traditional algorithm.

We are currently moving into our next science unit on light and sound. We will be asking students to bring in flashlights if they have one (we are also purchasing new flashlights). If you have a flashlight your child can keep in their backpack that would be helpful for this unit.

Read Aloud
We just finished reading Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. It proved to be a great book that served as a wonderful touchstone text for our study of the Revolutionary War. We are currently reading Gossamer by Lois Lowry. This book is more fantasy. I don't normally read books such as this, but it is proving to aid our rich discussions.

Social Studies
We just finished studying the events that led up to the Revolutionary War. We are now about to study some of the pivotal battles of the war such as Bunker Hill, Cowpens, and Yorktown. We also watch a video series put out by the History Channel called "The Story of US." Each video serves as a touchstone text for us to go back and make connections.

We are currently studying various reading elements through our study of William Steig (he wrote Sylvester and the Magic Pebble which was a popular picture book when you and I were kids). We just finished looking at different types of conflict in a story and we're moving into different point of view such as first person, third person limited (when the teller of the story can get into only one head), and third person omniscient (when the teller of the story knows what everyone is thinking).

Because of student-led conferences, I have allowed students to do more freewriting. We are moving away from that to more formalized writing. This week we will be coming back to finding evidence in a piece of writing to back up an opinion. We are doing this as a review because we will be conducting our second district-wide writing practice assessment.

Monday, January 21, 2019

First of all, we have a new USC undergraduate intern who is joining us this semester. Her name is Kolbie Hinson and she will be with us full time. If you stop by the classroom make sure you say hello.

I wanted to share some of the things we are working on in class:

We are finishing with converting metric units (millimeters, centimeters, kilometers, milliliters, liters, etc.). By the end of this week we will be moving into multiplication and multiplication strategies.

Social Studies
We have just completed our study of the first colonies. We are moving into the French and Indian war before our larger study of the Revolutionary War.

This week we are doing several demonstrations on the moon and its phases. This will move us toward earth's rotation and how its rotation and tilted axis effects our seasons.

Read Aloud
Currently we are reading the book Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is a historical fiction story that deals with slavery and the Revolutionary War in New York City.

We continue to independently read for 20-30 minutes. During this time I confer with students and help them choose appropriate books. We just finished working on summary and how it differs from a retelling. Our current reading lesson focuses on plot elements.

In writing we watched a YouTube channel called Jaidan Animations. Jaidan is a cartoonist who animates stories from her personal life. These animations are funny and somehow pull you into her stories. Her channel has millions of views. We studied these stories to try to uncover what makes these stories so interesting. Here is the list we made. Our goal is to incorporate some of these elements into our writing.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Last Week Before Christmas Break

Hi Families -

We have finally made it to the last week before Christmas Break. Here is a few things you need to know about this final week.

1) This is our week for gathering (Dec. 16-21). Since Friday is a half day, our gathering will be on Thursday at 2:20 pm. We will be sharing about our study of Jamestown, our weather unit, and some students want to share poems they wrote. These three things will easily take up our 20 minutes of gathering!

2) As I already mentioned, Friday is a half day. I told students that Friday will be an optional pajama day. We might do a movie, play games, extend explorations time, and enjoy ourselves before the break.

This final week will be about finishing projects before we go to our break:

1) In reading, we completed reading Blood on the River. Now we are almost through When You Reach Me. This book won the Newberry Award several years ago. I read this book because it has many details that must be paid attention to in order to understand the cliffhanger of an ending.

2) We have completed our DBQ of Jamestown. Remember, a DBQ (Document Based Question) is answering a specific question by reading through many primary documents, analyzing those documents, developing an opinion, and grounding that opinion in evidence found in those documents. Then, students use that information to write an essay which we learn about as we write the essays. Students learn about topic sentences, using transitional words and phrases, using evidence to support an opinion, writing introductions and conclusions, and many other things.

3) In science we have moved into astronomy. We started a small project in class that has grown into something much larger than I anticipated. Students were to create a 2D or 3D representation of the solar system showing the order of the planets and their composition. This project was assigned in class and meant to be completed in class using material found in class. Needless to say, students are very excited about this project and have brought materials from home. I never intended this, but I appreciate your support. It's hard to say no when students are this excited about learning. So far all projects go beyond my imagination - they look phenomenal! (Now I need to find space for all these projects!) These projects will be completed by Wednesday or Thursday. If you can make it to gathering, stop by and check out these projects. If not, you will be able to see them at our next Curriculum Night.

4) In math we are doing lots and lots of place value work. This week we are working on addition and subtraction multi-digit problems, including solving real world problems. This is where the real difficulty lies, so we are working on these problems diligently. Remember, if you run into problems with any of the math homework, students can receive help during explorations time.

5) We are using our social studies time to get reading for gathering. Students are in groups writing out the information they will be sharing during gathering.

Thanks for everything and have a great Christmas Break!!!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Grandparent's Day

Thank you to all the grandparents who were able to join us on Friday. I have included some of the pictures of the kids and their grandparents.

Our Latest Updates

I just saw how long it's been since I last posted. I am so sorry!

Here are some updates from our classroom:

  1. We have a social studies quiz on Wednesday. It will be covering our explorers unit and the Columbian Exchange. We discussed the quiz today, and students took notes on the vocabulary words, essay questions that will be asked, and the matching questions. We will spend time in Tuesday studying for the quiz. If you want to see what needs to be studied, ask to see your child's social studies journal.
  2. Friday is our zoo trip. I will be sending out an additional email with information on the trip.
  3. Our next gathering will be the week of December 17. Yep, that is the last week before Christmas Break!
  4. Dr. Whitecotton and I are working on doing an evening trip to the Melton Observatory in lieu of a Curriculum Night. This evening should be Monday, November 26th at 7:00 pm. Once the evening is finalized I will send an additional email.

Math - You probably noticed we have moved from studying geometry to place value. Much of what we're doing builds on what your child learned in 3rd grade except the place value we are working with goes up to the millions. We are learning about writing numbers in unit form, expanded form, and standard form. 

Science - We will finish up our weather unit before Thanksgiving. Each day we watch the WIS TV weather report and use our knowledge of low and high pressure, cold fronts, high fronts, stationary fronts, and cloud types to predict the weather. After Thanksgiving we will move into our astronomy unit.

Reading - Today, a small group of students started a literature study. This will serve as an introduction into our first whole-class literature study of The Jacket by Andrew Clements. We are also reading Blood on the River. This book tells the story of Jamestown, the first successful English colony in the Americas.

Writing - Several times a year we do what's called a DBQ. It stands for Document Based Question. It's a writing assignment in which we analyze several primary documents, form an opinion, and write an essay. While writing the essay, students learn the formalities of writing an essay. This includes an introduction and conclusion, topic sentences, and using transitionary words and phrases. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Warm Air Rising

Yesterday we did a demonstration that showed how warm air rises. We placed a thin layer of dish soap of the top of a bottle. We placed the bottle in warm water so that it will warm the air. As the air rises, the thin layer of dish soap expands creating a bubble (the dish soap captures the warm air).