Saturday, August 30, 2014

Homework

On Tuesday I will be sending out homework. Since this is the first homework, let me spend a minute explaining how homework works in my classroom.

  1. At the beginning of the week, most likely Monday, I will send home a clear, plastic folder with your child's name on it. In that folder contains a packet of homework.
  2. The first page of the homework says which homework to do on a particular day (see below). 
  3. Homework packets are not due to me until Friday. Homework packets should be turned into me with the plastic folder. Really . . . I don't want to see them until that day! On Friday, we will go through the homework so that I can provide feedback to your child.
  4. Once your child has completed their homework, please sign your name at the bottom of the homework packet, letting me know you have made sure your child completed their work before turning it in. I don't give much homework but I have high expectations that what I hand out will be completed and returned.
  5. If your child does not finish a piece of homework one night, they can complete it the next night. For instance, if your child had late baseball practice and got home late, they can work on it the next day.
  6. Children should NOT finish their homework early. I do not want your child to finish all their work in one night.
I will share with you my professional view of homework so you have some background concerning my expectations towards homework. First and foremost I believe that I am your child's second teacher. You, as parents, are your child's primary teacher. While I have your child for eight hours a day, and am responsible for helping your child explore the world through math, science, reading, writing, and social studies, you are responsible for your child the other 16 hours. In that time, you teach your child so much such. As parents, I think we underestimate how much we teach our children because it doesn't look a certain way. If your child is participating in after school sports, helping you in the kitchen, playing with siblings or friends, making a craft, or watching a relative fix the car, they are learning alongside others and you have created the environment for learning to take place. I don't believe in privileging homework over the teaching you do at home and the precious little time you have with your child during the school year.

The homework I send home is usually review of work in class so it is something your child should be able to independently complete. Of course you can always support them if they have difficulty. If a piece of homework becomes too stressful, your child can receive homework help the next day during explorations. Send a sticky note or have your child let me know they need some extra help.


Scholastic Book Orders

Shop Online: scholastic.com/readingclub
One-Time Class Activation Code: GPY4P
DUE DATE: 9/11/14

Dear Families,

Next week I will begin sending out homework packets and I'll explain more about those in my next post. In those packets I will be sending out Scholastic Book Orders. One of the ways I collect books for our classroom is through these book orders.

I will be including a 4th grade and 5th grade order form in your child's homework packet. I always include multiple order forms to provide a wider range of material for your child to choose from. This class is full of phenomenal readers so it's important for them to choose from a wide range of books. 

To order books, you have several options. On the right side of the classroom blog you will see a green banner. If you click on this it will automatically take you to Scholastic. You can type into any browser scholastic.com/readingclub and type in the class activation code (GPY4P). Or you can order directly on the order form and send in a check. I don't send order forms every month since there are months when the selection of books just isn't worth the time. Based on what I know of your children so far, I think there are many books that are worth the read.

If you decide to order, just note that when you click on the link the Scholastic page will ask you if you want to order from the 5th grade order form. Just go to the top of the page and click on the 4th grade link. There is also a pink box towards the left that says "Shop by Flyer." Clicking on the link will make ordering easier since you can order using the flyer.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Week of School

We made it and everyone is in one piece! We got our first week of school and our first week of the new loop is out of the way. During this time we accomplished quite a bit:


  • We started discussing our expectations for the new loop,
  • We immediately began moving into new routines and schedules,
  • As issues came up in class students began the task of taking on classroom jobs,
  • We are reviewing math while I'm getting to know your child as a mathematician,
  • Students are creating a presentation of things they think I should know about them,
  • Students got to meet our new MAT Mrs. Meredith,
  • We are getting back into the flow of reading and writing by doing real reading and writing. This helps me get to know them as readers and writers,
  • Our Chromebooks are all set up and accounts have been created.
Really, this list is simply about getting procedures down and setting up expectations for the next two year. This is a critical part of the class because it's these expectations that help facilitate the kind of community we want to create for ourselves. 

As next week progresses, we will slowly move into other procedures such as social studies and science. This week we will spend time studying geography before we move into our study of pre-America and Native Americans. We will look at the continents, inching our way towards European and Asian countries, before moving towards South America, the Caribbean, and North America. Since much of our Social Studies involves Native Americans, the Age of Explorations, and the colonization of the Americas, I like students to have a sense of where many of the countries we are discussing are located, or at the very least, have some exposure to countries beyond our borders. I love this part of social studies!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome to 4th Grade!

Welcome to CFI for another wonderful year! The classroom is all put together and now it needs kids to feel complete. I am looking forward to a new school year and a new group of kids.

I know we will have plenty of time to get to know each other but this will be my 18th year of teaching. Even though I have been at the Center for only 7 years, I have been reading about the Center since it first opened. In fact, the Center is one of the reasons why my family moved from California to South Carolina! I am also getting towards the end of my dissertation. All summer I sat at the computer and typed, typed, typed! 

I have one child at the Center (Emily) who will be in Ms. Breland's classroom and my twins who begin kindergarten at my wife's school in Richland/Lexington Five school district. 

Since your child will be adjusting to a new classroom with new procedures, I will be sending out periodic emails to let you know what's happening in class. Up until Labor Day, my main goal is to get to know your child, help them get to know expectations and procedures, and acclimate back into school life after being on Summer Break. 

I have a classroom blog that I will update. The class blog is found at http://inquiryforlife.blogspot.com/. Under my signature, at the bottom of all emails, are picture links to the classroom blog, I have a class writing blog students can publish to, link to the CFI weather station, my Pinterest page (contains links to websites I occasionally use in class), and my LinkedIn page that contains professional information.

I look forward to seeing everyone soon! 

Scott Johnson