Here is an image of the states from which the children have collected postcards as of February 28th. Only 13 to go! Thank you for reaching out to colleagues, friends of colleagues, third cousins twice removed and former neighbors. When the kids see the stack of post cards come in, they're anxious to read them all.
A week's vacation away from school means we're dusting off some cobwebs this morning. I hope each of you enjoyed the time off as my family and I did.
We are working on the measurement portion of our geometry unit in math, starting to write persuasive pieces, building circuits in science and continuing to prep for MCAS with released articles and activities. While the month of March can feel long because there are no vacation days or holidays, I do feel it can be one of the most productive.
We've been reading prompts and practicing the skills needed to answer them during this Test Writing Unit. The "Snow Day" prompt, which asks students to create a narrative or story about a snow day they remember, is in the rough draft stage. We'll compare their finished writing to the rubric that will be used by MCAS scorers to grade their long compositions so that the class is familiar with those expectations. Before we start the Persuasive Writing Unit, the children will complete a brief review about how to approach a writing prompt that involves informative writing, since they did that through the tide pool essay in the fall. (The Long Comp has had a narrative format for years but there is speculation that that will shift to informative or persuasive in the future since all three appear to have more equal weight in the English Language Arts Common Core standards.)
This morning, Mrs. Remley pointed out the growth she has seen in so many of our writers in their weekly letters home. Not that it didn't occur to me before that writing those letters every week helps the students practice sentence structure and creating pieces with more than one paragraph in length, but it was nice to walk around after she and I had talked to really reflect on how much everyone has changed. There are some students who decide before they've written a single word that they'll write about four different things (a.k.a. four paragraphs). Others write three paragraphs before realizing it and others still who are creating opening and closing paragraphs that outline what will be in the letter. It's wonderful!
Many of them are becoming so independent about writing for 45 to 60 minutes at a time. That's no small feat for fourth graders. There's a real fluidity about how the kids are handling themselves now. Some know they need a drink of water break, a "rapid walk" break or to do ten jumping jacks before conquering the next paragraph or coming up with a synonym for a word that's giving them trouble. As teachers walk around, students indicate they're all set, ask a question, invite our support, or receive it because we plop ourselves down next to them when we see a teaching moment. They've reached a certain level of comfort over the last four and a half months with routine and expectations that makes these quality learner behaviors so commonplace now.
These behaviors and achievements are what make Friday mornings one of my favorite times of the week together. Everyone is working hard to complete the parent letter. Everyone is taking care of his or her needs, with teacher support or independently.
Is each child aware of how many standards she's meeting with this activity? Nah. Should she be? Nah. She's just telling her parents about what she did in school this week.
Reading: Everyone is listening to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe read by British actor, Michael York. Often, listening to a chapter ends the day, which many students look forward to when they return from Social Studies or finish organizing their homework assignments. We're through chapter ten as of today.
Writing: We're working on our Test Writing Unit. Previously, we read one non-fiction and one fiction article then wrote two paragraphs to answer a short-answer question for each. Today, students were given a prompt to retell the narrative of a snow day. On the MCAS, they'll be given a prompt with a big empty box beneath it. In this box, students are encouraged to complete a pre-writing activity. Given those parameters, we reviewed today which kind of graphic organizer would be best to create based on what the prompt was asking. (We are not allowed to suggest a graphic organizer nor hand a pre-made one to students during testing.)
Math: Traditional Algorithm in Multiplication, continued
Science: Tomorrow we'll play with the Static Electricity Stations for the first of two sessions. Because latex balloons aren't allowed in school due to allergies and Mylar balloons aren't good conductors, each station has different materials that will reflect the transfer of an electric charge to make an object move, lift, separate or bend. Students are given their own combs to use. They must charge the comb through their own hair to transferring electrons to the comb. Afterward, they'll write a lab report.
Social Studies: The Great Postcard Chase has NOT begun yet. However, I know excitement is in the air! Mrs. Levitt will announce the start date in Social Studies class. Please be patient! It's a grade-level wide contest so we have to start together.
Fourth grade classes have been reviewing the "Star Spangled Banner" in Music class. Today was the first opportunity we had to share our version with the school during morning announcements. This photo shows Mrs. Quigley supervising a fifth grader and his sharing of the lunch menu and Explore schedule before our class sang. They received high marks from Ms. Rossi and Mrs. Quigley. Well done, everyone!
On behalf of everyone at Scholastic Book Clubs and Pajama Program, we want to thank you for your generous pajama donation (30 Books, 30 Pajamas)! You can be proud that the pajamas you collected will be sent to children who need them. In addition, your pajama donation will trigger a book donation by Scholastic Reading Clubs distributed from the Pajama Program national headquarters in New York.
Because of donations like yours, Pajama Program has been able to provide more than one million pajamas and books to the group homes and shelters that need them. Thank you – you have done a great thing through your caring and generosity.
Happy Holidays from your friends at Pajama Program and Scholastic Reading Clubs!
Our class and Mrs. Levitt's donated 30 sets of pajamas. They will be delivered to Emmaus House in Haverhill, MA., this week. THANK YOU!
An assembly on Monday morning kicked off an exciting initiative: Hour of Code. Each fourth and fifth grade class had a hour of time in a computer lab this week to explore tutorials, games and other activities related to Computer Science Education Week.
Once the children were settled yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Volpone and I had an opportunity to be students ourselves. I completed the first 20 challenges that escalated in difficulty in just under the hour. It was really fun but really hard! The programmers who put this together did a great job because even I felt comfortable putting blocks of code together like Lego blocks to first make an Angry Bird get the Pig (Whatever that means in the real game, I don't know, but I did it!) then the zombie eat the sunflower. (That symbolism escapes me, too.) Once a level was completed, before moving on, I clicked on a button that showed me the translation of what I saw on the Lego blocks into true computer code. I'm glad the blocks were there because I found reading and understanding the symbolism code quite challenging as it became more advanced.
For homework last night, students were asked to reflect on this Hour of Code in writing. I hope they spoke with you about it beforehand because they were so excited to explore this component of technology.
Student thoughts and feedback:
"The Hour of Code is like writing for a computer."
"What I did during the hour, I was amazed. I got the hang of it after the tutorial. It was fun and educational."
"It was awesome."
"I learned how complicated code really is. I thought that you only had to type in a word and it would come up."
"Hour of Code was so awesome and I like it a lot and I'm going to play it when I get home!"
"You're using puzzle pieces to program the computer. So cool."
"Hour of Code was a fun and easy way to see how you can arrange the words and see what code looks like."
"I thought the Hour of Code was really hard. It was really fun and cool to get to level seventeen (out of twenty) though."
"...I also liked it because once I finished a level, I could see what the code looked like all written out."
"I liked the Hour of Code because you could te
As you know, report cards were sent home yesterday. I ask that the first page in the pile with your child's name on it and your signature is returned by next Friday the 20th. If you have any feedback or questions, please contact me via email or by phone (978-463-8212, leave a message with Mrs. Quigley).
"Music Share" Talent Shows will be held during next week's rotation of Explore Classes. Ms. Sokolowski has explained to each class what this is (so they should know!) but she wanted me to send you some info about it in case anyone asks:
*Each student may bring in a song to sing, a dance, a musical instrument to play - anything musical they want to share in front of the class. In the past, students have been really creative: a drum routine using footballs, karate done to music, original songs, etc!
*Students who are nervous about performing or do not want to get up in front of the class may bring in a favorite/meaningful song and play part of it for the class. They may explain to the class why the song is important to them, giving them a chance to share some of their musical preferences without being put on the spot.
*Please refer any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org before Tuesday.
I'm dreaming of hot coffee and hot chocolate this morning. After yesterday's wind and chilly temperatures, I'm disappointed that this week's forecast appears to be for more of the same. Autumn did its best to stave off Old Man Winter as long as it could.
Whether you are staying close or traveling afar, I hope that you and yours enjoy a wonderful, relaxing and festive holiday weekend. Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah!
Pajama Drive: Last week, a green notice was sent home about our class and Mrs. Levitt's participating in the Scholastic "The Great Bedtime Story" Pajama Drive this December. For every new pair of pajamas we deliver to Scholastic, Scholastic will donate a book to the pajamas' recipient, too. Receiving a warm pair of pajamas and a brand, new book would be wonderful for any child. We didn't specify particular sizes that were needed because every size from adult to newborn is needed. If it is possible for you to participate, please do. Thank you!
Math: Students have begun work with Multiplication, as you may have noticed with the multiples chart they completed for homework last week. Some groups are beginning to look at the idea of Division through the lens of Multiplication, too. Important vocabulary that has been emphasized so far: prime, composite, factor and multiple.
Reading: Every reading group identified and read a sample of five non-fiction text structures last week. We reviewed description, sequence, compare & contrast, problem & solution and main idea. Because this was just an introduction, you may see short, non-fiction resources, like an article on the fennec fox, for example, come home without an attached corrected worksheet. We used these materials together to dissect the types of non-fiction that are available; and to find evidence from each article to support each structure.
Writing: This week, we're overlapping our writing and science with more time to research and write the tide pool essays.
Science: Students are collaborating closely on their tide pool essays. Each partner is responsible for creating a cover page and about the author by himself/herself. The essay and bibliography will be completed together. I'd like your child to bring in a photo of his/her tide pool animal by Wednesday so that he/she may have a reference when sketching their report's cover page. Most of our time during this short week will be spent drafting and revising the essays.