Wednesday, November 29, 2017

December Happenings

December Happenings

This month is reading we are focusing on the comprehension strategy of making inferences.  The focus of the modeled lesson is on how we can take our background knowledge on a topic, merge that “BK” with text clues, and then make an inference.  The inference may pertain to the meaning of an unknown word and result in an inferred meaning.  It may be an inference based on photographs, artifacts, or text features in nonfiction text.  Additionally, students will be inferring to interpret the deeper meaning of language, as well as the big ideas and themes of nonfiction and fiction text. I will be looking for the kids to apply the strategies modeled as they work independently in Reading Workshop.  They will use graphic organizers, sticky notes, and entries in their Reader’s Journal to demonstrate their application of and understanding of the strategy of making inferences.  Lastly, the kiddos with be crafting written responses to their reading in which they will construct a well organized and detailed paragraph sharing what they learned from their reading.

The month of December finds the kids diving deeper into the process of persuasive essay writing.  Throughout this two month unit the kids have learned how to use transition words and phrases to articulate and organize their thoughts, they have learned how to elaborate on the reasons they planned to support their theses, and how to support those reasons with detailed examples.  As we round out this writing unit, the kids will learn how to write a counterclaim to make their argument more persuasive as well as how to finalize their essay with a call to action for the reader.

This month we find ourselves deep in the heart of Unit 3, Multiple Towers and Cluster Problems.  As we complete our investigation of this unit, the students will examine the mathematical relationship that underlies the pattern they see when a number is multiplied by a multiple of 10.  Additionally, they will develop strategies for solving multiplication problems with larger 2-digit numbers by breaking the problems apart in order to use number relationships that they know.  

Some of you have expressed interest in supporting your child at home with the strategies we are using to multiply and divide.  Prior to the week of Thanksgiving Break I sent an email home with links to videos and examples that you may use to support with this task.  I also posted the links on the blog.  I hope you find these helpful.

Social Studies
As we continue our study of Colorado History, the students will learn about various groups of people who have lived in or helped develop Colorado; the Native Americans, the European Explorers, the Fur Traders, Gold Rushers, and the early European Settlers.  Our study of these groups will involve the analysis of the positive and negative impact each group made on the other group and how each group influenced our current culture.  Ultimately, the kids will select which group of people they feel had the most influence on CO, and they will then construct a persuasive essay using the skills they learned in our current writing unit to persuade their classmates why they believe their selected group was the most influential.

Sustainable Traditions Project
With the spirit of giving in mind, this month we will learn about sustainable traditions.  A sustainable tradition is a tradition that can be done each year.  We will focus on sustainable traditions that “give back”.  As we build background knowledge on this subject matter we will read various texts with real life examples.  For instance, one article is about a 15 year old boy who started a group that gives new shoes to homeless children.  Another is about an 11 year old boy from Utah whose lemonade stand profits purchase wheelchairs for people in developing countries.  

The kids will explore how they can create holiday traditions with their family that can incorporate this spirit of giving back.  For instance, the kids may choose to create a sustainable tradition in which each year they bake and decorate cookies with their family and they bring the cookies to a local nursing home to spread holiday cheer to the residents.  Another example might be to gather their gently used and no longer played with toys and books, wrap them, and bring them to a local women’s shelter to share with the children there.

The kids will create a digital presentation for the class which you will be able to view at home through their gmail account.  Each year I am amazed at the creativity the kids exhibit with this project.  I have received a good deal of feedback over the years as many parents and kids  have chosen to follow the plan created in school and have made it a tradition for their family.  I hope you find it to be a good talking point for you and your family, regardless of whether or not you choose to partake in the tradition.

Monday, November 6, 2017

November Happenings

November Happenings:

We are learning about the genre of opinion writing. The kids are learning how to create a strong thesis statement (claim), support that statement with powerful reasons and a multitude of examples, and provide a strong concluding paragraph. Thus far, we have practiced our skills by writing opinion essays about important topics relating to us (for example, favorite type of ice cream, favorite genres of music, favorite restaurants, favorite type of animal, etc.). The kids have tried to be persuasive in their writing and convince others to believe in their thesis statement. As we further develop our skills in opinion writing, we will broaden our topics and begin to craft thesis statement.

In reading workshop, students have been continuing their work with the comprehension strategy of questioning. For instance, while reading articles, leveled texts, chapter books, technology resources, etc., they have been asking questions (thick vs. thin) and connecting their new learning to new wonderings as they read a variety of texts. Students are using sticky notes and graphic organizers 
to annotate their thinking. Students are asking questions, activating schema, recognizing unfamiliar/unknown vocabulary, inferring, and identifying new learning.  Students have been working on developing written responses to higher level questions.  They are being asked to respond to the questions, explain their thinking, and reference the text using page numbers and examples.  I am proud of students' effort and work completed so far. These strategies are used cross curricular.

Our current math unit is on two-digit by one-digit multiplication and division.  The kids are learning how to decompose larger multiplication problems and use simpler, known problems to help them solve the larger problem.  Additionally, they are creating multiplication stories to help them take abstract multiplication problems and put them in context; they are creating a real-world situation to help them make meaning of the abstract problem.  With regard to division, we are learning how to use multiplication to help us solve division problems. Again, these division problems are embedded in division stories.  Some result in remainders.  The kids are learning how to interpret these remainders.   

Social Studies:
After the end of our Science unit on ecosystems, we began our first Social Studies unit for the year, Colorado History.  Thus far, we have studied the geography of Colorado and how the geography of where we live helps shape how we live.  In addition, we studied the early Native Americans who lived in Colorado and how they influenced how we live today.  As we continue our study of Colorado history, we will learn about fur traders, explorers and gold rushers. Our main focus in the study of these individuals is analyzing how these groups positively and negatively impacted Colorado and how they influenced the way we live today. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

October Happenings

What's Happening in 4th Grade for October! 

We finished our study of arrays, factors, and multiplicative comparisons in Unit 1.  We are currently working on our second unit pertaining to data and measurement.  Our investigation of measurement began by gathering data on the height of fourth graders and first graders.  The students then learn how to represent and compare the data they collected using bar graphs and line plots (high, low, range, median, mode, outliers, and is the data clumped or spread out).  Finally, they worked on drawing conclusions based on the data collected. What was typical and what does the data truly tell us  regarding the information collected.  Within the next couple weeks, we will begin Unit 3 (multiple towers and cluster problems).  This involves multi-digit multiplication and division.

Students are currently researching their chosen endangered animal that exists in our world and how human behavior impacts their ecosystems and the animals and plants that live there.  Research includes the animals habitat, diet, adaptations, its place in the food chain, and the reasons it is endangered. Students are expected to include a call to action with ideas on how to save the species and what others can do to help with animal conservation.  The end product will be a brochure that the kids create and share with one another.

We have started implementing the comprehension strategy of questioning.  As a group, we have discussed the purpose behind questioning and why having a purpose is important.  Students are evaluating what types of questions are surface questions vs. deep questions. I am using non-fiction text as I model for students looking at questions I have and how that helps my understanding of the text, as well as, what I wonder and what I learned.  Students continue to use a variety of nonfiction/fiction texts while activating their background knowledge, connecting their new learning to their background knowledge, and creating new thinking on the subject matter.  Students are gradually release to apply the strategy learned on their own with leveled text.  Often times, the text selected connects to our scientific study of ecosystems.  They will either use a selected think sheet, sticky notes, or graphic organizers to keep track of their thinking.  As always, as the kids are reading and applying the strategy, I will be conferring with them individually and/or in a small group setting.
Writing                                                                                                                                         During Writer's Workshop in October, students will continue drafting and eventually finish their narrative story.  Lessons modeled include: how to write an effective ending, editing/revising (CUPS and ARMS), using dialogue, and incorporating figurative language. Once the lesson is taught and modeled, students are release to practice that one skill on their own.  Conferencing takes place daily,  where each student's individual needs are addressed.

Technology                                                                                                                                 Our next technology rotation will take place October 24th, 26th, and 27th.  We will focus on digital literacy using Discovery Education. 
Upcoming Dates
October 5th: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Field Trip AND Parent Teacher Conferences
October 9th-13th: Fall Break
October 16th: Return to School
October 31st: Halloween (more information to come)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September Happenings

September Happenings


As we move into our first full month of school, we will focus on activating and connecting to our reading.  Using fiction and nonfiction pieces of writing, students will be accessing background knowledge while we question, infer or synthesize the information read.   As students read more and more nonfiction writing, they will practice letting go of misconceptions they may have about a particular topic so that they are able to absorb new and more accurate information.  Students will also use strategies to help them recognize new information, think about it, and keep track of their new learning.


We will continue to develop our narrative writing in the month of September.  Students are in the process of choosing a seed idea to take all of the way through the writing process.  Students will establish a situation, develop a character within that situation, and write a story that follows a natural sequence of events.  Students will use dialogue, descriptive actions, thoughts, and feeling, as well as words that signal order of events, and finish the story with a sense of closure.  The goal of this genre of writing is for students to write well-elaborated realistic fiction stories.


After finishing our unit on Arrays, Factors, and Multiplicative Comparison, the second half of September will find our math focus shift to Unit 2: Generating and Representing Measurement Data. This particular unit develops students' ideas about collecting, representing, describing, and interpreting data.  Students will collecting data regarding heights of 1st and 4th graders.  This data will allow students to practice and fine-tune multiple ways to represent the information gathered. Data gathered will be analyzed and interpreted by students to show their understanding.  This is always an exciting unit for our students.


We have been progressing through our ecology unit, and will continue to do so for the remainder of September.  As a culminating activity, students will create a brochure showcasing an endangered species and the effect it would have on other living things and its environment if it were to go extinct. To solidify our learning, we will be taking a field trip on Oct. 5th to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo where we will learn more about current conservation efforts.