Friday, June 8, 2018

Final Post of the Year!

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

We've made it!  This year the students have worked hard and made great growth.  I truly appreciate their positive attitudes toward learning and their commitment to being a part of a classroom that works together and grows together.  I will miss this class a great deal.  I've included a class photo, a couple photos from my farewell surprise, and photos from the Science Convention.

It's been a great year! 

All the best to you and yours,
Ms. Fezekas




















Friday, April 13, 2018

Quarter 4 is Upon Us!

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

It's hard to believe that we're nearing the end of the year.  The fourth and final quarter began on Monday.  Quarter three reports went home today and MAP testing begins for the 4/5 students on Tuesday!  Below, I've included some information about what we've been up to and what's ahead.

I'd also like to mention that we have a new student!  Welcome to Laila, a new fourth grader.  She comes to use from New York and is excited to be here with us!

Take care,
Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  We finished our unit on The City of Ember; it was a much-loved read and the students had the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and analysis in the final assessment.  This quarter, students are in four different literature circles reading a book by the author Kate DiCamillo.  We will be comparing and contrasting the themes and big ideas in her books while doing an author's study.  During literature circles, groups meet with me for a targeted lesson, read independently or with a partner, complete a job, and then share their job during a group discussion before meeting again with me.  Ask your child what they're reading!

Writing:  Students finished their persuasive essays and we had an author's celebration.  We heard essays about energy usage, "fast fashion", the effects of flying on the environment, deforestation, trash burning, and why we should eat less beef, to name a few.  Very interesting topics for our world citizens to investigate!  In the final quarter, we will be writing some individual poetry and ending with working again in the expository genre but, this time, writing a newspaper article.

Math 4:  The fourth graders finished their unit on fraction concepts; the students were exposed to comparing and ordering fractions, equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators, converting between improper fractions and mixed numbers, and using equivalent fractions to add and subtract fractions with different denominators.  We are working now with factors and primes and then on to decimal numbers!  Fraction concepts connect well to these units and students will be reviewing their newly learned concepts throughout.

Math 5: The fifth graders finished their unit on multiplication and division of decimals and fractions.  We are currently working with some data concepts, converting time measurements, and elapsed time concepts.  We will soon apply our skills with fractions and decimals to geometry as we work with area, perimeter, and volume.

Science:  Each group has finished their iMovie!  Students synthesized their research in a new, exciting way.  It was a learning opportunity for all and students should be proud of their work.  Science Convention will be at the end of May.  I check in with groups every Friday.  Ask your child how their project is going!

Social Studies:  We will begin Social Studies next week.  We will be doing a unit about conflict and cooperation.  Students will learn how to think like a historian by analyzing different sources and looking at cause and effect relationships.  We will apply these skills to a short project.

Upcoming Important Dates
April 17th - First day of MAP testing
May 11th - Student-led Conferences
May 25th - Science Convention

Friday, March 9, 2018

March Update


Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

I hope this post finds you well!  We've been hard at work in the 4/5 classroom and we are deeply immersed in our units of learning.  Here you can read about what we've been up to.

Ms. Fezekas

Reading - We are nearing the end of our whole group novel The City of Ember.  We are at an exciting part:  the two main characters have finally deciphered the instructions and now know how to leave their failing city!  Many questions will soon be answered, including why Ember was built by the Builders and isolated for so long.  I aim to have the students finish the book next week so that they can be assessed on their comprehension and analysis of the story before the March vacation, while the story is still fresh in their minds.   

Writing -  After taking a survey on their ecological footprint, each student has chosen to research something they are doing that is a major contributor to their footprint.  Topics range from energy use in the home, to buying imported goods, to the impact of flying on the environment.  All students have decided on their claim and reasons and are finishing up the support for their reasoning.  Since students are familiar with the essay structure from the chocolate milk debate earlier in the quarter, I expect their independent essays will come together quickly.  Though the students have lots of "logos" from their research, we are still working on including some "pathos" or emotion, and "ethos"- communicating ideas in a way that establishes trust with the reader. 

Math 4 - In fourth grade math, we combined our understanding of all four operations to explore algebraic concepts.  Students worked with variables and determined whether we need to find the difference, total, larger part, or smaller part in a particular context.  They also worked with comparison situations using models.  For example, if there are 5 times as many black pens as blue pens and there are 36 pens altogether, how many of each color are there?  Currently, we are working on a fraction unit, beginning first with equivalent fractions and fractions on the number line. 

IXLs:  F2, F6, G2, G3, G5

Math 5 - The fifth graders also completed a short unit on algebraic concepts, beginning with the order of operations.  They worked with specific vocabulary or keywords for algebraic expressions.  Similar to the fourth graders, they also worked with comparison situations, though they looked more closely at fraction relationships.  For example, there are 3/7 as many books as magazines, if there are sixteen more magazines than books, how many of each item are there?  Currently, we are working with multiplication of decimals, moving onto division with decimal numbers next week. 

IXLs:  O4, V1, V2, V3, V4

Science - Students have begun their research projects on a threat to our ocean.  They are in teams of three or four.  Topics include over-fishing and fish-farming, rising sea levels, rising sea temperature, tourism and coastal development, deadzones caused by human activity, and pollution from plastics, oil, and shipping.  The groups are organizing their notes into scripts to use for an iMovie.  The short videos will include images, some text, and recorded audio files of their script.  Along with explaining the problem(s), causes, and potential solutions, students will be including persuasive techniques to send a powerful message. 

Upcoming events:

Mother Tongue Breakfast - Monday, March 12th 
Spring Vacation - March 24th - April 2nd
End of Quarter 3 - April 6th 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Quarter 3 is Well Underway

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

Here's a quick peek into what we've been learning lately in the 4/5 classroom.   A big congratulations to the students on a great performance at the assembly a few weeks ago!  The second semester has had a strong start.  Enjoy a much-deserved long weekend!

Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  We have begun our whole group novel, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.  It is a suspenseful science-fiction/mystery story.  As we read, students are practicing various skills such as context clues, cause and effect, character analysis, and identifying key elements of both the unique setting and the theme of light versus darkness (or fear versus hope).   The kids are hooked on this book!  We aim to finish before the upcoming holiday.  When students aren't working on this novel, they are transferring these skills to their silent reading books and conferring with me individually.  Ask your child to tell you about Lina, Doon, and the challenges facing the citizens of Ember!

Writing:  This quarter in Writing, we are focusing on the genre of persuasion.  To begin, we looked at different persuasive strategies such as ethos, logos, pathos, kairos, and "big names".  Students identifies these strategies in published commercials and created mini-commercials or advertisements of their own.  Currently, we are working on a practice persuasive essay in two groups; a "pro" group and a "con" group.  Students are using research-based articles to support their position of whether or not chocolate milk is a healthy choice.  Once students have a solid understanding of the basic structure and purpose of persuasive essays, they will be choosing a persuasive topic of their own to research. 

Math 4:  In fourth grade math, we began the quarter reviewing and extending sequences and patterns and linked this with the introduction to long division.  So far, we have practiced division using drawings, on number lines, and skip-counting.  We have also learned a few different strategies for more complex division such as using repeated subtraction, using place value concepts, and the "Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down" or "DMSB" method.  We have also begun analyzing word problems to determine how the remainder should be interpreted.  If students know their multiplication and division facts with automaticity, they will master division more easily.  I recommend that students practice their facts and complete the IXLs below.

IXLs:  E1, E4-9

Math 5:  In fifth grade math, we began the quarter with coordinate concepts and students identified, drew, and connected points on a coordinate grid.  Students also continued sequences in a t-table to create and plot ordered pairs.  As a challenge, the students were using x and y-scales which were split into decimals or fractions.  More recently, we've been working with multiplication of fractions; unit fractions, non-unit fractions, and mixed numbers.  Students used models to show what is happening and have been first determining whether the number being multiplied will increase or decrease depending on whether it is being multiplied by a fraction or an improper fraction/mixed number.  If students know their multiplication and division facts with automaticity, they will master these concepts more easily.  I recommend that students practice their facts and complete the IXLs below.

IXLs:  M12-15, M23-25

Science:  In Science this quarter, we are focusing on our "Blue Planet" and the human-ocean relationship.  Students have engaged in a small research project on one of our five oceans and will soon be tasked with a bigger research project on one of the major threats to our ocean and, subsequently, our future. 


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

End of Semester One

Hello students and parents of grades 4/5!

I hope you are all having a great start to 2018.   On our first day back at school, we welcomed a new student, Cynthia, to our class.  She comes to us from Rwanda.   Welcome, Cynthia!



In this short post, I'll review what we've been learning about and working on for the remainder of the second quarter.   There are several important dates listed below.

Reading:  To wrap up the quarter, each student has chosen a book to read and present.  Students will be giving a "book talk" to their classmates about their book, including the genre, a detailed summary, personal opinions, and specific recommendations.  It is my hope that this serves as a catalyst for shared reading experiences and increased motivation for independent reading.  Additionally, the students have been reviewing non-fiction text features in library lessons and will be doing a few "feature hunts" in the coming weeks.  From these two activities, I expect to see students broaden their reading horizons for the second half of the year.  

Writing:  In writing, the students have taken their pourquoi tales through the writing process in its entirety.   Through several revisions, peer-conferences, and teacher-conferences, the students have polished their work.  The stories are unique, creative, and well-developed.  We will be having an author's celebration soon! 

Math 4:  Wrapping up the measurement unit, students learned about elapsed time concepts and transferred their knowledge of metric conversions to time conversions.  Over the next few days, students will be learning some basic geometry and data concepts.  The first book of the Jump! Math program (4.1) will go home with your child at the end of the week.  It can be used as review as needed.  We have not completed every page but all of the skills have been introduced, practiced, and assessed.  

IXLs:  O1, 5, 6 and 7

Math 5:  Students are transferring their knowledge of multiplying and dividing decimals by powers of ten to more complex metric unit conversions as well as to find mixed measurement perimeters and missing lengths or widths in two-dimensional shapes. The first book of the Jump! Math program (5.1) will go home with your child at the end of the week.  It can be used as review as needed.  We have not completed every page but all of the skills have been introduced, practiced, and assessed.  

IXLs: G7, I2, J1, Z7-12, Z17

Social Studies:  After students researched a particular culture, they reflected on aspects of their various cultures, including their customs and values, in a "What Makes Me, Me" project.  In addition to a short Google Slides presentation, students made language maps, identity mandalas, wrote autobiographical poems, brought in cultural artifacts from home, and made ritual/tradition maps.  The presentations so far have been very informative and meaningful.  A few pictures of student work for this project and the book presentations are below.  

Important Dates:

January 26th:  Music Performance
February 1st:  Morning assembly - 4/5 to present
February 2nd:  Second quarter reports sent home
February 10th:  International Fair
March 12th:  Kick-off Breakfast for Mother Tongue Week

















Thursday, December 14, 2017

Last post of 2017!

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

We are officially finished with the school year for 2017!  Here is a quick look into what the students have been up to over the past few weeks.  Pictures from the Winter Show and the plays are below!  The 4/5 students have received many compliments on both of their performances this week!  They've done a terrific job.

Enjoy the "winter" break!
Ms. Fezekas

Reading - This quarter, we read six short stories of different genres:  The Landlady (mystery/horror), The Elephant's Child (pourquoi tale), All Summer in a Day (science fiction), The Fly (play/folktale), The Bracelet (historical fiction), and A Day's Wait (realistic fiction).   The students practiced the concepts of making inferences, using context clues to guess the meaning of unknown words, identifying several types of figurative language, and providing evidence for the author's message/purpose.  Students also got a chance to perform a play (either The Fly or The Elephant's Child) in front of another elementary class.

Writing - The students are well into drafting their pourquoi tales!  Students are building the action and adding dialogue between characters all while teaching a lesson and explaining the origin of a feature.  It's a complex type of creative story but the kids are rising to the challenge and learning a lot about the qualities of good writing along the way.

4th Grade Math - After completing a unit on multiplication, the fourth graders explored the relationship between division and multiplication and put it to use while estimating, measuring, and converting metric units.  We have been focusing primarily on the millimeter, centimeter, meter, and kilometer.

IXLs: E1 and 2, N11, 12, 15, and 17

5th Grade Math - The fifth grade students have been exploring the relationship between fractions and decimals.  So far, students have identified, drawn, manipulated, compared and ordered decimals to the thousandths place.

IXLs:  G1-6 are basic decimal concepts if review is needed,  G8-15 are more difficult concepts,
 and try G16 for a challenge!

I also recommend your child reviews decimal basics with this video.

Social Studies- The students have finished their research project on a culture of their choice and have given their presentations!  They learned several "on the surface" aspects of the culture as well as some of the customs and values of the culture.  Building on this, students will next be thinking about their own culture or cultures in a "What Makes Me, Me?" project.

Upcoming Dates


Winter Break - Dec. 16th to Jan. 7th
First day back:  Monday, January 8th!
Last day of first semester:  January 24th

The Winter Show:







Play Practice!





















Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Peek into Second Quarter

Hello 4th and 5th grade families!

We are a couple of weeks into the second quarter and well into some new learning.  Below, you can find some quick information about what we've been doing.  As always, I encourage you to engage your child in discussion about his or her learning.

Take care,
Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  This quarter, we are working with short stories in various genres.  The purpose is to read and analyze high-quality works.  Each week we are practicing different reading skills.  So far, we have read the mysterious short story The Landlady by Roald Dahl and focused on inferencing.  We read a fantastical short story, The Elephant's Child, by Rudyard Kipling and focused on alliteration, repetition, onomatopoeia, and the elements of a "pourquoi" tale.  And this week, we read a science fiction story titled All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury and focused on similes, metaphors, and the mood/tone of a text.  Additionally, students are getting explicit practice on writing paragraphs that propose and support, with text evidence, a claim.  Ask your child to tell you about these great stories!

Writing:  To begin the quarter, we have had some specific lessons on comma usage and continued some of the work from reading time where we have been writing specific proposition and support paragraphs.  Using what we have learned through reading The Elephant's Child and several other stories, students will be writing their own Pourquoi Tale.  This week, students have chosen which feature they want to explain (the rhino's horn, the zebra's stripes, etc.) and have come up with a lesson connected to it.  We are mapping these stories and will begin drafting next week.  Ask your child what they are writing about!

Fourth Grade Math:  After work rounding and estimating numbers, we have begun basic multiplication concepts.  The students began with mental math: multiplying by multiples of ten and using the distributive property to multiply.  This week, the students have been practicing the standard algorithm and have been investigating why it works.  We will do some work multiplying with two-digit numbers soon and then begin working on division concepts.  Ask your child to show you how to do 3 or 4-digit by 1-digit multiplication!

  • 400 x 3,000 can be found mentally by realizing it is really 4 x 3, just 100,000 times ("five zeroes") bigger; therefore, the product is 1,200,000.
  • 35 x 3 can be found mentally by breaking 35 into it's place value:  30 and 5.  30 x 3 = 90 and 5 x 3 = 15 so 35 x 3 is the same as 90 + 15 which equals 105.  

IXLs:  D1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 11

Fifth Grade Math:  The fifth graders completed their unit on multi-step division and are now working on something that is also division:  fraction concepts!  Students have been identifying, representing, and comparing fractions, mixed numbers, and improper fractions.  Next up, we will be working with equivalent fractions and using common factors to simplify fractions and common multiples to add fractions with unlike denominators.  Throughout the unit, students are expected to show their thinking in multiple ways and justify their reasoning to ensure they do not develop common misconceptions which seem to plague students when working with fractions.  Ask your child to explain why 2/3 is bigger than 2/5 or how many thirds are in 5 and 1/3!

IXLs:  K1, 2, 3, 6 and 9, D1, 3, 4, and 5.  
If students are having trouble with fraction concepts (or any concept!), they are encouraged to visit the grade 4 skills on the site to find whichever skill they may need to review/refresh.

Social Studies:  This quarter, we are learning about culture - a rather complex concept.  Many of our students have unique cultural backgrounds - a mix of parents' home cultures and different places they've lived in.  Later on in the quarter, the students will be investigating the ways in which their identity has been influenced by their experiences and backgrounds.  So far, students have discovered and learned that there are many, many aspects of culture - some easy to see or on the "surface", while others are more difficult to see or identify.  The students have chosen a culture they want to research.  They will be finding out some "easy to see" facts like their food, language, festivals, symbols, and traditional dress and some "more difficult to see" facts like their customs and values. We will be using the school's new Britannica subscription to help students find relevant information at their reading level.  This should help ease some of the trouble students had while researching for the last project.  Ask your child which culture they've chosen to research!

Upcoming Important Dates

December 1st and December 8th:  No School
December 13th:  Winter Show Performance
December 16th-January 8th:  No School, Winter Break
January 7th:  Classes Resume