Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's Up This Week: 30 September - 4 October 2013

We completed our novel "The Kid in the Red Jacket." Students began a culminating project that involves each of them writing a short script for a PSA (Public Service Announcement) explaining one tip for how a student can adjust to a new school after a big move. They will "perform" their tip on video and all PSAs will be assembled into an iMovie.

This week students have two assessments for this novel. First, they will participate in a performance assessment in which their team will summarize the novel through tableau. Second, they will take a short paper and pencil quiz that covers the reading comprehension skills we focused on: inference and plot elements.

This week we begin a non-fiction unit that focuses on civil rights. We will read three different short stories about Martin Luther King Jr, as well as analyze video clips of MLK Jr. speeches, poetry by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, and a Stevie Wonder song.
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How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Check your child's "Read to Succeed" each night/morning. For this daily assignment students read a book of their choosing for at least 20 minutes, then write a short summary of hat they read. I've noticed that the summaries have not been as thorough lately, and would appreciate your help in making sure your child has done his/her best.
  • Ask your child to read to you for a few minutes so you can check his/her fluency, expression, pauses, etc.
  • Ask your child what tip they will be describing for their video.

Grade 4: Last week students explored using mental math to subtract, practiced estimating the answers to subtraction problems, participated in a problem solving activity that required writing a number sentence to get to the solution, and took a short quiz to gauge their progress so far. On the quiz nearly every student made 3 to 4 simple subtraction mistakes (e.g. not remembering to regroup), so I plan to do some reteaching for subtraction before giving them the chapter test.

This week, after the chapter test in subtraction, Grade 4 students begin a chapter on telling time, calculating elapsed time, and working with calendar time. 

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students were involved with multiplying decimals, a concept that seemed to frustrate and confuse most students. I decided to extend the teaching of this concept so that students are more comfortable and successful with multiplying decimals. 

They also participated in a multi-step problem solving activity that required them to "guess and check" their answers. The problem was: There is a group of 1 and 2 humped camels. If there are 11 camels and 17 humps total, how many of each camel are there in the group? We used nearly the entire period with this problem, changing the number of camels and humps each time, before most of them were comfortable with solving this type of problem. On Monday we will work on several more multi-step problems so they become more adept at answering these.

This week Grade 5 students will also explore exponents for the first time, take a short quiz to check their progress, and if all goes well will take the chapter test.

How you can help with math at home: 
  • Make sure your child knows the basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication math facts to 12.
  • Please let me know if the math websites I provide each week are helpful, or if you are able to even access them due to poor Internet.
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Last week in writing students divided the quick drafts of their personal narratives into chunks/paragraphs of similar ideas. Then they wrote each of these paragraphs on separate sheets of looseleaf notebook paper, skipping lines. This technique allows for students to more easily revise their stories. We also focused on imagery--using our five senses to describe in detail each scene of our story. On Monday I'll review their current drafts and suggest revision ideas; they will do the same with their peers.

How you can help with writing at home: 
  • Ask to read your child's personal narrative draft, and offer your feedback. Look especially for vivid details that include the 5 senses.

Social Studies
In social studies teams began designing their African regional theme parks, using their country research as a basis for their theme park design. They first created conceptual site plans or "bubble plan" that roughly laid out all of the required elements of their theme park. This week they will create a final plan to scale, along with supporting documents including menus for the restaurant, a program for stage performances, and a list of items sold at the craft market. 
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How you can help with social studies at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe the theme park his/her team is designing. How are they incorporating the country information into their design? What's the most difficult part of designing this theme park?
MAP Testing
Except for our two new students, the Grade 4 and 5 students have completed the MAP reading, math, and language use tests. You will be provided with their scores on these tests, and again when they take these in May. I will use this data to inform my instruction and to offer help to specific students in specific academic areas.

Hats at Recess & PE
Not all students have a hat yet! Please make sure your child has a hat to wear outside during recess and PE.

Progress Reports
Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions regarding your child's progress report. I had a short conference with each student to review their report, and students wrote down their goals for improving based on my progress report comments. 

Coming Soon
Tuesday 15 October: No school (Tabaski Holiday)
Friday 18 October: End of Quarter 1
Monday 21 October - Friday 25 October: No school/Fall Break

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