Friday, September 18, 2015

9/14 - 9/18: News of the Week

September 14th - 18th

Hello 4th and 5th grade families!  Here is a quick look into what we've been doing this week.  Please take a look at the announcements at the end of this post for important information about the upcoming MAP test.

Reading:  The students have been hard at work on a culminating project for the first class novel.  In addition, I have been meeting with each student to administer the first DRA of the year.  The DRA is a tool that helps to identify each child's reading level and is used throughout the elementary school. The scholastic book order forms went home on Wednesday; it has been great to see the kids pouring through them together during snack and recess.

Writing:  We continue to work on our realistic fiction drafts.  The students have been drafting their stories, scene by scene.  We have been focusing on adding description, dialogue, action, and emotion in our first drafts in an attempt to avoid "summary" writing.  

Math:  In grade 4, we have continued with our addition and subtraction unit.  We reviewed rounding and used rounding to estimate sums and differences.  We also used place value blocks to model what it is actually happening when you regroup in addition and borrow in subtraction.  Click here and here for helpful review videos of these skills.   In grade 5, we have been working on multiplication patterns and using tables to chart these patterns.  We have also worked with finding the factors of composite numbers; a skill that will be useful for multiplication, division, and fraction work.  All students are encouraged to study their multiplication facts at home each night.  At the end of each week, students will be given a timed test to see if they can complete the tables in order in five minutes or less.   

Social Studies: Each group has completed their project!  They presented to the whole group, teaching us about everything that makes their region unique.  In the coming days we will be taking a brief but eye-opening look at the continent's history before moving on to our first Science unit.  

A special thanks this week to Julia's mom for coming in to help out on Wednesday.  We really appreciate it!

A Note about the MAP Test:  The week we return from the break, the students will be taking the MAP test.  Our testing sessions are Wednesday and Friday afternoons and Thursday mornings.  MAP stands for Measures of Academic Progress.  It is an important tool that guides our instruction and chronicles student growth.  The fourth and fifth graders will be taking the Reading, Language Usage, and Math tests.  The test is adaptive; as students answer correctly, the questions become more difficult.  We recommend doing what you can to ensure your child has a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast before the test each day.   Please encourage your child to give his or her personal best!

Upcoming Events:
Tabaski/fall break:  September 19th - 28th (no school)
Grades 4/5 MAP testing:  Sept. 30th, Oct. 1st, Oct. 2nd.

I hope you all have a fun and restful break!  Enjoy a few pictures of the students hard at work.  More pictures of projects to come next time!

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/4/15 - 9/11/15

September 4th - 11th

Hello 4/5 families!  Please see below for information about what we've done this week and some news about what is coming up.

Reading:  We finished our whole group novel, The Kid in the Red Jacket, and the students all clapped and cheered at the end.  It was great to see them all engaged with the story and enjoying it to the fullest.  Next week, the fourth and fifth graders will be doing in-class projects related to the novel while I test students' individual reading levels.

Writing:  All students at AISB completed the 6 + 1 writing assessment this week.  Students wrote  an informational piece on a topic of their choosing.  I was impressed by students' effort and focus and I look forward to analyzing the writing samples.  The students also helped each other push their thinking and organize their ideas on their story arcs so that they are ready to draft scenes from their realistic fiction story.  Next week we will be focusing on how to "show" and not "tell" to make our writing interesting.  

Math:  We began new units at both levels this week.  Grade four is doing addition and subtraction and has completed lessons on addition properties and subtraction rules, using place value to recognize addition and subtraction patterns, and mental math strategies.  Grade five is working on multiplication.  The students reviewed prime and composite numbers, practiced prime factorization and learned about exponents.  They also learned a bit about powers of ten and how to quickly multiply with zeros.  Click on the following links for review videos on prime factorization and an intro to exponents.  

Social Studies:  With their groups, students are creating brochures, maps, and menus for their theme parks.  We aim to finish next week, before the long break.  

In other news, we have a new fourth grade student joining us on Monday.  Her name is Dior and we are very excited to have her as part of our classroom community!  A new fourth grade boy, Pablo, will be joining us right after the break.  Many students remember him from a few years ago and are eager for his return.  

Upcoming Dates

September 19th - 28th:  Tabaski break, no school

Friday, September 4, 2015

31/8 - 4/9: News of the Week

August 31st - September 4th

Hello!  Here's a look into what your child has been up to this week!

Reading:  We are now finished with chapters one through five in the class novel The Kid in the Red Jacket, and the kids are hooked!  We continue to focus on making inferences while developing vocabulary, adding to the plot diagram, and independently reflecting on the reading through engaging questions.  CafĂ© Reading went well this week and the students are making strong progress on their independent book choices.  I will be testing students individually for the DRA reading assessment throughout the month of September.

Writing:  We continued to develop our realistic fiction story ideas and most students have now chosen the idea they plan to turn into a polished writing piece.  We focused on developing our main character first, deciding on intrinsic and extrinsic qualities and conjuring up a few scenes that will show these qualities.  Today, students began making story arcs to plot out the main parts of their stories.  Next week we will begin drafting.  Also next week, all of AISB will be doing a common writing prompt to better understand students' writing skills on an individual and grade-level basis. These assessments are one tool we use to guide our teaching and planning and students will be reminded to give their best effort!

Math:  We finished up our unit on place value for both grade levels and the students had their first assessment.  Our assessments will focus on the topic just learned as well as word problem solving skills.  We will do frequent practice expanding and communicating our mathematical thinking skills throughout the year.  

Social Studies:  Students finished up their research on their assigned countries and teams have decided how to break down the responsibilities for the final projects.  Together, teams will create a theme park for their region which demonstrates what they've learned in a fun and engaging way. The theme parks will have rides (famous places), restaurants (food and drink), stages (performances), a water feature, living history museums, a gift shop (artisanal crafts), and will be designed with the landscape of the region in mind.  Students will be creating a large map of the park as well as a brochure and some menus, programs, and/or "items for sale" lists.

Upcoming Dates:
September 5th:  Back-to-School BBQ from 13:00 - 15:00 
September 8th:  In-class 6+1 Writing Prompt
September 19th-28th:  Tabaski break (no school)