Sunday, February 7, 2016

Q3 Update: February 5th, 2016

Q3 Update:  February 5th, 2016

Hello 4th and 5th grade students and families,

These past few weeks have been busy in grades 4 and 5.  The students have been working on various projects to wrap up the quarter and we are beginning new and exciting things for quarter three. 

 Enjoy learning about what we've been up to!
Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  In reading, we wrapped up our short story unit!  Each student chose a short story to revisit and they created a foldable to review skills and solidify what they've learned over the quarter.  I was very impressed with the outcome of literature circles.  On the final day of discussions, groups discussed the book for an hour almost entirely without teacher support.  It is wonderful to see such a love of reading and the joy students get when they talk about a shared experience.  They've made great progress in their ability to identify deeper meaning and make connections with a text.  

We have started our new novel:  The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.  We have only done some pre-reading activities and read the preface and the kids are really hooked!   We will be reading this together as a class as we focus on the theme of "darkness vs. light".  

Writing:  Our persuasive essays are in full force.  Students have each chosen a topic.  Some are writing about issues with the planet:  climate change, air pollution, deforestation, reducing waste. Others have taken on social issues:  racism, gender equality, gun control.  Students have chosen their three reasons for their body paragraphs and have found compelling research to support them.  We also learned about counterclaims.  Students thought about what the other side of the debate would say, how to explain their reasoning, and then how to show that their reasoning is incorrect.  This next week we will begin drafting our essays as we continue with the writing process.


Grade 4:  The fourth grade students gained skills and strategies for solving long division problems. We will continue to practice this throughout the year but, so far, I am very pleased by how quickly they have grasped this concept!  We are using what we have recently learned about multi-digit multiplication and division and analyzing mathematical patterns.  Combining input, output, variables, and order of operations, students are able to solve complex patterns during this introduction to algebra.  

Grade 5:  In grade 5, we have revisited decimal place value.  Students have practiced using models to add, subtract, and multiply decimals and have discovered algorithms and how and why they work. This next week we will be dividing decimals.  Decimal concepts are tricky for most students of this age.  If you're looking for ways to help your child at home, here are some tips for having a mathematical discussion about decimals. 

Questions to ask your child about how they conceptualize decimals:
  • What does (1.3, 0.045, 10.009) mean?
  • How/where would you put it on a number line?
  • What whole number is it closest to?
  • How would you draw it as circles or books (or any other object)?
  • How does estimation help you when you are working with decimals?
  • How much bigger is 10.4 than 1.4?  What about 1.4 and 0.014?   How much smaller is 0.035 than 3.5?  
  • When you multiply a decimal that is less than one, what happens to the other factor?  Why?  Is this multiplication?

Social Studies:  The students have really enjoyed their explorer projects!  They are getting the hang of creating presentations that include keywords and short phrases that they will use as talking points during the presentations, rather than reading a whole bunch of text directly from slides.  Presentations begin this week.  Students will be teaching the class about their explorer and reading their ship's log and native's diary to show differing perspectives.  As a class, we looked at the history of exploration before the age of exploration and discussed how different the world could be if the Chinese continued their exploration or if the libraries in Alexandria never burned down.  We are taking a close look at the impact (both positive and negative) that the European explorers had on the world during the Age of Exploration.  Students learned about the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases during the Columbian Exchange.  Come see our work on the classroom door!

Upcoming dates:

February 22nd and 23rd:  No School
February 27th:  International Fair