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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Spirit Week Photos

Hello 4th and 5th Grade Families!

Here are some photos from Spirit Week.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Quarter Wrap Up!

Hello 4th and 5th Grade Families,

Quarter one is winding down and a much-deserved week of rest is just ahead.  The 4/5 students have been working very hard in all areas.  After the vacation, we'll be taking time to reflect on what we've done so far this year, gathering evidence to show our learning, identifying our strengths, and making decisions about areas that we want to focus on for further improvement.  This blog post will update you on what we've done to wrap up the first quarter of the year.  I'll add pictures once I've taken some during Spirit Week!

Enjoy the break,
Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  We have officially finished Wonder!  The kids loved it.  Many have chosen to take it home to reread over the vacation.  We will have a summative assessment when we return and students will have the chance to demonstrate what they've learned about annotating the text, inferring the significance of specific quotes, character development, character traits, and the author's message.  There is a companion novel, Auggie and Me, which is on its way to AISB.  I plan to read it aloud for a short time most days of the week because the students are so enthralled by the story.  Up next in Reading, we will be doing work with short stories of various genres.  Students, of course, should continue to read each night (some of the time in English) from a book that they can understand and one that captures their interest.

Writing:  The students are wrapping up their personal narrative stories.  We have focused on using transition words, writing with description using a strategy called "show, don't tell", and capturing the reader's interest with a strong hook.  The students will continue to take their pieces all the way through the writing process:  peer conferencing, teacher conferencing, responding to suggestions, and publishing.  They will have the opportunity to share their stories with you at the parent-teacher-student conferences coming up.  We have also begun Word Work, a time where students get targeted phonics or etymology practice based on their needs.

Grade 4 Math:  The fourth graders have been working with adding and subtracting large numbers.  Many of the problems require regrouping.  Students have modeled regrouping in several different examples to show why the "tricks" work and what is really happening.  The value of the number remains the same, it is just written in a new way.

Ex.  In 135 minus 19, you can't take 9 ones from 5 ones and so you must regroup the 3 tens as 2 tens and 10 ones to then subtract.  135 is renamed as 1 hundred, 2 tens, 15 ones but the value is still 135.  

The fourth graders have also been working on word problems with sums and differences, illustrating parts, totals, and differences, and showing their number sense through different challenging exercises.

Ex.  Make the smallest possible even number with the digits 4, 7, 3, 9, 6.  If it's the smallest number, we want the digits with the smallest value to come first.  If the number has to be even, there must be a 4 or a 6 in the ones place.  It is better to use the 6 because ones do not have much value.  The answer would then be 34,796.

IXLs to Review:  A4, B4, B1, B2, B7, C1, C2, C4

Grade 5 Math:  The fifth graders have been working with multiplication concepts.  Connecting multiplication to repeated addition, we explored repeated multiplication using bases and exponents.  The students also mentally calculated multiplication with multiples of ten and two-digit by one digit multiplication using the partial product method, mentally.

Ex.  300 x 50 is 3 x 5 x 1,000 or 15,000.
Ex.  38 x 4 = 30 x 4 which is 120 + 8 x 4 which is 32 so, through mental math, you can find the answer is 120 plus 32 or 152.  

The fifth graders have also practiced multiplying by 2 and 3-digit numbers using both the partial product method and the standard algorithm.  It is very important for students to understand why the shortcuts work and so we have explored this in several ways.  

IXLs to Review:  C1-5, C10, C12-16, E1-3

Science: The students are finishing up their research projects about the seven life process of all living things.  Many have begun working on their Google Slide presentation.  The goals of this challenging project are to help students identify the unique characteristics of life and how these characteristics take many forms.  Further, the students are getting ample research practice and developing their technology skills.  Soon, they will present their work for the class and practice their presentation skills.  

Upcoming Important Dates

October Break:  October 14th - October 22nd
Spirit Week:  October 23rd - October 27th
End of Quarter 1:  October 27th
Halloween Party:  October 28th
Quarter 1 Reports sent home:  November 1st
Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences:  November 3rd 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Midway through Quarter 1 Already!

Hello 4th and 5th grade families!

We've been busy in the 4/5 classroom over the past couple of weeks.  This week, a new student joined us!  We welcome Leen, a new fourth grade girl, to our growing class.   As many of you saw, we had a great assembly last Thursday - the kids should be very proud of their hard work and performance! Thanks to all those who came out.  I, regretfully, didn't take any pictures so if any of you did, please send them to me and I can add them to the blog.  Below, you can read up on what your child has been learning and see some pictures of our science activities and our time with our first grade reading buddies!

Enjoy the weekend,
Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  As a whole class, we've been continuing Wonder.  So far, we have read Part One from Auggie's perspective and Part Two from his sister Via's perspective.  The kids are hooked!  The students have been practicing annotating the text, analyzing characters, and looking closer at quotes to uncover the significance.  Engage in dialogue about the book with your child - I'm sure they'll have a lot to share!  I have also been able to complete baseline reading assessments to help me better tailor instruction to each individual child's needs.  Once or twice a week, your child will have the opportunity to read independently, conferencing with me, and responding to their book choice in their reading journals.

Writing:  In writing we have begun our personal narrative stories.  Linked to Wonder, each student chose to write about a memorable first time, a time they had to do something hard or scary, a time they felt left out or alone, or a time when they witnessed or participated in an act of significant kindness.  We have planned our inciting incidents, climaxes, and a few events in between and the children will begin drafting their stories on Monday.  Ask your child what they're writing about!

Math:  The students have been working with place value and number sense concepts in preparation for progressively more complex arithmetic concepts.  The fourth graders will soon be working with regrouping for multi-digit addition and borrowing for multi-digit subtraction.  The fifth graders will work with estimation skills soon and move on to multiplication concepts in the next few days.

IXL - The IXL login page has changed.  Children should visit if they want to do math practice at home.
4th Grade Skills:  A1-8 and A15 and any Ls from our last unit
5th Grade Skills:  A1-5, A7, any B, and any T from our last unit

Science:  We had the opportunity to look at several different plant and animal slides using microscopes in the high school science lab.  Students also built animal and plant cells with some basic parts using different colored paper.  We are now looking at the seven life processes of all living things:  Movement, nutrition, respiration, excretion, reproduction, sensitivity, and growth.  Soon, the students will each choose an animal and a plant to research to learn about what characterizes these life processes for their chosen living things.  The focus throughout the unit is on the relationship between structure and function.  Below are a few examples.
  • Plant cells have strong, rigid cell walls to provide support for the plant because plants do not have skeletons.
  • Vacuoles are sac-like because they expand and shrink to store food and water.
  • Red blood cells are round and can bend so that they can fit into narrow places like your veins and capillaries.  
  • A carnivore's teeth are sharp so that they can tear meat.
The structure/function relationship exists all around us.  Perhaps you can encourage your child to explore this further in their own environment.  

Upcoming Dates

MAP Testing for 4/5:  September 27th, October 3rd, October 6th
September 20th:  Progress Reports will be sent home
September 22nd:  No school (Malian Independence Day)
October 2nd:  No school (Teacher PD day)

Enjoy some pictures from the last few weeks!  I particularly enjoyed the before and after picture of Allan in the science lab.  Pure joy and excitement!