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

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