Friday, June 8, 2018

Final Post of the Year!

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

We've made it!  This year the students have worked hard and made great growth.  I truly appreciate their positive attitudes toward learning and their commitment to being a part of a classroom that works together and grows together.  I will miss this class a great deal.  I've included a class photo, a couple photos from my farewell surprise, and photos from the Science Convention.

It's been a great year! 

All the best to you and yours,
Ms. Fezekas

Friday, April 13, 2018

Quarter 4 is Upon Us!

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

It's hard to believe that we're nearing the end of the year.  The fourth and final quarter began on Monday.  Quarter three reports went home today and MAP testing begins for the 4/5 students on Tuesday!  Below, I've included some information about what we've been up to and what's ahead.

I'd also like to mention that we have a new student!  Welcome to Laila, a new fourth grader.  She comes to use from New York and is excited to be here with us!

Take care,
Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  We finished our unit on The City of Ember; it was a much-loved read and the students had the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and analysis in the final assessment.  This quarter, students are in four different literature circles reading a book by the author Kate DiCamillo.  We will be comparing and contrasting the themes and big ideas in her books while doing an author's study.  During literature circles, groups meet with me for a targeted lesson, read independently or with a partner, complete a job, and then share their job during a group discussion before meeting again with me.  Ask your child what they're reading!

Writing:  Students finished their persuasive essays and we had an author's celebration.  We heard essays about energy usage, "fast fashion", the effects of flying on the environment, deforestation, trash burning, and why we should eat less beef, to name a few.  Very interesting topics for our world citizens to investigate!  In the final quarter, we will be writing some individual poetry and ending with working again in the expository genre but, this time, writing a newspaper article.

Math 4:  The fourth graders finished their unit on fraction concepts; the students were exposed to comparing and ordering fractions, equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators, converting between improper fractions and mixed numbers, and using equivalent fractions to add and subtract fractions with different denominators.  We are working now with factors and primes and then on to decimal numbers!  Fraction concepts connect well to these units and students will be reviewing their newly learned concepts throughout.

Math 5: The fifth graders finished their unit on multiplication and division of decimals and fractions.  We are currently working with some data concepts, converting time measurements, and elapsed time concepts.  We will soon apply our skills with fractions and decimals to geometry as we work with area, perimeter, and volume.

Science:  Each group has finished their iMovie!  Students synthesized their research in a new, exciting way.  It was a learning opportunity for all and students should be proud of their work.  Science Convention will be at the end of May.  I check in with groups every Friday.  Ask your child how their project is going!

Social Studies:  We will begin Social Studies next week.  We will be doing a unit about conflict and cooperation.  Students will learn how to think like a historian by analyzing different sources and looking at cause and effect relationships.  We will apply these skills to a short project.

Upcoming Important Dates
April 17th - First day of MAP testing
May 11th - Student-led Conferences
May 25th - Science Convention

Friday, March 9, 2018

March Update

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

I hope this post finds you well!  We've been hard at work in the 4/5 classroom and we are deeply immersed in our units of learning.  Here you can read about what we've been up to.

Ms. Fezekas

Reading - We are nearing the end of our whole group novel The City of Ember.  We are at an exciting part:  the two main characters have finally deciphered the instructions and now know how to leave their failing city!  Many questions will soon be answered, including why Ember was built by the Builders and isolated for so long.  I aim to have the students finish the book next week so that they can be assessed on their comprehension and analysis of the story before the March vacation, while the story is still fresh in their minds.   

Writing -  After taking a survey on their ecological footprint, each student has chosen to research something they are doing that is a major contributor to their footprint.  Topics range from energy use in the home, to buying imported goods, to the impact of flying on the environment.  All students have decided on their claim and reasons and are finishing up the support for their reasoning.  Since students are familiar with the essay structure from the chocolate milk debate earlier in the quarter, I expect their independent essays will come together quickly.  Though the students have lots of "logos" from their research, we are still working on including some "pathos" or emotion, and "ethos"- communicating ideas in a way that establishes trust with the reader. 

Math 4 - In fourth grade math, we combined our understanding of all four operations to explore algebraic concepts.  Students worked with variables and determined whether we need to find the difference, total, larger part, or smaller part in a particular context.  They also worked with comparison situations using models.  For example, if there are 5 times as many black pens as blue pens and there are 36 pens altogether, how many of each color are there?  Currently, we are working on a fraction unit, beginning first with equivalent fractions and fractions on the number line. 

IXLs:  F2, F6, G2, G3, G5

Math 5 - The fifth graders also completed a short unit on algebraic concepts, beginning with the order of operations.  They worked with specific vocabulary or keywords for algebraic expressions.  Similar to the fourth graders, they also worked with comparison situations, though they looked more closely at fraction relationships.  For example, there are 3/7 as many books as magazines, if there are sixteen more magazines than books, how many of each item are there?  Currently, we are working with multiplication of decimals, moving onto division with decimal numbers next week. 

IXLs:  O4, V1, V2, V3, V4

Science - Students have begun their research projects on a threat to our ocean.  They are in teams of three or four.  Topics include over-fishing and fish-farming, rising sea levels, rising sea temperature, tourism and coastal development, deadzones caused by human activity, and pollution from plastics, oil, and shipping.  The groups are organizing their notes into scripts to use for an iMovie.  The short videos will include images, some text, and recorded audio files of their script.  Along with explaining the problem(s), causes, and potential solutions, students will be including persuasive techniques to send a powerful message. 

Upcoming events:

Mother Tongue Breakfast - Monday, March 12th 
Spring Vacation - March 24th - April 2nd
End of Quarter 3 - April 6th 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Quarter 3 is Well Underway

Hello 4th and 5th grade families,

Here's a quick peek into what we've been learning lately in the 4/5 classroom.   A big congratulations to the students on a great performance at the assembly a few weeks ago!  The second semester has had a strong start.  Enjoy a much-deserved long weekend!

Ms. Fezekas

Reading:  We have begun our whole group novel, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.  It is a suspenseful science-fiction/mystery story.  As we read, students are practicing various skills such as context clues, cause and effect, character analysis, and identifying key elements of both the unique setting and the theme of light versus darkness (or fear versus hope).   The kids are hooked on this book!  We aim to finish before the upcoming holiday.  When students aren't working on this novel, they are transferring these skills to their silent reading books and conferring with me individually.  Ask your child to tell you about Lina, Doon, and the challenges facing the citizens of Ember!

Writing:  This quarter in Writing, we are focusing on the genre of persuasion.  To begin, we looked at different persuasive strategies such as ethos, logos, pathos, kairos, and "big names".  Students identifies these strategies in published commercials and created mini-commercials or advertisements of their own.  Currently, we are working on a practice persuasive essay in two groups; a "pro" group and a "con" group.  Students are using research-based articles to support their position of whether or not chocolate milk is a healthy choice.  Once students have a solid understanding of the basic structure and purpose of persuasive essays, they will be choosing a persuasive topic of their own to research. 

Math 4:  In fourth grade math, we began the quarter reviewing and extending sequences and patterns and linked this with the introduction to long division.  So far, we have practiced division using drawings, on number lines, and skip-counting.  We have also learned a few different strategies for more complex division such as using repeated subtraction, using place value concepts, and the "Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down" or "DMSB" method.  We have also begun analyzing word problems to determine how the remainder should be interpreted.  If students know their multiplication and division facts with automaticity, they will master division more easily.  I recommend that students practice their facts and complete the IXLs below.

IXLs:  E1, E4-9

Math 5:  In fifth grade math, we began the quarter with coordinate concepts and students identified, drew, and connected points on a coordinate grid.  Students also continued sequences in a t-table to create and plot ordered pairs.  As a challenge, the students were using x and y-scales which were split into decimals or fractions.  More recently, we've been working with multiplication of fractions; unit fractions, non-unit fractions, and mixed numbers.  Students used models to show what is happening and have been first determining whether the number being multiplied will increase or decrease depending on whether it is being multiplied by a fraction or an improper fraction/mixed number.  If students know their multiplication and division facts with automaticity, they will master these concepts more easily.  I recommend that students practice their facts and complete the IXLs below.

IXLs:  M12-15, M23-25

Science:  In Science this quarter, we are focusing on our "Blue Planet" and the human-ocean relationship.  Students have engaged in a small research project on one of our five oceans and will soon be tasked with a bigger research project on one of the major threats to our ocean and, subsequently, our future. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

End of Semester One

Hello students and parents of grades 4/5!

I hope you are all having a great start to 2018.   On our first day back at school, we welcomed a new student, Cynthia, to our class.  She comes to us from Rwanda.   Welcome, Cynthia!

In this short post, I'll review what we've been learning about and working on for the remainder of the second quarter.   There are several important dates listed below.

Reading:  To wrap up the quarter, each student has chosen a book to read and present.  Students will be giving a "book talk" to their classmates about their book, including the genre, a detailed summary, personal opinions, and specific recommendations.  It is my hope that this serves as a catalyst for shared reading experiences and increased motivation for independent reading.  Additionally, the students have been reviewing non-fiction text features in library lessons and will be doing a few "feature hunts" in the coming weeks.  From these two activities, I expect to see students broaden their reading horizons for the second half of the year.  

Writing:  In writing, the students have taken their pourquoi tales through the writing process in its entirety.   Through several revisions, peer-conferences, and teacher-conferences, the students have polished their work.  The stories are unique, creative, and well-developed.  We will be having an author's celebration soon! 

Math 4:  Wrapping up the measurement unit, students learned about elapsed time concepts and transferred their knowledge of metric conversions to time conversions.  Over the next few days, students will be learning some basic geometry and data concepts.  The first book of the Jump! Math program (4.1) will go home with your child at the end of the week.  It can be used as review as needed.  We have not completed every page but all of the skills have been introduced, practiced, and assessed.  

IXLs:  O1, 5, 6 and 7

Math 5:  Students are transferring their knowledge of multiplying and dividing decimals by powers of ten to more complex metric unit conversions as well as to find mixed measurement perimeters and missing lengths or widths in two-dimensional shapes. The first book of the Jump! Math program (5.1) will go home with your child at the end of the week.  It can be used as review as needed.  We have not completed every page but all of the skills have been introduced, practiced, and assessed.  

IXLs: G7, I2, J1, Z7-12, Z17

Social Studies:  After students researched a particular culture, they reflected on aspects of their various cultures, including their customs and values, in a "What Makes Me, Me" project.  In addition to a short Google Slides presentation, students made language maps, identity mandalas, wrote autobiographical poems, brought in cultural artifacts from home, and made ritual/tradition maps.  The presentations so far have been very informative and meaningful.  A few pictures of student work for this project and the book presentations are below.  

Important Dates:

January 26th:  Music Performance
February 1st:  Morning assembly - 4/5 to present
February 2nd:  Second quarter reports sent home
February 10th:  International Fair
March 12th:  Kick-off Breakfast for Mother Tongue Week