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 

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