February 10, 2016
Fourth grade has been bustling with lots of learning. In Reader's Workshop, we've been working on a close reading unit of study, “How to Study a Concept.” The concept we’re focusing on is leadership. We launched this unit by reading an article titled, “How to Be a Leader,” from which students generated lists of the qualities that strong leaders possess. Throughout this unit, we are reading a variety of texts about famous leaders, and considering how each leader demonstrates the qualities of strong leadership. We closely read these texts, searching for evidence that supports our thinking. We mark the evidence we find with post-it notes and then write about the evidence we find. Some of the leaders we're reading about are Jackie Robinson, Amelia Earhart, Nelson Mandela, and a fictional character, Wesley, who was taunted by his classmates and was considered an outcast. This character stood his ground and didn’t go along with peer pressure. He used his creativity and created his own civilization. Eventually, he became the leader who showed others that being different was a good thing.
Fourth graders have been writing as essayists, developing theses for opinion pieces. They have been learning how to write about a topic that they feel passionate about. They have elaborated on the reasons for their opinions by generating mini-stories about their own experiences in their topics. Some are even researching facts to make their pieces stronger and more convincing. Their endings will allow them an opportunity to reflect about how they feel about their topics.
Use it, drop it, or split it? Those are the options mathematicians are considering as they tackle division problems with remainders. They have read picture books that involve division and even written their own stories. This enables mathematical learners to not only solve the division problems, but also represent and have discussions around their division. Our current math unit of study focuses on the relationship between multiplication and division. Because of this, we're using the strategies from our multiplication work to make sense of this transition and build the conceptual understanding. Some of the strategies are drawings, equations and the area model. When your fourth grader is working on a division problem, ask, "How can you use an array to help you solve this problem?" After vacation we'll transition to our fraction unit of study.
We're wrapping up our work as electrical engineers in science, based on Engineering is Elementary unit. Students were tasked to create an alarm circuit based on a story we read, "A Reminder for Emily." In the story, Emily keeps forgetting to do her chores on time, so she decides she needs an alarm circuit to help. Students worked through the Engineering Design Process, in which they asked questions, imagined and planned a design, and are now creating and improving their designs.
In Social Studies, we have been studying the Southeast region. We are traveling to Everglades National Park, Cape Canaveral, and Jamestown, Virginia. We are listening to the four types of music that came from this region (Bluegrass, Jazz, Blues and Cajun). The Civil Rights Movement is also a focus during our study of the Southeast Region. We are reading some picture books to see how segregation kept blacks and whites apart. One is Freedom Summer, which sparked some great class discussion on the unfairness of segregation. We are able to reference our study of Jackie Robinson in our reading unit and make connections of how he helped to break the color barrier.
Before our study of Immigration, we learned about “cottage” industries, where people worked at home usually in rural settings using their own equipment. The Industrial Revolution and the discovery of water and steam power resulted in a rise of factories. We learned about the different reasons why immigrants decided to come to America and how they entered by either being processed through Ellis Island or Angel Island on the west coast. Once they arrived, they lived in crowded, ethnically grouped tenements and worked for low wages in terrible working conditions. One group we studied using literature and primary sources were the “Mill Girls” who worked in the textile factories in Lowell, Massachusetts. We will be visiting the museum later this year. Our final project is to identify the many contributions the immigrants brought to the United States.
Clearly, the hard working fourth graders are deserving of a restful and rejuvenating February vacation!
It was wonderful to meet all of you at the conferences. It was also great to see so many of you at the writing celebration. The students worked hard on their narratives and were happy to share their accomplishments with you.
After completing the Roald Dahl unit in reading, we began working on a mini unit involving Traditional Literature. We started the unit by discussing the types of traditional literature. Folktales kicked off the unit. We read Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. The students worked in groups. Each group worked on a focus question(s) and closely examined the story in regards to their question. Each group their findings and showed evidence the found in the text. The next story we read was The Stranger. We looked at how the elements of the story and how it is a legend about Jack Frost.
When we return from vacation we will be starting out Leadership unit that focuses on close reading.
Our second unit of study in math was Arrays, Factors, Multiples, and Multiplication. We learned how to determine if a number is prime or composite along with finding the factors and multiples of numbers. We looked at factors of number up to 99, along with the factors of 100, 200 and 300. Multiplication facts up to 12 are important to know. We played "I am Who has", multiplication bingo and around the world to practice our facts. When we return from vacation we will continue to focus on multiplication of larger numbers along with division.
The new Lucy Calkins unit in writing is Boxes and Bullets. It is opinion/persuasive writing. To begin the unit we looked at some opinion essays and discussed how these essays tried to convince the reader to form an opinion. We saw how these essays present the pros and cons of an issue. The class is now generating ideas and writing some snippets of issues, people and places they care about. After vacation we will begin writing persuasive essays.
The students have been working on mapping skills in content focus. We looked at the parts of a map, directions, scale miles and landforms. As a project we created a map of a town we created. When we return from winter break we will begin our Social Sudies unit on the Southeast.
I want to thank all the families for the fantastic class gift along with the individual gifts that I received. Everything is very much appreciated.
May you all have a marvelous winter break. Enjoy all the family celebrations and traditions that you may have.
All the best,
Dear Families of 224,
Welcome to fourth grade. We have some fun and exciting things going on throughout the year in class.
Our Roald Dahl reading unit has started. For read aloud, we are reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As the students are listening to the story they are find the character traits of various characters in the story We are taking what we learned while listening to the story and applying it to our own guided reading books This is a good way to get to know the characters in our own guided reading books. The class has been looking at both internal and external character traits of characters The students are now able to name character traits and locate evidence in their books to prove that the character shows these traits. We have also been writing readers responses to explain these traits of characters.
Math has been all about place value, rounding of numbers, addition and subtraction strategies.We are using a combination of materials for the teaching of these topics. The class is using problems from Math Forum, Engage New York, TERC and Howard County. One of the Math Forum problems was called Wooden Legs. In groups of two students were given a certain number of wooden legs and the had to determine how many combinations of 3 legged stools and 4 legged tables they could make from those wooden legs. Each student pair created a wall chart to show their solutions.
The focus in writing has been realistic fiction narratives. We are using the Lucy Calkins writing program. The unit the students have been working on is called the Arc of the Story. Over these last few weeks the students have been generating all kinds of story ideas and writing snippets for those stories. We are now ready to choose one of those ideas and begin writing a realistic fiction story. Ms. McBride, the literacy coach, and I have been co-teaching lessons to help students generate their ideas along with talking out ideas with each individual student. We talked about embarrassing moments. Each student also drew a picture of the inside of the house, labeled each room and thought of stories in some of those rooms. The students have been getting excited about some of the possible stories that they can write about. We have just begun the writing of our first drafts of our story.
In Social Studies we just completed our study of the Northeast. We learned why the Northeast is called the birthplace of our nation, why the first factories grew in the Northeast and some major cities in this region. The class took a train tour of the Northeast with our tour guide Ms. Mariner. We visited a lighthouse in Maine, Mount Washington , Plymouth, Boston, Hersey Pennsylvania, New York City, the Erie Canal and Washington D.C. We participated in a few fun activities. The class decided on what would be a good government in Plymouth, worked in a factory that wrapped candies to get the feel of mass production and assembly line work. We took a walking tour of the National Mall in Washington D.C. and explored some of the memorials and monuments.
The class has been working hard and is in a good routine. We have also started on the second rotation and our class is in Science with Mrs. D. Magnetism is the first unit of study.
It has been a great start to the new school year.