First and foremost, I want to create a safe and nurturing environment for your child during his/her year in fourth grade. I have many fun and exciting activities planned throughout the year as part of the integrated curriculum.
I follow a Balanced Literacy Plan, but I also incorporate other best practices based on scientifically based reading research (SBRR). Each day, your child will receive direct instruction in both whole and small groups.
During this time, we use on grade level text to learn what strategies great readers use that make them great readers. Even if the text is too hard for some children, I still use it as they will encounter on grade level text on any state standardized test they take. We will learn strategies to help them comprehend the text. We will use both fiction and non fiction pieces of text.
Some science and social studies will be integrated into this part of the literacy block at times. Therefore, we may use our Science or Social Studies books for our reading book that week. This block is taught whole group or in small cooperative groups.
Our strategies are posted in the room and the children also make a strategy poster in their binders to refer to when needed.
Working With Words/Word Study
We will be using the Words Their Way program this year. It is a program that bases your child's word study words on their developmental level. This will start around the beginning of October. Your child will have a set of words to keep at home as well as a homework packet. More information will come home at the start of Word Study.
During this block, we learn how great writers write. Our mini lessons focus on the writer's craft. We will read many examples of the type of writing we are studying before creating a piece of writing. We will also focus on grammar and mechanics. Some weeks we will integrate Science and Social Studies. Some weeks we will focus on the actual writing process.
Each child will have a writer's notebook as well as a section in our 3 ring binders for writing rubric and exemplar papers.
During this time, the children read books that they have chosen. They respond to the books in a reading response journal that I will check each week. During this time, I also work with individual and small groups of students on skills or strategies they need further instruction in as well as with students who need enrichment. Book clubs will also meet at this time. We practice the routines that allow our classroom to be conducive to active reading.
We use the Think Math program during math time. I also use The Mad Minute for basic skills facts. We will be switching for math class. Students will be given a pretest during the first week of school. Differentiation will occur within each of the math classes.
Your child is responsible for keeping track of the Home Practice book and following the expectations of their math teacher.
The children should know their math facts and we practice them during this time. Please purchase a set of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division fact cards for your child to use for practice at home.
Content: Science and Social Studies
We will cover life, physical, and earth science during the year. There will be a balance of content reading as well as hands on experiences.
In social studies we will cover regions of the United States as well as Illinois history.
We will utilize the computers in our classroom, as well as using the computer lab. We will also learn further ways to efficiently use our media center resources for research.
In addition to using best practices in scientifically based reading research, I follow the Illinois Learning Standards when I plan lessons for the class. The standards outline what your child should know at the end of each grade. If you would like a copy, I would be happy to provide this for you or you may visit the following web site for additional information. http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ils/html/descriptors.htm
When you see our work displayed in the hallway, you will also see a write up of what we did for the activity as well the standard(s) being addressed.
We will also be transitioning to the Common Core Standards. See http://www.isbe.net/common_core/default.htm and http://www.corestandards.org/ for more information.
Assessment of Student Work
When I look at student work, I grade the students very objectively. I let them know what I will be looking for by using a class created rubric or by assessing if the answer is correct or incorrect. By using a class created rubric, the children are very aware of what makes up a great paper/piece of work!
I am excited to have your child in my classroom. Sometimes I need to get in touch with you, soâ€¦. PLEASE always let me know if your home, work, or cellular phone numbers change as well as if there are any address changes. Please give me a copy as well as a copy for the office.
If your child is going home a different way than usual, send me a note.
If it becomes necessary to pick up your child early from school and you have not sent in a note, please try to call the office as soon as possible to avoid any confusion. Please try to schedule appointments after the school day as much as possible.
Bus Riders: if you are not going home on the bus, you must send in a note to the office on the day they are not riding the bus. NO EXCEPTIONS!
If you do have a concern or need to let me know of any major changes at home such as a divorce, a new baby, or otherwise, it is important you let me know when I can fully focus on you. For this reason, I ask that you call the office and leave me a message, write a note/email, or schedule a conference with me before or after school.
Please note it is very difficult for me to talk to you as the children are arriving or leaving for the day. I want to be able to give you my full attention, so if there is a concern, please arrange for a conference time.
Newsletters and Folders
Classroom newsletters will come home every week.. The newsletters have pertinent information, so please take time to read them.
Your child will have two folders:
Friday Folder-this will contain your child's graded school work for the week, school and classroom newsletters, flyers, and your child's circle chart for the week. THE CIRCLE CHART MUST BE SIGNED AND RETURNED ON MONDAY IN THE FRIDAY FOLDER. All other papers should be taken out unless noted otherwise.
Daily Take Home Folder-this folder has daily homework and any other important information. Your child may use a folder, accordion folder, or whatever works for him/her to be organized. We fill out the planner page throughout the day and they put their homework in their folder/backpacks as it is assigned so hopefully they will not forget anything here at school This will come home Monday through Thursday. This is also where I prefer parent notes and money envelopes are sent because your child will open this folder as soon as he/she enters the classroom. It is your child's responsibility to give me any notes/money in his/her folder. PLEASE PUT MONEY INTO ENVELOPES OR A BAGGIE MARKED WITH YOUR CHILD'S NAME.
Each month, I will send home a letter for those children who have a birthday during the month. One day will be set aside for the children to bring in a NON FOOD birthday treat. By having one day to celebrate, our routine will not be interrupted by unexpected treats brought in to school. We will have days in June to celebrate July and August birthdays.
Please do not send invitations for a birthday party to school for your child to pass out, unless you intend to invite the whole class. This avoids hurt feelings.
Expect homework Monday through Thursday. If any textbooks are sent home, please return them the next day to be used in the classroom.
-Remove distractions-Do homework in a quiet place that does not have distractions. Turn off the TV and radio. Do not expect your child to work in room where children are playing.
-Establish a routine-Set a specific "homework time" such as right after a snack upon arriving home or right after dinner. Require that homework be completed before playing or watching TV, etc.
-Prioritize-Encourage your child to work first on those assignments that are due tomorrow.
-Check understanding-Be sure your child understands the assignment before s/he begins working. This can save a lot of tears later. Whenever possible, have your child read the directions to you.
-Guide but don't correct-If your child needs help, offer ideas that can help him/her figure it out but don't just give the answer. NEVER DO YOUR CHILD'S HOMEWORK FOR THEM! I would rather it be turned in a day late than you finish it for them. Our goal is for each child to be independent while doing homework. DO NOT HAVE YOUR CHILD HAND IN HOMEWORK THAT IS IN SOMEONE ELSE'S HANDWRITING!!!!!!
-Get organized for tomorrow-Oversee while YOUR CHILD packs his/her backpack. I want the children to learn responsibility for his/her homework-this is his homework and his folder. Always put the backpack in the same place so that you always know where it is and it is not forgotten. Somewhere by his/her coat or by the door is good. Don't put it where young siblings or pets could get it.
-Due dates- homework is due the next day unless otherwise noted. I deduct 10% off the final assignment grade for each day the assignment is late.
-Classwork-classwork accounts for the largest portion of your child's grade for each class. This is the work completed independently in class by your child. You will notice a "CW" on the paper if it is classwork. I prefer for the children to go outside at recess as I believe that children need a break during the day. If they do not finish their classwork, it may be taken home for homework, but your child needs to complete the work INDEPENDENTLY. You may answer questions or guide them to the appropriate place to find the answer, but do not help them on each item. I make general statements such as "Check your punctuation", not "Look at #3, you left off the period."
-Homework-accounts for a smaller portion of your child's grade. You should count on 40 minutes of homework and 20 minutes of reading each evening. Homework does help children learn responsibility.
-Tests/Quizzes-The children will have at least one day notice of a quiz. Most quizzes are a check for understanding of the material we are studying. Early in the study of a topic, they are allowed to use their notes, later in the study, they will not be using their notes. I will send home a study guide for large unit tests at least 2-4 days in advance. As long as they are listening in class and completing the classwork, they should do fine.
If your child is sick, please call the school by to let us know. Then send a note with your child upon his/her return. If your child is going to be out more than one day with the flu or chicken pox, for instance, I suggest that you request your child's homework so s/he can work on a little everyday. Simply request this when you call your child in and I can have it ready by the end of the day. If you have a neighbor or older sibling that can take the work, let the office know when you call.
Please try to plan family vacations during scheduled breaks and during the summer. If your child misses a week, some things such as book clubs may be too difficult to make up and learning is lost.
To help the children track if they are being good citizens, I use a chart with four colored circles in it. A green circle is a good day. If a child misbehaves, s/he is verbally warned. If misbehavior continues the circle is turned to yellow, which means your child was warned twice. If misbehavior continues, the child turns the circle to orange, which means your child is still not making a good choices. If misbehavior continues, your child turns the circle to red. At that point, I will call home or send a note home. If your child "loses" his/her circle for the day, s/he will go to the office.
For the first grading period, your child may turn his/her circle 2 times during the week and still qualify for FUN FRIDAY. After the first grading period, if circles are turned more than 2 times, your child will not qualify for FUN FRIDAY or may have to sit out of a portion of it. FUN FRIDAY is an extra activity time set up to allow the children some choice in free time activity. Points will also add up each week and the students may use those points to "purchase" items from the classroom store.
IF children are fighting, they automatically go to the office without warning. At Bell, we believe it is important for a child to be responsible for his/her actions and to think about his/her choices and what a better choice would be.
Each week in the Friday folder, you will receive a circle chart. For each day you will see a colored circle, as described above, for what circle your child had for that day. You will see teacher comments, a place for your signature and a place for your comments back. It is essential that you sign this each week and return it on Monday in the Friday folder. Please keep the paper in the folder.
My main goal with the circle chart is to help your child become a respectful citizen. Part of being a respectful citizen is monitoring your own behavior and making good choices. If the circle chart is not enough, I will sit down with your child and we will create a behavior plan that will allow for more monitoring of targeted behaviors.