in Room 211!
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To help prepare for the our ELA MCAS assessments, the students have
reviewed important reading strategies and have learned a set of test-taking
strategies that we've dubbed Lucky Seven:
Read, analyze, and process directions carefully using "Signals for Success".
Preview the reading selection by reading the questions first.
Read the text selection twice.
Reread each question and all multiple choice options.
Revisit the text to find the evidence to prove their choice
is the best possible answer.
Use Better Answer strategies for
Open Response (Introduction via "steal and slide", use of
transition words, effective closing).
Check your work. Read your writing out loud in a whisper
voice to hear how it sounds.
We're hoping that we'll find success with these Lucky Seven strategies!
During Reader's Workshop, the students continue to leave
"tracks" of their thinking on the "just right" independent
reading books they have been self-selecting. We've begun a schedule of
due dates for letters in their Reader's Notebooks, and I've been enjoying
reading about their impressions, questions, wonderings, and predictions.
A major goal is for the students to support their thinking with direct evidence
from the text. Our Open Classroom assignments on the computer have been
another way for the students to tune into what they're reading and find text
examples that support a particular aspect of writer's craft or thinking.
During Writer's Workshop we've
been delving into the genre of persuasive writing. The students have
learned about the elements of an effective persuasive piece, and the importance
of knowing both sides of the issue by addressing the pros and cons. The
students are working to develop a five paragraph essay with a powerful and
engaging introduction, three paragraphs featuring main reasons/claims along
with supporting evidence, and a conclusion that leaves a lasting impression in
the form of a call to action, a now or never statement, or a reinforcement of
their most significant claim.
As persuasive writing is a more
structured genre, the students have been utilizing various graphic organizers
to plan. The students have been analyzing and trying out persuasive lead techniques such as rhetorical/hypothetical questions, bandwagon statements, shocking statistics, and descriptive scenes in order to engage their audience. Purposeful language, the importance
of data, statistics, expert testimony, and facts are being stressed as a means
to effectively share their point of view and perhaps change someone else's through the
power of their writing. Thus, it's important for the students to
have a clear understanding of their audience to achieve their goal. Furthermore, students are striving to incorporate transitional phrases to link main ideas and details in their essays to make them as powerful and persuasive as possible.
Students have been introduced to fractions with the implementation of a new unit to fourth grade entitled Field Trips and Fund-Raisers, Contexts for Learning Mathematics.
It began with a scenario of a class field trip. The class was split
into four groups, and each group was given submarine sandwiches to share
for lunch. When the groups returned from their trip, the students
argued over whether some received more to eat than others.
This story provides the context for a series of investigations in this
unit. Students explore whether the situation was fair, exploring the
relationship between division and fractions, as well as comparing
fractional amounts. During this unit, students will explore other cases
to determine fair sharing, making ratio tables to ensure fair sharing
during their future field trips. Additionally, they will design a 60K
bike course for a fund-raiser, which introduces a bar model for
fractions and provides students with another opportunity to explore
Furthermore, mini-lessons for division of whole numbers using
simplified equivalents are also included. These lessons are structured
using related problems to explicitly guide learners toward computational
fluency with whole-number division and to construct a connection to
The BIG IDEAS that are being developed during this unit include:
- fractions are relations - the size or amount of the whole matters.
- fractions may represent division with a quotient less than one.
- with unit fractions, the greater the denominator, the smaller the piece is.
- pieces don't have to be congruent to be equivalent.
- for equivalence, the ratio must be kept constant.
Throughout the unit, students are using and sharing many strategies,
such as using landmark or common fractions; using decimal and/or
percentage equivalents; using ratio tables as a tool to make equivalent
fractions; using multiplication and division to make equivalent
fractions; and using a common whole to compare fractions. Mathematical
modeling is used as well. In pairs, students work to solve the problems
and share their strategies by creating posters which clearly explain
their thinking and the strategy used. Students are learning to craft a
proof or argument for other mathematicians and to focus on the
justification and logic of their arguments. A Math Congress is held to
share strategies and discuss the BIG IDEAS. Although this is a
challenging unit, the students have been enjoying this learning
experience. Please ask your child about it.
In fourth grade it’s important for the
students to enhance their instant recall of basic multiplication facts, and to
recognize the inverse relationship between multiplication and division. We have been reviewing strategies for solving multiplication facts, and the students will solve number
stories involving the four operations.
In addition, students will review the meanings of number sentences,
solve open sentences, and evaluate expressions involving parenthesis. Reinforcing vocabulary is essential to
developing and enhancing understanding of mathematical concepts and skills, so
mathematical vocabulary will be a focus throughout the year.
One way students practice and improve the automatic recall of basic math facts is by using
technology. FASTT Math (Fluency
and Automaticity through Systematic Teaching with Technology) provides the
students with 10 – 15 minute individualized practice sessions and games at least three
times per week. We’ll be checking
student progress throughout the year, and the students will be excited to see
how their practice makes progress!
exciting new feature of FASTT Math, The Next Generation, is the
home-school component. Below is a link (also found on the Curriculum
Links page of this website) for students to practice their very own
personalized facts at home through games. Also, many of the games on my
Curriculum Links page are great for practicing multiplication facts. I encourage students to play to enhance their fact fluency.
Practice your own focus facts with these fun games!
Fastt Math Stretch
The students have recently been participating in lessons and activities designed to commemorate Lexington's 300th birthday. In an effort to discover the impact "our" Lexington and its history has had across the nation, the students are currently researching various "Lexingtons" across the USA. (Take a guess as to how many Lexingtons there are in the USA, and then ask your child for the answer!) It was exciting to recently discover that Lexington, New York is currently celebrating its 200th birthday this year! The students are learning about the location, geography, land use, population, etc. of these various "Lexingtons", and they'll be creating scavenger hunts to be used on a large foam floor map of the US as well. Happy 300th Birthday, Lexington, MA!
The students will soon be viewing a DVD series
on North American regions and they'll be "traveling" across the United States
learning about the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West.
These engaging DVDs shared the physical landforms, history, culture, climate,
and states of each region. The students will be utilizing their interactive
notebooks to take notes on each region and responded to their learning by creating
postcards, T-shirt designs, cartoons, etc.
We've recently moved onto our unit on
the Solar System. This year Mr. Heeden will be teaching the next two science units, while I focus on teaching social studies to both classes. The students have begun by keeping a record of their observations on the Moon, our
closest neighbor in space. After our Moon observations, we will discuss
the movement of the Moon, and learn about the Sun and planets in our Solar
System as well.
During this unit, the students will
be working to clear up some common misconceptions about the reason for the
seasons. Via an engaging and entertaining CD Rom from Science Court, the
students will be witnesses to a trial involving some very interesting
characters. Through hands-on activities and the testimony of some
"experts" in the field (and some misguided ones! ;-) the
students will make discoveries about the reasons for the seasons. This
unit is sure to be out of this world!