Monday, August 17, 2015

A New Beginning

Welcome to fourth grade. We've set up our room, filled out forms, established our rules and procedures, and now we can get down to the fun part: learning! As I have said many times this year: I LOVE my class. They are truly special, and it is my honor and privilege to teach these wonderful children each day. I enjoyed meeting you all at Meet and Greet and Open House, and I can feel a great year stretching before us. I also am excited to have Mrs. Edwards in our class for math and reading this year; she is full of great teaching ideas. In math, it's all about place value and learning those facts. Until your child has mastered 100 multiplication 0-12 facts at a 96% accuracy rate in seven minutes, he or she should be practicing often. In class, we are studying place value. For hands-on activities, we played Race to 1,000 and used Base Ten Blocks to add and subtract, so that when we regroup on paper, we understand that we are making "fair trades," such as one ten for ten ones or ten ones for one hundred. Later this week, we will begin comparing large numbers using <, >, and =. Math Lab has been a time for critical thinking and fun games. What a great resource to have Mrs. Newell show us that math surrounds us in our everyday lives and that math can be fun! In social studies, we have been studying maps and globes. We've learned what each map feature, such as a compass rose or a key/legend, tells us. We've had lessons teaching us to locate cities using latitude and longitude coordinates, and we've used our rulers and scale to calculate distance between cities. Next up will be types of maps and then the physical features of the United States, such as the Great Basin and the Continental Divide. In science, we're studying water: the states of water, the water cycle, and weather. We will have many chances for hands-on activities, as well as predicting and observing, in the science lab to further explore water and weather. Plot, the events that happen in a story, was our first topic in reading. We also have been reading non-fiction, making sure to use text features, such as headings, captions, and highlighted words, to help us understand and locate information. Next up will be reading about the physical features of the US, then we will learn how theme differs from plot. In writing, we began the year setting up our writer's notebooks and writing a personal narrative about a time someone was a hero to us. We have learned that it's important not to pick a too big "watermelon" topic, but to narrow it down to a "seed" story which is more manageable. We will be having mini-lessons on topics such as expanding our writing, writing a good introduction, and supporting our main ideas with details. We are excited to have our first field trip of the year to the Fire Safety Village on August 28th. A firefighter will visit our class this Friday to teach a lesson before we go. Each student will be given a Fire Safety Booklet with information to learn and tasks to complete. There will be a test which will count as a health grade over this material, so go over it with your child when he or she brings it home. As you can see, the wheels of fourth grade are turning, and we are off to a great start. Keep up the good work, pay attention, study hard, and have fun!

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