Friday, October 22, 2010

Academic Update

I thought now would be a good time to update you on where we are with our academics...

We finished MEAP prep and have moved on to Mystery stories. Each child will write an original mystery during the next few weeks. We've read several short examples and discussed what the characteristics of a mystery are. Also, we did some collaborative writing that turned out really good.

We have continued reading and discussing 4-5 poems per week. We've been paying very close attention to the finer details of poems and have been talking about poetry techniques (which I call "moves"). When we have written poems we've been practicing those moves. The kids wrote some really interesting poems last week and they got a little annoyed with me because I pushed them to revise. They turned in a poem and then I told them to rewrite it and make 3 changes. Then, when they turned in that one, I told them to rewrite it and make 3 different changes. Finally, they picked and chose from these to create a final draft. This week, we worked on the move of surprise and wrote something I call "Two Word Poems." I know, it seems like a poem can't be two words long, but they can! Ask your child to explain it to you.

Reading & Word Study
Students will continue to meet with their reading teacher daily for Reading and Word Study. If they haven't already, they'll soon be required to write their reading teacher a letter every week that describes their thinking while they read. This is something they'll have to do 3-4 times per month. Usually it's done in school, but may end up having to be finished at home from time to time.

We are moving into Unit 3 on Monday. Unit three covers Multiplication and Division basics. We'll begin focusing on multiplication facts, something that they should have memorized (for 0-9) by the end of fourth grade. Extra practice at home always helps!

The unit on States of Matter will conclude next week. Students have enjoyed learning about solids, liquids, gases, plasma, atoms, molecules, and the periodic table of elements.

Social Studies
This course will begin Monday, November 1. Fourth Grade focuses on Regions of the U.S. We have brand new textbooks and materials for this subject this year. It should be a lot of fun.

Technology Update
We've been using some free time to work on our wiki pages lately. Students have added lots of things to their personal page. We used a thesaurus to complete the "Words that Describe Us" section and then made a pretty cool graphic using a special website called Wordle. Yesterday, we used another cool website called PicLits to create a pretty snazzy version of an original two word poem. Have your child show you, they turned out great.

Going Global Update
Our class theme, Going Global, has not moved forward much lately due to the MEAP test. But, we'll be starting back up with classroom "jobs" again next week and that will help a lot. Also, starting November 1, we'll be reading another book together and will be joined in doing so by several other classrooms from around the country. I'll update you more on that as we get closer. Yesterday, I had a Skype conversation with a school in California and a school in Kuwait (!). We are planning a bigger project for all three schools this winter that focuses on global issues and awareness.

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