About kallentuck

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far kallentuck has created 91 blog entries.

4th Grade September Classroom Work

Dear Families,

Although it has been a bit gloomy outside, we have been busy in our cozy classroom. Our main focus in Language Arts class has been poetry; the rhythm, sound patterns, meter, and magic that can result from the right mixture of different poetic techniques. 4th graders particularly love the concept of poetic license, where rules of punctuation, capitalization, and spacing on the page all take a back seat to convey the imagery and emotion of the poem in any way the poet chooses. We are starting this unit writing poems inspired by the great poets featured in our book, Love That Dog, using their poetic techniques as a starting point, but with the students continuing with their own thoughts and ideas. It’s helpful to start with some structure before we venture forth with our own ideas and poetic techniques.

In Social Studies we are learning to read an atlas as we identify all the locations necessary to complete our World Maps. Inevitably, the question arises, “Is there anywhere else on earth to explore?”, always an interesting conversation. The skill of using an atlas index and the coordinate points they list is fun practice that dovetails nicely with our work on different graphs in Math class.

(Note: please send in slippers or slip-on inside shoes for the classroom, it’s just a cozy alternative to the heavier boots October’s weather sometimes calls for.)

Finally, thank you for all you are doing to partner with me to make this move to Middle School at BCD one filled with just the right mixture of creativity, discovery, exploration both collaboratively and independently, and an atmosphere that supports critical thinking and learning.

Hopefully, the sun will shine a bit more in October, but it certainly has been in our classroom in Peterson 4.

Best, Katharine

To view photos in Google Photo, click this link:


By |2018-10-08T12:36:18+00:00October 8th, 2018|

4th Grade Dioramas

Dear Families,

I think (hope) I have mastered the skill of using Google Photos in this blog!

I wanted you to see how thoughtful and respectful the whole class was while listening to their classmates present their dioramas.  They talked not just about how they made their dioramas, but why they chose that scene to illustrate as well as some of their favorite characters.

We will be sharing them at Middle School meeting next Tuesday with the 5th and 6th graders as well.



To view photos in Google Photos click this link:



By |2018-09-19T14:24:50+00:00September 19th, 2018|

4th Grade’s Great First Week

Dear Families,

What a great first week! This class is smart, kind, funny and ready to learn.

It’s a lot of new routines, new classrooms, new teachers, students and expectations. This group has jumped right in.

In Math class we visited the Distance Lab in the Learning Commons, to see how using only 4 4’s and 4 operations, we could create equations to equal numbers 1-20. I am going to introduce Visual Thinking later today for Friday Math classes and we will concentrate on number sense and numeracy a lot these first weeks.

They have taken notes on Poetry terms and techniques, located the 7 continents, spent time with Atlases, decided on Hopes and Dreams for the year ahead, started a new typing/keyboard program, started in either Band or Chorus (next week) played kickball with the rest of the Middle School and much more. They’ve done it with enthusiasm and excitement for the year ahead, just as it should be!

They did a particularly outstanding job of creating Class Rules for the year ahead. Senior Silva joined us for our weekly Advisory period and while we may have guided and synthesized a bit, these were really their rules and we were quite heartened to hear them. Some were, ‘Support your classmates and they learn with positive comments – Be generous of spirit and stuff – We are all different, no judging, no comparing.’

I look forward to seeing those of you that are able to come to Back To School Night next week. If you’re not able to, I will send a packet home the next day with the schedule and some other hand outs. I will give a call to check in with each of you by the end of the month, but if something comes up sooner, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I wish you a Happy and sweet New Year if you’re celebrating, or not!

View the Google Photos to see these fun and busy days: https://photos.app.goo.gl/DQE6JMaAMdp2NRjD6

Best, Katharine

By |2018-09-07T10:47:22+00:00September 7th, 2018|

4th Graders plant the garden, Create A State and prepare Portfolios!

Dear Parents,

The 4th graders and the pre-schoolers planted the 2nd annual BCD Garden last week. Ms. Doherty, Ms. Sideropolis, Ms. Junod, Mr. Lee and Mr. Spitzer and the students all worked to make this year’s garden better than ever. If you have time this summer to come in and do some watering and weeding we’d love the help – I sent out sign-up sheets yesterday. Enjoy the photos on the attached slide show.

The class presented their Create-A-State projects in the Learning Commons this morning to the Lower School, families and friends. This project not only speaks to their creativity and imagination, but combines their map skills, writing skills, keyboarding skills and design/layout skills. They each created a physical map, a road map, a regions/resources map, a landmark map, a downtown  map, a history of their state along with a flag that reflected the significant events from their past. I’m not sure which was more fun for them, but I enjoyed shepherding them as they combined their skills and artistry into such a rewarding accomplishment. Thanks to Ms. Kisselbrock for helping with the photos attached.

We also have begun to prepare our year-end portfolios. As you know, throughout the year, the students  would select a few pieces from the work sent home at the end of the week to reflect on. Their reflections answered either; why the work was important to them, what would they want someone to know before looking at it, how they solved it, or how they would improve on it the next time. This process of collecting, selecting, reflecting and evaluating encourages each students sense of responsibility for their own learning, something I have worked to inspire throughout the year. Portfolios will be going home at the end of next week.

If possible, please send in some sturdy canvas bags next week. There are quite a few books to go home and cubby cleaning will  be on going. I will try to trickle things home during the week instead of all at once.

Included in the books will be the 4th grade math review book to help keep their math skills fresh. Please either do a bit each week or wait until later in the summer, – to do them all in June kind of defeats the purpose! And please refer to the BCD summer reading list to keep up with reading as well. As you know I’m a big believer in sending post-cards or letters as a fun way to practice writing/spelling. They can send to a classmate from a far away place.

I can’t begin to tell you how special this class is or how lucky I feel to have had the opportunity to teach them this year. I know each and everyone is going to shine in 5th grade as well.

Happy Summer to all and I hope to see you next week at the all-school picnic on Friday, the 8th!




By |2018-07-10T06:24:17+00:00June 2nd, 2018|

Gr 4 Museum of Science Overnight Adventure

Dear Families,

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now how much fun we all had at the Museum of Science in Boston last Thursday/Friday. The Lightning Show, The Duck Tour of Boston, the Planetarium Show, Omni Theatre, Domino Physics and Inner Tube Rodeo….and let’s not forget the Dippin’ Dots, plus free access to ALL the wonderful hands-on exhibits, made for a pretty jam-packed 24 hours. Thank you to Mr. Gore for being the old hand at this trip and helping at every step of the way.

I hope the attached photos give you some sense of how much fun it was. I sent home some coupons for some events at the Museum if you are able to visit  sometime this next year.

Thank you Krithi and Vikas for our terrific lunch bunch this week. It was a big hit with everyone.

Congratulations to Libby and Ashley for their 2 goals each in Monday’s Varsity Lacrosse game!

Also, we hope you are able to come in this Monday, May 14th to the Learning Commons at 8:15 to meet Jenifer Fox, a finalist in our Search for a new Head of School.  She will be visiting the campus all day and it’s a great opportunity to meet with her and share thoughts and ideas as the school moves ahead.

I hope to see some of you at the final Spring Concert today at 1:30!

To view the slideshow on a mobile device, click this link.

Best, Katharine

By |2018-05-12T12:02:00+00:00May 11th, 2018|

Boston, here we come!

Dear Families,

We are in high gear as we approach the end of the year!

Our new reading book is entitled, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson about a young Chinese immigrant who comes to this country (Brooklyn, NY) in 1947, the same year Jackie Robinson breaks the color line in Major League Baseball. As she struggles with language and cultural issues, she is captivated by Robinson’s smashing success on the field and becomes convinced that American truly is the land of opportunity and that there might just be a place for her here after all.
Before reading we did a small unit on who Jackie Robinson was and the magnitude of his contributions to our history. The class was really taken with just how hard he struggled, how brave he was, and learned quite a bit of history along the way.

In Math class, we are full throttle with decimals and fractions. I have also been doing a lot of short and frequent practice tests which are good review for multiplication and division as well. The students are always happy to come to the board and I love to have them explain to their peers how they solved a particular problem – it really helps to activate and strengthen their learning when they own it that way.

This class has gotten so much out of our Create a State unit in Social Studies. They have made Physical maps, Road maps, Region and Resources Maps, Landmark Maps and now we are to our Downtown maps. We will finish the unit with Create a Flag which will involve writing an essay on their state’s history and how the symbols in their flags relates to the story of their State.

As you all know, we are headed to Boston Museum of Science next week! Mr. Gore, who has been on this trip many times before, is coming in on Monday to go over details and answer any questions the class might have.

I cannot close without thanking Lauren Ballinger for her Lunch Bunch extraordinaire – I hope you all know how much the kids appreciate all of the effort you have put into these events.


Happy Spring to all,



To view the slideshow on a mobile device, click this link:https://www.flickr.com//photos/bcdtech/sets/72157695402888874/show/


By |2018-04-27T11:30:54+00:00April 27th, 2018|

4th Graders Create-A-State! March 2018

Dear Families,

I just wanted to wish you all a wonderful Spring Break!
I’ve attached a slide show that will give you a quick overview of some of the different activities we’ve been enjoying at school.

I think you can see how intently everyone is working on their written responses to the novel, Locomotion and how attentively they are working on their Create-A-State projects.
Also a few shots of the all important desk clean out, Choice time, Winter Carnival, and stretching along to my favorite Qi-Qong video.

A lot of odds and ends coming home today, snow pants, etc. Let’s hope we dont’ need them in April, I don’t imagine there’s any snow left! And as always, some great work for you to review with them in their portfolios.

Looking forward to a Lunch Bunch in April with Neal’s family that had to be cancelled due to a snow day.

I’m also looking forward to the trip/home journals coming in after the Break and for them to have to opportunity to share their adventures with their classmates.

Again Happy Spring Break to all,


To view the slideshow, click this link:


By |2018-03-20T15:40:30+00:00March 15th, 2018|

Garbage, garbage everywhere! March, 2018

Dear 4th Grade Families,

In conjunction with our Service Learning Unit this year, we took a trip to Covanta in Pittsfield last week. Covanta is an Energy from Waste facility that processes approximately 240 tons of solid waste every day, converting it first to steam and then to electricity. We really saw the Energy from Waste cycle first hand. I’m not sure if the photos truly convey the mass of garbage we saw all in one place, but perhaps you’ve heard first hand. I don’t know who was more excited about the trip, the 4th graders or Mr. Gore who joined us – he really was a kid in candy store!
I hope to visit a recycling facility as well by the end of the year. We plan on writing up a brochure explaining where our garbage goes, what happens to it after we throw it away and what can be done with it.

Fractions continue to be the theme of most Math classes. One game that proved lots of fun, was ‘Which one is the Outlier?’ out of a choice of 4 fractions. I always look to include problems with more than one right answer, especially in math which is often associated with precision but also has plenty of room for multiple methods and representations. The class quickly created their own groups of 4.

In Social Studies class we have begun our Create-A-State projects and the creative energy is really flowing. They are just finishing the first of five different maps of the same imagined State- the Physical map. Tourist maps, Road maps, Natural resource maps and Landmark maps are to follow. The are applying their knowledge of map scale, map keys, and different landforms as well as arranging and categorizing which information goes into which map, and how to design and illustrate that as well.

As you know after we finished Maniac Magee the class created their own Tall Tales and enjoyed sharing them with each other. Most everyone chose to share theirs and it is gratifying to see them so absorbed in each others unique compositions. Photos are attached in the slide show below.
Thanks to Kara for introducing the class to Sudoku puzzles and to Neal for bringing in two of his Math board games for us to play.

Again, it was great to see so many of you at Bring a Parent to School day. I’m jealous of you all getting time with Mr. Evans on the pottery wheel in Art Class. I’ll get up there one of these days!
I’m sure you’ve all heard that the Talent Show has been rescheduled for this coming Tuesday, March 6th.

Hope you’re all safe and warm on this snowy day.
Best, Katharine

To view the slideshow on a mobile device, click this link:


By |2018-03-20T15:30:25+00:00March 5th, 2018|

13 Ways of looking at a Fraction

Dear Families,

The distance lab in the Learning Commons is such a great learning environment and the 4th graders took great advantage of it this week to continue our study of improper and equivalent fractions, along with mixed numbers, common factors and how to put fractions in their simplest form. We’ve used… fractions strips, fractions pieces, cuisinaire rods, numbers lines and the ever popular pizza pie; not quite as many ways as Wallace Stevens looked at a Blackbird, but give us time.
After watching a few different videos showing different ways to compare fractions, the kids went to work on putting fractions in their simplest form, and saw that all that work learning multiplication really does pay off!

The Valentine’s party was great fun. Thank you to all the parents who provided the goodies to make it special. It knocks me out to see how genuinely appreciative they are for each and every card they receive and how much work and care goes into their preparation. There are a couple of shots in the slide show that show just how excited they were to share their cards with each other.

We continue to work away at the geography of the USA, the poetry of our reading book Locomotion, atlases, spelling rules, map keys, and keyboarding skills.
I have worked hard to make sure desks and cubbies stay (somewhat) clean, coats are always picked and everything that is used is then put away. These habits contribute to a general respect of our classroom, our school and the teachers and staff that work alongside them to keep it the special place it is.

Thanks to Neal for bringing in his math games from home and to all the parents who were able to sneak away from work and visit the classroom for Bring a Parent to School Day. It makes me proud to see how proud they are to share their work with you.

Enjoy the long weekend!
Best, Katharine

To view the slideshow on a mobile device, click this link:

By |2018-03-06T09:55:42+00:00February 16th, 2018|

Cooperative vs Independent learning in 4th grade / January 2018

Dear 4th grade families,

Each Tuesday morning the Middle School meets as a group and each grade takes turns presenting something they have been working on to the rest of the Middle School. Last Tuesday it was our turn and the class did a first class job on presenting an excerpt they learned from Martin Luther King Jr.’s, I Have A Dream speech. I was very proud of each and every one of them. The video is attached for you to watch.

In math class we have moved on to the world of equivalent fractions and mixed numbers. We have been using both fraction strips and fraction pieces to help visualize those concepts.

In Social Studies we are continuing our unit on US Geography. Today we had an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of working cooperatively. Here were some of the comments:

” If you give someone the answer then they’ll never know it themselves for a quiz”, “Sometimes it’s helpful to work with someone else because they can show you a new way or a strategy for figuring something out you would never have thought of”, ” Sometimes you can give hints, or just guide them”, “It’s fun”, “Sometimes, I like to work alone”,”It can help with social skills, having to work with someone else”.

I believe that students need skills in both working in a team and solving problems independently. Part of my job is to determine when to use each of these strategies and give them opportunities for both. Social Studies is a great time to work cooperatively with atlases answering questions about land forms, determining latitudes, labeling rivers and adding cardinal points. Some of the photos in the attached slide show are from Social Studies class, when they’re humming along is when I have a chance to grab the camera!

As part of our Service Learning project, we will be traveling to Covanta, the solid waste facility in Pittsfield on Wednesday. Mr. Gore will join us and we will get a tour of the facility and see how they turn our garbage into electricity! I will be sending home a sheet on Tuesday about how the students need to be dressed for that day.

We’re looking forward to seeing some of you next Tuesday morning at Bring a Parent to School Day. There is a Lunch Bunch on Tuesday as well.

I am personally looking forward to seeing some of the 4th graders at the private lessons Music recital on Sunday. Such talented students!

Enjoy the snowy weekend,


4th Grade I Have a Dream Speech from Berkshire Country Day School on Vimeo.

To view the slideshow on a mobike device, click this link:

By |2018-03-06T10:04:42+00:00February 2nd, 2018|