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Welcome April

Dear Families,

The 3rd trimester is up and running!

In Social Studies we have begun to incorporate all we have learned about map skills into our Create-A-State projects. Each student has created their own state and will construct a physical map, a road map, a landmark map, a downtown map, a map of regions and products and finally a history and a flag. We will invite you all to see the finished work later in May.

In Math class, we are continuing to practice simplifying fractions and finding equivalent fractions. We are also measuring with yardsticks and rulers and figuring out what all those little lines on the ruler really mean. Are we as tall as our arm span? Would I measure this table with a yardstick or a ruler?

In ELA we have finished up The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. The timelines projects came in today. Everyone shared their work and were duly proud of it. We have begun our final book of the year, Locomotion by Jacquline Woodson.

As you can see from classroom photos taken throughout the year, we use a combination of collaborative and independent learning in all our classes. I believe 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 often a great time to work cooperatively with atlases, answering questions about landforms, determining latitudes, labeling rivers and adding cardinal points. Opportunities abound in ELA and Math classes as well.

Before we start a new project I am often asked, “Can we work together?” Yesterday, we had an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of working collaboratively. Here are 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”, ” I like to work alone because sometimes I work at a slower pace” and “I like it when we come up with different answers and compare what you did.” It helped me explain to them why sometimes it works and sometimes, it doesn’t!

Finally, there a few snaps from last week when the class was receiving the first copy of The Penguin Press. In case you don’t know, that is our new in-house newspaper. In-house, in that it is totally written, edited and created by the class. I’m just the copier and that’s fine with me! If you haven’t seen a copy, just ask. It’s worth a read.

Finally, in backpacks tomorrow (Friday) I will be sending home the final paperwork/forms that have to be signed and returned for the trip to the Boston Museum of Science. If they could come back on Tuesday, that would be helpful.

Thanks to Dan and Angelica for a fabulous Taco Tuesday Lunch Bunch!

Have a great weekend,

Katharine

To view photos in Google Photo, click this link:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/cZb8Zs5HYF4Cpo5C7

By |2019-04-12T12:55:58-04:00April 12th, 2019|

4th grade Welcomes Parents and Friends

Dear Families,

Thank you all for making the time to come in for conferences. It is so helpful to share their learning, their strengths, weaknesses and to join in common goals.

The slide shows below illustrate some of the fun of our Valentine’s Day party (thanks for those goodies, parents!), and our visit time with parents and friends as well.

Also, I quickly photographed their thank you cards to the folks at High Lawn Farm, because each and everyone was so terrific I didn’t want them to be forgotten.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/YvJ6YmJ6E5p3sG5L7

https://photos.app.goo.gl/syy6qMpXYpc8oKh69

Next week begins the 3rd and final trimester of the year! The only difference, besides curricular, is that they add a shop class to their schedule and I lose them to that once a week. They are duly excited to head up to the shop and work with Mr. Katz to create, build, hammer, nail, and glue!

Have a great weekend,

Katharine

 

By |2019-03-01T14:35:51-04:00March 1st, 2019|

4th Grade’s High Lawn Farm Trip/ Service Learning/Farm to Plate

Dear Parents,

I just wanted to share some of the shots from our trip to High Lawn Farm in Lenox this past week. It was part of our Service Learning curriculum on Farm to Fork…just how does our food get to our plates? Why is that important for us to know and how can we share that information to make our world a better place?

To be able to see first hand the amazing operation they have there really strengthened our understanding of the Food Supply chain. We saw the Farmer, Processor, Distributor steps all in one place. Later that afternoon we studied the paths of apples, chickens and peanut butter, where they are grown and how they are processed and distributed to the stores.

Josh Needleman of Chocolate Springs in Lenox has invited the class to come in for a discussion of the many steps that chocolate takes- from the cocoa tree to our taste buds. (He asked to wait until his busy time is over, so we will head there after Easter sometime.)

It’s important for kids to know where their food comes from so they have more of an appreciation for food and farmers,” said Alexa Fiszer, a lead environmental educator at Common Ground. [An urban farm/educational center in Connecticut.] “This [appreciation] often helps evolve kids’ understanding of the food production system and the ways in which it has evolved over the course of history.”

I want them to remember that everything comes from somewhere, and often many hands are needed along the way to get it there.

Also included in the slide show are some shots of work being done on our Tall Tales and using fraction strips to help with the concept of equivalent fractions.

There is a video of our recitation of MLK’s I Have A Dream Speech, you may have to turn up the volume for that one. What a great job they did with that, they have set a pretty high bar for next year’s class.

Finally, please send in a set of dry clothes. These warm days often create a muddy mess. Indoor shoes, sneakers or slippers as well – some kids are wearing their heavy snow boots all day.

The class and I are looking forward to seeing some of you for Bring a Parent to School Day next week & Happy Valentines’ Day to ALL!

 

Best, Katharine

https://photos.app.goo.gl/1qHotcttg945TXkr5

By |2019-02-08T10:03:50-04:00February 8th, 2019|

Tall Tales and Long Division/January 2019

Dear Families,

Now that we have finished reading Maniac Magee we can recognize it as a Tall Tale. Not that it shares all the elements, but certainly enough to qualify. We’ve been reading them, from Pecos Bill to Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind and just this morning, Mr. Fawett invited us up to listen to some early American Folk Songs, many of which tell a Tall Tale. Soon we will craft and write our own.

In Social Studies we are deep into completing our USA maps; identifying oceans, lakes, mountains, rivers states and their capitals, understanding time zones, longitude and latitude and defining geographic terms. Finally, they shade the different regions and create their own unique maps that share the correct information displayed as they choose.

We will share our recitation of Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream Speech this Tuesday morning with the rest of the Middle School. We have reviewed some of the more difficult vocabulary and geography as well as watched and discussed the speech; when it was given, why and the continuing impact it has on our country. I will tape it and put that up in my next blog.

Finally, long division/zeros in the quotient have been relatively painless for this group and we will be moving onto fractions and decimals shortly.

Thank you, Christina and Amanda, for our delicious lunch bunch of last week. Always a special and appreciated treat for the class.

Also, if you haven’t already, please send in a set of dry clothes and some inside shoes. Pants and shirts get wet this time of year. Also, it helps our classroom rug if we’re not tracking salt and snow from the outside.

As you know, the ERB’s will be happening next week, the first two periods of Monday-Thursday, with Friday as a make-up day if necessary. I might shift the schedule a bit to make up for some lost periods but otherwise,  there is really nothing special to do to prepare, except for a good night’s sleep and that works for everything!

The slide show below includes some shots from Open Book Quizzes, USA map work, some math work in the Distance Lab and of course, the ever-popular Lunch Bunch!

Best, Katharine

https://photos.app.goo.gl/J6wudWftFYzTBf2q7

 

 

By |2019-01-25T10:23:19-04:00January 25th, 2019|

An Engaged and Enthusiastic end to 2018 in 4th grade.

Dear All,

The slideshows below contain a lot of classroom activity from these past busy weeks.

Particularly moving for me was the exchange of Holiday cards, where each student exchanged a creative card with a positive, encouraging thought about another classmate. Each one was made with care and thought and meant a great deal to each recipient.

I hope the enthusiasm for playing the Prime Climb numbers game and deciphering Pascal’s Triangle is evident in the short videos. Supplementing our math curriculum with these problem-solving challenges has been great for the class to make the connections and see the patterns that are so important for building a solid foundation in mathematical understanding.

A short video is also attaching showing an activity from our Community/Service Learning morning earlier in December. As you know we have been studying our Food System. Our food – where does it come from, how does it get to us and why does it matter? The video tries to show the class putting cards in the correct order that showed how an apple from Washington State gets from the field to our plate. Our conversation that day has led to our upcoming trip to High Lawn Farm in Lenox later in January. To see a modern day dairy farm and how it produces and distributes the products we enjoy will augment our earlier visit to Hawthorne Valley Farm. How lucky we are to live where we do!

Finally, I cannot thank you all enough for your generous and, oh so, delicious Holiday gift. My cup runneth over with all those goodies that I would rarely ever get for myself – a great gift, as this class is for me.

Have a wonderful, restful and Happy Holiday!

p.s. If you do travel, I did ask the students to send a postcard to the class – 4th grade/BCD/PO Box 867/Lenox, MA 01240. Thanks.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/7GdpgPVHgAJEznaX9

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ME3qWp4mtbK95KBV8

 

 

 

By |2018-12-21T12:24:11-04:00December 21st, 2018|

4th grade bids adieu to their 1st trimester

Dear Families,

It really has been a great trimester. We had a small celebration at the end of the day, along with a big cubby and classroom clean out. We are putting world geography on the back burner and moving on to the USA. We discussed that geography is not only defined as the study of the physical features of the earth but how people affect those features and how they are affected by them. Our physical maps are divided into my regions as well.

We have started reading, Maniac Magee, which I’m happy to say is awash with similes, metaphors and plenty of challenging vocabulary.

In Math, the kids have been working on a Prime Climb game. Effortful but some of the best fun in math class so far. Please ask them how it works and what they think they learned from doing it. We will start tackling double-digit division next week.

I was delighted the EVERYONE had snow pants the other day. Hallelujah!  Could you also send in a bag with a set of dry clothes as well, despite best efforts, wet clothes can really ruin a school day.

Also, please don’t let the students do their homework in pen. Pencils only, please.

The slideshow below includes some shots from our trip to the Colonial, working to complete our last World Geography maps, some collaborative work on the Prime Climb game, a few shots from Thanksgiving Soup and a new arrangement for the categories “Instead of” and “Try Thinking” from our Growth Mindset poster.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/8HHkNRGMyBQ4hSGo6

Happy Weekend to all!

Katharine

 

By |2018-11-30T15:47:27-04:00November 30th, 2018|

Gleaning and other purposeful work in Grade 4

Dear Families,

As part of our Service Learning program, the class had a wonderful, cold, rainy, memorable morning gleaning bok choy and turnips at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent last Monday. Jill Duffy helped organize the trip, joined us and, along with Declan, welcomed us up to their home with an outside fire and some of their home-pressed cider. Many thanks to them both. Both Senor Silva and I were pleased to see how fully the class embraced the experience and showed how resilient and engaged they can be.

Inside the classroom we are learning as well! As some of the classroom photos below illustrate, in Social Studies we are working in groups looking for the main idea.  Identifying the main idea of a passage can improve comprehension of all related topics and is a valuable skill that needs to be taught and practiced. We are finishing up our World Maps and getting ready to start our study of US geography. Prime Meridian, International Date Line, hemispheres, physical maps, cardinal directions, Tropic of Capricorn and parallels are some of the new words and concepts that have been discussed in this first trimester.

In Math, Fibonacci numbers, exploring factors, reviewing place value and rounding are laying the groundwork for our current emphasis and practice of multiplication of both 1 and 2 digit numbers.

Before we begin our first novel in ELA class we are working to identify the many Elements of Writing and Literature that form the foundation on which all good writing is built. Everything comes from somewhere, good writing included. Protagonist, theme, simile, and foreshadowing are some of the terms in our notes this week.

The 3rd grade will join next Wednesday for a trip to the Colonial Theatre to see a production of, The Phantom Tollbooth. We will take a bus up to Pittsfield at 9:15 and will be back in time for lunch and recess at school.

Also, try not to forget that we have a lunch bunch, thank you Jen Glockner,  on Tuesday of next week (11/13) when we get back to school. It’s hard to remember them at the start of a week and there’s nothing worse than packing a lunch on those days!

As you can see from the photos, Halloween was a blast – thank you to all of you that sent in goodies and treats and to Dan and Lyndsey for organizing it.

Also, thank you to all who made time to come in for conferences last week.  It’s so helpful when we’re all on the same page about strengths, weaknesses, where we can hold them up and where we can let them go.

I hope the slideshows below give you a better sense of how busy and hardworking we have been.

I will check in before Thanksgiving Soup, a week from next Tuesday! Enjoy the long weekend.

Best, Katharine

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/F6MVYPgJ11HurGZa6

https://photos.app.goo.gl/dNm8zwpwYvA24rfM9

https://photos.app.goo.gl/sJ6boYFSu5mgURB19

By |2018-11-08T15:47:16-04:00November 8th, 2018|

4th grade, 4th grade burning bright

Dear 4th grade families,

The poetry is continuing to flow beautifully from our classroom and has progressively strengthened with each new poem. Originally we concentrated on line breaks, rhythm and rhyme, but now that we are also emphasizing the importance of word choices, it has opened up a whole new world. We re-read Robert Frost’s, The Pasture and everyone chose one, two or three words that really spoke to them. (The list from the board is included in the slideshow below.) We have banned boring words and the students also shared their poems with each other for word suggestions. They have learned how to use the thesaurus on our classroom shelf, the one on the computer, and most importantly, the one in their heads!

Next week is a bit special as the 5th and 6th graders are away on their trips to Hurlburt and Nature’s Classroom. It will be a bit quieter and we will have a lunch/recess with the 3rd graders on Friday.

As you know, we have a World Geography quiz on Monday. We have discussed different ways to remember Cape of Good Hope vs. Cape Horn, the Iberian Peninsula from the Arabian Peninsula, and I’m told the most challenging is keeping the Atlas and Andes mountains straight. The quiz I give on Monday is one I re-give a couple of times throughout the year, it can take a while to keep it all straight.

 

I know that last night’s math homework was challenging. I usually go over 1 or 2 problem’s in class so they have a foundation from which they can continue. But we were a bit rushed yesterday and they were on their own. I will say that when we reviewed it in class, the different strategies used were fascinating to all, myself included.

I know it is a fine that you walk as to when to help and when to pull back, but last night was definitely a night to help! I never want the kids to get to a point of frustration. I ask for a good 20 minutes of doing their best, and to bring in their questions the next day.

Finally, I want to thank Jill and Julia for a terrific lunch bunch on Thursday! Every student tried, and loved, the delicious bone broth soup along with the noodles and other goodies on the side. It’s rare to get everyone to try something new. Dessert was a perfect treat at the end of the day as well.

There are 2 slideshows attached below- somehow I don’t think I shared the ones from our OMI trip. The other one is just a mishmash of life inside the classroom,  the learning commons, and the garden.

Hope you all get some time outside this weekend,

Best, Katharine

Grade 4 Consecutive Numbers in Learning Commons

Grade 4 OMI Trip

By |2018-10-22T08:40:34-04:00October 19th, 2018|

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:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/rLBb2PUasgfyj8aD9

By |2018-10-08T12:36:18-04:00October 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.

Enjoy,

Katharine

To view photos in Google Photos click this link:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/oCsSr8ZFgg63n6KQ8

 

By |2018-09-19T14:24:50-04:00September 19th, 2018|