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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+00:00 June 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+00:00 May 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+00:00 April 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+00:00 March 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+00:00 March 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+00:00 February 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+00:00 February 2nd, 2018|

Welcome January 2018 in 4th grade!

Dear Families and Friends,

2018 is off to a great and busy start! Line plots, modes, medians, means, perimeters and area have been the themes in math class so far. Always fun to get the Geo Boards out and create line plots on the board.

The final projects on Maniac Magee came in yesterday and revealed a great understanding of the themes of this complex story. From book blurbs and predictions to cartoon strips, the class really grasped the themes of homelessness, racism and prejudice, family and friendship as well as the sense of fun that the story reflects. They will be displayed in our hallway along with some other written work related to Maniac Magee. Please visit our bulletin board!

We are enjoying a short mini-unit on Tall Tales (as Maniac is a bit of a tall tale character himself!) but will soon begin our next book, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. It is written as 60 poems and despite the spare text tells a complex and moving story. This class is so connected to poetry I know that it will inspire even more poetic writing than Love That Dog did at the start of the year.

In Social Studies, we have begun our study of US geography. They surprised themselves, and me, in how many states they could label on a blank map as our starting point.

We had a short but fun visit from the 7th graders this week who helped us with our Spelling Scramble and we have in turn invited them to our classroom for some yoga and qiqong practice soon.

Please remember to send in SLIPPERS, if you haven’t already done so, and a set of dry clothes. If you have any extra set of snow pants that can live at school that would be great, otherwise please send in a pair everyday- it makes a real difference in what activities they can participate in at recess.

Best to all!


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


By | 2018-01-11T13:55:02+00:00 January 11th, 2018|

Academic Conversations in 4th Grade.

Dear Parents, Friends and Families,

Such a busy time of year! However, we have really kept our eye on the ball and persevered with some challenging work.

In English Language Arts we have finished reading Maniac Magee. We used that as an introduction to practice Academic Conversations that Leigh Doherty spoke of in her last blog.  As she said, these are purposeful conversations that follow a process that supports intentional discussion. In our case, I introduced the idea of paraphrasing back to a classmate what was heard in response to a question about the reading. Restating what someone else has said goes a long way to promote active listening, clears up misunderstandings about content and keeps the conversation on track. (So you are saying that… ,etc.)
Most students got a chance to model this skill with one other classmate and we will continue to use this as we finish reading our books throughout the year and answer questions in our book discussions.

Another way we reviewed Maniac Magee was to do one (or two) word descriptions of different characters. I’ve attached a photo of the list of adjectives used to describe Maniac himself (everywhere, witty, unique, free, open-hearted and impossible) because I thought they reflect a great window into their understanding of the complexity of that character.

In math the students are feeling quite solid in their multiplication and division skills so we took a foray to a different project this week with more of a holiday theme. According to the gifts given over the 12 Days of Christmas, what was the total number of presents given? More than one way to solve that problem, and we had a great variety of them to share. Neal and Aiden used what they called the ‘rainbow pattern’ as did others though not with the same name. I also included a photo of an answer to another problem solving assignment that came back with at least 50 right answers and we could have gone on.

The class has begun a special drumming class with Mr. Suters today and that will continue throughout the trimester every other week alternating with the 3rd grade.

Thank you to Ken Dow who was our intrepid Lunch Bunch parent this week on the day of the snow storm! Delicious lunch including a spectacular variety of berries to enjoy on that snowy day.

I also include a few shots from the class working with Mr. Evans on pottery upstairs and a special visit we had from Paula Meade who shared the story of Hanukkah and some delicious Hanukkah treats.

Thank you all for getting in the Holiday gifts and cards on time this week, I know how long the list is this time of year! I will be sending home most everything from the cubbies tomorrow including extra clothes.

I wish you all a wonderful, restful, peaceful holiday break wherever you may be.
I look forward to continuing the good work this class is poised to take on next year!
Happy New Year!


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


By | 2017-12-14T13:37:28+00:00 December 14th, 2017|

Portfolios, zeros in the quotient and the morning light.

Dear All,

We are blessed with beautiful morning light in this classroom so when the class asked to work on their Social Studies time-lines with just the natural light, it was fine with me. I hope the pictures convey how special the light was this morning.

I was very pleased to see all the portfolio reflection sheets come back along with the envelopes! I told the class that I appreciated the care that they put into the assignment. We decided that they could respond to one piece of work with all 5 questions or just 2 questions about more than one piece. The portfolio envelopes (completed work) will be going home every Friday.

I love reading Maniac Magee with this crew. They have made solid connections with some of the more difficult themes of homelessness, racism, and acceptance. Some of the more challenging vocabulary words, (ex:suffice, emanate and infamous) have made for some great sentence writing.
The class completed a lesson where they matched different literary techniques with their definitions and examples. EVERYONE completed it correctly. We decided it was a great example of growth mindset thinking…instead of thinking – this is too hard, to think- this may take some time. Some photos of that class are attached. It was a great combination of independent and collaborative working.

The class continues to practice dividing with zeros in the quotient with good success. Somehow doing it on the classroom whiteboard makes it even more fun! I continue to emphasize math homework assignments that result in more than one right answer as well as allow for some creativity.

We will begin our study of US Geography in Social Studies next week with the new Trimester.

You will be getting information about the Book Fair next week and…pajama day on the 7th!

Hope you will be able to join for the Winter Concert on the 8th.

Best, Katharine

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

By | 2017-11-29T16:26:55+00:00 November 29th, 2017|