My (first!) blog (ever!) is here to keep parents and students informed about weekly routines and activities for my morning 4th grade language arts classes and for the afternoon 4th/5th blended class. In addition to information about upcoming events, I will review the previous week's highlights. These weekly updates will be posted by Monday. If something comes up during the week, I'll send an email.
I will, from time to time, post my reflections on what's happening day-to-day, as well as my personal educational philosophies. I will leave the blog open to your comments/questions, with the understanding that issues about your child or problems you wish to discuss with me be handled privately. The blog will start with 4th grade language arts and then move to the 4th/5th homeroom.
4TH GRADE LANGUAGE ARTS
Last Week in Review
The students took their second weekly spelling test on Friday, and overall, the scores were greatly improved. They are getting back into the rhythm of school and learning new routines, including how to create and study their individualized weekly spelling lists. They made daily journal entries, primarily responses to quotations or proverbs.
We started reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, a Newbery Award historical novel, which we will be studying in class for the next three weeks. Please make sure these books travel back to school in the morning!
They heard an interactive read aloud (that means questions, discussions, etc.) of Tolliver's Secret, an historical novel about a ten year old girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to deliver a note baked inside a loaf of bread to a courier who will take it by horseback to General Washington. It was VERY exciting and served as a springboard into our social studies focus for this term, which is Colonial America, covering roughly, the 15th - 18th centuries with special emphasis on the American Revolution.
I am using Toliver's Secret to introduce the 5 paragraph essay structure. We started last week with a pre-write, and most students have completed their rough drafts.
Week of September 26
We will make a new list on Monday- the test is on Friday. I'm encouraging the students to practice at home.
We will continue with the 5 paragraph essay and finish up by Thursday. This is NOT homework.
Students will work on sentence structure, learning to identify simple and complete subjects and predicates. (I actually love teaching this, and the kids seem to really like it.... who knew?)
We are going to be working our way through Carry On, Mr. Bowditch all week.This will be reflected in the homework.
I generally pass out a two page "packet" on Monday, which has the homework assignments for the week. Students keep this in their binder and complete one assignment each night, M - Th. It may be word study, reading or writing, but this week it will be reading. It is designed to take 20 minutes, but no more than 30. If homework is taking too long, please let me know. Students may work ahead, but we only correct/discuss one assignment per day, and I assess the Thursday night assignment after I collect the packet on Friday.
Last Week in Review
The students have been getting to know each other and working together on class activities. Our afternoons consist of 60 - 90 minutes of French language arts (direct instruction), and P.E. or Music on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. All students have music once and P.E. twice. We are also going to be teaching science and social studies and art during this time, as well as on Friday, when all students are with their homerooms. Last week in French we practiced reading, writing and dictation. Mme. Jana, Mme Grabowski and I are also introducing verb conjugation. This is a very challenging concept for native English speakers, but we are, nonetheless, seeing progress. We will all three continue to teach French language concepts at the same time.
Fifth Graders have begun a reading log/journal which they will give to me every Monday. Each student has selected an historical novel and they will keep a record of what they read along with reflections on the books. I am simultaneously working with the 4th graders on the geography of the United States. Once the Fourth Graders are finished with Carry on Mr. Bowditch, they, too, will begin reading an historical novel independently.
We are using short texts and dictation paragraphs for our study of French grammar, spelling and reading comprehension. Later in October, we will begin practicing French cadence and pronunciation using online resources. We will start science in mid-October, and our materials are in French. Our first area of study will be trees, emphasizing observation skills.
Week of September 26
We will move into a slightly more challenging dictee series, allowing the students to acquire vocabulary at a faster pace. We will be reading and working with Paul Eluard's poem "Dans Paris."
The students will have a 20 minute read aloud of The Fighting Ground by Avi each day. We are discussing the American Revolution both in language arts and in the blend. We are also working on geography. This week we will begin timelines.
This year I am teaching your children basic fiber arts skills, in particular, those used during the 18th and 19th century. We will be learning knot tying (connecting it with ships) crocheting, needle point/embroidery, knitting and a quilting technique called "English paper piecing." This is ongoing, meaning that students always have a project in progress. These can be worked on at home. Each project is to be completed within given parameters of design and materials. Students work on these projects during read aloud and on Friday afternoons.
A word about French....
As a staff, we have made a commitment to teaching French directly, as well as through immersion. Charlemagne's ambitious undertaking presents a distinct challenge to the teachers as well as a rigorous program for the students. Because math is being discussed/presented in French as well as English in grades 4 and 5, these students are spending about as much time "in French" as they would had we not re-structured our program. Please stay in touch, ask questions when they come up, and know that I am dedicated to presenting your children with the most engaging opportunities for learning and thinking that I can.