Thursday, November 29, 2012


The field trip was great today and we all really enjoyed meeting Kelly Milner Halls this afternoon - wow, does she have some stories to tell! :)  Ask your child about the books she wrote about.  If they can tell you, write the word "Kelly" on their planner for bonus points.  Book orders are also coming home today so be on the lookout for those.  They are due next Thursday, December 6th. 

Tomorrow we are going to have a class meeting to discuss some social issues that have been coming up both in class and on the playground.  As we mature, we need to start thinking about what kind of legacy we want to leave behind us, how we want people to remember us, not only this year but in the future.  With hormones and social drama coming into play more and more as the year goes on, this will start to become a significant piece of our school "puzzle".  Already Mrs. Jones and myself are starting to see a lot of bickering amongst girls to the point where feelings are hurt and tears are shed, we have seen "crushes" start to form between girls and boys within our classes, we have seen a vast array of maturity levels start become more apparent and students becoming more and more aware of themselves within the classroom setting (fears of teasing, self-consciousness, etc.).  It's important that you take the time to have the conversation with your student about what you value as a family and what impact you want to make on others and on history.  All of the students are making an impact on a daily basis to North Beach and P4, but also on the world as a whole.  We hope that everyone strives to make a positive impact on others so that, looking back on 4th grade, others can see them in a positive light.  Impressions of people last a lot longer than some people may like, whether that's fair or not, and so it's important that you talk about how actions impact others and how others view them. We are hoping to support strong, intelligent students who are confident in their abilities and recognize their faults and having those conversations at home will help bridge that gap between their "home world" and "school world". 

Thank you for your support at home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Field Trip Tomorrow and Author Visit

Just a reminder that there is a field trip tomorrow.  We will be leaving school right after the tardy bell rings and attendance is taken so it is VERY important that students are here on time or early if possible.  Unfortunately we cannot hold the bus for students who are late.  We will be back at North Beach before lunch so there doesn't need to be any special lunch time arrangements for any of the students.  The weather is supposed to be very rainy tomorrow, and while we shouldn't be outside for long, there is a chance we will have to wait outside for buses or our turn to enter the auditorium.  Please make sure that your student is dressed appropriately for the weather.

If you're interested in getting a sneak preview of what the Jazz Nutcracker will be like, click here for a short video of previous Jazz Nutcracker performances.  If you watch this video with your student, please write the word "video" in the planner under today's date for bonus points! :)

Tomorrow is also our author visit so if your students is interested in buying an autographed copy of one of her amazing books, please send your student with money and an order form if you haven't already.

Our winter concert is one week from tomorrow already!  Mark your calendars!  We will be performing at Whitman Middle School and 4th grade will be starting the show so please be there on time!  :)  I will give you a finalized time schedule as I get it.  :)

Hope you all stay dry with this Washington rain we are having! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick Reminder!

Picture retakes are tomorrow so if you were here and want retakes please bring your entire picture packet back for retakes.  If you were absent and want to purchase pictures, please bring money and a picture packet tomorrow.  Can't wait to see those smiling faces!  :)

Welcome Back! :)

Welcome back from break!  I enjoyed getting to meet with you all this past week and I hope that you all had lovely Thanksgivings!  I enjoyed some relaxing time at home with my puppy and tried to stay healthy!  There are a lot of germs going around so make sure you emphasize to your students about hand washing, especially after using the restroom and before eating, that would be great so we all stay healthy!  :)

Book orders will be coming home tomorrow with students.  If you're interested in buying books for your student for holiday gifts, please email me and let me know that they are surprises so that we can arrange pick ups in more discrete ways.  :)  I am happy to arrange those pick ups after school or can leave them in the office for you to pick up after school.  Books make great holiday gifts!  :)

Speaking of books, this week we are starting our focus on nonfiction reading in class.  Some students cheered in delight while others groaned at the sound of nonfiction.  While it may not be the favorite of the class it is very important that students are reading more nonfiction as they mature to make sure that they are able to learn from texts but also to gain valuable nonfiction reading skills.  Middle school teachers consistently complain of a lack of competency in nonfiction reading so we want to bump up that reading both at school and at home.  A great strategy is to encourage students to read more nonfiction based on their interests and also buying (or checking out books from the library) that are nonfiction.  Often nonfiction has more academic language and is therefore at a much higher reading level than fiction books.  This generally means that students are going to need more help reading those challenging books.  Offer to read the books with your student or ask them what they are reading to make sure that they are understanding what is read!  You may learn something new as well!

Lastly, I just created a request for my classroom: Help Us Get Moving!  If you chip in to help my students, you'll get awesome photos and our heartfelt thanks. Give to my project by November 28 and your donation will be doubled thanks to the Board of Directors! Just enter the code INSPIRE on the payment page and you'll be matched dollar for dollar. Your support would mean so much to us!  As many families have already asked what I am interested in getting for the holidays (you guys spoil me!) this is a great way to support our classroom in a meaningful way that will help our students a lot! 

Thanks for your support for our classroom in advance!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Common Themes: 40 Book Challenge

Having these conferences is a great tool for me because I get to finally hear what the burning questions are from families and one came up over and over: The 40 Book Challenge!

So let's get all of the information out there so we are all on the same page and able to be successful this year!

First of all, yes I have challenged all of the fourth graders to read at least 40 books this school year.  I absolutely expect that ALL of the students will reach that goal.  I have high expectations for my students but they are not unattainable by any means as long as they are worked on consistently and diligently.  The pupose of the challenge is not only to get students reading more books than they thought they might have been able to read otherwise, but also to expose students to new genres that they may not have tried before.  We all know how we get stuck in those "ruts" and read the same thing over and over, it gets easy and comfortable and if we enjoy it then why not?  I totally agree and I would absolutely rather that students are reading something instead of nothing!  However, 4th grade standards require that students are reading in a variety of genres for a variety of purposes.  Since we are all trying to meet standard, the 40 book challenge is a great way to get there!

Now, all that said, several parents expressed concern that their student is falling behind in their reading or that they won't make it to the 40 book challenge.  To that I have two things to say.  First is to take a deep breath and continue to encourage your student to read.  Go to a public library and have the librarian suggest a new book to your student based on his/her current favorites or maybe something just interesting overall!  Ask other peers for recommendations or go online - there are literally millions of sites giving list after list of ideas of great books at every reading level!  Secondly, don't focus on your student failing the challenge.  We talk a lot in our class about how attitude is everything and if you think you can't, you're right, but if you think you can, you're also right.  Help your student adopt that mentality by continuing to find new books to read and the 40 books will naturally come with that.  Book orders are great motivating tools that students have to choose a book they are interested in.  Scholastic has a number of books that are very affordable and make great stocking stuffers and gifts throughout the year!  Focusing on "what if" situations only distracts you from that goal of reading!  :) 

As long as everyone is doing their best, reading great books, and writing about reading, I couldn't be happier, whether it's 20 books or 100.  The main goal is to read MORE this year than you have in the past or than you thought was possible. 

This year alone there are already several students who are reading close to 1,000 pages and some who are already surpassing that mark and have achieved membership in the 1,000 Page Club and are working toward the 2,000 page club!  Great job and keep up the great reading over your long break!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wacky Weather

Today is day one of conferences and what a way to start with this crazy weather we are having - I feel like I should have boated to work!

Thank you for everyone who showed up today for conferences!

Just a reminder, if the weather is too treacherous for you to brave, feel free to email me and we can do an email conference.  No problem at all.  :)

Enjoy your holiday break and I will see you all on Monday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Student Writers

Yesterday we started social studies with Junior Achievement which was a LOT of fun!  Each of the groups had to create a business and decide what types of goods or servies they were going to provide.  Here is what each group had to say!

"Today we had Junior Achievement and we were in groups and made our own business and our name is Purple Doughnuts because we sell doughnuts and we are at the purple table.  We sell doughnuts, coffee, and sometimes purple pancakes, eggs and bacon.  We provide foods, drinks, and we are open 12 hours a day 7 days a week.  Also we are good"

"Our business is called North West Shoes.  We sell shoes, like Vans, Osiris, DC, and Converse.  We provide help finding all shoes and all sizes."

"Our name is Vets and Pets.  We provide medicine and petcare packages for sick pets.  We provide healthy pet care, and we make sure pets go home healthy and safe."

"Are business name is Pixels.  We provide video games, movies, and game systems.  The servies we provide are delivery and checkout.  We also provide rental."

"The name of our business is Glouers Glass and More.  We provide blone glass and poetry we also give lessons.  We have a special pot each week.  The servies we provide are both goods and servies.  Goods because we sell blone glass and poetry.  Servies because we do lessons to teach people how to do blone glass and poetry.  We open and 9:00 am and we close at 9:00 pm.  Hope to see you at our shop"

Guess which group your student was in and ask them about their business plans!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Today is a mixed post of a LOT of annoucements that need to be fed through so get ready!  :)

  1. Book Orders from November got here today.  There will be one more book order before the holiday break and books make great holiday gifts.  If you're interested in getting gifts for your child from the book order and want it to be a surprise, send me a note or email and I will make sure that they are discretely handled to make sure there are surprises left.  :)
  2. Movie Night is this Friday!  The movie is Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.  Volunteers are still needed to make sure the night is a success so please let us know if you're interested in volunteering and we hope to see you there. 
  3. Vision and Hearing Screening was today so you will be notified if there is any hearing or vision needs from you student.
  4. A reminder there is no school for students next week, however, it is conference week and so I hope to see you all at the conferences.  If you need a reminder about when your conference is, please send me an email to let me know.

On a personal note, the cat is out of the bag and yes, it is true that I got engaged this weekend!  :)  The kids were very excited and noticed my new ring right away!  Thanks for all of the positive notes I've been sent. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

We Need Seattle Postcards!

This year our class is very fortunate to be part of a postcard exchange with schools around the country!  The project is that each class sends a postcard to each of the schools from around the country that are participating, which means we need to get 50 postcards before winter break!

If you're out and see some postcards that would be a great representation of Seattle or the Ballard area and would like to donate them (or postage) to our class, it would be greatly appreciated! 

And as always, students will receive bonus table points for each postcard brought in!  Thanks in advance for your support!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Supporting P4

Thank you all for your continued support for P4!

Some families have come to me asking what we "need" for the classroom.  Honestly we have everything we "need" but looking ahead at the year, we are quickly running low on a couple of items.  If you think of us while you are "out" we would love your support.

P4 "Needs" (really more like wants at this point):
  • White board markers (we use these a TON, especially in math and our supplies are quickly dwindling)
  • Erasers - with more writing comes more erasing!
  • Playground Equipment - balls, jump ropes, anything that students can use to get their energy out and exercise.  Right now we have 2 playground balls for 25 students to share so as you can imagine, they are at a premium!

Thanks in advance for your support.  Students who bring in supplies or donations for our classroom will be getting bonus points for their contributions as a reward.

Rough Drafts due Tomorrow!

Students have spent the last 2 days in class drafting their realistic fiction stories.  Their finished rough draft is due tomorrow in class.  Students who are not finished should have brought their writing notebooks home to make sure they finished on time.  Stories should be at least 2 pages written, though if your students is writing more than 10 pages, please either let me know so I can help them focus their ideas or help them narrow it down at home.  If this is taking more than an hour to finish, please draw a line and sign where students left off and I will know that is has been attempted at home.  If students are not done they will be spending their recess time making up the work that is not completed since students were given a lot of work time in class to start.

Permission slips are coming home today for the Jazz Nutcracker at Roosevelt field trip that will happen November 29th.  The trip costs $4 per person, chaperones included.  We would love to have you chaperone our trip so if you are interested, please mark on the permission slip and I will contact you with more details as the date gets closer.  The first group that has all of their permission slips signed and returned will get 10 bonus points for their group. 

Today we also spent our entire afternoon (from 2-the end of the day) at YADA.  Ask your student what YADA was and what happened!  We had a lot of fun!  If your student tells you about YADA, write YADA in their planner for bonus points.

Monday, November 5, 2012

School Pictures and Writing

Individual pictures are in today to be on the lookout for those.  If you're interested in retakes, retakes will be later this month, after conference week. 

Thank you for those people who ordered book orders, you're making a huge difference in our class by ordering because we are able to get a lot of books for free to add to our classroom which is amazing and keeps our kids reading!  Book orders should be in late this week or early next week, depending on when things ship out.

We started drafting our realistic fiction story today, focusing on incorporating all of the parts of a story AND using proper paragraphing.  Ask your student to tell you what a paragraph should look like.  If they can answer you correctly, write the word paragraph (spelled correctly :)) in your planner for bonus points tomorrow.  Remember: to get bonus points, you need to have your planner out on your desk tomorrow morning.  :)

Enjoy your evening!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Month of Personality

Well Halloween has come and gone but the personality in P4 is stronger than ever.... OY!  Today was a rough day and we struggled slightly to manage behavior with expectations.  Talking is absolutely out of control in the class, especially with the gentlemen in the room.

At this point, students are clear about the expectations that I have for them and they are now choosing not to follow those instructions.  As fourth graders, we talk almost daily about learning to control our body - which includes choices we make, touching things and one another, following expectations, listening, and controlling our voices.  Having a chat with your student about what positive choices they can make would be very helpful to make sure that the positive messages are being reinforced at home. 

Also, because it is unfair for students to continually have their time wasted on management issues from students who are choosing not to cooperate, I am going to be introducing class "think papers" to the group tomorrow.  When students are not following expectations set in our class or in our school, they will need to fill out a think paper and bring it home to you to have it signed.  Until it is returned, they will be losing their recess privileges.  I want to make sure that you're all aware of immaturity of our group and how that is seriously impacting their learning time, so your signature is there to show that you are aware of the behavior and have had conversations about the incorrect behaviors and how they can be fixed with your student.  My hope is that students are able to better regulate their emotions, behaviors, and body spaces as a result. 

Thank you for your continued support at home.

Just a reminder that book orders are due tomorrow by 4 pm.  Happy November!