Thursday, January 31, 2013

Spelling Words for the Week of Feb 4th

We are working on endings with on, ain, in, and an - thanks for helping your students improve their spelling!

  1. orphan
  2. certain
  3. cannon
  4. common
  5. margin
  6. cousin
  7. gallon
  8. dragon
  9. mountain
  10. villain
  11. raisin
  12. pardon
  13. reason
  14. slogan
  15. urban
  16. salmon

Science Fair Registration and Valentines

Yesterday students should have brought home a sheet for you to help them register for the science fair (it is required for 4th and 5th, but registration lets the coordinators know the exact number of participants for set up purposes).  In order to do that, please go to by February 28th.  All participants will receive a certificate of participation and the top three projects in each grade will receive an award.  Students should have their topics chosen at this point and over the long weekend, their job is to explore their background information, find websites or books that may be useful for the project, and get any background information needed by Monday.  Students will be forming their hypothesis by next week so it's important this is done on time to keep up with our schedule.  Thanks for helping at home!

Today students will be coming home with a handout of student names in case you are interested in sending Valentines on February 14th.  As many of you have realized, February 14th is an early release day with students leaving at 12:35.  Due to the early release, we will not be having a Valentines "party" but students will have time to distribute and exchange Valentines.  I do ask that if you're sending Valentines into class, that you send one for EVERY child in the class.  Thank you for your support!

Well it's a long weekend - three relaxing days ahead so make the most of them and hopefully we can enjoy some of the (predicted) nice weather!  See you Monday!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Long Division is Easy!

In fourth grade we make the official dive into long division and boy, there are a LOT of steps!  I was inspired by the fantastic teacher blog Runde's Room and her math journal ideas.  I used her template and created an anchor chart for our learning.  The kids really seem to enjoy it and actually use it more than most of our anchor charts - seems like that is a success! 
The acronym for remembering the steps is Does McDonalds Serve Burgers - Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down, and repeat!  I also added some division words to help students who struggle with story problems and deciding if it's asking to divide or not.  :) 

Class Pictures and Science Fair

Class pictures are scheduled for February 7th - next Thursday - and picture packets came home yesterday if you're interested in purchasing class pictures.  Please try to make sure that your student is here next Thursday to make sure they will be in our class photo - there are no make ups! 

Science fair packets also came home yesterday.  Students should have a white packet (that is to keep at home for you to look over to have some background information in the science fair and what the expectations are) and an orange packet that is to be kept in their binder at all times.  This is where students will keep all of their information during the science fair preparation.  The science fair is REQUIRED of all fourth grade students so please make sure that students are working with you to have access to materials AND to plan/execute their science experiment or field study.  The projects are due March 6th and the science fair is March 7th.  ALL of the information you should need is in the packets students have, but if there are any questions, feel free to email me and ask.  I will be giving students small due dates along the way to make sure they are staying on track - it seems like March 6th is a long ways away but it will definitely sneak up on us quickly so this is something that needs to be worked on in little bits along the way.  The first due date is tomorrow (Wednesday) where students need to have a general topic picked out and an idea of what experiment or field study they plan on completing.  No plans or hypotheses need to be done, simply a topic is all.

Thanks for your support of our 4th grade scientists!

Friday, January 25, 2013

New Spelling and DonorsChoose

We FINALLY got to take our reading MAP test (thank goodness there were no more rescheduling or I think the class would have lost it).  Scores should be online soon on The Source so keep an eye out for those.

A big thank you to one of our fabulous room parents, Angie, who found out another DonorsChoose matching code for our class if you're interested in donating to our Nonfiction Book Club project that is currently open and ready for funding!  If you would like to donate to our classroom, this is a great way!  Enter the match code HORACEMANN12 and Horace Mann Companies will match your donation of up to $100 - can't beat that!  We still have a long way to go on our project (it's expensive but worth every penny) so please donate anything you can!  :)

New spelling words are here for the week of 1/28 and I thought I would post them online just in case they suddenly go missing, which I know happens to several students!  :)  This week's words:
  1. worry
  2. dizzy
  3. drowsy
  4. stingy
  5. beauty
  6. beautiful
  7. prairie
  8. gallery
  9. bury
  10. jockey
  11. forty
  12. movie
  13. journey
  14. volley
  15. zombie
  16. goalie
  17. cookie
  18. chimney
  19. very
  20. turkey 
Spelling will take place on Thursday (as per usual) and just a reminder there is no school February 1st (next Friday).  Have a wonderful weekend!  :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Savvy Scientists

Just some quick updates, we had some technology issues today so MAP testing for reading was moved until tomorrow.  Thanks P4 for being so flexible today!  Also, book orders are due tomorrow by 5 pm.  :)  Happy ordering!

As we continue our explorations in food chemistry, we started looking at how much starch is in selected foods.  Today we tested starch levels in rice, flour, apple, egg white, beef jerky, oat cereal, onion and coconut.  Which ones do you think have starch?  The results might surprise you!

 Lily and Bailey are working hard to make a FAIR test.  Ask your student what makes a fair test!
 Ben and Amrit carefully are measuring egg whites into their plastic cups.
 Yumi and Lilja (disguised as a mouse today!  :)) are working great together and are deep in scientific thought!
 Jack and Seiji are discussing some results.
 Hayley is letting Lauren measure out the materials as she looks onto her tablemate's results.
 Nico, Nathan, and Diego are all working hard to make equal measurements.
 To test for starch we added two drops of iodine to each food substance.  If there is starch present, there is a chemical change.... which ones do you see with a chemical change?  Hint: Iodine starts brown but changes color!  :)  Students, help your family members with this one!
Here we can see that flour and oat cereal DEFINITELY have starch but egg whites don't!  Did you know that?!
Ask your student which substances had starch present and write SS on their planner if they can tell you!  :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Playground Pictures

For our most recent DonorsChoose project, we were generously funded some playground equipment which allows us to actually have some equipment now!  :)  Before this project was funded, we were down to nothing so this could not have come at a better time!  Hopefully we can make this stuff last (already 2 things have been lost... EEK!), but as fourth graders, it's our responsibility to treat our materials with respect to make sure we have it to play with in the future!  :)  Here are some pictures I uploaded to our DonorsChoose account to thank our donors.

 Leslie, Kara, and Lilja are having lots of fun with the jump ropes!

 Grant, Lily, Taylor, Diego, and a few other P4 friends join a game of four square, a class favorite!
 Josh is running that football in for a touchdown! 

Ask your student what their favorite recess activity is!

Today we also tested our liquids for proteins which took quite a while!  As of today we have completed all of our liquid tests for our science unit.  We tested for proteins, fats, glucose, and starch.  Ask your child what they learned about each of the materials.  If they can tell you what they learned, write SCIENCE on their planner for bonus points.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Three Day Weekend!

Just a quick reminder that Monday is a day off from school.  As our guest presenter on Tuesday told us, though, it's not a day off, it's a day on.  In the spirit of MLK Jr. Day we are challenging our students to go out and help someone else, whether it it is something big or small.  It could be helping someone bring in their groceries, babysitting, helping with chores, or anything else that is helpful to someone else.  We will be sharing what we did to help someone else on Tuesday, so make it count!

Have a great three day weekend and make Monday a day ON for helping others!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

P4 Needs Your Help!

A BIG thank you to all of those families who came to our school's math night!  It's always great to see so many families supporting mathematics and giving it such a strong message both at school and at home!

P4 is starting to run low on some crucial supplies and we could use your help replenishing those supplies if you're able to help out!  We really need some sticky notes and white board markers.  We use these all. the. time and so our supplies start to dwindle rather quickly.  While we are not completely out, we will be soon.  If you're able to help out and bring some white board markers and/or sticky notes (Costco has GREAT deals on both!) we would all really appreciate it and it will be worth 5 extra bonus points for EACH item brought in.  Thanks again for your continued support! 

Today we started our new writing unit.  Ask your student what it is and help them brainstorm ideas for their "expert" list.  If they can tell you what our writing unit is, write the word EXPERT on their planner for bonus points!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Final Drafts and Math Night

Today students finished their final draft of their persuasive essay which was probably the best piece of writing I've seen from the class overall.  WOW!  Apparently we have no lack of opinions in the classroom and know how to give pretty decent arguments!  Ask your student what they wrote about!  Tomorrow we will be moving on to our new unit which will have a nonfiction flair again.  Any guesses what it is?

Yesterday we had a blast at Garfield HS for the Treasure Island play, even though through some bus hiccups we were about 10 minutes late.  The "cheese" scene was the highlight of the play.  Ask your student what I mean by that and I'm sure they will have PLENTY to say!  :)

Tonight is math night, as a reminder.  It starts at 6:30 and we hope to see everyone's smiling faces there for a fun filled night of math!  I know it's my favorite subject!

Today we also started our newest nonfiction book clubs!  Students are placed in groups of three to five students who are all reading the same book.  They have time in class to read and answer some questions about the book and then every third day we have book club discussions to go deeper in the meaning of the books.  So far I've been super impressed about how well students have been doing at discussing the books and I've seen their level of engagement in nonfiction reading really skyrocket!  Nonfiction has a way of doing that to us all.  Ask your student about their book club book.  If they can tell you what book they are reading AND at least 3 details then write BC on their planner for bonus points.

Speaking of nonfiction book clubs... we have a great nonfiction book club DonorsChoose project open right now that is looking for some more funding.  If you or your family is willing to donate to our classroom we would greatly appreciate it and it will go toward providing a HUGE number of books for P4!  Give big or small, every bit counts! :)  Click HERE to take a peek at this great project.

Yesterday book orders also came home WITH a free book coupon attached so take advantage of that this month!  Book orders are due online or in paper form by next Wednesday.  As an added bonus, if you order online with your free book coupon you can get ANOTHER book free for ordering online!  If you're interested in donating a nonfiction book or book set of five books to our classroom from the book order, we would also greatly appreciate that.  Choose a title that your students is REALLY excited about and donate in your child's name!  :)

Have a great evening and see you at Math night!

Monday, January 14, 2013

MAP Testing Starts This Week!

Tomorrow our class will start MAP testing.  We will take the math MAP test tomorrow after the field trip and the reading MAP test next Wednesday (January 23).  It is extremely important that all students are here for the tests as much as possible to avoid missing out on class time for make up testing.  Please help your student get a good night's rest and a hearty breakfast/lunch to ensure that they are ready for testing that day.  Additionally, please stress to your student that time is no object and students can literally have as much time as needed.  We often see test scores drop significantly when students are rushing through their test to finish first.  Remind them that "first" doesn't mean "smartest".  :) 

If you have any questions or concerns about the MAP testing, feel free to email me anytime.

And a quick reminder that tomorrow is our field trip to Garfield HS to see Treasure Island.  Please make sure your student is at school ON TIME so that we can be on time for the performance.  If your student is not here on time, we will have to leave him/her behind for the duration of the field trip so please make sure they are here. 

Enjoy your evening and get plenty of rest!

Friday, January 11, 2013


We were VERY fortunate that our DonorsChoose donations got here today and we got some playground equipment!  We got a football, jump ropes, a basketball, a playground ball, and a tennis ball tossing game!  The whole class was so excited to get some new and GREATLY needed equipment for our classroom.  Unfortunately some of the students ALREADY lost some of the supplies so hopefully they can make better choices with the playground equipment so that our class will get to keep our equipment as long as possible!  :)

Ask your student what their favorite playground toy was.  If they can tell you, write PLAY on their planner for bonus points!

We also finished a fascinating book about mummies today!  Ask your student what their favorite or most interesting part was!  :)

Enjoy your weekend and we will see you all Monday!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Science and Spirit

Tomorrow is Friday already and we are supporting the Seahawks by wearing blue!  Wear your blue and/or Seahawks gear for bonus points for your table!  :)

This quarter our science unit is Food Chemistry and we are in need of some nutrition labels from the backs of boxes or bags of food so that we can analyze them later in the unit.  If you're able to bring some in, I would greatly appreciate them, however please cut them off of the box/bag to which they are attached to make sure we have room to store them all!

Also, I am looking at our next read aloud and the librarian recommended a book for our class, however, it's a little on the scary side.  It has to do with a family that is murdered and a boy who is raised by ghosts.  I wanted to let you all know that I am THINKING about reading this book.  HOWEVER, if you object to having your student read/hear this book, please let me know via email and I will reconsider.  It is a Newbery Award Winning book so it is a fantastic read, however I don't want to offend families or scare students with the content. 

Tomorrow I have a big surprise for the students.... can you guess what it is??  I will give you a hint.... it's something that is much needed and coveted by students during certain times in our day.  Yes I know it was a vague hint, but that's the point, right!?  :)  Ask your student what he/she thinks it could be!  :)  We will find out tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Critical Thinking

A huge jump in 4th grade is that a huge value is placed on critical thinking skills to get students ready for 5th grade, middle school, high school and LIFE in general. 

As a parent you can help foster critical thinking skills by asking open ended questions to your student and making them give you that all important "because" to support their answer.

As we are progressing into harder thinking, our class overall is "stuck" in very basic thinking.  For example, when a student doesn't have a piece of paper, many students in our class just sit there instead of problem solving and getting a piece of paper for themselves or asking for one.  While we absolutely want to be there for our students in 4th grade we also have to start getting rid of "doing things for them."  Students should be responsible for their own homework, packing their own backpacks for school, etc.  This is something that not only builds independence, which is important, is places less reliance on you, as parents, to assume that everything is going to be done for them.  That is definitely not the case in our classroom.  I assume students are able to clean up for themselves, organize their own materials, etc.  These are important life skills that need to be fostered from home to make sure they are "sticking" and will be used now and throughout life.

Talk with your student about what responsibilites that you currently do that they can take on.  This may be a household chore like dishes, or a school related chore like packing their lunch.  Students will take more pride and ownership of the materials when they have a hand in making/organizing it AND it gives us all more time for the "fun" things in life!  :)

Have a great evening!

Monday, January 7, 2013

And We Are Back! Welcome to 2013!

Today flew by in a whirlwind of new year, new things, new seats, new everything!  :)  Well, not new everything but getting back into the swing of things is pretty tough sometimes. 

It sounded like everyone had a great break, which is fantastic to hear!

We continued working on our persuasive essay today and we will continue to revise and edit that this week with the hopes that it will be ready to turn in by Monday!  Quick turn around time, yes, but we are all ready to move on.  I have been seeing some great writing from the students though, which is fantastic to see!

There is a permission slip coming home today for our upcoming field trip (which is next Tuesday already!) to Garfield High School for their play Treasure Island.  We went last year to the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and it was great so I can't wait to see what they have in store for us this year!  Those permission slips are due Thursday with the $7 bus and admission fee.  We also need at least 4 chaperones (who also need to pay) so that our class can go.  If you are interested, please let me know.

Today we also introduced our focus for the month of January in reading, which is nonfiction book clubs!  I am really excited about these book clubs and can't wait to hear more talking about reading and learning. 

For bonus points, ask your student what article we are reading for our first book club.  If they can tell you, write BONES on their planner for BONE-us points - Ha!  :)