Monday, September 30, 2013

Better Late Than Never - Classroom Tour 2013-2014

Welcome to our classroom for the 2013-2014 school year!   I know it's a little late, but things are always changing so I'm finally ready to start posting!  :)

This is my front corner of the classroom. File cabinets and shelving for storage, pillows for reading, learning targets posted on the board daily next to our schedule.  

Here is our classroom library.  We are starting the year with it blocked off and students will be earning the classroom library privileges as the year goes on after they learn how it's organized and how to manage the materials.

Our book boxes are to the left where students can store their books for reading.  The yellow section is our  math wall, followed by the purple section for writing anchor charts.

Our classroom is fortunate to have tables so each table has a cubby for their notebooks and a supply caddy for their pens, pencils, glue sticks, etc.  At the start of the year the students have "look boxes" with a variety of books at different levels.  We start off the year building our reading stamina and giving students a variety of choices helps make sure that everyone has a book at their "just right level" before our initial assessments are finished.

As students come in in the morning they check in by moving their name card from the "at home" section to the "school lunch" or "lunch box" section depending on how they are eating lunch.  

We have our birthday signs up so that we can see when our classroom birthdays are.

Classroom jobs are posted right by the door, marked with clothespins to keep track of who has that job. We change jobs each week so everyone has a turn to do each job over the year.

Here is our back of the classroom.  I have a round table for meeting with small groups and the small baskets are for our leveled library, which will be filled as the year goes on.

Here is another view of my small group table, our student computers, and student desk groups.

Students decorated name signs that are hung throughout the room to celebrate our class and build community.

Each student decorated their hand print to hang on the wall.  Students will be making monthly goals that will be hung here.  Additionally, students will complete exit tickets several times per week for me to check on their understanding during reading.  For students who earn a 4 on their exit ticket (perfect answer in a complete sentence) their exit tickets will be hung on the wall, the goal being that students will end up with a ring full of responses as the year progresses to show their understanding.

In my classroom I have challenged the fourth graders to read 40 books this year.  This idea comes from one of my favorite books, The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  This challenge helps students read a variety of genres over the year to help diversify reading abilities and types.

As students read a book for the 40 Book Challenge, they are required to write a summary and review (more on this to come).  After conferencing with me about their books, they receive a sticker for every 50 pages that they read.  After filling this chart, they have read 1,000 pages.  We keep track of how many pages are read and there are different rewards as students reach different levels.  At the end of the year we have page club celebrations based on how many pages are read.  Students LOVE getting stickers for their chart and accomplishing more and more reading.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

MAP Testing Starts Tomorrow

Our MAP window is officially open and our class starts first thing Monday morning!  We will be doing math tomorrow and we will have reading on Wednesday.  Please make sure that your student is at school on time, well rested, with a hearty breakfast and snack so that they are able to do their best on the test.  Please stress that the MAP is an important indicator of their current level of knowledge and so please make sure that students are doing their best.  Thank you!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

North Beach Boundary Change Meeting

I wanted to relay a message from Mr. Sammons about our potential boundary changes for North Beach:

Hello North Beach, as you know, Seattle Public Schools recently sent out a draft of proposed boundary changes for our schools-CLICK HERE to review the proposed changes and to provide feedback.  I will keep you updated as we move forward through this process and truly find out how this will impact our learning community.  Meanwhile, you can direct your questions via email to but please copy me at so I can track our questions, concerns and general feedback.  Please join myself and our PTA board at Ballard HS next Tuesday from 6:30-8:00pm to voice your concerns and or ask questions via this community meeting.  Please wear your North Beach gear!

Hope to see you there!!

Early Release - YAHOO!

Students have two extra hours off today so I hope they use that time wisely to  play and enjoy the break from the coming rain we are sure to have!  I know I want to be out there enjoying it!

With the colder weather means that students should really be bringing some kind of outer layer - whether that is a coat, sweatshirt, vest, etc. so that when students are outside playing they aren't getting too cold or wet.  Also with that cold, rainy weather comes sickness.  :(  With a class of only 19 right now, we definitely notice when even one person is missing so as the flu and colds start to go around, it will run through our class so quickly.  Please emphasize with your student the importance of washing hands - we take a stop at the bathroom every day before lunch to wash up and it is amazing how fast students seem to be able to wash their hands!  I have already started to hear coughing and complaints of sore throats so try to get plenty of rest, fluids and hand washing in!

Permission slips came home on Monday for the field trip next Friday to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.  Please sent the slip and money ($5) to school ASAP.  We are still in need of at least one more chaperone, so if you're able to join us, we would love to see you there!

Today we started learning about artifacts in social studies and how artifacts are what archaeologists use to get information about the past.  On Friday, we are all going to be archaeologists of our own!  Students each need to bring in an artifact that says something about themselves - baseball gloves, family portrait, anything that is special and tells more about themselves!  Please help students find an artifact to bring in for Friday.  If the artifact is too big to bring in, feel free to send me a picture printed off or via email and I can help with that.  Write artifact on your student's planner for bonus points for tomorrow!  :)

Enjoy your extra time off and I will see you all tomorrow!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rainy Monday and a Field Trip

Welcome back to our rainy, rainy Monday.  Luckily the sun finally came out this afternoon so we weren't going so stir crazy inside all day!

Today we started working on our first school-wide writing prompt.  As a school we have decided to focus on writing this year, especially for our fourth grade students so that we not only become better writers for our future, but also become better writers for our MSP this spring.  We are focusing on informational writing this year since that tends to be the one that students struggle with the most - explaining and supporting details with reasoning.  It's a great help to practice this at home and use that all important word... BECAUSE!!  I stress this every day with students that for every answer they give, they should say "because" so that I know that have some kind of reason why they believe what they do.  Write this secret word on their planner for bonus points tonight!  :)

Today we also got a field trip form home for our field trip on October 4th (sheesh, that's next Friday already!).  We are asking that you return the field trip form with the required $5 by this Friday.  If you need a scholarship for this field trip, please email me or send me a note so that can be arranged.  We are so excited to be going to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and it should be a lot of fun so if you're able to chaperone, please fill out the attached form and send that back as well - this is new this year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Curriculum Night Tonight!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately - things have been SO busy around P4! 

Tonight is curriculum night and I hope to see everyone here.  We are meeting in the cafeteria at 6:30 at North Beach.

Just a quick reminder that book orders are due tomorrow - either online or on paper. 

Sorry again for the short post - there will be more soon!  :)  Write a star on your planner for tonight for bonus points!  :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dictado Quiz Tomorrow

Just a couple of quick announcements for tonight:
  1. Tomorrow we have our first dictado quiz and students have one last practice for homework tonight - I hope they do well!
  2. Book fair is next week!  We will be stopping by on Tuesday to take a peek as a class and I greatly encourage you to support our classroom through buying books - kids LOVE new books, especially when they have donated them!
  3. Instrumental music applications went home today.  This year instrumental music will be sometime on Monday afternoon and students are expected to make up any missed work in class.  They will be expected to practice at home, bring their instrument every Monday, and bring their music book on Monday as well.
  4. Curriculum night is next Wednesday, September 18th already!  The night will go from 6:15 from 8:00 and I hope to see everyone there!  :)
Enjoy your evenings and I will see you Friday!  :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dictado - Week 1

This year in fourth grade, we have decided as a team to not do spelling with fourth graders - for a variety of reasons and experiences in the past showed us that a traditional spelling list just turned into memorization of spelling words which were quickly forgotten soon after the spelling test was given.  Obviously, we want to be adjusting our practice so that students are actually learning from the time we are spending on spelling and writing.  Additionally, the expectation is that students are using their grammar and spelling learned in their actual daily writing. 

SO, we have decided to take a page from this amazing teacher blog Apples of Your Eye and change our spelling program to a dictation-based program.   Each week on Monday, students will be given the pre-test to see what their current writing abilities are.  Then, students will be shown the correct way to write the paragraph and are expected to edit their own writing.  Tuesday and Thursday, students will be given the dictado paragraph to practice at home.  On Wednesday, students will have time in class to practice with a partner.  Then, on Friday, students will be given the full dictado paragraph as their "spelling test".  Points will be given for EACH word spelled correctly, paragraphs indented, and any punctuation placed correctly where it should go. 

Thus far, the students seem REALLY excited to have something other than the dreaded "list"and I am hoping to see great results.  This week our paragraph is:

Fourth Grade
When you’re in fourth grade, the expectations are high.  You’re expected to complete your work on your own, with partners, and in groups. Mrs. Lippert also expects you to do your best in everything.
It will be a lot of help to practice dictating this sentence to your student nightly, so that they can practice a lot - more practice will lead to better results!  :)
Since we just started this week, our homework schedule is a little off and students DO have their dictado homework tonight and the expectation is that students are writing correctly, at least once.  Thanks for supporting their work at home!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Well, we blinked again and another day is over!  These days are just FLYING right by us!!

Today we kept going with our first science kits, circuits and pathways, and I was really impressed that the students were able to find ALL 4 ways to use the motor, wires, and a d-cell battery to make the motor spin!  Ask your student to draw a diagram for you in their planner for Tuesday.  If they can, there will be extra points for their tables!

Today we continued our first full week with math, library check out (we have it every Tuesday!), and reading workshop.  I started reading with kids to find out more about them as readers as well as how their current reading level is.  I will try to get through the whole class by next week (fingers are crossed that works out) so that everyone will get a reading partner, we can start reading groups, and we can get into our real groove of reading workshop - I can't wait!

I am SO impressed with what a wonderful class this is - we are getting compliments left and right!  Let's keep that momemtum going through the year, P4!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sub Tomorrow!

My sister is getting married tomorrow and so I will be out for the day. I know you'll all do fantastic and do great for P4 to model excellence. Have fun tomorrow and have a great weekend! We made it through the first week together!! See you all Monday- I hope you are ready for math and science CE to start! :) I know I am.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome back!

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year!  It was a pleasure to get to know each of your students today and I can't wait for the fantastic year we have ahead of us. In all of my years of teaching this is definitely the quickest learning group which is fantastic for both of them and me. We spent a lot of our day going over routines for the classroom and the school. We also spent time organizing all of the supplies you brought in. Just a quick reminder that students need to bring in $5 to purchase our classroom magazine and this year we are getting National Geographic! Another reminder is that students need to have a flash drive for our work on the computer throughout the year so that they may work on projects both at school and at home. If you can send both of those things in as soon as possible I would greatly appreciate it! Students should show you a bright green packet tonight that tells a little more about our classroom and please return the bottom piece of the last page to give permission to have your students picture on this blog. There will be pictures throughout the year of field trips, activities in class, and anything else interesting or fun that we work on. It's always exciting for students to see their pictures on the blog so I encourage you to send that in as soon as possible. Students first names will only be used on the blog with their picture. Every night students should show you their planner as well and you need to sign your initials at the bottom of each day's page so that I know you have seen their planner each night. We fill out the planners together daily and that is a great way to find any homework or projects that need to be completed as well as reminders of upcoming events or due dates.  I am looking forward to the rest of the year. Day one down, only 179 to go! Draw a :-) on today's date in the planner for bonus points for your group! See you all tomorrow!