Friday, September 21, 2018

Happy Rainy Friday! This much needed rain has been a bit of a disappointment here at school since we had to stay indoors at recess and also postpone our Outdoor Classroom time today. We did our best to enjoy our day anyway!

Here is a brief summary of our academics this week:
We are continuing to work on what it means conceptually to multiply. We have distinguised between equal groups problems (I have 4 bags with 8 candies in each bag) and comparison problems (I have 4 bags and my friend has 8 times more than I do.) We have practiced drawing or using a variety of models for each. These are baby steps, but critical before we can move on to harder multiplication problems later in the year.

We are just starting our first reading unit and we are focusing on characters, what their traits are, and what they really want. We are reading the book The Tiger Rising (a gorgeous book written by Kate DeCamillo) as our anchor book. This works really well for our writng unit which is a narrative unit. The kids are planning their stories, and they are so anxious to start drafing! For now, they are thinking about their characters, deciding on their internal and external traits, and planning their struggles. We have discussed words like antagonist, hero, villain, and protagonist. They love using these big words!

We started our unit on Structure and Function today. This was what we were hoping to get outdoors for, but we brought some of the outdoors in!  Today we discussed various structures of plants and what the function of each is. Then we observed a variety of plants (that I gathered from around the building, a spider plant, some weeds from outside the classroom door, etc.) and practiced sketching them and labeling the parts.  A Bill Nye video rounded out the activity, and everyone seemed to enjoy and learn.

Social Studies
This week we began learning about the different landforms and physiographic regions that make up Vermont. The kids worked in groups to become experts on one region, make posters, and shared with others. You'll see these posters at Open House!

Here are some considerations for next week:
We are going to the Maritime on Wednesday. Thanks for getting all of your paperwork and money in! The students will need to wear footwear that can get wet, preferably with a closed toe. I plan to wear boots. They should also be prepared to get their clothes wet as we will be in canoes. Jackets/raincoats are also necessary. Students should bring a snack and lunch (although bag lunches will be available if needed) as well as a water bottle. Let me know if you have any questions.

Sharing for next week will be "something purple" but students can share whatever they want, even if it's not purple!

Finally, I have started a class Instagram account so you can easily access photos. You can follow me at ehteshamclass for photos and updates!

Have a wonderful weekend, and as always, feel free to be in touch!

Friday, September 14, 2018

We've survived our first 5 day week!  We are all getting accustomed to our classroom routines and continuing to get acquainted with each other and our schedule. I feel like the students are beginning to settle in and summer vacation is only a distant memory...

We jumped into math this week, and Mr. Brezic and I are observing and getting to know all of the students as math thinkers. The students are working hard to recall their understanding of factors and multiples, and today we learned about prime numbers. In Math Menu, we taught them some fun games (such as Lighthouse -- see photos below and ask your kids about it!) and Prodigy Math on the chromebooks. Working together as a 4th grade team for math is working out really nicely for this unit, although we will also work in smaller groups on some days.

We also started our unit on Vermont's geography this week. I gave all of the students a pre-assessment which was basically a blank Vermont map. I asked students to fill in whatever they knew about our state -- rivers, mountains, cities, lakes, neighboring states, etc.  Most knew very little, but a few really surprised me!  We looked at a lot of different kinds of maps this week, including population maps, relief maps, precipitation maps, and road maps. Next week we will start learning about the physical features of Vermont.

The students have been enjoying our read-aloud -- and we will finish it on Monday. Make sure to ask them about Bradley Chalkers and Jeff Fishkin!

Finally, our collages are done and we have started collecting ideas for our first writing piece which will be realistic fiction. Today, I saw all sorts of great ideas from pirates taking over a boat to a girl who saves a bear cub. We will spend a few more days collecing ideas before beginning the drafting process. We are excited

The outdoor classroom is an incredible pull for the students -- they ask to be out there ALL the TIME This makes me happy since so many children seem to prefer the great indoors these days. We plan to spend a solid chunk of time outside at least once every other week. We will share our schedule for those times with you when it is solidified. In the meantime, we are seeking stumps to sit on, logs that can be benches, and mulch that can be used to create a sitting area. If any of you have any of those that you are willing to part with, you can leave them outside my classroom door (on the side parking lot side) and we will take it from there. Thanks in advance for whatever you might be able to provide!

A few things about next week:
Please be sure to send in your general permission slip if you haven't already. We have our first field trip coming up soon and need those in order to be able to go.

Please send in the $10 for our Maritime Museum trip as soon as you can, or contact the office about scholarships. Once again, we need that before the trip on 9/26.

Homework is due Monday. Please remind your kids to bring in their reading logs since this is the first assignment they need to return.

Next week's sharing them is "something that fits in the palm of your hand."

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Happy Friday! It's been a fast, short week, but I feel like we have all known each other forever!  We have spent a lot of time this week doing many of the same sorts of things we did last week -- getting to know our classroom routines and expectations, getting to know each other, and building our team. The class seems to be coming together nicely and they are getting better at listening and following directions. They seem eager and enthusiastic each day, and that is wonderfully satisfying to see!

This week, I also started some basic assessments so I can get to know the students as learners. I will continue doing assessments next week. These will help me form spelling/vocabulary groups as well as match books to readers.  By the end of the week, we should be all set to start our Literacy curriculum.

We will also start our first social studies unit next week. Our first unit is all about understanding maps, map symbols, map scale, and then finally (and most importantly) Vermont's geography. The students will learn about the mountain ranges, rivers, valleys and various landforms we have in our beautiful state, and they will also learn what counties are and what states/countries border us.  We will do many hands-on activities to make this unit fun!

We did a little bit of math work this week, and I was glad to see what curious math thinkers I have in this class! We will begin our first math unit on Monday. This unit is one that will be largely a review for most of the class, but an area that needs to be solid before we move on. The unit is called "Arrays, Factors and Mulitplicative Comparisons" and will cover multiplication and how we can use models to help us understand it. I will send home a family letter with Monday's homework. The letter gives lots of suggestions for how you can support your child at home with this work, but that is optional, of course!

We had a lot of fun spending time outdoors today, and the students were super excited about creating little spaces in the woods. We allowed them to use clippers and rakes and hoes, and they went to town clearing little areas and claiming them for their "clans."  Mr. Brezic and I will spend some time next week discussing what to do next with our outdoor classroom, and we may be calling on parents to help. Stay tuned!

Thank you to all of you who sent back permission slips/money so quickly!  Fall is a busy time with field trips. We are hoping to have another on 10/16 to GMP's Williston Solar Farm and the Essex Hydro Dam to support our energy unit. Keep your eyes out for that permission slip/info slip which I will send home as soon as I have secured the bus.

Here are 2 important notes for next week:
1. We will be making our collages on MONDAY so please be sure your child brings in photos for that. I have a lot of magazines here that can also be used. I am also happy to print photos here if that is easier.
2. Next week's sharing theme is "Something Shiny." This does not mean the students have to share something shiny, but I find it helps reluctant sharers to have an idea.

That's all for this week. Enjoy the photos below, and enjoy the cooler weather this weekend!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Hello Families,

It has been a whirlwind week, but it has been wonderful to begin getting to know this very lovely class! We have been working hard on learning classroom routines, figuring out who each of us is and what sorts of things we like and dislike, and learning how to work together as a team. We have discussed kindness and belonging, and of course we have worked hard to make sure each member of our team feels included and safe.  It has been a lot of fun!  We haven't done anything "acadmic" yet, but that will come soon enough!

One of the things we have done quite a bit of in these 3 days is team building. The students worked in teams to make a spaghetti and marshmallow tower that could hold a penny. They LOVED this!  They also worked together to make a stucture out of index cards that could hold books off the table. Some teams made simple structures that held 30 or more books! Finally, we all worked together to create a "TEAM" puzzle out of magazine scraps.  The students were amazed when we put the pieces together!

I know you have been inundated with paperwork. Don't worry too much about sending in photos for the writing journals as we probably won't get to that until the week after next. If possible, please send in a photo for the Cheetah Den bulletin board so all can feel they belong.

The easiest way to stay connected to our classroom is follow this blog.  I will send out emails for the next few weeks with a link to the blog, but I am hoping you will all "follow" using  your email eventually so you can automatically get notified when I post something each Friday.  Let me know if you have any problems with that.

Please feel free to be in touch with  me about anything I need to know about you or your child, and to ask any questions about what is going on in the classroom. I love to communicate!

Enjoy the long weekend!