Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February Update!

Well, it has been a little while since the last update, so there is lots to share!  Here's what we've been up to.

Reading -The children have been working on their questioning skills.  They are able to create and ask questions of varying levels.  Some questions require students to look further into a text and some require them to think about themselves as the character in a certain situation.  We also are working on visualizing during our read aloud, How to Steal a Dog.  Recently the students learned about point of view.  It is important for them to determine how a certain point of view changes the lense through which a story is told and can possibly change our feelings about a character.  This week we are working on inferring, which is a review skill for the students, but we had some interesting conversations about the book that we read with the lesson, Coming On Home Soon. 

Writing- We have been working on Opinion writing this trimester.  Students have learned that in order to make a strong point they need to back their opinions up with facts and examples.  We have been practicing how to organize our opinion essays by starting with a great lead, a thesis statement, followed by 3 examples with elaborating details, facts and evidence under each example.  Students are provided with articles to help them form their opinions and gain knowledge to include valid evidence in their writing.

Math-December and January were pretty heavy months in math.  The children tackled double digit by double digit multiplication and mastered long division.  We are currently learning about numeric and non numeric patterns and will be moving on to fractions next.  Fractions can be a difficult and frustrating topic for students.  They may require your help with homework, but we will get through it.  Fractions are followed by work with decimals.

S.S.-During the month of December we studied the history of Rhode Island and our founding father, Roger Williams.  We discussed the Native American tribes that lived here and still do.  We learned about all of our state symbols, including the state drink, coffee milk and we learned about the land and geography of our great state.  We have since moved on to the south and have already had our states and capitals test.  In each region of the United States, the students learn about the features of the land, the climate, the people who live there and the plants and animals.  We will be moving on to the Midwest for our next region of study. 

Science- We just finished our first FOSS science kit last week.  The students completed hands on activities and investigations which covered electrical current, magnetism, sound waves, force and motion and light.  All units were part of the Energy unit in which students are now able to understand that energy is all around us, energy travels and energy can be transferred.  We are currently practicing our investigative skills using released Science NECAP experiments.  The children are getting to practice for the real Science NECAP, which will be in May, and will feel comfortable with the set up after using the released items to practice.   Our next FOSS kits should be arriving soon and we will be studying rocks and minerals. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November Update!

I can't believe it's November and our first trimester is coming to a close.
Reminders: Report Cards go home December 9th
                     Parent Teacher Conferences December 10th

Students write questions before, during and after read aloud.
Reading  This trimester we have been working on looking at characters and setting more in depth. Students are able to understand how the setting can affect the plot of a story and can identify character's traits and how they change throughout a story.  We have just begun learning about themes of stories and themes of people's lives in non-fiction readings.  Students are learning about universal themes such as compassion, loyalty, honesty, perseverance and kindness.  While in reading groups students are learning when to "stop and jot" down notes in their reading, whether it be new vocabulary, a question they have while they are reading or an aha moment for something they think is important.  Students are reading  books at their instructional level while they meet with me and are reading non fiction texts relevant to our current science and social studies units.  Children also practice their reading fluency in partners and work on their cursive during our language arts block.

Writing  The majority of the first trimester is spent teaching students about narrative elements and how to write a narrative.  Students should now understand that their narrative should focus on one small seed idea and include things such as a setting, details, "showing not telling" emotions, and a beginning, middle and end.  We have been working on expanding our vocabulary and word choice.  Students made their own personal thesaurus to keep in their resource section of their binder.  Students took a break from narratives and wrote about a day in the life of a pumpkin where they assumed the pumpkin's personality.  Recently we read a book called In November by Cynthia Rylant and students wrote their own In November using their five senses to describe what November is to them.  Our second trimester will focus on Opinion Writing.

Practicing multiplication during math centers.
Math  So far we have covered place value up to the millions, addition and subtraction properties, as well as multiplication and division properties.  Students are able to estimate numbers, find factors and multiples and complete algebraic equations.  We are currently working on multiplying multiple digits by one digit.  We will then be moving on to multiplying by two digits on the bottom, followed by long division.  Students were recently given a new xtramath.org account, which is set up for their fourth grade skill set.  Students should be completing this once a day at least four to five days per week.  Their login information can be found in their planner and a letter went home explaining how to login from home.  This is a drill and practice site which has proven to help students become more fluent with their math facts.  I receive weekly reports which show me how the students are progressing and how many times they log on.  Most times, students are afforded the opportunity to log on during the day.

Social Studies   We are currently finishing our chapter on the Northeast.  Students have learned about the landforms of the Northeast, the people who settled there, the plants and animals and the Northeast today.  We will be moving on to the Southern region next.

Costume Fun!
Science  We are plugging along in our new science kits.  These new kits come with amazing hands on opportunities for the students to experiment with electricity, magnetism, energy and sound.  We have currently completed the electricity unit and are in the middle of the magnetism unit.  The kids are having a blast and I am certainly learning a lot as well!

Monday, October 5, 2015

October 2015

Wow that first month went by quickly!  We are well underway in fourth grade! Here's is what we've been up to and what's around the bend.

Reminder: Planners need to be signed Monday thru Thursday to indicate completed homework and reading.
Children must read for 30 minutes a day during the week and hopefully on the weekends as well, although I know weekends can be hectic.
Friday folders need to be emptied, signed and returned each Monday.

Writers hard at work!
Reading:  We have been working on how to summarize a text.  We read the story The Secret Moose as a whole fourth grade and reviewed narrative elements.  Students have an in depth understanding of setting and character descriptions and will continue to further their understanding of this throughout the year.  In guided reading groups, we have been working on pulling the most important idea out of each chapter we read in order to form a summary of non-fiction texts.  Students are reading short leveled readers that correspond to their reading level.  They complete pre-reading activities such as formulating questions and predictions, they are expanding their vocabulary by charting new words and are also practicing their fluency by doing timed readings with one another.  We are currently reading the book Something Upstairs by Avi, who wrote the book based on a historic house on the east side of Providence.  The kids are loving this story and everyday they are asking to read more and more of it.  They are learning about their state's history through this story and hearing some excellent descriptive language, which ties in perfectly with our writing.  

Charting similarities and differences in our classroom.
Writing:  This week we will be working on reviewing constructed response format and practicing how to incorporate details from the text into our reading responses.  We have also been working on building our writer's notebook ideas to begin our first narrative.  The student's writing binders are made up of two parts: their writing and a resource section in the back, which consists of word walls, editing and revising checklists and models of good writing.  They are currently working on a personal narrative in which they are trying to create a great hook or lead to capture their reader's interest and are also adding "showing not telling" details to describe characters, settings and problems.

Measuring how high the ball bounces

Math:  We have completed chapter one in our math books, which was all about place value, comparing numbers and rounding numbers up to the millions.  We are currently finishing up chapter 2 which includes estimating sums and differences, and adding and subtracting large numbers with and without regrouping.  We will be moving on to understanding factors and multiples and generating and analyzing patterns after this.

Getting to know each other the first week of school
Math Facts:  It is imperative that students know their math facts as it will make other concepts  taught in fourth grade math that much easier to learn.  Each Friday we take a fast fact timed test.  It begins with addition and subtraction and moves on to multiplication.  Congratulations to our first few rounds of students who have passed and moved on to the next level!

Recording results during skittles experiment
S.S.  We have been working on studying the seven continents and the oceans.  Students have had some practice with latitude and longitude, hemispheres, and directions, as well as creating their own globes.  We will be moving on to studying land forms and climates of our country and then narrow our geography down by regions of the United States.  Each region will have a states and capitals map test that accompanies it throughout the year.

How does temperature affect bounce?
Science: A few weeks ago we went through our first scientific method together by doing an experiment.  Students worked together to investigate which tennis ball bounced the highest:  a room temperature ball, a refrigerated ball and a frozen ball.  Our results for the most part indicated the room temperature ball bounced the highest. We also practiced our scientific skills by demonstrating how acid rain erodes earth materials by dropping vinegar onto skittles to show how it wears away the layers of candy.  This week we will be introducing our new science kits which includes all things energy: electricity, magnetism, transfer of energy and sound waves.  The new science kits are phenomenal and will offer students many hands on opportunities to understand the world in which we live.  I am very excited to dive into this with them!
Watching our weathered skittles

Cup stacking with elastic bands was a lot harder than it looked!

Team building week one: stacking cups without our hands

Scientists at work observing and recording

Scientists observing carefully
Almost lunchtime!

Questions, questions, questions...

These questions made us think a bit!

Saving Sam Team Building Activity

Getting Sam, the worm, into his gummy saver life jacket and back  in his boat using paper clips only.

It was quite the challenge, but we had great success learning to work as a team!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Welcome to the 2015-2016 School Year

Welcome to Fourth Grade! 

I am very excited to begin a new school year with your children.  Here you will find information about what is going on in our classroom.  I will try to include information about what we will be covering in class and any other important updates you may need to know about.  This year I am hoping to have the students do some blogging, as writing for a purpose is highly motivating and we are fortunate to have the Chrome Books! 

I truly appreciate all of the supplies you have sent in with your children and they will all be put to good use!  We have color coded folders for each subject.  All of the students have been given a planner and will write their homework down every night.  Thank you for all of the tissues and wipes, as we are always in need of those throughout the year!


Please sign your child's planner Monday through Thursday to indicate that they have completed their homework and have read for a half an hour.  The planner can also be used as a communication log between home and school.  Planners will be checked daily for signatures and notes.  Written homework should not take more than 25-30 minutes per night.  If it does take longer or your child does not understand something, please send it in and I will gladly help them complete it during enrichment.  This year we will be completing math homework online through the Ten Marks program occasionally and also through our new math program called "My Math".  Each student will soon take home a letter with their username and password on it for both programs.  Most of the students are familiar with the Ten Marks and we are all learning the new "My Math" online tools together in class.  It is wonderful that both programs provide tutorials and tips for them if they forgot a concept that was learned that day.  


Scholastic News! This year students will be receiving Scholastic News each week.  I feel this resource is a valuable way for students to learn about current events, while practicing their Non-Fiction reading strategies.  Students really enjoy the articles, photographs, debates and online component in each article.  Please consider making the $5.75 donation to Scholastic Magazine if you have not already done so and send it to school with your child.

Scholastic Book Orders:  I am pleased to inform you that all scholastic orders for your child can be placed online with our special class code.  You simply enter the class activation code NJYGH or click on the link below, which will bring you directly to our class page, then add your child and verify that he/she belongs in Mrs. Clapprood's Class.  https://orders.scholastic.com/NJYGH

Please note**** If you are uncomfortable ordering online, but would still like to order books, please send the order in written on the traditional order form and I will enter the order online for you!  All orders help to gain bonus points for our class in which we can order free books and keep our class library current!

Here's a quick overview of what we will be starting off the year with

Reading:  We will be reviewing comprehension skills that we have learned over the years.  We will also be using details from the text to answer and ask questions and form constructed responses as we learn about story elements and summarizing.  An important skill that is consistently emphasized this year is that students will cite evidence from the text when responding to their reading. 
Writing: We will be reviewing paragraph structure and working on the components of writing narratives.
Math: We will be starting with place value, rounding numbers and adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers fluently.  Homework may be assigned frequently online.  If a computer is unavailable to your child at home, we can work together to come up with alternative times and/or tools.  
S.S.We will be studying the geography of the world.  The students will learn and be tested on the seven continents and the oceans.
Science: We will be studying erosion and how it affects the world around us.

Volunteering- Please remember that in order to volunteer in our classroom or attend field trips, you must have a current BCI check.  There is a lot of thought, planning and checking on the teacher's part when preparing for these trips and our children's safety is of the utmost concern.  So please don't wait until it is too late to get one done if you plan to join us for any activities!   The form is available on the school website!


Monday, May 11, 2015

May Update!

Green Bean Green Houses- Studying Plant Germination

It seems as though we are being reprieved from our long winter with this beautiful weather!  Here's what has been going on and what is coming up next.

Reading-Last week we worked on comparing and contrasting similar themes in multiple texts.  We read two picture books that dealt with African American's living during times of segregation.  The students did a great job of finding the theme which was: friendship overcomes all obstacles.  We also talked about symbolism and how the author used objects to show segregation, such as a fence and a pool.  Students will continue to work on finding similar themes in multiple texts through short readings.
Creating Tidal Pool Creatures
This week week we are discussing the differences between firsthand and secondhand accounts.  We read some journal passages from Christopher Columbus, John Smith and William Bradford, followed by similar passages from Encyclopedias and discussed our prior knowledge about first and third person points of view.  Students are now examining primary sources from the Lewis and Clark expedition and Ellis island and comparing them to secondary sources dealing with the same topics.  They are looking for key pronouns, text structure and focus of each text.

Creating Tidal Pool Creatures
Writing - Before vacation, informative writing was introduced to the students.  Each student made a list of things they were experts in and chose one topic to expand on.  We reviewed very structured ways to begin and end informative writing, mainly dealing with including a "focus statement" in their introduction and using "transition words" to start a conclusion.  We also talked at length about how to organize the middle paragraphs of informative writing using graphic organizers.
This week students selected two tide pool creatures that they wanted to research in preparation for our upcoming field trip.  Students will be writing comparatively about the two creatures and will incorporate much of their background science knowledge about how animals meet their needs in this paper.  All students have been given their Google accounts and have been actively using them to work on their papers.  We will continue to focus on informative writing and comparative writing for the remainder of the year.
Creating Tidal Pool Creatures

Math- We finished our unit on customary and metric measurement of solid objects and began our brief unit on capacity.  It is important for the students to understand solids and liquids are measured differently.  Capacity strictly deals with the measurement of liquids, while using feet, inches, yards, centimeters, millimeters, meters, etc. deals with the measurement of solid objects.  Students also need to be sure to label their answers.   After this unit on measurement we will be moving on to our final unit of geometry, primarily dealing with different quadrilaterals and how to measure angles using a protractor.
Creating Tidal Pool Creatures

S.S.-After a long break from Social Studies to prepare for Science testing, we are back on track.  Students will be quizzed on the Midwest states and capitals this coming Thursday May 14th.  Students are also working on learning about the landforms, climate, people and living and working in the midwest.  We are including literature about Lewis and Clark in our readings.  

Science- As you may have heard through talking with your child we spent the weeks leading up to Science testing preparing the students by reviewing science concepts they have learned throughout the years.  The students conducted experiments to practice their inquiry skills and work on their science writing.  Students taught each other various concepts through "mini lessons" and practiced their test taking skills.
Creating Tidal Pool Creatures
Seeing as our main focus concepts for science have to be covered before testing, we are able to incorporate some extra science through our reading and writing lessons.  Students are currently researching tidal pool creatures and will move on to studying the Rainforest until the end of the year.

Upcoming Important Dates

June 10th Fieldtrip #1  URI Bay Classroom Narragansett Salt Marsh  9am-3pm
June 16th Fieldtrip #2  Smith Appleby House Smithfield  12pm-3pm

All pictures are of the students creating a creature that could survive in a tidal pool using odd materials.  Each material they used had to have an adaptation that helped the animals meet their basic needs, which they presented to the class.