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Friday, August 30, 2013

The First Week- 2013/2014

      The first week of school is always filled with nerves, excitement, and a little anxiety.  Everything is new, and there is a world of possibilities at our fingertips.  New faces, new learning styles, new room, and new relationships make for a whirlwind of a few days.  It also makes for some exhausted students and a worn out teacher.
     This week was about learning the routines, reviewing Dothan Brook's expectations, and just getting back into the swing of learning. I was amazed at how quickly my fourth graders stepped it up.  In the matter of days, I saw them really following the rules, listening to directions, and already becoming higher level thinkers.
     Fourth grade is such a year of progression.  Most students are at the point of reading pretty confidently and so reading becomes a tool that they use to do more learning. We move from basic math facts and concepts to building upon their knowledge to make connections. Writing becomes a method of translating their thoughts and ideas. Technology is embraced in order to further students' thinking. Is this progression easy? No.  It requires work, stamina, and great effort on the part of your children.
    This first week we have been trying to form the building blocks to make this transition happen smoothly.  For example, students started to learn how to become "real" scientists.  We've been discussing observations, and what it means to really look at something through a scientist's eyes.  We have been on two nature hikes, and students have been discovering the world around them. In math class the fourth graders have been recalling their knowledge of the past four years of school to describe basic shapes as mathematicians would. I encourage you to ask your child to describe to you the qualities of a rectangle, square, triangle, diamond, or trapezoid.  Students have been pushing themselves to write and to be descriptive. They have begun to write their very first poems about themselves. These will be fine tuned and available to share at open house night. But above all else, they are learning how to be a community of learners, sharing thoughts and ideas in a safe and productive way.  In the picture above you can see an activity where students are putting post-it notes on each other's work. They are making comments and adding their own knowledge to help one another.
    Fourth grade is a time of discovery. It is an incredible journey, and I am so thrilled to be sharing it with your child.  Please help me make this the best year for your student. I encourage your comments, your thoughts, your suggestions, and above all else your discussions with your child about the importance of what we do every day in the classroom. Here is to a fantastic school year!

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