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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January!

I can't believe we are already into our third week of January. Wow, this month is flying by. The fourth graders have been extremely busy since we got back from winter break.  Here is a little taste of what has been happening in class lately.

In reading, the students finished their reading group books and had final conversations about the elements of plot.  We then started a nonfiction unit.  Our room is loaded with all types of nonfiction books that the students will be diving in to read. We've been working on the fact that readers read nonfiction to learn new things and that this type of reading is around them all the time. Students are starting to recognize that instruction manuals for those new toys, recipes that they make at home, and most of the reading they do here at school are all examples of nonfiction.  I'm trying to instill a love of this type of writing. I want to expose them to the various differences and the breadth of choices that they have available to them.

In writing, students are working on writing personal essays.  They are using their prior knowledge of essay writing and using it to focus their thinking and ideas on a topic that matters to them.  They are in the middle of creating proof for their paragraphs using their own experiences and knowledge. We will soon take these one step farther and write an on demand essay based on what they are learning in social studies.

Fractions have been a huge push in math class. Students have reviewed the basics of fractions that they learned in third grade, and have gone further to understand equivalent fractions and how to add fractions together.  We have used egg cartons, rulers, and now clocks as the basis for visualizing fractions. Ask your child to share the various fractions they can make on a clock! I also want to stress that as we are coming to the end of getting weekly multiplication flashcards (we have 2 sets left: 11 and 12), students will be expected to know their facts pretty fluently.  We have had weekly quizzes since November, and these will continue to prove that they are doing their homework. It is so important that your child know these facts. Please make it a priority at home. 5-7 minutes a night reviewing their flashcards will go a long way in their learning.

Finally, the students have been enthusiastically working on their Vermont History projects.  They have each selected a topic that they wanted to know more about and have spent the past week and a half researching and learning all they can using books, websites, videos and even interviewing experts.  We will begin working on the project portion of this study. Students have choice in how they present their knowledge. We've given them access to various apps and sites that they might use, and this decision will be made very carefully in the next few days.  The finished project should be available for you to view by the end of next week.

We are certainly busy here, and I'm so thankful for all of the parental support at home. These kids are great, and they are learning so much this year!

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