Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mustang Motto Poster Contest!

Horse-shoe HOO-RAY! The growing cheer of good behavior at Mann is in it's third year and going stronger that ever.  Recently our school PBIS squad launched a "Mustang Motto" poster contest.  All classes grade one through five were asked to make posters and select one to represent each class at a grade level vote.  Each grade level was then asked to pick one to represent their grade at a school wide contest.  Congratulations to all contest entries but a special Horseshoe Hooray goes to the winning fourth grade poster from our classroom!  We are all thrilled to have one of our students represent fourth grade with her wonderful artwork.  Below is a picture of all poster entries from our classroom.  All posters were completed with great effort and creativity but the winning poster for our grade is the one in the bottom left hand corner. 

This week we are starting a novel study.  The first novel chosen is titled RULES by Cynthia Lord.  This book is a one I wanted to share with our class because of some perspectives it offers on a growing up.  Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more from this book as we move forward as a class.  Children will have different assignments to complete as part of our class literature groups.  This first novel study will also be a great way to introduce strong reading strategies and allow students to model and practice them on their own. 

Keep checking in and helping out with the home-to-school connection.  Your child and I both appreciate it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Almost There

This week I was asked to submit my teacher schedule to the district and I was a bit surprised to see what I turned in.  After blocking time periods for all the required curriculum subjects, entering specials times, and classroom routines it was alarming how consistent our weekly schedule can be!  The first month of school has been anything but consistent because of all the required testing and early evaluation tools mandated for fourth grade.  Grade four is a special year in terms of standardized testing because students are required to write an extended response essay and complete a science section during their ISAT in the spring.  With MAP Testing finishing this week, a consistent daily schedule will be present itself next week.  

Another hiccup in our schedule this week was a visit from the author of The Sixty-Eight Rooms, Marianne Malone.  She talked a lot about the writing process and the need to spend ample time editing any piece of writing.  Her visit was very inspirational for anyone interested in writing, reading, art or a love of life.  She really seems to love what she does and it was presented well for all fourth and fifth graders.  Her first book is in bookstores now (like Oak Park's locally owned Magic Tree Books) and is a fiction story about the famous Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The last point for this week's post is the importance of checking your child's student planner daily/nightly.  Students can on occasion earn a Horseshoe Hooray for having their planner signed by a parent.  More importantly, it's a great practice to get into that connects students with school and home.  We fill in planners at the end of every day with activities from the school day and homework assignments.  Each child is responsible for their own work and the act of filling in a planner is modeled daily.  In addition to planners, many assignments are posted here on my blog.  Content areas can be located in the tabs at the top of the page.  Soon each content area will have it's own tab and assignments will be posted weekly.  All weekly assignments are due no later than Friday and can be completed and turned in before Friday.  Please help your child get into healthy academic habits that will promote their individual success. 

Thanks for reading and being involved in your child's education! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Still Testing

As the school year settles down, many routines become ingrained in the minds of students.  Some learn quicker than others but more importantly, we all learn.  It's helpful to have a daily academic routine.  Many people thrive on consistency and predictability while others yearn for new experiences and unexpected challenges.  Whatever the personality, our classroom tries to cater them all with a variety of learning experiences, expectations, opportunities, and challenges.  

When the sporadic series of first month evaluation testing subsides, regular curriculum schedules can fall into place.  In order to complement some of our curricular programs, the fourth grade teachers deem is necessary to offer different kinds of activities, lessons, and worksheets.  A pair publications we like to use, especially for Social Studies, is Time For Kids and Scholastic News.  Both periodicals have great websites full of current events, young pop culture news, and tons of online activities.  

Open-Court Reading is the curriculum guide we use for whole class Basal reading.  While we are now reading about one story a week, that will not always be the case.  As the year progresses, our class will engage in novel studies and extension lessons.  Weeks when we do have an Open-Court story students will be assessed on their story comprehension, vocabulary, and writing analysis skills through a traditional paper and pencil test.  These tests are necessary components of fourth grade language arts and will prove helpful in preparation for standardized testing

The last item for this week's post is a mention of the not-to-far-off field trip to The Grove in Glenview, Illinois.  As a National Historic Landmark, The Grove is a wonderful place for students to learn about and explore the biodiversity of Illinois.  The changing season is prime time for an educational excursion to a site full of history and wildlife.  Check the "Upcoming Events" section on the right hand side of the blog for this trip and other happenings. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day Week

The past two days for students have been spent taking a Cognitive Ability Test, called CogAT for short.  The test is a measure of thinking ability by students and will be used to help curtail individualized instruction.  With a strict testing protocol in place, the exam offered a good opportunity to get familiar with paper and pencil testing procedures in fourth grade.  Computer based testing procedures will be taught and practiced next week when fourth graders take the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) for the first time.   

Today, students were given a break from classroom testing to visit the auditorium for a presentation from our Media Specialist and Reading teacher.  The two presented the Read to Feed program our school is participating in this year.  Each child will receive a packet that details the program and gives necessary information to get started with helping to build stronger communities around the world.   Starting the process  is simple.  All your child has to do is read! 

With so many different activities happening in the beginning of the school year, it may be difficult for students to get into a daily and nightly routine.  Please help your child by setting aside time after school or at night to read, complete homework assignments, and find enrichment activities.  Reading should be as routine for children as it is for adults.  Homework assignments should be written in student planners.  Enrichment activities can be things your child is working on at home or online activities and websites that focus on specific skills or brain development.  All fourth grade teachers at Mann have blogs set up with great links to get your child learning using online tools.  If there is a site you or your child has found that is especially engaging, please share it with me and I'll add it to one of my lists. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Product Game

As promised to my students, here is the link for the product game we played in class today.  It is also made available under the math links on the left hand side of the page.  Math facts, especially multiplication and division, are hugely important in mathematical success.  This game is also great because it brings a little strategery into play.  Have fun!