Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Classroom Connections

Hello Readers!  The next phase of learning in our classroom is beginning to take shape; the classroom to home connection.  Any project or assignment that is given at school will have been introduced and practiced, at the minimum as an entire class, before being sent home.  Student responsibility to write assignments in their planner and keep track of due dates becomes increasingly important.  During the school week, students get blocks of independent work time to work on current assignments and projects.  All assignments are designed for students to complete with minimal support.  If your child is having a difficult time with a certain concept or skill, encourage them to ask for some help during independent work time.  The following list are important links to online learning extensions of our classroom.  If you have any questions or concerns about them, please contact me.  Students will be introduced to these websites and tools very soon but you are encouraged to explore them with your child at home. 

Math facts are crucial to success in mathematics.  Xtra Math is an online portal for children to practice math facts at their own pace.  At the end of the fourth grade year, it is expected that all fourth graders are able to demonstrate mastery of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.  This site is a great tool to guide independent practice.  You should have seen a flier with login information come home with your child. 

Edmodo is a very new kind of learning tool.  The idea behind Edmodo is that children will have an online environment to communicate with their teacher and classmates.  Online etiquette and learning tools must be taught if students are expected to use them appropriately.  This is why Edmodo becomes a valuable tool.  Due to privacy and security concerns, our online learning community will only be available and viewable to individuals that are invited to join; this means only students and teachers.  Parents will need their child to login in order to see what everything is all about.  Student typing speed and skill will be increasingly important if we are to utilize learning tools to their greatest potential.  This is where Custom Typing comes into play. 

For more information about these learning tools, please visit the sites and read about them.  Learning should no longer need to be limited to the traditional classroom environment and is increased when students have multiple opportunities to connect things from school to home and as well as home to school.   

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mystery Speaker Program

I understand in the past there has been a mystery reader program of sorts in many classrooms at Mann.  I would like to do a similar classroom extension activity with the help of all our classroom parents.  I would like to have a Mystery Speaker program designed to inspire students to write.  Fourth grade focuses a lot of effort on improving writing skills with strategies and structured activities.  Writing practice and inspiration are two helpful ways to motivate children to improve writing skills.  A mystery speaker would be similar to an old fashioned “career day” event where a parent/guardian/adult comes into the classroom to talk with students about their profession, education, life experiences or anything else that you might see fit to motivate children to write.  I would also like for speakers to prepare a writing prompt or question that students can respond to immediately following a presentation.  Just like your children have very special abilities, skills and experiences to offer our classroom, so too do their parents!

This does not have to be an overly formal undertaking but can be whatever you make it.  I am willing to assist with anything you might need to speak/present.  The times that work best for our classroom schedule are Mondays from 12:45-1:05pm with writing time to immediately follow from about 1:05-1:25pm.  You do not need to stay for the writing time but are welcome to stay.  Lectures/presentations do not need to last 20 minutes but should be engaging and thought provoking for fourth grade students.  Be creative, exciting, and most of all make it valuable for children!  If you enjoy it, the students will too!  

If you are interested in taking part in this program to enrich our classroom writing and social studies activities, please pick a date from the list below that works with your schedule.  With your help, this program can be a great success!  The schedule is a first request basis.  

November 29; December  13; January 3, 10; February 7, 14, 28; March 14, 21; April 11, 18, 25; May 2, 9, 16, 23

I am willing to extend this activity to any adult you know that is willing to volunteer!