Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The First Month of School

Here's a peek at some of the things we've been doing during the first month of school...enjoy!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

News From 4th Grade

I thought I would update you on some happenings in 4th grade. In reading, we have been talking a lot about being metacognitive, that is, thinking about our thinking. As we read, it is important not just to read the words, but to actively engage with the text. We have been practicing active comprehension strategies such as asking questions, making connections, predicting what might happen next, and inferring the meaning of unknown words by using context clues.

Students have been using their literacy notebooks to notice and capture their thinking as we read the book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo. This is the story of a shallow, self-centered china rabbit, who only thinks of himself. When he gets separated from Abilene, the girl who loves him, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery about what really matters in life.

I have been so impressed with the depth of thinking going on. Students have been enjoying sharing their theories about what will happen to Edward, and how he is changing with every new situation he finds himself in. What I hope students come away with is the realization of how much more enjoyable books are when we think deeply about them and can share that thinking with someone else. Students continue to be focused readers during read-to-self time.

During writing time, students have been working on the fall writing prompt, or the final copies of their "Me in a Bag" stories. I have learned so much about everyone by what they shared about their Me-Bag, and also what they wrote in their writing prompt. The topic was to write about a "star" in your life. There are some incredibly sweet and heartfelt stories about moms, dads, grandparents, sisters, friends, and more. I really enjoyed reading them!

We are halfway through the NECAP tests. After weeks of prep and review, it's time to show what you know! Students have been taking these assessments very seriously and giving them their best effort. It will be a relief to finish them this week and get back to our regular curriculum. Speaking of assessments, there are lots of other assessments that happen at the beginning of the year, such as reading fluency checks, Priority Words, Developmental Spelling Assessment, (DSA), writing prompt, multiplication timed tests, and the October Math Check-In. I will be sharing all of this information with you and your child at the upcoming goal-setting conferences happening this week and next.

Last week, our class joined the majority of other classes in our building in starting our day with the "Get Ready to Learn" program. This 15-minute routine of movement and stretches helps everyone feel focused, calm, and ready for the day. If your child is not at school by 9:00, they may miss out and have to wait in the office until GRTL is done, as there can be no interruptions. Thank-you for your cooperation with this!

We will be starting our study of Maine soon, with a look at how government is organized. Normally this is a spring topic, but with the presidential election next month, we thought it would make sense to study it now so that students will have a bit more understanding of what is going on. Consequently, we will be visiting Augusta at the end of this month rather than in April. We will tour the state house with the fabulous Jane Eberle, who is in her last term as state representative, due to term limits, (another reason to go this fall). We will also get to visit the Maine State Museum, which is such an interesting place! We will be needing chaperones for this trip, so look for more information to come home in red totes.

Looking forward to seeing you and your child at conferences!

Cathy McGaffin