Monday, September 26, 2016

Factors, and Multiples, and Arrays, Oh My!

Our first math unit of the year is a multiplication unit. While students spend a lot of time in third grade working on basic multiplication facts, we find that there is still much work to be done in 4th grade to help students become fluent with those facts. This is such an important skill, because later this year we will be moving on to multi-digit multiplication and long division. If your child is still counting on his or her fingers, it will be hard to keep up.

There are many apps and online games that can make practicing multiplication more fun. Click on the picture below for a post on the Appydazeblog listing good multiplication practice apps.

For free online multiplication games, check out

Students take a 1-minute individual fact timed test once a week. As they show mastery, they move on to the next number.  We go in order of difficulty: 0, 1, 2, 5, 10, 11, 9, 3, 6, 4, 7, 8, 12.  The target for the end of September is to have passed 0-2s. Ask your child which facts are the trickiest for them and support them any way you can, whether it is practicing with flashcards, playing a game, or quizzing them in the car.

One of our ELTs reads, "Understands that a whole number is a multiple of each of its factors." In order to make sense of this, you need to understand the difference between factors and multiples.
We have been practicing this every day during math calendar.
Today's Number is always the number of days we have been in school, (which was 14 this past Friday.) The Calendar Helper does all the writing and manipulation of the SmartBoard, while the rest of the class records the information in their math notebooks. Since students also need to know if a number is prime or composite, we record that, too.
We've also been reviewing arrays. Arrays are rectangular arrangements of objects that can be used to represent multiplication. We've realized that arrays are all around us!
Students have been working with partners to make array posters, and find all the factors of a given number, using the factor rules. Some are even taking on the challenge to find the seven numbers between 1-100 that have 10 or more factors. Here are some mathematicians at work! 
Ask your child which number they have found the most factors for!

Friday, September 16, 2016


This year was the 15th anniversary of 9/11. We learned a bit about the history of that terrible day during our morning message Monday, and also by practicing how to read an article and "Find the Evidence", (which is a homework routine you will see a lot this year.) As a way to honor the memory of the Twin Towers, we also watched a video of the picture book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, which is the true story of Philippe Petit, a Frenchman who rigged a tightrope between the towers in 1974, and walked between them.
We also watched the movie trailer for "The Walk", a 2015 movie about this event. (Click on the image to watch it!) It is rated PG, and looks like it would be a great movie to explain just how Petit did the seemingly impossible. His perseverance fits right into our discussions about having a Growth Mindset. More about that in a later post!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Our First Week

Welcome Class of 2025!
It's a new school year, and we have spent a lot of time this first week of school learning routines, procedures, and getting to know each other. We will be a classroom family for the next 9 months, and I want our classroom to feel safe and comfortable for all.

I love this quote I have hanging outside my classroom door, along with everyone's names on crayons.
 Like crayons, we all need to learn to live together in our "box" classroom, so that's a lot of what the first week of school has focused on...(and procedures, lots and lots of procedures!)

Some of the activities we have done involved partners asking each other a variety of questions to get to know each other better. We've learned about our families, pets, sports, hobbies, and favorite books. Each student is sharing their Me-Bag, which has 3 things that represent something about them. They explain each item and invite questions and comments when they are finished. I love getting to know more about my students!

One of the favorite activities was the Cup Challenge, where groups of 4-5 students had to move 6 solo cups from this-
to this...without touching the cups with their hands. 
Teams were given a rubber band with strings attached. They had to communicate with each other and make a plan in order to be successful. It was definitely challenging for some groups, but overall they did well and had fun with it!

We've also started some initial assessments in spelling and math, as well as begun to build stamina for Read to Self. We got up to 7 minutes of sustained reading in our first two days of practice, and that will continue to go up as we keep working on it.

If you have not returned the beginning of year paperwork, please do so as soon as possible. I'd love to be able to include everyone's photos on our website!

Also, if you have not yet signed up for Bloomz, which is a text and web-based communication app, you can download it for free on the app store, or go to Our class code is W9UK4A.

Looking forward to a great year of learning!