January/February News 2020
January 3: Topic 6 Math Test (mult-step word problems)
7: Northeast Region & Map Quiz in Social Studies (study guide and map)
17: No School/PD day for teachers
20: Martin Luther King Day, No School
February 3: ½ Day/ PD day for teachers
14: Passport, Valentine’s Day (card exchange-will send names)
17-21: Winter Break
The students are working hard to tackle nonfiction texts in the classroom. We are building up strategies to allow students to read and learn with intensity (as opposed to ‘dentist office reading,’ which tends to be just casually reading the interesting information and focusing on text features in isolation.) Some of this work includes higher-level skills such as identifying text structure. For example: Is a text set up as a problem-solution piece or does it compare and contrast? This is not easy even for experienced readers, but the students have been working hard at it! It will be something that they’ll continue to develop in the future. We will also be working hard to learn to summarize nonfiction before embarking on in-class research projects focused on weather. This will allow students to really put their reading and note-taking skills to work in order to teach one another about a topic!
In writing about these particular skills I find it an opportune time to remind parents that not every student will necessarily fully master independently applying these challenging skills right away, and that’s OK! There’s no doubt that students are being asked to do more at a younger age but there are no short-cuts. There is always going to be a range of developmental-readiness and students may not progress in a straight line but rather make uneven gains in different terms or grades. By design, fifth grade will continue to build upon what we are doing this year, just as we’re building upon previous skills as well. Below is a link to the grade 4 standards just for informational text if you care to take a look. In fourth grade there is a huge shift from learning to read to reading to learn while applying complex strategies and skills. We'll continue to work hard with supports and scaffolds used at the start and then reduced as students are able to succeed without them.
We have been working very diligently on narrative writing the last few months. (We will continue to work on editing and revising-this is always particularly difficult for elementary students.)
Our next genre of focus is expository writing or writing for the purpose of informing an audience using organization and tone. We will work on many pieces, including those tied to our reading unit as mentioned above.
We slowed things down a little bit in our division unit because I really wanted to try to build a solid foundation there. ‘Long division’ was new this year and students will continue to require practice.
We always incorporate word problems into our units but Topic 6 solely focused on multi-step problems. Some of these problems are very challenging and require at least 4 steps. We will complete the written assessment for practice and to see where the students are with these complicated problems before moving to Topic 7 which is short and focuses on factors and multiples as well as prime and composite numbers.
We will begin Topic 8: Extend Understanding of Fraction Equivalence and Ordering. Students will build upon their fractions skills and knowledge greatly this year!
The students have been working hard to learn about the Northeast. We’ve created a map with physical and political features and have also been analyzing the Northeast. This includes examining things such as where population is concentrated and why people have settled where they have. The students have learned about some of our important natural resources and physical features. We’ve reviewed some of the history of the people who make up the Northeast and will have a test on Tuesday, January 7th. Students have a study guide in their binders.
We will then move on to study Washington DC and the Southeast Region. Students will study this region in a similar fashion to the Northeast and will find it a little easier now that they have a base for understanding and some of the vocabulary to use.
We will be beginning Topic 4 Earth’s Features. We will discuss Maps and Data. How we see the same place in different ways. Patterns of Earth’s features. How physical maps help us locate different landforms. We are now focusing on Rocks, Minerals & Soil. How do rocks change? We learned about the Rock Cycle. How can you classify minerals? We experimented with different minerals to check for shape, luster, streak, color and hardness. We will then move onto Weathering & Erosion. How can a rock wear away? How does water affect landforms?
Please continue to emphasize the importance of nightly reading! I try to give a small amount of written homework each night in the hopes that the reading will not be ‘pushed to the side.’ My goal for the written homework is to never overwhelm but to develop a sense of responsibility, routine, and ownership of their learning with the students. Often I hope it will also provide practice with math facts and skills and give you a glimpse of how those are coming along for your child. If math facts or algorithms (multi-digit multiplication, ‘long division’) are a struggle it’s very beneficial for students to practice just a bit each night.
Thank you for your continued support! Please contact me at any time with questions or concerns.