Happy long weekend 4th grade families!
“Look Ahead” Announcements:
Monday, Oct. 14th – NO SCHOOL
We continue to travel through Ch. 2, now learning long division – the “meat and potatoes” of the 4th-grade math curriculum! We have started this journey this past week and will continue into next week. We will then begin learning about factors and multiples. Long division is a tough concept for kids, especially in using the standard algorithm and remembering what each step entails and how to do it. Because of its complexity, we have spent extensive time learning it in this chapter. We have also given the kids another strategy for solving division problems, which is the area model, where dividends are “decomposed” to make the division more manageable and to omit the standard algorithm altogether. Illinois State Standards for math require 4th-grade students to know multiple ways to solve multiplication and division problems. It is up to each student to use what strategy works best for them.
It is also IMPERATIVE that each child knows their multiplication “basic” facts. Kids who do not know them well will very much struggle with grade-level multiplication and division. Now, more than ever, when we are solving division problems into the thousands place, it is so important that the kids can easily recall their multiplication facts. As such, I have begun giving the kids daily basic multiplication fact practice for morning work. Every Friday morning, they will have a timed drill, usually consisting of about 20 facts in two minutes. These tests will go into their math grade. Please have your child practice basic multiplication facts each night for 10 min or more. I highly suggest flashcards. I have purchased a few flashcard sets at the Dollar Store and they work perfectly for this.
This past week, we took the Ch. 5 test, the last chapter of the Northeast region. Next week, we start into a new region of the U.S – the Southeast! The Southeast will take us through chapters 6 & 7 in the textbook. We will learn about the land, people, cities, and events that have shaped the Southeast region. The kids will have a coordinating packet to work on throughout each chapter, as we do every chapter, and they will use this as a study guide for the test. Please make sure your child is keeping this packet and any other coordinating review sheets in their social studies folder inside their “sidekick.” It is important to keep track of, as we work with it daily as we move through the chapters. The Ch. 6 test is planned to be given Friday, Oct. 25th.
**I strongly encourage the kids to take home their SS textbook and re-read the chapter, along with the packet, at least a couple days before each test. I also require the kids to make flashcards as a tool for studying the vocabulary for each chapter. I have plenty of index cards to give to the kids to do this, and we usually make them in class. If they do not finish these in class, they need to take them home for homework. Each completed flashcard set goes into their social studies grade.
In reading, we continue our journey through our first unit of study, Interpreting Characters. We are using the novel, Tiger Rising, by Kate DiCamillo. We are studying how to “read intensely” and grow ideas about the characters within the story. We practice interpreting and discussing characters and look in-depth at their motivations, fears, desires, etc. Instead of just “scratching the surface” with how view characters, as 4th graders, we are looking past just thinking that the character is “happy” or “sad.” We know that characters are more complex than that and we are interpreting and thinking about them as such, studying the text for evidence to back up our claims. This past week, we specifically discussed how we can interpret characters based on their patterns of action throughout the story. Do their new actions support or disrupt their patterns? Why are they acting a certain way? These are the questions that we have considered in studying the text.
In writing, we have started our first unit of study, Writing Realistic Fiction. I can’t tell you how much many of the kids love writing and are excited about this unit, which makes me even more excited to be teaching it! We are studying how fiction writers, such as E.B White, brainstorm story ideas. They do this in a variety of ways – starting with “small moments” from their daily lives, thinking about people close to them, considering issues/topics that are important to them, thinking about what stories they wish existed in the world, and more. We have also learned that before a writer drafts a story, they need to develop characters, specifically crafting their external and internal traits, and making sure they fit with each other. Writers then need to consider, “Is this a believable character? Is this someone that could exist in real life?” For homework this weekend, each student needs to select a story idea and then make a list of external and internal traits for their main character, making sure that the character seems believable. We will then begin to look at secondary characters and discuss how they complement or oppose the main character of the story.
At the beginning of each week, grammar concepts and the mechanics of writing are taught and the kids complete a series of coordinating pages in a workbook. The kids are assigned specific pages for the week on Monday, they are to work on them throughout the week during “morning work” and literacy time, and then they are to turn them in on Friday. There is also a short quiz on the grammar concept of the week each Friday. This past week, we focused on using quotation marks and hyphens and the kids took a short quiz on this on Friday. Next week, we will look at colon and semicolon usage.
Also, throughout each week, the kids work on cursive in a handwriting book by Zaner-Bloser, which helps them develop their cursive writing skills with ease and fluidity.
This past week, we finished Ch. 3, which looked at how God speaks through the church and the leaders in it, such as the pope, deacons, and priests. We also talked about how Jesus made Simon Peter the head of His church here on earth, and who also became the first pope. Next week, we will begin Ch. 4, which talks about how God offers us eternal life.
**A reminder: Please make sure to carve out just five minutes each night to empty your child’s black home folder (in their sidekick binder) and check-in with them about their homework for the night, which should be written in their planner. Of course, they should be with you when this happens, so they can practice accountability. I frequently do impromptu “black folder checks” in the mornings to support accountability and good habits. Thanks for your cooperation and support in your child’s organizational success!
Have a great long weekend!