December Newsletter

All You Need To Know To Get You To 2016

Reading - Genre 3

We are now reading mysteries. Three by Jan. 4. I hope everyone will have at least 2 books completed by the 18th. We are focusing on predicting and inferring as these skills are critical in the comprehension of complicated text. We will also be on the hunt for text that we should "notice and note". So far we have learned about two of the signposts - Words of the Wiser and Again and Again. Mysteries are the perfect genre for introducing two more. The students will be reading their books and placing stickies to mark spots in the text where they find Tough Questions and Aha Moments.

Chapter 4 - It's All About Multiplication

We are solving the problems using cleverly-named strategies - partial products, decomposing or break apart, bird legs, window pane, and, of course, the algorithms. Everyone is making great progress. The only glitch - slow recall of the facts. JiJi to the rescue. The solution ST Fluency. Every night, 10 minutes. It's a great program. Maintenance of the facts they know and conceptual instruction and rate practice of the ones they don't. Please be sure to follow up and make sure your child commits to this daily task (Fluently multiply and divide within 144).

Informational Writing

Everyone will be doing a short informational piece before we go on Winter Break. Holiday- related. How are candy canes made? What is the history of dreidels? What's the real story on reindeer? Each child will be using three sources. Two nonfiction and one fiction. Books, videos, websites. The Common Core standards require that they use content from all three sources and cite it.
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Final copies of everything are looking better. Capital letters, more accurate spelling, and less sloppy script. Most everyone is routinely paragraphing.

Hour of Code

The third annual Hour of Code initiative is an important part of Computer Science Education Week (December 7-13). The non-profit organization,, has a site that is designed to help students learn the basics of programming by providing a variety of educational tools. This year there's a Star Wars theme and a Minecraft option.

I was very fortunate in that I was able to go to the offices in Rainier Tower for a class last year. Their young staff is very committed to convincing young people that coding is for everyone.

We will be doing an hour and then some.

Star Wars - Hour of Code: Introduction

Social Studies

We are about to leave the life cycle of the flowering plant behind, and do a quick review of essential geography vocabulary - hemispheres, continents, etc. We will also be improving everyone's map reading skills. The old-fashioned way and using Mapquest and Google Earth.

A Bit of Drama

On the last day before break, Dec. 18, the students will be performing several short plays. Very informal. We will be practicing a few specific skills, 1) facing the audience (their classmates), 2) matching each other's volume, and 3) coming in on cue. We do a big play at the end of the year, fondly referred to as The Greek Play. We start out practicing the basics. I would love it if a parent could bring hot cocoa and a cookie for each child. A little celebration. Email me if you have the time and the interest.