October Newsletter

4th Grade with Mrs. Brigham

I am proud to offer this peek into our classroom. Your students are amazing! They come to school every day ready to work hard. I have enjoyed every moment of being their teacher. Given their work ethic, I know they'll achieve great things this year. They are well on their way!

Classroom Buzz

As the mother of two, a son and a daughter, I have often worked hard to elicit a conversation about their school days while having dinner or driving to and from sports, etc. At times, my best efforts were met with one-word answers. I sometimes wish I had a cheat sheet so that I could ask questions that were a little more specific and demanded more than a one-word answer. Here is your cheat sheet...ask your child to tell you about:

  • System thinking. Ask how plants are systems with components that are dependent on one another. When the system works, plants are able to use their internal and external structures to support growth, behavior, reproduction, and survival. Your student should be able to tell you about the parts of a plant, seed, and flower. He or she should be able to discuss how a plant responds to sunlight and gravity (phototropism and geotropism). Finally, your student should be able to share experiences dissecting seeds and flowers. If you really push your student, he or she may be willing to share some poetry with you too! Finally, we explored some mind-blowing phenomena. Ask your child to tell you about the dancing sunflowers and air plants! We've seen some fascinating science!
  • Map skills. Ask your child to tell you about North America. We've been using Google Earth to explore landforms. We've also been examining political maps of North America. We're working hard to help the students make sense of their place in the world. They live in a town named Upton, in Worcester County, in a state called Massachusetts. Massachusetts is one of the six New England States. New England is located in the northeast part of our country. Our country is the United States of America. The United States is located in our continent, North America. There are other countries in North America. The US is bordered by Mexico to the south and Canada to the North.
  • Reading CAFE. CAFE is what we call our English Language Arts block. Students have lots of choice during this time. CAFE is the perfect name for this block because during this time there is a buzz of productivity, just like the buzz in a cafe, as students collaborate and work on reading, writing, and language. CAFE is actually an acronym that stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding vocabulary. These are certainly important focuses of our work. In addition to independent work and peer collaboration, students meet with me every day in small, flexible groups to receive specialized instruction. Ask your student about his or her experiences during CAFE.
  • Math. Ask your child to tell you about the most challenging puzzles he or she has solved this year in STMath. See if your student can explain how he or she managed to solve these hard puzzles. Is your kiddo typically meeting weekly STMath goals (60 - 90 puzzles)? Ask your student how he or she likes the new math curriculum (Bridges). Does the math learning look and feel different this year? Ask your student to tell you about Work Places. You might even ask about some of the concepts we've explored. Ask about the difference between prime and composite numbers. Your student should be able to tell you the difference between a number's factors and the multiples of a number. The students have been learning about multiplicative comparisons. For example, they've wondered how tall a giant is if he is six times taller than a child who is 48 inches tall. The giant is six times 48 inches tall. How tall is that? Can you connect this concept to anything in your home? Perhaps you could share a problem for your child to solve comparing the length of a gerbil and a cat? Have a little fun with this!
  • I've also included some photos that may inspire conversation.

Picture Day

Our picture day will be Thursday, October 14th. Photo order forms have been sent home with the children already. I will send a reminder home on Wednesday, October 13th. Feel free to send your forms in anytime between now and Thursday. There will be a retake day. I will let you know when it is so that families can be prepared if a retake is necessary.


As a reminder, our district has instituted a new iPad policy for elementary students. Most elementary iPads will remain in school and not travel back and forth with students. Our fourth-grade students are the exception. Our students will be allowed to bring the iPads home on school nights. The iPads will remain in school over the weekend. This change in practice began this weekend.

Students can download the Clever app on a personal device and continue to log into Clever to use STMath or Lexia over the weekend if desired. Each student has a Clever badge in his or her DOT Binder that can be used to log in.

Some students take longer to process information. Remember, processing speed has nothing to do with intelligence. I was one of those slower workers (I still am!). I always benefitted from having extra time to complete my work and appreciated teachers who gave me the gift of time. For students like me, having a little time over the weekend to work on STMath or even Lexia may make a big difference. Heading into school on Monday morning with a sense of accomplishment will be a boost to any student's confidence.

School Committee

This past Monday, our very own, Brayden M., presented at the MURSD School Committee meeting. He, along with a first-grade student, joined Mrs. Bell in speaking about STMath and our new math curriculum, Bridges. I've included a link to the meeting below. The math presentation begins at about the 5-minute mark. You won't regret spending ten minutes watching this part of the meeting. This was a great opportunity for Brayden to use his communication and presentation skills in a really authentic way. He made me truly proud. I'm hopeful, that over the course of this year, there will be many leadership opportunities and opportunities to engage in authentic learning for our students. LINK to MURSD School Committee meeting

Conferences - Save the Date

Conferences will be held on November 9th and 10th. We will be able to hold conferences in person this year. The time we spend discussing student progress and working together to support learning and achievement is truly valuable to me. Please mark your calendars and plan to sign up for a time slot when they become available. Of course, I will be happy to meet with families on a different date or time if the 9th or 10th don't work for your family. I am committed to conferencing with every family.


We are going to read 180 picture books this year. We're off to a great start. Are there any family favorites you'd love for us to read? Would you like to read to the class? This can be done in person or over Zoom. Please reach out with suggestions or an offer to share a book with our fourth-grade students.

Memorial PTO

The Memorial PTO is comprised of an amazing group of humans committed to supporting top-flight educational opportunities at our school. As a Memorial teacher, I am so grateful for the many volunteers who do this work. Their fundraising efforts and programming makes a positive difference in every classroom. Please check out their WEBSITE to learn more about the PTO. Consider supporting their fundraising efforts if you're able. I know they'd love the gift of your time. They are always eager to welcome new members. Thanks in advance for everything you'll do in helping the Memorial PTO to support our students.

The next PTO meeting is Wednesday, October 13th at 6:30 PM in the Memorial Elementary library.


I am happy to share the news that we will be having an outdoor costume parade for Halloween. Students are welcome to dress up for the parade. I will send out a SHORT memo in the coming weeks that will include the date and time of the parade as well as some costume guidelines. Big picture: the day should be fun. Please plan a costume that won't stress you or your student out. It should be safe to walk in and comfortable to wear. I'm looking forward to celebrating Halloween and fall with the students.

Let's Stay Connected!

Let's continue to stay connected. Please reach out should you have any questions or concerns. Also, always feel free to share your child's triumphs. We love hearing stories of growth and increased independence. We are committed to helping your child overcome obstacles and to set and work toward meaningful goals. As a parent myself, I know how tricky parenting is. The last 18 months have made it all the trickier. Your kiddos really are fantastic so you are getting it right! I'm glad you are my partners this school year. Let's continue to keep the dialogue open as we move through the school year. Don't ever hesitate to contact me.