January Newsletter

Jan. 7, 2014

My Math

Chapters 4, 5, and 6

Multiplication and Division

We are solving multiplication problems using mental math, creating visual models, the algorithm, and calculators. We are making visual models using equal groupings, arrays, place value models, and tape diagrams such as bar models and number lines.

We have been thinking a lot about the properties of multiplication and how they can help us solve problems efficiently and accurately. Multi-digit by multi-digit is up next. We will be focusing on the use of partial products before going on to master the algorithm. Division follows.

Slow recall of the facts is holding some of the students back at this point. JiJi to the rescue. We have recently purchased (thanks to a PTO grant) ST Fluency. Every night, 10 minutes. Only 10 minutes. It's a great program. Maintenance of the facts they know. Conceptual instruction and rate practice for those they don't. Thank goodness. Please be sure to follow up and make sure your child commits to this daily task.

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Field Trip to Seattle Children's Theater to see "James and the Giant Peach"

Friday, Jan. 10th, 10am

201 Thomas Street

Seattle, WA

We are headed onto the bus the second school starts, so no tardies please. We will catch the 8:40 ferry and arrive at the theater about 9:30. The play begins at 10:00.

Every child is being asked to bring both their lunch and their snack in paper sacks. Both should be labeled with the student's name. No backpacks please. Students are not allowed to take anything into the play so we will be storing the food in a class box.

The play lasts for 2 hours so lunch will be late. On the ferry on the way home.

TWO MORE VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED. Please call if you are available. 780-2062


Instruction is focused on the close reading of nonfiction text. We are learning to identify and use text features, such as, diagrams, maps, side bars, bold text, headings, etc.

We are also actively discussing and practicing 4 strategies that improve comprehension. They are Questioning, Predicting, Clarifying, and Summarizing.

Students should have finished Book 14 for their reading log - Luvtareed Reading Log. Only about 2 students took AR tests on their return from vacation. That was a little alarming. Please be sure that your child is reading daily - 20 minutes. I can not repeat often enough that at this point in your child's reading development the amount of daily practice and the consistency of the practice determines his/her progress.


We have been busy crafting persuasive essays. We began with writing a group essay on an agreed upon topic - I Love Ice Cream. Next, students were members of one of four different groups writing persuasively about whether dogs, cats, stuffed animals, or imaginary animals make the best pets. Then everyone wrote a quick note (3 reason essay) to Santa letting him know that he had slipped up and brought the wrong gift. Sadly, Evan received an unwanted Lady Gaga poster, Lila got a hefty calculus book, and Colby got an orange, kitten alarm clock. Wrong for so many reasons.

Now we have been discussing how to choose a good topic when a prompt is not provided. Some thesis statements from today's discussion:

I should have the same bedtime as my older sister.

Dinner should always include dessert.

Afternoon recess should be longer.

Every person in the world should work to make the Earth less polluted.

Later in the week, everyone will write a persuasive essay on his/her topic of choice. The students will also be writing a personal narrative later in the month.


We will start the Electricity Kit later in the month. I will be adding some fun, new, related activities that were funded in my BSF grant - squishy circuits and Little Bits.

Squishy Circuits

AnnMarie Thomas: Hands-on science with squishy circuits

Little Bits

Ayah Bdeir: Building blocks that blink, beep and teach

Social Studies

We are using Washington Connections. Geography and history of our state. Lots of interesting information. For most of the students this is their first exposure to content reading in a textbook. Challenging!

Remembering December