Mrs. Carlson, Mr. Erickson, Ms. Gesme, Mrs. Laven

November 20, 2014

Mrs. Carlson's Homeroom

Mr. Erickson's Homeroom at the Bakken & Pavek Museums

Ms. Gesme's Homeroom at the Mill City Museum

Mrs. Laven's Homeroom

Reading Updates

How is reading taught in fourth grade?

Reading instruction is driven by the MN English Language Arts Standards for reading. The MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) test is directly linked to these standards. During the first semester we focus on the Literature standards which are written as specific benchmarks for each grade level. These benchmarks are written as "I can" statements that we use with students so they know their "Learning Targets" each day.

Reading Literature: (HM, read-alouds, Novel Studies, Independent Reading)

RL 1.1 I can draw inferences from a text and refer to details and examples in the text when explaining my inferences.

RL 2.1 I can determine the theme of a piece of literature.

RL 2.2 I can summarize a piece of literature.

RL 3.1 I can use specific details from the story to describe a character in depth.

RL 3.2 I can use specific details from the story to describe a setting in depth.

RL 3.3 I can use specific details from the story to describe an event in depth.

RL 4.1 I can determine the meaning of words and phrases based on how they are used in a text.

RL 5.1 I can refer to structural elements to explain major differences among poems, drama, and prose.

RL 6.1 I can compare and contrast the viewpoint of different stories, especially in first and third-person narration.

RL 7.1 I can make connections between the written text of a story and a visual or oral presentation of the story.

RL 8 (not applicable to literature)

RL 9.1 I can compare and contrast themes, topics, and plot patterns in literature from various cultures.

RL 10.1 I can read and comprehend literature appropriate for fourth grade.

What resources do you use?

For the literature benchmarks, we use read-alouds, Houghton Mifflin reading anthology, and Novel Studies (sets of books at different levels within 3 genres: realistic fiction, mysteries, and science fiction).

Currently, Mrs. Laven's students are reading science fiction while Mr. Erickson's students are reading realistic fiction. Typically, students read these stories independently, then meet in small groups to discuss the books.

How is reading progress assessed?

Fourth grade reading focuses primarily on comprehension. Reading comprehension is assessed in a variety of ways, including answering and asking questions about a text, writing story summaries, writing short essays about a character or events in the story, and occasionally multiple choice tests.

We also assess each student's fluency with an oral reading inventory. Fluency has to do with the pace of reading. When students read too slowly, comprehension breaks down. Students who have fluency needs practice reading at a good pace so that they their comprehension improves.

How can I know how my child is doing in reading?

At fall conferences, you will receive a written report from Mrs. Laven or Mr. Erickson about your child's progress in reading class. Unlike math, much of the work done in reading doesn't come home right away. Students do work in study guides that will come home every 1-2 weeks. We encourage children to share that graded work with you. A fair amount of our work involves small group discussions, teacher-student reading conferences, and written work in a reading notebook that stays in school. Of course, we welcome your inquiries.

How important is daily reading at home?

Very important! Please continue to encourage the habit of reading and recording reading at home. Numerous studies confirm a high correlation between time spent reading and success in reading, including vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension

During second semester, we will focus on Informational reading standards.

November Conferences

Please remember to sign up online for the parent/teacher conferences on Thursday, November 20 and Monday, November 24. Conferences are scheduled with your child's homeroom teacher.

Math Update

We are working on Unit 5 and will finish this unit after Thanksgiving Break.

There are four main areas of focus:

-Extend basic multiplication facts and review the basic principles of multiplication

-Provide practice estimating and deciding when estimation is appropriate

-Review and provide practice with the partial-products algorithm (see video below)

-Practice reading, writing, and comparing large numbers

The lessons in Unit 6 will focus on the following:

-Solving multiplication and division number stories

-Introduce the division algorithms: partial quotients division method (see video below) -Introduce the concept of remainders as fractions or decimals

-Practice drawing, measuring and naming angles using half and full-circle protractors

-Introduce and practice using latitude and longitude and utilize letter-number pairs and ordered pairs on a grid system

Partial Products Multiplication Strategy
Partial Quotients Example

Science Units

In fourth grade students work on four science units throughout the year.

Matter and Energy: In this unit students learn about atoms, molecules, states of matter, substances, mixtures, The Periodic Table of Elements, kinetic/potential energy, phase change, and freezing/melting points. Here is a link to one of our favorite videos: Oxygen

Magnetism and Electricity: In this unit students investigate permanent magnets, build electric circuits powered by D-cells, and explore electromagnetism. The students are fascinated with building circuits and eager to learn how they work. At the end of the unit, students apply their learning and problem-solving skills to a hands-on, real world engineering experience.

Earth Materials: During the earth materials unit students learn about rocks and minerals and identify minerals by physical characteristics. Fourth graders take apart homemade Mock Rocks to investigate rock properties, they conduct a scratch test to determine the relative hardness of rocks, they study the effects on mineral calcite when placed in vinegar, and they determine which minerals are in granite.

Water: During this unit students use hands-on investigations to help them learn the following key concepts: water has surface tension and flows downhill, water expands as it is heated and contracts as it cools, water also expands as it freezes making water unique, and warm water is less dense than cold water. Students also explore the water cycle, investigating what happens during evaporation and condensation. Finally, students work in teams to use the engineering design process to create simple water filters. They learn that environmental engineers work to prevent and solve pollution problems.