December Newsletter

All You Need To Know To Get You To 2015

Reading - Genre 3

We are now reading mysteries. Three by Jan. 5. I hope everyone will have at least 2 books done by the 19th. Students will soon be given a Notice and Note activity (a graphic organizer to use when reading). We are focusing on predicting and inferring as these skills are critical in the comprehension of complicated text.

Chapter 4 - It's All About Multiplication

We are solving the problems using different strategies and tools - mental math (break apart), partial products, the algorithm, and calculators. When doing visual models to show understanding, we create equal groupings, arrays, place value models, and tape diagrams such as bar models and number lines. 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 on the ones they don't. Please be sure to follow up and make sure your child commits to this daily task if he or she did not receive a 4 on the progress report (Fluently multiply and divide within 144).

Writing - The Persuasive Essay

We have been doing quite a bit of writing. The last three school days in November, every child wrote a fictional letter to President Obama. They were to write from a turkey's point of view and beg to be pardoned on Thanksgiving. Each author had to include a minimum of four researched facts about turkeys in their argument. Everyone made two paddles - Plate (a Thanksgiving plate) or Pardon ( a construction paper turkey). After listening to the letters of their classmates, everyone voted by holding up a paddle. We laughed a lot. Some desperate turkeys.

Next up, Heifer International. Students have been assigned an animal from this charity's list of purchasable livestock. They will do research and then write a piece trying to persuade others to make a contribution towards the purchase of their specific animal. On Weds., Dec. 17, all students will be asked to bring $5.00 to class and then decide on how they will donate it based on their classmates' abilities to present a compelling case.

Every fourth grader (all three classes) will participate in this activity.

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Starting tomorrow. Thank you, Blakely PTO. We got our grant and the spelling program materials have arrived. Yeah!!

Hour of Code

The second annual Hour of Code initiative is an important part of Computer Science Education Week (December 8-14). 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. We began today and most everyone had a lot of fun programming with the kid-friendly language, Blockly. Most of the class busied themselves making the sisters from Frozen skate elaborate snowflakes.

I was very fortunate in that I was able to go to the offices in Rainier Tower for a class last month. I am so happy for their young staff. So many participants went to the site today that their server crashed. A nice problem to have as the tweets said.

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A Bit of Drama

On the last day before break, Dec. 19, 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.


Electricity, circuits, batteries, bulbs. We will do just a few of the many possible experiments in the next two weeks. The bulk of this unit is completed in January.

Looking Back on November