Mr. Donnellon's Classroom News

February Newsletter

Odds and Ends

  • It is hard to believe that another card marking has come to an end. I am still missing a couple of report card envelopes. Please remember, after reviewing the report card and other reports which may be included in your child's report card envelope, keep the contents of the envelope and then return ONLY the envelope signed under second card marking period.


  • Tuesday, February 14th will be our classroom celebration and Valentines exchange from 2:15-3:15. If sending in an edible treat with your child's valentine, please make sure that it is nut free and processed in a nut free factory. Any treats which do not meet this requirement will be held at school and returned at the end of the day to take home. Thank you for taking the time to consider those students with nut allergies.



  • No school on Monday, February 20 or Tuesday, February 21.


  • Students have taken the Winter NWEA-Map test in the areas of Mathematics, Reading, and Language. This is one of the assessment screening tools Royal Oak uses to track student progress. Results of this test will be sent home to parents when available for print.


  • If your student hasn't signed up for Science Olympiad, please encourage him/her to consider this event. It is a great opportunity for students to enjoy working with the scientific process skills in a friendly and fun after school atmosphere.

Reader's Workshop

We are well into our third reading unit, Informational Reading: Understanding Expository, Narrative, and Hybrid Text. So far readers have worked to determine importance and synthesize when reading informational text; readers learned strategies that help them determine the main idea and supporting details and fit all the text together as they become experts on their topics. As they read, readers practiced the importance of previewing the text, used text features to predict how information is organized, and thought about subtitles as they studied pages of expository text.

Writer's Workshop

We are also in the midst of our Informational Writing Unit: The Personal Expertise. We have taken a look at different mentor texts and studied what these authors have done in their own work. We then consider which techniques we could use in our own books as we create them. We have come up with lists of ideas which we know we can teach others about, and began to write "fast drafts" for each idea. Once we come up with a table of contents for our writing, we will use these as a road map to plan how each chapter or section will fit together. We will include different text features which we have studied in Reader's Workshop in our writing pieces.

Math Workshop

We have finished up Measurement, Time, and Graphs and have moved into our fourth unit, Multi-digit Addition and Subtraction. In this unit we have studied three research based methods for multi-digit addition: the common algorithm New Groups Above, plus two methods found to be effective at this grade level, New Groups Below and Show All Totals. These methods are introduced to help students see and discuss core mathematical ideas about addition and subtraction.


To subtract multi-digit numbers, students are taught to ungroup all the places before subtracting. Research has found this approach reduces errors and helps develop conceptual understanding of multi-digit subtraction.


With both multi-digit addition and subtraction, students will be taught to provide "proof drawings" to show their thinking when needed.

Social Studies

We are continuing to work on History in social studies. We have studied all about the Native American groups which have lived in the area of Michigan. We have moved into European exploration of the area, the French fur trade, and its effect on the development of Michigan. We will begin to look at Cause and Effect relationships once England got involved in the fur trade and the conflicts which occurred. Then we will study how Michigan finally reached statehood.