Classroom News

Ms. Stopak's Fourth Grade

Dear Families,

As we start the new school year, I wanted to let you know a little bit about what your child will be doing. In fourth grade, we will be focusing a lot on writing. We will be writing, not only in language arts, but in other content areas like science and social studies. As you may know, Iowa has adopted the Common Core State Standards. These standards help to ensure that all students are prepared to enter college or the workforce upon graduating high school. These standards hold students to high expectations and may seem overwhelming. That is why I wanted to provide you with some information about what they are, and how they will influence your child’s writing.

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What Are the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards are a set of guidelines that provide teachers with consistent goals for student achievement. All teachers across the district, city, and state will be using these standards when planning and assessing student learning. These standards also help parents and teachers to know what students are expected to learn each year.

These standards are rigorous and set high expectations for all students. Through their implementation, students will be better prepared for the future. They help students to develop the skills necessary for success after graduation, whether that is in college or in the workforce.

As this is fourth grade, that might seem intimidating. However, the standards are written in a way that makes meeting these expectations possible. Starting in kindergarten, students begin working on these skills - the same skills they will be using in high school! By starting early, children begin to learn and master these skills. Each year’s standards build on the previous year’s, getting students one step closer to college and career readiness.

Building on Last Year's Learning

As I mentioned, the standards build on each other. Knowing this, I have expectations for what my students will be able to do at the beginning of the year. This provides me with a starting place for my instruction. If your child has not yet mastered all of the skills from third grade, don’t worry. I will work with you and your child to make sure that they are supported and successful. Also, the standards for fourth grade reflect what your child will be able to do by the end of fourth grade. We will be working together to learn and improve as the year goes on.

Writing with the Common Core

I mentioned earlier that we will be doing a lot of writing in fourth grade, and not just in language arts. There are ten writing standards for fourth grade. The first three focus on writing different types of pieces for different purposes. Students will be writing opinion pieces in which they must support their opinion with reasons and facts. They will also be writing informative pieces where they also need to provide facts. This means we will be exploring a variety of topics this year! This is also where writing in science and social studies comes in. The third type of writing students are asked to do is narrative writing, which asks students to tell a story - real or imagined.

The next standards focus on the writing process. I will be helping your students to plan and organize their writing. We will be using several types of graphic organizers to help us with this. Students will work with peers to revise and edit their writing once I have modeled how it is done. Most of our writing will be done on the computer so students can easily collaborate, as well as improve their keyboarding skills.

The standards also require students to research and provide evidence from their reading to support their writing. We will do several research projects this year. Some will be individual, and others will be done with a group. Students will become knowledgeable on a research topic and present their information to the class. They will also be asked to reference their reading when providing evidence in their writing.

We will be writing every day, in almost every subject. My goal is to help your students develop their skills and become great writers. I also hope that your students enjoy our writing projects and develop a love of writing.

Helpful Resources for Understanding the Common Core

I have included some links to websites that will provide you with more information about the Common Core State Standards, and hopefully answer any questions you may have.

Common Core State Standards
Iowa Core Parent's Guide

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call or e-mail me.