Every year our completely awesome PTO donates student planners. Because I've cut way back on homework, the planner has been re-purposed. Our fourth-grade students are finding that it provides the PERFECT space to record a few highlights from each day. We call it the highlight reel. Is your child the kid who doesn't have much to say at the end of the day? Check out his or her planner. It is kept in the MAGIC binder. I'm sure that your child's highlight reel will become a great conversation starter for your family.
We recently read Beatrice's Goat. This inspirational and true life story about a young African girl named Beatrice has inspired our class. Beatrice's life is forever changed by the gift of a goat. Beatrice's job was to care for the goat. This required responsibility and dedication. Beatrice provided for the goat and the goat provided for Beatrice and her family. Our students are motivated to collect enough funds to send an animal to a family like Beatrice's. We agree that the children in our class should work for the money in the same way that Beatrice had to work to see her dreams come true. Please consider hiring your child to complete some chores that are outside of his or her normal responsibilities. In this way, our students will feel very proud to donate their funds to this cause. We will collect money until Thanksgiving break. We will review the Heifer Gift Catalog and decide how we can best help families like Beatrice's. We hope to send our gift in time for the holidays.
Charlotte's Web and Opinion Writing
Our students are reading Charlotte's Web. They are enjoying every moment with this delightful book. They have fallen in love with Wilbur. As a result, they are really beginning to wonder, "How should farm animals be treated?" Students across the fourth grade are wondering about this question together. Some already have some pretty strong opinions. Others are weighing all the information and forming their opinions. In order to help the students think deeply about this question, we've provided them with some expert visitors to interview. Our experts will share opposing views. One is Crystal from Upton's Town Line Dairy Farm and the other is Jessica from the Maple Farm Sanctuary right here in Mendon. In the end, students will write opinion pieces that outline their thinking and where their opinion is well supported by facts. We'll share their final pieces, which will be published in a book and shared with you once available. In the meantime, this might be a nice topic to discuss as a family.
Multiples, Factors, Prime, Composite, Multiplicative Comparisons, and Lots of Data!
We have been crazy-busy in math. There has been a real effort to keep our kids engaged and to make the learning hands on. Hopefully stories of math inquiries and activities are making their way into your home. If not, do check out your child's highlight reel. I love working with your kids in math. They work hard and are slow to frustrate. This is an awesome combination!
Please click on the below link to begin the conference sign-up procedures.
Thank you very much for coming out to meet with me at Open House. I am so proud to teach in a district where parents are invested in their children's educations. Among the many topics covered at Open House was the hot button topic: HOMEWORK.
This year, your child will have no written homework or at home projects.
I do this for a few reasons but topping my list are the following:
Homework can add a tremendous amount of stress to a nine or ten-year-old's life. Some children are better equipped to work on tasks related to daily lessons with independence than others. Some parents have the time and ability to help their children and some do not. Removing homework from the mix removes stress which we know impedes a child's ability to make progress. It also levels the playing field for all learners.
There is no research proving that homework makes a positive impact on student learning. Childhood is fleeting. I don't believe that after-school time should be spent filling out worksheets.
Family time is already taxed by the fact that many families have two working parents and work schedules as well as student extra-curricular schedules make it difficult for families to spend quality time together. Spending after-school time together is more beneficial than arguing and stressing over homework.
BUT PLEASE...use this extra time wisely. The suggestions below are just that, suggestions.
Consider assigning a few weekly chores to your child. Nine and ten year olds are very capable and they can certainly help you out around the house. Reducing your work load and stress will have a positive impact on your family time. Fourth grade students can: make their own lunches or at least help, assist with food prep., keep their rooms tidy, dust, vacuum, set the table, clear the table, load and unload the dishwasher, help with laundry. Pick a few things that your child will agree to do each week. Hold them accountable as if it were their homework.
Work with your child so that he or she can acquire fact fluency. Use the array cards kept in your student's binder to practice math facts for about five to ten minutes, two to three times a week.
Read! Read to your child. Have your child read to you. Read your own book next to your child who is reading his or her own book. Ask about your child's reading appetite. Ask what he or she is reading at school. Share your reading adventures with your child.
Institute a family game night. There are tons of great educational games out there. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing the old classics. Kids LOVE card games. Consider teaching your child how to play family favorites. My parents taught me to play pitch when I was around ten and it was a game we enjoyed playing together right into adulthood. Yahtzee, Uno, Connect Four, Chess, Checkers, Monopoly, Risk, etc. are all great choices.
You can certainly encourage a little Lexia or even the use of digital math programs like IXL but use these sparingly if your child fights you on it. I'd much rather see your kiddo enjoying their after-school learning.
Try to get math in there whenever you can. Cook together! Let your child make cash purchases (milk at the convenience store for example) and count change. Help your child to solve problems with time. (ex: The soccer tournament starts at 10:30. It will take us 50 minutes to get there. What time should we leave the house?
Allow your child to pursue artistic interests. Arts and crafts are an excellent way to spend after-school time.
If the weather is nice, make your kiddo play outside without electronics. Having this time to develop their creativity is critical.
When birthdays and holidays roll around, consider purchasing books, art supplies, or learning toys that encourage engineering or science experiments to unfold in your home.
Hello Muggle families, Welcome to Open House! I'm so grateful that you were able to make space in your busy day to come into school to spend a little time with me in your child's classroom. I'm excited to share my plans for our year with you tonight. Please find the below agenda.
You guessed it! The theme for this year is HARRY POTTER. You might be wondering, "Why Potter?" There are lots of good reasons why the fourth-grade teachers are excited about our theme. Do you know what we've noticed in our line of work? We've noticed that learning is magical and it truly unlocks a child’s POWER! And, there is magic inside each of us...just waiting to be released. Sometimes it takes a true adventure to unearth our power. Harry Potter seems like just the literary character to inspire, doesn't he?
But I haven't really answered the question, have I? Much of children's literature is filled with magic and adventure. Many titles could inspire wonderful things in learners like us. Why Potter? I am a POTTERHEAD. I have been since 1997. Do you know how I first encountered Harry and the magical school, Hogwarts? A student. A thoughtful and bright child gave me Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a gift. This copy was published in the U.K. before the rights to the book were sold to Scholastic. I have loved Harry, his friends, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for over 20 years now. I can't wait to share Harry’s magic with you this year.
You might be thinking, "Harry Potter? Didn't they do that last year AND the year before?" You might be interested to know that this team of fourth-grade teachers has taken on LOTS of themes. From nautical to culinary, from Broadway to superheroes. we've enjoyed teaching with many different themes. But, we have NEVER repeated a theme. NEVER. NOT ONCE...until last year. Why are we repeating the Harry Potter theme for the second time? For one, it is AWESOME! Secondly, we are repeating to continue a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of J.K. Rowling's first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was first published in 1997. So, we decided to celebrate this 20th anniversary during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. However, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first published by Scholastic in the United States in 2018. So, due to a technicality, and an overwhelming student-demand for more Potter, we are three-peating this theme. Over the course of this magical year, you will read the first two books, write to Harry, learn to play chess, or continue the study of the game, learn to play Quidditch, and if lucky, win a house cup or two and taste some sweet butter beer. I know everyone will be a Potterhead in no time if you're not one already!
I am thrilled that you have been accepted into Hogwarts and have been sorted into BRIGHAM HALL! The GREAT news is that you'll have a team of professors working hard to bring out the magic lurking inside of you. Of course, you'll have me, Professor Marie Brigham. I'll be your primary teacher. You'll take the following courses with me: English Language Arts, Mathematics, some Science and some Social Studies units. I'll be co-teaching with special educator, Professor Tricia Chapman, who will be working, like me, to ensure that all witches and wizards achieve great success. Professors Cote and Berthao will also be important parts of your Hogwarts success. Professor Cote will be teaching some of your science courses and Professor Berthao will be teaching some of your Social Studies courses.
Are you wondering if you are prepared for this magical quest? You'll need to pack of course...and more than just your robes, wand, and cauldron. You can find a list of essentials by clicking on the "Supplies" tab up top. Most importantly, you'll need to have a sharp mind ready for problem-solving and the academic challenges that will be the hallmarks of our classroom. How can you prepare your mind for the year ahead?
Continue to prepare by reading. I hope you have enjoyed, are enjoying, or will enjoy the 4th-grade summer reading selections. You can follow this link to view some choices. First, please read ONE of the four books that are offered as choices (The Lemonade War, The One and Only Ivan, All Four Stars, or Frindle) Then, read ANY other book of your choice. There are suggestions listed at the linked site but you can read ANYTHING you chose. We’ll use your summer reading books to introduce “BOOK TALKS”. We’ll be cultivating a love for reading all year and we’ll use “BOOK TALKS” to share that love with the class. In order to get a jump start, I challenge you to read as many as you can. All books count. Picture books count and so do graphic novels. Can you read 6 books by the time school starts? I bet you can. I’ve been reading quite a bit this summer. In fact, one of my favorite things about summer is having the time to read more books (and eat more ice cream). I’ve read all kinds of books this summer including historical fiction, non-fiction, young adult fiction, and fiction. While a lot of my reading has been for pleasure, a few of my selections have been read in hopes of improving my practice as a teacher. I love to read and have many favorite authors. I've read every Kate DiCamillo book. I think she is my favorite author. Her books just warm my heart and fill me with hope. I admit though, I have a few favorite authors! J.K. Rowling is certainly near the top of my list. What has been your favorite book of the summer? I'll want to hear all about it when you return to school! Better yet, you can shoot me an email by clicking on the Contact Prof. Brigham tab.
Also, you can keep your math mind sharp by reviewing your multiplication facts on a pretty regular basis. A few minutes of review work every couple of days should do the trick. I know you'll be a more confident math student if you come to school with fact fluency. Do a little review here and there versus trying to re-learn them all during the last weekend of summer vacation. It will be way less burdensome this way and you won't ruin those last precious days of vacation with math stress.
Finally, you should RELAX. Do not worry about heading to Hogwarts. We will have FUN and you will have a very SUCCESSFUL fourth year. I promise! I'm excited about our adventure and the challenge of revealing the magic inside of each of us!
There may be one more OWL before the start of school. Stay on the look out. If the OWL is sent...it will contain a challenge. Are you up for a challenge? I know you are!
Rest up till August 29 when you'll head to King's Station. Seek out platform 9 ½ (a.k.a. rm. 202). Come with your trunk all packed and ready for MAGIC and WONDER. We depart at 9:00 AM sharp. I just can't wait!