Hello Wizards and Witches,
Can you believe that you have been accepted for studies at Hogwarts despite your non-magical roots? (Well, as far as I know you're non-magical. Actually, I suppose your mum could be a witch or your great-grandfather COULD be a wizard. ) Anyway, the point is, you HAVE been accepted and that is great news for you AND me! You'll report for your fourth year with me, Prof. Brigham, on August 30th. You'll have Prof. Cote for potions though. This is a little bonus for you! She is fantastic. Don't worry if the world of Harry Potter is all new to you and don't feel like your year will be a dud because you've already read one or more of J.K. Rowling's books. The year will be MAGICAL regardless. How do I know this? I know this because I have 23 years of experience. I've learned a lot over the course of those years. Most importantly, I've learned that children, all on their own, are magical beings. Your magic, paired with my enthusiasm and experience , will surely make your fourth year at Clough...ahem, Hogwarts, magical!
You might be thinking, "Harry Potter? Didn't they do that last year?" You might be interested to know that this team of teachers has taken on LOTS of themes. From nautical to culinary, from broadway to superheroes. we've enjoyed each and every one too. But, we have NEVER repeated a theme. NEVER. NOT ONCE...until this year. Why are we repeating the Harry Potter theme? For one, it is AWESOME! Secondly, we are repeating to continue a full year celebration of the 20th Anniversary of J.K. Rowling's first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was first published in 1997. I fell in love with this book series shortly thereafter when one of my fifth grade students gave me the book as an end of school year present. What a gift that was! I remember having to wait nearly a year until the next book was published. You witches and wizards are so lucky beause you can just pick up the next book as soon as you finish one! Over the course of this magical year, you will read the first two books, you'll write to Harry, learn to play chess, or continue your study of the game, learn to play Quidditch, and if you're lucky, win a house cup or two and taste some sweet butterbeer. I know you'll be a Potterhead in no time, if you're not one already!
There are a few things you should do to prepare for your fourth year at Hogwarts.
Remember: King's Cross Station, Plattform 9 3/4, Howgwart's Express - August 30, 9:00 AM sharp! Don't be late!
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
4th Year Instructor
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (AKA: Clough)
There is little I need to say about this video. The students whose ideas were captured speak for themselves. Know that I realize how lucky I am to be doing this work with kids. I celebrate moments like these everyday. Consider joining us for math class. You're always welcome. You'll leave with goosebumps.
I am so very sorry that it has been so long since my last blog. It is far overdue.
I want to offer you my most sincere thanks for the support I've received from you and your children since the middle of October when my dad fist became sick. Sometimes your support simply came in an encouraging sentence at the end of an email. Others sent along cards, meals, and letters. What really kept me going during those difficult days was coming into school and being able to spend time with your children. Your children have been amazingly supportive. From the start, I was fairly open with the children. I told them that my dad was very sick and that I needed to help care for him. They asked about him often said that they hoped he was feeling better. Once we knew he had stage 4 melanoma and treatment wouldn't be an option, I gently explained to the class that my dad wouldn't get better and that we were getting ready to say good-bye. I explained that we'd be treating his cancer with lots of love and keeping him comfortable with medicine. They seemed to understand. Many continued to ask about him and let me know that they were praying for him and my family. My dad was so touched by their compassion. He loved pouring over the cards that they made for him. There simply is no way for me to convey how much their kind words and gestures meant to me and my family. The flowers that you sent from Petal and Crumb shortly after my dad's passing were stunning. I very much appreciated that beautiful expression of your sympathy.
Mrs. Gallagher was also very supportive of me. She made sure that I had the best subs when I needed to be out and I made sure to leave detailed plans before each absence so that the children would have the same kind of productive days in the classroom as if I had been there myself. My colleagues were amazing too . They helped to support my subs and ensured that the kids were having good days in my absence.
Unfortunately, this is a time of great negativity in our world. We can't use social media or watch the news without feeling its full force. Yet, in the three months from the time my dad got sick to his passing, I have never witnessed so much kindness and compassion. I look at the 25 little faces of the children I teach every day and I know there is hope. Thank you for being incredible parents and raising these children who are so filled with light. I am truly blessed that they are a part of my life. Thank you.
I returned to school on Friday the 20th but last week was my first full week back in the classroom. Boy did that feel good! It is wonderful to be back. There are lots of exciting things going on in our classroom. We're wrapping up both Matilda and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Next, we'll read, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. The students will be writing expository pieces that focus on animals and their ability to use physical and behavioral adaptations. In math, it is all about FRACTIONS. We're using a a very hands on approach to build a conceptual understanding of fractions. The development of fraction number sense is critical to the work we'll do this year. The children are having lots of fun with the lessons so far. I look forward to our continued work. Finally, in social studies, we're getting ready to wrap up our study of U.S. regions. We'll explore immigration, Canada, Mexico, and National Monuments before the year is over.
In the coming weeks, you'll notice an increase in homework, especially reading and writing. Please let me know if this becomes burdensome or frustrating and we'll make an adjustment.
I am very pleased with the progress the children are making to date. If for any reason you become concerned about your own child's progress, please contact me at once. It would be my pleasure to sit down and review his or her progress with you.
Again, thanks for all you do, especially what you do to support your child's academic and social growth at home. Trust me when I tell you that it is the little things you do that make a BIG difference in the classroom. I remain honored to be your child's teacher.
Dear Muggle Parents,
In my opinion, things could not possibly be going any better at Hogwarts than they are. Your little witches and wizards are a true joy to teach. I can't emphasize this point enough! They come into class each day ready and eager to work hard and learn. While they are making great progress across the curriculum, I'd like to take a moment to highlight their work in a few specific areas.
As you know, the Mendon-Upton Regional School district invested in a new K-6 math program called "Go Math!" This program is aligned to the common core standards. It really does feel very different from the mathematics instruction your students were used to. Still, they have demonstrated great flexibility and have thoughtfully applied all of their rich conceptual learning to problems posed in this new curriculum. In addition, just as I have in years past, I'll be using a number of different routines during morning math meetings. These routines are necessary to build a community of mathematicians who are committed to learning together. Furthermore, these routines build deep conceptual understanding, are fun, and really CHALLENGE students. These include but are not limited to "Number Talks", "Fraction Talks", "Open Middle" problems, "Which one doesn't belong?" and "Math in Three Acts." There are many amazing mathematicians across the globe doing remarkable work in the classroom. I am fortunate to be able to connect with these mathematicians and teachers through Twitter. Ten to fifteen years ago I never would have predicted that my teaching would be enhanced and made more effective by global influences and social media. Teachers and students at Clough are blessed to be learning in such a technologically rich school. This is thanks to our community, especially our parents, who support our schools at the polls and through PTO. Thank you!
In reading, the students continue to use the Wonders Reading Program to build comprehension skills and strategies, rich vocabularies, and writing skills. In addition to Wonders, the students will read a tremendous amount of literature this year. Of course, we are reading the first HARRY POTTER book! We read on chapter a week. Over the course of the week students write "Dear Harry" letters where they share their reactions to the text and Harry's struggles with Harry. These letters are doing double duty as they certainly help students to work on their writing skills but they also help students to focus on important reading skills like main idea and details, cause and effect, beginning, middle and end, etc. I've seen tremendous growth in the students' writing already and we've only just finished chapter 8!
In addition to HARRY, we've also read the Lemonade Crime, sequel to the Lemonade War. The children really enjoyed it. We've since moved on to the BELOVED, Charlotte's Web. The children have fallen in love with a PIG! For our final project they're working on text dependent illustrations. I hope they'll be up for your enjoyment by conference week! Next, we'll move onto another classic, Beverly Cleary's Ribsy. Exposing children to talented writers helps children to LOVE stories and reading. My end goal is for my students to leave fourth grade as kids who LOVE to read and who seek out books for relaxation, information, and entertainment. We're already well on our way.
Finally, in social studies, we've covered all the necessary map skills deemed necessary by the MA Curriculum Frameworks and we have started our nearly year-long study of the U.S. Regions. The Northeast, which tends to be easiest for our students as they've visited many of the states, was wrapped up last week. I've posted a couple of projects for you to check out below. Also, by the end of the week, your student should be sharing his or her own project for you to check out in SeeSaw. This time around, the students used S'more (a digital newsletter, not a campfire treat!) to show what they learned. I think you'll agree that their work is impressive. I plan to introduce the children to a variety of different high-tech options for project presentation over the course of the year like Google Slides, Fotobabble, Weebly, Prezi and more! They'll also be able to choose from low tech and no tech options too. Choice is a HUGE motivator for fourth graders (and adults too if I'm being honest).
A couple of announcements:
These are scheduled for November 9th and 10th. I can also meet nearly any day before or after school too. Let me know what works best for you soon if you haven't already signed up on the SignUp Genius.
We will be having a LITTLE celebration on Halloween in addition to our school-wide parade. We'll be watching the Charlotte's Web movie as a little treat. If you are willing to bake or send in some paper goods or juice boxes, please contact Melissa Rezek at email@example.com. I'd love a few Charlotte's Web themed treats or Harry Potter themed treats. PLEASE, no bacon though! That would just be insensitive.
Remember, THE STUDENTS have no school on voting day (Nov. 8). We all have no school on Veteran's Day (Nov. 11). November 9th and 10th are early release days to allow for parent/teacher conferences.
I'm planning to run in the SPOOKY run on October 30th. This 5K walk/run is sponsored by the Mendon-Upton Education Foundation who does so much to support our schools. Might you and your family consider joining me for this walk/run?
I'm looking forward to seeing you soon!
Marie (Prof. Brigham)
Hello to the Parents of Hogwarts' Class of 2025,
Thanks for sending your adorable little Muggles off so well prepared for the start of school. We've had a productive couple of days. So far we've done a little bit of math, a little bit of reading, and a little bit of writing. We've sprinkled the magic in here and there too! Science and social studies instruction will begin next week.
Generally, I will try to publish a new blog on the website monthly to update you on classroom happenings. I'll usually email to tell you that I've updated the page once I've published a blog. If you're on Twitter, feel free to follow me there too as I'll often tweet out exciting things happening in class. My handle is: @MarieMcMB . Warning: I'm a self-proclaimed math geek so I tweet out about math quite a bit too.
I'm looking forward to meeting you all at open house on the 15th. Please don't hesitate to call or email should you have questions or concerns before then.
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 your 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 our students. 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. It was the first edition 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 nearly 20 years now. I can't wait to share the magic with my students this year. I am thrilled that you have been accepted into Hogwarts and have been sorted into BRIGHAM HALL!
In addition to these literary adventures, we'll explore the WONDERS all around us. We'll visit the 50 states of our great nation and we'll even travel to Canada and Mexico. While traveling we'll take time to smell the roses as we learn all about plants and how they adapt. Speaking of adaptation, we'll search out animals around the globe and examine how they survive in their environments and we'll tap into all kinds of energy. Our arithmancy studies will truly expand our thinking and grow our skills. You'll be so thrilled with yourself that you'll holler, "GO, Math!"
Are you prepared for this 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 the critical thinking and problem solving needed to survive whatever comes your way. How can you prepare your mind for the unknown you ask?
Start by reading. I hope you'll enjoy the Lemonade War. We'll use this book to launch our Social Studies work where you and I will be exploring and working hard to meet the grade four economics standards. While you do have to read one other book, in addition to the Lemonade War, to meet the summer reading expectations, I challenge you to read as many as you can. Can you read 6 books by the time school starts? I bet you can. I've read every Kate DiCamillo book. I read Ramie Nightingale just this summer. I tinkhe 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 for our adventure and the challenge of revealing the magic inside of each of us!
Rest up till August 31 when you'll head to King's Station. Seek out platform 9 1/2. Come with your trunk all packed and ready for MAGIC and WONDER. We depart at 9:00 AM sharp. I just can't wait!
Dear 4th Year Student,
We are pleased to inform you that you will continue your studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on August 31. We await your owl by no later than August 15. Send your Owl by clicking on the Contact Prof. Brigham tab. Send a quick note.