Four Winds

We had our first Four Winds lesson today on insects.  A HUGE thank you to Jennifer Faul and Phoebe Desjardin for bringing us this engaging science lesson.  It rained, so we weren’t able to go out and observe insects 🙁  Check out our video!

Spelling City

You may have noticed the widget on the left sidebar of my blog for SpellingCity.com.  Each week your child’s words will be available on SpellingCity.com for use at home for extra practice.  SpellingCity reads and teaches weekly words, allows practice with spelling and meaning through games, and tests spelling.  Spelling city is not a substitute for nightly word sorts, but can be a valuable partner when learning how to spell words accurately.  Playing games with Spelling City is a FUN way to gain extra practice each week.

The screencast below shows you how to find your child’s list on spelling city.  All games on the site are preloaded with each group’s spelling words.

Projects

We spent time last week working on a few important projects. First we personalized our writer’s notebooks. Students used fancy paper, old wallpaper samples, and scrapbook paper for their backgrounds and decorated their foreground with family photographs, stickers, images and words from magazines, and other meaningful items. They worked hard, and the notebooks are AMAZING! I took them home and laminated them to protect the wonderful memories they contain. We use these images and words to inspire notebook entries.

Our notebook contain important memories and ideas. When we write in our notebooks, we practice writing fluently on a topic with sensory details. We reflect, remember and reminisce in our notebooks. The memories and experiences we gather are called “seeds.” These seeds will then be used to grow stories. . . . seed stories 🙂

We also decorated 6 inch tiles with Sharpie markers. The tiles featured our names and were decorated to represent our interests, hobbies and talents. I was worried about the permanency of Sharpies, but the kids did a super job and created memorable tiles. We used the tiles to create a graph of our learning styles. The majority of us are visual learners. Visual learners prefer reading and seeing. We also had tactile, auditory and 2 visual/tactile learners in our class. Tactile learners learn best by touching and doing, while auditory learners learn best when they are hearing or speaking.

Word Study

We officially began word study last week. Word study activities involve manipulating words to discover how the English spelling system works.  The following quote from Words Their Way illustrates the rationale behind this approach to spelling instruction: “Students examine words they already know how to read, and sometimes even spell, as a way to gain insight into how the spelling system works.  This in turn enables them to analyze unfamiliar words they encounter while reading and to master the spelling of similar words.”

There are four main parts to our study of words.

Weekly spelling lists . . . children are assessed each trimester and groups are formed based on each child’s developmental level.  These groups explore patterns and discover spelling rules through daily activities.  These activities include sorting words in a variety of ways and recording our discoveries in a journal. Students are assigned spelling words each Monday.  Their words are formatted as a word sort (on cards) and not as a spelling list.  They are expected to sort and spell their words correctly by Friday.  Each week a different spelling pattern is learned and practiced.

On Monday, students are given three copies of their spelling words.  One copy is cut up at school and stored in an envelope.  The other two copies should be brought home.  Of those, one should be cut up for spelling homework, and the other can be put in a safe place in the event the cut-up words are lost during the week.

Word wall practice . . . These frequently misspelled words are posted on a bulletin board and practiced each day.  These words MUST be spelled correctly on all student work.  These words are often practiced as part of our weekly spelling. MVC-021S

Nifty Fifty . . . These 50 polysyllabic words are used to learn about prefixes, base words, and suffixes.  We practice spelling them orally and in written form, and we also use these special words to create new words.  For example, if we know how to spell “richest” and “encouragement,” we should be able to combine word parts and spell “enrichment.”  Nifty Fifty words are often practiced as part of our weekly spelling.  On short spelling weeks, we often have Nifty Fifty spelling work instead of our usual word sorts.

Word study activities . . . Other word study activities include word ladders, making big words, guess the covered word and sparkle.  Our classroom has many word games to help us build our word skills.  Ask your child about these activities!

What is the spelling homework each night?

Homework for word study/spelling is the same every week.  This homework schedule is attached to your child’s word study notebook on a label.

MONDAY— On Monday night students are expected to do a written sound sort.  This means that they sort their words based on vowel sounds.  The sound sort heading cards are typed at the top of their spelling sheets and are shaded gray.  Once the cards are sorted into sound categories, they should write them neatly into their word study notebook. Word Wall, Nifty Fifty and Challenge words should be written three times in columns at the bottom of their word sort.

TUESDAY—On Tuesday night students sort their words by spelling pattern.  Your child discovers these patterns in class and writes them in their word study notebook.  One common long vowel pattern is VCe (ex. file and home/made) .  Once the words are sorted they should be written neatly in their word study notebooks.  Word Wall, Nifty Fifty and Challenge words should be written three times in columns at the bottom of their word sort.

WEDNESDAY—On Wednesday we do S.A.W. which is an acronym for:

S — Sort words by sound

A—Alphabetize each category list

W—Write neatly in word study notebook

This homework is similar to Monday night’s homework, but is in alphabetical order. Word Wall, Nifty Fifty and Challenge words should be written three times in columns at the bottom of their word sort.

THURSDAY— On Thursday night students need your help. They complete a “blind sort” or a practice test.  It’s called a blind sort because students can’t look at their spelling words like other word sorts.  Words are sorted based on their spelling patterns.  Your child should write their pattern headings in their notebook before you begin.  It’s okay to give them these headings (They are the same as Tuesday night’s homework!).  You should then call out a spelling word for them to sort and write correctly in their notebook.  Words are correct if they are sorted AND spelled correctly.  You can practice spelling and/or sorting as many times as your child needs.  Any misspelled words should be written FIVE times for additional practice!!  On a blind sort, word wall, challenge or nifty fifty words are written ONE time (list form) as a category of their own (i.e. “Nifty Fifty Words” or “Challenge Words”).

FRIDAY —We take a test in school.  Students sort and spell words by pattern.  Words that are spelled incorrectly are circled and the correct spelling written above or beside the word.  Words that are incorrectly sorted are also circled.  They are written in the correct category.

Occasionally, a spelling unit will have a different sequence of activities or different activities. When this happens the assignment(s) will be posted on the bottom of the spelling sheet.

Please help your child practice sorting and spelling their words each week.

Weekend Routines

Wow, it’s hard to believe that we have completed our 3rd week of school!  I look forward to meeting and seeing families next week at our Open House. As you enjoy this last weekend of summer, I wanted to clarify weekend routines for families.  Students go home every Friday with a Friday Folder and write in a communication journals most weeks.  Friday Folders & Communication Journals  help you stay informed and up-to-date with important information and events at school. Home work binders and Planners do not go home on weekends.

135740Friday Folders:

Friday Folders are an important communication tool between home and school.  All notices, important information, and most completed student work for the week goes home in our Friday Folders (poly folder with Velcro flap), as well as your child’s communication journal.  It is important for families to go through the Friday Folder and review student work and notices.  Parents also need to read and respond to their child’s communication journal (see below), and return any paperwork to school via the Friday Folder.  When your child arrives at school on Monday, they empty out the folder and hand everything in (communication journals & paperwork).

composition-notebook_~bxp28366Communication Journals:

We have started writing in communication journals. This is a way for you to hear about your child’s week from their perspective.  Most children share things that are meaningful and interesting to them.  It is a great way to spark a discussion with your child about how their week went.

We are practicing many skills when we write in these journals.  Students are learning proper friendly letter format; a struggle for many fourth graders to master.  We are also practicing paragraph writing.  In fourth grade we must write paragraphs that are focused on ONE topic.  Each paragraph needs to have a topic sentence, a minimum of three detail sentences, and a closing sentence.  We are working on writing more detailed sentences.  These skills are very important for essay writing.

You are highly encouraged to journal also.  This is an opportunity for you to have an ongoing written dialogue with your child about what he/she is learning in school.  Journaling is much more fun and effective when your child knows that you will be responding each week.  These journals will give you detailed accounts of at least two things we worked on during the week.  Look for these communication journals to come home most Fridays.  They should be returned the following Monday.

Please note that the student journal entries are not edited by me and are an authentic reflection of your child’s current writing ability.  Happy journaling!

Math Test!

We have a math test tomorrow for unit 1.  Today we completed a review in class of the material on tomorrow’s test.  We discussed that to prepare for a math test, we need to PRACTICE.  Students have the OPPORTUNITY to practice for their test and earn bonus points (5 points!).  They have two options to practice:

1. Make a practice test with 20 problems (Must contain a variety of problems).  The mathboxes and journal pages are a great place to find math problems for a practice test.  Students must complete the practice test and return it tomorrow to recieve the bonus points.

2. Play Jeopardy and keep track of your work on a 4×4 grid.  You may get an error message about “macros” and “viruses”  . . . this file DOES NOT have a virus, so please ignore the message.

Students also need to be fluent on their addition and subtraction.  Fluent means that your child can complete 20 problem in one minute or less.  To practice for this students can visit this site: TIMED MATH FACTS to practice.

Homework Routines

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Homework:

Homework is a crucial component to your child’s 4th grade experience.  The main purposes for homework are two-fold:  to develop responsibility and practice skills taught during the day.

We have been easing into a consistent homework routine.  It is vital that your child complete their homework each evening.  To help both you and your child, we’ll be using Student Planners and Homework Alerts.  Homework is written on the board in the front of the room and students are expected to write down their homework daily.  Please help your child manage their homework by looking at their Planner book and ensuring that all their work is complete. You will receive a “Homework Alert” if your child comes to school with homework not completed or incomplete.

Completing homework can be a struggle for some students at the beginning of 4th grade.  It takes teamwork and support from both home and school for students to be successful.  Please feel free to email me if you have any concerns.

Home Reading:

We began home reading last week!  Students are required to complete 80 minutes of home reading each week. To break it down more specifically, your child is responsible for at least 20 minutes of reading four times per week. Home reading sheets are due each Thursday.

Your child should keep track of their own reading, and you should verify that they read by signing the form each week.  The record keeping form helps your child develop important skills.  Correct capitalization of titles and calculation of elapsed time are important skills every fourth grader needs, so they should fill out the form with your support.  Feel free to help them calculate their time for the first month or two until they learn how to keep track of it on their own.

Need a record sheet? Click here: Weekly Home Reading Record .

468502417_7b9356e195_tGoing GREEN option:  Consider filling this out electronically and emailing it to me each week.  This will save many pieces of paper and lots of trees!

Our First Two Weeks

Greetings from Mrs. Boucher ’s classroom!    It’s hard to we are beginning the third week of school!  At the end of every day I am amazed at how fast our time flies.

Getting to Know Each Other

It hasn’t taken me long to realize that I have  received a wonderful group of children to work with.  I am  thoroughly enjoying the process of getting to know them on both a personal and an academic level.  Many of our activities and lessons have helped us learn about each other.

Testing & Assessments

Assessments in reading, writing, math and spelling have also been a big part of the past few weeks.  They are giving  me a picture of your child’s academic strengths and areas of need. This week we will turn our lens toward ourselves and explore our learning styles and interests.  Thank you to everyone for helping me learn more about your child by completing the Hopes and Dreams form.  I refer to this information frequently and appreciate the time it took to complete.  All of these pieces of information are helping me develop a comprehensive picture of your child’s emotional, social and academic strengths and areas of need.