Happy New Year

On Monday, the bell rang at 8:30 and cold children streamed into the Lighthouse.  Where did that balmy weather go?  Excited chatter filled the halls as everyone got ready for the first school day of the new year.  After taking care of our business, we began our day with a GREAT morning meeting.   “Knock-Knock,”  a fun and engaging greeting, got our morning off to a silly start.  Next we spent time sharing about our vacations.  It was nice to have time for a relaxing morning meeting.  It sets such a positive tone for the day.

Right before vacation we spent some time writing poetry and setting goals for the new year. Action verbs and descriptive adjectives brought our winter poems to life!

    Snowflakes by Shyanne
    Beautiful snowflakes falling from the sky,
    Slowly dancing and turning and spinning in the cold,
    Coming and going and falling on my eyes,
    I stick out my tongue and there they fly.

    Snow by Katarina
    Snow, puffy, soft, smooth and cold,
    Come inside and drink hot cocoa,
    Warmth and coldness have been with you.

    Snow by Betty
    The sun shining down on a white wonderland,
    Creates a dazzling, magical world of white,
    A snowbank glistening in the sun,
    Creates a vivid picture in my mind,
    Of what Antarctica must look like in summer.
    Dazzling and glistening under the bright protection of the shining sun.

Students decorated a snowman and wrote their poem and goal on the back. We hung them around the room. They look great!  Most of the pictures in the slide show below were taken by your children 🙂 . . . they are budding photographers!

Fall Folliage

We spent some time traipsing through the woods behind MBS last week.  The sun was shining and it was a crisp, colorful fall morning.  Armed with our pencils our writer’s notebook we sat and used our senses to gather sensory details.  We were so quiet and observant.  Caleb spotted a green grasshopper on a green leaf.  We tried to photograph it, but it was hard to see.  We then headed toward the bike path in search of colorful leaves.  We took pictures with old friends and new friends and some alone.  They are AMAZING.  This video will be available for your child to download onto their flash drive.

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.

Writing today. . .

If variety is the spice of life . . . it was certainly evident during our writer’s workshop today! Students worked on a variety of projects. Notebook entries, drafting, revising, typing, and collaborating could be seen, so I ran for my camera and . . . dead batteries! So I improvised and grabbed my phone. I had to capture the wonderful writing happening in the room. Everyone set a purpose for their independent work and the room hummed with writing activity. I couldn’t have been prouder of this talented group of 4th graders.

Memoir Writing

We’ve been busy filling our writer’s notebooks with memories, timelines, thoughts and descriptions. Last week we reread EVERY notebook entry to notice themes and choose entries that would serve as inspiration for our first writing piece: memoir. We have been reading and exploring this genre throughout our literacy block.  During this unit we will focus on the process of writing (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing & publishing). One of our first minilessons was on “seed” stories and “watermelon” stories. Seed stories are focused and share small moments; watermelon stories tend to go on and on listing events rather than developing a storyline. Our goal will be to write seed stories, not watermelon stories. In the pictures show below, we were testing out our “seed” story titles and getting feedback from classmates.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We had a busy day today . . . we started by our day reading Amazing Grace from Mary Hoffman.  Later we wrote an on-demand response to text based on this great story!  The class worked SOooo hard writing their essays and showing their best writing and thinking skills.  BRAVO!!

In reading we are practicing answering our questions by inferring.  To help us we are using a terrific nonfiction book called On Top of the World by Steven Jenkings.  Today we asked questions about how people prepare and climb Mount Everest.  Tomorrow we will search for answers to our questions.

It’s hard to believe how long we’ve been in class.  Check out these pictures from the beginning of the year during our Rainforest unit. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

PARENTS:  SEND IN YOUR PERMISSION SLIPS FOR GAGGLE.COM EMAIL ACCOUNTS!!

Check out the new “HOMEWORK” page on the the left (in between “About Me” and What we’ll be learning”). Each day I will try to record daily homework.

We finished writing on-demand reports today.  The kids worked really hard and wrote 4 paragraph essays!!!! We have been working for the past month on writing nonfiction pieces and learning essay format.  This piece was our final assessment of report writing.  Now we are going to turn our focus to another essay:  response to literature.  This will be a breeze because they write letters about their reading regularly and turning one of them into an essay will be a snap!!

We learned how to calculate the area of a triangle today!!!  It was related to our work yesterday solving area problems for parallelograms.  Watch this short video to learn how architects use area and perimeter.  The video also demonstrates the formulas we’ve learned:  area of rectangle, parallelogram and triangle.

Area Video