The year has gotten off to a whirlwind start in grade 4 at SIS. The group of kids moving up from grade 3 is excited and ready to fill the shoes of the previous fourth-grade class. Starting a new year is always a complicated transition. For some, it is exciting and fun and for others, it is a little bit intimidating. My goal at the beginning of each school year is to create a safe and comfortable environment for the class where the students can begin to forge new friendships, take risks, make mistakes, and push their learning to new heights. I aim to empower the class to pursue their own lines of inquiry, develop a new maturity and responsibility, and hopefully uncover some new passions for them to explore. I decided to take some time during this canceled school day to subscribe you (the parents) to the class blog and publish an update about what’s been happening on the second floor.
In our subject areas, the beginning of the year is about building routines, establishing expectations, and developing the stamina necessary for extended periods of reading, writing, and math study. Our reading unit will be focused on analyzing characters in fiction. We will be looking at how authors use characters to make meaning in stories as well as how realistic characters are flawed just like real people. We will be working to engage with our books and choose books that allow us to dig deeper. I have been encouraging students to find chapter books they can spend time with and use for this type of analysis.
In our first weeks of writing in the 4th-grade students have learned what to expect from the workshop model of teaching writing and how to come prepared to write. 4th graders are expected to take on the role of writers and begin to see things around them in more detail so they can explain it on paper. By the end of the first few weeks of writing the students will understand, develop, and follow routines for Writing Workshop without needing many reminders. They will know the lessons will start with a short period of group instruction followed by independent work time and ending with reflection and share-outs. Understanding this routine frees up our learning time to focus on exploring new genres, gaining skills in writing structure, and getting a firm grasp on the process. Grade 4 is an important year for developing writers and we start the year with a solid foundation and a clear understanding of how each day will be structured.
In math, we’ve been focusing, in much the same way, on the structure and routines of the math class. We’re discussing problem-solving strategies, explaining our thinking, and investigating the mathematical practices taught at SIS. We’ve had some baseline assessments and started working on our first unit. The first unit focuses on our base ten number system and place value as well as exploring grade level understanding of addition and subtraction algorithms. The math class will push students to explain their thinking in words and use multiple representations to demonstrate their understanding.
There’s been so much more happening in the classroom so expect another update coming soon. This group of kids is eager to get into the content of the year and so is the grade 4 team. I appreciate your support as parents and this awesome opportunity to work with your children.