Here’s what’s going on in 4A! Reports are out and conferences are this week. Students are getting all set up for three way conversations about their learning. We’ve been reflecting on the whole year and trying to decide what we want to show parents in these meetings. We’ll be discussing our growth in all our skills including our learner profile attributes. It will go by quickly but it’s a meaningful experience for the students to have some honest discussions about their growth.

We are currently finishing up our Unit of Inquiry about Migration! Students in 4A have been reading and learning about the historical fiction genre this month so students have chosen a point in history to set a historical fiction story about an immigrant and their experience. This blends their understanding of the reading and writing genre we are learning about with the lines of inquiry we have been following in the migration unit. After we finish this piece we will begin a new Unit of Inquiry with more of a science focus. Check back after the Chinese New Year holiday for information regarding our next unit.

In Math, students have been exploring geometry. We have been learning to use new math tools like protractors and developing our skills in the mathematical practices (precision, effectively using tools, making sense of problems). Making sense of geometric figures requires a lot of new vocabulary and students are busy trying to understand and integrate a whole new set of mathematics skills. We’ve also developed some pretty fun games to play with this new geometric understanding.

We have sadly had to say goodbye to some of our class members as their international lives continue in other cities and continents but are also excited to welcome new students into our midst. As always it’s been a dynamic and exciting month in 4A and we’re looking forward to what’s next. I hope to see everyone Wednesday for a conference!


Mr. Banner

What’s New in 4A

Hello Parents!

What a busy time of year this can be. Well, it’s no different in the classroom. Here’s an update into what we’re studying in the different subject areas in grade 4. In Math, we are deep into the study of multi-digit multiplication and division. It’s all about learning multiple ways to represent our thinking and deepen our understanding of the core operations. From partial products and partial quotients to area models and the standard algorithm, our study of multiplication and division is pushing students to use all their previous math knowledge and bring it further.

In writing, we are really getting a handle on our understanding of persuasive essays and the five-paragraph essay format. Students have written multiple essays and are developing their ability to plan logical and convincing arguments. They have learned to outline thesis statements and supporting reasons. Next, they build upon their reasons with details. Recently we have been using non-fiction text to support our arguments with quotations and evidence. Students are noting page numbers and authors to legitimize their arguments and employing persuasive language to strengthen their vocabulary.

Reading non-fiction texts has supported writing and our unit of inquiry. Students are using text features like the index and table of contents to determine where the information they need is. They can then look in multiple books in the library and pick out the texts that will best support their writing plan. These types of research skills and comfort with the library and non-fiction text are the building blocks of further projects and units of inquiry.

We are starting our unit of inquiry called ‘Where We Are in Place and Time’. This UoI focus on migration from an economic, geographic, and sociological perspective. We will look into the factors that push people out of their home countries and create refugees. We will also explore the factors that pull people to new locations such as jobs, education, and religious freedom. We all have a history of migration as very few people in the modern world have lived in the same location for generations. This unit hopes to impart empathy and understanding into the students for those in difficult situations. It is also designed to help students better understand their own place in the world, where they come from and where they might go. The central idea of the unit is: Humans migrate in response to challenges, risks, and opportunities.


Thanks for checking in!


Mr. Banner

            We’ve been busy in 4A and here’s what we’ve been up to! In our Units of Inquiry, we’ve wrapped up the “Who We Are” unit with some final reflections and the successful creation of our very own cultures. Please look to SeeSaw for audio recordings explaining the cultures the students created as well as written reflections explaining how students have learned about their own identity and culture during their inquiry. We have just launched our next unit titled “How the World Works” about Earth’s features and landforms. Students will be exploring how Earth’s systems create landforms, how we record the Earth on maps, and even designing and making some inventions to mitigate damage from natural disasters!

In writing students have started a unit on writing essays. These essays are based on opinions and forming string arguments to support them. We’re looking a planning with graphic organizers, building strong thesis statements, and structuring essays with powerful reasoning. Do be surprised if students start to develop stronger opinions at home!

In reading, we have started our unit on reading nonfiction. We’re reviewing the features of nonfiction texts and also how to pick just right books in the genre. Students will use these skills to support their learning in PYP units as well as build stronger arguments in opinion writing. Persuasive writing is always more convincing when supported by facts and research.

Our current Math unit focuses on metric unit conversion. This builds positively on our study of place value and the base ten number system. Students will be looking and converting between units and understanding how measurement has a place in almost everything we do. 4A is working hard and making great progress. Keep it up!

Typhoon Day and Weekly Updates

Hello to the 4A Parents,


Typhoon Mangkhut has hit hard in Shenzhen and Hong Kong and I believe we have all felt the effects. I hope everyone remained safe, dry, and was able to ride out the storm in relative comfort. My heart also goes out to anyone who has had trouble personally or with family or friends as a result of this powerful force of nature. These types of situations make me happy to have such a supportive community of fellow teachers and parents around me at SIS. As the city begins to put itself back together we’ll do the only thing we can do and carry on as well. I’ll first look over our last week and then give a brief overview of some Typhoon Day assignments for the students.

This week in reading students have been focusing on studying characters in their storybooks and using academic language to describe what they see and hear. This is linking in with their own story writing that they are working towards.

This week in writing we focused on planning and writing our drafts. It was great to see the students put the characters they’ve been working on into stories and watch the stories come to life. We’ve been focusing on ‘show don’t tell’ and adding ‘sensory details to’ our writing. Ask your students about their stories!

This week, students in Grade 4 wrapped up the first half of their Unit 1 Module. They have gained a deeper understanding of place value, the Base-10 system, inequalities, and rounding using number lines. We will now move into fluently adding and subtracting whole numbers using tape diagrams as well as the standard algorithm. 

This week in our Unit of Inquiry we explored other cultures in our classroom as well as own culture with interview questions.  Identifying what culture is and what it means to others, introduced unit vocabulary.

HOMEWORK: Our plan for Monday was to spend a good amount of time reflecting and coming up with goals to set for ourselves that we’d share with parents at the conferences. I am now going to email the student instructions and the Goal setting form to look over. They don’t have to fill out the form and can instead follow the instructions and input their answers into a pages document. I would like them to continue to read for 20-30 minutes a day; Of course 🙂 And some math review on one of their iPad apps never hurts.

Thank you!

Mr. Banner

Weekly Updates!

It’s been another busy week and here’s what we’ve been doing in 4A.

In Reading this week we dug deeper into our chapter books. Students have examined characters and building their reading stamina. We’ll be using our reading skills to inspire our realistic fiction writing in the coming weeks. It’s been great to see the students dive into higher levels of reading. 

In Writing this week we explored the idea of writing stories from small moments in our own lives. We looked at times in our lives when we felt strong emotions and then used them as inspiration to come up with story ideas. We also developed believable characters by looking at positive as well as negative traits. Finally, we explored the idea of planning a story using a story arc and got started planning our own. 

This week in math we have been focusing on learning the base ten number system. We’re comparing the worth of digits in different place values and writing numbers in different forms. 

This week we also started our PYP Unit of Inquiry called Who We Are. The central idea of this unit is to explore how our cultural backgrounds shape our beliefs, values, and actions. Students will be looking into their own cultures and identities within them. We have a dynamic and international classroom community and we are excited to explore what makes us who we are.

Please feel free to ask me our


your children questions about what been happening as the year really gets underway. This next week will be full to the brim with learning as well!

New Beginnings in Grade 4

Hello Parents of 4A Students!

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.


Thank you!


Mr. Banner

Welcome to the 2018-2019 School Year!

We have been super busy in 4th grade this year already! We are launching our reading and writing workshops, preparing to study the many cultures of our class, and learning to explain our mathematical thinking. That’s just a few of the many things that have been going on so far in 4A. It’s a confusing time of year with new routines to learn and new teachers to understand but our group in 4A has come with smiling faces every day. It’s going to be a great year!

4C Math Updates!

Grade four has finished the geometry unit and has started the study of fractions. Fractions can be difficult for some students so I am making sure to start slow and build conceptual understanding. Below is a letter to parents helping to explain the Common Core approach to fractions.