Checking In

Hello Parents of 4C 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.

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.

Our first few days

Well here we are at nearly the one week mark! It’s been a lot of fun getting to know your kids. We have a great classroom full of excited, precocious students ready to learn. Now that we’ve taken care of many of the procedures and expectations, we look to begin our units of study in the Readers & Writers Workshop, our PYP units of inquiry, and our first Maths module.

As you all saw in the email I sent out this week, I want to make sure that kids are taking time every night to master their multiplication facts. While I am not giving them time to specifically study them in class (as this can easily be done at home), we are playing some review games, taking timed tests, etc. Please continue to work with them to help ensure their success this year.

I look forward to seeing you all tonight for “Curriculum Night/Back to School” where we will do a big overview of the year ahead. I will be able to address any questions or concerns you may have at this time. And of course, if you ever need to contact me to discuss anything, please don’t hesitate!