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Weekly Update 11/3/17

Dear Families,

 

We had a great week in 4-502. It was lots of fun to see everyone in costume on Halloween (see photos below) and we enjoyed greeting many of you at the parade.

On Monday morning we will be heading to the New York Historical Society for a program on New Amsterdam. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for good weather, but if it does look like it’s going to rain please send your child with a rain jacket and umbrella. We will need to walk to and from the subway. Also, please be sure to send your child to school with lunch, unless you noted on the permission slip that he/she should get a bagged school lunch.

We are beginning a round of book groups in class. Students will be reading a title along with several classmates and meeting together on a regular basis to discuss the nuances of the text. This is a time when I push kids to read a bit outside of their comfort zones and they are expected to think deeply and respond in writing to what they are reading. Students should continue to read their independent reading books at home.

Students are loving our weekly poetry workshops. At this point, kids have written three different poems that were inspired by the three “mentor poems” we have been studying. Students are trying out poetic devices like similes, metaphors, repetition, and personification. You will be very impressed when you see the work of these student poets!

We began learning about Henry Hudson and his role in the history of New Amsterdam. Ask you child to tell you a bit about him and about his first voyage in search of a Northeast Passage.

If you haven’t signed up for a Parent/Teacher Conference time, please be sure to do so.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e1T1e95iYV4biCb6CoOttoPEEUZv0wHAdUDarsO2mk4/edit#gid=0I am looking forward to seeing you all at conferences.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Warmly,

Rebecca

Weekly Update 10/27/17

Dear Families,
It was lovely to see so many of you at the class play date last Saturday. It really does enhance the dynamic in the classroom when we are able to all have fun together outside of school. Laura and Liat are already in the process of planning our next event, so keep an eye out for a Save-the-Date. I hope that I will see many of you at the parent social on November 9.
We began our unit on persuasive writing this week. Students have been working in their writer’s notebooks on generating arguments for both sides on a given issue. After this planning stage, kids will choose a topic to develop into a persuasive essay. The essays will become a class magazine and you will all receive a copy! During poetry workshop, students began writing animal poems.
As we continue on in our math unit, Large Numbers and Landmarks, we are looking at subtracting large numbers. We have begun to explore the subtraction standard algorithm (“stacking” or “old-fashioned” method). Students are understanding how and why this shortcut works. We have also had fun playing a multiplication math facts game, Around the World. Please be sure that your child is working on memorizing her/his facts if he/she doesn’t know them all yet.
Our resident architect, Tim, worked with the class on the concept of scale and had the kids measuring out templates for the walls of their Dutch buildings. The kids really had to think about converting the actual dimensions of the buildings to 1/2-inch grid paper. We hope to be able to reschedule our walking tour for a Tuesday in November.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone in costume on Tuesday.  Have a great weekend!
Warmly,
Rebecca

Weekly Update 10/20/17

Dear Families,
 
We had a very successful field trip to the Museum of the City of New York (please see photos below)! Our guide was excellent and students were able to look at reproductions of artifacts from the 1600s and hypothesize about what they were used for. This was a great introduction to what life was like in New Amsterdam and we will circle back to what we learned in several weeks when we begin to talk about the formation of the Dutch colony. A special thanks to our incredible chaperones: Jennifer, Alexa, Mizue, Lila, and Vincent.
 
We had a busy week in math. Some highlights were talking about the size of large numbers and building models to try to grasp how big numbers like 1,000 and 10,000 actually are. We watched a short video called Powers of Ten, which really blew the kids’ minds.  We also began to look at solving addition problems using the standard algorithm (also referred to as “stacking” or “the old-fashioned way”). The emphasis here is on understanding how/why this short-cut strategy works.
 
In poetry, students are working on writing poems based on the poem Dreams, by Langston Hughes. Students will publish their poems in their personal poetry anthologies. Everyone seems to really enjoy writing in this genre.
 
I am looking forward to seeing many of you at tomorrow’s class play date. If grown-ups aren’t able to make it, please see if your child can join another family. It would be great to have as many students as possible at this class-bonding event!
 
Enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend.
 
Warmly,
Rebecca

Weekly Update 10/13/17

Dear Families,

It was great to see so many of you at our Family Morning last week. Students enjoyed sharing some math games with you and showing you a bit about what life is like in 4-502.
This week we will be having class photos taken on Thursday and we will be visiting the Museum of the City of New York on Friday. Thank you so much to everyone who volunteered to chaperone this trip. Since the response was so overwhelming, we are not able to take most of the parents who volunteered. At this point, I have reached out to the parents who will be coming on this trip. Please know that every family will have a chance to chaperone a trip this year, and we have a lot of great trips coming up.
Many students have moved into the publishing phase in the writing process. After all of the hard work that they have put into crafting their personal narratives, kids are very excited to have a chance to type in a google doc on a laptop. Students will have many opportunities this year to familiarize themselves with the keyboard and the ins and outs of a class google account.
During our first session with Tim, our teacher from the Center for Architecture, students learned about some of the architectural features of Dutch homes. Feel free to ask your child about Dutch doors and stepped gables. This week, kids will be working on drawing the facade and labeling the details of a traditional home. We have also been looking at maps of Manhattan and comparing Mannahatta to Manhattan.
The first two weeks of homework have gone smoothly for most students. You child received a new choice board on Friday and has another round of three assignments due this Friday. Please note that because I was not in school on Friday I was not able to comment on homework notebooks. I will review all assignments carefully when they are handed in this week. If your family is struggling with the homework routine, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Homework should not be overwhelming for your child/family.
I hope that everyone is having a great weekend and I am looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!
Warmly,

Rebecca

10/6/17

Dear Families,

 

I am looking forward to seeing you all on Tuesday at our first Family Morning. Please note that I needed to change the start time and we will begin right at 8:30. You may come up to the classroom after all students have entered the building. As I mentioned, this will be a very informal gathering, during which you will see/play a couple of math games. The games will finish by 9:00. Please let me know if you won’t be able to make it so that I can plan accordingly.

 

Field Trips

Our first two field trips have been scheduled. We will be visiting the Museum of the City of New York on October 20 and we will be taking a walking tour around the neighborhood with a guide from the Center for Architecture on October 24. Please let me know if you are available to chaperone our Museum trip. We won’t need anyone to accompany us on the walking tour.

 

Homework

I was very pleased to see how much effort most children put into the first homework assignment of the year. If your child received feedback that he/she needs to redo an assignment, please remind your child to revise the work and hand it in again after the weekend. This week students must complete three more assignments from the same choice board.  They should incorporate any feedback that I gave this week on future assignments.

 

Math

We worked through our first math stations yesterday.  Peter will be visiting our class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and during these times there will be three math stations set up in the room.  The class is divided into thirds and students rotate through the three stations. This is a nice opportunity for kids to receive some small-group instruction.

 

As I mentioned in last week’s update, students are bringing home some completed math work today. You will find a cover letter stapled to the pile of work.  This letter introduces our new math unit so that you can see what the expectations will be for the next several weeks.

 

Content Study

As an introduction to our New Amsterdam unit, students are hard at work creating personal atlases. They have been studying maps of the world, the United States, and New York. Next week we will be focusing on maps of Manhattan, from now and from the 1600s.

 

Next week we will begin a residency with Tim from the Center for Architecture.  This is the group that worked with third graders last year to design models of Eastern Woodland Indian homes. This year, Tim will be introducing students to features of traditional Dutch architecture and will guide students in building models of homes from the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.

 

Reminder: Please don’t forget that our first class play date is scheduled for October 21 at 5:00pm. I hope to see lots of families there. If you haven’t already RSVPed to Liat and Laure, please do.

 

I hope that everyone enjoys the long weekend.  I am looking forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday morning.

 

Warmly,

Rebecca

Weekly Update 9/29/17

Dear Families,
We had a very productive week in 4-502. As you can see from the photos below, we had some exciting extras; a visit from Bill Gordh and an introduction to the Peck Slip band program. Your child should be coming home today with his/her instrument assignment. If your child did not return an instrument preference form it is not too late! Please send in the form next week. Band rehearsals will begin on Monday.
In math we have been reviewing addition and subtraction strategies and talking about how to match problems with appropriate strategies. Next week we will finish off our beginning-of-year math unit and we will move into the first TERC math unit of the year. Your child will bring home some finished math work along with an introduction to the new unit: Large Numbers and Landmarks. Please keep an eye out for these in your child’s folder.
In our unit on personal narrative writing, students have moved into the drafting phase of the writing process. You should ask your child about his/her writing topic. We are trying to dig deeply into these small moments, so feel free to help your child to remember details about her/his topic/experience. So far, I am very impressed by the writing stamina that students have maintained from third grade.
The first homework assignment of the year is coming home today! Your child will be bringing home a designated homework notebook. All homework assignments should be completed in this notebook unless otherwise specified. The choice board for the next two weeks is glued inside of the homework book (no lost assignment sheets!). You will also find a homework checklist glued on the inside cover of the notebook. We spent a great deal of time today going over procedures, assignments and expectations. Three assignments are due a week from today and another three assignments are due the following Friday. Please encourage your child to review the checklist before saying that his/her assignments are completed. All students know that if the expectations on the checklist are not met the assignment will need to be redone. Thank you, in advance, for your support in helping me to hold your children to high expectations when it comes to homework.
Everyone should have received an email from our class parents, Liat and Laura. I hope that you will all mark your calendars and try to attend the class play date on Saturday, October 21. I will be there and I love having the opportunity to socialize with the class outside of school.
I hope that everyone has a lovely fall weekend!
Warmly,
Rebecca

Weekly Update 9/22/17

Dear Families,
There isn’t much to update you on because it has been such a short school week!
Below you will find a few photos of kids writing in their writer’s notebooks. Our focus in writing continues to be filling up our notebooks with “seed ideas” and finding beauty and interest in small moments. Today kids had the opportunity to decorate their notebooks so that they feel more personal.
There are also some photos of kids drawing maps of the objects on their tables. The mapping activity is the introduction to the geography strand of our New Amsterdam unit. Students will be examining maps of the city, state, country and world so that they can have a sense of what was going on around the world during the Age of Exploration and how that is relevant to studying Dutch New York.
This week we have also been busy with assessments. I am collecting baseline data on all students in math, reading, and writing.
Enjoy the days off (and the holiday, if you are celebrating!) and I look forward to seeing everyone rested and refreshed on Monday.
Warmly,
Rebecca

Weekly Update 9/15/17

Dear Families,
It was wonderful to see so many of you at Curriculum Night this past Wednesday. If you missed the evening and have questions about any aspect of the fourth grade program, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Liat (Judah’s mother) and Laura (Ella’s mother) were kind enough to volunteer to be class parents this year. If you weren’t able to make it on Wednesday and are interested in being an additional class parent, please let me know. I appreciate the time that many of you took to complete the parent questionnaire that I passed out at the meeting. It is so helpful for me to read your thoughtful responses. I am attaching a copy of the questionnaire for those of you who haven’t had a chance to get to it yet.
The kids and I are all getting back into school-shape so I wouldn’t be surprised if your child is exhausted this evening! We had a very busy week and were able to begin to move beyond community building and routine practice. In writing, students began to fill their writer’s notebooks with stories about their lives. We have been reading a book by Ralph Fletcher (Marshfield Dreams) during read aloud time and we are using his writing as a model for how you can make ordinary things come to life for your reader. Please send in any child-appropriate magazines next week so that we can use these to decorate the notebook covers.
 
In math we have been focusing on what clear and precise math work looks like. Students have been working on their own and in pairs to present easy-to-understand solutions to problems. In addition to this work, kids have had some opportunities to practice their multiplication facts. If your child doesn’t know her/his facts, please begin to practice these at home. You can practice verbally (at breakfast or on the subway!), use an app, make flashcards, or download practice sheets (https://www.math-drills.com/). It is very important for students to be able to recall these easily by November.
Kids have been so excited for reading time at school! Your child should be able to tell you the name of her/his current independent reading book. This book should travel back and forth between home and school and your child should read the book for thirty minutes every night. Please let me know if your child is struggling to make this happen and I can assist.
You can see from the photos below that our time capsule is sealed. We will be lock it away for the next nine months and try to put it out of our minds.
Enjoy the weekend!
Warmly,
Rebecca

Weekly Update 9/8/17

Dear Families,
 
We are off to a great start in 4-502 and I can’t wait to have a full five days with the class next week.
 
Our first two days have mostly been about getting to know each other, learning procedures and routines, and setting expectations. We will get more into our academic subjects next week. I am looking forward to telling you about the plans for the year on Wednesday at the Meet the Teacher evening.
 
Students should all be back to their nightly reading routines. I haven’t had a chance to check in with everyone around book choices yet, but many kids will be coming home this weekend with books from the classroom library.  I am grateful for your support in reinforcing the expectation that students should be reading thirty minutes each night. Students were also given an informal homework assignment for the weekend. I have asked them to bring in any items that they would like to include in the time capsule project that we will begin working on on Monday. Students can bring in family photographs, articles from newspapers or magazines, coins, images of current fads, or any other timely artifacts that they would like to include. It would be helpful if you could remind your child to give this some thought over the weekend.
 
You can expect to receive this sort of weekly email update from me on a regular basis. I will often attach photos so that you can see what we have been up to. If you have any questions or is there is anything that you think I should know about your child or the transition back to school please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to being in close contact over the course of the school year.
 
Enjoy the weekend and I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday evening!
 
Warmly,
Rebecca