Week of October 23rd

Dear 4A Families,

I hope you all had a nice weekend.  The unpredictable fall weather has arrived.  Thank you for consistently sending your child with a rain jacket to school as the weather can change on a dime!  This week we will begin our All Saints Day Mass practices in the church.  Those students that have been assigned reading parts have a copy in their filer.  They can keep this copy at home.  When practicing please stress the importance of saying each word clearly, pausing at punctuation and reading much slower than they would normally.  Thank you in advance for your help.

Mid-trimester Reports will come home on Monday. Look for a white sealed envelope in your child’s filer.  I have asked the students not to open the envelopes until they are with their parents.  This report will not have letter/percentage grades. The 4-3-2-1 standards-based scoring system will be used. At this point in the trimester do not expect to see 4’s except perhaps for spelling tests and certain social and work skills. We are early in the year. A “4” means the student is going above and beyond–exceeding expectations. At this point in the year it is not appropriate to give a “4” in most subject areas as we have not had the opportunity to delve deep enough into the content to warrant this exceptional score.  4-3-2-1 scores do not equate to A-B-C-D grades. Please refer to the explanation of each numerical score when looking at your child’s report. The students are off to a great start this year and should be very proud of their progress. Thank you, and please let me know if you have any questions.

The big day is next Wednesday, November 1st, for the All Saints Day Mass!

Students should arrive at school in full costume, ready to go.  Because our Masses begin at 8:35 this year, we have no time for students to dress.  Our plan is to head over to the church at 8:20.  It is very important to be to school on time—or preferably a bit early.  The 4th grade saints will be allowed to enter the building at 8:05.  Mrs. Podell and I will be at the main front door, and the back door closest to the boy’s bathroom to let in the saints at 8:05.  Thank you for all of your work in advance on the costumes and getting your children to school. We know that it may make for a hectic morning—but the wonderful Mass is well worth it!

You will find a “Reserved for Saint……..” in each pew. If you are planning to come to the Mass, look for your child’s reserved sign and sit in the pew with them. Please do not move or take the pictures with you as we will use them for the Sunday Mass as well. You may take them home following the Sunday Mass if you like. This is always such a wonderful service for everyone and a very special tradition for the 4th grade students.

untitledSunday, November 5th the Mass begins at 10:30.

I believe that we turn our clocks ahead one hour this weekend—so be sure your time is correct. At least everyone will get an extra hour of sleep! The students (saints) will meet at the back of the church to march in as they did on Tuesday. Your reserved signs will be in the pews. There will be some changes of position from the Tuesday Mass as there will be several students from the Faith Formation classes joining us.

Please let me know if you have any questions about either of the Masses.

We had a wonderful visit with Scott Davies from the Pike Place Market last week.  He explained the history of the Market and left some materials for us to use to prepare for our upcoming field trip. On Tuesday, November 7th, 4A heads to the Market. The students get a special tour of the Market, meeting vendors and seeing a few behind the scene sections of the Market as well. This wonderful field trip is provided at no cost to us (other than parking). The Pike Place Market runs a large food bank that feeds over 600 people each week. We are asking every student in grade 4 to bring in donations for the Pike Market Food Bank before our field trip on the 7th. We will bring the donations with us on the day of the trip. The food bank also accepts cash donations to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Thank you so much for your generosity. Students may bring in donations any day prior to the field trip on the 7th.  See a list below of suggested items.  It is always great if the students can shop for an purchase at least an item or two with their own money, or money they have earned by doing a chore.






 Veteran’s Day HW Project: Next Thursday November 2nd, due on or before Wednesday the 8th the students will be bringing home a flag for a Veterans Day homework assignment. Each student will be asked to write about a Veteran (family member or friend) on this flag. You can be talking with your child a bit about this person in preparation for the activity. If you do not know a Veteran there are many sites online to learn about Veterans. Here is one you can explore. No need to worry about any writing until the directions and flag template come home next Wednesday

Religion:  Most of our religion time will be used to practice for the All Saints Day Mass.  We will complete the Touching Safety Lesson on Tuesday.  The students will bring home a worksheet they completed in class.  For Tuesday homework I would like the students to share what we talked about in the lesson with you so that you can follow-up with this important safety topic.  You do not need to return the worksheet.  Thank you for reminding your child to show you this information.

Science: This week we are culminating our unit on wind energy by creating a working windmill. Students will use what they have learned when they built and tested their sails about the different materials and their properties and how sails work to catch the wind. They will apply this knowledge to build blades on a windmill. They will imagine what the blades will look like and what materials will work best. They will work with a partner to plan a diagram of their blades, then create three to four blades for their windmill. Finally they will test their blades to see if their windmill will do work, in this case raise a cup filled with weights. If their windmills do not work or if their blades do not catch the wind, they will analyze their designs and work to improve their blades.

Social Studies:  The Midwest State test will take place this Thursday.    The students will also do a final review for a test on latitude, longitude and map reading basics.  Little home review is required as they will be using maps at school to answer questions.  The students will have a small study sheet in their filer on Monday that will help them review terms that will be tested on Thursday as well. Here are the links to the Midwest practice sites: Midwest State and Great Lake locations and Midwest State Abbreviations. The abbreviations for these states are a bit tricky, especially the many “M” states.

Reading  and Spelling: Check your child’s filer for several recent reading assessments on Charlotte’s Web as well as a Scholastic reading and vocabulary assessment. Our reading lessons in Charlotte’s Web will focus on character traits and text evidence.  Spelling words for Unit 7 were passed out last Friday.  The test will be this Friday as usual.

Math:  I have signed all of the students up for Xtramath, which many of you are already familiar with.   You will find a parent letter and sign in information in your child’s filer on Monday. Even if you child has had a sign-in code from a previous year, you will need to follow the instructions for a new sign in as that is the only way I can access student progress and assign levels. Be sure to select the icon that says, “Have a School Flyer?” If you have any questions please let me know. I would like all students signed in by this Thursday. In class on Monday I will be going over the site and expectations with the students. We will sign-in in the lab on Thursday and do a session together.

Just a note on XtraMath: It is not uncommon for me to have parents or students tell me they do not like this program. Some say it is too frustrating or goes too fast. I can adjust this as needed. This site is designed to build fluency with math facts. It is not glitzy and it does require about 10 minutes of focused attention—GRIT—you might say. Mastering facts for automatic recall is hard work—but mastery is the ultimate reward. Most students get fairly competent typing numbers after only a few sessions of XtraMath. Again, GRIT is required—but the students can do this!  We will do our first practice session with addition.  Most students have shown mastery of addition with my in class assessments already.  I will move most students right to subtraction for a couple of weeks.  Those that have already shown subtraction mastery will be put into multiplication.  Mastery of multiplication and division facts is the main reason we will include Xtramath in our math lessons.  We will practice at school, but the majority of the practice should be at home.  Those students that have not mastered their facts should visit Xtramath most nights.

Most of the work we will be doing for the remainder of the school year will require mastery of multiplication and division facts. This includes not only multiplication and division of large numbers, but also fractions, decimals and measurement skills. I do encourage a variety of practice types including flash cards and paper/pencil reviews.  Thank you for your support and dedication to assisting your children master their facts!

From the XtraMath site: XtraMath is designed to measure what basic math facts students can recall, not what they can calculate. Three seconds is a carefully selected compromise that is long enough that a relatively slow typist can enter a recalled answer, and short enough so that most finger-counted responses are not erroneously considered fluent. If you increase the interval then you are no longer measuring fluency.

For maximum effectiveness, XtraMath adjusts to each student and has them practice near the limit of their abilities. This might be uncomfortable for some students. If students do not get the correct answer within the three second threshold they should not perceive it as a personal failure, but as a normal challenge of the XtraMath “game”.

Homework overview this week: Sign up for Xtramath by Thursday at the latest, math homework on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Read over the Touching Safety information with your child that comes home on Tuesday, Spelling homework on Wednesday, Midwest State and Longitude/Latitude Test on Thursday and be prepared to recite the Prayer of St. Francis no later than Friday and be ready for the Friday spelling test.

Here’s to an excellent week of learning and Mass practices—and hopefully no rainy day recesses!