Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Fourth Grade 2014-2015

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


We are now studying decimals!  Fourth graders need to know how to turn fractions into decimals, to show decimals on a number line, and how to write decimals in expanded form.
In social studies, we have moved on to the Southeast Region.  We are enjoying some New Orleans jazz music while we work on our Foldables.
Next in science, we will learn about changes in matter.   What are the differences in physical changes and chemical changes?
In religion, one of the things we are doing to prepare for Easter is filling a jar with blue marbles each time we notice a classmate doing something thoughtful and merciful.  We are also studying the fourth commandment.
Please remember to send in food for the canned food drive!
In reading, we just finished reading groups.   Students presented amazing choice projects, showcasing the many talents and learning styles in our classroom.

Finally, in writing, we are writing short "slice of life" stories each day as we participate in a writing contest!  Please follow our blog here!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 19

Dear Families,

We are working on some great things in fourth grade!

In math, we are studying fractions: you should know how to make equivalent fractions, how to add and subtract fractions, how to use improper fractions and mixed numbers.  We have completed a couple of neat art projects to help us with these concepts.  Please come find our snowmen and math quilts in the hallway outside our classroom!

In reading, are meeting in guided reading groups to discuss cause and effect, themes, similes and metaphors, and other good reading strategies such as visualizing.

In science, we are learning about states of matter, how to measure states of matter, and other properties of matter.

The Northeast Region is filling our time in social studies.  We are using Schoology and other apps to learn about the economics, culture, history, and climate of the Northeast Region.  Look for another project soon!

In religion, we are reading the Bible and learning about Abraham and Noah.

We are writing good, strong paragraphs in writing.  We are applying our learning from the mentor sentences we study each morning to make our writing better.  Come see our 2015 time capsules!  This was a writing assignment we completed upon our return from Christmas break.

Thank you for all you do at home to prepare students to learn each day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dear Families,
I apologize for not sending home the Tuesday folders.   They will go home on Wednesday.
More information will be coming soon about Open House, Catholic Schools Week, and other classroom information!
Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions!

Have a great day.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December 18, 2015

Thank you to everyone who came to the Christmas concert last Sunday! All of the children performed beautifully.

Above, you can see photos from one of the final activities we did with this science unit on how the Earth is shaped. Students pretended to dig up fossils, and had to figure out how the pieces of the skeleton fit together and what animal it made. Though a few of them guessed it was a mammoth early on, they were all surprised at the end to see how it fit together! The activity was based on mammoth fossils that were actually found in Illinois, which led to a conversation about how Illinois used to be covered in ice. Don't forget, we have our test in science tomorrow.

I also wanted to share our finished Jesse Tree. I've been really impressed this year with how well the students summarized the Bible stories and the beautiful symbols they've drawn.

Students will receive work for over Christmas break tomorrow. This will consist of some math pages in their workbook that serve as a mid-year review, and to read a book and write a review about it persuading someone else to read it. The persuasive review can either be done on Kidblog or handed in on a sheet of paper.

Looking ahead to January, we'll be reading historical fiction books, studying fractions, measuring and describing matter, learning about the Northeast and learning even more about some of the Old Testament figures from the Jesse Tree! Before that, I hope everyone has a joyful and blessed Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December 9, 2015

I hope everyone is ready for the Christmas concert! Just as a reminder, it is this Sunday at 4:30. Students should be there by 4:15. They can leave their coats with you and then meet me at the front of the church. We will be sitting on the right hand side if you're facing the altar. Students should be practicing their songs at home, too. If they're not sure how to sing one of them, Ms. Fox has put recordings of all the songs on her music blog.

We have several tests that are coming up next week. In math, we will have a test on using tables and graphs on Tuesday. In science, we'll have a test on how the earth changes on Friday. That study guide will be sent home at the end of the week. As always, please remember that your child can show me their study guide early if you would like me to check it over to make sure it is correct. We will not have a spelling or times tables test next week.

In reading class, we just finished reading The Bad Beginning. We're going to spend the next few weeks talking about non-fiction books and how text features such as captions and maps can help us understand the text. We are continuing to use persuasive writing in writing class, with students writing letters to Santa from a villain, trying to convince Santa that they actually belong on the nice list! The students have been very creative with their reasoning, and I'm happy to see the strong topic sentences and organization they have in their letters. Students have been completing an inquiry project in social studies, where they use various online sources to research a question they have about the government. I created a Padlet wall of good non-fiction sources online. You can find it here.

During Advent, we complete one of my favorite activities: the Jesse Tree. Each student was assigned a person from Jesus' family tree to present to the class. We've been listening to one-two of those presentations each day and adding the symbols to our tree. There's also a great book we've been reading out loud to go along with this! There will be a quiz on the last day of school, where students need to fill in at least 10 names to the Jesse Tree story. We review the ones we've already covered every day, so as long as the students pay attention, they should have no problem with this. Many of the students in previous years have been able to fill in all 24 names!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Long Division and Two-Digit Multiplication Videos

I created some videos so you could see how I explain the steps to students, and so that students who are confused can review at home.

Long Division Video:

Multiplication Video:

November 13, 2015

The students have been hard at work on their popsicle stick bridges this week! We tested many of them on Tuesday, and then students were given time to make improvements. We'll do a second test today, and some groups may even be brave enough to see how many dictionaries it will hold before it breaks. Their boards are going to be due on Monday, when we'll set them up downstairs in the gym. We'll show our projects to the Junior High on Tuesday, and have a chance to see their projects, too, and then share with grades 1-3 on Wednesday. Wednesday evening from 5:30-7:30, all families are invited to come and see the students' work.

I've been happy with how well many of the students now grasp long division! We'll practice applying these skills to word problems next week, and then we'll test on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving on long division and two-digit multiplication. Since this can be a tough topic, I'll hold two review sessions for the students. One will be after school on Thursday, November 19, from 3:00-3:45. The other will be before school on Tuesday, November 24, from 7:30-8:00. Anyone who'd like to is welcome to attend.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5, 2015

I want to begin by reminding everyone about conferences this Sunday. I'm looking forward to discussing your child's progress this year and goals for going forward. It will be a busy day with conferences scheduled back-to-back in ten minute increments, so please make sure you are on time. Thanks!

We began building our popsicle stick bridges today after researching on Tuesday and planning on Wednesday. We'll finish building them tomorrow. It is interesting to see all the different designs students have! We'll have an initial test on Tuesday, time for students to modify their designs on Wednesday, and then retest and work on our presentations on Thursday and Friday. We'll share our projects with the school the following week.

In social studies, we're just finishing up our unit on the economy. Students should be working on their posters for the UIC poster contest, illustrating either "Choice and Opportunity Cost" or "Productive Resources." These will be due on Tuesday, which is also the day we have our test. I enjoyed reading and hearing about everyone's business plans today! There were lots of creative ideas, from house cleaning to chocolate stands.

We began reading one of my favorite books this week, The Bad Beginning. This is the first in a series of 13 books. Many of my former students have enjoyed reading the whole series, and if your child wishes, they can read ahead and then get the next book from me.

In math, we are beginning to learn long division. Please make sure your child has his or her notebook and notes out while working through these problems! It helps to be able to reference the steps until they become memorized. It's also still important to gain fluency in the times tables, so please keep on working on memorizing those facts!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Here are some pictures from our busy day: sharing our ofrendas, making masks with our preschool buddies, and visiting the Halloween Fun Fair.

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16, 2015

Students had a great time dancing during our Hispanic Heritage celebration! We had an instructor come in to teach the students how to salsa. You can see photos of that above, as well as pictures of the students using the iPads to create US maps and doing a mystery Skype with a classroom in Texas.

We recently started reading Fish in a Tree as part of the Global Read Aloud project. Classrooms across the world are reading this book now and sharing their thoughts with each other through Twitter and other platforms. I set up an online discussion room for students so they can share their thoughts, too. You can access it here.

The last week of October is going to be a busy one for us! On Tuesday the 27th, we're going to have a religion test on the first three commandments. This will also be the day that we make our ofrendas in class and we go see Lyric Opera's performance of Second Nature. Students received booklets about the opera last week, and I'll send home permission slips for this on Monday. The end of that week is our Halloween celebration! We'll go to the Halloween Fun Fair, where each student gets 10 free tickets to use for games and crafts. If you'd like to send in additional money to buy tickets, they are 25 cents each. If you're able to, I know the school would really appreciate any donations of candy or prizes so that we can stock the Fun Fair. Students are welcome to bring treats to pass out to the class, and it might be a good idea to bring a treat bag to bring home all the goodies! We'll share our ofrendas with each other that Thursday and Friday, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 6, 2015

I am sending home information today about our Day of the Dead project. This project has three parts to it. First, every student needs to select someone in their family who has passed away and that they would like to honor for this project. Then they need to interview two people about this honoree and collect some objects or pictures they would like to put in a shoebox ofrenda for that person. This is the only part that must be done at home! In school, we are going to turn these interviews into paragraphs and use the objects to create the ofrenda. If students like, they may work on their ofrenda at home, but it is not a requirement. We will share the ofrendas and paragraphs in class on October 29 and 30.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, each grade in the school is learning a different dance! We practiced the bachata today, and I am going to tape the students doing this dance on Thursday. If they'd like to practice at home, here's the video we used.

I hope all the students are ready for their math test! It is this Thursday, and will cover rounding and finding multiples and factors of a number. We are not doing a times tables test this week because of the math test on Thursday.

Finally, our class will be featured in the bulletin this Sunday at St. Sylvester! Here's a transcript of the article:

Fourth Grade Bloggers

Fourth grade is embarking on an exciting new writing adventure this year by becoming bloggers! Our class has joined Kidblog, a site dedicated to allowing students to post in a way that's safe and monitored by the teacher. The students have written tons of great posts so far, with topics ranging from what it's like to be nine years old to ice skating and baseball games to pets. Students can also add pictures and comment on each other's writing, giving them an audience for their writing and feedback from other people. We even made our own avatars by drawing self-portraits on the school's iPads.

To help our writing reach an even bigger audience, we joined a blogging community with other fourth grade classrooms in Ohio, Indiana, and Texas. Over the next few weeks, we will take turns commenting on each other's blogs. The students are very excited about forming connections with fourth graders they've never met before and seeing the comments that are being left on their blogs! David B. said, "I like blogging because it's fun and I get to talk to my friends." Caitlyn R. added, "I love blogging because we get to meet new classes."