• Thank you and a Few Reminders 
     
    It has been a week of pledging, crazy dressing up and a short Wednesday for the kids. Thank you for your generous pledges! My mother taught for many years in rural Vermont and is always blown away by the support at our school. Thank you for the wish list items! Some were placed on my desk and I wasn't sure who to thank. It is truly appreciated!
    The fourth grade teachers were able to finalize field trip dates and fees (ended up less than last year!). We will send that letter out to you next week. We go on great field trips and have some excellent ones right here at the school. 
     
    A few reminders for what's to come: 
     
    Tomorrow (Friday) we have an Olympic Steeplechase finalist coming to school during recess to go through some running drills. Donnie Cowart, co-owner of Crazy Running is coming to highlight some of what they do in the after school running program here at Meadowlark. Donnie is a super nice guy and a rather phenomenal runner. He made it to the finals in Oregon, but came in 4th place to miss going to Rio this summer to represent (a Wordly Wise word this week) the US.
     
    Book Fair is coming up. Our day to go will be during our media encore time, which is Monday, 9/26 1:05-1:50. You are welcome to browse with your child or send a check or cash with them. A catalog of what to look for should go home with students next week. Shopping during non-instructional class times is possible after that day with teacher permission. Students going before school are required to unpack in their homeroom before going. Check out lines are often long then, so it's best to get there early or go during recess to avoid missing instructional time. The book fair will also be open on PTA/Curriculum meeting night. 
     
    We are well into the routine at this point, which means the expectations are rising. We let go a bit more each day, which allows more time for instruction (and fun breaks) when we have the routine down. It is important for kids to pack up what they need so that they do not have to come back to the POD for forgotten books or homework. Custodians are not allowed to open doors for anyone but the teacher and we are often at meetings after school. Mrs. Stewart is preparing a spread sheet for our class roster, which can serve many purposes. Parents and students on the roster will have contact information for get-togethers as well as homework buddies, just in case. We have already had kids solve their homework problems that way! We talk about problem solving all the time because that's what life is all about. A little discomfort can go a long way for remembering the next time and provides a sense of ownership and a great learning opportunity. 
     
    I hope you all have a fun and safe weekend!
     
     
     
     
    Welcome to 602!
     
     
    Thank you for attending Open House. We will be underway to a great fourth grade year in a matter of hours. Fourth grade is a great grade with some fantastic field trips and topics to learn. We will be sending out a letter about field trips, likely in the Tuesday packet. There seemed to be enough paperwork sent home from Open House! Please look for for an email from me to confirm your email address. If you do not receive one, just let me know to add you to the group. 
  •  End of Year Events

     
    I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. We're gearing up for end of the year activities. Some are fun and some are...well, what we have to do. 


    This time of year can be a time of stress for parents, students and teachers. Every year we have an EOG administrators' meeting to go over the "Do this and Do NOT do that" before during and after the EOG (insert teacher stress x2). Some stress with any standardized test is inevitable, so it is important to find the balance between a healthy amount of confidence with a splash of stress in order to take it seriously. There is a danger of placing too much emphasis on a few hours of 50-60 multiple choice questions. Fortunately, life is not made up of a series of multiple choice questions. Our role as educators (parents as well as teachers) is to provide learning experiences that help students develop tools and strategies for life skills. If we get caught up in the data for this one day, we lose sight of that. The number on an EOG, EOC or SAT should never define anyone. Needless to say, I do not like to make this more than it should be, which is a day of strict rules testing. So here's hoping for a calm and peaceful night before and morning of testing. If your child is a car rider in the morning, please ensure he or she is here in time as the office cannot allow them to come to the classroom after the testing session has begun. Reminders:

    • Sweater or sweatshirt (the room can get chilly when sitting)
    • Healthy breakfast, including some form of protein since we cannot snack or drink during testing
    • Kids should have a snack for when testing is over and water 
    I have tremendous confidence that the kids are as prepared as they can be. It's now a matter of using what we've learned to the best of individual ability.
     
    You have received information about the End of Year Splash. This will be enjoyed by the entire grade level and should be great fun. We will not collect any money. Instead, it will be optional on the day whether to buy an ice cream or not. We will have an early lunch that day and have switched encore time with fifth grade, so our encore will be at the end of the day. That way we allow enough time to dry off a bit and enjoy each other and the ice cream. I'll have a few reminders of what to wear and bring that day. 
     
    So, dates for EOG testing start tomorrow (Wednesday, 6/1) with reading and will continue through Thursday 6/2, or until all students have completed them. If you notice classrooms and hallways look sparse, it is all part of the testing procedures to maintain testing standardization. If your child comes to school with a device, they must be collected and kept in the office for the duration of testing. 
     
    Our End of Year Splash is on 6/9, Thursday. Hope to see some of you here. If you can help out, please let Mrs. Carpien or me know. 
     
    Relax. If you have a hard time with that, have your child show you some yoga moves! 

     

     
     
    Holes in Our Heads


    Yes, the headline is an idiom/pun for the book we are currently reading, which is Holes. Knowing some have read it and several have seen the movie, we're trying to keep the suspense alive for those who do not know what happens (it is forbidden to tell what happens). We will be culminating the conclusion by watching the movie in class (if you grant permission and I will send that slip later). Please help your child resist the urge to watch it before we do! The book is great and I am combining some read aloud portions and the kids are reading some on their own and responding to what they read or what is read and discussed. 


    We will head back to the Lego Lab to have some fun with geometry and angles. As with all math concepts, understanding varies so much. Some kids grasp geometry concepts, others fractions, and others multiplication and division. I typically see visually artistic kids have an easier time with geometry. It's always good to know what our strengths are! I have added more practice on TenMarks. Several were able to get on TenMarks today. We will keep spiraling back to previously learned math, which is necessary to keep the skills fresh. They all come together so often now and we will be moving on to decimals soon. It's amazing how much we have already learned this year!


    Thank you for your prompt responses for the field trip on April 29. We will be sending home more information everyone and, of course specific information for chaperons. Please keep in mind that we will need to leave the school before 8:30 on that day. The buses must be back by 2:00 in order to be used for after school activities. If you drive your child to school, please keep that, and traffic in mind. We will load buses at 8:15 a.m. 

     
    I have been cracking down on reminders of expectations lately. It seems, since we came back from spring break, normal procedures have been "forgotten". We will be keeping things well under control. I am implementing some new incentives for homework completion. There are so many things the kids want to share, so we're doing a version of show and tell tomorrow for those who have brought homework in all week. I am drawing a hard line on this. There will be other opportunities of course. I asked the kids at the end of today if they were glad I was cracking down. I believe every one of them raised their hands. 


    As you likely know, we will be helping beautify the school grounds tomorrow. Please remind your child to wear appropriate footwear for that event as well as every school day. It's easy to slip or get mulch caught in open toed shoes and it doesn't feel too great! 


    Looking forward, we plan to have some fun ways to prepare for the end of school and all that entails. We will be doing a very interesting outdoor race that includes knowledge of what we've learned throughout the year. We also have a yoga session scheduled that should help us learn to breathe and lessen stress. 


    Thank you for your continued communication and support. Enjoy these beautiful spring days! 

     
     
    Happy Spring! 
    Spring break and fourth quarter are just about here. Of course, there are those other things to wrap up first, like third quarter, report cards, quarter tests (which will be done for some by today). We have accomplished some great learning so far. I was, once again, truly pleased by the WWII unit. We have gained knowledge about world geography and history as well as the rich history of our own state. My favorite however, is that several students learned more about family members who earned purple hearts and still suffer the effects of polio. Learning history through stories like this is the best way to retain the knowledge. Thank you for your help with those. 
     

    Last week earned us the unofficial title of most improved class for our math facts. In two minutes, we answered several more as a class than any of the previous weeks. It was our best week by far (you should have heard the squeals!). Please keep practicing. This week is a good week to do that since homework is so light. We focused mainly on fractions this third quarter, which really brings all math learned so far together. We will extend that and geometry in the fourth quarter. But the fractions will take on decimal form (which are actually easier!). The geometry will include measuring angles by degrees. Geometry is highly focused on vocabulary and benchmark numbers (like 90, 180, 270 and 360). If your child does not have his/her math notebook with the homework, it should be part of what is packed each night (as long as it returns to school!). 


    We have a field trip at the end of April. We will be going gem mining on April 29 and will let you know more details after spring break. If you had any remaining balance due, you should have received that in your Tuesday folder last week. If you are interested in going on that field trip to help us out as a chaperon, you are welcome to. But unlike the Raleigh trip, we will be taking activity buses, so you would transport yourself and pay when you arrive. The weather was great last year, so we hope it will be again for our trip. The kids love finding gems. Whatever is found is kept and they all know they found diamonds, rubies and emeralds. 


    We had a Wake Forest guest speaker come to class with microscopes to look at whatever intrigued us from our own "back yard" (which was the field area). Then we set out to identify it using books and reliable internet sites (.org and .edu sites tend to be more reliable than many .com sites). We hope to get Dr. Luth (to be) to come back to show slides of parasites before he heads to Ghana for the Peace Corps in May. I am also working on figuring out a date for another guest speaker, which will be a real treat! 


    Great, big thank yous to all of you, particularly to Mrs. Carpien and Mrs. Geary for their help arranging classroom goodies and TLO in the absence of a room parent. Thank you all for your participation in Boosterthon. Meadowlark is a phenomenally supportive school and I feel fortunate to be here. 


    Have a great spring break. Don't forget Wednesday is an early dismissal day and Thursday, a regular day. Friday we are off. 

     

     
     

    Fractions and Factions


    We seem to have some clear weather ahead, but having had snow in previous months of March, I don't think we can count it out yet! So much for last Monday's make up day! I look forward to some uninterrupted full weeks. 


    We are full on learning about fractions. As expected, it can be a challenging concept. The kids, however, are seeing how the math they have learned at this point comes together. This is important and will continue to be. Please keep practicing math facts, especially fact families (for example: 32, 8 and 4 go together). Fractions can be seen everywhere and the more kids see that in real life situations, the deeper the understanding can become. We went to the Lego Lab and examined fractions there. That provided more practice and revealed that there are still some misconceptions that needed clearing up. We are continuing to work on those. 


    The Lego Lab also provided a chance to use imagination to create scenes from what has been read of the WWII books. There were some incredibly detailed examples. I'm a believer that Legos can be a fantastic learning tool. (Thank you PTA for the Lego Lab!) I was impressed with the ideas presented and ways of figuring out how to show the details using Legos. This involved closely reading and understanding passages. The better the details could be explained, the more comprehension was evident. 


    As for WWII, so much has been learned. We are at the point now that the projects have been assigned. I have spoken to each student about his or her idea and given the rubric, which is extremely basic. The idea for these projects is to extend knowledge beyond what we have learned and put into a format to share with/teach the rest of the class. Ideas from what we have discussed may change some, which is fine, and are open to a variety of ways to show it. One of my students from last year created a diary using a fictional Jewish character. She incorporated her research of real events, times and places throughout her illustrated pages. This was an example that shows a great deal of time, effort and research that has inspired several students. In no way is this the expectation for this project, just an exemplar. She showed that she gained the knowledge (even though several of the illustrations were her father's) because she could discuss each part in her own words. The due date for the WWII projects is between now and March 14. It is best to stagger the projects so that they are presented on different days, so if done early, we will see them. Presentations  do not need to be lengthy at all (five minutes or so), but rather his/her knowledge of the topic must be evident. I have cautioned some students about going on websites without parental consent. The websites on my Useful Links page are kid-friendly. Also, I have heard from parents and students that they have artifacts from relatives they would like to show the class. By all means, I welcome those! The kids love to see the actual things we've talked and read about. 


    We will be going to the book fair during our regular Media encore time, which is today 2/22. If your child brings money on another day, he/she must check in with me prior to going so that class time is not missed. In past years, students sometimes bring money several different days and have missed instruction as long lines tend to form. So after today, book fair visits may be done during recess. 


    We seem to be on the upswing as far as health is concerned, which I hope continues. I recently read an article about antibacterial soaps, particularly the waterless hand sanitizers and the long-term negative effects they may have. I have never been a fan and am even less of one now. I encourage your children to wash their hands with soap and water as it is a simple and effective way we can prevent the spread of illness. Stay healthy!

     
    Valentine's and More
     

    It has been relieving to have full days in school for the past few weeks. We are in the flow of the third quarter and there is plenty of learning happening. 


    Fractions in math are proving to be somewhat challenging for some, sometimes. It is always interesting to me. We are getting there. Often in math, we consistently see issues with calculation, which is why we consistently try to encourage practicing math facts. As always, general conversations about how math applies in daily situations is a valuable way to help it make sense and reinforces the reason we should know it (cooking or baking, shopping and making the smartest purchases or getting the correct change, sharing, scheduling time, etc.).


    We are in the middle of WWII and have learned about history, geography and some good ways people helped one another. The read aloud is Number the Stars, but this time each student has a copy of the book to read along with me. The book ties in beautifully with our previous unit about the Underground Railroad. I will be talking to the kids about the WWII projects next week. 


    Valentine's Day is this weekend. We will be picking a name for a secret Valentine to create a card. Included with the card will be an original poem. We'll talk about this today. I told the kids to hold off if they were planning to do individual cards for the class. I have found this way is much more personal than generic cards. 


    We have had much more success in homework completion. Thank you for reinforcing that at home. We dance when the whole class has done it. I'm cracking down when the quality is lacking though. Wordly Wise answers should be a complete sentence in section E. Math calculations should be shown so they can see where any errors were made or to share their way of solving. 


    We are really striving for independence at this time of year. (And striving to stay warm!)

     

     

    Welcome to Third Quarter of the Fifth-Sixth

    of Your Child’s Elementary School Years!

    We will be working on fractions in math this quarter, which is the purpose of the goofy title. Fractions are another good reason (besides practicing measurement) to consider having your child do some baking or cooking, especially when using a recipe. As always, please encourage your child to continue to practice math facts. The competition among the other fourth grade classes has proven to be pretty tough. Though we won the first week, we have yet to win since, but more importantly, have remained fairly stagnant in our number of facts we get. So we are not increasing our fluency. It’s really about the improvement than in getting a trophy, so the idea is to become as quick as possible with those facts. It's a group effort, so keep practicing!


    With second quarter behind us, that means quarter tests are too-at least until the end of this third quarter. The kids worked hard and we will continue working on the skills as well as building onto what we know. Report card grades do not include the quarter test scores and are also not available on Parent Portal (as are report card grades), but we were able to go over the answers, so the kids know how they did.

     

    We will be focusing reading by learning about World War II. It was a very interesting time in our history. I’ve read Blue aloud, which provides some great background for what happened right here in North Carolina, even though it was fiction. This state is rich in history, so the unit ties in nicely with social studies. If your family has any history involving WWII, it may be very useful to gather for your child. In the past, I have had students interview great grandparents who served or lived during that time. Of course those people are fewer and fewer, but the students learned the heroic efforts of family members or friends. I will be explaining more about this to the kids. They just don’t know enough at this point, but we’ll get there.

     

    On Friday (1/22) of this week (crossing fingers that we’re not snowed in), we will be going to the fifth grade yard sale. This is an annual event for the fifth grade students. The money goes to a charity based on fifth grade votes, which are based on persuasive essays written by the fifth grade students. Items are less than $5 each (many $1 items). We are asked to encourage small bills only. We also ask that students not borrow, lend, offer or accept money from other students for purchases. It is obviously not required to bring any money at all. They are free to “window” shop.

     

    Thank you for your willingness to help out throughout 2015 with your thoughtful gestures: sending in items and special snacks, sharing family heritage and foods either in person or through your child (great presentations), spending time with the kids in lunch or for teacher lunch out or field trips, reading these newsletters and communicating about your child and for the hard work you do at home to support your child’s education. If you have any desire to organize anything for the class for the latter half of the school year (end of year festivities with the other fourth grade room parents, for example), let me know. We are still without a room parent.

     
    Stay warm and stay in touch!
     
     
    'Twas the week before winter break...


    And all through the school, there is plenty going on! First up is the science project. As of Friday, a few had come in. We will be looking at those on Monday and Tuesday. I am happy to see the excitement from several kids who "can't wait to share their project". This, being the first required year for fourth graders, has been a learning experience for all of us. Our intent is for them to have an idea of what the scientific process is and how to present the findings in an organized manner. The viewing for the science projects is from 3:30-5:00 on Tuesday, 12/15 and the program will be at 5:00, where projects will be recognized to move on to the next level in the competition. 


    On Fridays, the administrators come to the fourth grade POD for a weekly math facts competition. Dr. Raymer and Mrs. Mcaninch go to each room and the students line up to answer as many math facts as possible in two minutes. They love the competition aspect. You heard we won the first time. This week, our class agreed that we would take on more of a challenge by having flash cards that either had a missing product (4 x 4 = __ ) or a missing factor (9 x __ = 27). Because we are learning division with larger numbers, becoming more fluent with fact families makes a big difference in the level of success we see. The class accepted that, while we may not win the competition, we would be better off in the end competing that way. I was proud of how they handled it. Division is really catching on now and I don't want to see it lose the momentum we had as of last week. Please encourage continued and consistent math facts practice and reading. My Useful Links have plenty of fun ways to do that.


    There are poets among us. We learned what prepositions are and wrote preposition poems, some of which relate to the Underground Railroad. The enthusiasm has been fantastic for writing poems and lyrics for our own songs as well as finding meaning in some well-known tunes. A concentrated focus on theme this year has been a very beneficial way to understand reading on a deeper level. I would encourage you to talk to your kids about what they think the theme (lesson or moral) of a movie or even an advertisement is as well as in what they are reading at home. They often come up with things that blow you away! Discussions also show misunderstandings-very revealing. 


    I apologize if you were missing your child's progress report last Tuesday. It was a frustrating day technologically speaking. The reports did not print out properly, but my attempt to reprint them came at a time when some men were repairing our internet wiring to the POD, so we were cut off (even from end of day announcements, causing many missed buses). Grades are all online (as you know if you check Parent Portal). I will be sending progress reports home in this week's Tuesday folder. You may have noticed that I don't always incude a letter or number grade on your child's work that goes home in the orange folder. I am a firm believer in learning from mistakes. When time allows, I like for the kids to fix what they did (in pen-which is why some of those sheets look like such a mess). I find that if a grade is on the paper, the focus is on the grade rather than the learning. 


    Finally, Culture Day is something I have thought about doing for quite some time. Thank you for your responses to the survey! We have a few who are planning to share something about their heritage. Mrs. Griffith's class and mine are joining efforts and student knowledge in this for a short time during the day on Friday. From 10:30-11:00, those who choose to, may share with her class from 10:30-11:00. This time is somewhat flexible and the plans are subject to change. Thank you for your offer to send in food. I will need to get an idea of what type of food or drink you are willing to send in and go from there. So many of you are willing-THANK YOU! If you have offered to send something, please respond to my school email if you have a specific item you would like to send or bring. If we have enough food, those of you who offered to send something else, may just be asked to send in paper products. 


    I hope your winter break plans are to have some fun or just relax. Safe travels if your plans are to be out of town. 

     
     Happy Thanksgiving!
    I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family time. We have a "trail mix" type snack that we have not enjoyed yet, so we will do that when we're back. 

    Mrs. Bullard talked to each of the kids on Tuesday 11/24 about their science project and was generally pleased with the progress they are making. Thank you for that support (and we're thankful for Mrs. Bullard's support here). For those not here, she is great about taking time to address specifics, so please let her know if you need her help!

    We'll miss Ella and wish her well at her new school and are thankful we had her here and her mom as our room representative. I will be contacting you about my idea for before our winter break. I have something in mind that I think your kids will enjoy. 

    When we come back to school, we'll have plenty of practice for the PTA program. Thank you for sending in those shirts. 

    Keep practicing those math facts so we can keep the trophy in our room! In reading we're working on theme. One great way to identify theme is to listen to lyrics of songs, which we did today. We'll be writing lyrics for the books we've read in school and hopefully, there will be some brave souls who will perform theirs for us. 

    Again, thank you for all you do and have a fantastic holiday! 
     
     
    Carbohydrates, Protein, Fats, Calories, Energy, Focus and Science

    By now, you have gotten word, either from the school or from your child, that fourth graders are required to do a science project this year (due in December). Well, on Friday I revealed that the students are participants in one. As a class, we will be doing a science project to see if we feel any differently when we consciously eat healthy foods before and during school. Our nutrition unit has begun.

    We need your help with this. Each day last week, we kept track of what we ate for breakfast, what our 10:00 a.m. snack was and how we felt (energy, focus, thirst, hunger). We will do the same thing this week, but this time our breakfast and snacks will be more carefully chosen. We talked about some of those choices today. The idea is to eat breakfast that contains a healthy amount of protein, sugar and fat. We will eat snack at 10:00. On the banned list are: chips, candy, cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. Good alternatives are fruit, vegetables, cheeses, nuts (though if nuts are brought, hand-washing would be important for allergic classmates’ safety), etc. We will talk more about possible suggestions in class, but this will provide a good starting point. We are in the data collection stage of our class science project, so we need good participation. Some kids said they don’t have time to eat breakfast. My suggestion was to get up five minutes earlier :-) and if nothing else, a glass of milk is better than nothing. My hope, along with a good science project, is that kids will see the benefit of healthy eating choices.

    We are enjoying Class Dojo so far, and I am learning as we go about how to make it work best for the class. Thank you for signing up. If not, it isn’t too late and is another form of quick and easy communication. I really have to shift my way of thinking to utilize technology this way, but think it is and will serve a useful purpose. More on technology related information to follow.

    Report cards will go home this week. The intended purpose is, of course, to give you information about the progress your child is making so far in fourth grade. My website contains what the letter grade translates to from the number you have access to in Parent Portal. Fortunately, we are back to the 10-point grading scale. The grade level expectation is a “C” which is likely different from what we experienced growing up. The grade is based on your child's understanding of the concepts covered. Of course effort of assignment completion play a role in that as well. If we have not met for a conference yet and you would like to schedule one, please contact me.

    Thanks to our wonderful chaperons, we had another good field trip to Raleigh. For the first time ever, we were able to enter the legislative floors. The North Carolina General Assembly is not in session, so we did not see our legislature in action, but saw where it happens. Normally, we can see it from the balcony, but we were able to go to close enough to touch our law-makers' desks (but we didn't). This was all thanks to a parent from Mrs. Murray’s class, who arranged for us to walk on the Senate floor. If you or your child has any pictures you would like to share, feel free to email those or send them on a thumb drive that I will copy and return.

    We have discussed BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) to school. The students, acting as a legislative body in a mock legislative session, came up with and voted on rules for what we can and cannot do with devices at school (mobile phones, iPads, Kindles, etc). Those "laws" will be sent home and signed. Once those come back, students are welcome to bring a device to school, with your permission. 

    Other reminders:

    • Students need to have a white t-shirt for the PTA program (12/3).
    • Please have your child practice multiplication/division facts.
    • Weather is inconsistent, if your child brings a coat to school, it is advisable to write the name in the tag so that it can be easily returned.
    • No school on Wednesday, 11/11 (Veterans' Day)
    • Science Fair projects due 12/14

     

     
     
    First Quarter Nearly Over? 
          It is pretty amazing how quickly the first quarter is flying by. We have end of quarter tests this week...end of quarter? Already? Your kids are accustomed to the nature of these tests from last year, they should not cause stress or worry. Assessments allow us to see areas we need to work on more, many of those are apparent in classroom activities and we spiral back as much as possible to help reinforce those concepts. We're working hard. 
          Our routine is well established at this point. Of course we have changes every now and then, but I see a good effort toward responsibility for homework and in general. We have talked about when a homework book or item has been forgotten and how to solve that problem. Though that is not a good situation, it's a great learning opportunity and I am happy when solutions are shared with the class (called a friend, etc.). We all forget something from time to time; it's when the same mistake is repeated frequently that we have a different problem and need to find another strategy. Lately, we have been learning that as a class when we line up and how to do that more efficiently.
          Next Wednesday, 10/28 is the Raleigh field trip. What a way for second quarter to begin! We will be going over the details of that trip with the kids as well as sending home something for you. As we have said before, we will leave very early in the morning and since the schedule is tight, we are unable to wait past the designated departure time, so we will stress to the kids to be here on time that morning. More on that to come. Part of the field trip is to visit the Museum of History and the Museum of Nature Sciences where there are some fantastic animal exhibits. Our study of animal adaptations will be brought to life there. At this point, we have only had time to share a few of the marvelous inventions your children came up with based on those adaptations, but we will share them all. We are learning a lot from each other! Links to the Raleigh museums are: Raleigh Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina Museum of History
          You may or may not have noticed that we have had to be patient with the online gradebook. PowerSchool has been down frequently. There are times I hold on to graded work when we have not had an opportunity to go over it and/or fix it or I have not been able to enter the grade when the system is down. The orange folders are the best way to see evidence of your child's progress on written work and we can talk more specifics at conference times. I have met with some of you and have conferences scheduled. If you would like to schedule a time, please let me know.
          Thank you for your wonderful birthday wishes. Your thoughtfulness and generosity are truly appreciated. On a fun closing note, it was my sister's birthday in Vermont. For her birthday, she was treated with quite a snow cover this weekend. Though it was always exciting to see the first snow of the season, October seems a bit early!    
     
     And so it begins...
     
          We have begun for real now. The first few days feel more like we have third graders learning to be fourth graders. It is safe to say, they are no longer "in training". I am quite pleased with the general responsibility I have seen. Homework is getting done (we dance when everyone has brought their completed assignments). Messages, notes and paperwork are getting to you and to me. Things run much more smoothly this way and that is especially important with a large class size. Thank you!
     
          We thoroughly enjoyed learning about each other through the Pride Projects. It doubled as an introduction for how project explanations will look this year. You can expect a rubric to accompany them and a weekend to make any optional changes or additions, that usually means "pretty it up". The bulk of the academic/thinking work should be done in the classroom and is a scored element of the rubric (unless otherwise stated). That way I can be the "bad guy" and home can be the fun part. Following guidelines on a rubric and using it as somewhat of a check list ensures a grade to be proud of.
     
          This week, the field trip letter went home. Each year we strive to put together memorable academic experiences while trying to keep the costs as low as possible. The trip to Raleigh is fantastic. Travel by charter buses is required because the hours we depart and arrive back at the school are beyond the school bus hours. As well, school and activity buses must be available for before and after school activities, so we cannot use them, which adds to field trip expenses. Thank you for the payments we have received so far. I still have two chaperon spots available on the Raleigh bus if you are interested. You will receive more detailed information about the Raleigh trip closer to the October 28 date.
     
          Our very first field trip is in school (next week) September 17. We have a guest bringing knowledge and Native American artifacts from North Carolina. This is an excellent presentation from the Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology. It is an interesting way to learn some of our history. We had a very animated discussion (Friday) about the resources that might have used by people long ago. (Some of these kids could make great survivalists, very creative ideas!)
     
          Next week (or so) in math we will have some fun, but I need your help. Don't worry. It's a good way to recycle. Please send in flyers if you get the newspaper or find any while shopping. These may be from grocery stores, CVS, Walgreens, etc. and department stores. We need several, so if in doubt, just send them. Other math news is that your child has a letter for you about a practice website called TenMarks. The website is on my Useful Links page. Students have a log-in name and password and you have the option to sign on and see their progress. Of course the teacher does too! Look for that letter to come home next week.
     
          Reading will be really picking up soon. I have found that starting the year off with a Roald Dahl unit is a good way to get things going. Roald Dahl is the author of Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to name a few. Your child will have details including another rubric for a project. I can't wait for these Roald Dahl projects. They're always fun. My Blog (link on my website) has some videos that highlight those projects from previous years.
     
          As of last year, Friday recesses have become track running days. The entire fourth grade meets on the lower field and any and all students who care to join us in running laps around the track are welcome. I tell you this because you are also welcome to sweat a little with us (around 10:25 am on Fridays)! As a runner, I see great benefits and have encouraged students to try it out too. According to research, physical activity and academic success are very closely tied. So we have been getting up and moving in the classroom and this is one more way we can achieve that.
     
    I will close with a genuine THANK YOU for helping get this year off to a great start and a few reminders for next week.
          Spirit Week Days:
    Monday=Crazy hair/hat day, Tuesday=wacky tacky day, Wednesday=decade day (early dismissal day),
    Thursday=favorite team day (and in-school field trip), Friday=MES spirit day
      
    Welcome to 602!
    Open House is August 20 from 5:30-7:30 in room 602 in the Fourth Grade POD. Not sure where the Fourth Grade POD is?
     
    1. Listen for the hum of excitement, it will be louder than the cicadas in the surrounding trees.
    2. Look for a spectacular outdoor trail that winds up a slight incline toward the summit of The POD door. 
    3. Be prepared to exercise your mind on an Einstein quality puzzle and collect paperwork that is sure to provide more fun and excitement than your entire summer!
     
    ...Or
    Just go down the hallway in the school until you pass the last hallway on the left. There is a door on the left that will lead you to the Fourth Grade POD, which is the one straight ahead (Fifth Grade is on the right). 
     
     
    Final Fourth Grade Fun 

    Amazing that in one week, your child will be considered a fifth grader. Testing is complete and now we can kick back a bit. Last week we kept things less intense and focused on social studies and science by teaching several different concepts. The kids went to a different fourth grade room each day, which kept it fresh for everyone. They learned about economics topics as well as static electricity, how light travels, simple circuits, energy, magnetism and made a compass from every day objects. 


    Reading has been filled with "Holes"... the book, that is. We will be watching the movie on Monday. Thank you for sending in the permission slips! While some students have been catching up on the reading and booklet to go with it, others have made extension projects. The extra credit projects have been absolutely remarkable and involved writing and technology. At this point in the year, when left to make their own decisions about creating projects, what they come up with is such a treat and really shows what they have taken in throughout the year. All students have the opportunity to show how imaginative they can be on Monday by "being" any character from the book. Props (not necessary) or clothing should not be cumbersome or need major changing during the day. It is meant to be simple and just add to the theme that we will be "spending part of the day" at Camp Green Lake. 


    The end of the year picnic is Wednesday. Room parents have some fun water activities planned. We will send a reminder home (likely an email) before then about sunscreen, towel and clothing/shoe reminders (no bathing suits for the water portion). Basically, if your child ordered a hotdog meal, that money will be collected on Wednesday morning. Please send the exact amount (must be cash) as we may not be able to make change. Be sure to sign in at the front office. We are planning to have yearbook signing in the morning as well if your child ordered a yearbook. 


    Please send your child with his/her book bag next week, as we will be cleaning out desks. Plastic or paper grocery bags can be pretty handy for this in addition to the bookbag. 


    This is always a bitter sweet time. I think we're all looking forward to the summer down time, but this group has come together so nicely and I will miss them. At this point in the year we are well aware of each of our personalities and have learned to work together cooperatively, deal with the inevitable disagreements appropriately and avoid the drama. They learn so much more at school than academics! I am fortunate to teach a grade that I am able to see most of them the following year and love seeing how they mature and learn of their successes. You have been a wonderful group of parents this year and I truly appreciate you as much as I appreciate your children. 

     
     
     
     
     June's Tunes
     
    Except for a few make up tests, EOGs are over. School is not however, and I am reminding the kids of that! Homework will consist of reading and practicing math facts. A letter will be going home in today’s Tuesday packet (these are sealed, so teachers have not seen them). We have been made aware of the scores. More about growth (which is what should count for more) will come to us later. That is more telling than the score of 1-5. In any case, the score reflects what a child could show on one given day, which was the day of testing. Even though we try to avoid testing stress, the formality of it is different. There are always other factors that might reflect in the results. We have to remember that this is one item of many methods of getting information about your child’s progress. I am most pleased with what I witnessed of their attentiveness and diligence during testing. Please contact me if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them.

    We are winding down, but not too much. The focus in these last couple weeks will be on science and social studies. The kids have been moving to different classrooms for lessons from the fourth grade teachers in both subjects. This keeps things fresh and fun while maintaining the academics. Hopefully you’ll see some evidence of those lessons. For science, we created compasses using nothing more than a magnet, paper clip, a bowl of water and bottle cap or a piece of Styrofoam. If you’re ever stranded and need to know your cardinal directions, as your child!

    Monday of next week we will be watching the movie Holes. I know several kids have already seen this, but not all have. It will be a fun way to culminate finishing the book and the class project we did to go with it. Spiced peaches and onions are a big part of the survival of the main characters, so we thought we’d throw a twist on the traditional popcorn and go with spiced peaches. I might actually try to have us make some, so if you are willing to send in some of the spices or canned peaches, please let me know. I have a simple recipe (actually called “sploosh” as it is in the book). There is a permission slip in the orange folder. The movie is rated PG, so I must have the signed permission slip in order for your child to be able to watch it. Please send your child’s slip back to me. We also thought it would be fun to sort of "be" one of the characters from the story. This does NOT need to be involved. I suggested props made of cardboard, etc., but props are not necessary. The kids can dress like a character, but it should be something that is comfortable to wear throughout the day. Imagination will go a long way with this. 

    The picnic is next week on Wednesday, 6/10. We will remind your child (and you) before then about what to bring/send as far as water activities are concerned (sunscreen, shoes and clothing that may get wet and $4 if a hot dog lunch was ordered). Water activities will commence after encore. It’s that time of year when things get busy and fun once we get the necessities out of the way.

    That’s all for now! I hope you enjoy these last few days of the school year as much as I intend to!

     
     
     
     
    Testing Testing, One Two Three 

    Here’s hoping you enjoyed a happy, safe and meaningful Memorial Day with family and friends. Though warm, it was worth being outside in the relatively low humidity. It is weekends like this that make me glad I do the WWII unit to pay some tribute to those who lived during that time.

    This will be a short, but full week. End of Grade testing will be this week. Most fourth grade students will test on Wednesday and Thursday. We have done lots of review leading up to it and will recap a few things tomorrow, but we are as ready as we are going to be at this point. Hopefully, there will be little to no stress. It’s just not worth it. Encouraging the use of strategies learned and practiced throughout the year is what we will do from here. Other than that, there are some important reminders because the tests are standardized:

    • ·         If you venture into the school this week, you’ll notice the walls look very empty. This is a requirement for standardization (rather than an attempt to remove everything for the end of the year!)
    • ·         Please remind your child to bring a sweater or sweatshirt. It can become chilly while sitting in air conditioning for an extended period of time. I will encourage the kids to keep their sweaters on the backs of their chairs.
    • ·         Late arrivals will not be allowed in the classroom after the testing session has begun. They will stop your child in the office, so if your child is a car rider, please have your child arrive on time. If buses happen to run late, that would be announced and your child would be sent to class. 
    • ·         Mobile phones and any and all computer devices are a big “no no” during testing.  Any noises could cause enough disruption that may result in a whole class having to retake that test. The owner of the device is actually removed from the testing and would make up the test at another time. We will need to collect devices which will be safely stored in the office during testing so that any noises do not cause a misadministration. Please also be mindful of watches that beep. It is best just to keep them home on Tuesday and Wednesday.  

    For some tips aside from the standard ones:

    • ·         Last week we talked about how to feel fuller for longer because we will be testing during our normal time for snack. Having some sort of protein is a great way to boost thinking and maintain blood sugar levels for longer. (That’s not to say it would be a great time to experiment with new foods!)
    • ·         Confidence goes a long way. We have reviewed in class and know how good it feels when we know we’re right. Your encouragement goes a long way. Every student has absolutely learned a great deal this year and this is their opportunity to show that.

    •    A great deal of emphasis and stress is placed on these tests, but I have said it before and will continue to say that numbers do not define any of us. Some will have a great day of testing while others may have done better on another day. The best we can do is to create the most positive environment to get the best results we can.
    • I’ve been one of those not-so-great test takers because my nerves got in my way. Though I have not had to experience taking them in a while, I relate many things to running and this is one of them. Most runners get nervous before a race and that’s when you need to remember to trust in the work and training that led up to it.

          We have lots to look forward to in wrapping up the fourth grade year. More information will come about that. The end of year picnic will be different and sounds like a lot of fun. We will have a hot dog cart followed by some water activities. We’ll be sending home sign-up sheets soon so you can join us.


    Enjoy these bitter-sweet last few weeks of the 14-15 school year. Ready or not, it’s here. 

     
     
     
    Boosterthon Fun Run, What a Week!
                  A huge thank you to you all for your part in the Boosterthon. The school surpassed its goal and the kids (okay, the teachers too) had a lot of fun. I admit, I was skeptical about the whole thing. When I see how it all played out, I think it was well worth doing. Your kids will enjoy the benefits of the new technology the school will get, thanks to you and the generosity of your friends and family. Our class alone raised almost $30 per lap (which is actually 30 x 30)!  
     
                  Our final field trip is on April 29. A letter will be going home with your child about that trip to Hiddenite. If your child has water shoes, rubber boots, crocks, etc. they will be a great item to bring as we will be wading in a stream to find gems. More information is forthcoming, but the footwear might be something to start digging out of the closets now. We are currently learning about rocks and minerals, which is a pretty exciting topic for fourth graders. If you would like to chaperon for that trip and did not sign up initially, you may. You would need to be a level two chaperon, provide your own lunch, transportation (we take school buses on this trip) and pay the $12 fee once you get there. That information is included in the note going home to you. 
     
    Pajama day is today, so I hope to keep the kids awake. 
     
    Picture Day is next Tuesday, 4/21. That information has been sent home in your child's Tuesday packet.
     
    Hope your spring is off to a great start!  
     
     
     
    Fourth Quarter...It's Here!
       It was certainly a perfect week for spring break. The weather was great for enjoying the North Carolina sunshine, if you were around here (and not glued to the television for March Madness madness). My poor family members in Vermont are still dealing with occasional snowfall and very cold temperatures. Looks as though we are in for a warm day on Wednesday for our trip to Raleigh. We will keep a watch on the weather, but as of now, it could be in the 80s with a chance of rain. We will be sending home reminders for you and your child to keep in mind, including the early time to be at school, what to bring, etc. Thank you to the volunteers who are coming to chaperon. We will have some more specifics to give to you that morning or the night before.
       Quarter tests for your fourth grader are over. The next round of testing will be the EOGs at the end of this, our final quarter:-( With the threat of winter weather behind us, we should have some smooth days of learning ahead, in addition to all the excitement of a typical final quarter. Our next field trip will be on April 25, which is to learn more about rocks and minerals, a fun topic we'll be exploring this quarter in science. 
       The World War II projects were FABULOUS! It is always amazing to me how much the kids learn and pass along to the class and to me. Thank you for your support for what I hope will serve as a memorable learning experience for your child. The projects that were accompanied by something to display are proudly hanging outside our classroom.
       I hope you all enjoyed a happy spring break and Easter. We'll see some of you bright (well, technically it's still dark) and early on Wednesday morning!
     
     
    Spring? 
        Let's see if this What's New will save this time. Technology is not always my friend. Having nearly completed it, that "aw snap" message popped up and took my work away. Grrr. If any tech gurus have ideas why, let me know!
     
       Speaking of technology, we made good use of the computers with the TenMarks program. Do not fret over the number of assessments and due dates you may have seen earlier. I have edited those. This is completely new to me and in creating the assignments, I didn't realize how many had accumulated. The idea is to use these as practice. The immediate feedback is great. The kids get it, I get it and you can as well. Your child should have brought home a paper for you with information and directions of how you can get your own password. The paper also has your child's user name and password. I only wish I'd known about this during all those snow days.
     
       WWII has been our topic in reading. We are at a place that we know enough to be working on an extension project at home. Your child is aware that the due date is March 27, which is the last day of third quarter (YIKES!), but they can be presented whenever the project is presentable. These are not intended to be time consuming or complicated. Formats could be Power Point, poster, video or simple presentation of an interview of a veteran, friend or neighbor's experience during that time. Some kids may specialize in a particular plane flown or tank used. I've had students learn about and present information on polio or rationing. Others have written diaries (just a few pages) in the perspective of a soldier and of a Jew. We do not learn all about the horrors of the war, but have learned how the country pulled together. We have been able to touch on many social studies topics that are sometimes short-changed due to time (geography, obviously history, changes over time, economics with rationing, recycling, etc.) I have had students learn about heroic relatives, usually grandparents. Unfortunately, there are fewer every year who can give first-hand accounts. I find that veterans are very proud and willing to share their experiences, especially to children. I encourage your help with this. As long as the child is the presenter, and knows the information, that's what it is all about. I will be giving a rubric, but it is intentionally vague. I hope this is interesting enough that there is a desire to share what he/she has learned about. 
     
       Field trips will soon be upon us. These are the big ones with Raleigh being the first one in April. I attached the letter with some details (more specific ones will follow) and reminders for the second payment if you chose to pay in two installments. We will send this letter home to you as well. A lot will be a happening in fourth quarter, but at least we shouldn't have interruptions because of snow. 
    Happy daylight savings!
     
     
     
    Snow Days... 
     
    I sent work home with the kids in the hope that they might keep up with some of what we have learned. I know it's tough because the school routine is not there. I posted and showed them some excellent websites for the WWII unit. They are kid-friendly and provide some interesting information. We were able to go over the very beginning of the unit, so the kids know their "teams". They will read and talk about their books to earn ration points for themselves and the team. There will be ways to use the ration points at the end of the unit. 
     
    I planned to share this during class, but thought I might get started on the new post in my blog. It is meant for the kids to share what they learn about WWII. They may earn ration points for their team that way too. Please have your child check that out. All posts come to me for approval before they are posted, so it won't show up immediately. It keeps things pretty clean and focused that way. Feel free to share any personal stories from family members and friends from that time. Link to the blog: Blogging with Mrs. Hugosson
     
    Another great way to pass some time and practice math in a practical way is to cook. During wartime, there were often shortages of certain ingredients. We made a dish a couple years ago that used Grape Nuts cereal in place of meat. If you make anything, please share your experience. This is a WWII recipe link:  WWII Recipes Link
     
    The weather isn't promising to improve too quickly. I hope to be back in the routine soon. In the meantime, I hope you are all warm and healthy. I certainly hope to see your children soon!
     
     
    Valentines 
        I came home tonight to find my Energy Efficiency Kit from Duke Energy on my kitchen counter. I have to say, I was pretty impressed. If you have not gone to the website to sign up for yours, you should. It contains water saving filters, a shower head, outlet insulators, light bulbs, a nightlight and glow rings. It's worth spending about three minutes to sign up for it. We will be learning about electricity later this year in science too. If you no longer have that card, the address is: www.XMarksTheKit.org. 
       For Valentine's Day, we have secret Valentines in class. All week, we will be learning a few different styles of poetry. Your child will create and receive a card or poster specially made for or from their secret Valentine. The names were picked out of a hat today, and it's top secret (among classmates anyway). I plan to dedicate part of language arts class on Thursday for decorating them. If you had planned on having your child bring Valentine's on Friday, that is fine. But if you prefer instead, to simply send stickers or other quick and easy-to-use decorations for the Valentines, we'd welcome those. I've stressed the importance of spending quality time and thought to write about him or her.
       I talked to my mother (in Vermont) early this evening. The temperature was 10F. By Sunday, the forecast is -33F (33 below 0!). I don't believe I could survive in northern Vermont anymore. North Carolina weather isn't too bad!
       Half day dismissal for students Wednesday 2/11. 
       Thank you for reading.  
     
     
     
    Award Winning Author, Duke Energy and WFU Museum of Anthropology
     
       Last week we were treated to an award-winning, historical fiction author, and this week Duke Energy and WFU. Joyce Hostetter told us what inspired her to write the book Blue. It was a fantastic way for the kids to see how research and expertise plays an important role in writing, but that we are all experts on our own lives. Hopefully, her homework assignment (which ended up being Blue) inspires some young authors in our class and they will be guest speakers one day.
       
       Today we were treated to a pretty hilarious, yet informative program by Duke Energy, which addressed how we can conserve our natural resources. In the Tuesday packet, there was a card, which tells you how to get a free kit from Duke Energy (including an energy-saving shower head and light bulb, not too bad!). We will study electricity, electromagnetism later in the year, so there were some great parts of the presentation for future reference. On Thursday of this week, we will learn about life in North Carolina long ago and see some of the artifacts the native Americans used. Wake Forest MOA does a great job.
       
       We have taken off the past two weeks from Wordly Wise to work on some writing. The writing focus is...well, focus. When answering specific questions, using the words from the question in the answer is the strategy we are using to keep the topic properly addressed. The kids have answered questions about the moon, which we are learning about in science.
       
       In addition to that, we have read a story about two brothers and a fight about oatmeal. There is a project that goes with this. The project is a book jacket and we are working on one element at a time. The writing styles vary. Some are review and some are relatively new and require a step by step approach. We discussed the story in small groups and as a class. Though I have not assigned the due date yet, I am pretty confident that we will cover what we need this week and a fair date for the final project will be Tuesday, 2/3. The majority of the project will be done in class because we are really trying to become better peer editors. The art part of it will likely be completed at home. As with all projects, creativity is highly encouraged, but within the guidelines of the rubric (which the kids have been given).
       
       To commemorate the story, I like to have oatmeal to celebrate the occasion. I would gratefully accept any donations of plain oatmeal that I can put in my crock pot to have for snack on the day we turn the projects in. I have bowls (special, appropriate ones) and will get spoons and milk, but if your child would like a particular topping, send them in with it on the day.
       
       In math, we are learning about fractions, which can be tricky. Remembering what the denominator represents is the key. My hope is that our real life example of creating equal groups with the class will be remembered. This was a great way to see how knowledge of math facts is incredibly helpful. Once again, cooking and baking are fantastic ways to see how we use fractions in real life. Seeing how many parts make up a whole pizza or what part/fraction of the dozen cookies disappeared...
       
       I know it is exciting for the kids to bring their technology devices to school. They have been given the okay. This week is a trial week. For now, we will just use them on an as-needed basis as we get to know how we can utilize them most efficiently. This is all new to me too, so we'll learn together. We used our knowledge of government to come up with some rights and responsibilities. As soon as that important document is signed by all students in the class, it will be sent home.
       
       Thank you for reading. I had this almost finished when that "Ah Snap! Something went wrong." message came up and I had to start it all over. Technology, it can be so wonderful...when it cooperates! Enjoy the rest of your week.
     
     
    2015 Begins with "Snow"!
     
    It was a cold week last week to start off the new year and we had some "snowballs" flying through room 602. The class earned a snowball fight and it was fun. I have included a video montage on my blog: http://hhhugosson.blogspot.com/ The snowball fight preparation included a practical joke, but with a caution if your child thought it might be taken as anything other than that. The class has an opportunity to earn more of these this year. If you are interested in learning how, ask your child about the "mystery person". 
     
    We came back to the POD and learned that we no longer control the temperature in our classroom (it sure was nice while it lasted). We experienced some pretty unusual and extreme cold last week, but it is a good reminder to have your child bring a sweater or sweatshirt to put on if he or she tends to get cold easily. We've learned about government in social studies and conducted a vote to determine whether we would notify the office that the room was too cold. It was 2/3 in favor, so we hope the room temperature will be more comfortable for the majority.
     
    We will be taking the quarter test this week (week of 1/12). In preparation, we have reviewed the math concepts we learned this quarter. One of our reviews was math facts, where some kids learned the importance of consistent practice. When not practiced consistently, they can be forgotten! We will be making a class resource math book to review and remind us of concepts. The intent is to remember steps in a process or vocabulary in math, etc. Creating the pages is a good self assessment method. If one has to explain how to do something, he/she must understand it. 
     
    Thank you for sending the signed permission slips for the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program. We will be coming up with some guidelines before the devices will be brought in. Coming up with the guidelines will reinforce what we have learned about government in social studies. The devices will need to have the ability to connect to the school network. Other guidelines will come home to you when we have those. Your child should be familiar with the device, as I will not likely know how to address all issues with them, particularly in a timely manner. 
     
    We have two in school field trips coming up a the end of this month. Duke Energy and Wake Forest University Museum of Anthropology will be here for some presentations that will reinforce our science (electricity) and social studies (NC Native American) units. We look forward to those.
     
    I cannot thank you enough for your help during the winter celebration, whether you were able to come in and lend a hand or sent items. Thank you for your generosity. I hope you are off to a great start in the new year!
     
    'Twas a few weeks before winter break festivities
     If you were able to attend the PTA program, you likely have a little Christmas spirit. So much goes into a production like that and it's always amazing to me to see over 100 fourth graders sound and look so great together. Thank you for doing your part in sending in the shirts and getting the kids there on time. They were commended for keeping it together during the long practices and Mrs. Ward told them they were among the top three for how well they listened and followed directions. During break time, we were able to check out the popular new playground. We're working out a rotation schedule in order to use that more. Thank you for your generous donations for that. It makes a wonderful, lasting tribute to Mrs. Deonanan's son. We are very fortunate to have the PTA support at Meadowlark.
     
    We had a great trail mix treat, thanks to your treats for that. Next up will be the winter celebration on December 18th. You will hear more about that soon. If you are available to help with the craft(s), you are welcome to join us.
     
    If you were at the PTA meeting, you heard a bit more about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). We talked about this during Curriculum Night as well. If you have not finished your Christmas shopping yet, technology may be something to consider for your fourth grader. The POD computer cart is fantastic, but it supplies laptops for one class at a time. As a school, we have quite a bit to learn about how this program will play out, but we will work out the kinks. A few teachers have been participating so far and we will learn from them as well. Knowing how adept at computers most children are, we'll learn plenty from them too! 
     
    Grades up to this point are on PowerSchool and will also come home in Tuesday packets this week. While this is an indication of how your child is doing so far, there is still plenty of opportunity for these to change. We have begun long division, which relies heavily on accurate calculation and knowledge of math facts. I will occasionally record math fact quizzes. This seems to have helped students see for themselves what they need to practice. Though there is a time limit, it is not meant for super speed (has been up to five or more minutes for 50 facts). The idea is to memorize facts rather than count them out each time. I was pleased with the improvement I saw from one day to the next last week.
     
    This week will not be a Wordly Wise week. We will focus on writing (persuasive), practicing what we are working on in class. We have begun reading books about the Underground Railroad in reading. Our writing will correspond with that eventually. I look forward to seeing the poems they come up with (as of this writing time, they are unaware of these). 
     
    Our Friday runs have been going well and we've even been joined by none other than room parent, Mrs. Bagg! If you are available on Friday mornings around 10, come join us at the track and get a couple miles in while enjoying some fourth grade conversation. This has become the standard on Fridays at recess. It is totally voluntary. Those who join (from all fourth grade classes) feel pretty good when they complete a number of laps. Our writing this week involves some research reading about how beneficial exercise is to academics and problem-solving.
     
    If you have sent in your field trip permission and money, thank you. We will enjoy one of those field trips (in school) in January when the Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology comes to Meadowlark. This is a repeat from last year, very interesting, which is why we chose to have them come back. You should have received an email about the dates for the field trips to Raleigh and Hiddenite being switched. We hope that corresponds with your schedules. Trip dates are: Raleigh-April 8 and Hiddenite (Gem Mining)-April 29. 
     
    Enjoy what's left of December. It's flying by!
     
    Okay, Brrr... 
     
    This cold blast has come with a vengeance. We've hit the ground running (literally, on Fridays) in the second quarter. We have been talking nutrition in science. I have heard stories about how kids bring home some of the knowledge they gain from this nutrition unit (love that). Remembering to add color to ensure a variety of nutrients is a good one and I find myself beefing up my variety at this time of year myself. 
     
    At this point, you have likely seen the field trip letter that went out last Wednesday with the report card. If not, it is in the envelope (which should be signed and returned, please). We are excited and quite relieved to have this trip finalized. There are two off campus and several in school field trips. We have already had two in school. Brenner Fit talked to us about nutrition and even offered samples of some uncommon foods. The other was an animal rehabilitation center that rehabilitates birds. They brought two live owls, a red-tailed hawk and a vulture. They offer a fascinating presentation. We will be going to Raleigh and Hiddenite in the spring. I have attached the letter to the email in case you need this information. Due to space, we were allowed four chaperons on the bus for Raleigh with us and we have those four committed already!
     
    Trip dates are: Raleigh-April 8 and Hiddenite (Gem Mining)-April 29.
     
    Museum of Anthropology will be here January 29 and 30. Your child will attend one of the days.The cost for this is included in the field trip fees. 
     
    Sorry to sound like a broken record of nagging, but I cannot stress enough how important practicing math facts is. The idea is to become fluent, but even if the recall is not quick, the kids should recognize which numbers go together (fact families). We will be covering long division soon and knowing math facts makes a huge difference (as it does with the multiplication we have done so far).
     
    We are working on main idea and details in reading. I hope your child can tell you some of the differences between how we celebrate Thanksgiving and how the original Pilgrims did. If they can, they have been paying attention! Thanks to Mrs. Bagg for sending out the note to bring in a snack to combine for a trail mix. It would be a great idea to check out the nutrition facts for it. We've been doing a lot of that lately. 
     
    Thank you for looking through your child's Tuesday folder, sending notes and emails, conferencing and your general support. Stay warm! 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Quarter One is Nearly DONE?  

    What a belated thank you from me for your thoughtfulness on my birthday! (You get that way when you're old.) The donations were fantastic. Many homeless people in our area will benefit from your generosity. I really love that idea. Thank you!


    Thanks also goes to you for sending in quarters for United Way, for sending in fees, your communication, attending parent conferences and countless Meadowlark events, volunteering (parents who watched the kids during teacher lunch out today) and the many other things you do to help support your child, the class and Meadowlark. It really does take all of us. 


    It feels great, at this point, to see how well the class has adapted (like we're learning about in science). We can move along nicely when we all know what is expected of each other and at this point, we're really getting there well. Those animal projects the kids are creating, by the way, are due on Monday 10/27. There have been some great ideas and fabulous enthusiasm about those. 

     
    The end of quarter is nearly here. We will assess first quarter concepts via quarter tests on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Testing should not be a stressful time. It does NOT help the thinking process. I have included a math link at the end of this. It is a very fun way to practice fact families. Try it, you'll see what I mean. It's pretty hard to not play just one "last" game. If your child likes video games, there are other math games on the same site that have that effect. 
     
    Fourth grade teachers believe we have scheduled all field trips (finally!) and will be sending out a letter either this week (if we can secure buses for Raleigh and get pricing in time) or the following week. Some field trips are in-school trips, there are only two off campus; we are trying to keep costs as low as possible. 
     
    We have begun a "running club" of sorts on Fridays during recess. I'm hoping the voluntary group grows larger as the kids are able to see their progress graphed (on a running app called Endomondo). Though not everyone runs the same amount, (one lap=1/4 of a mile) there is a huge sense of accomplishment no matter the distance. They're learning math (fractions, decimals, elapsed time, graphing, you get the idea). Today, some of us ran just over 1.5 miles and still had time to play on the field afterward. This is the third week. We have added one quarter mile/lap each Friday. Some research has shown that exercise prior to testing is beneficial. If I can do it, I will!
     
    Hope you enjoy a beautiful weekend!
     
     
    Board Games and Cooking

    If you were able to attend Curriculum Night, thank you for coming. If you still have questions, please let me know. If you were unable to attend, I have a Curriculum Night folder on this website with the information that was covered and more. That contains the Power Point of what was addressed as well as other files on spelling and homework. 

    Printed progress reports went home on Tuesday for 3-5 grades in the Tuesday packets. I did not include them for this class because I had an issue with the printing of them. The reports have since been printed and I will send them next Tuesday unless you would like your child's before then, just let me know. The grades are updated on Power School, so if you have your log in information, you have access to them. I always caution parents to consider what grades and test scores are. They do not define your child. Grades indicate a level of understanding and/or work ethic. The best way to know how your child is grasping concepts is to look at the orange folder work (see comments, etc.), and talk to your child and note how independently he/she child is able to complete his/her homework and of course in parent-teacher conferences. 

             I have set the due date for the Roald Dahl games. Those are due on Wednesday, October 8. We have spent time in class (which is on the rubric as part of the final grade) and have seen who is on the right track for what to do. I can offer some supplies and will do that today. I am satisfied that those who are far enough along can finish at home as they "own the thinking part" at this point. I hope to finalize today so that everyone has the weekend if needed to work on them. They seem to really enjoy these books and great thinking is/should be involved in creating the games, which are a fun way to think even more about them when they get to play others'!
             Some parents have let me know that my blog was not accessible. I believe I have fixed that. Thank you for letting me know. I have a previous post that shows a quick video of a class playing their Roald Dahl games. I have also shown photos to the class, so they can have an idea of what to do.  
             Please have your child practice math facts. There are plenty of sites on my website for practicing. As we delve into more complicated math, knowing fact families (42, 6, 7 go together in multiplication/division) will make the math much more easily understood. Counting on fingers or drawing out multiplication/division inevitably ends up in errors with larger numbers. We are learning about measurement in math right now. This incorporates many skills, including multiplication and division. I always encourage students to cook and bake to get a better idea of measurement. Practicing real life applications of skills helps them truly understand concepts SO much better. Of course cooking and baking will enable them to see cups, teaspoons, etc., but also includes elapsed time, temperature, the importance of sequence when following directions. I could go on, but think you get the idea. We'll also be looking for weights on products we eat and drink (ties in beautifully with our science unit on nutrition). Have your child notice the measurement units at the grocery store as well as at home. 

    Again, I thank you for your communication. The best method for me is school email. You are welcome to send to my gmail address as well, but I am more likely to see the ones from school in a more timely manner. I am not always able to check mail during the school day, particularly on meeting days. If your child has a change in transportation or other matter I need to know about during the school day, please call the office, especially if you do not hear back from me. If your email is not time-sensitive, I will get back to you after school hours. 

    This is a good group, though they've been dubbed "chatty" by encore teachers, we're working on ways to remedy that and channel those times to when it is appropriate. We can handle "chatty"! 

       Enjoy the colors and weather of fall!

     

     
     
     
    Happy Autumn 
     

    Thank you for your support for your kids and the class. We have been working hard and that hard work is starting to pay off. I appreciate your help in getting your child to school on time, participating in spirit week, homework help, notes for absences, appointments and general communication. This is the point in the year when it is obvious the expectations are understood. There is a huge comfort in knowing what to expect and that applies to students as well as teacher! Learning opportunities involve more than subjects like math and reading. We're working on "talking times" versus when it is time to stop and listen. We'll get there.

     
    Some of you have had the opportunity to check grades on the Parent Portal. Please keep in mind that it is early and with few grades, the average may look dismal or even unrealistically high. Tasks are weighted differently as well, so averages are difficult to calculate. Rather than focus on the per subject grade, the orange folders are a great way for you to see what and how your child is understanding. (Please send those back with the graded work inside them.) There may be weeks when that folder has very few graded pieces in it (like today), but that may be because the graded task is something we did in class, from a discussion and not in paper form or I may not have graded it at that point. As always, if you have specific concerns, please let me know.
     
    We have entered the world of Roald Dahl. He is one of my favorite children's authors because his books are easy to follow and a great introduction to story writing that comes from personal experiences. I will be assigning a fun culminating project for the books we are reading. We will spend time in class on these (working on the thinking parts in class is part of the grade), but "art parts" are more than welcome to be worked on at home. I'll be the mean guy, you can have fun if that's your thing! More on that later.
     
    Homework is going well. I let the kids know, I prefer quality over quantity and prefer to give a few things to do that involve deeper thinking. They are also getting used to the idea that the right answer is not always good enough. The expectation is to be able to explain why or how (supporting and/or proving it's right). You should be seeing that in the writing this week. If you look over your child's homework and see something "wrong", have him or her to explain it. Often times, they realize what their mistake was. Particularly with writing, instead of reading the writing, have your child read it aloud to you slowly and word for word. You'll be surprised how many mistakes are found that way.
     
    As the weather becomes cooler and more coats and sweatshirts come to school, the more get left behind. I strongly recommend putting your child's name somewhere inside personal items. There have been many pieces of clothing involuntarily donated to Good Will because they end up unclaimed in Lost and Found or even left outside. We try to catch them, but that doesn't always happen. 
     
    Class pictures are tomorrow 9/24. The make-up day for fall pictures will be October 22nd.
     
    I find it exciting to get to this point in the year. It marks a benchmark point in time when I finally feel I am really getting to know the kids as academic learners and people. I can safely "bark" at them and they know I do it because I know how capable they are. Thank you for your trust. 
     
     
    One Productive Week! 

    We have gotten off to a great start in fourth grade. It's pretty surprising to think that it's only been one week and our class has changed within that week. We are already getting into the rhythm of how things will work. There are always adjustments to be made, but they're minor at this point. 

    As always, the first order of business is becoming accustomed to how we do things at Meadowlark, in fourth grade (in the POD), and in room 602. That gets established fairly quickly at this age and then the learning takes place.

    I do not assign homework over weekends, but do allow a weekend for projects. Hopefully, you have seen the project description and rubric that went home on Wednesday. Oh yes, school has begun! This should be a fun project and a great introduction, not only because we present a bit about ourselves, but it is an opportunity to learn how to manage time, follow directions and use a rubric. It is a pleasure getting to know your children and this will allow the to get to know who we'll be spending our fourth grade year with. 

    On Tuesdays, you will continue to receive the yellow envelope with school and class information. The yellow envelope will contain an “Orange Folder”. There is a note of explanation which you were able to see that last Tuesday if your child was with me at that point. Please send the work inside the “Orange Folder” (graded work) back with your child for our reference. Any work that is not inside the folder can be kept at home. I had the kids practice that on Tuesday by writing you letters, which were to be sent back. We got most of those back…we’ll keep practicing! If you have not turned in paperwork and/or school fees, you may send that in the yellow envelope as well. 

    When we return on Tuesday, we will be using the grocery store flyers you have sent in for an in-school math project. Thank you for sending the flyers in. If you have more, feel free to send them through Thursday.

    I hope you have/had a fantastic Labor Day weekend. 

     
    Welcome to the 2014-15 Fourth Grade School Year in Room 602!

    It's that time again! Are we prepared? Has everything been done? Is lunch is in order, alarm set, book bag packed and ready to go? Are the shoes comfortable for the day and will the clothes be too hot or cold? These are some of the questions most of us ask. I know I do and hope your fourth grader will soon be asking him/herself, if not already. The good part is that routine is generally a welcome part of going back to school. Personally, I am ready for it.

     
    The less welcome aspect of school and life in general, is the inevitable stress. One of my goals every year is to focus on confidence because that is the best way to alleviate undue stress. What I will add to the focus on confidence is control, specifically to figure out what we have the power to control and not control ourselves. We will be reminding one another about responsibility, self-discipline and tackling head-on (as opposed to procrastinating and complaining) when it is within our power. 
     
    I take very seriously my responsibility to my students as well as to parents. Having conversations with fellow teachers, we find ourselves having to specify when asking about "our kids" and whether we mean our school or personal children. We defend them, share pride for their successes, encourage, put our thumb (figuratively speaking, of course) on them and certainly nag when needed. I can't say I won't make any mistakes, but I do assure you that your child's best interest is my priority. Though my role is important, I know parents play the most vital role in education. I look forward to working with you and your child and making this a successful year for your 4th grader. 
     
     
     
     Testing and Gardening (June 2014)
    Ready or not, the time is here. I hope your child feels confident going into this week. We've spent some time reviewing and this is one opportunity to show some of what has been learned in language arts and math throughout the year. In preparation for this week, I'm sending you a few reminders. The kids are aware, but may need some help remembering what we talked about. Some students will be testing for more days than others; most will have reading on Tuesday and math on Wednesday this week. These are long sessions, so having a good breakfast will be really important. We revisited our nutrition unit from the beginning of the year as a reminder of what kinds of foods are best. Protein takes the longest to digest and is a good choice (for the brain as well). In addition, having had a sufficient amount to drink is also important. It's a wise idea to have a sweater of some kind; the kids can keep that on the back of their chairs in case they get cold. Little movement can sometimes do that. Still send a snack. They will be able to have that once the testing session is completed for our class. 
     
    Our schedule will look very different this week. This is important if you choose to have lunch with your fourth grader (or any grader, for that matter). On Monday, our lunch time will be early. We will go to the cafeteria at 11:50. From Tuesday through Thursday, lunch will be at 1:00. Our encore times will also be changed. Tuesday is Day 6 (Technology) at 1:35, we will not have encore on Wednesday (Day 1). Thursday will be day 2 (Art) at 1:35. No encore on Friday (Day 3). 
     
    A few fun things are planned for the days we have left together. One is the garden. Hopefully, we'll have a few liquid (cleaned out) laundry detergent containers that we can fashion into some bird feeders. I had a class do this project and it was great fun, very creative. On Thursday, please feel free to send in easy to care for sun-loving plants that you want to donate. 
     
    Wednesday, June 11 will be our end of the year class picnic. Mrs. Holton sent out a list of items we would like to have sent in to go along with the pizza lunch. The items to be sent are for our class only (each class is asking for similar items). Thank you to those of you who have already agreed to send something. Because we don't want to rely on weather (too hot, rainy, etc.) Ms. Rogers' classes and ours both read Holes. (I asked my 23 year old daughter if she remembered reading it. She said it was a class favorite. She loved it.) As you probably know, there is a Disney Holes movie that was made. Several of the kids have seen it already, but we would like to watch that as a class on the day of our picnic. I will be sending home a permission slip with the link for why the movie is rated PG. Please sign and return the form to say whether you will allow your child to view the movie or would like your child to watch an alternate movie. 
     
    This is the most time-sensitive information I needed to send you tonight. Please have your child at school on time Tuesday and Wednesday before testing. Late arrivals are not permitted in the classroom once testing has begun. Thank you, as always, for reading and supporting what we do. Your children have accomplished so much this year. As we reviewed math on Friday, I think that sunk in for all of us. Wow! We have really learned a lot! 
     
    June 
     Thank you all for your wonderful participation to raise money for wells in Haiti. What a phenomenal event that became. The kids were beyond excited to see and count the cash that came in that week. It was a wonderful giving, hard-work pays, math and life lesson all in one.  The great part is that the kids really felt like a part of it because of their hard work. Last I heard, the total was over $16,000. Incredible. 
     
    The class earned money to donate by straightening some things in the classroom and cleaning up during recess. Among the trash was a tire that we decided to recycle in a garden outside our classroom window. There have been plenty of great ideas for this to stay a recycled garden. Some of the items you may want to throw away could be used. If you have some easy to grow plants that you need to thin out in your home gardens and natural areas, they would be perfect. Old potatoes that are growing eyes are also great. Aside from that, we may need mulch and paint (for the tire) and bird seed. Please save any large liquid laundry detergent containers. We have a plan for those.  
     
    We are certainly gearing up for the end of the year. Friday provided a nice break with field day. It was a physically tiring day that seemed enjoyed, despite a bit of rain (which actually kept it from being too hot). We've been working hard in the classroom too. Math has been filled with review. They have learned a lot of new concepts! In reading, we are reading "Holes", which is a fantastically written book. Of course, we are reviewing language arts concepts as well. We have talked about testing. Of course these are mentally demanding, there is no need for additional stress to be present, because it often interferes with the thinking process. Testing begins for some on June 2. The majority of the school will complete testing on June 3-4. Having a good breakfast (protein to last throughout the morning) will be important, since snack is not an option until testing is completed. We talked about this last week and the kids were urged to figure out what sticks with them the best (rather than leave the experimentation of foods until the day of testing).
     
    Field day and the end of year picnic are on separate days this year. Our end of the year picnic will be on Wednesday, June 11. There is enough money to cover the cost of pizza, so we are asking only for side items and paper products to be sent. You will be hearing about that soon. 
     
    Like always, at this point in the year, the class becomes like a family. They know each other pretty well. They pick up on needs, moods, etc. and sometimes bicker like siblings, but they get over it. Field day was a nice example of a working group they have become. Some of us ran four laps around the track for a mile. Those who didn't made a tunnel to cheer the runners, with no direction from anyone. It was a nice reminder of how sweet and supportive this group is. 
     
    Will Work  for Water
     I hope all you mothers felt as appreciated yesterday as I felt last week and had a fantastic Mothers' Day. Thank you. I especially cherish cards with thoughtful messages and have saved several throughout my years of teaching. Each year brings its own special memories and this is no exception. You have wonderful children. 
     
    By now, you have heard about the fund raiser that will take place of homework this week. Your child will be bringing home a letter specifically to persuade you to allow him/her to earn money by doing chores. So technically, though there is no typical "homework", please take a look at the letter, as this will be something they should bring home for you to read. Hopefully, you will be convinced and your child will "work for water" for Haiti. 
     
    We are gearing up for the inevitable testing at the end of the school year. Rather than make drastic alterations in what and how we learn, test preparation is handled in a way that should build confidence that the problem solving skills we have practiced this year enable them to figure out answers. I prefer to keep pressure to a minimum, as it simply does not help. In fact, for some students, it may hurt. Each student has been armed with strategies to problem solve even when a particular skill has not been mastered. In the end, the results on the testing do not define anyone. 
     
    We have some busy weeks coming up. Thank you again for your time and transportation for the Raleigh field trip and to those of you who were able to chaperon. The weather was ideal and the timing worked out as planned. Our Pilot Mountain hike was fantastic, but I know many could not make it on a Saturday because of sports, etc. I will try to schedule another one for a Sunday before the school year is over. Until then, enjoy these last few weeks of the school year! 
     
     
    Fourth Quarter 
     So spring and fourth quarter have arrived. Spring is a very welcome season after the winter we had. It's good to be back knowing we'll likely be in school when we are supposed to be. We started off on a great note with an in-school gem mining field trip. The kids really enjoyed sifting through to find fossils, shark teeth and other gems and minerals (some are convinced they found wooly mammoth bones). Most found obsidian arrowheads. We were also all given a geode after seeing it broken to reveal the crystals inside. Friday's gem mining followed Thursday's yoga session. The kids seemed to enjoy both very much. 
     
    Coming soon is our trip to Raleigh on May 6. If you are interested in chaperoning this trip, it's a great one. The tour portions (led by tour guides) of the Governor's Mansion and legislative buildings are very interesting. Last year, several classes were able to see the General Assembly in session. We led the Pledge of Allegiance, were recognized and even applauded by the representatives. That was luck of timing, but it can happen. You and your child will receive more specific information closer to the date of the trip.  
     
    Thank you for filling out the survey about the Pilot Mountain hike. Obviously, April 13 was not meant to be. The date that was most convenient for the majority of people is the morning of May 3, which is a Saturday. I will send out a separate email about that. 
     
    Here are a few reminders of upcoming events you may not know about.  
       
       From Eric Schoulda, Media Coordinator at Jefferson Middle School (Might be a good way to collect summer reading materials):
       We have over 4,000 books for adults and children of all ages. There are also DVDs, videos, CDs, games and video games.
       Nothing is priced over $2, and many items are a lot less! Cash only, please.
       We would be delighted to have many customers patronize our sale next week as we seek to raise funds for our Media Center. Please check in to    the school office and visit our sale between the hours of 7 and 3 on Monday-Thursday, April 14-17.
     
    Looking ahead at some end of year dates. 
    Thursday, May 22 Field Day K-2 (will end by noon)
    Friday, May 23 Field Day 3-5 (will end by noon)
    June 2 to 13 EOG testing window (this includes make up testing). 
     
    Enjoy this gorgeous spring weather! 
     
    Spring is Coming SOON!
     
     

    Oh well, we managed to get the bulk of the day in before we left on St. Patrick's Day. We had time to present the "oatmeal story" projects. We even had lumpy oatmeal with real maple syrup spread served up in hats to go directly with it! This has traditionally been a good project to show what we have learned to do so far and the kids had a good amount of class time to help one another edit and brainstorm ideas. We still have plenty of work to do in persuasive writing and will work on that genre more in fourth quarter. Summarizing a story requires knowledge of the main idea and we seem to be getting better in that area. The toughest part seems to be figuring out what details are important enough to "squeeze" into a sentence and how, and which details should just be left out of a three to five sentence summary. 


    Math has focused on fractions, fractions and more fractions. Geometry is expected to be covered this quarter. Though we are covering as much as possible, next week is our scheduled quarter testing. I reassured the class today that there may be some areas we haven't covered as deeply as we would have if not for all the weather disruptions. We will get to it, but we've had some fun with it already. If your child's posture is sloppy or slouchy, you might remind him or her of "perpendicular lines", "right angles" or straight angles and see what happens. 


    Here's what we have to keep up with this week. 

    • This is a Wordly Wise week, nothing surprising about the expectations there for what is due each day. 
    • Math is as usual.
    • Science has been pretty intriguing. The kids will become "specialists" in something to do with rocks, minerals or fossils this week and will teach us what they have learned about it. Though there will be class time for this, research at home could only help. 
    • We will have a guest speaker from Wake Forest University on Friday 3/21. He will be talking to us about archaeology. 
    • Moby Max is a great way to practice skills at home. The placement "tests" take a while, I understand. The more your child can accomplish at home, the sooner he or she can get going with the more fun stuff. 

     


    I was excited to receive the list for next year's Battle of the Books. This group will be in 5th grade next year and Blue is on the list! I am currently reading Hatchet aloud and that's one as well! I'm hoping this will spark some interest in students who were on the fence about joining a team. I think they'll agree, it would be more fun to be a participant than to watch it next year. 


    I hope to be at school for a full day tomorrow. If not, I bet we'll be there for the afternoon. 


    Spring is just around the corner...so I've heard!

     
     
    2014 2015
    Elementary Battle of the Books List
    How Tia Lola Came to Stay*** by Julia Alvarez
    The Penderwicks** by Jeanne Birdsall
    Soft Rain by Cornelia Cornelissen
    Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
    Taffy of Torpedo Junction by Nell Wise Wechter
    Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
    Free Baseball by Sue Corbett
    Kenny & The Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi
    A Strong Right Arm by Michelle Y. Green
    Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
    Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
    Blue by Joyce Hostetter
    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
    Rules by Cynthia Lord
    Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
    Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
    The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912* by Lauren Tarshis
    The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
     
    *One title in the I Survived series
    **The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
    ***How Tia Lola Came to Visit: Stay is the printed title on the book, but "Visit" will not be used in the official
    title for competition.
    (Note – Subtitles have not been used for the official title and author names were taken from the title page
    of the book.)
     
     
     
    Allies Win! 
     The title of this newsletter could take on many meanings after recent events in the POD. One of those is the WWII unit. I tried sending the Photopeach video of the projects, which were absolutely remarkable. I understand some of you could not view it, so I put the video on my blog. Blogging with Mrs. Hugosson if you would like to see it, click on the link. Thank you for your positive feedback on this unit. The learning is multifaceted and we find ourselves referencing what we learned frequently in other subjects. 
     
    Weather reports are looking okay for the time being and we hope to get in full weeks from here. Thank you for support and understanding of why we send work home for these unintended days off. Extended snow days tend to add stress all around, on our end and child care/work schedules being shuffled around on yours. The kids came through knowing the expectations were clear. I have also set up Moby Max, which some of you may be familiar with from the PTA/Curriculum Night we had Monday night. This is a highly engaging educational site the kids will work on from time to time. All have an individual user name and password, which they know. That site may come in handy if we have more snow days! 
     
    Fractions are providing some thinking challenges, as can be expected. But at this point, understanding has come a long way since we started at the beginning of the quarter. Posing questions in a different context often reveals how deeply a concept is understood. 
     
    As you may have seen from the homework, main idea, supporting details and summarizing are what we're working on in reading and writing. We will incorporate opinion writing soon. 
     
    I am working on scheduling a guest speaker from Wake Forest to teach us about fossils and anthropology.  That will be a regular part of the school day. We will also be sending out a reminder field trip letter for Raleigh (May 6) and our in-school gem field trip. We have started learning about rocks and minerals, which is a fascinating topic. 
     
    Valentine's celebrations were late this year because of the snow, but the kids managed to make classmates feel special with the poems they wrote. We had belated treats, thank you for sending those! We also made crock pot rice crispy, marshmallow treats last Friday. Yes, it works well making them in a crock pot! As always, thank you for your support.  
     
    We're Back! Third Quarter 2014
    Though we've had a lengthy break and several delays, we are back in the swing of things. Most experienced teachers notice the increased maturity level after winter break. The kids typically come back ready and willing to tackle what's in store for them.
     
    We have begun working with fractions in math. So far, we have worked on demystifying them. At this point, the kids should understand what they are and that fractions really make sense. I continue to encourage cooking or baking to experience genuine examples of how we use fractions. Hopefully, the delays are in the past and we'll have a full week, rather than a fraction of our regular length classes!  
     
    We are focusing heavily on content writing in the third quarter. The expectation is to go through the entire writing process, from research through the final edited piece. This fits nicely with the WWII unit and will be completed entirely at school. The research on WWII has been broken up into very manageable chunks, including the read-aloud (Blue), which was a fantastic historical fiction. North Carolina has a very interesting history. This has blended nicely with the social studies focus on our state.
     
    Our in-school field trip also covered some of North Carolina's ancient history. We had an expert from Wake Forest's Museum of Anthropology teach us about the native Americans and the tools they used. We were able to see and hold the artifacts. My social studies students also met a magistrate from our District County Courthouse. She explained that she is like a Judge Judy or Joe Brown. Though they were able to hear what a person who works for the Judicial Branch of our local government does, they learned that she finished the Boston Marathon shortly before the bombing, but were mostly impressed that she rides a Harley. 
     
    We were treated to our first WWII extension project last Friday. It was a fabulous example of one way to satisfy the requirement. This is a very open-ended project and should not be labor or time intensive. The idea is to learn by researching something about WWII beyond what we have learned during the school day. I've seen good enthusiasm for this and students wrote their idea for his or her project. Presentations for the projects will be ongoing (as they are completed). The final date for the projects will be February 7. Your child has the rubric for that project stapled to his/her written idea (plus my comments/suggestions). The written idea for the project may certainly change if necessary. The due date of 2/7 is not included on the rubric. If technology is used, it is usually possible to send the document to me via email or save it to a jump drive. If you choose to send it via email, please do that before 2/7 to ensure that the program is compatible and will open in order for your child to present it. 
     
    I continue to be grateful for the students in this class and how well they have adapted to the expectations of fourth grade. The routine is established and we are truly able to move forward into deeper and more challenging concepts. One of the most valuable academic expectations is that the short answer is not sufficient without an explanation. The kids are really catching on to the idea that they are accountable for true understanding (explaining how or why their answer works), rather than simply a "correct" response. 
     
    As always, thank you for your support. Stay WARM! 
     
     
     
    Wrapping up 2013
     
    A new chapter will begin after the holiday break. For helping us bring it to a festive closing, I would like to thank the parents for arranging and volunteering their time for the winter celebration. Thank you for sending in your $3 to cover the cost and the pine cone for that as well. I know the kids will enjoy a break in the normal routine and the activities the parents have planned. We broke up the routine a bit yesterday by mixing up math kids with Mr. Stone and Ms. Rogers classes. Each room had different math problems to solve. As was expected, the kids enjoyed working with other students and/or teachers while reinforcing the understanding of long division. 
     
    Winter solstice is this weekend. It is the longest night of the year (or the day with the fewest hours of sunlight) in the northern hemisphere. The concepts your child has been learning about our moon, sun and earth are not easy, but the kids are grasping the relationship between the three bodies in space and why we have seasons, moon phases and night and day. If you have seen the moon lately, you will likely agree, it is quite a sight. We will be learning about our government in social studies after the break. 
     
    Hopefully, your family will enjoy a relaxing break and your child will continue to read and not get rusty with math facts. In my experience teaching, the kids come back from break with a sense of purpose and are ready to work. It makes for a welcome return for everyone. Students in my reading class have been learning synonyms by using a thesaurus. You may be fortunate enough to hear a well-known song sung a bit differently. They have had some great fun with those. 
     
    Miss Sears, the Reagan student, who has been with us since the first day of school, will finish her semester and time in our classroom. She has been a great asset and I know we will miss her. Working with the students during math has been a good learning experience for her as well as the students. We wish her well and look forward to seeing her become an excellent teacher in the future. 
     
    Best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy finale of 2013 and I will see you next year! 
     
     
     
    Analogies
    The kids are taking a break from PTA program practice. It's an adorable program. This takes place on Monday night, December 9. The kids should report to the POD by 6:00 PM. You can just send them out to the POD so you can get a prime spot to see the performance. As usual, there will be a brief PTA business meeting followed by the kids' performance. Thank you, on Mrs. Ward's behalf, for sending in the t-shirts.
    Just as with anything we want or need to improve, practice is a vital part. This brings me to the reason for my analogies headline. My husband is a soccer coach. I was surprised when he told me years ago, that he doesn't have his team do much conditioning work (running drills) during practice. Afterall, I played sports in high school and the running was always a huge part of the practice time. But the thinking for the competitive soccer league is that if the objective is to improve as a team, the practice time should be spent working on learning the skills needed to compete. In order to maximize practice time as a team, players need to be actively conditioning on their own. This is also the case in school, particularly with reading.
     
    As you already know, we expect students to be reading and practicing math facts on their own at home. Math is a fairly easy-to-monitor subject. We can clearly see the evidence of where students understand the math and more importantly, misunderstand it by seeing how they work out math problems. Most often, calculation errors are the culprit, which is why we stress practicing math facts. As a runner, I know I have to log the miles if I want to run a race with several miles in order to build stamina. Likewise, if a student wants to be able to read longer, more challenging books, he needs to read more and for a sustained amount of time. Students who read more simply know more. They learn rich vocabulary, are typically more adept at spelling and writing conventions and grammar because of the exposure, they develop a wider range of interests and knowledge on topics. There is just not enough time during the school day to set aside for silent reading according to interest. There should be some level of choice in what is read at home, whereas there is not as much of that at school.
     
    We will be heading into a unit on World War II when we come back from the break. In the years I have done this unit, I have learned of some incredible, positive wartime stories. Kids this age are intrigued by what happened in our country and worldwide at the time of the war and know of someone directly affected, whether that person served or was a child at the time. The unit is handled on a fourth grade-friendly level and kids often get to know and appreciate relatives, family friends and/or neighbors better. I am really excited to start this.
     
    Holiday times tend to be busy, but we hope fun as well. Room parents are working out the activities for our Winter Celebration. You will hear more about that soon.

    I am pleased to say, the class has become known to specialists (Encore teachers) as a good one. They really are a great group of kids. Thank you for bringing them up as kind and considerate people. As I look at them now, every single one of them has a book or magazine that they are reading intently. It is a beautiful sight.
     
     
    Thankful
    As we gear up for the holiday season, I wanted to send out what has been going on in POD #602 and extend my thanks to you for your part in keeping the class moving in a forward direction. You have been great about sending in the orange folders and the contents inside. Your children are great about notes for transportation and absences, snacks and nutrition labels. It is always reassuring for teachers to see evidence of learning beyond the school day and required homework. I see and hear about those instances daily. 
     
    We have been learning about nutrition in science. It seems the most impressive take-away advice is to strive to eat foods with a variety of (natural) color. That way you ensure a variety of nutrients. Your kids have seen some websites (on my Useful Links page) about sugar contents. It's worth checking out (and may be a little scary!). To go along with that, I am proposing a healthy, trail mix snack for the last day before Thanksgiving break (Tuesday 11/26). Ideally, labels should be read to see what the food item is (we have talked about reading food labels). Foods like dried fruit (banana chips, pineapple, raisins, etc.) and perhaps some slightly salty items (sunflower seeds, goldfish crackers, etc.). We have to be very careful about tree nuts and peanuts because of allergies. If you would like to donate to this (will likely be done during math/language arts time) that would be great! We'll put it all together (keeping aside questionable allergy items) and have it for snack. To be on the safe side (for allergies) and maintain the policy, please send items in the packaging. If there is a particular food ingredient that we may overlook as far as allergies, PLEASE make your child and me aware of that. 
     
    As expected, the Underground Railroad preposition poems are fabulous. Though we didn't cover the topic of the Underground Railroad nearly as extensively as I had hoped, the kids were able to put themselves in another person's perspective and learn prepositions all at the same time. They are beautiful, thoughtful poems and are proudly displayed in the POD hallway.
     
    Math has gotten pretty loud (in a good way) with a particular game we have played to practice math fact families. I am including the link here, but it is also on my Useful Links site. Your child can play against the computer or another willing player. It is a great way to practice math thinking strategies with multiplication facts. Beware, it can be pretty addictive! Math facts practice game The concepts we will be learning rely heavily on math facts. Please encourage your child to practice in whatever way works best. 
     
    Thank you for sending your report card envelopes back to school. If you have not yet done that, please do. We will use that envelope for future quarterly report cards. Just sign the back and send it in.
     
    Other reminders: November 22 is the final check for Wake Forest book logs. We will send that final number in to Wake Forest and they will send the prizes according to how many approved books have been read. Keep reading. There's still some time left!
     
    I am thankful for all you do! 
     
     
     
     
    Nearing the End of Quarter One
     A great way to end the quarter and the month is with a trip to the zoo (October 30)! This is an opportunity to help reinforce the concepts we learned in science. If you are a parent who signed up to chaperone, thank you. If you have not filled out the approval forms to become a level 2 volunteer, you MUST have that completed before our trip. Please contact the PTA if you have questions about that. We will be sending out information on the specifics of the trip this week. You kids are sure to have a good time. We just hope for good weather. 
     
    Our first in-school field trip was fantastic. A Wildlife Animal Rehabilitation volunteer brought in several live birds of prey and presented very interesting information while she showed the birds' adaptations. We learned facts about how the red fox was introduced to this country and how owls can turn their heads 270 degrees because they are only able to look straight ahead. Their ears are also not placed symmetrically on each side of their heads. 
     
    The Roald Dahl projects did not disappoint! There was a lot of thinking involved in creating as well as playing those games. There were several that were extremely impressive. Mr. Dahl would have been proud.
     
    We have also started taking timed multiplication tests in math. This is a good way for the kids to see which facts they know and which ones they need to work toward memorizing. A great way to continue to reinforce math skills is to have your child help you measure (fractions, converting feet to inches, etc.), bake or cook (fractions, measurement, elapsed time, temperature) and shop (decimals, add, subtract, rounding, etc.). We will also be starting our unit on molecular biology (nutrition) next quarter and will be reading food labels. So shopping for the best price and most nutritious food will give a head start to that science unit. 
     
    Thank you! I truly appreciate all the birthday wishes, cards and gifts. It was a very fun day to turn 50. One week later (Friday), we had half-day planning and the class had their first substitute. It was a great way to start the week by seeing the note she left that said, "Your class is AWESOME!" She had many other great things to say. I am very proud of how they were for her. 
     
    Next Friday is a teacher work day, so students are off. November 4 is the first day of second quarter and also the Wake Forest book check. Students participating in that should bring the book log to be checked. We need to send those numbers to Wake Forest. 
     
    The zoo field trip letter is going home in Tuesday packets on Tuesday, 10/22. Please check that over. Please remember, if you signed up to chaperone, please check the PTA and/or Meadowlark website to become approved. 
     
    Thank you for all you do to support your child! 
     
    October Updates 
    Here are some updates and reminders of what we've done and what is yet to come for your fourth grader. For those of you who were able to attend Curriculum/PTA Night on Monday, thank you. If you were unable to come and would like to see what was discussed, there is a link on this website with information about it.
     
    Thank you for sending in notes for transportation, absences, field trip permission slips/fees and for your diligence with the Orange Folders. The kids are becoming very good about knowing when they have notes and about turning them in. We should be in good shape as far as chaperones for the zoo and Raleigh are concerned. Both trips are pretty exciting and are fourth grade memory-makers. Fees for field trips can be sent in two installments of $33. The $66 covers all field trips (in school and off campus). Dates for those are:
     
       October 16                  Wildlife Animal Rescue (at school)
       October 30               NC Zoo   
       January 9 & 10    Museum of Anthropology (at school)
       May 6                        Raleigh
     
       Gem Mining is being scheduled and we will let you know when that will be (at school).
     
    Paperwork went home with your child about the Wake Forest Reading Program. This is an incentive program for reading books. Your child may have chosen to participate, but all fourth graders received the book log sheet and letter to parents. Details are explained in the letter. Wake Forest supplies incentive prizes (Wake Forest school supplies/merchandise) and those who read 25 books will be recognized at half time at a Wake Forest basketball game. The honored students are admitted free and parents can get tickets at a discounted price. Though the first check was today, it isn't too late for your child to start.
     
    We have been working on Roald Dahl game projects, and Friday (10/4) is book game day! Several students have read or are reading more than one Dahl book, so that they are prepared to play more than one game. There have been some great discussions with deep thinking that have been impressive. I always think some of the students' games should be marketed, very creative ideas. This author study unit included a read aloud of Roald Dahl's personal narrative, which I just finished. Hearing the events of his life as a child is great way to introduce narrative writing, which we will begin next week. Up to this point, we have focused mainly on writing conventions (editing for spelling, punctuation, etc.)
     
     
    We have had lots of problems in math! By that I mean problem solving (PBL or Problem Based Lessons). The class is getting the idea that problem solving involves more than the "right" answer. One must be able to justify a solution with reasons. When the support isn't there, cannot be logically explained or doesn't make sense, the error is usually discovered. We are becoming more accustomed to this way of thinking and concepts are becoming more understood. Though the grades may not show it at this point, the class, as a whole, seems to be becoming better at problem solving, reasoning and organizing information.
     
    If you have not received a class roster, please let me know if you would like to be included on that. Mrs. Moore sent that out to you. We have plenty of busy days ahead of us, but I believe we are accustomed to the routine and we are destined to have a successful year.
     
    Conferences are being scheduled now. If you would like to meet soon, please contact me through email so that we can set something up.
     
    Thank you for the support of your child, the class and of Meadowlark!
     
     
    Welcome to a New School Year, Class of 2013-2014! 
     
     We are well underway for a great year in fourth grade. I am genuinely pleased with our schedule and the way the class is becoming accustomed to the routine and procedures. There are always little things that will be tweaked behind the scenes and will be until we settle with what works best.
     
    The POD has been fantastic. Fourth graders learn about ecosystems and biomes in science. Well, we sort of have our own fourth grade ecosystem right there in the POD. We hope that by building a sense of community within the school, we'll work together and have the pride and respect necessary to take care of it and each other and peacefully coexist.
     
    Among the MANY procedures and expectations your child has learned is about communication between home and school. With each progressive grade, students are expected to become more responsible and independent. Most of you are familiar with the yellow Tuesday folders. Those will continue. In my class, an Orange Folder is included in that. This is your opportunity to see how your child has done on graded tasks and whether he or she has had missing homework and occasional other papers that I need returned. Though it is pretty self-explanatory, your child's homework this week (Tuesday) included bringing the Orange Folder to your attention and to explain that everything inside the Orange Folder needs to be returned inside the Orange Folder and brought back in the yellow Tuesday folder. We use the papers as reference. Your child will have those returned at the end of the school year. Thank you for your help with that.
     
    We also worked in groups this week, which is something we will do frequently. There is so much to be gained by discussing with peers and figuring out solutions that work with solid reasons and proof. Though there will be plenty of independent work times, just know that if your child could be considered a "Chatty Charlie or Cathy", they have multiple opportunities to "get it all out" at appropriate times throughout the school day!  
     
    The POD rooms are great because we can control the temperature, but only to a point. The vents are in the middle of the classroom and the air blows straight down on certain desks. Though I can move students around somewhat, this is something we will need to figure out as we go. In the meantime, please remind your child to bring a sweatshirt or sweater along with their water bottle, healthy snack and planner to school each day. I always encourage parents to label those items to prevent them from being lost forever or ending up in the Lost and Found.  
     
    "Real homework" will begin this week. I have explained that it is your child's responsibility, not only to do the homework, but also to pack it. It has been problematic in the past when a child couldn't find his/her homework because Mom or Dad packed it. Your child must have it at the time we are going over it as a class. Students in my LA/M class were given a homework ticket, a one-time free pass for forgetting it or not having it completed. Homework tickets cannot be used for projects however, and as an added bonus, there will be a reward for those who still have the tickets at the end of each quarter. Your child (Language Arts class students) has a project that is due on Tuesday, September 3. The project was assigned on the first day of school and is a great way to understand expectations (rubric), time management, due dates and for us to get to know each other a little better. 
     
    Thank you for sending in paperwork and fees from Open House and for responding to my emails to let me know you are receiving them. If you still have paperwork and/or the $18 fee (for planners and academic periodicals) to return, please send those in. You can put those with the Orange Folder or send them back in the blue folder from Open House. Thank you also for class supply donations and your willingness to volunteer at school and in the classroom. We are so very fortunate at Meadowlark to have the incredible support from parents and we truly appreciate what you do to make Meadowlark such a great school. 
     
    My class is also fortunate enough to have a high school student intern. A senior at Reagan High School, Camryn Sears (Miss Sears to students) will be with us in the mornings for her first semester. As a part time reading teacher, I had Camryn in first grade here at Meadowlark (yes, that makes me feel old). She already has been and will be a great asset for us. 
     
    I realize this is a lengthy note. They won't always be, but I find it to be the best way to keep you informed of classroom happenings. Please feel free to email me updates on your child, questions, concerns and especially good news. I look forward to getting to know your child this year. It looks like it's going to be a great class!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     News from 2012-2013 school year
     
    Raleigh Success and End of the Year Events on Deck
     
     Raleigh...It was a great field trip. From a teacher's perspective, I can say that, but I can also say that from the reflections I've heard from the kids. Studying our state, then actually seeing it in action really makes it all fall into place. Since the classes were divided by language arts class, our experiences varied some, even if the tour destinations were the same. My language arts class had the good fortune of seeing our legislature in session. We led the House of Representatives in the Pledge of Allegiance and were asked to stand while the House Members applauded US! We watched them vote (the process was lightening fast). For me, that was the highlight. I don't think the kids completely understood how super cool that really was, but in time, I think they will. Thank you to all of you for doing your part to make it such a successful day. All children were at school by "dark o'thirty" and picked up on time, all had supplies for the trip and took them home, all fees were paid and the chaperones were simply wonderful! I also commend the students for their behavior. I think we represented Meadowlark very well in our state capitol. 
     
    Next up-EOGs. This is NOT a time to freak out, but rather for the kids to show what they know in a testing situation. What can you as parents do?
    • Know that this test does not define your child. It is one (but not the only) method of measuring your child's knowledge of fourth grade concepts. We will not get the results until fall. 
    • Reassure your child. Tell him or her to use the strategies and knowledge he or she has.
    • Get your child to school on time. Once testing has begun, students are not allowed to enter the classroom. 
    • Have your child get a good amount of sleep. Get to bed early and strive for a peaceful night and morning.
    • Have your child eat a good breakfast. We will not be allowed to stop for a snack. The tests are lengthy and the kids are typically HUNGRY by 9:30. Foods with protein and even a little fat tend to stick with us longer. Avoid sugary foods that tend to digest too quickly. 
    • Remind your child to bring a sweater or sweat shirt. The room gets chilly, especially since it's a long time for sitting relatively still.
    • Relax and reassure! Test anxiety does not help performance! When I get too nervous, my brain freezes. We don't want that to happen. 
    Ready or not, this all happens next week on Wednesday, May 29 and Thursday, May 30. Then some lighter, fun stuff happens. 
     
    Field Day is scheduled for Friday, June 7. This is a great volunteer opportunity for the active type. If you choose to enjoy the activities, it can be great exercise (depending upon the game or task you're assigned). If you are interested and have not signed up, please contact the PTA or Mr. Graves. After the field day festivities, fourth grade classes will head back to the classroom to cool down and chill out with a pizza and a few other goodies for an indoor "picnic". Though we'd love to open this up to parents and volunteers, we need to keep this as a "just the class" event. It’s not often that we can just relax without the inevitable pressure of the test. This is a time to enjoy each other's company before the class leaves for summer and the next grade, teacher and class (it is also necessary for planning the food accordingly and keeps the room from being overwhelmed with parents and siblings). Enjoy some relatively free time before the summer begins and not having to pack a lunch for the day! Tammy Darden, PTA President, is collecting $5 to cover the cost of the pizza, drink, dessert and side item. You can send that in to your language arts teacher (either Mrs. Eshleman or me) by May 31 and I will get it to Mrs. Darden. Thank you for helping to make this a great year for your fourth grader and me. I am very grateful for the support you have shown. 
     
    I hope you have a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend! 
     
     
     Genuinely Appreciative
     
     There is no way to describe the overwhelming feeling of last week. The show of appreciation was just that-- overwhelming. Thank you for your incredible kindness and very thoughtful generosity. I always say that when the kids enthusiastically tell about something they learned or did outside of school that is related to what we do in class, it shows the ultimate appreciation for what a teacher does. We love that! You all certainly added another dimension. I love Trader Joe's and enjoyed my healthy treats and chocolate, of course! We hope that you are able to attend the Volunteer Breakfast to enjoy a show of appreciation from us to you on Friday, May 10. School success is based on a partnership between the school and home and we certainly appreciate all you do to help make Meadowlark a great place for staff and students. 
     
    May 15 is the Raleigh trip date. Times of departure from school and arrival back will come to you soon, as well as other reminders. We will also brief the kids on what to bring and what to leave at home. 
     
    We are in the midst of an economy unit in social studies that incorporates the entire day. The kids have "checking accounts" as well as real registers to keep track of income and expenses. So your child should have a classroom job (or should create one-also an option). When I taught third grade, this unit always mimicked real life very well. Those who act/apply quickly, get the jobs (especially the ones with the highest earning potential). So many life-lessons are learned during this unit. Though each student was "gifted" a fictitious $100, they learned that the money goes quickly through fines, rent and taxes, especially if there is no income. We plan to culminate the unit with a "yard sale" type day. There will be no actual money exchanged, but we hope to have real items to "sell" with the balance we have at the end. So have your child go through his/her closets and toy boxes!
     
    Science has been illuminating lately! We (I include myself) have enjoyed learning how to light up different light bulbs with an energy source. This has been science experimentation at its best. We've watched some videos on the hows and whys, but of course the fun part (and best way to learn it) has been the doing; that's when it all comes together. 
     
    Understanding and using punctuation has been a theme in reading and writing. We're also talking about figurative language (idioms, similes, metaphors, alliterations, etc.). This will all help prepare for testing, which is just around the corner. A lot is expected of all of us on these tests. But in the end, numbers do not define us. A genuine effort eventually yields to understanding a concept, but at times our brains need more guidance and practice to truly grasp something. This is especially apparent in math. We have worked hard, but it's a lot like wiring a good-working battery to a fully functioning light source. Sometimes it flickers and the connection isn't very solid. When the connection is stable, the light not only turns on, but stays on and even becomes brighter with more power. That's the idea! (This analogy goes perfectly with what we've done for reading! I am totally going to use it today.)
     
    Thank you for your helping in making solid connections with your children!
     
     
     
     
    End of Another Quarter is Fast Approaching
     
    I've realized time really does seem to speed up as you get older! We are taking third quarter EOQs today (reading) and tomorrow (math). We have done what we can to prepare, so it's a matter of using good test-taking strategies at this point. They know they are expected to "prove" their answers are right by underlining in the reading passages and drawing out or showing their math.
     
    It has been a busy, fun, collaborative time in social studies (homeroom) lately. You must be aware by now that we are promoting the Hospice Hope Run (April 13). As expected, the kids have done a fantastic job marketing this within the school. Hopefully you heard the Alert Now message sent by Shamil and Georgia. Ideas have been very creative in the advertising department (posters, badges the kids wear, etc). Because technology doesn't always cooperate, some students will perform live advertisements on the school news. Those kids came up with their own jingles, skits or slogans that are impressive! Our class ad debuted on the news this morning. Hopefully team Meadowlark Milers will grow with the publicity. It's a great event for a great cause.
    The link is www.support4hospice.org if you are interested in signing up or getting more information. Be sure to sign up with team Meadowlark Milers. You can run or walk it. We'll meet together at the beginning and at the end. Ask your friends to join the team too! If I can figure out how to post or send you the class ad video, I will do that!
     
    There is only one word I can think of to describe the WWII projects in reading/language arts class-Wow! I have seen wonderful enthusiasm for this unit and have learned more than I could have hoped from each project presented so far. We have tied it to every subject and even to the tornado drill. Life even in North Carolina was affected and very interesting during that time. Thank you for the support you have shown and for the resources you helped gather. It's what makes the knowledge and experience memorable and sparks a sincere interest in reading to learn as opposed to learning to read. That's the whole idea.
     
    Thank you to the parents (Mrs. Robbins and Mrs. Smith) for staying with the class for teacher lunch out. Thank you to all who sent in items for our math cooking too! To help learn measurement and fractions better and tie it all together with WWII, we made the recipe for a meatless meal. For the majority of the class, it was a hit. Though the ingredients listed in the recipe would not seem to go together, I loved it. Mrs. Nebinger came through once again for the cooking part. We thank her for that. If you're curious and want to try the recipes for either the Raisin Pudding or the Mexican Supper, let me know and I'll send it to you.
     
    Our next grade level event will be the trip to Raleigh. As with all big field trips, we are working out the details as we get closer to that date (May 15). Details to work out are numbers of chaperones, payments, etc. We sent out notices for the payment schedule in February for final installments. If you are unsure whether you have made the final payment, please let me know. I will be in touch about numbers for chaperones once we receive confirmation on Friday from those who signed up in October.

    Scheduling for Multiplication in the Hall has been tricky lately. Rithvik still holds the title for our math class. In the meantime, keep practicing!
     
    As always, thank you for the support you show for your child's education!
     
     
    Congratulations to WSFCS for Making it into the Guinness Book of World Records! 
     
    Yes, we did it. You may have even seen the story on the local news. Our Zumbathon was a success! We broke the record. The names of participants should be in the next Guinness Book of World Records. Not everyone can say that in their lifetime! The kids were treated to sno-cones by the PTA yesterday as a celebration.
     
    Four classes have gone on the field trip to Old Salem, the last groups will go today. On a personal note, I thought the trip was a good one. There seemed to be some excited conversations going on when loading the bus. We had a great day weather-wise, so we were able to see some of the sites, like the first family home, garden, etc. Some students worked on a pottery wheel and ate a Moravian cookies while others made sausage and ate some heated (over hot coals) sausage with apples they had cored and sliced. Did you know they did not make a right and left shoe? It was all the same, your foot just created the pair to be comfortable on one foot or another. Interesting, I had plenty of take away information, but we were divided in groups and each group learned something slightly different. For the students going today, I'm sure they will enjoy it. 
     
    If your child has been collecting for Jump Rope for Heart, the last day for collection is tomorrow (Friday). The school has collected quite a bit so far. Meadowlark is notoriously generous and this is another great cause to which to contribute. We will be learning about local Hospice and Palliative Care Center soon and what we can do to support that and our health. 
     
    Valentine poems put plenty of smiles on faces earlier this month. There were many free form, so they were more like letters. Everyone gave and received and most managed to keep their "secret one" a secret until the day they were revealed. Thank you for all the sweet treats for the class and for me. 
     
    Keep practicing the math facts. The next competition in the hall will be Friday. We want the title back. Rithvik, our two time winner, was edged out last week. Hopefully, your child sees the importance of knowing math facts and the relationship between fractions. 
     
    My language arts kids are learning about WWII. There are some incredibly endearing stories of heroism during that time. Even children helped out in the war effort here in North Carolina. Though any war has plenty of doom and gloom facts, we have several picture books telling some pretty incredible stories of how good people can be. This seems to be a fascinating topic for kids. If you have family members or friends that would be willing to talk about their experiences during that time, I would encourage your child to ask questions. Not only does it help your child learn history (maybe geography too), but it can also make the person feel pretty good about what he or she accomplished, whether a soldier or one who did without during a time of rationing, blackouts or polio epidemic, to name a few. 
     
    We look forward to our guest science speaker tomorrow, Mr. Sharp. His talk about gems was postponed from last Friday when school was cancelled for weather. We've learned many facts about rocks, minerals and fossils in science. We'll be focusing on social studies after this week. 
     
    Speaking of weather, it is a good idea to label coats and sweatshirts (names on the tag). As the weather is inconsistent lately, kids tend to remove coats outside and frequently forget them. Another child is likely to collect the ones left and rather than having it end up in lost and found, it's much easier to find the owner because the name is there. 
      
    I hope you enjoy the final days of February and hope for good weather for the month of March! 
     
     
    Happy Valentine's Day 
     Thursday should be filled with poetry in room 401 Language Arts' class. We have taken it a bit easier this week in writing. It has been straight out with the cafeteria question, so we're wrapping that up and having some fun with words while making a classmate feel special. Rather than give and receive generic valentines, we will focus on one card to a secret valentine. Students chose their person today during writing. The writing homework tonight was to write a poem for Sierra, who moved. She is attending a different school within WSFCS and we certainly wish her well. It's always tough to say good bye once the class has gelled. 
     
    Fractions in math are becoming less of a mystery, but can still be a challenge. There are plenty of opportunities to tie fractions into daily life, which is of great benefit to your child. For example, one quarter is equal to 25 cents, but is also equal to 15 minutes of an hour. Relating those concepts is a great way to deepen understanding.
     
    We had the pleasure of having a guest speaker talk to our science class about fossils last week. A doctorate student from Wake Forest University came to talk to us about her work in the field. She (Miss Crosier) tied in everything from animals (specifically turtles) and Native Americans from North Carolina and how they used the turtles for food (the box turtle shells were used as bowls). She even used the word "depth", which was a Wordly Wise word for the week. The bone samples she brought were very interesting. From fossils to minerals to rocks we go! We'll soon be learning how much we rely on minerals for every day uses. You may have been asked to "Please pass the white mineral" at the dinner table.
     
     A week to go before the week of our field trip. Hugosson's LA class will go on February 27. Mrs. Eshleman's LA class is going on February 26. This Old Salem field trip is a great one. 
     
    Next on the agenda will be running. If you are a runner, are interested in running, need a goal to prompt you to get in shape and would like to feel good about donating to charity at the same time, consider the Hospice Hope Run (April 13). 
    For the past couple years, my class has taken on the task of persuading people to join the Meadowlark Milers and spend a fun day doing something good for others as well as ourselves. More information will be coming, you can be sure of that, but if you would like to take part, please check out the link and if you register, be sure to register on the Meadowlark Milers team.
    In the meantime, the Color Run is a fun 5K that will take place on March 16. See the links for more information.  
     
    Congratulations goes to Rithvik, our first Multiplication Madness champion for all of fourth grade! Keep practicing those math facts. The competition is fast and furious, but oh, so rewarding to win! 
     
     
    Should the cafeteria staff be told what to serve students?  
    Do yourself and your child a favor by asking the question above. That is the persuasive essay question fourth graders have been researching and writing about. There is not a simple answer. You might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I have been with the great thoughts that have gone into answering t with solid reasons to support the answers. We have discussed this extensively and have done research, including an interview, to formulate their answer. In order to persuade, they must have well thought reasons to back up their answer. I have learned a lot by conferencing with those who have been ready to meet. Though the writing for this essay will only be done at school, the research can and should be done at home as well. Several kids have done that already, which really helps. 
     
    The weather has obviously interrupted the normal routine. My language arts students have the weekend to study their Wordly Wise words. I will give that quiz to them next week for what I hope is a full one. 
     
    In math, we are focusing on fractions, which seems to intimidate even some adults. If you're looking for something to do with your child this weekend, have them help you bake. It's a great way to see how fractions are used in an authentic way. When your child is the one reading the recipe, he or she is working on some great skills in reading (following directions, sequence, etc.) and math (temperature, time, fractions, etc.). The result may be something delicious (hopefully).
     
    Quick reminders:
    Your child was sent home with a blue permission slip for the Zumba-thon. We will be going to that next Friday (Feb. 1). Please ask your child for that if you have not seen it and send it in next week. They will be transported off school grounds, so we must have permission slips in order for your child to participate. 
     
    Thank you for sending in the Joggin' for the Noggin' packets. Please send them by Monday if you want your child to participate. 
     
    Stay warm and safe! 
     
     
    2013
    Every time I think I'm ready to send this What's New newsletter, something else comes up that I need to share. Since other events are rolling off my list before I get it written, I figure I should send this out before the list is completely outdated. First off, Happy New Year! Being back is pretty refreshing after the holidays. Typically, after the winter break, the kids come back to school settled and ready to work. It was no exception this year. We've been pretty busy.
     
    I hope those who qualified for the Wake Forest basketball game enjoyed their honor last weekend. I was unable to attend because of a family obligation, but my pride was with the great effort shown by the fourth grade readers at Meadowlark. Thank you parents, for your encouragement and support to make that a success.
     
    The language arts class finished an "oatmeal" project of sorts. We put our imaginations to work by drawing the pictures in our heads from the author's words and coming up with our own title (the real one was a mystery), then translated that to a book jacket. Though the story is a fictional picture book (that they did not see until the projects were turned in), I found a real article from 2008 in Cambodia where a couple sawed a house in two after divorcing and each person got half (which is what happened in the story)!
     
    We met with our kindergarten reading buddies in science. The kindergarteners from Mrs. Pegg's room (very cute) learned all about the earth, moon and stars from a picture glossary, written and illustrated by Mrs. Hugosson's Science students. While some of the kindergarteners were attentive and it was rewarding to teach them, others were...not quite there. It was a great observation to note how it felt to be on the teaching end of each extreme.
     
    Math facts - please have your child practice! We will be holding our second annual Multiplication Madness. The top team will win the trophy for the class. Your child has the opportunity to win the honor of Math Fact Champ for the week once we start the weekly practice leading up to the finale runs. If your child attended Meadowlark last year, he or she is likely familiar with the weekly Multiplication in the Hall with Dr. Raymer and Mr. O'Neal. Knowing math facts helps grasp all 4th grade concepts (and beyond). There are plenty of fun, practice games on my Useful Links page.
     
    Another great skill to have is spelling. We have our class Spelling Bee Champ. Congratulations goes to Colby! He was our winner. The runner up was Ryan N. It was quite a battle with all the finalists. Colby will represent our class in the school Spelling Bee and we expect Colby to do very well with that. The winner will represent Meadowlark Elementary School.
     
    Fourth grade writers will be attacking a difficult question in the next few weeks. Writing in fourth grade is a pretty involved process, but the good news is that it follows the natural process. At this point, we are exploring pros and cons of regulating (or not) what the cafeteria should serve students. Feel free to discuss your opinion with your child. The writing will be done exclusively at school, but research is encouraged/necessary outside school. We have begun that process, which included an interview with a Chartwell's (district food service) supervisor. Wow, there was some interesting information presented.
     
    You have likely seen a big envelope come home with your child. If you didn't, you may want to ask him or her about it. A "Joggin' for the Noggin" representative spoke to us last week about the program. The letter in the envelope explains this, but basically, your child can get prizes simply by submitting addresses on the letters in your envelope. The letters can be sent to friends and relatives and explain that their donation will help our Media Center. The addresses should be sent back to school in the large envelope provided by Joggin' for the Noggin, to be stamped and sent. Joggin' for the Noggin will NOT sell or use addresses for anything other than to send those letters, so no worries about that.
     
    As with all fantastic Meadowlark volunteers, events and parent support, the homeroom class has come through again! We won a treat for class participation. Our reward for that will be given during recess. Let's just say, it isn't exactly high up in the nutrition department, but it will be fun for the kids.
     
    Keep encouraging hand washing. Illness has been less lately. Stay healthy!
     
     
    Eight Days Out
     
    We are closing in on the 2012 portion of this school year and there's lots ahead. The PTA performance is behind us and what a great one it was. Several of you missed it, many due to illness. It's a lot of work for Mrs. Ward to pull that together; patience and plenty of practice is also asked of the kids. Thank you for sending in the t-shirts and for your attendance if you were able to make it.

    There were many absences last week (school-wide) and I hope to have everyone back and healthy before winter break. Our class was not as hard-hit as others and I hope to keep it that way. Please remind your child of the importance of hand-washing with soap and water.

    As you likely know, fourth graders learn about nutrition. The importance of good nutrition (especially eating a healthy breakfast) was reinforced by the Brain Awareness group from Wake Forest last Wednesday. Volunteers from Wake Forest's graduate program offered their knowledge and actual brains for us to see (and even hold). Brains are a fascinating subject and science still has much to learn. One of the presenters said that our brains use most of the glucose we consume. We learned the different parts of the brain and more about why it is so vital to wear a helmet when biking, skateboarding, etc. to protect it.

    Our next field trip is Wednesday, December 12. A note was sent home with your child last Wednesday. You do not need to send that note back unless you plan to chaperone (plan to meet us there by 9:30 with your lunch) or unless you would like to have the cafeteria prepare a bag lunch for your child. We need to provide the names to the cafeteria on Monday, December 10, to have those before we leave for SciWorks.

    Final counts for the Wake Forest reading program were submitted last week. Congratulations to the students who kept up with the reading and will earn prizes for their effort. Battle of the Books teams will also be formed this week. Keep reading!  

    Please also encourage continuously practicing math facts. The math we have covered this quarter (multiplication and long division) has really helped illustrate that knowing math facts helps considerably in understanding math procedures and moving forward to future concepts. 

    Thank you and your child for the generosity shown to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We raised over $142 from our class alone! Looks like we will let another school know we are sympathetic to them for the devastation the hurricane caused. I am always overwhelmed by the generosity we have at Meadowlark.

    Other dates to remember:
    Science Fair December 18
    Winter Celebration December 19
    Winter break December 21-January 2
    End of second quarter January 18
     
    Stay healthy and enjoy this last month of 2012!
     
     
     
    Busy Days Ahead
     
    As the Thanksgiving food is still settling, we are gearing up for some busy weeks before we break again. Fourth graders will be performing in the winter PTA program on Monday, December 3. Thank you for sending in your t-shirts. Mrs. Ward has been working with the kids for many weeks in preparation for the night. We will have program practices this week during school as well.
     
    We had a very active day in math today and I'm sharing part of it with you, just for fun. We figured out the total calories from the chart below, but needed to find out about how long it took to do the two exercises in the chart that have no time assigned. So we did one set of 20 push ups and one set of 10 burpees (ask your child what those are) and multiplied by the number of sets it says to do. See the chart, and you'll understand.
     
    Thanksgiving chart
     
     
    We are also talking about nutrition in science. Research has shown that kids who eat breakfast do better in school. Focus and energy are improved when breakfast includes protein and complex carbohydrates. Learning that raised some eyebrows! Hopefully, the information we learned will help when choices are available.
     
    Dr. Raymer helped with a lesson about government. Okay, so we played a bit of a trick to help understand why we have three branches to balance power. We claimed that WSFCS Administration was proposing a requirement for students to purchase lunch from the school cafeteria. I was very impressed by how well they handled pros and cons of such an idea. They were very diplomatic about it, no matter how strongly they felt about it one way or another. We have since debated class-generated bills and decided if one was Constitutional or not.
     
    The busy days of December includes the winter celebration (December 19) you have heard about from Mrs. Rau. We also have our SciWorks field trip coming up on December 12. We will bring our lunches to SciWorks that day, so if your child typically purchases lunch from the cafeteria, he or she should either have a bag lunch from home or one will need to be pre-ordered (I will provide the cafeteria with the number of bag lunches needed once I hear from you about that). Thank you for your field trip payments. If you have not sent in the second installment, please send that as soon as possible.
     
    On Tuesday, December 18, we will be eating lunch in the classroom because Science Fair projects will be set up in the cafeteria for viewing and judging. The projects will be viewable by parents from 3:30-5:30. I look forward to seeing some great entries.
     
    I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready for December because it's fast approaching and will be gone before we know it!
     
     
    Second Quarter
     
    We have now entered the second quarter. November 2 marked the end of the first. Hopefully, you were able to enjoy a couple days of break. Those were great work days for teachers to be in the classroom to situate the room, make plans, conference, finalize grades and complete report cards. Grades are always a tough part of the job. One of the toughest parts is that grades are on a seven point rather than a 10 point scale and reflect individual understanding of the concepts taught that quarter and/or work ethic. I believe one of the most important parts of first quarter is to establish a routine and allow students to understand the expectations of fourth grade. Quarter tests are now also behind us. We will not have a second quarter county test this year. Quarter tests are not included in a student's grade.
     
    We were able to enjoy a beautiful day at the zoo last month. I have compiled some pictures from first quarter and put them on a Photopeach. I realized that I need to take pictures during homeroom time and will be doing that as the year continues. The first quarter Photopeach is on my blog page, which can be accessed by clicking on the link on the left (Blogging With Mrs. Hugosson) of this page. It is the first post. The next field trip is scheduled for December 12 at SciWorks and the next installment for field trips ($20) is due on November 16 if you are paying quarterly. So that you are aware, the chartered buses are not used for luxury purposes (though it does beat riding on an activity bus!). For longer trips out of town, activity buses are not accessible because they would not be back in time for use by the school system, so it is not by choice, but need. Our Raleigh trip in the spring will require using charter buses, like we had to for the zoo.
     
    Mrs. Ward wanted me to send out an appeal for the winter PTA program. Several students have said they would not be present for the performance on the scheduled night and she is hopeful that they will end up coming. Also, if your child has not sent in a solid red, green or white t-shirt, please send that in.
     
    We have welcomed another new student! Her name is Kaidyn and the class, being the way it is, has taken her in warmly. That brings our Language Arts number to 27 and our homeroom number to 29. It's a big group and I am happy to say that they have gelled well. Certainly there are occassional spats like in any group, but they usually resolve them without my interference.
     
    The social studies/science class has enjoyed learning about Blackbeard. North Carolina has a fascinating history. We will continue to learn about what has happened in our state thoughout the year. In language arts, we have been learning about the Underground Railroad. This is another fascinating topic for kids. We have talked about the risks people took to take part in a station on the railroad. The "fat" question they have to consider is whether or not they would take that risk. Their discussions have been very great and they are really thinking through knowing it is not an easy question to answer.
     
    It is exciting to see deeper thinking in general. I see the kids become more excited when they make me think of something in a way I hadn't before. Thank you for your support and for discussing at home what they are learning. It provides fantastic learning opportunities and helps reinforce the partnership between home and school. We have that at Meadowlark, which is what makes this school so great.
     
     
     
     
    October is here and so are the animals!
     
    If you have not heard, we have millipedes, Fiddler Crabs and African Dwarf Frogs in the room. They were delivered to the wrong school initially, but Dr. Raymer made a trip to bring them safely to their new habitats that the kids previously set up "drive through window-style". It was a great way to set up the habitats on a beautiful day outside (and keep the mess out there too!) We worked together to pass supplies through the classroom window, which kept everyone relatively busy. It's never been easier for me and they did a great job! After a couple of days of indoor recess, I think the kids are ready to get outside again. I hope it dries out soon, but just in case, please don't send your child in his or her finest foot wear! 
     
    There are a number of things to fill you in on and I only hope I remember them all. Field trip permission and information will be coming home this week. The dates and costs have finally been determined. We will send this information/permission letter home with your child as homework. Please as him or her if you have not seen it by the end of this week.

    I'd like to share our recent decision about Science Fair projects. We are no longer requiring them for fourth graders. Originally, we had planned to have some designated Fridays to work on the projects in school with partners, but working out the logistics posed real challenges, especially with the due date earlier than previous years. Though not required, if your child does a project (alone or with partners), he or she will get extra credit in science. Participating in the Science Fair is a great opportunity to experiment and explore areas beyond what is taught in school or simply just for curiosity. I hope to get plenty of entries from the class. We received this information today and I wanted to pass it along.
     
    Hello all! Science Fair time is here and much earlier than usual. The county's science fair has been moved up this year, making our school science fair due date now December 18, 2012. I am attaching to this email a timeline of suggested dates for you to use as you complete/assign science fair projects. The county has also several required forms that need to be attached to winning projects. The suggestion from the county was that a checklist should be created by teachers for all projects sent in at the school level with each step that requires a form approved and dated. Then, if this project wins at the school level, the forms can be filled out only for this project to be sent to the county competition. All of these form names are on the attached timeline and the forms themselves can be found in the "science fair" folder on the shared drive. A few important ones to look at in this folder - 
    • scientific log - a sample scientific log for students
    • student checklist - a county form that has steps for the research plan on the second page
    The only additional forms we may need would be if students use human participants or animals as the subject of their project or conduct their research at a research institution or an industrial setting. These projects will require additional forms (this can all be found at the county's website).

    Here are a few websites that may be helpful to pass along to parents as well - 
    county's science fair site - http://wsfcs.k12.nc.us/Page/41832
    website helpful with scientific method and project ideas - http://www.sciencebuddies.org/
    Let me know if there is any other way I can help or if you have any additional questions. Thanks, Erin Goliszek
     
    A couple of Wake Forest baseball players came to school on Monday to talk to the kids about reading. Wake Forest honors Skip Prosser by holding a Literacy Program to encourage fourth graders to read. They provide some great incentives. The kids were sent home with a paper today that they will keep track of books (on their level) they read from now until December 5. There will be checks and prizes according to how many books each student has read by October 17, November 14, and the final check will be December 5. The more books read, the better the prize. Reading 20 books will earn a ticket to a Wake Forest basketball game (Game day is January 12, WF vs. Boston College at 4:00PM). Parent tickets for students who have read the 20 books will be able to purchase tickets for $10. Reading 25 or more gets all prizes, including the ticket as well as a T-shirt and being called to the court at half time! The kids are pretty excited about it. Books should be on the child's level and I told my LA kids that if I don't know the book, please bring it for approval. We cannot count books previously read, as the idea is to encourage continued reading.
     
    Mrs. Rau has been in (and outside) the classroom helping with Tuesday folders, sending classroom information and has started up Scholastic Book orders. These are all time-consuming and I truly appreciate what she has done. Thank you to all of you for your correspondence and support that is obvious at home.
     
     
    Getting into the Routine
    We are getting into the flow of how things should work in room 401. The kids are getting used to the routine, but we teachers are as well. We still have a few details to work out, but it looks like we are well on our way to a positive "journey to the core" for the 2012-2013 school year.
     
    Some of the details we are working out for the year are field trips (Raleigh, the NC Zoo, SciWorks and Old Salem). We will also have some fantastic in school experiences with experts in various fields. You should be hearing about those soon. Other details include how to organize working on science fair projects. This year all fourth and fifth grade classes will be required to submit a science fair project on December 18 (about one month earlier than previous years). In order to keep the project from being overwhelming (for students and parents), we are figuring out times/designated days students may work on those during the fourth grade science block, which is from 1:35-2:10. Students may choose to work in groups (of up to three) or individually. Since we have not done this before, we are meshing out the logistics. Right now is a great time to brainstorm ideas.

    Speaking of science, I have created a new post on my blog, which can be accessed from this website. I already have some student comments, which is fantastic! I hope to have sparked some interest in observing, wondering and learning about animals and insects for our unit on animal adaptations. Kids (and some teachers...) are fascinated by how animals behave and why they have the features they have (adaptations). That's what this blog is all about. I welcome comments by anyone. All comments are screened before posting and I have forewarned students about posting with full names. If you, as an adult, have any information (observation or comment) don't be shy. Post away!
     
    If you have not heard, room 401 can be quite chilly. It is a welcome climate after being outside lately, but having a sweater or sweatshirt is a good idea. It's always helpful if the name is on the tag or somewhere on the item. Every year (more than once per year) the lost and found is heaped high with unclaimed clothes, lunchboxes, etc. left in and outside the building, and in classrooms. Though they are donated to Good Will, you may prefer to be charitable on your own terms!
     
    The beginning of the year projects (done in Language Arts classes) went well. My Language Arts kids presented Pride Boxes and 100% were completed on time. That was a very good start. Though there was some nervousness initially, by the second day of presentations there was no hesitation in getting up and sharing sources of pride. We even had some demonstrations of talent and that went over really well.
     
    Curriculum Night is this week on September 13 at 6:15 PM for fourth grade. We will be meeting with our Language Arts/Math parents to discuss the new Common Core Curriculum and expectations of fourth graders as well as field trips and general grade level/classroom expectations. We hope you can make it!
     
    I also hope you have a great week. Looks like some cooler, dryer weather may help us out with that!
     
     
     
     
     
    Off to a Great Start!
    With the first week nearly over, I can say that this looks like I got another great group of kids. The first days are filled with getting to know new people, new procedures, reviewing expectations and this year, a new curriculum for all of us.
     
    If you have sent in your paperwork and/or fourth grade fees, thank you. If not, I will send you a reminder in the Tuesday packet to let you know what I am missing. There certainly is a lot of paperwork to keep up with at the beginning of the year. This year school fees can be paid online, which may make it more convenient for you. But feel free to send payment by check as well. If your child is in my math class, part of tonight's homework includes writing a check. (The idea is that real world math helps it all make more sense.)
     
    If you are receiving this information through my website, thank you for confirming that I have your correct e-mail address entered. If not, please let me know that you have not gotten an e-mail from me. I send information about the class and correspond mostly through e-mail. I entered all e-mails from the yellow cards filled out on Open House night. My website has information about the class if you have any questions, but always feel free to e-mail me. I will send these "What's New" newsletters through an e-mail with the direct link to this page. The homework page is pretty generic because it is not always possible to change it daily. Your child has the responsibility and is given the opportunity to write the homework from the board in his/her planner. That is the most reliable method of keeping up with it. Please allow your child to pack his/her bookbag so that the homework is where it can be found. I have had well-meaning parents pack homework, but the child was unable to find it.
     
    You will be receiving information about Battle of the Books soon. I hope you and your child give this some consideration. It is a wonderful way to get excited about good literature. There are requirements for qualifying, but the experience is well worth the effort. There will be an informational meeting in September and you'll receive information about that in the Tuesday packet as well.
    Thank you for helping us get off to the great start we got. Most of the supplies have been gathered and the class has received wonderful gifts from the wish list. Thank you for your generosity.
     
     
    Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
     
     
     
     
    Welcome to the 2012-2013 School Year
    The most common question teachers hear these days is, "Are you ready to get back to school?" I've talked to plenty of other teachers and we all agree. We're ready (at least mentally)! It's always nice to be in a routine and get a new school year off to an exciting start. Hopefully, parents and students feel the same.
     
    You will be getting classroom updates thoughout the year from this site. I will send you new "What's New" news by e-mailing the direct link. I rely heavily on e-mail because it can be difficult to make and take phone calls during the school day. I will collect your contact information at Open House. Please keep me (and the office) informed of changes in your contact information. I will be sending out a general e-mail once I have your addresses to confirm accuracy. Do not hesitate to contact me throughout the year.
     
    See you at Open House on Thursday, August 23 from 5:30-7:30!
     
     
     
     
     __________________
     
     
    Nearing the End of the 2011-2012 School Year
    It has been quite a fourth grade year. As of tomorrow, end of grade testing will be behind us for this school year. I am so proud of the work the kids have done all year, and was exceedingly proud of how well they used test strategies too.
     
    As you know, we are celebrating with field day and the kids will be treated to a pizza lunch and movie in a cool classroom afterward. If the event is held outdoors, we will be on the field by 10:00AM. Please feel free to join us, especially if you want to participate in the games. They are a lot of fun. Sunscreen should be on, water bottles should be brought and proper footwear should be worn. In the event of rain, we will be starting our game rotation at 8:40. You are certainly welcome to join us for that too, but we hope for outdoors, it's much more fun.
     
    We will be finishing up some tasks and cleaning up next week. One of my favorite things at the end of the year is to give students their orange folder work. It's amazing to see how much they have learned and grown. We also measured how tall we were in August, November and today. They have grown 1-3 inches! Incredible.
     
    We hope to see you tomorrow. If not, enjoy your day.
     
     
     
     
     
    Testing Testing 1-2-3
     
    I hope you all had wonderful Mother's Day celebrations. Mine was spent at Chapel Hill watching my daughter, among 5700 graduates, descend Kenan Stadium. It was quite a sight. As cliché as it sounds, enjoy the time you have with your kids at this age because, as you know, the time really goes fast.

    Miss Frid is also a graduate and I am very proud of her accomplishment. She came back to visit on Friday. She truly grew attached to the class. I know she appreciated all you did for her. I hope you were able to see the video that was put together and shown at the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast. Though the class wasn't able to see the finished product, we heard our part was great. We certainly have a talented, creative group in this class! 
     
    Tomorrow begins the EOG testing. As far as preparation is concerned, we've done it. This is the second year for the kids and they know what to expect. I truly hope nerves are not a problem and that the kids will have a good breakfast and peaceful morning. Though I do not like to make the week of testing a bigger ordeal than it should be, fourth graders have typically enjoyed treats each day after testing for their hard work and use of the strategies they have been taught. The treats have already been purchased and are ready to go for each day (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). A few other reminders for this week:
    -There will also be no written homework sheets this week of testing.
    -Please remind your child to bring a sweater or sweatshirt to put on the back of his/her chair.
    -If your child arrives late, the office staff cannot allow anyone to enter the classrooms once testing has begun. Your child would need to make up the test on the make up day. Please have your child at school on time.
    -Friday is make up day.
    -As was the case last year, scores may improve fourth quarter reading and math grades (up to one letter grade) but will not hurt (lower) them. The kids have been made aware of this, but I do not want to stress that. I have faith in them and expect that they will try to the best of their abilities to show what they know.
    Other than testing, the week should go about the same as always.
     
    Thank you for the pictures you sent of the field trip to Raleigh. I will be putting together a video at some point. The trip went very smoothly and we are truly appreciative to the chaperones for that and the other field trips this year.
     
    Until next time...
     
     
    Sincerely Appreciative
     
    I really cannot express how appreciative I am. From the cards and hand prints with heartwarming messages and artwork to treats and snacks sure to keep us well fed for quite some time, to absolutely beautiful flowers that still adorn several surfaces in my home. Not only do we appreciate the truly thoughtful presentation of gifts and treats last week, but your support throughout the entire year is something we are all grateful for at Meadowlark. Thank you. Because of you, our children at Meadowlark are given opportunities to see what volunteerism and generosity is. Literacy Lunch volunteers have exposed students to literature beyond what they get at school and home. Math Superstars (was great while it lasted) showed other ways to solve math problems. So many of you have spent your time with the kids while we covered common core hours and lunches out. Beyond all that, your time at home supporting and preparing for tests, projects, homework is what helps make Meadowlark the great school it is. I hope you, as parents, are able to attend the Volunteer Appreciation breakfast.
     
    Our World War II unit in reading is coming to an end. I have been thrilled with how well this went. Though we haven't completed our part (talking to the students about the books read) it has obviously met the desired goals of reading to comprehend different perspectives, learning about history and working as a group, much more was gained from this experience. The extension projects were fabulous. Several students did more than one, which is always great! In addition, some learned about their relatives, who were able to share their experiences with us. We saw military uniforms from WWII, a newspaper with the headline "Japan Surrenders", concentration camp badges, Nazi stamps, recruiting posters, badges worn by soldiers and Hitler Youth, steel pennies, helmets and a purple heart. Wow! This has been an exciting learning experience! While at the YMCA last week, I shared with an elderly veteran that we were learning about WWII and that I think my students have learned to appreciate what he and all veterans have done. His face lit up in a genuine smile. To top off our learning, we made some people feel pretty good.
     
    Miss Frid's time with us is wrapping up. Her final official day with the class will be May 9. She will be missed, particularly her enthusiasm for fourth grade science and social studies. As teachers, we learn right along with our students. We have some fun coming up before then. Our field trip to Raleigh is on Wednesday! It will be an early morning for us and a surely memorable experience.
     

    Museum of History            9:00 am (self-guided)

    Capitol                           10:15 am (guided)

    Legislative Building          11:00 am (guided)

    Lunch                              12:00 pm

    Natural Science Museum    12:45 pm (self guided)

    Executive Mansion             2:30 pm (guided)
     
    More detailed information will be given to the kids and chaperones, of course. If you have any questions, please let me know (and I'll likely have to find the right person to ask!).
     
    If you were able to attend the Spring Fling tonight (Sunday), I hope you enjoyed yourselves. It was well attended and it seemed to be enjoyed by all.
     
    I'll leave you with the link to the newest Photopeach video of the field trip to the NC Zoo. 
     
     
     
     
     
    Welcome Spring

    Though we didn't really have winter this year, we're certainly off to a loud start with a thunder-filled spring! I'm hoping that whatever your plans are for spring break, you have decent weather for it.
     
    We had a March Madness tournament at school last week, if you haven't heard. For something new to encourage learning math facts, third and fourth grade classes participated in a multiplication tournament. We hope this will become a yearly event, as the kids seemed to really enjoy it. A team from Mrs. Peacock's room won this year. Our class thought it would be nice to bring the weekly trophy to them as a congratulatory gesture. Tyler won that for the class last week. He is the only student to win it twice! 

    Starting tomorrow (Monday 3/26) we will begin the third quarter test. Reading will be on Monday, followed by math Tuesday and Wednesday. It is best to be on time and have a good breakfast every day, but is particularly important for testing days.
     
    It looks like we are set for chaperones for both of our remaining field trips (zoo and Raleigh). They should be great trips. We will get you details about those trips closer to the dates. Just hope for good weather for them!
     
    If you were or are able to sign up for the Hospice Hope Run, thank you! From the looks of it, we will likely become the largest school team. Some of the names are difficult to tell, but we are up to 24 people as of today and I expect more people to join before race day. The class has done a fantastic job marketing this once again this year. Our first of three school news ads was aired on Friday with a rap. The others will air this week. I will try to figure out a way to get them to you as they are well worth seeing. Hopefully, you were all able to hear Joseph's Alert Now message. And, just in case you need the link again, http://support4hospice.org
     
    I'm pretty excited about something we will be doing in reading when we get back from spring break. If you have any books that are appropriate and interesting for fourth graders about WWII, and wouldn't mind sharing those with us for a while, we'd love to borrow them. We do have a pretty good collection of picture books that tell amazing stories, as well as informational, fiction and nonfiction chapter books. Interest has been sparked from the last Wordly Wise lesson about Anne Frank and the read aloud book Blue. Kids in my reading class will know more about that this week.
     
    Thank you to Mrs. Lents and Mrs. Montiel for your time with the kids during teacher lunch out last week. As always, we thank all of you for what you do to support your child's education, our classroom and Meadowlark.
     
     
    March
     
     The last What's New started with the animals that were adopted. I wonder how many are still entertaining you.  
    We wrapped up the content writing pieces on our animals last week and will move into some lighter writing involving poetry with Miss Frid and persuasive while we gear up for this year's Hospice Hope Run! The Meadowlark Milers team is ready for you to join.
     
     
    You will surely be hearing more about this. We advertised this heavily last year and formed the largest school team, which earned us a special spot to gather and some sort of prize. Unfortunately, the race was to be held on the same day we expected very dangerous weather conditions and the race was canceled. Surely, that won't happen again this year. Hospice is a wonderful organization and from what I understand, this walk/run event is extremely well organized. There are plenty of choices of how to participate from running or walking a 5k (3.1 miles) or 10K (6.2 miles) to cheering (Proud in the Crowd) and a Deacon Dash for kids 8 and under. Please consider this event on April 14.
     
    Miss Frid has been teaching the kids about magnets and electricity. They have gained knowledge about alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) and have experimented with magnets, which is pretty fun to do. We'll be focusing on social studies next, as we learn more about North Carolina, which will help prepare us well for our upcoming field trip to Raleigh. You will be receiving more detailed information about Raleigh and the zoo trip soon. 
     
    A busy week is approaching. Monday is the PTA program at 6:30. Second graders will be performing right after the meeting. On Thursday night we have the staff basketball game in honor of Allen Choyce. You may know Allen was back in the hospital as of Friday morning. Allen's mother will be one of the basketball players and we hope that event will be well attended. 
     
    We have three students in our class who participated in Battle of the Books.  Congratulations to Callahan, Taylor Ann and Paul. The "battle" was held on Thursday between the six teams at Meadowlark. The two top teams will compete with the top teams from Vienna Elementary School. Taylor Ann's team (first place) and Paul's (second place) will have that honor. 
     
    Congratulations also goes to Tyler, who won back our Multiplication in the Hall trophy! Once again, the trophy has been won by a different student in our class when our class earns that honor! Fantastic job of practicing the facts. Please keep that up. More students in our class qualify for the hall each time the contest is held, which obviously increases our chances of winning.
     
    Thank you for your sweet Valentine candy and treats and of course, for your incredible generosity of time among everything else you do.
     
    Enjoy this fantastic weather! 
     
     
    February
    Thank you for your response in adopting animals. I certainly hope they are doing well as they adapt to their new habitats. If you have questions about them, please refer to my Useful Links page. At the bottom (Science sites) the first two are helpful.We had a guest speaker on Friday. He is a third grade student and sibling of a former fourth grader who adopted millipedes last year. They are still alive, so the kids were able to ask him a few questions.
     
    We will have our new e-mail system switch, which means the current e-mail will be down from February 17-20. Please e-mail me at my hhhugosson0@gmail.com address during that time. We are hopeful that the new e-mail system will be an improvement.
     
    For the third time in a row, our class has kept the Multiplication in the Hall trophy! The kids even noticed that it's been a different winner each time. To me, that says a lot. Congratulations to Jackson! He's the hero of the week in our room. Keep practicing because it's working. More kids qualify each time, so our chances are great!
     
    Our field trip is coming up on February 16. The kids have been learning more about Civil Rights from Miss Frid. February 1 was the anniversary of the Greensboro Sit In. Miss Frid read a book about that and the kids added a page to their NC Scrapbooks.
     
    We are continuing with the content writing about an animal. Last week, Hugosson's Language Arts class practiced writing a detailed paragraph about physical characteristics. This was to help them see what they will need to do with the paper they are working on in class. Explaining with examples and details that show knowledge through research is important for this piece.
     
    Thank you for all you do. We hope you have a wonderful week.
     
     
     
     
     
    Animals Up For Adoption
        We are moving on in science, so we are looking for good homes for some Fiddler Crabs, Dwarf African Frogs and/or millipedes. I must say, I have been pleasantly surprised at how  relatively easy and interesting the animals have been to care for and observe. I was prepared for a potent and vile odor while we had them and that has not been our experience. If you are interested in taking on one or more (the frogs should not be adopted singly) let me know. We cannot supply the habitat containers, or the food, but we have learned plenty about them and can help you get started. We have really thought about how animals adapt and why they have the features and behaviors they do. Hopefully your child will look at animals just a bit differently now. 
       Our content writing is taking some shape now too. That fits in perfectly with what we have been doing in science. That will be changing soon however, as we study magnetism and electricity. I hope to set up class guest(s) who know about electricity for this unit. If your child completed a science fair project, fantastic! He or she will receive extra credit for it. As a class, we used the data we collected on what food groups we ate to create a math board for the fair. Miss Frid took that project on and did a wonderful job displaying the information. The Science Fair will be on Tuesday. We will eat lunch in the room that day (sorry to the Tuesday Lit. Lunch group), because the fair will take up the entire cafeteria. There is a record number of entries this year.
       It has been wonderful to welcome Miss Frid. She has stepped right in and is getting to know the kids personally and academically. Having two teachers in the room surely enhances your child's education and I feel fortunate to have her with us. She will be gradually taking on more responsibilities in the weeks ahead.
       The Multiplication in the Hall trophy stayed with us! Cain won it for the entire fourth grade and we are certainly happy he is in our class! Our class made an impressive show in the number of kids who qualified to go in the hall and then stay. We had several left in the end. Congratulations Cain! Please continue to practice math facts. That practice translates directly to the math we do. It really helps.
       Speaking of math, we will be working with fractions. Cooking is a fabulous way to have kids learn a practical, real life application for fractions and measurement, which can be really challenging concepts in math. I would strongly encourage allowing your child to experience measuring using measuring cups, particularly if they have to use their knowledge of fractions to do it (cut the recipe in half or double it, only use one measuring cup to measure 1/4, 1/2, 2 1/2 etc.).
       We will be getting a new e-mail system this month. Please be aware that our school e-mail will be shut down for about four days. You will be getting those dates soon. Please use my hhhugosson0@gmail address during that time. Once the new system is in place, our school addresses will not change. You will get a reminder of the dates.
        Thank you for your incredible generosity of time each week, Literacy Lunch volunteers. It is a big commitment and it is truly appreciated (Nonnie, Mrs. Driscoll, Mrs. Edwards, Mrs. Cadigan and Mrs. Eberhart). Thank you also to Math Superstars volunteers (Mrs. Sakowski, Dr. Driscoll and Mrs. Cadigan). We are also truly grateful to those of you who have volunteered to come in to watch the kids during our lunch outs and common core training sessions. Thank you!
     
     
     
     
     Animals, EOQs and More
     
       We got our animals! Though I am not looking forward to the odor that is sure to have developed in the room over the long weekend, the animals are very interesting. We have millipedes, Fiddler Crabs and Dwarf African Frogs. We have been learning how to care for the animals and more as we study how animals adapt. Your child should have also settled on an animal on which he or she will become somewhat of an expert. Our research for the content writing piece has begun. Your child should have information from a book that can be referred to on days that we do not have access to the computer lab.
     
       EOQs are this week. Tuesday is reading, Wednesday and Thursday are math. Homework will be light, if at all, this week. Please continue to have your child practice math facts though. We saw improvement in the number of kids qualifying for Multiplication in the Hall and even got the trophy back! That is thanks to Alex, who was this week's winner! Any child who wins it for the grade level is seen as quite a hero. Congratulations to Alex B!
     
       We also had a Spelling Bee competition in the classroom and have our class representative. Paul C. is honored with that title after quite a duel with Jackson. Congratulations to Paul! 
     
       Fifth grade is having a yard sale on Friday, January 20. Fifth grade has held this yard sale for the past few years. They hold a writing contest and vote on the paper with the most compelling reasons for a particular cause. This year, they voted to have the money go toward Make A Wish Foundation. We have a scheduled time to attend the yard sale as a grade level. Items are priced from $1-$5 (cash only). 
     
       Our next field trip is coming up on February 16. We will be sending more information about that soon. If you would like to attend as a chaperone, the cost is $9. I will provide more details to those interested in that.
     
       Thank you for being the willing and supportive group you are. Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Enjoy the rest of the week.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    2012 Happy New Year
    glove winners 2012
     
     
       I hope it was a wonderful holiday for all. The first week back went well. It was a busy one and will continue to be. The kids learned about Blackbeard, the Pirate, a very interesting historical figure with a North Carolina connection. We completed another page of the NC scrapbook. Surprising to me was how many students brought the page home to work on it. That was totally optional, since we had another day to work on it in class. Turns out however, having the page done was quite beneficial. We were able to get parts of our animal habitats ready to create for when we get our critters this week. So we will be focused on animal adaptation in science.
     
       Science, reading and writing will really mesh well in the coming weeks as we head into our second content writing piece. Your Tuesday folder will contain a sheet that gives your child's first content writing scores. You will receive a second one when we have completed and scored the one we will start this week. We will spend some time deciding what animal will be researched. Students who are not in my writing class will be doing this content piece also, but may have already selected their animals. I showed students some websites that may be of great help and are quite interesting. Fourth grade teachers are confident that this writing assignment loans itself well to the interest of the kids. They seem pretty excited about it and I expect that to continue as we gather and share information. Organization will be of great importance for this. As for any research paper, we will be keeping track of all resources (Internet and books).
     
       This will be a review week for math and reading as we will be quarter testing the following week after Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday (we are off that day). My language arts students will have a reading response this week. 
     
    I would like to thank parents who helped make the Winter Celebration a big, fun success. Several parents came in to help and/or send items. The kids left with some adorable crafts. I have pictures, but it looks like the program is not wanting to post them the way I typically do. If the picture above worked, it shows the glove design winners. I put the gloves on poster boards with numbers (no names) and put the posters in the work room. Staff voted for a clever design that caught their eye. I was thrilled to see so many entries since they were done over winter break. Though I'm not really surprised with this incredible group of parents and children.
     
       McDonald's night is Tuesday. I'll be there serving from 5-6. I hope to see you! Enjoy your week! More news and reminders are sure to come.  
     
     
     
    December
        We have completed the Wake Forest Demon Deacon Literature program. Thank you for your help encouraging your child to read. It looks as though we may have a good show of Meadowlark students at the basketball game. Mrs. Weik will also be wrapping up the book fair tomorrow. If your child has not had an opportunity to shop, there is one last day. Since our day to shop (Media Specials/Encore) was so late, I told the kids they may want to bring money last week in case some of the titles they were interested in sold out. In any case, your child will go tomorrow from 10:45-11:30 during the regularly scheduled Media time. 
          Thank you for your attendance and your child's participation in the PTA program, for those able to attend last Monday. It always amazes me how comfortable the students feel on stage. More thank yous for your patience as we head into the "meeting marathon" for common core. We met for four hours on Friday, while the part time reading teachers covered our classrooms. Mrs. Bell, from kindergarten was able to spend time with the class and said they did quite well for her. Monday, 12/12, is another meeting day. Thank you to the parents who have taken time already and those who have agreed to be with the class.
          The class will be shared once again beginning in January. We will have a student teacher from Appalachian State University! I think this class has a lot to offer Ms. Frid and likewise will benefit the class. Ms. Frid and I have had some correspondence through e-mail and she seems very enthusiastic. This opens up opportunities for team teaching, so I look forward to what she has to offer. Ms. Frid will be coming in to introduce herself and meet the class before winter break, probably this week. 
          Because of the meetings and PTA practices, we were unable to do the Multiplication in the Hall, but should be back to normal this week. I have continued with the three minute fact quizzes though (to see who qualifies), and noticed that only about three students got more correct than last week. Please continue to have your child practice learning fact families. They need to know them and we want that trophy back in our room!
          Thursday is our SciWorks field trip. I went by the permission slips to notify parents who signed up to chaperone this trip. We welcome any parent who would like to attend. There is a $5.50 fee for adults. If you choose to come, please meet us there; the plan is for us to arrive by 9:30 and leave by noon to be back at school by 12:30. You may choose to send a bag lunch with your child that day in case we get back to school after our designated lunch time. We have five parents who have committed to chaperoning. Those parents will receive the "problem" the children should work on solving while at SciWorks. It is very open-ended and only as complicated as the kids/group choose to make it. If you are interested in helping out by taking a group, you can let me know and I will make the groups smaller and put you with your child (currently 6-5 children per group). Let me know if you have any questions about that. If you prefer to go on another field trip, you are more than welcome.
          You will be hearing about the pre-break, winter celebration (12/19) once the details for that are finalized. We do know that we will eat in the room that day, so there will be no Literacy Lunch group (sorry Monday group). 
          There is a new post on my blog about living in another country. I have contacts in Japan, hopefully Turkey and of course Sweden. Please feel free to post or ask questions (either yourself or through your child), particularly if you have lived in another country. 
          Thank you for all you do to help your children and for what you do to help me. I truly appreciate your time during these busy days!
     
     
    Thank you
     
    It seems to have been a great final day before Thanksgiving break. Second quarter is off to a good start. You should know about the food chart we're keeping. This is the data we are collecting for the science/math fair. Hopefully, it will not be difficult to keep up with over the break. So far the kids seem to get that it's just a matter of making a tally mark for each food group. We have talked about serving sizes. Of course it won't be any where near 100%, but it will work well if we can all bring the chart filled out. I am also keeping track of the food groups I am eating. We are learning a lot as we go along. The Monday we return, we will begin a new PBL in science that I am pretty excited about; a special guest will be here from Wake Forest. Expect some questions for the research on that.
    I do not require students to enter a project in the science/math fair, but anyone who does will receive extra credit. I hope your child will consider it.

     
    We wrapped up our reading today with productions from A Taste of Blackberries and Because of Winn Dixie. The kids were really creative in their skits. The idea was to pick the story up where it ended and add the next part. They dug deeper into the meaning and characters, which was the idea all along. Plus, they seemed to really enjoy it.
     
    The first of our writing pieces is done. It is pretty extensive research based writing. We will begin our next one either in December or January. We believe it will be pretty engaging for the kids and we hope to see them grow as writers. In general, they handled the last task well and learned that writing is truly a process.
     
    We had the Math Fact trophy in our room last week, thanks to Jessica! We want it back though. The only way to do that is to really practice math facts. The winner is highly regarded! Double digit division is going pretty well. It can be a tricky process (particularly when the math facts are not known well), but I think we are getting there. We will continue to work on it. The word problems written by the class were great. I did notice however, the long division questions were avoided by the majority!
     
    Thank you for your wonderful support in time spent inside and outside the classroom. From Literacy Lunch to Math Superstars to treats sent in and people willing to spend time during teacher lunch outs and Common Core meetings, I cannot thank you enough. I also want to thank you for the support you have shown Allen and his family. As a school, we are very generous. It is always good to know that we can help people close to home too. Allen is still at home. He has written a letter to Michelle Obama to ask that Sickle Cell Anemia become more nationally known. We know about the disease because of Allen, but I must admit that I knew very little about it before he was in my class.
     
    We will be in touch with you about the upcoming field trip to SciWorks. We will be doing a PBL, but you should not be concerned at all. Your group would do the work and you will guide them and surely be amazed at their innovative ideas.
     
    I wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Please know that I am thankful for this group of students and the support you give them and me.


    Happy Extra Hour
     Thank you Alex picture
     I hope you enjoyed a great weekend and your extra hour with the time change. I always enjoy that extra fall gift myself.

    In your Tuesday folders this week, you will find your child's first quarter report card for fourth grade. That folder will also contain your child's version of a self-report card. I always find these to be revealing, as students tend to be pretty honest about their effort. Things to keep in mind are that grades are based on a seven point grading scale. Remember, you have access to Parent Assistant if you would like to monitor your child's grades. I have the papers to sign up for that (the ones that were out during Open House). If you need that, please let me know.

    We had a guest speaker from Wake Forest come talk to us about fossils. He is a senior and explained that he is an Archeologist (studies primate fossils), as opposed to a Paleontologist (studies dinosaur fossils). He was very interesting. The photo at the top is the thank you picture we sent him.

    We have begun the first of a math facts contest among classes. The student who wins gets to bring a trophy back to his or her classroom (and bragging rights!). The name will also be told during afternoon announcements. We want that trophy, so practice math facts. Dr. Raymer and Mr. O'Neal go fast, so they need to say them within three seconds.

    Time is drawing near that we will be the first in school session of our Common Core training. November 18, from 12:30-2:00, we are looking for some good sports to escort the class to lunch, do a read aloud and monitor recess. Please let me know if you can spend some time with the class for this. We would truly appreciate your being here.

    If you haven't heard, Allen has still be out due to his sickle cell pain. We are hopeful that we will see him soon, which is the plan as long as the pain is under control. Please keep his family in your thoughts. It has been a difficult year for them, but we are hoping to send some good cheer his way soon.

    A few reminders for you:
    -This week will be a Wordly Wise week again. We are working on writing a content piece about the Coastal Plains of NC in class, so the reading responses will wait until we finish that.
     
    -Please continue to practice math facts. We will be working on long division this quarter!

    -Picture retakes will be done on Wednesday, November 9.

    -The second field trip payment is due soon. You will be sent a reminder if you are paying installments. Thank you for getting those forms and payments in to us. We have reserved buses for those trips and they are not only great fun, but valuable learning experiences. That's another bonus to moving to fourth grade!

    -No school Friday, November 11 (Veteran's Day)

    Have a fantastic fall week!
     
     
    What's New in October
     
    Allen's mother stopped by on Friday. Allen is doing better and we really hope to see him at school this week! We'll keep you posted on that. The kids have learned a bit about how, why and what happens to Allen when he ends up at the hospital. That kind of relevant reading is important, not only for understanding what happens in real life, but helps comprehension in reading and the value of learning that information. It's not learning to read, but rather reading to learn.
     
    I am pleased with how well Wordly Wise has been going. The kids are always excited when they hear the words spoken in context and they know what the words mean. Actually, I'm very pleased with the rate at which we (myself included)  are learning all kinds of vocabulary these days. The introduction of fossils had many words with Latin origin. Your child should be able to tell you that "dino" means "terrible" and "saur" means "lizard" and "zoic" means "life". If you have any fossils laying around at home (that aren't fragile or of great value and that you would be comfortable with your child sharing), please send them in! This week is a reading response week for my language arts group. Please continue working on the math facts. A recent assessment of two digit multiplication revealed that the majority of incorrect answers was due to incorrect calculations.
     
    If you were able to come to Curriculum Night, thank you. The support at this school is something I do not take for granted. The Meadowlark School Community has what all schools should have. Many of you have offered to help and we will be asking for that help in the coming months, through your time. By now you have probably learned what was recently revealed to us about an additional 58 hours elementary school teachers will have to learn a new curriculum. 
     
    (Click to read the article)Winston-Salem Journal
    http://www2.journalnow.com/news/2011/oct/09/wsmain01-teachers-have-new-curriculum-to-learn-ar-1479540/
     
    With the help of our school administrators, we have submitted a possible plan to tackle some of these hours. Knowing I'm not the only teacher who spends a great deal of personal time planning, grading, e-mailing, organizing trips, etc. because there simply isn't enough time during school hours to get it all done, we have tried to figure out how we can find times during the school day. As a teacher, I like to use analogies and as a runner, the analogy I thought was appropriate was that the teachers will be doing a marathon and we need all the support we can get! You could be our "water stops" along the way. I am not normally comfortable asking for help, but on the other hand, I want what is best for our kids at Meadowlark. We will be giving you more details on this if you might be willing to spend some time (likely on a monthly basis) with the class during non-instructional times (possibly lunch, silent reading time and recess). Thank you for your understanding and your patience as we figure this out.
     
    It looks as though the field trips will be finalized soon. You will be getting a letter about that, the cost, dates and details. The online payment should be up and running (fingers crossed). If you are interested in participating in field trips as a chaperone, you should have Level 1 or Level 2 clearance. Looking ahead, if you are considering going to Camp Hanes as a chaparone next year, you are strongly encouraged to go through the process now, as Level 2 clearance can take some time. There should be something set up at the Christmas PTA program to help speed up the process too.
     
    Don't forget Tuesday, October 11 is picture day!
     
    As always, thank you for making me feel comfortable enough to ask for your help. You are truly appreciated.
     
     
     
    Problems...Good Ones!
     Not all problems are good, obviously. But a problem this week in math was nothing short of fabulous. I took a workshop over the summer that was all about problem based learning. It's done in schools frequently, but knowing a different way of looking at it helped me figure out how to implement them better and reinforced what a fantastic way it is to engage kids in the learning process. If you come to Curriculum Night (Tuesday, October 4) I can give a better idea of what was involved. The kids were very excited about the math. I'll be introducing the next problem tomorrow in science. 
     
    On a sad note, we are still missing Allen. If you have not heard, he has been in and out of the hospital. The kids have been very concerned about him and have made some very thoughtful gestures and comments. We really hope to see him back at school soon. Please continue to keep him in your thoughts.
     
    This will be a Wordly Wise week in reading. In math, please have your child practice math facts. We will be working on two digit multiplication. Knowing fact families is really important to reducing errors in all areas of math. I have some fun math practice sites on my Useful Links page. My Useful Links site also includes the Wordly Wise site; the kids know about that one too. Science should get interesting, but I don't want to say too much before I introduce the next topic (through a problem). You will see science tests come home in Tuesday folders. Though the concept of how the earth, moon and stars relate to each other and cause day, night, eclipses, phases, etc. can be a difficult one, I feel reassured that the concepts are better understood in fourth grade. What was taught in third grade will now be covered more in depth in fourth. Can you imagine acting out the moon phases, day and night and eclipses? We did it!
     
    I hope you are able to enjoy this beautiful weather. Looks like summer is surely over now. Enjoy your week!
     
     
     
    Fall is Near
    The weather has cooled considerably and I think it feels great, even if it's temporary. I hope you have been able to enjoy some outdoor activities this weekend. The rain held off enough for my family to enjoy watching the Tarheels football team defeat Virginia this weekend!
     
    Last week was a week filled with great discussion about the US Constitution and government. We also started the NC alphabet scrapbook with the letter G is for Government. After assessing the class on Friday, I see that there are a few misunderstandings, but in general, the kids get that our government has three branches meant to balance each other. It has been fantastic to hear that they have discussed it at home and/or see something in a magazine or book at school and recognize that it's what we've been learning. 
     
    Grades have finally been able to be posted. Though kids have been kept abreast of their graded work, I have held on to it until I could enter them on Parent Assistant. My math students received graded papers on Friday and I showed them how to figure out the percentage based on the fraction provided. We'll eventually attempt to graph the grades according to subject, which should be interesting for them to see. (They seemed to really enjoy this activity.) As for parents, please be aware of a few things: It is still early in the year. Grades entered on Parent Assistant at this point are certainly not final. I often offer opportunities to fix a quiz, and take another grade for the fix. Also, please keep in mind that the grades on Parent Assistant are weighted according to the type of task, so figuring out the average cannot be done using the traditional add up and divide by the number of tasks. I will be sending home graded work in an orange folder with the Tuesday envelopes. Please send back this work in the folder so that we have it for future reference. I will only send the orange folders home with my Language Arts and Math students this year.
     
    As expected, I enjoy this group and the fantastic discussions throughout the day. The read aloud is Lillie's Crossing, which is a historical fiction set in the US during WWII. It is rewarding for me to see how far these former third graders have come. Their thoughts and questions are deeper. 
     
    This week is a Wordly Wise week for homework. We'll be reviewing moon phases that we learned about last year in science. Upcoming dates to keep in mind:
     
    September 24    Saturday   Meadowlark Marathon
                                                                     (Unfortunately, I have a running race conflict and won't be there. Good luck to all runners!)
     
    October 4               Tuesday   Curriculum Night   (6:45 PM)
     
    October 11            Tuesday    Picture Day    
     
     
     
     
    Getting Into a Routine
     
    What pride we saw this week! It's always interesting to see the unique interpretations of projects like the Pride Project. I'd love to keep the boxes for a proud class display and send home any items from the inside. If you would like for your child to bring the entire box and contents home, please let me know. Otherwise, they'll be hanging in the hallway with pride!
     
    It seems we are getting used to things in room 401. It is less frequent that students pass the room to go to the farther end of the hall where old classrooms were! As we move along, we will be expecting more routine unpacking (water, snack, homework, etc.) to minimize disruption during the day. We will continue to go outside, which is obviously hot. Some kids asked if they could bring their water outside, which is a great idea. They will, of course, be responsible for bringing the items back to the room with them. Speaking of the room, it is COLD! I have reported it to the office; that request will be taken to someone else, as we cannot control the temperature at the school. So, please be sure your child has a sweater and water.
     
    Next week begins the alternating weeks of Wordly Wise and writing homework in my Language Arts class. We will start with Wordly Wise lesson 1. The following week will be a written response. Students have been and will continue to practice the expectations for a written response for some type of home reading, which I will explain to students. I will provide a rubric. With the in-class practice and rubric, the expectations should be very clear to your child and will really help him or her feel more comfortable with the writing process. 
     
    One thing that is new to all of us is the way morning work is done, which is consistent for all fourth grade classes. So far students have been very good about coming in and getting to the work. I allow sufficient time and account for late buses, etc. If you drive your child to school, it is important to note that morning work this year is graded, so promptness will really help keep stress levels down. There is a short reading passage and some math problems. We will go over them as a class and I will collect them at the end of the week. You should see those sheets (yellow) come home in Tuesday folders once they have been entered into NC Wise (Parent Assistant). If you do not have access to Parent Assistant, please let me know so that I can send you the yellow form (which was out at Open House) to fill out and send back. I will need to turn those into the office.
     
    So far, homework has been getting done, which is great. Though the amount will increase some, knowing the Wordly Wise biweekly schedule ahead of time should help with planning and budgeting for time. As far as expectations are concerned, I believe I am clear with academic as well as behavioral expectations. I do not foresee behavior problems with this group (truly blessed!), but if I feel that your attention is necessary (that I need for you to follow up at home) I will let you know. In most cases, it will be handled at school. I strive to be clear, timely and fair. If you or your child ever believes he or she has been treated otherwise, please let me know.
     
    Tuesday folders will include a small pink notice of any paperwork I have not yet received. If you do not get one, thank you, you have turned in everything!
     
    Thank you for the classroom supplies! The noisy desks have been quieted by the felt circles, we will begin job rotations and will utilize the Swiffer dust pads and cannot wait to have updated versions of National Geographic for Kids and Sports Illustrated for Kids.
     
    Thank you also for responding to the e-mail request to verify that you are getting these updates. They won't always be this lengthy, I promise! 
     
    So far I'm enjoying fourth grade. I hope the same for your child!
     
     
     
     
     
    Welcome to 4th grade, 2011-2012 school year, Mrs. Hugosson's Room 401 at Meadowlark Elementary!
     
    As the year begins, I wanted to familiarize you with our new schedule (on my Snacks and Schedule page), some dates and the manner I'll typically be communicating with you, which is this newsletter. If you received it before Open House, I obviously have your e-mail address. If you would like me to add or change addresses, please let me know.
     
    If your child was at Meadowlark last year, I had the opportunity to get to know him or her whether they were in my class or not. I feel very fortunate to be able to see these former third graders emerge as even greater thinkers than when they left in the spring. I'm pretty excited about what we'll be learning. The curriculum has changed somewhat for science and social studies, so if you have an older child, who went through WSFCS, it will look different to you too.
     
    Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this site. It has plenty of information that may answer any questions you have before we meet. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.
     
    Here are a few dates that you may want to note.
     
    August 23       Tuesday          Open House    5:30-7:30
     
    August 25       Thursday         First day of school!
     
    September 24    Saturday     Meadowlark Marathon
     
    October 4         Tuesday         Curriculum Night    (6:45 for 4th Grade)     
     
    October 11      Tuesday          School fall pictures
     
    Almost ready and I can't wait to get things going!