Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Classroom Notes


It was another busy and productive week for Team 20! In addition to the usual routines, here are a few highlights of what we’ve been doing…

Kids learned about animal adaptations and sowbug habitats during last week’s Reed Science. This topic connects nicely to what we’ve been learning about form and function and adaptations in the Outdoor Classroom. On Friday, kids extended this study by making some very creative eco-critters from craft materials like wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, felt, cotton balls, paper clips, yarn, and more. Kids are beginning to plan essays to explain how their eco-critter’s different forms fit its function in its ecosystem for an upcoming exhibit in the Reed College Biology Building.

During math we continued working with area models for multiplication, hitting on some of the fact families that don’t have clear-cut strategies, like x4 and x6. The main strategy here is that kids can use their knowledge of x5 facts and then make adjustments. For example, if they know 5x8=40, then 4x8 is one less group of 8 and 6x8 is one more group of 8.

I have spent the last month getting to know your child as a math learner.  We have done many classroom assessments and I have been observing your child’s strengths and areas for growth. Fourth grade math is a significant jump up from third grade math and it is important that your child has the background skills to be ready. Our early math assessments have shown that many kids would benefit from some review of previous concepts, such as larger addition and subtraction, telling time, money problems, and so on. For the past couple of weeks we have been doing some whole group warm-ups and small-group mini-lessons around these specific concepts. The information about math skills that I sent home on Monday includes some specific skills for your child to practice at home. I will re-assess kids in about a month to see where they are at with their mastery of these concepts.

In other news, pen pal letters were mailed off to our fourth grade pen pals in Madison, Wisconsin. For our read aloud we began my personal favorite, Lizard Music, by Daniel Pinkwater. Last, but not least, kids are doing a stellar job remembering library books every Tuesday. We were 100 percent being able to checkout last week yet again!

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