Friday, September 25, 2015

Harvesting Potatoes

Hi everyone,

We had a very busy Friday afternoon and the highlight was definitely harvesting potatoes from the YES garden! They got their hands (and knees) quite dirty as they dug for the potatoes of various sizes and not only were potatoes found, but also quite a few worms!

We have two large bags that are full, which we will weigh on Monday. On Monday, we will also decide what we would like to do... it sounds like we are leaning towards making some shredded up hash browns in the classroom so we can all learn to make them!

Here are some photos from our adventure outside!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Student Technology Contract

Hi Families,

Yesterday in class, we discussed the use of laptops in fourth grade this year. We looked at the student contract together and each student signed a copy. A copy of this can be found on our blog here. Please let me know if you have questions about this. Thank you!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Math Updates


Today in math we looked at how to visualize numbers when they are represented by dots.  It is a different way to think about numbers, but fun! Students are able to see factors and multiples. By looking at each representation for a quick few moments, they look for patterns in order to remember what they saw. It was fun to learn how different we see and remember visual representations of numbers. 


We also started thinking about norms in math and what math class should feel like for everyone in our room.  Here is what the kids came up with so far in partnerships (and we will lump into categories tomorrow to make it a more manageable list):
  1. don't give up
  2. work hard
  3. have fun
  4. we make mistakes
  5. follow directions the first time
  6. take your time
  7. encourage others
  8. problem solve
  9. ask questions
  10. use your head (and make sense of math)
  11. erase
  12. fix things
  13. persevere
  14. be respectful of tools
  15. be respectful of classmates
  16. be helpful
  17. use self-control
  18. use whole body listening
  19. pay attention
  20. be focused
Their list impressed me and certainly makes me excited for math this year!!

Math homework
Lastly, we have started our routine for math homework today by introducing fact practice. Fact practice is nightly math homework where kids practice facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Here are some different strategies we discussed:

With a deck of cards with no face card:
  • Go Fish
  • multiplication war
Other ideas:
  • math games on the computer or apps
  • flash cards (have a stack of easy and hard facts and practice the challenging ones)
  • roll dice, + or x  the numbers
  • skip count
  • make a math fact poster
  • cribbage
Tomorrow we will add a study link to our math homework routine, but it won't always be a study link. Students and parents can also expect a worksheet or a KenKen to go home in place of a study link at times.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bad Case of the Stripes

I wanted to share another highlight of the day!

We read A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon today. Here's the quick summary:
"Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don't like them. And Camilla Cream is very, very worried about what other people think of her. In fact, she's so worried that she's about to break out in…a bad case of stripes!"

After reading this story, we had our first socratic seminar of the year. I find it to be a great way for students to share their ideas and listen to what others think as well. We talked about a few things:

  • why Camilla just doesn't eat lima beans
  • what it means to be yourself
  • why it's important to be yourself

Classroom Economy

Dear Families:

Our class will implement a classroom economy system this school year. It’s an excellent tool for teaching financial responsibility and many other things, and I think your child will enjoy it.

I want to let you know how it works. Using classroom “currency,” students earn money for jobs and pay rent for their desks or buy them. They can earn bonus cash by helping others, earning table points, bringing in homework, being punctual and more. On the other hand, students who don’t meet classroom expectations may receive a fine. That could happen, for example, if they don’t complete assignments or don’t listen when other students are speaking. The could also be fined if they don’t have homework without a note or are missing their name on a paper. The classroom economy helps children to learn valuable life skills such as organization, the value of saving, and delayed gratification. Rather than being told about the importance of these skills, they actually experience them. In addition, the system fits in well with the other parts of our curriculum.

We’ll also have a little fun with it! After paying rent, students can save money to spend at weekly auctions where they get to bid on items. These items will be tickets such as, work in the hallway, chew gum in the classroom, have lunch with Mrs. Fier, and much more.  The children will certainly enjoy themselves, and I know you will appreciate the skills and knowledge they learn along the way. Our system is based on the “My Classroom Economy” program developed as a volunteer project by employees of Vanguard.

Don’t be surprised if your child comes home one day with questions about paying rent, or regrets about overbidding for an auction item. You might find it a great opportunity to have a thoughtful discussion about financial responsibility. I’m really excited to begin and learn more about this process and I think the kids are too.

If you have any questions about the classroom economy, please feel free to contact me.


Mrs. Fier

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day

Hi Families,

We had a lovely first day back. It felt so easy to slide back into routine and teach new procedures to this group of children. We learned a lot about each other and about our classroom today. They do have homework, so be sure to look at that link on the left of the blog if you need any clarification.

I wanted to share two key highlights with you. The first is about a book I shared with them today, The Name Jar. Here is a summary by Scholastic:

Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week.
Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it — "Yoon-Hey."
It led to a great discussion about how we are all different and unique, yet we want all kids to feel safe in our class and we need to be kind to everyone. Great message in this book!

The second highlight was during some quiet reflection time. There were 5 different questions posted around the room on chart paper and students added their answers on stickies. Tomorrow we will do more follow up with what I noticed, but here is a fun one: 

What are you excited for? (I didn't type repeats)

  • learning
  • P.E.
  • band
  • math
  • everything
  • reading
  • field trips
  • recess
  • making new friends
  • science

Happy first week back!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Tomorrow

Hi Students and Families,

If you see this, please bring in one of your favorite chapter books tomorrow that you have at home. If you can't find one, are unsure of which one to pick, or don't see this, that is okay because we have plenty in our classroom library. I will see you all tomorrow!


Hi Families,

By now, I have sent a few e-mails. If you have not been receiving them from me and would like to, please let me know, so I can be sure you are added to my list :)

Looking forward to tomorrow!