Thursday, October 23, 2014

Field Trip

Next Thursday, we will be going to George Ranch Historical Park for our annual 4th grade field trip.  This field trip closely aligns with our Texas History Social Studies curriculum, and is always a very informative and fun day.  We will be doing quite a bit of walking, and the field trip is almost all outdoors, so please be sure your child is wearing comfortable shoes that day.  Students need to wear their green class shirt, and shorts or jeans.  Students should bring their lunches in a clear, labeled Ziploc baggie. They are allowed to bring water bottles, but they will need to keep up with them during the day.  If your child requires sunscreen, please apply it before leaving home in the morning.    We will be leaving Dickinson after the buses return from their morning routes, and will return right before the dismissal bell rings.  Parents are encouraged to attend the field trip with us on Thursday.  Parents wanting to attend the trip with us are asked to provide their own transportation and ticket. The ticket is usually about $8.  Parents may choose to follow the buses, or simply meet us at the gate to the park.  I am looking forward to a wonderful day outdoors.

Next Friday is Halloween Field Day. Students may wear their class shirt again if you choose to wash it that fast (sorry), or they can wear a spirit day t-shirt.  Shorts, sneakers, and water bottles are appropriate for field day.  EVERYONE needs to send a COMPLETE change of clothes to school Friday.  Students may get wet, really wet, down to the bone wet.  Wet socks and undies for the rest of the day are no fun for anyone.  Please pack the extra clothes in a bag inside their backpack.  Students may also bring a towel to dry off with and to sit on during our picnic lunch.  If you would like to help out during field day, please e-mail Coach Rice at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Parent/Teacher Conference Time

It is that time again. Time for the annual fall parent teacher conferences.  These are short meetings to discuss your child's progress so far this year.  These conferences are mandatory, and you will receive a copy of your child's report card at the conference.  Please use the Sign Up Genius link below to select your conference time.  I look forward to sharing information with you all. 

Mrs. Atkins

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's Happening Pictures

I have so many pictures to share since I have not been uploading them regularly.  There will be no new information in this post, just pictures for you to enjoy.

Group work at mini research stations on Native American tribes in Texas.

Reading closely to find important information in Native American rotations. 

Dress Western Day was popular in our class.

Just another mad scientist hard at work in the lab.

Mixtures and solutions lab-look at those cool goggles

What happens when you dissolve sugar in water and alcohol? 

It is important to follow directions and measure carefully in a lab.

Buoyancy lab-will our clay boat float?

Why does a clay ball sink, while a clay boat floats? 

Future engineers hard at work constructing boats

Exploring magnetism

Are some magnets stronger than others?

What kinds of items are magnetic?

Using manipulatives to demonstrate angles

Foldables help us recall vocabulary

Our classroom library is a great place

Buddy reading is our favorite way to learn

We Survived September

What a great first month of fourth grade we have had.  We have been very busy getting to know one another, learning routines and rules, and going deep into the curriculum in every subject too.  Thanks for being involved and supportive parents for your children. 

Our first AR free dress was today.  Not as many students earned the reward as I would have liked.  If your child is reading 20 minutes each night at home, plus free reading during class time, the 6 point goal should have been easy to achieve.  Our goal for October is 10 points, since it is our longest month in school.  I would like to see EVERYONE earn a free dress reward this month.  Please continue to log your child's reading in the agenda each night.

I have started uploading the weekly newsletter to this blog on a tab at the top.  Please check weekly for updates and information.  There are also interesting and helpful websites on an Internet Links tab at the top of the blog as well for extra help, enrichment, or just plain fun.  I also keep a running tab for Important Dates and update it regularly. 

In science, the students are learning science lab techniques and procedures, and we have visited the lab a few times so far.  They get super excited by the hands on experiments and discoveries. We have completed a tools and safety unit, and a unit on matter, and have begun our study of the different forms of energy. 

We completed our study of geography, and now Native American tribes in Texas have captured our interest in Social Studies.  Students enjoyed learning about the Native American culture, and comparing and contrasting different tribes.  Our focus of this unit was to discover that the region a tribe lived in affected their food, shelter, clothing, and beliefs.  We heard songs, read information, made a foldable organizer, looked at maps and pictures, and did a short research station rotation to extend our knowledge of the Native Americans.  Next, we will begin learning about the early European explorers to Texas.

We are continuing our realistic fiction novel studies in class while we learn about main idea, summary, plot, character analysis, sequencing, theme, inferencing, point of view, and word analysis.  The children love to work in groups, and are enjoying the entertaining selections, The Kid Who Ran for President, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  We will soon learn about biographies and trickster folk tales.  Don't forget about the Wordly Wise test this Friday.

Math has taken a real leap with our new math textbook and curriculum.  We are really challenging the students and have jumped way ahead of where they were last year.  The pace and depth have really been amped up.  Please be sure to review all homework and graded work sent home, and lend a hand when you see your child hit a road block.  I hope you have all used the passwords in the agendas to access the online resources from the textbook.  We have covered geometry, rounding, place value up to the billions and down to the hundredths, and will soon begin work on fractions. (All in one month I may add.)  Continue to help your child memorize their multiplication facts through 12X12.  We are taking daily one minute fact drills daily.  About half of our students have already passed off their facts completely.  Keep working on the basic facts until they are automatic.

In writing, we are in the midst of composing personal narratives.  Students are going through each step of the writing process and seem to be learning a lot.  I have seen a lot of growth in my budding authors already.  Encourage your child to speak and write in complete sentences.  It will help their writing immensely.  Next week, we will be revising our compositions and learning about adjectives. We continue to have a weekly grammar lesson packet and a grammar test every other week. 

Stay tuned for an online conference sign up next week. 

Mrs. Atkins


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Technology Issues

Our Internet has been down at school for a few days.  The rumor is that a sneaky squirrel chewed through the optic cable. The students have had a few challenges adjusting to paper charts and notes rather than videos and flipchart presentations.  It has been enlightening to realize just how much our lives at school are intertwined with technology.  

 I was not able to view e-mail, enter grades, or receive phone calls for those days.  If you called, please call back, or send me an e-mail.  If you sent an e-mail, I think I have now responded to all of the correspondence either from home, or this afternoon at work.  As for the grade book, if you received a message saying that your child is missing an assignment, please do not worry.  I entered a few assignments early, and while the Internet was down, the date I assigned had passed.  Skyward automatically sends notices about missing assignments if I have not entered grades by the due date that I set.  I plan to enter the grades that I have on paper this evening at home.  By tomorrow, the grade book should be current.  I appreciate your patience, as these matters were beyond my control. 

Mrs. Atkins

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PAT & Tickets

While I do sometimes have to redirect poor choices, I also get to recognize examples of good behavior as well.  There are a few ways that I incorporate positive behavior reinforcement in my classroom.

The class as a whole receives PAT (preferred activity time) points for following directions, having good behavior,  and getting compliments from other teachers. After 20 PAT points, they get time for an activity that they prefer over regular classwork, like extra recess, technology time, or drawing time.  Today the class received PAT points for their library behavior and for getting compliments from 2 different teachers in the hallways.  (It really was a great behavior day today for everyone!)

Individual behavior is recognized in the form of tickets.  Students get a ticket for showing kindness, following directions, taking AR tests, working well with others, etc.  After 20 tickets, they can choose from a variety of different reward passes.  Some examples are "No Homework," "Stinky Feet," "Lunch With A Friend," "Fluffy Friend," "Swip Swap Seats," and many others.  Today, the science lab group who cleaned up the best got tickets.  Students who had taken an AR test since our last library visit also earned tickets today. 

Ask your child how many tickets they have so far.  The answer just might surprise you.

Mrs. Atkins

P.S.  If you write, "I read the blog," in your child's agenda before Monday, I will give them a ticket because you are also following directions and doing your homework.  Thanks. 

Parent Night

I really enjoyed having the chance to speak with some of you last night at Parent Night.  Thank you for your time, and I hope you found the information helpful.  I am including the link below for those who need to look back on the presentation, or for those of you who could not attend.

I would like to again ask that you try to keep the leaving school early to a minimum since it is a disruption to the classroom, and we are learning until the end of the day.  Last Thursday, we had 5 students leave early, and had to scrap the entire afternoon after so many interruptions.  Friday we had three leave early, and today we had two. Remember that the children are little and have to stop everything to say good bye to their friends.  It takes a giant effort from me to get them refocused on the task at hand after one of our friends leaves.  We have language last thing of the day unless we are scheduled to go to the science lab that day.  Both subjects are very important.  If an appointment can not be helped, please send a written note in the morning and I can more smoothly get them out of the classroom.  I really appreciate your assistance in this matter. 

Mrs. Atkins