Monday, February 23, 2015

Challenging and Busy Week

Parents, please be aware that we have a math test on Thursday, and a reading test on Friday.  Both subjects cover extremely challenging material during the 3rd 9 weeks. 

The math test is over the most difficult skills for most 4th graders, measurement conversions and algebraic patterns.  Please utilize our online resources and the homework that will be sent home each night to help your child gain confidence with these skills.  They should become very familiar with using their measurement conversion charts.  We have learned many different mnemonic devices to help us remember different units and what operation to use to convert a measurement.  (Hint:  Smaller unit to a larger unit = divide, and larger unit to a smaller unit = multiply)  Students are asked to always underline the question being asked, to box in the measurement units, and circle any important numbers or data.  They are asked to determine whether to multiply or divide and write it next to each question.  Finally, they do the operation required to solve the problem and always label their answer with a unit of measure.  For patterns, students have been shown how to label a pattern with "tents" so that complicated patterns can more easily be recognized.  The test will cover modules  12 & 15.

Our reading test is also assessing one of the most challenging genres for most 4th graders, the paired passage.  The test will assess comprehension of a paired passage and a drama, or play.  Students are really struggling with paired passages.  They should first, use all comprehension strategies modeled and practiced in class, such as highlighting all text features, previewing text, writing summarizing blurbs next to expository paragraphs, reading each passage twice, and most importantly, going back to the passage to find support for each answer.  Students have been taught to read the first passage and answer any questions about only that passage.  Next, they should read the second passage and answer questions about only that passage.  Then, they should read through both passages back to back while asking themselves, how are these alike, how are they different, and why were they put together?  Finally, they would answer any questions that pertain to both passages. 

Students in general have been taking short cuts and rushing through work, when these skills take the most time to actually do your best.  (Can you say spring fever??)  Students have been skipping strategies they were taught and making careless errors.  Please encourage your child to take their time and do their best in class daily. 

Coincidentally, our spelling list this week is also particularly lofty.  There will be spelling homework this week as well.  The spelling unit covers the tion, sion, and cian endings of words.  Please help your child see the patterns inherent in the list glued to their agenda. 

Thanks for the help and support at home.

Mrs. Atkins

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Important Upcoming Events

Mark your calendars for 2 very special events coming up at Dickinson!

The first important date is Reading Night on Thursday, February 26th.  As part of Book Fair Week, we will have a special program with a storyteller in the library that evening.  It starts at 6:00, and latecomers will not be admitted due to the interruption it would cause our guest, so be sure to come early and browse the book fair.  That day in school, students will be wearing PJs, and we will have a Read-A-Thon from 8-9 A.M.  More information will be coming home about this event from Mrs. Preas.

The second date to bookmark in your calendar is March 17th.  Our generous PTO has scheduled The Alley Theater to come present a play about acceptance and tolerance that evening for the students.  As part of our No place For Hate school initiative, each class will be doing research on one country and its culture, and will be presenting this information all week on the announcements and in the cafeteria.  Students will be asked to dress in the colors of that country's flag that day to school, and to possibly try some of that country's food at home or for lunch that week.  The goal is that through learning about other cultures, acceptance will grow. Our class is already very excited about this project, as we are voting on which country to research.  ore information will be coming home from Mrs. Reaves about this event as well. 

Thanks for always supporting our activities at Dickinson.  My class and our community are both awesome!

Mrs. Atkins

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Social Studies Review

Are you bogged down studying endless facts?  Is your child whining about having to study another list of vocabulary words?  Here is a link to a social studies Jeopardy chapter 7 review game for you to use with your child at home.  It is a fun way to study and prepare for Thursday's test.  This is a Power Point file.  Good luck to everyone on the test Thursday.

Mrs. Atkins

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's February!

After all our beautiful weather, that groundhog saw his shadow anyway, and he predicts 6 more weeks of winter.  Please don't forget to dress your children according to the weather.  We do go outside for recess daily if it isn't raining, and some with bare legs and no jackets are complaining that they are cold.  Speaking of uniforms, please check your child's skirt, shirt, and short length.  Fingertip length is our guideline, and some of us have already had a growth spurt. 

Valentine's party notes went home today with important information.  Parties are from 10:15-11:15, and dismissal is at 11:30 for everyone that day.  Anyone is welcome to attend our class party on the 13th, and parents are encouraged to check their children out of school after the fun is over. The $5 party fund can be sent in as soon as possible so that I have time to shop for the party supplies.  Mailboxes and valentines can be sent in anytime, as I will store them in the cabinets until the 13th. 

We have another round of testing this week and next.  Be sure to check agendas, the important dates and newsletter tabs on this blog, and homework folders to keep all the dates organized.  Please help your children to prepare for the tests by reviewing study guides, and by keeping a normal routine at home. 

We are swimming through Thursday of this week, so continue to send the suits daily in a plastic bag.  The kids are really enjoying it, but some are having an energy lag afterwards.  Please try to send a daily snack for after swimming, and make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night.

Now that half the year has passed, our class is running low on a few supplies.  If you can donate red pens and boxes of Kleenex, it would really help our classroom. 

We will be having another General Mills Box Top Contest in April, so start saving up.  The class that collects the most will get an extra PE period with Coach Rice.  I know our class will be excited about that. 

Mrs. Atkins 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Swimming and A New 9 Weeks

Welcome to the 3rd 9 weeks.  Report Cards will be coming home on Thursday, but grades are always accessible online at Skyward.  Please be sure to check the Newsletter tab, and the Important Dates tab at the top of the blog to keep up with important dates, such as tests and swimming. 

We will begin swimming on January 26.  Our class will be at the natatorium daily from 8:15-9:45.  Please refrain from scheduling any appointments during that time, as your child will not be in the building to get picked up.  All students need to bring a swimsuit in a plastic bag daily from January 26-February 5th.  Towels are provided, and extra supplies and toiletries are not allowed.  The students will be getting on a bus in their normal uniform at 8:15 daily, and traveling to the natatorium.  They will change into swimsuits in gender specific locker rooms and proceed to the pool.  Coaches will be present at all times at the natatorium.  Students will be earning Red Cross Swim Certificates, and students are placed into ability groups on the first day, after a swim test.  Students will be led back to the locker room after instruction to change quickly, and then to get back on the bus. We will then have a regular day of school with a very modified schedule.  Students will not have specials during these 2 weeks, because the swim program is their PE credit.  The students are looking forward to swimming, and I know they will enjoy it.  The swim program is always a favorite part of 4th grade at Dickinson. 

This 9 weeks finds us exploring expository further in Writing class, beginning a study of natural resources in science, and exploring The Republic of Texas in social studies.  This week, we are practicing inferencing in Reading class while we begin an author study of Roald Dahl.  In math, we are using division to solve problems this week. 

In February, we will be taking district benchmark tests in reading, math, and writing. See the Important Dates tab for specific subjects and dates.  These are STAAR like tests to determine who needs after school tutorials, and are not entered into the gradebook. 

Mrs. Atkins

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Holiday Season

November and December have been very busy in 4th grade.  In reading, we finished our expository unit, where we learned about author's purpose, text features, patterns of text organization, and how to find meaning in context.  We then went on to a unit on reading poetry.  Students can now identify different forms of figurative language, and apply terms such as imagery, rhyme scheme, and meter to comprehend poems.  This week, we will finish up our Winter themed novels, and have a test over poetry on Thursday. 

In math, we have completed the beginning multiplication unit in module 7, where we learned about multiplying by zeros, multiplying one digit numbers by 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers, and rounding to estimate multiplication.  We then learned 2 different ways for solving multiplication problems, the traditional, or butterfly algorithm, and the breaking apart, or partial product method.  Next, we reviewed finding perimeter and area.  We will have a math test on Wednesday over these concepts.  As with all previous math tests this year, application of concepts in word problem situations will be the focus of the assessment, not straight calculation. 

In language, we are completing our editing and revising unit and are putting the finishing touches on our first expository writing piece.  Students have been writing for weeks to explain what their one dream is and the 3 main reasons why that is their dream.  In expository writing, the purpose is to explain, and organization is the key to success. 

On Tuesday, we will have a Social Studies test over the Texas Revolution, or Chapter 6 in our textbook.  Study guides went home last Thursday for this test.  Students will need to know relevant people in the battles, and be able to put important events in sequence, as well as crucial vocabulary terms from the unit.  We will be starting a project this week in class over one of the battles for Texas Independence as well.

Thursday, we have a Science test over soil, weathering, and erosion.  Students will be using their science notes as study guides, so be sure your child is bringing home their interactive science notebook each day.  We will also be visiting the science lab this week to learn about erosion with Skittles. 

As you can see, we are very busy, and students need to keep their focus on academics as we wrap up this final week before our 2 week break.  Remind your child to, "be the boss of their own brain," in class daily (focus), and try to keep routines as normal as possible in the evenings this week.  Students need to be sure to get regular sleep this week, regular breakfast, and do all homework and studying each night in order to do their best in class. 

Don't forget that our class party is this Friday from 12:30-1:30.  All parents are welcome to attend, and students may be checked out of the classroom at 1:30 for the holiday break. 

Mrs. Atkins

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holidays Approaching

The holidays are rapidly approaching, but we are hard at work in Mrs. Atkins class.  Our party will be on December 19th, from 12:30-1:30.  The kids love it when their parents attend our party, and you are welcome to take them home when the party is over.  If anyone would like to organize the winter party for our class, please e-mail Mrs. Atkins ASAP. 

We have been very busy these last couple of weeks.  The students have been working on creating "Come to Texas" projects.  Students could choose a newspaper, a brochure, or a poster to advertise for new settlers to join Austin's colony of the first 300 families to come live in Texas.  Students worked very hard on these projects, and they will count as a major grade.  Ask your child if they have completed theirs, as they were due last Tuesday.  Students will now begin studying Texas' fight for independence. 

In reading class, we began a winter themed novel study.  Students are reading either, The Lion, The Witch, and The wardrobe, Stone Fox, or The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in guided reading groups.  Our whole group lessons are centered around poetry terms and analysis. 

In math we started a multi-week unit learning multi-digit multiplication.  We will be exploring many ways to solve multiplication problems, including zeroes, the distributive property, partial products, rounding, and standard algorithms.

In writing, we learned about adverbs, and are analyzing the organizational structure to expository writing.  We will soon begin planning and writing our first expository piece after Thanksgiving. 

Soil has been the focus of science in our class. We have explored the composition and characteristics of different types of soil in the lab. Students drew a soil profile and labeled information about each horizon in a foldable.  We are also learning why soil is such an important natural resource. 

Our class also really enjoyed the Eat the Rainbow challenge last week. Our class came in first place for our grade level, but lost to Mrs. Carver's 5th grade class for the school wide competition.   I think some of the students have a real competitive streak that I will take advantage of with AR next month.  Wait and see.....               Take a look at more classroom happenings below. 

Posters and Brochures

Hard at work!


Finished Products
More Finished Projects


Soil Profile Foldables