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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Busy Couple of Weeks

We are slowly getting into our usual schedule, and the students are learning routines and expectations.  It looks like all the students are finally getting used to being awake so early, and are establishing good homework patterns.  We have started reading and math groups in class, but are taking gradual steps toward full group rotations.  The students began our first novels in class reading groups, and are using them to learn about summarization, visualization, characterization, and making connections with our text.  We started our matter unit in science, and completed our first science lab last week, as we explored the concept of magnetism.  After breezing through the first half of our Geometry unit in math, we struggled this past week with measuring angles.  Protractors are difficult tools for 4th graders, but the students got a little more proficient each day.  Thanks to everyone who sent a protractor!  We borrowed the rest from an upper grade teacher so that each student had their own tool to work with. 

Of course we also had our first tests as fourth graders this past week.  Thank you all for helping your child prepare and study for the tests.  We will have a Math test over Geometry this coming Tuesday and our first Wordly Wise and Grammar tests this Friday. 

As parents, please continue to sign the agenda each night, and sign the blue behavior chart each weekend.  Help your child to complete the reading log each night, and to memorize multiplication facts. Graded work comes home each Monday in the Dolphin/Homework folder.  The best way to help your child improve is to go over their graded papers with them.  Point out inaccuracies, help with difficult topics, and show them how work habits directly affect grades. I truly appreciate your support at home, and as a parent, I do realize how limited and crunched time at home can be. 

In the upcoming week, we will begin place value in Math, our matter unit in Science, a study of Native Texans in Social Studies, and narrative writing in Language.  In Reading, we will explore point of view, characterization, and roots and affixes. 

I have really been enjoying getting to know all the students as individual learners these past few weeks, and I look forward to seeing all of their parents on Tuesday night for Parent Information Night from 6-7:30.  The PTO will have a brief presentation in the gym at 6, and we will begin the first of 3 repeating presentations in the classrooms at 6:30.  There truly is a lot of new information this year, especially with grades, so I hope to see each of you there. 

Thanks for sharing your child with me.

Mrs. Atkins