Friday, January 22, 2016

3rd Nine Weeks Begins

We dominated the 2nd 9 weeks in Mrs. Atkins' class this year!  When I passed out report cards yesterday, many of the students reported raising their grades from the first 9 weeks.  All of the students earned free dress by reaching their monthly goals in November and December.  Many reading levels went up, and reading speed is zooming.  Everyone worked very hard, learned a lot, and grew tremendously as learners. Keep the polish on those thinking caps.  On to the 3rd 9 weeks we go!

This week, students investigated the water cycle via videos, textbook, and lab.  A study guide went home today, and the test will be on Wednesday the 27th.  On Thursday, we will begin the long energy unit.  Our focus for the end of this week will be mechanical and sound energy.

In math class, students are showing lots of focus and determination in wrapping their 4th grade brains around multistep equations involving strip diagrams and variables.  I hope you have been helping with, or checking their math homework this week, as it is challenging.  We will continue chapter 11 next week, and move on to chapter 12.  We will be learning about patterns, input and output tables, and more variables.  After that, we will review perimeter problems. 

Students learned about persuasive writing attributes, and reviewed author's purposes for writing this week in reading class. Understanding persuasion will help them with our media literacy unit, as we delve into advertising techniques.  The focus of the media literacy unit in reading is to create critical readers and  thinkers who question information and make their own decisions. 

Social Studies brings us to The Civil War.  Students are usually very interested in this topic, and we are supplementing the textbook with many outside resources.  This week, we were focused on the causes of the Civil War, the parties involved, and life during that time period.  Students were asked to read about and analyze a situation during the time of slavery in America.  They then chose a side and composed a persuasive letter justifying their choice.  We have studied maps and viewed a video.  We are also reading a true story about slavery during the Civil War.  Next week, students will create a persuasive advertisement or letter convincing a reader to join the North or South side. 

We spent the week in language class reviewing editing strategies and grammar rules.  Complete sentences, verb agreement & tenses, comma rules, capitalization rules, combining sentences, and some spelling rules were all covered this week. We will be doing the same next week, and then writing expository compositions the following week. 

Now that swimming is over, our schedule returns to normal.  Students will attend regular art, music, and PE classes.  Please send coats and long pants as dictated by the weather forecast, as we do try to have recess daily. 

Our class got off to a sluggish start with our AR reading after the holidays.  Friday, January 29 is the last day for students to earn their AR goal for free dress in January.  Also, please remember that the Splash Day goal is 75 AR points.  Students who read more than 100 points by the end of the year earn other rewards, and students who read all 20 Bluebonnets earn a trophy.  Please encourage your young reader to commit to their nightly reading habit.   

Thanks for being a great bunch of parents to work with!

Mrs. Atkins

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fractions

In math class, we have concluded our study of fractions as 4th graders.  This unit covers a lot of subtopics, and can get confusing for students, especially after we move on to new topics and they forget what we learned.  For your child's continued success, please review this topic often.  Students need to be able to add and subtract fractions with like denominators.  They need to be able to recognize and create equivalent fractions.  Students should be able to convert improper fractions to mixed numbers and vice versa.  Comparing and ordering fractions is still another 4th grade skill.  Most questions will be asked in the form of word problems, so they need to be able to analyze & attack the problem.  All answers should always be stated in simplest form. 

Tonight, a small review over adding and subtracting fractions is coming home for homework, and tomorrow will be a longer review that covers many fractions skills.  Please go over the reviews with your student so that you are aware of any gaps in their understanding.  Feel free to use the online textbook to get more practice to help your student if needed. The students are doing well in class, but some of us are getting confused when we put it all together.   

Tomorrow in class, we will be reviewing division, and Wednesday is our 9 week district test.  In the 3rd 9 weeks, we will study algebraic reasoning, measurement, and geometry.  Thanks for your support at home as we work together to make your child the strongest student they can be! 

Mrs. Atkins

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year

I hope everyone had a relaxing and refreshing holiday break.  I would like to start the new year in gratitude by thanking all of the parents who have helped out with party planning, bulletin boards, taking home projects, sending in donations, and all of the many other things that you have all done to help out this fall semester.  This is truly one of the most supportive groups of parents I have ever had the privilege to work with, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

We are back to business already and have hit the ground running.  The end of the 2nd 9 weeks is January 15th.  We will have many district checkpoint tests next week.   Don't forget to check the page on this blog about important dates so  that you don't miss anything.  Weekly newsletters can be found on a page on this blog as well.      

Swimming continues until January 21st.  Please send a dry suit in a plastic bag daily.  Also, please refrain from setting appointments during our swim time 12:15-1:45. 

Science Olympiad try out permission slips went home Monday.  These are due by Friday, as try outs are Monday after school. 

I loved seeing 100% of our class in AR free dress today!  We were the only 4th grade class to earn 100%.  Way to work Mrs. Atkins' kids!  This month, the goal is 8 AR points, but remember that to earn Splash Day, students must go above and beyond minimum monthly goals.  The 4th grade annual Splash Day goal is 75 points, and almost half of the class has already qualified.  Medals are given for various other point goals, such as 100 & 200 points. The Bluebonnet deadline for reading 10 books for the celebration is January 22.  Students may continue to read Bluebonnets until mid-May to earn a trophy for reading all 20 books. Readers are thinkers!  Thanks for supporting your child's reading habits at home with daily reading.

This week, we are learning adding and subtracting fractions in math class, and reviewing the 9 weeks in Social Studies.  We are learning about weather in Science and will have a test next Tuesday.  In reading, we are practicing comparing and contrasting 2 passages at once.  We are writing expository papers about our favorite free time activity in Language class, as well as editing friendly letters.   

Students may wear Texans spirit gear on Friday to support the Houston Texans in the play offs. 

I am so happy to see all of my students back at school.  It's going to be another great semester in Mrs. Atkins' class!

Mrs. Atkins

Monday, December 7, 2015

2 Weeks Til Winter Break


This is the same information that was sent via e-mail.  For those of you who prefer the blog...
 
Hello parents.  I hope you are enjoying your weekend. I needed to send some information, and some kids are telling me that their parents don't check my Remind 101 texts or read the class blog.  So, I will try email instead of the blog, and hope that everyone gets the information.  There will be lots of information coming in the next few weeks, and no one wants to miss anything. So be sure to check agendas, Monday folders, emails, and texts.

 

Thanks for everyone's support with the fun run.  It was a very successful fundraiser, and the kids had a great time. Boosterthon pledges are due.  A collection envelope was sent home Friday.  Please return it with your pledges tomorrow.  Some prizes that students earned are still being passed out.  If your child is missing any prizes after tomorrow, please contact the PTO at Sorichards@mac.com.

 

I sent home some Scholastic book order forms last week, and I'm planning to send the order in tomorrow, Monday.  The reason for the short turn around is because I need to get the order in before the holiday break.  If you are interested, you may go online and order with a card, or send in the order form to me with a check tomorrow.  Scholastic says the order is guaranteed delivery before we leave for break.  If you would like to order some gift books that need to be kept secret, just send me an email, and I will keep the books hidden until you can get them from me. 

 

A science study guide was sent home Thursday.  There is a test this Wednesday.  We will also have poetry and spelling tests this week.  Keep up the good study habits.  Last week, the students earned 16 As on the fractions test, and we had 7 students get perfect scores on their social studies tests.  Way to go!!! 

 

100% of our class earned AR free dress last month, and we were showered with rewards.  The AR goal for December is 6 points, but there are only 2 more weeks remaining to earn points.  Please be sure your child is reading each night for at least 20 minutes. 

 

Mrs. Mitchell has been busy planning our class party. (Thanks so much!)  She will be sending information out soon about party donations and volunteers. 

 

Our class is in need of Clorox wipes.  If you can donate to our effort to stay healthy, please send them in with your child.

 

Swimming starts December 15th and will run through January 21st.  Girls MUST have a 1 piece suit.  More information will be coming soon in your child's folder.

 

I know it is a busy time of year, but stay focused on school for just two more weeks.  Thanks for being an awesome group of parents!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tummy Bug Hits Hard

Just to make everyone aware, the dreaded stomach bug that has been going through our school finally arrived in our classroom this week.  Please stress proper hand washing with your children, covering when we sneeze, keeping fingers out of noses and mouths, and not sharing food at school.  From what I am told, the virus is powerful but short lived.  I hope you all stay well and enjoy your holiday.  Hopefully, the break will allow the germ to stop spreading, and we will all return virus free.

 


We do use Clorox wipes and Lysol spray in the classroom.  We are running low on both, if anyone would like to donate to our cause of staying healthy. 

Thanks and enjoy your holiday!

Mrs. Atkins

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

This is only a 2 day week, but we are still learning in class each day.  Don't forget to inform me in writing if your little one changes transportation. 

In reading, we are finishing up our unit on expository, or non-fiction text.  Most students have a harder time with expository text than they do with fiction.  They are usually more familiar with the structures and patterns of fiction.  We spent a lot of time in class learning the different ways that text can be organized in an expository piece.  (sequence, cause & effect, problem & solution, question & answer, description, and compare/contrast)  We reviewed author's purpose, and learned that an author's reason for writing a non-fiction text is usually to inform or persuade.  The students spent quite a bit of time learning about parts of a book and text features as well.  They learned how to use various parts of a book such as indexes, table of contents, glossaries, title pages, copyright pages, and author information pages.  We practiced using pictures, captions, tables, charts, graphs, labels, diagrams, titles and subtitles, headings, footnotes, and bolded or italicized words to help us to understand text.  Students used Scholastic News magazines to find, cut out, and label each of the text features we learned about in class.  Finally, we learned how to use reading strategies to attack a non-fiction test passage.  Since the most important strategy we learned is to underline support for each answer in the passage, your student's passages should show this work.  Some of us learned the hard way that skipping the strategies we learned and practiced in class can lead to a less than satisfactory learning outcome on a test.  After Thanksgiving, we will begin our poetry unit.  Students will learn all about figurative language, symbolism, imagery, rhyme, meter, rhythm, and more inferencing.

We completed our modules over division and have moved on to fractions.  Students who still do not have their multiplication facts  memorized had trouble with division, and are now struggling to see the patterns as we practice factoring and finding the greatest common factor.  I can not stress enough the importance of memorizing basic multiplication facts through 12 X 12.  We will be learning about equivalent fractions, finding simplest form, how to convert mixed numbers and improper fractions, comparing fractions, and adding and subtracting fractions.  Please review all math homework each night after Thanksgiving to be sure your student is catching on to the fraction concepts taught in class. 

In Science class, we completed a unit over natural resources, raced right into weathering and erosion, and are now beginning to learn about soil.  The students enjoyed a lab last week using Skittles to demonstrate weathering and erosion.  They were very excited to go to the lab, and even more excited to get to eat the Skittles when we were finished.  Thanks to everyone for sending the needed lab supplies.  Our soil unit lends itself to a few more trips to the lab, and I can't wait to share those activities with the students after Thanksgiving. 

Social Studies brings us past exploration and settlement, and on to the battles for Texas Independence.  The kids love to hear about the battles and the famous people and stories.  Our new book is a bit light on the history, so I love to get to be a storyteller every day.  We are continuing to use foldable organizers & maps to help keep track of what we have learned. 

My amazing authors have completed plans of their first expository piece in writing.  We spent quite a bit of time learning about how to organize our writing, and I think it has paid off.  Some of the students are enjoying this type of cut and dried, to the point composition better than the flowery narratives from the first 9 weeks.  We will draft, revise, and edit our writing when we return from Thanksgiving.  Then we will learn about figurative language, and begin to write some poetry right before the winter break. 

Don't forget to register for Boosterthon's Fun Run/Dolphin Dash & to collect those pledges from family members over the Thanksgiving break.  The fun run will be December 4th at our specials time, 12:45.  Also, we just need 4 more students to make their AR goal to reach the 100% challenge that Mrs. Mumphord set for our class.  We CAN do this!!!  The last day to take a test will be Monday, November 30th.  Free dress will be on December 1st. 

I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving break.  Thanks for sharing your little blessings with me every day.  I love your kids, and I will miss them over the break. 

Mrs. Atkins

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November is Well Underway

Thanks to all of the parents who took time out of your busy schedules to come to parent teacher conferences.  It was wonderful to get to talk with each of you about your sweet children.  Please don't forget to return the sticker card & report card envelope signed.  A huge thanks to all the parents and students who helped me celebrate my birthday last week.  All of the kind notes, cards, drawings, and gifts really made me feel special.  This is a truly kind and caring group of kids (and parents too)!


The students have been very interested in learning about the European explorers to Texas.  We have been using foldables in our notebooks to help keep all of the information organized.  Students can take home these notebooks anytime, and use them to study for this week's test.  Please be sure that the notebook returns to school each day, as we will be adding to it all year.  This week, we will learn about empressarios and early Texas settlement.  The test over chapter 4 will be on Friday, and a  study guide went home last week.


We will also have a Science test over natural resources this coming Wednesday.  A study guide went home for that test last week as well.  After the test, we will be learning about erosion, weathering, and deposition, or changes to Earth's surface.  We will get to return to the lab the following week to investigate these processes. 


Expository is the key word of focus in reading and writing class.  Students are learning about the different ways text can be organized, and how to use text features in reading.  They have been reading pieces about hippos and explorers, and using Scholastic News magazines to find examples of text features.  In writing, we are learning how the expository piece should be organized, how to generate distinct main ideas, and how to organize details.  Students will be learning to use a "4 blocks" graphic organizer in their own compositions, as we begin to brainstorm and plan original expository pieces. 


Division has been our focus in math class.  After learning many ways to solve division problems, including using basic multiplication facts, distribution, breaking apart, using compatible numbers, and repeated subtraction, we finally learned how to use the traditional algorithm to solve long division problems.   We use the acronym, DMSCBR (Does McDonalds Sell Cheeseburgers Raw), to remember the steps in long division.  (divide, multiply, subtract, check, bring down, repeat or remainder)  Please help your child to practice this process at home, as there will be a test Thursday over division.  If your student has not yet memorized all of their multiplication facts, it is imperative that they do so as soon as possible for future success in math.


The Scholastic Book Fair starts tomorrow and runs all week in the library.  Our class will be browsing the book fair to make wish lists on our normal library day, Wednesday.  This Tuesday night, the library will be open late for purchasing books, or you can send money with your child after Wednesday.   Don't forget about the amazing books on the Bluebonnet list!


This Friday will be a special day as we show that we are "Too Bright for Bullies."  Students are asked to wear yellow to show support of this cause.  Next week, we will kick off a Boosterthon fundraiser/fun run.  More information will be coming home soon about this special event.    There will also be another School Store before school starts next Friday, the 20th. 


The holidays are fast approaching, but we are going to be working furiously until they do.  Thanks for keeping your child on track during this busy & exciting time of year. 


Mrs. Atkins