Our plants in the garden are sprouting! Thanks to our loving and committed fourth grade gardeners, we have flourishing radishes, spaghetti squash, and zucchini, and our carrots are poking out too. We are excited about improving our garden this year, and one of our ideas is beginning a composting program. Pre-K is enthusiastic about partnering with us in this project, and we are thinking of starting two kinds of compost bins, one with worms and one without. Are there any parents out there who are experienced in this area and who would be able to help lead our two classes in starting up the program once we have the bins and supplies? It would be wonderful to be able to fertilize our garden this spring with compost made from our own garden clippings and lunch scraps! What a great way to reuse and to reduce our impact on the planet!
We Love You, California!
We worked on two California projects this week. The first was a relief map showing the topography of the state. This entailed a number of steps: studying a variety of maps, drawing the outline of California on cardboard, determining where each region was, using dough to made a 3-D model of the land, and then finally painting the map. Our maps also include a Map Key to help viewers identify the map’s features. Our second project, which we will finish next week, was designing a persuasive brochure to entice people to come to California. We made the brochures using Pages during our laptop time with Kristi. The fourth graders had to include factual information about each region, illustrated with pictures, as well as persuasive text to convince readers to visit our great state.
Our main goals at this point in the year are mastering the concepts of multiplication and division and becoming fluent in facts up to 12. We spent this week building models of story problems so we could see how multiplication and division are related. Math homework for the next few weeks at least will be a worksheet along with a very important 15 minutes of fact practice each night. Your fourth grader did assessments for each set of multiplication facts up to 12 last week, and each child will be tracking his or her own improvement using bar graphs over the next few weeks.
We had our first weekly meeting with our reading buddies on Monday. This year we are partners with Evelyn’s first grade class. The fourth graders were kind role models, and everyone seemed to have a good time reading together!
Our goal for the next four months is to become fluent in cursive. In January, I will expect cursive to be used exclusively. Until then, we will practice by working in our Handwriting Without Tears book, which goes through each letter of the alphabet. Many people are under the impression that handwriting is an innate talent – you either have good handwriting or you don’t – but that actually isn’t the case. Handwriting is a skill, acquired through frequent, careful practice. The great news is that ALL of your children can have neat handwriting, and I will be giving them the opportunity to practice so they can achieve that goal.
Goals and Reflection
Speaking of goals… Each Friday, your child will set an academic goal and a social goal to work on the following week. The children will write their goals in their Goals Journal and explain why they are important and what they will do to achieve them. Then, the next Friday, they will reflect on the progress they made toward their goals. We have talked a lot about how to set reasonable goals and have brainstormed suggestions for academic goals and personal goals. This process gives the children the chance to look thoughtfully at themselves, work towards improvements that are meaningful to them, and appreciate their own progress.
Field Trip Drivers
Here is an update about field trip drivers and Livescan fingerprinting. Even though the Parent Handbook says that fingerprinting is now necessary, this change will actually be implemented over the course of the school year and is not effective immediately. By next fall, all parents who are driving on field trips and other people who work with our students will need to be fingerprinted. You can have this done at places such as the police station on the UCSD campus, and it costs about $20. You only need to have it done once.
For this year, field trip drivers must have a license and insurance on file with the office (please bring information to Marilyn). Your insurance must be at least $200,000, and if it isn’t you can get the additional insurance for the day you are driving by calling your insurance company. Since we have a number of trips coming up in October, please make sure that your information is up-to-date if you are planning on coming. Marilyn needs NEW copies of your paperwork, so please see her even if you had your information on file last year. Thank you!
Jewish Family Services “Serve-a-thon”
Volunteer San Diego’s 20th annual “Serve-a-thon” is taking place on October 8-9. The fifth and sixth graders are voluteering at the Hand-Up Youth Pantry at Jewish Family Services. This program teaches volunteers about community needs, issues, and good ways to fix them. Food will be sorted, boxed, and given to people in need. Our goal as the fifth and sixth grade is to get a hundred cans of food to donate to the food pantry and we will also volunteer on October 8. There is a box on each tier to put your cans in. Please help us by donating a can.