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Mr. Alderton's 4th Grade Classroom

Welcome to Mr. Alderton's class! 4th grade is an awesome year and comes with a whole new set of privileges and responsibilities! One of the big changes is that in 4th grade, the teachers departmentalize by subject. That's a fancy way of saying that we teach one subject three times a day. Students rotate between all of the teachers with their homeroom class. This system allows us to guarantee quality instruction across multiple subjects and a high level of exposure to content from a teacher who is an expert in that area. We maintain a sense of community by having our own students for our core subject, Reader's Workshop, and during our morning check-in.
Social Studies
 
Greetings Families,
 
We started off the year in Social Studies by studying Colorado's geography. Your students learned about Colorado's location in the United States, the different regions of Colorado including their natural and human features, and they created a map of Colorado. Students used this map to answer geographical questions about our state.
 
Looking ahead, we are beginning a unit of study about the Native American people who historically lived in the area that is now Colorado. We will study ancient, historic and modern Native Americans and discuss how archaeologists learn things about cultures based on the artifacts and oral history. 
 
Please ask your student about their Colorado map and see how much they are able to tell you about Colorado.
 
Mrs. Miller's Writing Class:
 
   After reading Chris Van Allsburg's "The Sweetest Fig," writers brainstormed various character traits for the not-so-likable main character, Monsieur Bibot. We will use these ideas to craft an informational essay describing Monsieur Bibot's character traits. We will be studying and practicing essay structure and developing ideas. 
Week of 10/1/18
 
English/Language Arts with Mrs. Miller:
     Students are learning to "read like writers" with our novel study of Riding Freedom. We will use details and ideas from the text to craft an essay comparing and contrasting the fictional book account of Charley Parkhurst's life by Pam Munoz Ryan, and the factual historical account of her interesting life. Quarter 1 writing goals are focused around utilizing essay structure and clearly communicating ideas to our readers.
 
 "A writer is someone who has taught their mind to misbehave." -Oscar Wilde
 
Reader's Workshop:
   Readers are focusing on noticing what they are thinking about as they read (meta-cognition) and practicing writing and talking about literature. We are establishing workshop routines and building our stamina for independent reading.
   We have discussed using Thinking Strategies as a way to connect deeper with the text. We are reading The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis as a class. As we read, I (Mr. Alderton) am demonstrating my thinking to the students and having them practice it with one another.
   Student are also reading their own texts that they have selected. During individual reading time, they are keeping track of their thinking in their Reader's Workshop notebooks. Several students a day are also conferring with me so that I can get a better idea of their understanding as they read.
 
 
Social Studies with Mr. Alderton:
     Over the next two weeks we will be studying the original inhabitants of Colorado, Native Americans. We will discuss the artifacts left behind that help us know about these people groups. After studying ancient people groups like the Ancestral Puebloan, we will learn about the historic tribes of Colorado (the Utes, Cheyenne, and Arapaho) and begin to see how and why these groups moved in and out of the area that is now Colorado.
 
Math with Mr. Baken:
    The students have finished their place value topic, however, any of those who did not score 80% or above are welcome to re-take the topic three test whenever they have spent time going over the problems they missed with an adult, finished the additional practice in our Pearson Realize program, and worked on the packet they were given.
 
   Please don't forget that I (Mr.Baken) am available most days at 3pm when school lets out. I can sit with any students and help them with understanding math concepts. Finally, we are moving into addition and subtraction of larger numbers, and estimation and rounding are an important skill for this topic. The biggest idea we tackle is getting the kids to think about whether an answer is reasonable or not. This supports their number sense and real life problem solving skills.
Thanks for taking the time to support your child!
Update: New Projects for SS
 

Project Extension:

 

10/11/18


Attention Families,

I already told the 4th graders, but also wanted to let you know that I have extended the project deadline for our fur traders and explorers projects to Friday, October 19th. The research portion  took a bit longer than expected, and I wanted to be sure students had adequate time to complete projects. I also didn’t want anyone going home tonight and trying to complete everything because they were worried about the original deadline. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at ralderton@durangoschools.org


Sincerely,

Mr. Alderton

Week of 10/22/2018
 
English/Language Arts with Mrs. Miller:
     Students are completing their Quarter 1 writing samples to demonstrate their writing skills thus far in fourth grade. This quarter we have focused on essay structure and using paragraphs and sections to organize our writing. We will continue our learning with informative/explanatory essays in Quarter 2, developing our ideas through connecting our writing to texts we read in class. Developing ideas includes adding reasoning, details, facts, examples, and quotes from the text in our body detail paragraphs to communicate our thinking clearly for our readers. 
 
 
Reader's Workshop:
In reader's workshop we are focused on determining the main idea of a story. We are doing this by reading stories together and applying our thinking strategies. Students are utilizing this skill in their individual reading time as well. During conferring sessions, Mr. A is discussing student thinking and having students present their understanding of their stories. The main thinking strategies we have used to this point are Questioning and Visualizing.
 
Social Studies with Mr. Alderton:
    We are wrapping up our Fur Traders and Explorers projects. Students will have their final in class work day for this project on Friday the 19th and will present to one another on Monday the 22nd. We have received the interactive kits we were hoping to do earlier this month. We will use these for our next project. These kits are focused on the idea of migration and teach students about different groups of people who migrated to the area that is now Colorado. Students interact with replica artifacts, photographs, and fact sheets to better understand these groups and the reasons they migrated. At the end of this project, students will write and informative/explanatory essay about one of the groups they researched.
 
Math with Mr. Baken:
    The students have finished their Topic 4 addition/subtraction unit, however, any of those who did not score 80% or above are welcome to re-take the topic 4 test whenever they have spent time going over the problems they missed with an adult, finished the additional practice in our Pearson Realize program, and worked on the packet they were given.
 
   Please don't forget that I (Mr. Baken) am available most days at 3pm when school lets out. I can sit with any students and help them with understanding math concepts. Finally, we are moving into generating and analyzing patterns (Topic 2) in order to ready ourselves for all of the multiplication work that we will be getting into. One way to support you child is to take 10 to 15 a night to start practicing their multiplication facts. Thanks for taking the time to support your child!
 
Science with Mr. Love:
    In science, Mr. Love and the 4th grade students have been melding life science standards (related to ecosystems and plant and animal adaptations) with physical science standards (related to energy transformations) through investigations in our school garden. These investigations have been based on making observations, asking "snap" questions, and then growing these into "inquiry" questions that challenge us with possibilities for further investigation and experimentation. Moving forward we will extend our application of the scientific process as we head to the Animas River to investigate both the organisms and nonliving components of our river ecosystem. We will also rely on our many classroom animals to help us navigate these complex scientific concepts. 
 
Before the winter break, we are hoping to complete a Summative Demonstration of Learning (SDL) that allows students to choose 1.) a current event, problem, or challenge that affects us locally (such as forest fires and their aftermath), 2.) a plant and animal from our lovely San Juan Basin, and 3.) a project through which they can show how #2 has been affected by #1.  Our goals are to create an authentic scientific inquiry experience, align to our school district's goal of developing and implementing Personalized Competency Based Learning (PCBL), and provide challenges for all of us along the way.
 
Week of 11/5-11/16
 
English/Language Arts with Mrs. Miller:
    For the next few weeks writers are using their research from Social Studies class to write an informational, research based essay on a group from Colorado history. We are working on developing our body detail paragraphs with facts, details, and examples and ensuring our information connects back to the sources and information from the text. We are continuing to practice essay structure and communicating our ideas clearly to our readers, as well as editing and revising skills.
 
 
Reader's Workshop:
    Readers are working on applying Thinking Strategies during group and individual reading time. During this cycle of reading, students are being encouraged to apply the specific strategies of inferring, questioning, visualizing, and monitoring for meaning as appropriate. We are still reading The Dreamer as a class in order to promote discussion and model our thinking strategies to one another. Student are also learning how to self select texts that are more challenging.
 
Social Studies with Mr. Alderton:
  Beginning this week, we will start research on projects that connect to the National History Day competition put on each year in Colorado. The theme of this year for History Day is "Triumph and Tragedy." Students will research Colorado history topics (people, events, or groups) that experienced triumph and tragedy and create a poster about these groups. This project requires a lot of research and will take up the majority of our time from now until we present on December 21st. The research, creation of posters, and writing of the process papers will all be done in school. I am trying to provide ample time so this does not become an at home project. If you have any questions, please let me know. For more information on this, you can visit the official website for this contest at....
 
 Math with Mr. Baken:
    The students have looked at the math goals they have so far, and after thinking about the data they came up with two math goals that will help them achieve success as mathematicians. Please take a few minutes to have a conversation with your child so that you can support their efforts toward achieving their math goals.  Also, don't forget that I (Mr. Baken) am available most days at 3 PM when school lets out. I can sit with any students and help them with understanding math concepts. 
 
Finally, we are moving into generating and analyzing patterns (Topic 2) in order to ready ourselves for all of the multiplication work that we will be getting into. One way to support you child is to take 10 to 15 a night to start practicing their multiplication facts. Take turns sharing your thinking about how you got your product for the two factors. Thanks for taking the time to support your child! 
 
Science with Mr. Love:
    In science, Mr. Love and the 4th grade students have been melding life science standards (related to ecosystems and plant and animal adaptations) with physical science standards (related to energy transformations) through investigations in our school garden. These investigations have been based on making observations, asking "snap" questions, and then growing these into "inquiry" questions that challenge us with possibilities for further investigation and experimentation. Moving forward we will extend our application of the scientific process as we head to the Animas River to investigate both the organisms and nonliving components of our river ecosystem. We will also rely on our many classroom animals to help us navigate these complex scientific concepts. 
 
Before the winter break, we are hoping to complete a Summative Demonstration of Learning (SDL) that allows students to choose 1.) a current event, problem, or challenge that affects us locally (such as forest fires and their aftermath), 2.) a plant and animal from our lovely San Juan Basin, and 3.) a project through which they can show how #2 has been affected by #1.  Our goals are to create an authentic scientific inquiry experience, align to our school district's goal of developing and implementing Personalized Competency Based Learning (PCBL), and provide challenges for all of us along the way.
 
A Note from Mr. Shipp
 

Riverview Elementary

November, 2018


Hello parents!  In an effort to increase my communication with you I would like to try and send out a monthly newsletter and describing the different things that we are working in my math classes.  Please know that my door is always open if you would like to come in and discuss anything beyond the content of these letters. Also, please feel free to email me at jshipp@durangoschools.org or call (970) 247-3862 ext. 3217 with any questions.  The more we can get on the same page and surround our students with a common language, the more we can expect them to be successful.  

 

4th Grade:

 

Our Fourth graders are really hitting the ground running this year.  So far we have been progressing quickly through the first four Topics.  Currently we are jumping into Topic 5. Our students are working hard on a daily basis and are really fun to work with.  Everyday we start off with a “Writing to Explain” task in which the kids need to read and respond to a question I put up on the board.  They complete this task by writing their responses in their spiral/composition notebooks. I would like to encourage you to ask your child about this work and ask them to explain the process they go through as well as choose one or two tasks they are proud of to present to you anytime throughout the year.

Please know that I encourage my math students to use the Pearson Realize platform to check on the past tests our students have completed as well as practice the skills we working on in class.  On the website you will be able to see games, practice sheets, and enrichment pages that you can print off and practice with your student. The Login for this is pretty easy and our students are familiar with the process.  But, just in case they struggle the Login is: (lowercase) durango_s.(student’s first name and last initial). For example: durango_s.jamess. The password is (all one word) math1234.

 

Current Topic we are working on: Number Sense: Multiplying by 1-Digit Numbers

 

-Arrays and Multiplying by 10 and 100

-Multiplying by Multiples of 10 and 100

-Breaking Apart to Multiply

-Using Mental Math to Multiply

-Using Rounding to Estimate

-Problem Solving: Reasonableness

Update as of 1/9/2019
 
English/Language Arts with Mrs. Miller:
 
Writers are working on the Quarter 2 writing sample, practicing informational writing using a variety of sources. The beginning of Quarter 3 writers will explore opinion writing and expressing ideas and opinions on various topics. We are continuing to practice essay structure and understanding how to develop our details to create clear communication for our readers. Writers are also working through the writing process, with emphasis on editing and revising their work. 
 
Reader's Workshop:
    Readers are working on applying Thinking Strategies during group and individual reading time. During this cycle of reading, students are being encouraged to apply the specific strategies of inferring, questioning, visualizing, and monitoring for meaning as appropriate. We are group reading The Missing Gator of Gumbo Limbo and discussing clues an author might use in order to help us better understand the text
 
Social Studies with Mr. Alderton:
 
In Social Studies we are beginning a unit on Economics. We will learn about industries and the types of resources they use to provide goods and services. We will also discuss economic issues like risk, opportunity cost, and incentives. Students will research an industry of their choosing and create a project that shows the resources that are used in the industry. Students will also be creating an illustrated economic concept for a statewide calendar contest created by Economic Literacy Colorado. For more information on this organization and the contest, visit the link below.
 
 Math with Mr. Baken:
 
In Math we will be continuing to work on problems of the day. A new practice will be that students will now bring home one of their problems of the day from the week each Friday. These are meant to lead to discussion with your student about their thinking in math and to give you a better idea of the kind of things we are working on.  
 
Science with Mr. Love:
   
 
In science, we are finishing our life science unit. Students have been investigating the impacts of wildfire on local wildlife and developing projects to demonstrate their learning.  We are going to try something new, where students will bring home their science portfolios and projects to present their learning to someone at home (a parent, sibling, family friend, etc.).  After the presentation, there will be a form for the student to return to Mr. Love that includes feedback about the presentation.