Homework Assignments due On:

Students should be studying their multiplication facts everyday. Fact quizzes that aren't passed are due back the next day, with fact worksheet completed. Multiplication facts are a 3rd grade standard, so every day and week that goes by of your student not knowing them sets them further and further behind.

Homework is due on these days:
Tuesday (6/2): Any unfinished in-class work
Wednesday (6/3): Any unfinished in-class work
Thursday (6/4): Any unfinished in-class work
Friday (6/5): Any unfinished in-class work
Monday (6/8): Nothing

Monday, November 24, 2014


  Things have been moving along here at school. This has felt like a very strange month as we have only really had one full week of classes! We are close to finishing our second math unit of the year, which has been focused on larger number multiplication. Students have been working hard on developing different strategies, and students are doing a very nice job of using ratio tables, number lines, area models and distributive property to solve a variety of multiplication problems.
   In social studies, we have focused on researching a famous Vermonter and doing a short in-class write up about that person. Some students were very interested in this topic, and decided to do an at home extra-credit project about a famous Vermonter of their choice. Students will present their in-class and at-home projects when we return from Thanksgiving break.
   I hope you all have an enjoyable and grateful Thanksgiving with family and loved ones. I am looking forward to getting back afterwards for a solid couple of weeks before our December vacation.

Friday, November 7, 2014


  Thank you to all parents who were able to make it to the conferences. I enjoyed sharing with you all about how each of your children are doing in Math and Social Studies. If you have any questions about the Language Arts, please contact Ms. K either by email or phone.
  For parents in Ms. K's homeroom, if you would like to conference with me about Math/Social Studies, please let me know and I would be happy to schedule an in person or telephone conference to discuss your child's progress this year.
  Enjoy the long weekend with your kids!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Parent Conferences!

   Parent conference confirmation slips are going home with students today, so look for them in your child's backpack. I tried to give everyone their highest priority slot, and I believe most everyone got either their first or second choice.
   We are working hard here in 4M on multiplication strategies and how to solve more challenging math problems. The students did very well with their unit one assessments, and I believe that as a whole the grade is doing very well. One trend I noticed on the assessments was that when students used some sort of model to show their thinking - be it a number line, area model, picture - they were much more accurate with their answers and with catching mistakes. Please try and reinforce this with your child by encouraging them to show their thinking and to use models to prove their answers.
   We have been working on some Vermont history and facts in social studies, and students are excited to do a short foray into learning about some famous Vermonters. Each student was able to choose a famous person from Vermont that they would like to learn a little more about and we will spend the next few days doing some research on those people and a brief write-up about each. The kids are excited to get started on this!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mid October

   It has been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that. We have been working hard here in fourth grade to remaster our subtraction proficiency. I noticed that on an assessment, most of the fourth graders incorrectly solved multiple subtraction problems, so I knew we needed to brush up our knowledge of subtraction. Students have been using different methods to solve these problems, including the subtraction algorithm and using a number line to count up or down. I am trying to help them see that there are numerous correct ways to approach a problem (here, specifically, subtraction) and that students should become familiar and comfortable with multiple ways of arriving at an answer. This also helps students check their work and look for any errors they may have unintentionally done. I am pleased with the progress of the group as a whole and feel that they are developing a much stronger understanding of subtraction. That being said, we still have a ways to go and will continue to focus on this while moving through more appropriate fourth grade curriculum.
   We are also working hard on learning about Vermont, it's history and different facts and aspects to our wonderful state. So far we have examined our state flag and its symbols, the Vermont seal and coin, as well as the state bird, the Hermit Thrush. We will continue looking at various state symbols as well as delve deeper into some historical figures, Vermont's economy and tourism. The students are eager to learn about their home state and enjoy our Social Studies time.

Friday, September 19, 2014

What a week!

We had a great week here in 4M!

   Things really started to gel here in 4M this week. Students were assigned jobs, they are getting into the rhythm of how math class will flow and the disruptive behavior that was occurring earlier in the year is dwindling.
    I want to stress again the importance of helping your child learn their multiplication facts. This is an essential skill that all students entering fourth grade are expected to have already mastered. Mastery is achieved through repeated exposure and visual understanding of how multiplication works.
    We have begun learning about early Vermont history, as well as different strategies for solving multiplication and division problems. Students are getting familiar with the area model of multiplication as well as using it to solve division problems. We also have been focusing on using a number line as a way of showing our thought process and as a visual strategy.
    This Friday, we had a great outdoor education period where students made observations from their power spots about different things they could see from their spot. One task was to look for something with hair on it and a few students discovered that by rubbing the leaves of nearby plants they could feel microscopic hairs on them - which were invisible to the naked eye. Others were having trouble finding something dead until they really understood what that term meant - most were looking for a dead animal or bug until they realized they were surrounded by dead things; leaves, trees, plants etc. Very interesting!
    We also introduced a new chess piece today, the powerful rook. After learning about how the rook moves and why it is so powerful, students were paired up and played games with pawns, the new rooks and the king.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Routines, Jobs and more!

  We have been very busy here in fourth grade! The weeks are flying by; it is amazing to think that we are beginning our 4th week of school already. We have established a good rhythm and flow to the fourth grade, and most students are falling into the routine of the day nicely. This year is a little different for the students as they essentially have two teachers, Ms. K and myself, but they are adapting to this model of teaching very well.
  Today the students in 4M were assigned their classroom jobs. These range from things such as chair stacker, floor cleaner and line leader to jobs such as meteorologist, news reporter and ichthyologist. These jobs will rotate throughout the year on a weekly basis, and students are responsible for knowing what their job is and performing whatever tasks are associated with that job as need be. Students earn a paycheck for doing their job. For those students that forget to do their job once, they lose half their pay. If they should happen to forget again during the same week, they will lose their entire paycheck. They need to be responsible for following through on their jobs. About three times a year I will hold an auction where I sell students various items. They use the money earned in class to purchase these items.
  We are moving along in math, but it is apparent to me that ALL students in fourth grade need to work diligently on their multiplication facts. These facts are essential to students developing a deep understanding of mathematics and helps them to make connections between numbers they might otherwise struggle with. Please talk with your child about what fact they are learning and practice with them throughout the day. Research has shown that short, 3-5 minute reviews of the facts multiple times throughout the day (4-5 times over the course of a day) will have a huge impact on student retention of each fact. If you have any questions about how your child is doing or how you can better help them with their facts, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A New Year Begins!

Hello Fourth Grade Parents, Family, Friends and Students!
    We are off to a wonderful start here at OQS. Beautiful weather, wonderful students and a very excited staff. I had a fantastic time meeting all of the new OQS fourth graders, and am very optimistic about the upcoming year. We have lots planned and are eager to share our knowledge with the students. Ms. Klinkenberg and I will be sharing the entire fourth grade between us, with Ms. K focusing on reading, writing and spelling and me on math. We will both be teaching science and social studies.
    This blog will be my main way of corresponding with parents, and I will be updating it most every week. If you have specific questions or concerns, please feel free to email me whenever the need arises. I am looking forward to a wonderful year with your children!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

We had an excellent NECAP week! The students really put forth great effort and for the most part tried their best. The tests themselves were challenging and really made the students think hard. Great job everyone.

We are now in the closing few weeks of school. We are on our last unit of study for Social Studies - Ancient Egypt! This is usually a very fun and engaging unit that the students really enjoy. We will finish off the unit with an Ancient Egyptian celebration highlighted by some Egyptian cuisine that the students will make.

We are also in our last math unit of the year, fractions and decimals. This can be a challenging unit, with new concepts such as multiplying fractions and converting fractions to decimals. I think the students are up for the challenge!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

NECAPs are approaching

Hello there! We have been working at a furious pace here in fourth grade since returning from April vacation. Students finished up our Geometry unit which went very well overall. Students were engaged in the lessons, especially some of the ones I have been learning about in one of my professional development courses. An example is the lesson where I would flash an image on the Smartboard for a few seconds and ask students to draw it on their personal whiteboards. They then get to compare their drawings with their classmates' and make adjustments. We flash the image again and they get to make corrections to theirs. Finally, we put the image up permanently on the board and have a class discussion of what they see. Here is an example of an image we used and a list of the vocabulary that was used by students during the ensuing discussion.

The fourth grade Science NECAPs will be administered next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. We have been gearing up for these by tests by practicing old NECAPs that the State has released. We have also been trying our hand at the Inquiry Task section of the test, which is where students will conduct an experiment to test a research question such as "What types of materials make good conductors of electricty?" The students have really enjoyed doing these experiments, and should be ready to do a great job on the actual test next week. Please make sure your child is getting lots of rest this weekend so they are ready to rock and roll next week. Thanks so much!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

All blown up!

Just a quick preview of what your students will be using as chairs starting tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

4th Grade Folk Tales

Last Friday, the entire fourth grade put on performances of folk tales from around the world. The performances included "The Enchanted Bottle," "I Know What I Know," "Rumpelstiltskin," "The Old Man and the Bear," "Ti-Jean Brings Home the Moon," and "The Foolish Man." The students worked very hard designing their own sets and costumes, as well as figuring out stage positioning. They all did a great job and the plays were a huge success. We invited our buddy classes (first grade) to come and watch the plays. We provided popcorn for them to munch on while the fourth graders performed. Below are a few pictures taken by Mr. Kornfeld during the final performances. Great job everyone!


 The Enchanted Bottle

 I Know What I Know

 The Old Man and the Bear

 The Foolish Man

The Foolish Man

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's been awhile...

Sorry for not updating the blog in quite some time. Things have been very busy in the fourth grade this month! We finished our introduction to fractions unit in math and continue learning about Vermont history and government. We invited Teo Zagar, Quechee's representative in the House, to visit our classroom. He spoke to the students about his role in Vermont's government, how laws are created, what the role of the governor is concerning laws and answered many questions the children had. We were very happy and excited to have Mr. Zagar with us today!

                                                      Teo Zagar speaking with the students

We also had a day of creating lobby decorations in celebration of Vermont's birthday! Students painted maple leaves, creating pictures of famous Vermonters, hermit thrushes and red clovers. Next time you're in the building, take a minute to admire their work in the lobby.

                                                                         Leaf Painting

Finally, we also had another guest speaker come in to discuss animal tracking. Ranger Ed Sharron from Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park brought his powerpoint TSI presentation (Track and Sign Investigation). It was a very engaging presentation that showed students pictures, videos and audio clips of various Vermont animals, many of which were videoed in M-B-R park! Students learned a lot and were excited and interested. We learned a lot from Ranger Ed!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Parent/Teacher Conferences

   I am sending home the conference sign up sheet today with your child - sorry for the short turn around, but with the vacation last week it really crept up fast! Please make sure to look for it when they get home (its a green piece of paper) and to send it back as soon as possible. I will send back confirmations via email, so please look for those once you have returned the sign up sheet. If you would like to schedule a conference with Ms. Carlock to discuss your child's ELA progress, please email her to schedule a time.

Monday, February 10, 2014


We have begun using egg cartons to help understand and model fractions. The egg carton model helps students build a variety of fractions in a way they can visualize. We think of the carton as equaling one whole, and then use string to partition off different sections to create fractions and tiles are used as eggs. If you have 4 eggs in your carton, what fraction do you have?




In building fractions with the egg carton model, students can easily see how equivalent fractions all represent the same number of eggs in the carton, and are all equal fractions. The egg carton allows students to practice working with fractions that have denominators (the bottom number in a fraction) of 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. These are most of the denominators that fourth grade students are expected to be familiar with (5, 8, 10, 100 being the others), so using this model is a great way for students to gain understanding of more than half the fraction notations they are required to know!
  If you happen to be working in the kitchen with your child nearby and you find yourself getting ready to measure some flour, water or other ingredients, try asking your kid to help! Cooking is a great place for children to see the application of fraction knowledge in use, as most recipes require you to be familiar with fractions. It's also a great way to spend time with your child!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fractions and Division

Hello Parents and friends of 4M,

  The year continues to zoom by! We have just finished a shorter mini-unit on division and strategies for solving division problems. Some of the ways that students solved division problems including area model, T or H charts and number line. I was happy with how well students grasped the concept of division and were able to apply knowledge of multiplication to division. We also worked on what happens when we solve a division problem and there is a remainder. Some remainders can stay just like they are (if the problem involved splitting students up, you would keep the remainder whole, since cutting a child in half would be a problem...), while others can be divided into smaller pieces (think money or cookies). This was a little more tricky for students to understand, and identifying what to do with the remainder is something we will continue to work on as the year progresses. One major trend that I noticed was students who had memorized most or all of their minute math facts were able to pick up on division patterns and were able to see ways of solving division problems a lot quicker/faster than students who are still struggling with their math facts. We are now about halfway through the year, and students that are still struggling with their facts. These students are now about equal with where this years third graders are with their multiplication facts. If your child is one of these, please make sure they are studying every day for at least twenty minutes, spread throughout the day in five minute increments. This is essential in helping them continue to improve at math, and will make the rest of their lives (and yours!) easier and less stressful. Put the time in now to reap major benefits later!
  In Social Studies, we have begun our study of the greatest state in the Union, Vermont! We have learned some of the ancient history of VT, starting with Rodinia about 550 million years ago and progressing through Pangaea 250 million years ago to modern glacial times (12,000 years ago). We discussed rock formation and locations in Vermont and will be continuing to dive into VT history, geography, government and locations. The students have really taken a liking to this unit, and we are also incorporating science standards as well (the rock cycle, characteristics and types, weathering and erosion etc). This is a wonderful unit and I am excited to see where it takes us and the kiddos!
  Here a some photos taken by the classroom photographer:

 Working on Area and Perimeter problems

 Madisyn working on Fractions of a Foot

 Watching a 60 Minutes report about Magnus Carlson, the current world Chess Champion

 Looking at some different types of Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic rocks!

Looking at where different kinds of rocks are found in Vermont!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wow, January is really flying by! I hope all of you had a wonderful long weekend and were able to spend some quality time with your families. We have been working very hard on learning different strategies for helping us divide numbers, and the students are starting to develop methods that work best for them. Try asking your child to show you the area model of division, the H-Chart method or any other way they may have devised to solve division problems. We will continue to work on division this week, and should be finished with our initial exploration of the topic by next week. After that we move right into fractions! We have also begun our classroom jobs, which most of the students are taking very seriously. The jobs range from milk monitor to meteorologist to fitness director to ichthyologist (ask your student what that means!). Students receive a pay check at the beginning of each week for the job they had during the prior week. If they forget to do their job one day, they lose half of their pay. If they forget again, they lose their entire paycheck. Sometime in March I will hold an auction where students can spend the "McGee Money" they have earned. I enjoy doing the classroom economy as I think there are many valuable lessons ingrained within - working hard to earn money, responsibility of holding a job, saving money, being careful with their cash (do they deposit into the bank -very safe - or keep it in their desk/cubby - can be lost/stolen). A few pictures from last weeks class photographer.

Student Division Work

A birthday celebration, 4M style

Using an iPad at the end of the day

Spelling Test!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy 2014! and homework information

Hi Everyone, Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday break and are excited for a great 2014. I wanted to post this weeks homework so parents would have a sense of what is expected of their child in math this week. Home Connection 24 is due Wednesday, Home Connection 25 is due Friday along with the Khan Academy recommendations. As always, students should spend about a total of 15-20 minutes per day working on their multiplication fact fluency (5 minute increments throughout the day is best). We are starting a new unit on Fractions and Division. Fractions can be a very complicated topic for students to grasp, but we use a lot of visual models to help explain them. I will work on having a permanent fixture on the blog that will outline the weeks homework and any longer term projects that may be coming up. I should have this in place by next week. I hope you all stay warm and I am excited to get back in the swing of things with the kiddos!