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Happy Spring! Parent Teacher Conferences (NOON dismissal): 5/1
Homework this week is practicing Geometry vocabulary (test in school next Tuesday 5/2) and practicing unit conversion tables.

Newsletter #22                                                                                     Monday, May 1, 2017

Dear Fourth Grade Families,

Homework this week:  Students will be tested on their Geometry vocabulary on Tuesday 5/2.  For the rest of the week they will practice unit conversion tables.  On Tuesday I will send home a LANDFORMS project that will need to be completed at home and is due on or before Friday, May 26th.  Please see the attached note (as well as one in your child’s folder).

Social Studies: U.S. Geography - In grade 4, students study the geography and people of the United States.  We are finishing up our state poster boards and students are practicing the states and capitals.

Reading: We have begun a shared chapter book (James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl).  We are practicing questions before, during, and after reading, predicting, noticing descriptive language, exploring elements of fiction (character, setting, plot, point of view, problem, solution, and theme), and vocabulary (5-7 words per chapter).  We will also be reading about energy and electricity, which is connected to our science unit.

Math: Engage NY Grade 4 Module 5: Fraction Equivalence, Ordering, and Operations

In this module, students build on their Grade 3 work with unit fractions as they explore fraction equivalence and extend this understanding to mixed numbers.  This leads to the comparison of fractions and mixed numbers and the representation of both in a variety of models.  Benchmark fractions play an important part in students’ ability to generalize and reason about relative fraction and mixed number sizes.  Students then have the opportunity to apply what they know to be true for whole number operations to the new concepts of fraction and mixed number operations.  We explored the following concepts in a Cathy Fosnot investigation prior to starting this module.

·Fractions are relations – the size or amount of the whole matters

·Fractions may represent division with a quotient less than one

·With unit fractions, the greater the denominator, the smaller the piece

·Pieces don’t have to be congruent to be equivalent

·For equivalence, the ratio must be kept constant

We will have our MATH MCAS in May (5/16 and 5/17).  We have been doubling up on our math instruction in school, reviewing and practicing all of the concepts covered thus far this year and also learning new concepts (fractions, decimals, and measurement conversion tables).  Next week I will send home some practice sheets for homework.

Spelling and Vocabulary: In fourth grade we focus on expanding our vocabulary by tuning into interesting words as we read.  We will review content vocabulary (connected to Social Studies, such as longitude, latitude, continent) as well as word parts (prefix, suffix, Greek and Latin roots, compound words, homophones, synonyms, antonyms). We are also looking at science vocabulary words (energy, conductor, circuit, d-cell, system, and landform vocabulary).


Science: First Peas with Island Grown Schools (IGS)

Earlier in April, IGS educators came to our class to introduce their annual curriculum regarding Thomas Jefferson and his "First Peas to the Table" contest. The introductory lesson consisted of reading the book by Susan Grigsby, First Peas to the Table, discussing the contest, and then diving into the botany of peas and engaging the students in the process of selecting pea varieties for our class to grow over the next few weeks.  Over the next few weeks Melinda will be working with the students to prepare the garden beds for their peas, and then planting the peas. IGS will be back in April to do some measuring and documentation, as well as a bit more of the history of this contest. Then again in May, and in June for harvest!  We are very excited for this opportunity!

Science: Tree Detectives with Polly Hill Arboretum

Spring is coming and we will do a "Tree Detectives" unit with Polly Hill that combines classroom visits with trips to the arboretum.  We will revisit the internal and external structures of trees that support their survival, growth, traits and reproduction. Students will keep a journal documenting all their findings over the visits which will include drawings, written observations, collected data, measurements and life cycle studies of their tree. In the first classroom visit in April (4/3) students will be given a twig from their tree to draw a blind sketch. Then they will make a list of questions of what they want to know about their tree that hopefully they will be able to answer by the end of the three visits. At the arboretum (Monday 4/10) students will use their twig as a clue to find their tree. Their first journal entry will include a drawing of the whole tree noting its shape and its surroundings. Students will take notes of their observations and will also do a bark rubbing. The May visits both in the classroom (5/11) and at the arboretum (Friday 5/19) will focus on the measurements that scientists take to note tree growth. Lots of math will be used as students will be using similar triangles to determine the height, measure the circumference and diameter, crown spread and be shown how to measure new tree growth. Tree rings will be observed in the classroom as they tell the tree's life story year by year. Students will also be drawing any changes in their tree perhaps a bud or new leaf and describing the changes they see. The last visit in June will put it all together as the trees are now full of leaves and flowers. Students will be asked in the classroom (6/8) to organize pictures of all the stages that their tree has gone through as they put together its complete life cycle and share with the rest of the class. At the arboretum (6/12) students will enter their last journal entry drawing their tree in full bloom along with a detailed drawing of a leaf of their tree that scientists can use to identify their tree. We are very excited for this collaborative opportunity with one of the island's most precious natural resources.

Energy Investigations

Students will begin to perform experiments in the classroom to explore energy, electric circuits, conductors, and series and parallel circuits.

Landforms Project: Independent Project at home.

Create a visual that includes all of the following: Plateau, Delta, Bay, Canyon, Basin, Valley

Mountains, River, Archipelago, Plain

Page to Stage with Donna Swift (IMP): Before the break, students began to work with Donna to develop a theme and characters for a play that we will create together and perform for families on Thursday, June 8 at 6:30pm.  This is an exciting fourth grade tradition!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at or at school at x216.

Kate Lefer


I wanted to take a moment to emphasize that I promote a growth mindset in the classroom.  

What is growth mindset?
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for the setting of goals and the reaching of great accomplishments.  Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in classrooms.  Students who believe that intelligence is a potential that they can develop do fare better when faced with challenges.  Students can be taught that their intellectual skills are things that can be cultivated - through their hard work, reading, education, confronting of challenges, etc.  When they are taught this, they seem naturally more eager for challenges, harder work, and welcome obstacles.  

That being said, in Fourth Grade, independent consistency in performance takes time to develop. The fourth grade curriculum is rigorous.   For example, students are taking on multi-step word problems in math, multi-paragraph writing, and answering reading comprehension questions that require critical thinking skills.   For some, proficiency happens mid-year, and for others later in the school year. All students in 4L are putting tremendous effort into their learning, and for that they should all be very proud!

We believe that challenges are opportunities in disguise and that our potential to learn is limitless.  The way we approach challenges is with effort and perseverance. Our strategies and mistakes are shared and understood so that we stretch and grow our brains.  We know that hard work and effort leads to growth and higher achievement!




Newsletter Weekly Newsletters

File Cabinet File Cabinet for Ms. Lefer's Class

April 28, 2017
Landforms Project.docx
This project is an at home project due on or before Friday, May 25.
Click here to download.

December 23, 2016
Immigration Museum 2017.docx
We are hosting an immigration museum in our classroom on Wednesday January 11 from 10:30-12:00. We hope you can come to see our immigration projects.
Click here to download.

November 22, 2016
All About Immigration Book.docx
Our class researched different parts of the immigrant experience from homeland through Ellis Island in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Each student wrote a paragraph and we put it together into a multi-paragraph book.
Click here to download.

October 28, 2016
The Statue of Liberty by 4L.pdf
Here is a collaborative slideshow made by the students in 4L. It was presented to the K-4 classes at community meeting on Friday, October 28.
Click here to download.

October 26, 2016
Fourth Grade Curriculum Overview.pdf
Here is a Power Point that was shared at our curriculum night Fall 2016
Click here to download.

March 4, 2016
Parent Child Math Club for 3-4.docx

Click here to download.

September 11, 2015
Non-food birthday celebration ideas
Please refer to this Wellness Committee resource for non-food birthday celebration ideas.
Click here to download.

September 11, 2015
Healthier alternatives and treat ideas for birthdays
Please refer to this Wellness Committee resource for healthier alternatives and treat ideas for birthdays.
Click here to download.

January 12, 2015
Immigration Museum 2015.docx

Click here to download.

Recommended sites
Growth Mindset
Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success—a simple idea that makes all the difference. In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity.
Engage NY Parent Resources
We use the Engage NY (Eureka Math) program in fourth grade. At this website you can find resources to answer any questions that you have about math instruction.
Kid Helper Project
Kid Helper is a teacher-created approach to encourage students to share and develop problem solving strategies. As a result, it empowers children to collaborate to address social challenges in school. The class takes on the role of Kid Helpers. Realistic (and age-appropriate) student problems are summarized and generalized in the form of a “Dear Abby” letter, which is addressed to “Kid Helper.” The problems come from the teacher's observations, actual students, as well as parent concerns. Students work whole group, in pairs, and individually to write a response to the letter, giving good advice and strategies. When necessary, a school guidance counselor serves as a Kid Helper consultant, providing support around problem solving strategies.
Individualized Math Fact Practice
Xtra math is a non-profit program that individualizes math fact practice. Sign up for home use. It's FREE!

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