Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Mullen-Hall "SOUPer Bowl" helps the Falmouth Service Center

Last week the students, families and staff at Mullen-Hall teamed up by grade level to see which grade level could bring in the most canned goods to be donated to the Falmouth Service Center. The level of participation was fantastic. Our class got to witness the generosity first hand on Friday. As a "fourth grade" class, it was our turn to count, collect and box up all of the canned goods. The children did a great job and took their tasks very seriously. The FOURTH GRADE was the grade level with the most cans for the week & won the "SOUPer Bowl" trophy. However, the real winner was the Service Center. Mullen-Hall donated almost 1,400 cans!! Way to go, Mullen-Hall & way to go Team 202 for helping out!!

A Visit From NOAA

We were recently treated to a visit from our new friend, Ms. Grace Simpkins, who works at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ms. Grace visited all of the fourth grade classrooms (and US!) to talk about animal adaptations, which is part of the fourth grade science curriculum. She reviewed what it means to be a mammal, talked about human adaptations and then the fun REALLY began! As she taught us about the adaptations of marine mammals we got to see, touch and smell (there were...ah...varying opinions on the "awesomeness" of this!) the rib bone of a whale, a whale vertebrae and two types of baleen! We then worked in teams to assemble the skeletons of a baby dolphin (real) and a human (plastic!). Then we discussed the similarities and differences between the two skeletons. It was a great learning experience! Did your child tell you about it?


I knew they were an amazing group, right from the "get-go"! 

The children of Team 202 earned Camp Read-a-Lot by collecting over 250 goody stones since the beginning of the year. Goody stones are awarded to the group (as a whole only) for excellent behavior in specials and at assemblies or by getting a compliment from another adult for quiet traveling in the hallways, being focused in the classroom, etc. They have worked very hard at earning these and should be very proud of themselves!! It was a great day that included reading, the grade 4 Curling Tournament, reading, some math fact practice, some Fun Friday Free Time and some more reading! 

 A special Super Congratulations to our three curling finalists! We are very proud of you!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

What is the “ANSWER”?

In class, the children have been learning about a teaching tool that will help them demonstrate their reading comprehension skills through writing. It is designed to help them organize information and answer (certain types of) questions effectively. It is called the “ANSWER Key to Open Response” questions. Here is what ANSWER stand for:

Analyze the question
Note Plan
Skim, Read and select
Write the response
End by

Attached you will find a sheet that describes each step in the process. We have spent class time (both whole group & small group) learning about “A”, “N”, and “S”. We have worked on each step, one at a time. For each step, we have modeled the task for the children so that they could see how it should be done. Then, we practiced (extensively) together. Finally, the children practiced the steps independently. The children seem to be feeling more confident about the process. These valuable steps are very easily integrated into our day to day work in reading as well as our content reading during Social Studies and Science.

Most recently we have been practicing the “S”. This gives the children the opportunity to look deeply at texts through several re-readings, think about ideas, find evidence within the text to prove their thinking and draw conclusions based on details from the text. (This “close reading” strategy is a perfect companion to completing open response questions effectively AND it will help them really “dig in” to an informational piece of writing or a page-turner of a novel.) We will then move on to turning the specific details that they have written in their note plans into cohesive written answers for given questions. Finally, they will learn and practice the step called “End by Reviewing”.

Also-below is a video that we made last year in class that demonstrates the ANSWER strategy. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As my daughter and I head out to spend the day with the rest of our family, I wanted to wish you and yours a bountiful, peaceful and fun-filled Thanksgiving. On Tuesday the children decorated a "Thankful Tree" that was brought in by Charlotte (Thanks Charlotte!!). The children wrote what they were thankful for on the leaves and we all shared what we were thankful for right now in our lives. It was wonderful! :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Developmental Stages of Spelling

Dear Families:

This month I would like to share with you some general information about the different stages/developmental levels of Spelling. It will give you an overview of where your child has been and where he/she is headed, in terms of spelling. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and that each child will move through the stages at a pace that is just right for him or her! Each student is working on “word work” each week that will help him/her solidify an understanding of the rules and patterns in his/her current stage of development.

Stage 1: Emergent Spelling: Children are able to string scribbles, letters, and letter-like forms together, but they do not associate the marks they make with any specific letter sounds. This stage is typical of students 3- to-5 years old. The students learn:
The differences between drawing and writing
How to make letters
The direction of writing on a page
Some letter-sound matches

Stage 2: Letter Name-Alphabetic Spelling: Children learn to represent sounds in words with letters. At first, their spellings are shortened and inventive, but they learn to use consonant blends and digraphs and short-vowel patterns to spell many short-vowel words. These spellers are typically 5- to-7 years old. The students learn:
The alphabetic principle (the idea that letters and letter patterns represent the sounds of spoken language)
Consonant sounds & short vowel sounds
Consonant blends and digraphs

Stage 3: Within-Word Pattern Spelling: Students learn long-vowel patterns and r-controlled vowels. They may still confuse spelling patterns and spell words such as “meet” as “mete.” They often reverse the order of letters, such as “form” to “from.” These spellers are typically 7-to-9 years old. They learn:
Long-vowel spelling patterns
r-controlled vowels
More-complex consonant patterns
Diphthongs (ex: “ou” & “ow”) and other less common vowel patterns

Stage 4: Syllables & Affixes Spelling: Students apply what they have learned about one-syllable words to spell longer words, and they learn to break words into syllables. They also learn to add inflectional endings – such as, -ed and -ing, and to differentiate between homophones, such as the words “your” & “you’re.” These spellers are often 9- to-11 years old. They learn:
Inflectional endings
Rules for adding inflectional endings

Stage 5: Derivational Relations Spelling: Students are able to explore the relationship between spelling and meaning. They learn that words with related meanings are often related in spelling despite changes in sound (ex: “wise & wisdom”). They also learn root words and prefixes and suffixes – such as “pre-, -able, and –tion.” These spellers are 11- to 14 years-old.

As we rapidly approach Thanksgiving, I would like to share that, each and every day, I find myself giving thanks for such the wonderful group of students (and families) that I am blessed with this year. The children are kind, thoughtful, bright, funny and hard-working. They are a true delight! 

Wishing all of you a safe, happy and bountiful Thanksgiving!

Ms. Sawyer :)