Thursday, November 30, 2017

December Blog

This month in reading we are focusing on the comprehension strategy of making inferences.  The focus of the modeled lesson is on how we can take our background knowledge on a topic, merge that “BK” with text clues, and then make an inference.  The inference may pertain to the meaning of an unknown word and result in an inferred meaning.  It may be an inference based on photographs, artifacts, or text features in nonfiction text.  Additionally, students will be inferring to interpret the deeper meaning of language, as well as the big ideas and themes of nonfiction and fiction text. I will be looking for the kids to apply the strategies modeled as they work independently in Reading Workshop.  They will use graphic organizers, sticky notes, and entries in their Reader’s Journal to demonstrate their application of and understanding of the strategy of making inferences.  Lastly, the kiddos with be crafting written responses to their reading in which they will construct a well organized and detailed paragraph sharing what they learned from their reading.

The month of December finds the kids diving deeper into the process of persuasive essay writing.  Throughout this two month unit the kids have learned how to use transition words and phrases to articulate and organize their thoughts, they have learned how to elaborate on the reasons they planned to support their theses, and how to support those reasons with detailed examples.  As we round out this writing unit, the kids will learn how to write a counterclaim to make their argument more persuasive as well as how to finalize their essay with a call to action for the reader.

This month we find ourselves deep in the heart of Unit 3, Multiple Towers and Cluster Problems.  As we complete our investigation of this unit, the students will examine the mathematical relationship that underlies the pattern they see when a number is multiplied by a multiple of 10.  Additionally, they will develop strategies for solving multiplication problems with larger 2-digit numbers by breaking the problems apart in order to use number relationships that they know.  

Some of you have expressed interest in supporting your child at home with the strategies we are using to multiply and divide.  Prior to the week of Thanksgiving Break I sent an email home with links to videos and examples that you may use to support with this task.  I also posted the links on the blog.  I hope you find these helpful. 

Here are some ways to help your child with measurement and geometry.  Below are links to explanations/practice problems and videos.  I will assign these to students to review on different days.  Please use these to help with homework and as a reference.

Area of Rectangles
Measuring Area
Measuring Perimeter
Math Words and Ideas
Perimeter or Area
Converting Measurement
Length of Measurement Tools
Measurement Tools
Measuring Accurately

Social Studies
As we continue our study of Colorado History, the students will learn about various groups of people who have lived in or helped develop Colorado; the Native Americans, the European Explorers, the Fur Traders, Gold Rushers, and the early European Settlers.  Our study of these groups will involve the analysis of the positive and negative impact each group made on the other group and how each group influenced our current culture.  Ultimately, the kids will select which group of people they feel had the most influence on CO, and they will then construct a persuasive essay using the skills they learned in our current writing unit to persuade their classmates why they believe their selected group was the most influential.

Sustainable Traditions Project
With the spirit of giving in mind, this month we will learn about sustainable traditions.  A sustainable tradition is a tradition that can be done each year.  We will focus on sustainable traditions that “give back”.  As we build background knowledge on this subject matter,  we will read various texts with real life examples.  For instance, one article is about a 15 year old boy who started a group that gives new shoes to homeless children.  Another is about an 11 year old boy from Utah whose lemonade stand profits purchase wheelchairs for people in developing countries.  

The kids will explore how they can create holiday traditions with their family that can incorporate this spirit of giving back.  For instance, the kids may choose to create a sustainable tradition in which each year they bake and decorate cookies with their family and they bring the cookies to a local nursing home to spread holiday cheer to the residents.  Another example might be to gather their gently used and no longer played with toys and books, wrap them, and bring them to a local women’s shelter to share with the children there.

The kids will create a digital presentation for the class which you will be able to view at home through their gmail account.  Each year I am amazed at the creativity the kids exhibit with this project.  I have received a good deal of feedback over the years as many parents and kids  have chosen to follow the plan created in school and have made it a tradition for their family.  I hope you find it to be a good talking point for you and your family, regardless of whether or not you choose to partake in the tradition. 

Upcoming Dates:
December 20th-Gingerbread House (Financial Literacy)
  • More information to come
December 21st - Winter Celebration (Hot Chocolate Bar)
  • More information to come
December 22nd - No School (Winter Break)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November Blog

We are learning about the genre of opinion writing. The kids are learning how to create a strong thesis statement (claim), support that statement with powerful reasons and a multitude of examples, and provide a strong concluding paragraph. Thus far, we have practiced our skills by writing opinion essays about important topics relating to us (for example, favorite type of ice cream, favorite genres of music, favorite restaurants, favorite type of animal, etc.). The kids have tried to be persuasive in their writing and convince others to believe in their thesis statement. As we further develop our skills in opinion writing, we will broaden our topics and begin to craft thesis statements based on bigger ideas that impact larger groups such as our community, country, and our world.  With the approach of Thanksgiving, the kids will also be writing an essay about the three aspects in their lives for which they are most thankful.  (This is great to share at the table on Thanksgiving!)

In reading workshop, students have been continuing their work with the comprehension strategy of questioning. For instance, while reading articles, leveled texts, chapter books, technology resources, etc., they have been asking questions (thick vs. thin) and connecting their new learning to their newly gained knowledge as they read a variety of texts. Students are using sticky notes to annotate their text and questioning graphic organizers. Students are asking questions, activating schema, recognizing unfamiliar/unknown vocabulary, inferring, and identifying new learning.  Students have been working on developing written responses to higher level questions.  They are being asked to respond to the questions, explain their thinking, and reference the text using page numbers and examples.  I am proud of students' effort and work completed so far. These strategies are used cross curricular.

Our current math unit is on two-digit by one-digit multiplication and division.  The kids are learning how to decompose larger multiplication problems and use simpler, known problems to help them solve the larger problem.  Additionally, they are creating multiplication stories to help them take abstract multiplication problems and put them in context; they are creating a real-world situation to help them make meaning of the abstract problem.  With regard to division, we are learning how to use multiplication to help us solve division problems. Again, these division problems are embedded in division stories.  Some result in remainders.  The kids are learning how to interpret these remainders.  For instance, instead of stating 4 R1, the kids are interpreting the quotient and saying each student gets four dollars and the remaining dollar can be broken into quarters.  Each student can then get a $1.25. 

Social Studies:
After the end of our Science unit on ecosystems, we began our first Social Studies unit for the year, Colorado History.  Thus far, we have studied the geography of Colorado and how the geography of where we live helps shape how we live.  In addition, we studied the early Native Americans who lived in Colorado and how they influenced how we live today.  As we continue our study of Colorado history, we will learn about fur traders, explorers and gold rushers. Our main focus in the study of these individuals is analyzing how these groups positively and negatively impacted Colorado and how they influenced the way we live today. 

Celebration of Learning & Lunch Schedule
Wednesday, November 15th 
Celebration   Lunch Teacher
10:30-11:00   11:00-11:20   Anderson, Graham & Meier
10:40-11:10   11:10-11:30   Steinher & Woolums
10:55-11:25   11:25-11:45   Zankey & Dean (Rossi)
10:55-11:25                   Brown & Marchese
11:35-11:55   Kindie Enrichment (Art Room)
11:25-11:55   11:55-12:15   Martino & Robart
11:35-12:05   12:05-12:25   Roon & Wilson
11:40-12:10   12:10-12:30   McMillan & Meredith
11:50-12:20   12:20-12:40   Russell & Shepperd
12:00-12:30   12:30-12:50   Dunker & Kramer
12:10-12:40   12:40-1:00    Poli & Westra
12:25-12:55   12:55-1:15    Broecker & Dalcerri
12:30-1:00 1:00-1:20 Hawk, Lautenbach & Rayens
12:45-1:15 Padrnos
Upcoming Dates:
November 7th - No School
November 15th - Celebration of Learning & Thanksgiving Family Feast
November 20th-24th - Thanksgiving Break

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

October Blog

What's Happening in 4th Grade for October! 

We finished our study of arrays, factors, and multiplicative comparisons in Unit 1.  We are currently working on our second unit pertaining to data and measurement.  Our investigation of measurement began by gathering data on the height of fourth graders and first graders.  The students then learn how to represent and compare the data they collected using bar graphs and line plots (high, low, range, median, mode, outliers, and is the data clumped or spread out).  Finally, they worked on drawing conclusions based on the data collected. What was typical and what does the data truly tell us  regarding the information collected.  Within the next couple weeks, we will begin Unit 3 (multiple towers and cluster problems).  This involves multi-digit multiplication and division.

Students are currently researching their chosen endangered animal that exists in our world and how human behavior impacts their ecosystems and the animals and plants that live there.  Research includes the animals habitat, diet, adaptations, its place in the food chain, and the reasons it is endangered. Students are expected to include a call to action with ideas on how to save the species and what others can do to help with animal conservation.  The end product will be a brochure that the kids create and share with one another.

We have started implementing the comprehension strategy of questioning.  As a group, we have discussed the purpose behind questioning and why having a purpose is important.  Students are evaluating what types of questions are surface questions vs. deep questions. I am using non-fiction text as I model for students looking at questions I have and how that helps my understanding of the text, as well as, what I wonder and what I learned.  Students continue to use a variety of nonfiction/fiction texts while activating their background knowledge, connecting their new learning to their background knowledge, and creating new thinking on the subject matter.  Students are gradually release to apply the strategy learned on their own with leveled text.  Often times, the text selected connects to our scientific study of ecosystems.  They will either use a selected think sheet, sticky notes, or graphic organizers to keep track of their thinking.  As always, as the kids are reading and applying the strategy, I will be conferring with them individually and/or in a small group setting.
Writing                                                                                                                                         During Writer's Workshop in October, students will continue drafting and eventually finish their narrative story.  Lessons modeled include: how to write an effective ending, editing/revising (CUPS and ARMS), using dialogue, and incorporating figurative language. Once the lesson is taught and modeled, students are release to practice that one skill on their own.  Conferencing takes place daily,  where each student's individual needs are addressed.

Technology                                                                                                                                 Our next technology rotation will take place October 24th, 26th, and 27th.  We will focus on digital literacy using Discovery Education. 
Upcoming Dates
October 5th: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Field Trip AND Parent Teacher Conferences
October 9th-13th: Fall Break
October 16th: Return to School
October 31st: Halloween (more information to come)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Growth Mindset

Students are learning and implementing Growth Mindset in all aspects of their life through watching videos on You Cubed, ClassDojo, curricular discussions, being prepared/productive, and Going For The Gold.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September Blog

Words Their Way Spelling Homework

Each Friday, your child will bring home a collection of spelling works that have been introduced in class. Throughout the week, your child is expected to complete a different activity daily to ensure that theses words and the spelling patterns they represent are mastered.  These activities have been modeled and practiced in school so your child can demonstrate how they work at home.

Monday:  Cut and Sort Words
Remind your child to cut and then sort the words and then sort the words into spelling patterns as practiced at school.  Your child should read each word aloud during this activity.  Ask your child to explain why the words are sorted in a particular way and what the sort reveals about spelling in general.  Encourage your child to sort their words a second time as quickly as possible.  You may time the activity for fun. Your child will prepare an answer key that will go home each Friday.

Tuesday:  Sort
Have your child sort the words and record them on the Sort and Record Form.

Wednesday:  Star Sort
Write one header in the center of each star.  Write each word that matches the header on the inside line of every star.  If there is not enough space to write on the inside of the star, the outside can also be used.

Thursday: Written Sort
In preparation for Friday’s spelling test, complete a writing sort by having your child first write each header on the form.  Call out all of the words one by one from your child’s word sort in random order.  Each word should be written under the correct header without seeing the words.  Call out any words your child misspells a second or even a third time.  If your child places the word in the wrong category, discuss why it does not belong and help him/her move it to the correct category.  Discuss any spelling patterns or “rules.”

Thank you for your support!

The Fourth Grade Team

 What's Happening in September?


We finished our study of arrays, factors, and multiplicative comparisons in Unit 1.  We are entering our second unit on measurement.  Our investigation of measurement will begin by gathering data on the height of fourth graders and first graders.  The kids will then learn how to represent and compare the data they collected using bar graphs and line plots.  Finally, they will draw conclusions based on the data.  Our study of measurement will continue into October.
Toward the end of August, we began our study of ecosystems.   We started by investigating biotic and abiotic factors, studying the characteristics of all living things, as well as create food webs and food chains.  In addition, we will study the different ecosystems that exist in our world and how human behavior impacts those ecosystems and the animals and plants that live there.  Toward the very end of the month, the kids will each choose an endangered species to study.  They will research its habitat, diet, adaptations, its place in the food chain, the reasons it is endangered, and then they will craft a call to action with ideas on how to save the species.  This information will turn into a brochure that the kids will create and share with one another.
This month in Reading Workshop we will continue to apply the reading comprehension strategy of activate and connect.  When we finish, we will begin the comprehension strategy of questioning.  The kids will continue to study a variety of nonfiction text while activating their background knowledge on the subject material.  They will then connect their new learning to their background knowledge as they create new thinking on the subject matter.  I will continue to model this strategy and these techniques at the start of each lesson and then gradually release the kids to apply the strategy on their own with leveled text I have provided them with.  I will connect our scientific study of ecosystems to reading as I provide the kids with a variety of texts centered around ecosystems and animals.  They are also using the Ladders leveled texts (Amazing Plants and Worth Saving) They will use sticky notes, graphic organizers. and record their new learning in their Reader's Journal as they annotate their text, identify important and interesting information, and merge their background knowledge with their new learning.  As always, as the kids are reading and applying the strategy, I will be conferring with them individually and in a small group format.


During Writing Workshop in September, the kids will mine through the seed stories they have written in their Writer's Notebook as they select a story idea for their first realistic fiction piece.  I will model how to take a story idea for realistic fiction and create a main character who has fully developed internal and external characteristics and one or more conflicts to solve.  We will being workshop each day by working on a class story that I will lead and the kids and I will craft together.  By doing this, they will see how we use techniques such as figurative language, dialogue, apt word choice, details and description, and paragraphing to create a detailed realistic fiction piece that shows vs tells about the character, his or her struggles and how he/she works to solve those problems. Once the kids have selected their own story idea, they will learn how to create a story arc to develop the plot of the story. They will create scenes for the story arc (all modeled by me first) and then ultimately begin their rough draft using their story arc and planned scenes as a guide.  

Students did a wonderful job with setting up Seesaw, taking a picture of their array and writing a title/caption, and then creating a video where they were able to verbalize and reflect on their learning. 

Upcoming Dates

September 15th:  Western Night

September 27th:  Parent Teacher Conferences

September 29th: Digger Dash

October 5th: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Field Trip AND Parent Teacher Conferences

Friday, September 1, 2017

August Blog

August Happenings

Language Arts

As the school year begins, we are setting the tone and foundation for Reading Workshop; we are practicing what it looks like to engage in sustained reading, to think about our reading, to share our thoughts in a clear manner while being active listeners as others share, and we are working on building our reading stamina.  As the month progressed, we learned fake reading vs. real reading and how to annotate our reading by leaving tracks of our thinking in the text (sticky notes).  We are using background knowledge, asking questions, identifying important information, make connections (text to self, text to text, text to world), and sharing our annotations with one another.  As always, I will model this strategy first, guide the kids through practice, and give them ample time to independently practice the strategy.  


We begin fourth grade by studying the components of a paragraph; a topic sentence, detail sentences, and a concluding sentence.  In addition, we will work to elaborate on the details and add more meat to the text.  The kids had their first experience doing this as they chose a summer memory to write a few short paragraphs about.  During this process, we touched on figurative language, appropriate use of punctuation, and transition words.  We have started our first writing unit. The genre is narrative writing. Students have been brainstorming small moments, looking at stories they wish existed within the small moments (strong emotions/struggles), developing characters (internal/external features), writing daily and incorporating the lessons into their own writing.  These lessons as well as others will continue into September.  I always model strategies, use mentor text, and allow plenty of time for students to practice.


Our first unit of study is on factors and arrays.  Thus far, we have explored a large group of objects and used our background knowledge of multiplication and repeated addition to create a variety of arrays that represent that group of objects.  We have used manipulatives when needed to assist in the creation of arrays.  We will continue to build the foundation for one-digit by one-digit and two-digit by one-digit multiplication through our creation of arrays.
Student have received their password and log-in information for Pearson Realize.  They have digital access to the student math handbook.  (Please note that the pages must be printed and can not be completed digitally.)  This may be used in case homework is left at school.  Your child will have viewed/completed the majority of the videos/tasks in class.  You may use them at home to keep yourself informed of what we are doing in class and/or to support your child at home if necessary.


Toward the end of August, we began our study of ecosystems.   We started by investigating biotic and abiotic factors, studying the characteristics of all living things, as well as create food webs and food chains.  Check out next month's blog post for further details.


Next week we will have our first technology rotation (Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday). Our focus is on previously built arrays (factors).  Students will use the digital tool, Seesaw.  Within Seesaw, there are several tools they will use to construct knowledge.  Students will produce creative artifacts that will promote their learning experience.


We are buddies with Ms. Wilson's first grade class this year.  We met our Buddies on Friday.  Buddy Time is an amazing opportunity for the kids to develop bonds, build friendships, and share their learning with others - that and it brings smiles to all of their faces

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Welcome to 4th Grade!

Dear Parents and Student ~
            I would like to introduce myself, and welcome your child to 4th grade!  My name is Kathryn Kramer, and I will be your child’s 4th grade teacher for the 2018/2019 school year.  I am looking forward to our year together with great anticipation and excitement!
         I have been teaching for the past twenty-four years and have a Master’s degree from Regis University.   I have taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades here in Douglas County, as well as in Littleton Public Schools.  It is a pleasure to be a part of Gold Rush Elementary School.
         Teaching is my passion!  I am excited to come to work each day, teach all curricular areas, and help students make connections with what they are learning in the classroom and in their daily lives.  I hope the enthusiasm and love of learning that I bring to my classroom carries over to my students each day.
         My husband, Tom, and I moved to Parker nineteen years ago.  We absolutely love the Parker community. Tom and I have two children.  Logan is 17 and a senior in high school.  Jeffrey is 13 and going into eighth grade.  We have a dog named Otis. He is a German Shorthaired Pointer. Our family enjoys hockey, swimming, bicycling, water skiing, snow skiing, and camping.  We love spending time together as a family.
         Fourth grade is a year of tremendous growth, increased responsibility, and an opportunity for your child to think critically.  My goal is to help your child become more responsible and independent, while providing a learning environment that is rich in content and conducive to your child’s needs.  I will work with your child throughout the school year to provide them with the tools and knowledge needed for them to meet these expectations and achieve success.  Together, I hope to create an environment with open communication, the ability to take risks, and one that encourages life long learning. My door is always open.  If at any time you have questions or concerns, please let me know as soon as possible in order to minimize miscommunication.
Kathryn Kramer

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Blog


What's Happening In Our Classroom!

Students' are working on the reading strategies summarize/synthesize. Summarizing takes the important information and merges the reader's thinking.  Synthesizing information helps readers to see the bigger picture as they read. Students are learning how to be thoughtful and integrate new information with their existing learning to gain a deeper understanding of the text.  Their thinking will begin to evolve as they encounter new information.  We have been reading non-fiction passages from the Stephanie Harvey Tool Kit, science articles, and Time For Kids. Students are now combining strategies to construct a deeper understanding of what they read.

In writing, students are working on several assignments.  They are working on a constellations story and when that is complete, they will begin working on their narrative story with illustrations. We will be using the format that Author Justin Matott shared when he visited with the fourth grade. These story will be published in a book.  We will have a celebration for this as well.  This celebrations will held Tuesday, May 30th from 2:00-3:00ish.  Please join us in this celebration as students will be sharing several pieces of writing.

We are currently working on adding and subtracting larger numbers using a variety of strategies (number lines, place value blocks, and/or the U.S. Algorithm).  We will begin Unit 7 (How Many Packages and Groups) within the next week.  This unit covers: converting measurement, two digit multiplication and division problems.  Learning is differentiated through small group instruction, as well as extension activities that will challenge all students.

We are finishing our study of "The Sun, Moon, and Stars".  The students created a constellation and are in the process of writing a narrative story of how their constellation came to be.  We will begin our Magnetism and Electricity unit next week.

Last Monday and Wednesday students were working with Legos.  They were learning about simple machines (force/motion, friction, and gears).  They were using inquiry to answer questions about force and motion.

  • May 29th - No School
  • May 30th - Writing Celebration from 2:00-3:00ish
  • May 31st - Field Day (Morning)
  • June 2nd - Last Day (Picnic...more information to come)   

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.