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Third Trimester

Thank you to families for coming in for conferences. It was great to reconnect with you all after the long, cold winter! While it may not feel like spring, we have moved into the third and final trimester of this school year.

We continue to write and read daily in reading class. Students are participating in reading groups, reading books that they identified as being high-interest texts. We read, write and discuss these stories daily. Students continue to be required to write a response to what they have read and encouraged to illustrate and be creative in their Reader’s Notebooks.

In writing we are writing autobiographies. Kids were asked this week to do some homework around this project. They brought home a list of questions to answer to gather research for their writing. Hopefully you had a chance to tell a funny story or two that they can include in the final piece.

Please be sure to continue to support kids with homework by checking their assignment books nightly. The third grade continues to have spelling homework Monday- Thursday and spelling quizzes on Fridays. The fourth grade is now doing Wordly Wise for nightly homework with a vocabulary quiz every Friday. Students are also still expected to be reading every night for at least 30 minutes.

Please let me know if there are questions, concerns, or comments!


February News!

We are looking forward to our WE ROCK celebration tomorrow afternoon. Kids will work in k-6 teams to build snow sculptures and have a chance to be a part of some sledding races. The weather looks perfect for this type of fun!

After break parent-teacher conferences will be held on 3/20 & 3/21. Keep an eye out for the email from Kathi when the online scheduler opens. I asked for the students to join us for our first round of conferences, however this round I will leave it up to the family to decide. In some cases a more frank discussion can happen without the student present and I am open to that option!

Enjoy the winter break!


January News!

It was so great to see the class on stage last night. I loved hearing them sing and seeing the group feeling so joyful!

We have been busy since returning from our winter break. We are currently finishing up our social studies projects that some students will share at morning assembly on January 30. There has been a great amount of enthusiasm for these projects, the creativity being shown is fantastic.

This week we began a project that incorporates reading informational text and writing to inform. We engaged in reading the nonfiction text, The Story of Snow on Tumblebooks and then read the hardcover version of the book all together. Students will be required to write an informational piece explaining what they learned about how a snow crystal is formed.

Next Wednesday we will travel to the Flynn to see Dream Carver. Here is how the Flynn describes the production:

“From a Broadway-trained company of puppeteers and singers called Swazzle comes this vibrant tale of Mateo, a young Mexican woodcarver who dreams of transforming a generations-old tradition into an innovative new art form. Despite his father’s disapproval, he bravely breaks with the past and becomes a powerful force for change in his community. Based on the children’s book by Diana Cohn and inspired by the life of renowned Oaxacan artist Manuel Jimenez, this bilingual puppet musical encourages children to think creatively, try new things, and follow their dreams.”

Please have your child bring a bag lunch that day since we will need to get ready to go skiing as soon as we return. If you would like to order lunch from Cheryl please let Kathi know by today.

As always please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about anything happening at school.

December News

We have been working hard over the past few weeks. In reading we have been discussing close reading strategies and practicing these skills. Students enjoyed reading about Temple Grandin in the book Temple Grandin How the Girl who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery. We read a passage from the book together and answered text dependent questions to gain a deeper understanding. Students were then challenged to write a response to a focus question based on the text. The question required them to analyze figurative language and use evidence from the text to support their thinking.

This Thursday we will share our inspirational quote project with the rest of the school at morning assembly. We will tell how this student driven project came about and read our favorite quotes. We are still in the process of creating our own WE ROCK cards that we will distribute to teachers. Teachers will then be able to share our cards in order to acknowledge expected behaviors.

We are all looking forward to vacation, but this week the routine for homework and in class work will remain the same. We will have spelling quizzes Friday morning and enjoy a winter solstice craft Friday afternoon. I wish you all a happy, healthy & restful break.

End of the Trimester!

It is hard to believe that the first trimester is ending. I look forward to seeing you all at parent conferences. Report cards come home this Wednesday. We will discuss report cards and set goals for the next trimester at conferences.

We are going to the Fairbanks Museum next Tuesday for the day. Please have kids bring snack & lunch for the day. The cost of the trip is $8. Please let us know if you are in need of scholarship funds for the trip.

This Wednesday is our Thanksgiving Lunch @11:25. I am hoping to go to Fayston Elementary to have lunch with my daughter since their luncheon is that same day. Enjoy the yummy food!



Kids did a great job this week on the NECAP testing. NECAPs test the knowledge that students have gained from prior years of learning. The photo above shows the mindfulness work we do at morning meeting that came in handy this week during testing. Kids were prompted to use positive self-talk and deep breathing techniques in order to reduce testing taking anxiety and improve focus. Everyone earned a “WE ROCK” card for their engagement during testing!!!!

Reading Stamina

In reading class (before NECAP took over our lives a bit!) we were learning how to build stamina as readers. We discussed a few tips for kids to use to become stronger readers with greater stamina for reading.

Strategies for Stamina:

• Try not to point under words. Follow the words with your eyes instead.

• Try not to read aloud. Read with your read aloud voice in your head.

• Guard against constant rereading. Only reread when you are confused.

• Read some parts faster, especially when it’s clear as to what is happening.

Some of these strategies were useful when kids were just learning how to read. For example, tracking the words with your finger helps train your eyes to follow the words as you read. However, if you see your child holding onto any beginning reader strategies encourage them to ditch these old habits!

Our focus in reading class has been on improving our lives as readers. We have learned what type of environment we need to make reading the best it can be, how to choose books carefully, and how to begin to take note of bad reading habits.

It is critical for all readers to be choosing books carefully. While it is great to, at times be reading books that are a stretch, it is also important to read books that are “just right” for the reader. When choosing books kids have been encouraged to follow these guidelines:

Make sure you………

• understand what you are reading

• find the book interesting

• get most of the words right

• read at a smooth pace

• read with expression easily

• read noticing punctuation

When a child has chosen a book that fits “just right” reading will be more enjoyable!

Next post will be on how to ditch those bad reading habits!


The copier is back in action so we were able to begin spelling today. We are doing a “practice” week to help set routines and procedures. I have given all the fourth graders the same word list and all the third graders the same word list. This will change the week after next and kids will get words that fit their spelling level, according to the spelling assessment they completed last week. I want kids to get the routine down before I start separate groups.

Spelling homework will be assigned nightly Monday-Thursday. Monday & Wednesday nights they will sort their words, say/spell their words and write the sort in their spelling notebook. On Tuesday nights they will write sentences using their words & on Thursday nights study for their Friday quiz by taking a practice quiz. An adult or older sibling should be giving the practice quiz so kids know what words to study more.

This homework schedule is a bit flexible as long as there is studying of the words each night. For example it is ok to stretch out the sentence writing over the week as long as it is completed by Friday. Third graders should try to use at least 10 of their words in sentences (a sentence for each word) and fourth graders should try to write a sentence for all of their spelling words by the end of the week. Please help your child decide what works best for them, yet keeping high standards for their best effort in getting the work completed.

Please email me with questions but know we are practicing this routine in class!



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Getting in the Groove!

It is great to be back in school! Kids having been working hard to learn the routines & expectations of their new classrooms, while getting reacquainted with one another. As a homeroom group (Belknap3/4) we have been working on group team building and learning mindfulness strategies. We have played games to get to know one another and learned some breathing techniques to help us be calm and focused during learning times.

In reading we have been reflecting on our lives as readers. We discussed the “peaks and pits” of our reading careers, which led us to writing reading resolutions for the year. Students are committed to making reading the best it can be and their resolutions will help lead them in this direction.

In writing we are in the pre-writing stage for our first writing piece. We have been brainstorming “small moment” stories that will result in writing personal narratives. We have shared funny stories with one another and discussed how these stories can be put into print.

Third and fourth graders meet separately for reading with me, and as a homeroom group for writing. Both groups will follow the same format yet the work will be differentiated to meet students’ individual needs. We were thrown a curve ball this morning when the copier broke down, so spelling is a bit delayed this week. As a result we will start with a shortened spelling list but the quiz will still be on Friday. Please see the homework page of this blog for details on spelling homework. Words will come home tomorrow ……assuming the copier will be fixed!

Please remember to sign your child’s homework book nightly after  homework has been completed. If you have questions about homework please email me [email protected] or write me a note in the assignment book.

Stay in touch!