What’s Happening Week of April 15

First off, I hope everyone has an enjoyable and relaxing Easter break.  When we return, there are only a few weeks left of school. This time of year, students become antsy with anticipation of the end of the year.  I try to do different projects or research to maintain engagement.  Students will be researching and writing about the Civil War. And, I will have at least one or two more writing assignments.


• Students are delving into the land of customary measurement.  Understanding what measurement tools to use, when to use precise measurement and how to use rulers, measuring cups, etc. are fundamental in a child’s understanding of measurement.

I will be giving students another area/perimeter assessment.  Many did not do well on the first one. I will review the concepts again. The challenge seems to be relating area and perimeter and remembering the formulas.  I am also going to spiral back to multiplication and long division – as a refresher.


• Students completed a comprehension piece about a tall tale.  They will be given short reading passages to practice different types of comprehension skills that incorporate all areas of the elements of literature.  These include cause and effect, characterization, main idea/detail, summarizing/vocabulary and sequencing.


• We completed a short poetry session about Earth Day. Students learned about a ‘shape poem’, Tanka, and free style.  They are already familiar with Haiku.  I showed several videos about Earth Day. We learned it was started by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.  He began the movement in 1970.  Today, over 130 countries around the world celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd.

We also wrote our ‘miss you’ letters to family and friends.  In a time of emails and electronic messaging, it’s nice to receive a hand-written note from someone with a message of love and caring. It is much more personal and sentimental.  I hope that students continue to hand-write notes, cards, or letters to the important people in their lives.

Social Studies:

Currently, I am grading the midwest tests.  They will be returned after Easter break.

We have begun learning about our final region: the West.  This the ‘gold rush’ region

Students continue to understand the courageousness of settlers moving west in covered wagons.  They have seen several videos showcasing the hardships and successes of settling new land in unfamiliar territory.  They are currently drawing pictures representing the Diary of a young Pioneer girl.


Spelling Week of April 22

Spelling will not resume until after Easter Break.  The homework will be due Tuesday, April 23 and 24. The workbook pages will be due Wednesday, April 25. Test Friday, April 26.

FYI, there are only two spelling lessons left.  After that, students will be given ‘must know’ words as part of our spelling unit.

Lesson 30 – Easily Misspelled Words

believe .             question

guess                 portrait

century              citizen

machine             enough

library                 government

probably              biography

recognize             especially

separate              environment (added word to book list)

Tuesday: Cursive or type – alphabetical order

Wed.: Workbook pages 134, 135, 136, 137


What’s Happening in 4B Week of April 8

Things to Know:

See you at Fine Arts Night this Friday.  I forwarded an email from Dr. Antista to all of you about the dress code and timeline.

Eagle Express:

Look for your child’s Progress Report and a note from Mr. Sullivan explaining same.  Remember, these are grades that tell you how your child is currently performing.  Effort, focus, perseverance, attitude, grit, and study habits impact your child’s grade and success.  Research indicates that ‘grit’ is the largest difference between success and failure.


• We continue learning about geometry.  Recently, students  examined the attributes of 3D shapes.  We also had a quiz on the relationship between area and perimeter.  Some students are still struggling to understand this concept.  I haven’t graded the quiz but look for it next week in your child’s Eagle Express.


• We have completed our persuasion writing.  Students really enjoyed the opportunity to develop an opinion about a topic they feel passionate about.

• We will be writing a creative story next.  Students are expected to incorporate what they have learned so far in the writing process: fluency, word choice, organization, ‘show me’ details, figurative language, leads and closings.  We will be using a picture book for this assignment.  Stories are just pictures put into words.

• I would still like the kiddos to research the Civil War.  I  am hoping to find the time to do this as it is an engaging part of our Social Studies curriculum and an important piece of US history.


• Students were given a Tall Tale about Slue Foot Sue to read  and answer comprehension questions, as well as vocabulary, true/false, and character analysis.

• Assigning small reading pieces allows students the opportunity to better their reading grade and increase their skills in understanding the elements of literature.

Social Studies:

• Our midwest state projects are looking amazing. The students are really engaged in researching information about their state, as well as printing pictures.  They are taking their time to produce a wonderful product.

Midwest test: Tuesday, April 16th!  A study guide was given and all ‘long answer’ questions were discussed and notes provided.




Spelling Week of April 8

happy .  happiest .  happier

cloudy .   cloudiest .   cloudier

ugly .    ugliest . uglier

heavy .   heaviest .   heavier

pretty .   prettiest .   prettier

The above of comparative adjectives.   

Tuesday:  Write each word in a sentence showing comparison.

Example:  That was an ugly sweater.

That was sweater was uglier than all the rest.

That is the ugliest sweater I have ever seen!

The sentences can be typed or written in cursive.

Wednesday: Workbook: pages 130, 131, 132, 133


What’s Happening Week of April 1

Wow, it’s already April and there are only a few weeks left of school.  The year certainly flew by and the kiddos have made a lot of growth and continue to develop essential learning skills and strategies.

Things to Know:

Uniform Exchange – Saturday, April 6th. 8 am to noon.  This is a good time to stock up on gently used uniforms, especially if your child has gone through a growth spurt!

Fine Arts Night: Friday, April 12th – This is the time to see all the wonderful art created by the individual classes and of course, purchase a piece, to support St. Michael’s.  I haven’t seen our auction item yet, but a HUGE THANK YOU  AND SHOUT OUT to Amy Haskell and Presley’s granddad.  They took pics of each of the students and are working their magic to create something unique and wonderful.  Can’t wait to see it.

Eagle Express:

Please be sure to peruse all the work that comes home in your child’s Eagle Express.  The work is an indication of expectations and how your child is working toward goals.

Also, students were given a couple of review worksheets in Social Studies regarding the midwest. This was an open-book assignment and meant to beef up Social Study grades.  All the answers could be found in the Midwest chapter.


We are continuing learning about area and perimeter.  We will soon be moving on to customary capacity and conversion skills.  Students did a short quiz on perimeter.


Students are learning the ‘art of persuasion’  –  how to write a persuasive paragraph.  They chose topics yesterday and their goal is to give 3 good reasons and examples to support their argument.  Further, they are to include persuasive  or opinion transition words such as “I am convinced”, “Another reason”, “I believe”, “Specifically”.


We are moving along with Shiloh. This book is full of suspense and drama.  Ask your child what their favorite part of the book is so far.

Students wrote a summary of Chapters 1 through 7.  Many did very well.  We continue to learn how to determine the important details and write a summary in a short, logical sequence of  important events.

Social Studies:

Students have begun researching their midwest state.  They will be creating a booklet in the shape of the state as it is on a map.  Should be cute.  We are in early days and they have a rubric of information that must be included in their project.




Spelling Week of April 1


nation           condition

moisture         location

direction        feature

figure            attention

mention         adventure

creature          protection

vacation           furniture



Tuesday: categorize and write/type each according to their pattern

Wednesday: pages 126, 127, 128, 129

What’s Happening Week of March 25

Things to Know:

Free Dress – Friday, March 29th.  The students will also receive Eegees at the end of the day as a reward for the monies raised for the  Math-a-thon.  Thanks families.  Our new water stations are amazing!

Friday, March 29th – the Historical Fiction Timeline is due.

Wednesday, March 27th – A section of the Tucson Symphony will once again educate the students about their role in the symphony. It’s a good way for students to become familiar with instruments in case they want to join the school band next year.

Wednesday, March 27th – Step-Up Day.  Fourth graders will be visiting the 5th grade teachers in the afternoon to learn about next year.  It’s a way for students to ask questions and ease any concerns they may have about the grade.  They will learn about homework, expectations, work load, and being part of the ‘middle school’ scene!

Saturday, March 30th – The Gala!  See you there and don’t forget to peruse the auction items created by the students.


We have been learning about geometry and discussing its applications in real life – architecture, engineering, etc.  I showed a picture of the parthenon and we discussed that the Ancient Greeks were the masters and developers of many geometrical theories.

We have learned about polygons, a little bit about the different triangle types, and continue to work on perimeter and area.  Students measured their desks and determined the area, perimeter and some students went on to figure out the volume. We did the same with our supply box.


I am in the process of revising and editing each student’s Iditarod writing.  This is a lengthy process but well worth it.  I sit with each child and we go over their piece. I ask questions to develop better or more details and we work on word choice, fluency, and organization too.  So far, the students have done a nice job recreating the scene of a dog or musher on the Iditarod trail.


We have had some heavy discussions about the book Shiloh.  Should Marty continue to lie about keeping Shiloh?  What if Judd and his parents find out?  How will Marty keep Shiloh a secret and continue to feed him with table scraps?    What is the right and wrong thing to do in a case where returning a dog means it could be abused or even killed?  There is a lot of good thinking going on with this ethical dilemma.

Our final homework assignment is an author study.  Please have your child think of someone now so they can write or email them. Contacting their author is a prerequisite for the project.  It is beneficial to make sure the author has an email or mailing address and can be contacted.  Some authors do write back, which is thrilling for the student .

We also watched the Sign of the Beaver movie and compared and contrasted the movie to the book.

Social Studies:

Don’t forget the Midwest states and capitals test is Friday, March 29th!

We watched a movie about the Dustbowl and discussed how, at times,  settlers found the land unsuitable for farming.

We are discussing the Great Lake States.





We have been exploring our Electric Circuits unit for the past few weeks.  Here’s what we have been up to:

Students have found ways to operate more than one lightbulb in a circuit. They devised a series circuit and discover that they can operate two bulbs with one D-cell, but the lights are dim. By adding a second D-cell in series with the first, students can get both bulbs to shine brightly.  4th graders also learned to build a parallel circuit in which one bulb could go out, but the other will stay lit.


Students observed that the two sides (poles) of magnets are different, attracting or repelling one another, depending on orientation. They conducted an investigation to determine if like or opposite poles attract and we learned the north/ south convention for naming poles.

We will have a quiz on April 3.  Study guide will go home this week.

March Current Event is due Friday, March 29.  Students have had many reminders about this, yet they have been trickling in.

We will be moving on to building electromagnets and will discover that a steel core becomes a magnet when current flows through an insulated wire wound around the steel core. They’ll learn where (and how!) to wind the wire on the core to produce the strongest magnet.

Spelling week of March 25

Suffix – ful, less

cheerful        wonderful

colorful           frightful

spotless           breathless

thankful           thoughtful

graceful            faithful

harmless         motionless

hopeful            beautiful


Homework: This is a REVIEW lesson – there are more pages in the workbook to complete.

Tuesday: categorize words according to their suffix ending

Wednesday: pages 116,  117, 118, 119,


Thursday: workbook pages 120, 121

What’s Happening Week of March 18

Happy spring!  The weather has finally begun to show its true Tucson colors.  Let’s enjoy it while we can!

Things to know:

• Midwest States and Capitals test: Friday, March 29th.

Students will have the opportunity to create index study cards in class.  It is important that your child develops good study habits and practices time management to prepare for tests.  Study skills will prepare them for their future schooling.  Every child is different and needs to discover their best way to learn material.

Declamation Day: April 5th

This is a unique experience to 4th grade and very new for your child. Students in 4th grade are required to memorize a poem of their choice between 8 and 12 lines long.  They will recite this poem in front of their 4B peers only.  Ms. Fenstermacher and I will choose one person from each of our classes to participate in Declamation Day on April 5th. They will recite their poem in front of the school in the morning. Stay tuned for more information.  FYI, most students have selected a poem already and seem very excited about Declamation Day.  Ask your child if they have a poem in mind, if not, please assist them in finding one to learn.

St. Michael’s Gala – Saturday, March 30

This is a wonderful opportunity to dance the night away while supporting the school.  There will a live band plus food and drink – of course!  The  fabulous Art Auction is part of this event.  Bring your money and purchase a unique item made by the students.

Fine Arts Night: Friday, April 12 – This is the time to see your student shine as they sing and perform for you!  They have been working hard in music with Dr. Antista to perfect their performance. Can’t wait to hear and see them.


We continue to work on fractions and learning how to determine decimals, common denominators, and simplifying same.  Students really need to understand what is a multiple and factor in order to be successful with fractions.

Our next unit will be measurement.  We will be learning about polygons, 3-D object attributes, and angles.


Students are writing a descriptive paragraph about being on the Iditarod trail.  They watched ‘musher videos’ to develop a sense of the excitement and danger involved in the race.  Your child was given a choice to write from the perspective of the musher or dog.  Ask your child what perspective they chose.  This paragraph should showcase your child’s voice and the thrill of the Iditarod race.

The goal in descriptive writing is to use adjectives, figurative language, and muscle verbs.  Students have also been practicing how to write better sentences that produce a text with fluency.  This is an important skill in order to keep writing fun and develop voice.


We have completed Sign of the Beaver and you should have seen comprehension questions come home in your child’s Eagle Express.  It’s imperative that students show understanding of a novel by answering questions in their own words and then  supporting their answer with evidence from the text.  At times, students are asked ‘synthesizing’ questions, to give an opinion, or to compare and contrast events.  These are higher order thinking skills that require a deeper understanding of the book.  FYI, students read one or two chapters at a time and then answer the questions.  Recall of detail is fundamental when reading text.  This is a skill still developing in many 4th graders.

We have begun reading Shiloh. This book delves into an important question which we will be discussing throughout this lit study:  Is it ever okay to lie?

Social Studies:

I am pleased with the test grades on the Southeast.  It appears students studied and took the test seriously.  There will be a test on the midwest states and capitals on Friday, March 29th.

We have begun reading about the midwest and studying vocabulary.