Reading, Writing, Word Work….and a Quiz!

Today I (Mrs. H) am the “special guest blogger.” Although, as a student told me, “It sounds more interesting when the kids say it” (and I do agree), I thought I would take an opportunity to share some thoughts and updates about 4th grade language arts.

Writing: We worked this week on persuasive writing. Each student wrote to his or her parents, attempting to convince them to get a particular pet. You’re welcome! I have told them that if they get the pet due to the convincing power of their words, it’s an automatic A. Your “parent homework” is to read your child’s blog post and leave a quality comment.

photo 2  photo 3
photo 1

Reading: The goal of Daily 3 reading is independence and meeting the needs of each reader in a diverse group. As such, there are many different things going on while I am still getting to know each child as a reader. We do not find the time for reading every day in class, although I try really hard to carve out at least 15 minutes each day.

photo 4

I can not stress enough the importance of reading at home. Reading is homework. This includes the wonderful and valuable act of reading to your child. One of the biggest ways you can help assure your child’s success in language arts this year is to help him/her:

  • make time for reading
  • talk with your child about what he/she is reading
  • help your child remember to bring his/her book to school every dayphoto 2

Word Work: I plan to introduce word work next week. Word work includes spelling, vocabulary building and word origins. There are many apps that make word work enjoyable.

Grammar: We have been working with mentor sentences as a way to focus on grammar and conventions in the context of good writing. We will be taking a quiz on Weds. covering rules of capitalization. Each child has an account on the site, and they can use that site to practice for the quiz. Here is the link to the capitalization practice section. The quiz will cover: beginning of a sentence, days and months, holidays, streets, cities and other places; names, pronouns and titles, and brand & product names.

Language arts is everywhere, and so are opportunities for learning. You can reinforce classroom learning in a million fun ways. Try this: next time you are in the car or out and about, hunt for prepositions (or adjectives, nouns, verbs, etc) with your child.

Shana Tova!

This Week in Language Arts

Thank you, Saylor S, for writing this informative blog post!

Collage by Eliana M.
Collage by Eliana M.

This week in Language Arts we read the book My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco. She is also the author of Thank You, Mr. Falker. Every week, we get a sentence from a different book. This week’s sentence was ”Richard gave me one of his extra-rotten, weasel-eyed, greeny-toothed grins.”

All week we focus on that one sentence. On Monday, we wrote down what we noticed about the sentence (Like a bullet list.) On Tuesday, we wrote down the parts of speech in the sentence. On Wednesday, we used to just change one or two words of the sentence. But, we decided to combine Wednesday and Thursday. So, instead of doing work in our notebook, we read or something like that. On Thursday, we imitate the sentence. That means that we build our own sentence from the structure of the mentor sentence*. On Friday, we took our test on what we learned. ( We have a secret word for it, but it wouldn’t be a secret if I told you.)
*As Mrs. Hernandez says.

We also read a lot this week. We read for 15-20 minutes mostly every day. If we don’t have any time, then we won’t read.

We also had to write a blog post about our shelfies. A shelfie is when you take a picture of yourself with your favorite book/series. I did ‘The Land of Stories’ by Chris Colfer. It is a small series. There are three books in the series. I have read two of them. I’m looking forward to reading the third book. Anyway, the blog post that we wrote had to be about our book/series and had to include your shelfie. My whole class created shelfies using the app Pic Collage. It is one of my favorite apps!

                            STEPS TO MAKING YOUR OWN SHELFIE
1. Have someone take a picture of you with your favorite book. (When I say book, I mean book/series but my fingers are getting tired of doing that.) I recommend somewhere where there is a solid color behind you.
2. Double click it and push ‘Set as Background’.
3. Flick your tiny picture into the trash can in the upper right corner.
4. Press the ‘+’ on the bottom-middle and push ‘add text’.
5. Type in the word ‘read’ and choose your color, font, and background for you writing.
6. Move the word ‘read’ with your fingers to the plain color.
Now, I’ll tell you how to decorate.
1. Press the ‘+’ on the bottom-middle
2. Press ‘add stickers’.
You can start with the starter pack, purchase some sticker packs, or download some of the free ones.

Well, that’s another great week all wrapped up!
Bye for now!

Who is the Rambam?

This week we introduced the concept of T’shuva (Repentence), according to the Rambam (Maimonides).  The students are learning that there is a seven step process to complete when correcting wrong behavior.  The students researched the Rambam and presented facts about him in class.  The following are two examples:


הרמבם נולד בספרד

.השם של הרמבם רבי משה בן מימון

הרמבם הוא רופא של המלך מצרים

הרמבם מת במצרים ב12044

הקבר של הרמבם בישראל

הרמבם כתב ספר משנה תורה





This Week in Social Studies


This week the fourth graders got an introduction to Florida history with Mrs. Hallett during their weekly Library visit. They were introduced to the Florida database.  In order to help students become familiar with the webpage and using the menus effectively, they engaged in a scavenger hunt. We will be using this webpage, among others, as we continue to learn about Florida and its history this year.

Library Scavenger Hunt

We Learned and Enjoyed…

You may have noticed that I try to have students reflect regularly on the learning that took place in language arts. This can and will take many forms, and I intend to have students experiment with different tools and techniques for documenting and sharing.

We do this for many reasons.

First of all, it is important that students are the ones to craft blog posts and other means of classroom sharing. It is, after all, their classroom blog and their learning. I can write all day long about what I taught, but what matters is what they learned. 

We also know that taking time to revisit and reflect leads to deeper learning. As former head of school, Jon Mitzmacher, put it, “Reflection breeds success.”

Finally, asking students to reflect is a form of low-stakes assessment (known in education lingo as formative assessment) that helps me better understand what students understand. I am constantly assessing students in informal ways and using this information to plan instruction. Student reflections are very informative to teachers. 

This past Friday, we used a simple strategy called “exit slips” for a quick reflection on the week. 


mentor sentences -Isaac

This week, I learned and enjoyed revising/imitating the mentor sentence. -Saylor

I learned that kitchen can be an adjective. -Nadav

I enjoyed stamina reading. -Moe

I enjoyed doing the blogging and stamina reading. -Aleeya

This week I learned what “No Red Ink” is. -Daisy

I enjoyed reading Saturday and Teacakes. -Eva

We enjoyed read to self. -Beth

This week my class and I did fun work on our mentor sentence and on our blogs. -Josh

I enjoyed read to self in the living room. -Alisa

I enjoyed blogging and reading my book. -Danny

I enjoyed sharing trailers. -Ava

This week I learned sweet is an adjective and enjoyed read to self. -Courtney

This week we learned how to get on to and take tests on We set up our own accounts. -Elli

I enjoyed reading Saturdays and Teacakes. -Anna

This week in school, I had fun reading my book. -Ariel

I enjoyed my Caldecott book, Frog and Toad, this week. -Mason

Doing read to self- Moti



Building a Learning Community in Language Arts

One main difference between learning in school and learning outside of school is that in most schools, students are consistently grouped with their same-aged peers. Imagine having the same eighteen people come to your house every weekday! The opportunity to learn together extends beyond academic subjects and into developing the important life skills necessary to be a positive member of a community. Building a foundation for social learning is one of my main teaching goals for the first weeks of school.

To this end, we did many activities this week including introducing classroom norms, mentor sentence of the week and “read to self” which is the first component of the Daily 3.

I intend to have the students take ownership of documenting and sharing the learning each week. It is also a great way for them to reflect on the week in language arts and for me to see what they learned and how they express it, as opposed to what I think they learned. Today we all practiced doing the job of documentarian.

by Isaac

by Isaac

by Ava

by Av


by Saylor

josh norms


A Sneak Peek…

It has been an amazing year of reading, writing, word work and community building in 4th grade. Students have used the iPads to create, communicate, connect and collaborate. They are becoming critical thinkers!

At MJGDS, we strive for student-centered or “student-owned” learning. Blogfolios and student-led conferences are two steps on the path of reflective learning. What does it really mean for students to own the learning?

I want to share a wonderful example.
Our last read aloud was Chris Grabenstein’s new book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. We enjoyed this book a LOT (many students said it was their favorite or one of their favorite books ever).  With all of the puzzles and games, it was an especially fun book to read together as a class.
A few days after we finished the book, Allie, came to me to tell me that she was checking out Chris Grabenstein’s website and, “LOOK what I found! Chris Grabenstein Skypes with classes for free!” She asked if she could email his assistant to set up a Skype for our class.

Let me repeat that.

And that is what she did. She wrote a beautiful email. I love how her voice, personality and enthusiasm shine through her words.


As a language arts teacher, I also happen to notice how much Allie’s writing has improved over the year. But what delights me is her choice to include information like “Our class loves to read books and write.” If you ever wondered what is meant by students “owning their own learning” this is it.

I don’t quite know how to thank amazing authors such as Chris Grabenstein who care about helping to create the next generation of readers and give generously of their time.We have  scheduled our Skype visit for early September, and we are excited. Thank you, Allie, for giving us something to anticipate!