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From D217

Hope you had a great weekend, parents!

We had a full week, last week, learning new concepts in Math and Science, working on our magazine projects, and finding ways how we can apply some Math into all of this.

You probably already know that our A Long Walk to Water book is finished, and we just had our full week of block schedule to work on our projects. Block schedules have relievd the students from the stress of switching in the middle of the day. They have also given us the flexibility of teaching something at any point in the day, while maximizing our times with the students.

The book project that they're working on is a class magazine, where student groups choose a literary component as their format for the piece that they're contributing. They derived their themes from ideas, problems and conflicts that we have encountered in the book. The literary components are fiction, non-fiction, paired texts, grammar cop, lab piece, and debate. Last week, they did all the background research and some have already started typing their product. Projects are due this Thursday/Friday so we can compile and send to the printing shop.

You might be wondering what is a Math teacher doing teaching literary components. Integration of subjects requires flexibility and creativity in seeing the math and science in our fiction, paired texts, non-fiction, etc... Next week, I will be meeting with group of students to see where they can derive some math from the writing piece that they're working on. It could be word problems, measurement problems, designing a shelter with certain dimensions, graphs and tables, etc...Can't wait to see what they come up with.

The Math concept we're working on right now is Measurement, Customary and Metric. Next week, we will start Elapsed Time. Identifying resaonable measurements and units are very tricky at this age. This is something that can easily be reinforced at home. An example is:  "If I'm making soup for dinner, what is a resonable amount of liquid would I need?" "4 fl ounces or 4 cups?"  Same thing, if you happen to be putting gas in your car, is it going to be about 60 Liters or 60 gallons?

Elapsed time is also tricky. Examples: "If you start your homework at 3:30, stop at 4:10, then play with sister for 35 minutes, and have dinner in 2 hrs and 15 minutes. What time is dinner?" Timelines are the best when solving word problems with elapsed time. We will start that on Wednesday and work on it for about a week.

Science has been fun. We have started our lesson on Slow Changes to Land due to weathering, erosion and deposition and the three main reasons for it, water, wind and ice. The students are using their knowledge of measuemnet to weigh and measure sand, clay, and water to make all the components that we need for our lab next week. We have also used our scientific knowledge to try and solve a problem that we have encountered in our book, A Long Walk to Water. Students mixed some dirt with water and had to figure out a way to filter it using soil components. The brainstorming session with them was so fun to hear and the way they came up with an idea was priceless. My homeroom did that on Friday, Mrs. Belcher's homeroom will do that on Monday. 


Please. don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. We are all looking forward to another great week of fun learning!


Mrs. Duna

From D217

Dear Families,

We've had another great week of learning new concepts and delving deeper in our book, A Long Walk to Water . The students are enjoying it and the level of discussion and reflection points that comes from it every day is phenomenal. Here are some pictures from our journals:

As their Math and Science teacher, I would want them to find out how they can apply what we're learning in Math and Science to solving problems and follow their passion that will spring from reading this book. Due to the amount of flexibility in teaching that we all have to show during this 9-weeks, we decided to run workstations in Math rather than do our DIY's. The kids seem to be ecstatic at this little change in routine.

This week we are working on Area and Perimeter. This is a fun concept and easy to apply in their daily lives. Use garden spaces and window treatments to apply this knowledge and see what they know. 


For Science, we are finishing our concept on properties of soil. The kids have found out tha topsoil is the best kind of soil to support gorwth. They also learned that topsoil is 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay. Ask your student what they know about each kind of soil. They are also researching more information on how the climate can affect the type of soil that is present in every geographical area. They will use that information to talk about the type of soil they have in Sudan. How does the climate affect the soil and what effects does that have on their economy.


Have a great three day weekend!


From D217

Happy Friday!

What an exciting week with lots of learning and stretching our thinking, both as teachers and students. Great to have had everyone back and ready to learn!

We have started setting the stage for our next read aloud, A Long Walk to Water, as we are incorporating the book in all subjects.

For Math, we covered Input/Output tables. A value is enetred in a table, undergoes a process and then the output is another value. Here is a fun link that the kids can explore and play the game and a picture of what that looks like.

We are also working on word word problems and representing word problems through equations with an unknown. We will continue practicing this on Monday.

For Science, we have started our unit on Earth Science with exploring the properties of soil. The students experimented with different types of soil for their different properties. They have also planted sorghum seeds, a South Sudan staple, to see which type of soil would be most suitable. More project ideas will come from our unit on Earth Science.


We have an exciting week ahead full of learning. Thank you for supporting your child in every way!

From D217

Good Day Wildcat Parents,

It was nice seeing some of you at walk n roll on Friday! It's always fun for students and teachers to be able to share some of the learning that happens in class with you!


We are deep into division and the students are really getting the hang of it. This week we introduced and practiced partial quotient. This is a strategy that is very much like long division or division with algorithm, except it's a little more detailed and instead of dividing one digit at a time, we're thinking of the whole number. Therefore, the dividend, the number we're dividing is broken down into compatible numbers to our divisor, which is the number  we're dividing into. For example: 2,422 divided by 7. We say, how many 7's go into 2,000. We can either say, well I know that 7 times 100 is 700, or we can say 7 times 300 is 2,100. So on and so forth... There is a picture below that will show the run down. We also have found that listing the facts to the side are very helpful in finding the answer quickly. We call it a cheat sheet.


Here is also a video that compares long division with partial quotient. Just a note, we don't divide by 2 digit numbers in fourth grade, but this is the only video that I was able to find. The method is the same. 

We teach long division or algorithm in 4th grade, but we have found that students prefer partial quotient as they find it more fool proof and they won't miss any zeros that could be in the middle of the quotient. Fifth grade teachers prefer that we solidfiy this concept with partial quotients which makes it easier for them to continue with the long dividion. 


We will continue working on Forces and Motion. We are in the Explain and Literacy part of the unit. This where we do class discussions, take notes, read and write about Forces and Motion. My homeroom took a break from science yesterday and we went to the library for our coding hour. They were very excited. On Monday, I will be taking Mrs. Belcher's homeroom for the same thing.


Math test will be on Friday the 14th and Science test TBD, sometime next week.


Have a great week ahead Wildact families!






From D217

Dear Parents,

I hope your break was wonderful and that you're all in the spirit of the season. I certainly needed the break and have enjoyed great family times, some cooking and the inevitable shopping trip. 

We were back this past week with full force. The students took their first Math benchmarks and did well, they all enjoyed a great field trip and we started Division in Math and Forces in Science. 


Division in fourth grade goes up to 4-digit by one digit. The students are expected to identify representations of division through arrays and area models, divsion through partial quotients (breaking up the number to divide) and algorithm (long division). We have started this process by having students work with manipulatives. It was great to hear that a lot of them felt good about division after working with flats, rods and unit cubes. The process is long and if your child is having anxiety about division please reassure them that we will get him/her there no matter what. Here are some pictures from our division activity.


The next skill that was introduced this week was dividing using area models. Numbers are broken into smaller chunks that are compatible with our divisor and are used to represent small areas of a rectangle. When added together it gives us the whole number that we have started with. 

Here's a  video to demnostrate. The students will have more opportunities to practice this concept before we move on to other representations of division. Below is a picture of disvion with area model.Ask your student about it.


We have started experimenting with forces this week. The forces that we cover are pull, push, magnetism, gravity and friction. We started by exploring our surroundings to identify all the forces that we will be experimenting with. What better place to start then the playground. Students did a double entry journal and listed all the parts of the playground that use one or more of either a pull, push, friction or gravity.


Then students were presented with a bunch of little toys and objects that use one or more of the above mentioned forces in order to design a descriptive investigation testing one of those forces. This activity had to be preceded by knowing how to figure out if a question is testable or non-testable." How do cars move?" is not a testable question; whereas, "How do different surfaces affect the speed of a car going down a ramp?" is a testable question. They went through a list of questions that are unrelated to forces and tried to categorize them as testable versus non-testable. We also talked about variables and how everything has to stay the same except the variable that we're testing. Then, after a little demonstration with our obejcts (toy cars, different size balls, different surfaces, magnets, metal washers, a spring scale to measure forces) the students were randomized in a group and, together, they had to come up with a testable question related to the forces that we're studying. Ask your student what is the testable question that they're working on. Some questions had to be refined a little and some were amazing. More to come on this short descriptive investigation.


As always, I'm only a note away if you have any questions or concerns. Have a great week!

From D217

Dear Parents,

Happy Veterans Day to all our veterans and their family members who had served and continue to serve this country! The students enjoyed the 5th grade show and gave them something to look forward to for next year!

We certainly had a pretty busy week learning new concepts in Math and exploring more in science.


We have covered multiplication and representing multiplication with arrays, area models, partial product and algorithm. The students seem to show a lot of confidence in using the area model to represent multiplication. Fourth graders are encouraged to use partial product when multiplying numbers in word problems. This at least takes away the uncertainty element of multiplication and the focus becomes more on tackling a 2-step word problem. This continues until they show confidence in multiplication with algorithm, and that may not be until 5th grade. 

In partial product, we break up the number into it's place values, or write the number in expanded form. Then, we multiply each place value of one number by each place value of the other number. This is called distributive property of multiplication. Then we add the partial products in order to find the total product. Here's a video to help with understanding the process. Multiplication test will be on Wed the 14th. 



We are continuing to learn about electricity, conductors and insulators. Today, we talked about series circuits and parallel circuits. We used the examples of Christmas lights. Back in the day, when one light bulb goes out, the whole thing goes out. That is because those cheap lights would be made with series circuits. Whereas some lights still work if you have one bulb out and that is because they are wired with a parallel circuit. 

The students can explore more through assigned interactive activities on Stemscopes, which can be accessed through Clever. Also, there are 2 fun and very educational interactive websites that are available in their Google Classroom. Those can be accessed at home as well.

Our Science test will be on Tuesday the 13th.


Thankful Thursday:  Every couple of weeks or so we dedicate the last hour of our Thursdays to either a character building lesson, or to discussing a local problem and try to brainstorm solutions. This Thursday, we talked about food waste at our school and what are some ideas we can come up with to help with that. I was very impressed with the ideas that they came up with. The ideas ranged from composting the leftover food to enrich our garden to having more variety at our cafeteria so children can choose the food they like to eat, which would cut down on the amount of waste, to sharing the unopened food items with local shelters. We also talked about the different ways we can incorporate Math and Science into a project like that. I hope you will get to hear from your child a little about that. 


I would like to end by wishing you all a restful weekend, may be by the fire at some point. We have one more week before a much needed break for everyone. 


Mrs. Duna

From D217

Good Day Parents,

If I have to pick a favorite month, it would be November. The weather, along with all the seasonal colors and the fact that we get to stop for a day and think about what we're thankful for, are all my favorite things. Not to mention, that we get a full week off this year. Who would not like that?


We have started our multiplication unit this week. We start the unit by teaching multiplication by 10 and 100. The students can be tripped easily when multiplying tens by tens and tens by hundreds. For example 50x40 or 50x600. The language that is used focuses on the place value of the number and how many places to the left does the number move. We also say 5 tens instead of fifty and 4 tens instead of forty. In the beginning, we gradually break up the language and say: 5 x 4 is 20, 5 tens x 4 tens is 20 hundreds, 20 hundreds is equal to 2,000. 

Fourth graders are also expected to learn multiplication up to 1-digit by 4-digits and 2-digits by 2-digits with representing multiplication through arrays, area models, partial product and algorithm, in that sequence. This week, we have covered arrays and area models.

Arrays in 4th grade are used only for 1-digit by 2-digits and 2 digits by 2-digits up to 15x15. Arrays look different in 4th grade than in 3rd. Below is a picture from our notes this week. 

We break up our 2-digit number into tens and ones before we start multiplying. The colors highlight the difference between the hundred, tens and ones. Then we add up all the components to find our final product. As you can see this is only practical through 15x15.

Then, from arrays we transition into area models, which look very much like the arrays except without the grid in the middle of the different sections. Hers is a video to help with understanding how the area model works. This has to be one of the favorite ways for kids to multiply.

Here's a picture of how this should look like: 

Next week we will move on to Partial Product and Algorithm. Stay tuned.



The highlight of our week was the students' presentations of our "All the Bells and Whistles"  project on the Forms of Energy. They had to tackle solving a problem, which is coming up with a caranival booth that uses or produces at least 4 forms of energy. The students worked in groups and divided their tasks into roles of designers, architects, energy experts and materials experts. We invited authentic audience for our presentations. Our gustes were, the Carnival Chairs, Mrs. Goodman, and Mrs. Lisa Davis our instructional expert.

The students did a great job with their work, received great feedback and the Chairs are seriously considering implementing one of the ideas into the Carnival this year. What a great way to apply what we have learned to helping solve a problem or contribute to a greater project. Fingers crossed!

Other than that, we are continuing with our Electricity concept. The kids had fun making circuits and tested different materials to see if they were good conductors or insulators of electricity. We say about circuits "if it's open it's broken and if it's closed it flows." We will be exploring more on that concept next week and the one after. 

I'd like to end by saying that our week was colorful, busy and fun! Below are a couple of pictures to capture just a snip of it!

I bid you all a great weekend!




Book Character Day                                                                                                  "All the Bells and Whistles" presentations


From D217

Another week in 4th grade was spent doing great things, in addition to having a fun filled week.  The pumpkins looked amazing, the author's visit was exceptional, I'm sure you have heard all about it, and Field Day, I'm sure it was a blast. I'm sorry to have missed some fun with the kids on Friday. I was battling a bad cold and had to stay home to recover. 


We ended our short unit on addition and subtraction of decimals last week and the students did very well on their post assessments. I'm very proud of their hard work! We also put that knowledge to good use to help our school and PTA. We volunteered to weigh all the sweet potatoes that were harvested from our school garden and, therefore, had to learn a bit about measurements, and the end, we added all those decimals. The 4th graders measured a total weight of 77.10 Lbs of sweet potatoes. The potatoes will be served in the cafeteria closer to Thanksgiving. 


On Monday we will be starting our multiplication unit. This is a long one and stretches over 3 weeks. Students in 4th grade are expected to be well versed in multiplying using different strategies such as arrays, area models, partial products, and algorithm. Wilchester prides itself on using a lot of visuals when teaching math concepts. We think the benefits of that are carried over through many years afterwards. We have heard about that first hand from upper level teachers, who are very appreciative of that, and you will get to appreciate that as well. So your support and patience through the multiplication and division is very much appreciated. The way things are done is a little different from how you and I have learned math. Videos and examples will be shared on this blog for additional support at home. In addition, students will be encouraged to take their journals home for more examples. 



We also finsihed the Forms of Energy unit and the students performed very well on their post assessments. The last thing we have to do to wrap up our Forms of Energy unit is to present our Bells and Whistles project to the Carnival Chair. The kids have been very excited about designing their booths with different forms of energy, and can't wait to share some of that with their authentic audience.

Our next unit is Electricity, This is always a fun favorite of the students as they can make things turn on and off. We talk about closed circuits and open circuits. We also differentiate between good conductors of thermal energy and electric energy and good insulators of thermal and electric energy. Some of the questions that we try to tackle are: What are some of the properties of conductors and insulators? Are all thermal conductors, electric conductors? You can support at home by pointing out the different conductors and insulators that you use every day. Why do we use a wooden spoon to stir the soup? Why do some pots have rubber handles? What is a circuit breaker and why is it important to have at home?

As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns. We are here to make every student's experience a memorable one filled with fun learning. I would like to leave you with on image that was shared with us by Mrs. Goodman. I shared the image with the kids and it created a lot of converstations about many things. This is something you want to refer back to all the time as your child is growing up and facing the many challenges in life that we all know they will face. Our job and yours is to arm them with the tools they will need along the way! And we applaud you for that!





Mrs. Duna

From D217


It was great chatting with you all about your student progress. It's always nice to get a home glimpse of the personalities that we teach. It puts things into a different perspective for us. One thing was clear, is how caring and involved you are and we commend you for that!

We started our week with a cool Reward Day project. The students had to solve a bunch of math and riddles to unlock a certain box for a prize.



The coveted prizes were homework passes for everyone. It was like money, some couldn't wait to spend it and already have, and some are holding on to it to the bitter end. 


This week will be beaming with activities on campus but we will be able to finish our decimal addition and subtraction unit and will culminate with a short assessment on Wednesday. The tricky part for some is subtracting a decimal number from a whole number. Here's a quick video to review. 


We are also wrapping up our Forms of Energy unit and will start Electricity right after. The students are applying what they've learned about forms of energy into a project that will be relevant to their experience at Wilchester. In groups, they are designing booths for the Wilchester Carnival which use/produce 4 forms of energy. 

They are excited about the final product and together we will decide if it's something we would like to share with our Carnival Chair.

Please be mindful of all the activities that are happening at school this week and we're looking forward to a great week!


Mrs. Duna



From D217


Last week, we culminated our Addition and Subtraction unit with a test. The students have shown their hard work throughout and I'm very proud of them! Tomorrow, we will have our Reward Day and we know the kids will be very excited at what we will be doing!

Next week, we will start our decimal addition and subtraction. This duration of this concept is very short and, therefore, we won't be utilizing our DIY system for delivery. It will be back to whole class instruction, guided practice and independent practice. This is also a way to get a feel of how the kids feel about our Personalized Learning Plans. Which to that effect, we will also be running a quick feedback survey to get the general concensus. Anyway, decimal addition and subtraction is always fun, as there are numerous ways and fun activities to tie the concept to money. Thank you for sending those receipts last week.

Fo Science, we are still focusing on forms of energy. This coming week will be more about applying the concept to our daily lives and how we can identify different forms of energy. We also talk about differentiating between the energy that is used and the energy that is produced by an object. We use the word tranform quite a bit to talk about how the energy is being tranformed from one type to another, such as a fan, transforming electrical energy to mecchanical energy.

As part of the Science Institute that I'm enrolled in, I have to be observed twice by the Elementary Science Lead during science class. Tomorrow, is my first scheduled observation and I'm excited about what we will be working on. 

A fun little thing we started in class, is getting into a yoga postion whenever we feel that we need a brain break. The kids enjoy picking a position from a poster that I have on my board and they get into that position for few seconds. We repeat couple of times until all the wigglies are out! They love it!

Here are some yoga pictures from last week. 



Conferences are under way and I look forward to sharing and hearing about your student. 

Have a great week ahead and enjoy the cool weather!


Mrs. Duna

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