Thursday, April 19, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!  My week is back on track and I remembered to write my blog today!  We have been getting back into a normal routine after Iowa Assessments this week.  The kids are a little high strung this week. I figure they are just as tired of the weather as we are.  I am ready for Mother Nature to decide we can have a Spring.  I used to love attending track meets, now I dread them because sitting our in 30 degree weather to watch is absolutely NO fun whatsoever.  I have skipped a couple  because of it.  Today I travel to Denison.  I will be leaving about 2:10 to head up there.  It's a long trip to just be cold.  Oh the things we do for our kids!

Friday, April 20th -  The public school doesn't have school tomorrow but we are still in session.  This just means there will NOT be any bus service for you kiddos.  Please make arrangements to get them here and picked up.  If you are new to the car line be sure to join the car line at Fremont Street or you may have to go on down to Page Street since everyone will be picked up in the car line.  Page Street is the one by VFW ball field. Also remember not to block any driveways especially the post office driveway.  We have been loading 4 cars at a time and the line gets through much faster.  Thank you!

Language Arts -  We are reading a story called The Ever-Living Tree this week.  It is about the life of a Coastal Redwood tree or otherwise known as the Sequoia Trees in California.  We learn about how long they live and how tall they get.  It compares life of the tree to what is going on in the human race at the time.  This amazes the kids to know to show just how long one of those trees live.  We have a picture of the tree that cars can drive through the trunk but that tree collapsed in Winter/Spring 2017 due to the heavy rains California received that year.  It is sad that happened.  You can google it and see the pictures of the fallen tree.  In grammar we are reviewing some skills.  We talked about ending punctuation, and quotation marks.  Our vocabulary strategy was on the prefixes  pre-, inter- and ex-.  The regular end of the week assessment is tomorrow. Make sure they are studying their vocab and spelling words.

Math -  We started the week with a Mid-chapter check point which is a review of the first 5 lessons in this chapter.  Which says, "Hey, you are halfway finished with this chapter!"  Our lesson this week was on using repeated subtraction to divide.  I showed them what it looked like to subtract the divisor every single time then I showed them how they could shorten it and take out chunks of 10 at a time.  It was a quick class due to Mass so we only just got started and I assigned them one problem to do.  Today we will review look at the problem they did and  do more examples on the board.  That will finish up our week on division.

Social Studies-  We have talked about the Great Lakes and the Badlands in South Dakota this week.  We learned that the lakes are the largest freshwater lakes in the world.  We learned they are all connected and that a canal was built to connect them.  We  learned what the Badlands were like millions of years ago, the changes that occurred over the years from wind and rain, and what they are like today.  They seem to be enjoying their learning on the Midwest region.  We learned we are a part of the Plains and then some states are a part of the Great Lakes area.  We will go on to learn what kind of crops certain areas grow and why.  We are moving through this chapter at a good pace so we can keep moving to meet all regions.  I will be giving them a map to start studying the Midwest states at home and in their spare time at school. We will try to have a map test before the next actual test.

Earth Day-  Tomorrow is Earth Day.  We are having our annual Spring Cleanup here at St. Malachy.  Fourth graders are asked to bring a rake and gloves because we are asked to help clean up all the leaves.  We will rake them and bag them to be hauled away.  It is not easy work.  The kids get a lesson in raking if they don't know how.  They can come dressed ready to get dirty, so sweats are acceptable.  Pay attention to temperature.  We will be outside so if chilly don't send them in shorts.  They will need gloves for their hands because it is hard on them.  They are also asked to bring a $1.00 for Earth Day to donate towards flowers to put out front of the school to make it look inviting and beautiful.  Thank you in advance for your money, it really helps!

Spirit Day - Tomorrow is a Spirit Day. Since you get to wear sweats for FREE tomorrow, we are saying you can pay $1.00 to wear a hat of your choice.  This is so we still try to generate some money for our pay it forward fund.  

Mark your calendars for next Friday the 27th.  St. Malachy will not be having school that day.  The teachers will be traveling to Des Moines to a teacher inservice that day.  I sure wish Spring would hurry up and get here.  Let's all keep praying for nice weather to come.  The construction out back is still going on.  They have been working even when it is wet.  The pipes for the bathroom have been put in.  We are very excited to think the bathrooms are right outside our doors.  I hope everyone has a great weekend.  Enjoy Prom this weekend.  Always fun to go see all the former students dressed up so nicely.

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Friday, April 13, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Friday!!!!   I am sorry I totally blew off my blog yesterday!  It has just been one of those week!  Iowa Assessments can throw us all for a loop, including teachers!!!  We finished up all items that needed to be done for Iowa Assessments this morning.  They are all turned in and we are excited!  Now back to the normal grind of learning! YAY!  Now if the weather would just cooperate and warm up we would all feel much better.

Construction -  We have experienced a little more noise this week and a few earthquakes!  One of the machines they use to level the dirt, vibrates or shakes and causes our room to do the same.  I told them this is what an earthquake would feel like.  The noise itself is not that bad.  The machines are not that noisy.  It is just a humming sound.  We are surviving!

Language Arts -  We spent the week testing and didn't do formal language arts.  We did do a lot of read aloud, DEAR time, and handwriting this week.  These are easy fillers during tests that the students could work on quietly.  We are loving our read aloud book!  I am hoping they learn some things about kindness and how to treat others from it.  Plus I have never read it before so I am modeling a lot of my thinking processes aloud when I read books.  I am asking prediction questions, asking about feelings and sharing my ideas also.  I feel they learn a lot when I can show the things that I really do when I read a book at home.  Some really get into my questions which helps to show how to truly enjoy books.  I really wish I had more time for read aloud in our schedule.

Math -  We have had a math lesson this week on the Distributive Property in Division.  We spent a  couple days on the lesson and they are working on their worksheets for homework.  I had a guest grandparent this week that was lucky enough to sit in on this lesson the first day.  He was very intrigued by this strategy of dividing.  He saw how it could make sense and how students could use it.  He said it took him a minute to catch on but he got it.  I was happy to see him have an open mind about math and how we are giving students the tools to find answers more than just one way.  He agreed kids will benefit from learning more than one strategy.  I was so happy to have him witness this and talk about teaching "an old dog to learn new tricks".  

Social Studies- This week I introduced the Midwest States to them and they have spent the week putting states into their interactive notebooks.  We accomplished I think 6 out of 12 states this week.  This is great so we can dive into the material and move along next week.  They are very excited to learn about or region and cheered very loudly (too loudly) when I handed them the state of Iowa to work on today.  

Again, this has been a crazy week with weather, track meets, recitals, dress rehearsals for recital, and youth group.  This is not a relaxing weekend either.  We have recitals all weekend, family coming from Chicago, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City.  We are having a Disney Princess Birthday Party for my 4 year old great niece at my house, and did I mention like 4 recitals.  I hope all of you enjoy your family this weekend. Hopefully the weather turns out great for all of us.  

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!!  We are finally back to a full week.  The most exciting thing is that construction is happening!!  They are running machines, and the noise is not very loud at all.  We are able to work and only hear a light hum of the machinery.  We are so excited to see what is changing out there.  Now that we can see results it makes all this very real.  I watched them dig up the concrete Wednesday night. I just happened to be here when they started.  It was mesmerizing to watch.  I decided I could watch them all night but I should go home!  Drive by out back and check it out!

Iowa Assessments -  The Iowa Assessments will be taken next week.  It usually takes us 3 full mornings to take the tests.  I plan on doing Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  If anyone is absent we will use Wednesday and Friday to catch them up. Things you can do to help is make sure they get a good night's sleep, and full breakfast.  Studies show if they are tired or hungry they won't do as well.  Also, do the best you can to have a positive morning with your child.  If things happen at home that upset them it sticks with them all day.  We really want the students to do their very best work.

Language Arts-  This week we read a fun biography about Esther Morris.  The story is called I Could Do That!  This story is how Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote in elections.  Wyoming gave women the right to voter in 1870.  The Amendment in the Constitution was not until 1920.  For 50 years Wyoming women voted before  any others were allowed.They kids also picked up on the fact that our school started in 1870, so that was at the same time.  Thinking that the school was here 50 years before women got the right to vote made them all go "WOW!" This is also why it's nickname is the Equality State.  It is a fun story about Esther never giving up and always proving people wrong when they said she couldn't do something.  I think the kids enjoyed the story.  In grammar we talked about Negative words and how not to use 2 negatives in one sentence.  Examples of negative words are: no, no one, nobody, none, nothing, and never.  The students found sentences with negatives and made sure they didn't have two, and it if they did they corrected them to only have one. We also talked about Adages and Proverbs again.  This will be in the vocab section of the test.  Hopefully they will do better on this than they did last time.  End of week testing will be tomorrow.  

Math -  This week we covered dividing tens, hundreds and thousands.  We also started to talk about estimating quotients.  Estimating with division is very different from multiplication.  You can't just round the numbers and get an estimate.  You have to actually use compatible numbers so that you can divide evenly.  This lesson will be challenging for some.  I plan on spending two days on this lesson, today and tomorrow.  The three strategies they have learned should get help them on their Iowa Assessments.  Today's lesson was a bit of a struggle.  It puts lesson 4.1 and 4.4 together, but they lacked confidence.  Mrs. Kendrick and I went around the room making sure they were getting it.  They have a few problems for homework today.  Tomorrow we will review what they are doing, check the problems then do the worksheet.  Most all of them know what they are doing they just question themselves or find it a lot of work and get lazy.

Social Studies -  We have a test tomorrow over Chapter 7.  They have corrected their study guide and are have what they need to study.  There will be a map section on this test that requires them to label the states of the Southeast with capitals.  The next region is the Midwest.  We will begin work in that region next week.  I will give out a state for them to put into their notebooks tomorrow when the test is over.  Most get done with time to spare so I will fill that time with a state.  We will try to move a little faster through this region so we can get to the other two. 

I hope all of you have a great weekend.  There are some activities going on in the downtown for Update downtown.  Maybe you can find an event to be a part of.  I hope to get some spring cleaning done even though it doesn't feel like Spring at all.  Pray for warmer weather.

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday and welcome back!!  I feel refreshed and ready to finish out the year strong!!!  I hope the kids feel the same way.  It was nice to see all their smiling faces back in the classroom.  We have had a crazy schedule this week due to the cross walk, sedar meal, and rosary for the Sharp family.  We are praying everyday for family and friends of the Sharp's.  All instigated by the students.  We are lucky to be at a school where prayer plays a role in our day. I ask that at home you keep them in your thoughts.  In case some of you didn't know, Kadley, was a first cousin to Kevin.  So keep the Bailey's in your thoughts and prayers.

Language Arts -  This week we came back to one of my favorite stories in this book.  It is called The World According to Humphrey.  It is a chapter book and we read only a portion of it.  It is a fantasy because the story is told by a Hamster, named Humphrey.  It is a fun light-hearted story.  I feel they enjoyed it and we will see some elevated test scores due to that.  The few I have seen had increased for sure.  We talked about comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs this week for grammar.  This was a review for them but the questions on the test were complex.  We talked about context clues for our vocabulary strategy.  I feel like I crammed everything into 4 days but we did it and I think successfully!  Next week we will be working on writing an essay for Dollars for Scholars along with our next story.

Math -  We worked on remainders with division this week.  We spent a couple days learning about them.  I started with manipulatives to help them actually see what it meant, then we moved on to solving problems without them.  We were unable to fit math in today due to Sedar Meal and this being our "Friday" end of week testing in Langauge arts.  The story was longer than normal.  Next week we will move on with division. We will be dividing tens, hundreds and thousands to begin with.  Them we will move into some strategies for division.  I hope to get a couple things in next week that will help them with division problems on Iowa Assessments, which is the following week.

Social Studies -  We have read the last lesson in Chapter 7.  We will be taking a test next week.  We will work on the study guide on Monday, check it on Tuesday, and Test Wednesday.  This will finish up our unit on Southeast.  We will then move onto the Midwest.  They are excited about getting to the Midwest for sure.

Iowa Assessments -  These assessments will take place the week of the 9th-13th.  We will spend most of our days testing in the morning and then we will do different subjects in the afternoon to fit them all in. 

Conferences -  Thank you for coming in and seeing what your child is doing in 4th grade.  I had 100% attendance.  Also, thank you very much to all those who bought a book from the book fair for the classroom!  I appreciate it.  I like to keep my shelf as up to date as I can.  Your donations help tremendously!

I hope all of you have a blessed Easter this weekend!  I am looking forward to getting together with my family and most of all, having my college kids under my roof again! 

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!  Another week almost over!  We are quickly approaching Spring Break. I hope everyone is looking forward to a nice relaxing week whether that be at home or on a short vacation.  I am heading to Dallas, Texas to my cousin's house.  I have done this for the last 4 years.  She has a pool in back yard and a hot tub.  These are my relaxing days!  I look forward to my time with her. We are one year off in age, she is older.  We both have teaching degrees and like similar things.  I couldn't think of a better way to spend my break then with her.  Not sure the weather will cooperate much while we are there but I don't care.  She keeps us busy with craft projects inside. Looks to be upper 60's lower 70"s. I will take that!    I hope everyone enjoys their time off!

Parent/Teacher Conferences -  I only have 3 parents not signed up for conferences. I have asked your kids to remind you of signing up.  I love meeting with each of you to discuss growth and areas where growth is still needed.  Here is the link to my sign-up.

Book Fair -  The book fair will be in the gym next week during conferences!  Your child will get a chance to look at the fair during their library time.  Maybe there will be a book there for book reports or something they will want to read over Spring Break.  The teachers will also have wish lists for their classrooms.

Food Pantry-  We have been gathering toilet paper, paper towels, and kleenex for the Food Pantry this week.  We do not have very much down there.  Thank you to those who have purchased items all ready.  One box of Kleenex or one roll of paper towels would sure help.  We will collect these items until the first week in April.

Language Arts -  This week we are reading a story called Sacagawea.  It is a very interesting story about her role in the Louis and Clark Corps of Discovery team.  She really did quite a bit to help them along their journey.  I think the kids found some interest in this story.  In grammar this week we have focused on abbreviations.  We covered abbreviations of People, places, mailing addresses, and measurement.  These did include days of week, months, hour, minute, second, states, street, lane, avenue, inch, foot, yard, ect.  They learned they mostly begin with a capitol letter and have a period at the end of the abbreviation.  This was a rather easy grammar lesson week.  I told them Unit 5 which we will start after Spring Break and the grammar is all review.  We will be reviewing all the things we have all ready touched upon this year.  Next week will be the Unit 4 test week.  We will test over a 3 day period on the unit.  I will also assign to them their next book report.  We will go over my expectations on books and the project next week.   That way if they are laying around on Spring Break they can work on their book report book. Some are very anxious for  me to get this going.  I like to see them excited about reading.  Sad thing is some of them are excited but don't choose to pick up a book on their own and just read it.  Hopefully that will change.

Math -  We finished up perimeter and area and will begin Division tomorrow or Monday.  This chapter is not an easy chapter for 4th graders.  The best part is we are getting some in before the Iowa Assessments.  Usually we don't have much division under our belts but this year we will for sure.  That will be very helpful.  Everyone took a pretest on this chapter and they found it frustrating because they didn't know a lot about what they were doing.  Some of them were just downright mad because we don't give any help on a pretest.  I am testing what they know and not knowing it is something I figure out on the pretest.  This means I really need to watch for mastery and do my best to teach this chapter.  Good Luck to us!

Social Studies -  We are talking about a lot of historical things in the Southeast in this lesson.  They learned about 3 settlements: St. Augustine, Roanoke Island, and Jamestown Virginia and they learned about 3 important people from the Southeast:  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson  We talked a little about Thomas Jefferson's famous home "Monticello".  They have gone online and looked up videos about Monticello.  Many have loved this and found them very interesting.  They are coming to me and telling me stories of things from the videos that they are enjoying.  Now that is learning at work!  

This will be my last blog until after Spring Break.  Next week since we are meeting for conferences I won't put one out.  I may put some announcements out if there are things I need you to know.  I hope you have a great week with your kids.  

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!!  It is very happy because we have had a full week of school! This of course makes me happy but not so much the kids!  We have been busy this week.  The kids have worked hard!  I am super proud of the way they have come back and worked.  We will continue to work hard through Spring Break!  We only have like 11 days until then.  I have not pointed that out to the kids.  I am afraid they will go on break early.  

Book It -  The February Calendars are due by Monday, March 5th to receive a pizza certificate.  We are ready for our last month of keeping track.  March is the last one with a goal of 600 minutes!

Conferences -  It is that time of year again and they are fast approaching!  Here is the link to my sign up.  Please be sure you get your name on a time you want.  I have a couple times on Tuesday after school I am doing.  I am gone Monday at a track meet in Ames for Molly and Wednesday I have my own high school conference, so Tuesday was my only extra day. So go check it out.

Language Arts -  This week we are finishing up what we started last Monday.  We are reading Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez.  It tells us the story of how migrant workers living conditions and pay were pretty poor.  Cesar Chavez decided he wanted change and marched from Delano, California to Sacramento.  He started with 67 followers and not very popular but then at the end he had 10,000 followers and also created a Migrant Workers Union.  He also got a contract for them to work for better pay and better conditions.  The kids found this story interesting.  I had one student who watched a show on TV about Cesar on Wednesday night.  This topic also appeared in our read aloud book this week! Such great timing for it all!  We are talking about some pretty heavy content in grammar.  Independent and dependent clauses and focusing on the relative pronouns and adverbs they start with.  This is some pretty complicated content and we only spend about 3 days on it.  We did 2 of the 3 worksheets together and was able to discuss each one.  The worksheets are harder than what the students will do on the assessment.  I assured them they would do great!  Our vocabulary strategy this week was on reference materials. The focus was no learning to look up a word in the dictionary and also understand all that a dictionary entry provides to the student.  It tells what part of speech the word is, gives the definition(s) of the word, may tell synonyms or antonyms, how to pronounce the word and what part of the word is stressed!  That is a lot of stuff.  Yes, I made them use actual dictionaries and not a digital dictionary.  From what I have seen the actual book has more information than what the internet provides.  Tomorrow will be our normal Friday with a spelling post test and end of week assessment over the story.

Math -  We have completed what I need to teach in Chapter 13.  It consisted of 3 lessons.  Learning Perimeter and Area and then area of combined rectangles.  We have spent the last two days reviewing perimeter and area.  Today we will do a review then I plan to have them test over this tomorrow.  I will write the formulas for perimeter and area on the board so they can refer to it when doing their test.  There will not be as many questions on the test since we didn't cover all the lessons.  We also did not take a pretest over this material.

Social Studies -  They are moving through lesson one in Chapter 7.  They are learning about the Cherokee Native Americans right now.  Today they learned about Sequoyah, the Native American that wrote an alphabet  for their language.  This made the Cherokee learn to read and write.  They were the only Native American group to have their own alphabet.  We will finish this lesson tomorrow and they will do the worksheet that covers the information.  We will start the week next week with putting a state in their notebooks.  We are moving through this quite well. I hope to finish up the Southeast before Spring Break so we can hit the Midwest as soon as we come back.  We have 3 more regions to go.  We are picking up the pace a little bit.

Auction -  The auction is this Saturday night!!  We ended up getting more donations this week!  Thank you so much.  The 3-5 Garden Basket is looking fabulous!  Lots of great items in it!  Also our silent auction item turned out great.  I love it.  Lots of silent auction items this year were pictures of students, their hands, crosses, ect.  They are a lot of fun

Dress Code -  Yes, it is March and the dress code now allows shorts.  Please please keep in mind just because they can doesn't mean they should.  We still go outside so wearing shorts in 40 degree weather is not a good idea.  They will be awful cold outside.  I tell my students this exact thing.  If it is going to be 60 great but it is just not necessary to do when it's 40 just because you can.  Save that for home on the weekends. 

I will not be attending the auction this year.  I have only missed like 3 in my 20 years.  All had to do with my kids.  This weekend in Mom's weekend for Jami's sorority and Mom's Day for Josie's.  I will spend the weekend at Jami's but go to Josie's for like 2 hours on Saturday.  Best part is Josie does get to participate in Jami's house activities.  I think Saturday we are going to the Blank Park Zoo.  We have lunch catered by Hickory Park (my fav) and Saturday night the Cyclone Theater is showing "The Greatest Showman" which I have seen twice but love and can't wait to see it again!  

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Friday!  This has been a nonexistent week for school!  That ice is a scary thing for sure but I never thought we would have 3 ice days!  I hope everyone is enjoying their 4 day weekend!   I guess I am!  I will be ready for Monday!   I hope your kids are.  I don't have much to report on the blog, since we didn't have much school.

Language Arts - We started the week reading Harvesting Hope: The story of Cesar Chavez and Migrant Workers Union.  We read the story and worked on vocabulary words. We will pick up where we left off on Monday.  On the late start day, I gave the kids the CRS Test.  This test is Constructed Response Supplement.  The kids read a story and answer 8 questions about the story.  The questions are not multiple choice or true false.  They actually have to write out answers. Sometimes they need to write a sentence or two and sometimes just a couple words will answer the question.  The key is answer the question completely.  We had a full classroom so Wednesday was the best option since I had no idea what the rest of the week would bring.  Thank goodness I did it.  I will be gone on March 5 to go to Des Moines and help score these tests with all other 4th grade teachers in the diocese.  I will not be scoring my own tests.  I will score ones from other schools.

Math -  We only had math once this week due to the late start.  We are trying to finish up combined rectangles and finding area.  I told them I had a worksheet that was a challenging activity that we would be doing next.  Some were looking forward to this and we didn't get to do it, but we will next week for sure.

Social Studies - Please be sure to sign your students test so they can return it.  I plan for them to put one more state in their notebook before we begin the next chapter.  Again, if your student didn't do well on the states and capitals map section please work with them so they can learn them.  It is important cause at the end of the year they take a test over all 50!

Auction Basket -  The auction donations were due today but since we are not in school we will move the deadline to Monday.  They were hoping to do some shopping this weekend.  We have not had a very turn out for donations.  We joined 3-5 together for this reason and have received even less than normal.  Please send what you can, a gardening item or cash donation even if it is $5. We can use all the help we can.  The Silent Auction item is all ready taken care of. All money will go towards the Auction Basket.  Thank you very much to all who have all ready donated it is greatly appreciated and to those who plan to donate.

I hope we have a full week next week.  We do have a guest speaker on Wednesday.  Scott Boyle who was at NCYC this fall will be here to talk to the kids.  He will be at school for a 45 minute session and then at the church that night for another session.

Enjoy your 4 day weekend. I miss all of you!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels