Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!  Well, we are here, this is my last blog that I will be putting out for this class.  If I need to put out any information next week I will use my blog but otherwise I plan on trying to get it all in today's memo.  I am still finding it hard to believe our year is almost over.  I will say the kids are ready.  They are very talkative and some can't believe I am still giving them homework.  I told them I plan to teach them up until the last day because that is my job.  We still have things to do.  We are trying very hard to get our interactive notebooks done.  I am worried we won't make it happen.  They get so mad when I give them multiple states to do.  But the funny thing is they usually get them done.

Language Arts -  This week I chose to cover week 28 in our books.  This story was called Museums: Worlds of Wonder. It introduced 5 museums around the U.S. and what they have to offer.  The most interesting are the Field Museum in Chicago, which houses "Sue" the only complete skeleton of a t-rex.  I have been there 21 years ago but do not remember seeing it!  Another one is space museum in Washington D.C., which I have been to.  It houses all the cool things from air and space that has happened in the U.S.  Orville and Wilbur Wright's first airplane, and a moon rock for all to see.  The other is the City Museum in St. Louis.  It is a very cool museum with fun things to do.  Look it up to see.  We talked about trash and recycling and covered possessive pronouns.  This is the last week for a story and spelling words.  I have been reading aloud Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I plan to show this movie on Tuesday and then Wednesday do a compare and contrast activity with them comparing the book and the movie.  That will end our year of language arts.

Math -  We finished up chapter 4 this week with a test.  I have the results of the test coming home today.  You will see that all questions are linked to a standard and you will see what score I intend to give them.  You will also see the "pre" and "post" test results at the bottom.   We will work on somethings in chapter 5 for the next 4 -5 days.  Again, I plan to teach them as long as I have them.

Social Studies -  We take a map test tomorrow over the West region.  The final map test over all 50 states and capitals will take place next Thursday morning at 8:30.  I keep reminding the kids, but I am not sure they are paying that much attention to me.  This is the big granddaddy of them all for 4th grade.  Hopefully they have studied hard each region so this one will not be too awful for them.  We covered some important things about the Southwest and now we are covering important things about the West.  They talked about the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park today.  I plan to have them talk about the climates of the region next week.  We will try and get to a Native American tribe from the area also. That will end our year.

Thursday, May 31st - On this day we will start the day with the States and Capitals test.  After that we will have a cookie party sponsored by the PTO for getting 2nd place in lap-a-thon. I plan on cleaning out our desks that day so be sure to send an extra bag with your student that day to load everything home.  The afternoon will be Field Day.  It will begin at 1:00 and last all afternoon.  Anyone is welcome to join us for the afternoon on the playground.

Friday, June 1st -  We start the day with Mass at 9:15.  It is the last mass of the school year.  We will have awards at 10ish or when Mass concludes.  When that is done we will be in our rooms, then we will eat lunch as a class.  After that we have the 8th grad clap-out at 1:00 P.M>  That will end our time together!! 

I have had a very enjoyable year.  Yes, we had some rough patches, but nothing we didn't overcome.  I am very proud of this class and how they have grown this year.  They have learned what it means to be organized ( some still need help), we have learned study skills and the importance of getting our homework done.  I wish them all the best in 5th grade next year.  I am always happy to know that I will still teach them one class next year.  So this is not goodbye it is just that they won't be full-time with me next year.  I hope everyone has a great, safe summer!  See you next year!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!!  I hope all of you are enjoying your time outside!  I had several of you respond to my last week's blog of how true it is that kids are busy due to baseball and other activities.  They also agreed that kids are tired.  I know there is not much we can do but it really does affect them at school.  Try very hard to get them to bed, and also to get homework done before the game so that when they get home they are not stressing about it.   We are going to continue to work hard for the next two weeks.  I plan on working right up to the last day.  I want them to get all they need and more before they head to 5th grade.  I have really enjoyed my year with them and thank you for sharing your kids with me.  

Language Arts -  We are working on week 26 story which is called The Girl Who Loved Spiders.  It is a cute little story about a boy who hates them and a girl who loves them.  The fun part is the kids think that is backwards.  I agreed with them.  We have read the story but will only read it twice this week due to the field trip. We will still have our end of week test tomorrow also.  We have worked on some grammar dealing with comparative and superlative adjectives.  We have also had spelling words.  Tomorrow we will also have a spelling post test as normal.  We will also cover a story next week doing the same things.  This will be week 28. I tried to pick the most interesting stories out of this last unit to cover.  I hope to show them the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory during the last week of school and do a compare and contrast activity with them over the book and the movie. That is my plan for the last week.  It will be fun.  I may even get popcorn from the theater to eat during the movie.  Definitely getting exciting getting down to the last day.  That last week I also plan on giving out prizes for the Book It we did this year.  I didn't have many follow through with participation but I will reward those who did for sure!  They deserve it!

Math - We are finishing up chapter 4.  It is looking like a test on Tuesday of next week for Math.  This will be our last chapter test.  We will move on into chapter 5 and work on it up until the last day, but we will not pretest or post test over it.  I will make sure they understand some important concepts for 5th grade.  The kids are excited thinking they will be taking their last math test for the year!  We are finishing up a lesson on word problems today and doing a worksheet.  They will review tomorrow, check it Monday and test on Tuesday!

Social Studies-  I am covering the Southwest with them more quickly than normal.  We will be taking a map test tomorrow over the Southwest. I told the kids I expect perfect papers because there is only 4 states!! They will be able to study quickly for it.  I will give them the maps today to study.  This will be the only map test on the Southwest because it is so little.  I will then give out the West so they can get started looking it over.  We will start covering that region next week.  There are really only 3 lessons in the two chapters that I feel are of a lot of importance.  I will make sure they get those chapters.  The final map test over all 50 states will be May 31st.  I plan this so far in advance so students have the opportunity to start working on all 50. There is a site online the kids are using to study! It is a good one and highly recommend they start doing it at home.  It is very helpful. If they don't know it, have them ask at school.  Lots of kids are doing it.

I will only be doing one more blog next week then I will blog only if there are things I need to tell you.  Next week's will be full of information about that last week of school.  I still can't believe it is here!!  I hope you are ready for it.  I think the best part is watching the building go up and knowing when we return it will be close to complete!  Seeing the safe room is awesome!  I am so happy we will have a safe place to go!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!!  We are really getting down to the last few days.  I count 15 school days left and one of those will be our field trip!!  That really isn't much time.  I am seeing some things withe behavior now.  I know it mainly deals with it being the end of the year, but please talk to your child about the importance of the last days.  They are just as important as the first few days.  I have been praying for the students and talking to them after prayer about making good choices.  They just get grouchy with each other very easily these days.  I also think that has to do with baseball/softball, soccer and dance still happening and the students being so busy.  Please be sure your child is still getting enough sleep at night.  Days are tough on them when they don't.

Field Trip -  Our field trip is next Tuesday the 15th.  We are excited.  Some kids are wondering what fun is riding a train.  I tried to explain it is an old fashioned train, not a new one like Amtrak.  I also told them about how important trains used to be to our history.  There will be a guide talking in a microphone giving us some Iowa History as we ride to point out things of interest.  We also travel over one of the highest railroad bridges built.  It is called the High Bridge.  If you are scared of heights I will instruct you to move to center of the train and not look.  That is what I have to do.  Some days I can look but most I can't. I sometimes bring a book to read while going over it to try and take my mind away from what is going on.  I have been over it many times and for years and it doesn't get any easier.  They slow down to go over it.  So just a warning to you. We also cross a bridge over the Des Moines River and go through the YMCA camp which is interesting.  We eat our lunches on the train also.  Be sure to pack appropriate lunches for the kids to carry on the train. Also watch weather and dress appropriately.  It will be a fun day!

Language Arts -  This week we have tested over Unit 5.  This is the last Unit test of the year.  We will cover some stories in Unit 6, there will be spelling tests and worksheets still but I plan to do more fun activities with them also.  I am reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out loud to them.  I usually do this as a whole book unit where all students have a book but we don't have enough time for that.  I do plan on showing them the old movie towards the end of year. We will then do a compare and contrast activity over the book and the movie.  I look forward to this every year.  You will have week 24 results today in folder, week 25 will appear next week and hopefully Unit 5.  I have had students gone and had to make up tests and I can't pull results until all have taken the test.  Due to the students not doing to well with capitalization and punctuation this last unit I have started doing DOL (Daily Oral Language) with them.  This is where they take sentences that are written incorrectly and they make the changes that make them grammatically correct.  Also, they make capitalization and punctuation corrections in the sentences.  We will do this for the rest of the year.

Math -  We are finishing up chapter 4 in our book.  I have 2 more lessons to go over with them. One working on division with larger numbers and one focusing on word problems.  It looks like we will be taking the test next week!  I am excited to see the improvement in this  one.  On the pretest they had no idea what they were doing and wanted to ask questions.  Now they know what they are doing so it should really show improvement.  I feel this builds confidence in our students to see this.  After this chapter we will move into Chapter 5.  This chapter is on factors, multiples and patterns.  This chapter will be very helpful for them in 5th grade.

Social Studies -  We went over some important lessons in the 2nd chapter of the Midwest Region.  The students have a Midwest Map Test tomorrow.  They are to study their maps tonight.  We started talking about the Southwest States today.  We will cover all of the first chapter on the Southwest but only parts of the 2nd.  We will not test over those chapters but will have map tests over the region to practice for that end of year test.  We will also continue to put states in our interactive notebooks.  I love that they walk away with a notebook full of information about our states.  It is a keeper for graduation for sure.  I know that is a while but still it's a good one.

I hope all of you are enjoying the weather! It has been great!  I love being able to sit and read outside. I have taken the kids outside a couple of times.  I had them do art outside yesterday.  They were to sit and draw something they see outside.  They like to pull up pictures on the internet and draw them, so I thought let's go look at something real and draw it!  Some liked it and some did not.  We will work on it again next week weather permitting.  Have a great weekend!!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!  I hope all of you are having a great week!  this week, to me, has gone by quickly.  If this is how fast they all go it will be over before we know it.  Today was Lap-a-thon.  Thank goodness the rain stayed away so we could get it in.  The students got a treat from the Little Green Trailer today.  All were treated to a small tropical sno!  I had took the afternoon off to head to Molly's Hawkeye 10 Conference track meet in Harlan today but it was postponed until Monday! Which was a bummer, but I did go get a pedicure!  Now I have pretty toes!! 

Language Arts - We are working on a story called The Fun They Had.  This is a pretty cool story about the future.  Kids don't go to school they have a computer in their home programmed to match the child's ability and learning.  They read books on a TV screen or computer screen and the words scroll across it.  They are always moving.  The kids find a real "book" and they talk about how the words don't move and how kids went to a school to learn.  It is fun to read about their thoughts of the past, which is our reality.  We have been reviewing in grammar.  We talked about Commas in compound sentences, ending punctuation, and capitalization in titles.  We also discussed some latin and greek words parts; therm, fac, meter, aud.  Learning these help the kids to decipher meaning of the words they are a part of.  Tomorrow is our end of  week testing.  Please be sure to study the vocabulary words and spelling words for tomorrow.

Math - We began learning the standard algorithm for division.  The kids are not liking it!  They like the partial product strategy better.  I am not surprised.  The partial product way make so much more sense to them then the  long division.  Some have really struggled.  We are still working on it and will work on it for the a few more days.  I am trying to get them to master this since it is a basic function of math.  Funny that some of the new things we are learning kids are really choosing and wanting to use over what we were taught as kids.  I hope you are doing the best you can helping them at home.  I am trying to be sure they are done with homework so it is me or the aid Mrs Kendrick helping them here at school.  I am always happy when this chapter is over!

Social Studies- We just took a test over the first chapter of the Midwest States. We will begin the next chapter and read through it quickly and not cover all areas.  I will focus on people of the region and any historical things.  We will have one more map test over the Midwest then we will move on to the Southwest.  Trying to fit everything in is gong to be pushing it.  We will do what we can do but I will get to all the regions.

Field Trip -  You have a form in the student's folder for our field trip.  The trip is Tuesday, May 15th, we are headed to Boone to ride the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad.  The fee for the day is $10.  This will cover the train and bus ride.  We are going on this trip with the 5th grade.  We can have 5 adults from each class attend with us.  So 5 of you can go with us.  The train fee for you will be $18.  You are welcome to ride the bus with us.  This will be a first come first serve basis.  Students will need a sack lunch with a drink.  Also please watch weather and dress accordingly.

I can believe we are nearing the end of the year!  I have enjoyed helping your students learn and always wonder what will I do without them!  Have a great weekend!  Enjoy the sun!

God Bless, 
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!!  I hope everyone is having a great week!  Looks like tomorrow will be a great day for the kids to have off.  Remember we do not have school tomorrow because the teachers have to travel to Des Moines to an inservice.  I hope they enjoy the day.  They need it. They are a little unruly today, which is because it is nice and out "Friday".  We have lots to accomplish in this last month.  We will work very hard. I can't believe the year is winding down.

Language Arts -   This week we read the Owen and Mzee.  This was about a baby hippo and a very old tortoise.  They came together kind of tragically and became friends.  It is shocking that  these two animals would be able to get along so well.  The story was an idea of a 6 or 7 year old.  She wrote the story with the help of her father, and one of the doctors who worked with the animals.  It is a very fun story connecting their friendship to human friendships.  It shows how animals lives are similar to humans.  We did an activity on comparing and contrasting this week.  They looked at similarities and differences of the two animals. Grammar this week was a review of the use of commas.  We also talked about the suffixes -ly and -ed.  We have one more week for a story then we will have a Unit 5 test and be done with the textbook. We will spend the rest of the year on some writing activities and maybe sharing in reading a fun book together as a group.  I would apply the skills we have learned this year to a regular fiction book. This helps them see the connection of what we are learning really does apply to their every day reading.

Math -  We have worked on Partial Products for division this week.  We learned how to divide using subtraction and partial products.  The kids took a while to catch on but finally got the process down!  The next part of division will be long division which is the regular way you learned division.  This process will take a while for them to grasp.  We will spend several days next week working on this.  We find it natural to do but teaching it the first time is very confusing. Trying to get them to keep the process down is hard.  We may sturggle a little but we will get there.

Social Studies -  We are ending the first chapter of the Midwest.  We will be testing next week.  I gave them maps of the Midwest today.  They will have a map test on Monday.  Remember this is very important for them to learn the maps.  They will have a end of the year test over all 50 states and capitals.  We will continue to work on states in our notebooks also.  We will cover a little bit more material on the Midwest then move to the next two regions.  

Friday,  April 27th -  Just a last minute reminder we do NOT have school tomorrow.  Teachers have to get up early and head to Des Moines to meetings!  I hope everyone has a great day and enjoy the sun.  

Monday, April 30th   Just a heads up that I will be gone Monday morning at a doctor appointment with Molly.  We are finally going to get some answers on her shoulder.  I plan to be back by noon, but if something else arises I have the whole day prepared for a sub.  

I am shocked our year is coming to an end.  I am enjoying your students this year.  They have grown up a lot. Some still have some growing to do but we have really made progress this year.  Next year they will make even more!  

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

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