Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dear Parents,
     Happy Happy Thursday!!  It is a happy one!  This is the last Thursday your kiddos will be with me!  The sad thing is.... I am not even there!  My daughter Jami is having a cyst removed from her wrist today.  It has been a problem for a while now and is limiting the amount of movement and use of her wrist.  Since she is a waitress that is very restrictive.  I will return on Friday!  This my last blog for the year, still seems very weird to say that!  I have loved teaching your kids this year!  I know we had lots of ups and downs but that is part of it!  It is a huge part of their growth as students. It is always so hard for me to see them move on!  Parents you all do a wonderful job with your kids, keep it up!  But now I do pass the torch to you for the summer months, until they join Ms. Surma next year!

Language Arts - We have finished the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book!  Today while I am gone they are watching the movie.  I see the movie every year but LOVE it and I am sad that I am missing.  I love watching the kids watch the movie.  I like watching their faces.  Tomorrow I have an activity to  compare and contrast the book and the movie.  We do a crossword over the whole book and Tuesday morning the will take a Unit test over the entire book.  Yes, I have a unit test.  It's amazing what you can find out there!  I think they have enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere and reading a fun book with different people these last couple of weeks.  I hope they will pick up a book and read at least one over the summer.  I all ready have 8 on my shelf and 3 on my kindle ready for my summer reading!

Math -  We are finishing the year working on fractions.  We have learned equivalent fractions, putting fractions into simplest form and today they will learn common denominators.  This will be very helpful for Ms. Surma next year. They have done a great job with Math this year.  My advice is keep working on division problems over the year.  They all caught on to multiplication quite well but division was a struggle and some are still not confident. 

Social Studies -  Tomorrow is the big map test.  They will be labeling a map with the state and it's capital.  Some of your students have not done a very good job of studying the regions.  We have taken map tests over each region to get them ready.   Some didn't try very hard!  Please be sure they are studying.  You can see your kids scores on Power School for these map test.  The final grade for this benchmark will be based off this test.  We have quickly discussed the last three regions in the book.  Focusing on climates, landforms, and resources in the regions.  We will be completing the last two states in our interactive notebook tomorrow.  We have been very busy!  Next year in social studies they will have 9-10 weeks of Iowa History, then we move into learning about the founding of the 13 Colonies and up to the Revolutionary War.  

Tuesday, May 30 -  You will need to bring a sack lunch on this day!  NO Drinks, we will provide milk for them.  There will be Preschool graduation in the chapel form 12:15 - 1:00.  And then from 1:00 - 3:00 we have FIELD DAY!  Everyone loves field day! Great way to celebrate the end of the year, having FUN!

Wednesday, May 31 -  This is the LAST DAY!  There will be no lunch served today because we dismiss at noon.  We will have end of the year Mass at 9:15.  Today is a free day so no Mass attire is needed!!  Mass will include: Sports recognition, commissioning of 7th and 8th grade students, recognizing teachers, and a summer blessing from Father Halbur.  We will then spend the rest of morning turning in books and cleaning up the room for the summer.  

I have truly enjoyed having your kids in my room.  I hope your summer is very enjoyable!  Have some great family time.  

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!  I hope you are all surviving the crazy weather we are having.  Rain, sun, rain, sun, storms, sun and so on.  I don't mind some rain but Mother Nature can keep the storms.  My plants have been outside, then inside, then back out, and back in.  I am ready for them to stay outside for good!!  We have 8 more school days together.  I can't believe how quickly time has flown by.  These last few days can be stressful.  The kids are just plain done and don't want to be here anymore, or they know their time together is ending so they are trying to be as social as they can before the end.  Either was this is not a good mix for the end of the year.  They will still have homework and things that need to be done by the end of the year.  I plan to work them hard through next week.  You will be receiving a note letting you know what the last 2 days look like as a school.  Please look for that in today's folder.

Language Arts -  We are off and running in our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory books!  We have a short period of time to get the book read and do some activities with it.  We have read through chapter 17 so far.  The students are keeping a journal where they can either write a short paragraph describing each chapter or draw a picture that describes the chapter.  We are doing lots of activities that deal with grammar and sentences.  We are working on the parts of speech and plural nouns.  They are completing comprehension questions with each section also.  They seem to be having fun reading.  Today a few told me their favorite part was reading the story.  It is nice to read a fun fiction book instead of informational text all the time.  I am trying to get us through the book and show the movie by the end of next week.  I think I will succeed!  The last Tuesday I plan on doing a venn diagram activity comparing the movie and the book. We will be using hula hoops and post it notes.  Reminder I am showing the 1960's movie, I like it better.  It is not so "dark".

Math -  We have started a chapter on fractions.  We have worked on equivalent fractions this week.  The first two lessons deal with equivalent fractions.  I showed them using my fractions stacks what they look like and we have spent 3 days generating equivalent fractions.  We will also learn how to put fractions into simplest form and find common denominators.  If time allows before the end we will work on comparing and ordering fractions.  Usually I end the year with division.  This class has been great and we are able to do some fraction work before they leave me.  This will help them tremendously in 5th grade. This helps Ms. Surma when she gets to this section with them next year.  

Social Studies -  We are moving along working on our map testing.  Some of the students have not done a very good job studying for their map tests.  We are testing over a section at a time so they learn one section before learning the next one.   Some have not studied and are finding themselves behind.  The scores to these quizzes can be found on Power School.  I gave them maps for the West Region today and we will test over it next Tuesday.  Then Next Friday will be the grand daddy test of them all. They will need to label all 50 states and name their capitals.  I will give them blank maps to practice on and a map with answers to study.  Please help them to study these items for next week!  We are also learning about resources and things that boost the economy in each regions.  We have also quickly talked about climate in each.  I hope to have their interactive notebooks finished up by the end of the year too.  This has been a trial year for these.  I really like them and plan to revamp my social studies class for next year.  I will be making changes to what I cover and what activities we do to better suit our learning.

I will only be writing one more blog this year!  I can't believe we are there all ready.  I have truly enjoyed the year.  I know we have trials and tribulations all year but I really do care for your kids.  I will greatly miss them. Thank goodness I see them in Social Studies still.  

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!!  Wow!   Only 14 more school days.  It makes me sad to count down the days until summer.  It just reminds me of the limited number of days I have with your kids!   We are still working hard and I intend to right up until that last day.  I know they are getting very busy with their activities, but please remember school comes first and their work needs to still be done everyday.    We will get down to having less work outside of class, but  will work hard here at school.  I understand the business of the month.  Plus there is lots of a teacher to accomplish to finish our the year.

Language Arts - This week was a Unit test week.  They have worked this week to complete the Unit 5 Benchmark test.  This is the last unit test we will take.  Tomorrow I plan on passing out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory books to them.  We will read this story through the end of the year and watch the 1960's movie.  We will ready in partners/small groups.  There will be questions to answer about the chapters.  We will also have a few fun quick project things to do.  They will not be big.  Normally there is one big book project at the end but we do not have time to complete one of those.  I just want to show them the joy of reading and how we are learning things when we even read for fun.  We will pick out grammar items and touch upon things we have learned all year long.  But I do want it to be more about enjoyment.  We may even use our technology to look at books that might interest us as a summer read this summer.  If you all ready have a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory please send it with your child tomorrow.  If you want to purchase it on their kindle, Nook, or tablet I will allow those to be brought in also.  I have some books to hand out but only like 15.  That makes me 7 books short so if you could help by sending in a copy or getting on device I would appreciate it.

Math -  We are working on the chapter 4 post test.  We will be finishing it up today.  I plan to move onto fractions tomorrow or Monday.  This division chapter has been a long one.  I feel like we have been doing it forever.  It will be nice to move onto a new concept.  I will have them take the pretest over fractions to see where I need to focus.  I am not sure we will have time to take a post test before the end of the year.  

Social Studies -  We have been talking about the Midwest this week.  The students have maps they are studying for a map test tomorrow over the Midwest.  Some did not do well on the Southeast.  Please, please be sure they are studying for the map tests.  They are practice heading up to the "BIG" map test they take at the end of the year.  Next week we will work on the Southwest which is only 4 states.  We will only give them a couple days to study those and then we will move on to the West Region.  There will be no more tests in Social Studies except for the map test.  So this is a subject of less stress for the rest of the year.

I feel like our year has just flown by.  Yes, I always look forward to summer and I am building up a stack of books to read over the summer.  So far I have 5 books on my summer reading shelf.  I will miss your kids.  I know they are ready for a summer and a shift to 5th grade, but it is always bittersweet for me.  They have all grown and matured so much.  Some have learned some big lessons this year.  Thank you for sharing your precious little ones with me.

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels   

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!! I hope all of you are having a great day!  WOW!  May is here.  The kids are gearing up for summer to be here and it shows.  I keep stressing we still have about 3-4 weeks left to work really hard and get ready for 5th grade.  Please be sure to stay on top of them about homework and projects
   Language Arts-  This week we are reading a story called The Fun They Had.  It is a science fiction story about school in the year 2157 compared to school now.  No books in the future. It is all digital.  The book words run across your screen at the bottom like the news channels have at bottom of screen.  They are discussing books and how funny it is that they are printed on paper and the words do not move.  We have talked about capitalizing titles in movies, books, and newspaper articles.  We worked on appropriate punctuation at the end of sentences and the 4 main kinds of sentences. I introduced Greek word parts therm and meter.  Also Latin word parts aud and fac.  Tomorrow is the end of the week and this is the last week of stories we are doing this year.  We will be working on some writing activities until the end of the year and also a fun book. Make sure the kids study their vocabulary and spelling words for tomorrow!

Book Report -  The kids have a book report due on Monday.  Please be sure to help them finish up their books and get the project done.  I have allowed some DEAR time here at school when I can that forces them to read here.  Some of the students have worked on their summaries, vocab words, and top of the box here at school and I have printed it for them.  Some have had me help with figuring our vocab words and finding pictures that might match their characters.  I am willing to help in any way I can.  Some are still struggling to get the book read.  Please check on your student's progress.  

Math -  I think we are finally at the point of moving forward in our chapter.  Division has been a struggle for this group.  The funny thing is, they caught on to the other strategies and have hard a very hard time catching on to the process of the standard algorithm.  Well, today we will finish up the last lesson in the chapter and it looks like Monday we will work on the chapter review, the test about Wednesday.  There should be some major improvements from the pretest for sure.  A lot of kids didn't have a clue what to do.  Seeing the learning will be great!  We will then move on into a chapter on Fractions.  We may not get to take another test by the end of the year but we will work hard on learning what we can about fractions before they leave me.  Hard to believe we are at the end!

Social Studies -  We had a great discussion on Wednesday.  We read a lesson about how the Civil War effected the Southeast.  First we skimmed the surface on what the Civil War was fighting about, the we talked about the destruction to the South that happened. We also read a little bit about the reconstruction period.  When it was and what happened during that time.  then We ended talking about the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.  The kids asked GREAT questions and were very inquisitive about that time in history.  We talked a lot about he confederate states and the flag.  We talked about the flag being a symbol of history and a specific time in the United States, but I did talk about how that flag can be offensive to some people.  Students were very in tune to this.  I was really impressed with the discussion we had.  We even spent extra time on Social Studies today because the participation and questioning was so wonderful.  Tomorrow I plan to introduce the Midwest States.

Lap-a-thon -  This event was held this morning!  Everyone did a great job running!  I was very impressed with how hard they worked!  Pat on the back to all my great 4th graders!

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!  My daughter at Iowa State comes home today.  Summer has started for her.  So weird thinking that her first year of college is done.  It will be nice to have everyone in the same house again for a while!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!!  I feel like this has been a short week also with our field trip mixed into the week.  We are headed to the end of the road.  Only like 23 days left of school.  Lots of things start happening for your students.  Thank goodness dance is over, but softball/baseball, soccer and other things begin to kick into high gear.  Please remind your students school comes first.  We still need to be getting our work done for school even though we are busy at night or it is just too nice to be inside.  I feel I have given a lot of late slips out recently.  We are almost done but not quite.  I will be sad to see your kids go, I have have really enjoyed them this year!

Language Arts -  This week we read a story called Owen & Mzee.  It is a story about a very odd friendship.  The friendship is between a very old Aldabra turtle and a baby hippopotamus. It is a very good story about rescue and adaptation. The Hippo is stranded alone after a Tsunami destroys his pod.  They rescue him and take him to a shelter area and put him in with Mzee the turtle.  They become fast friends.  It is really a sweet story.  We have worked on the suffixes -ly and -ed.  We worked on comma rules in grammar.  We looked at words in a series, city and state, date and year, and speaking directly to someone.  These are good reminders because 4th graders struggle with most of these when writing.  Tomorrow is test day!  Be sure to study your spelling words and vocabulary words.

Math -  We have been so busy working on BizTown Math that we walked away from division for a while.  I reviewed division with them today and many have forgotten how to do it. Tomorrow I plan to reteach division to them and have them work on some more problems.  They have 4-5 problems to do for homework today.  Most are finished.  We are near the end of our chapter so we will finish it and take a test.  After this chapter we are going to go into fractions.  We will discuss what fractions are and what they look like.  A lot of them are all ready working on fractions in ST Math.  Some of the activities they are doing in ST Math are very challenging.  It is great to see them work with a group of kids who try to problem solve together to get their answers.  I even find some of the levels very challenging. 

Social Studies -  We have finished our interactive notebook for the Southeast region and will begin work on the MIdwest states.  We are going to start reading the really important facts about each region so we can move forward.  I told the kids there wouldn't be any more tests over chapters but we would do tests over the maps to get them ready for the end of the year test.  Next week we will take a test over just locating the Southeast states and listing the capitals with it.  Again the next region will be the Midwest.  We will learn important facts about this region and work on locating them on map. We will also continue to put the states in our interactive notebooks

BizTown -  We had a lot of fun on this field trip. Thank you for all the volunteers that went with us.  Your child worked very hard all day and made comments about all the things they needed to accomplish is such a small amount of time.  Our day is shorter than those kids in Des Moines because we have that hour drive time.  We will work on trying to extend our day a little the next time we go.  This year I worked in the bookstore.  It was a lot of work because it was to have 4 employees and only had 2.  We had a ton of stuff to do. It was great to only have St. Malachy students and not another school with us.  I feel our kids benefited greatly from that. I tried to explain to the kids we were doing 8 hours of work on a 3 1/2 hours.  We are very fortunate to have this activity.  Such great life lessons here and we are covering financial literacy!

I hope all of you have a great weekend!  I will be gone Monday afternoon.  I am going to Dr. with one of my daughters to see about a cyst in her wrist.  Hopefully they will just drain it right there in the office, otherwise we will be scheduling surgery.  Pray for a simple fix!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!  Today is to be a beautiful day!! I am so happy it is nice.  We have our Sedar Meal at noon then our Cross Walk this afternoon.  I am so glad it will be nice for our walk to the church.  It is a great Holy Thursday celebration for St. Malachy today!

Language Arts -  We did not do a story this week.  There were only 3 full days we could have covered a story then would have had to finish it next Thursday and Friday.  I didn't feel we could do the story justice by doing it that way.  We filled the time with other activities.  One day we played Spill and Spell as a class to practice our spelling and have a little friendly competition.  One day they wrote letters to Editor or a story about something from school to put into the magazine at BizTown.  I also had them type them onto google docs.  They also had a new book report assigned to them that will be due in May. 

Math-We have spent the week working on the standard algorithm or regrouping strategy for Division.  This one always takes me a while because it has so many steps to the process.  Even though I put the process of steps on the board and teach them a little chant, they still lose track of where they are in the process and what to do next.  The more we practice this the better they will get.  Next week we will work more on this strategy.  Any practice at home they can do would be great.  Ask them to show you the chant we have.

Social Studies-  They are completing chapter 6 today by taking a test.  We will be moving quickly through the other regions due to running out of time.  The year is dwindling down quickly.  I will pick items in chapter 7 to cover that I fell need to be and we will work on capitols.  Then we will go to Midwest and so on.  Projects will be coming due in about a week so please check with your children on how they are doing with that.

Biz Town- This week they received their job assignments. Mrs. Surma and I spent a few hours on Sunday night going over their interviews. We decided that we needed to take into account our knowledge of each child's interests and capabilities when choosing their jobs. There we jobs that the no one had applied for, so some may not have gotten a job that was one of their choices. I feel they handled the new well.  I am sure that day they will have so much fun they will forget that they are doing a job they didn't want to do. This week they got together with the people they are going to be working with and had to create a name for their business. They also had to write up ads to be done for the magazine and radio in Biz Town. The CEO/CFOs had to fill out forms for the bank. They will also be writing some short articles that will be included in the Biz Town magazine! 

When we go, they will need a sack lunch and drink. They will also need to wear mass day attire. They are going to work

Clean-Up Day- The school will be cleaning up our school property on Friday, April 21. We are asking your kids to bring a rake to school that day if they have one! Make sure your family name is on it somewhere. If they have work gloves, they can bring those too. We will be raking along the fence and by Father Halbur's house. 

Iowa Assessment scores are going home today. Please look in your child's folder for their results

I hope everyone enjoys their nice Easter Break.  I am looking forward to the teacher's trip to St. Louis!  I hope to learn some new things to bring back with me to try in my room!

God Bless,
Mrs. Sickels

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dear Parents,
     Happy Thursday!! This has sure been a short week for me!  Monday was a day of professional development for the teachers.  They spent the morning doing volunteer work at the Food Pantry. They cleaned all shelving and mopped floors!  In the afternoon they were working on teacher things as a group!  I missed this day due to my Grandma's funeral.  It was 10:30 in the morning.  The afternoon was spent with family. Wednesday I was at a technology conference in Des Moines.  I attended 4 different sessions.  I walked away with some great things to begin to look at for the classroom.  Some can happen right now, others need to be further investigated before we try to implement them.  So I will have taught 3 days this week which makes it feel really short!  I will say I was told by the students they had a good day Wednesday but they miss me when I am not here.  That made me smile and feel pretty special.  Thanks again for sharing your wonderful children with me!

Language Arts - This week we read a story called The Ever-Living Tree.  It is informational text on the California Redwoods.  It is a story that shows us the longevity of the trees.  They connect the life of the tree to events taking place all over the world.  Here are examples from the book of all the things that took place while this one Redwood was growing: Alexander the Great, Great Wall of China being built, Augustus Ceasar, Kingdoms in Africa, Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Mayflower and the Pilgrims, Revolutionary War, building of railroad, and men walking on the moon.  That covers hundreds of years!!  This is an interesting story but I am not sure the kids are as interested in it as I am.  In Grammar we were reviewing ending punctuation and capitalization.  We also talked about prefixes; pre-. inter-, and ex.  Tomorrow is our end of the week test.  Be sure your student is studying their spelling words and vocabulary words that are found in their notebooks this week.

Math-  We have learned and expanded on repeated subtraction and partial quotient.  Next week we will finish the division chapter by learning the regrouping strategy which is the standard algorithm that you and I  learned in school.  That is the last strategy to learn in this chapter.  Most students have all ready seen this strategy when working on ST Math.  This has been a great help when teaching it to the kids because they begin to really see what they have been doing in ST Math.  It also makes it to where my part in the teaching doesn't take quite as long with them because they are familiar with it all ready.

Social Studies -  We will be finishing up chapter 6 next week and testing next Thursday.  This is our first chapter over the Southeast states.  I will give them maps tomorrow to start practicing the Southeast Region.  They will need to label the map with these states.  Tomorrow morning during Social Studies we will be do an activity where the students run through a quick practice interview with partners.  This will get them ready for their job interviews tomorrow afternoon.

Biz Town -  We have filled out job applications and picked 3 jobs they want to apply for. The job interviews will take place Friday afternoon.  We have asked a couple of parents from 4th and 5th grade to help us out. We asked parents who weren't attending Biz Town. We are also going to have the the 4th grade parents interview the 5th graders, and the 4th graders will be interviewed by the 5th grade parents. We are just trying to make it more realistic for the kids. There is a good chance they won't know their future employer so we wanted to keep it as close to real as possible. Ms. Surma and I will make final job decisions and let the kids know some time next week.

Dollars for Scholars Essay - Your children have written an essay called "What Education Means to Me".  This essay is for a contest put on by the Dollars for Scholars group.  The students put their students ID numbers on the essays and I have passed them around to three teachers in this building. Those teachers were to read the essays and choose their top 3 choices to be sent on to the main competition.  They have no idea who wrote what paper since we used student ID numbers.  The top three essays will be sent on to the committee to be judged and a top essay chosen.  The person who wins receives a $50 savings bond.  One person in this room will win!  The top three essays chosen by teachers are...Josephine Bolinger, Taylor Smith, and Sasha Wurster.  Congratulations Girls!!!  We will find out the winner in the middle of May.  

I hope everyone has a great weekend!! Get out and enjoy the sun!  Seems like we have forgotten what that was like!!

God Bless,

Mrs. Sickels