Saturday, December 24, 2016

Please visit the Shutterfly link to see our class holiday photos!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

Monday, December 12, 2016

Let the Holidays Begin

We are coming to an end of our second quarter! Students will complete their imaginary narrative writing assessment this week. Remember that writing is 70% of the ELA grade.

We are finishing the unit on alcohol & tobacco in health. Students have been close reading in small groups and completing the lesson by lesson "open book" assessments.

Our holiday party is on Tuesday, Dec. 20th.Please contact Mrs. Steffen if you're interested in volunteering. Due to limited parking, it is asked that only volunteers attend . Also, the celebration is for students only, please no siblings. Thank you!

Here is a students' holiday spirit calendar. 
December 2016


Fa La La La La
Fun with
Holiday Wear!

Grinch        Day! Wear Green!

Wear Red Day!!

Holiday Headgear!

Sparkly Holiday Wear!

Holiday Foot wear!
Holiday socks and/ or shoes!

Comfy Flannel Day!
PJ’s or Flannel shirts!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!
Hanukkah and Christmas about to begin

Holiday Fun at Addison begins on Dec. 13th.  Your child is welcome to participate by wearing the above winter fun wear! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving is Here ?!

Congratulations to these students that put their best effort forward in their spelling homework. They developed unique sentences, modeled correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelled high frequency words correctly. Awesome!

Students have finished their Native American opinion essays. I should have grades posted by the end of the week. You should have seen their previous opinion writing about the Pixar short-films. I met with them providing feedback on either their planning sheet or draft to strengthen and prepare for the Native American essay.  

Thanksgiving Homework :  Due Monday, Nov. 28th
Grandma's Garden passage and recording sheet to identify figurative language. Students have a flip-book which contains all vocabulary, definitions, and examples.
The other reading is application of inferencing with context clues.
Remember to count these for the Thanksgiving Reading Challenge!!

They should also be practicing Greek & Latin Roots anchor chart. We have been integrating them in our spelling for the past 3/4 weeks. However, I want them to really understand the meaning and usage as this is a specific standard. We will be creating our own word wall throughout the next month.

                         Have a wonderful holiday break with family and friends 😄

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Current Happenings

We are currently working on developing our opinion writing. For the past 2 weeks students have been writing about Pixar short films and Go Noddle- Moose Tube. I have been meeting with them to assist in developing genre specific standards. Creative opening paragraphs have been the most difficult for them but many students are showing progress!! Students' goals are to move up in the domain of ideas from 2 to 3 or 3 to 4.

Students will begin their summative essay assessment on Thursday about a Native American tribe.
We continue to develop figurative language (personification) and will move onto alliteration and hyperbole.

Homework: Students should be putting their best effort into homework as this models their independent knowledge and I use this as informal assessments. Reading strategies are focused upon daily specific to our genre. If your child is truly focused on their reading homework, he/she should be successful in identifying evidence with think marks. Please encourage them to take responsibility.

Another fun activity is plan for Friday, Nov. 11th! Please follow this link for information :

Mark you calendar to join us for a Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday, Nov. 16th. 

Mid- quarter progress reports will be sent home before the Thanksgiving break.

Thank you for your support!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Reader Leaders

I apologize for students who followed suit later in the week and did not have their photo taken and any I have overlooked.
Leah, Jibran, Ethan, Jordyn, Jessica,Aiden (Not in photo)

Here are some students really applying their learning in their independent reading homework!! How can you follow their wonderful leadership? Identify standards being taught while reading at home , such as --point of view (1st,2nd, 3rd person), similes,metaphors, idioms, prepositional phrases , character traits, absolutely any standard we have discussed. This makes the connection between reading and writing development as they observe authors' examples.
This has been strongly encouraged but it's up to students to take the initiative. Way to Go!

Conference Week

It was wonderful to have the time to meet with you and your child to discuss his/her progress! We are now in quarter 2 and have a fresh start to strengthen academic progress.
This week we began identifying point of view of a text. We will compare passages written about the same topic but in different points of view. Students will use close reading strategies to identify text evidence to prove their answers and develop paragraphs to explain their thinking.
As we continue to understand figurative language , the students are expanding knowledge and vocabulary with exposure to idioms. How are they different from similes & metaphors? 
After instructional lessons, they practice application with partners as they read and discuss.

New writing focus is on opinions. Students were asked to bring home their journals and review with you the genre specific vocabulary for stating opinions. These are the yellow and orange anchor charts. Applying this focused vocabulary will improve your child's assessment in the domains of organization and style.

Sharpen the Saw !! Please attend our Boo-vie Night on Friday, October 28. Proceeds benefit the Foundation.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Reading Theme

Students have been building their vocabulary to describe character traits. After identifying descriptive adjectives that were unfamiliar, they worked together to define the words.

We have read Thank You, Mr. Falker and students have discussed the character traits of Tricia and Mr. Falker to support the theme, lesson learned through characters' traits- words, actions, and feelings. The students have this as a resource to review for their test on Wednesday, Oct.5th. 
The class has also read and corrected The Thirsty Crow and 
A Strong Bond. These should also be reviewed.

Reading Packet- Students have a packet of 4 theme passages. They are to read , then reread using think marks to identify text evidence that support the characters' traits. They should have their journal with them. If not, use the anchor chart above. It is not mandatory to write their answer. However, they should be ready to discuss all the passages on Monday . Theme comprehension test will be on Wednesday.
This counts as their reading challenge! 

Have a safe and relaxing fall break .

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Theme- Character traits

We have begun reading text to identify the theme , lesson, learned through the character's traits.

As we read short narratives, our close reading focus is identifying the theme. Through the character's words,actions, and feeling , we learn a lesson. Our first text was Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. I asked students to identify text evidence to support Molly's character as we read. This was to model our new close reading focus.
Students then met in groups to discuss how to develop a written response to support her character traits. Here is an example of what that would look like.
          " In the story, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, Molly faced some obstacles (struggles) because she was unusual. Her character modeled perseverance and bravery. For example, when Ronald called her "shrimpo", she ran under him and scored a touchdown. Molly didn't allow Ronald to discourage her. Another example is she stacked pennies on her teeth when Ronald called her "bucky tooth beaver". In the end, Ronald learned the character trait of acceptance because Molly stood up to him."
For those of you wanting to support your child's writing development, here's a suggestion. Have your child reread Amy's Day at the Lake or Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt and have him/her identify her character trait. Then practice developing a paragraph that includes text evidence .
                 I hope that you find this helpful.
Only one week until our fall break!
Parent conference forms will be sent home on Thursday.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Close Reading Parent Night

I am holding a close reading parent night this Thursday, September 15th, at 5:30-6:30 pm in my classroom.
Please email me ,, if you plan on attending.
I look forward to meeting with you!

Reading Plot

Our short week was an extremely busy one! We have been focusing on the elements of plot. This standard has been taught through whole group reading of Stone Soup,youtube- listening and discussing of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, partner reading The Mystery in the Backyard and The Escape . Students have been strengthening their sentence structure through developing detailed responses on graphic organizers. As I provide feedback, they revisit their writing and make corrections.
This week , we will read Amy's Day at the Lake and Stranded in Wyoming. These will be teacher lead lessons. On Thursday, the students will have a test on the elements of plot.
I have been meeting with students to discuss their writing scores on the informational writing assessment. They have acknowledged a strength and area to improve upon. This reflection sheet will be kept in their writing notebooks.
We will begin our focus on strengthening opening paragraphs for a narrative story that will grab our reader's attention and clearly convey our purpose for writing. Students will use their goal on the reflection sheet when revising their paragraph.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Current Happenings

This week the students practiced Relative Pronouns Race to prepare for their quiz.

 I met with students in small groups to guide them in writing complete written responses for comprehension questions from their reading homework on Man-Made Features. Complete written responses are what is expected and this will strengthen sentence structure in student's writing .

I should have all 43 writing assessments graded by this coming week. Students will reflect on their grades and develop a writing goal for the domain( ideas, organization, style, and conventions) in which they are the weakest. I will then group the students accordingly for guided writing groups .

Unfortunately due to Monday being a holiday and Tuesday is ALP day, I will not be able to give another reading test before Thursday's progress reports. There will NOT be a spelling test this week!

On Friday we had our introduction to Plot- story elements. This includes exposition (character and setting) ,rising action (leading up to problem) , climax, falling action (leading up to solution) , and resolution. Mrs. Tansill's students were to go online and listen to the end of the story, Stone Soup, and complete their graphic organizer. This was the trade they made to have recess because of super specials changing our Friday's schedule.

I want to thank you for the wonderful communication by emails!! If I don't know an issue, I am unable to address it. Fourth grade requires more independence and responsibilities for students. Let's keeping working together for their success :)

Foundation :  The Foundation Funding Drive has been extended through September 16.  This is the Foundation's largest fundraiser for the year to help continue to keep our Science Lab going as well as provide other enrichment for the students and resources for Addison.  
There will be a classroom competition! The class with the highest % of participation by 9/9 will win an ice cream party! (right now, Mrs. Gillenwater is in 1st place)
 The top two classes participating in the Drive in each grade level will receive an iPad, too!!  A percentage of the funds raised also comes directly into our classroom.
 Don't forget... 
When we hit $20,000, Mrs. Hallmark and Mr. Cohen will spend some time up on the roof for all to see!!!
When we hit $25,000, they will KISS A PIG!!
When we hit $30,000, the kids will get to tape Mrs. Hallmark and Mr. Cohen to the WALL.  
Please support us in this effort! Visit for details.  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Health Test

We will have a Personal Hygiene health test on Wednesday, Sept. 7 ! Your child has their chapter 2 summary and vocabulary test. Please have him/her correct it by using the key I have provided. Unfortunately we were unable to do this in class as we needed to pass the books along to another 4th grade class.
They will also need to review their Brainpop quizzes.
The test will include multiple choice, matching, and fill in the blank using a word bank.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Severe Weather Writing

The class has been developing their essay on severe weather storms. Through out the week, they have written 3 supporting paragraphs based on information collected . They will work on developing  their opening and concluding paragraphs on Monday, after we review topic sentence starters and hooks. Their final presentation is due on Thursday and I hope to have them graded by the time we return from the Labor Day holiday.

The week was also spent reading in our grade level health textbooks. Students had the week to partner and/ or independently read the chapter about personal health. After reading, they completed a short summary and vocabulary  assessment. These 5 quizzes I have combined into a test grade which has made the final individual average higher than if I counted them separately. The students were able to reread at their own pace and use the text as they completed the assessment .You will see this grade in both health and reading in Parentvue. 

After Labor Day we will focus on narrative text elements: theme,plot ( problem/solution) , character traits,and setting. 

Please support our Foundation by donating online or sending donations to school.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Improving Reading

Here are a few pointers on how your student can improve in reading :
  • close read the text using think marks
  • close read the questions using think marks
  • reread the text and questions
  • identify the supporting evidence in the text by highlighting or underlining in color
  • make corrections when the teacher is modeling and reviewing
  • complete the reading homework for Tuesday and Wednesday
The book mark for "think mark" was posted on my blog Aug. 16th to assist students at home . These strategies are modeled and discussed daily. It is the student's responsibility to apply them in his/her work in all subject areas (math,science,social studies) to build independent fluency. Close reading think marks can make a noticeable difference in test scores.

If you are interested in seeing this modeled or asking questions about these strategies, please email me ( as soon as possible. I will gladly arrange with administration an evening (5:30-6:30 most likely) to have a demonstration meeting with all parents interested. My goal is to teach and assist your child in his/her learning.

Parents of ALP students, please check your student's agenda for a letter concerning reading homework.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Informational Writing

I believe the students have really enjoyed researching severe weather sites to collect information for their upcoming informational writing assessment. We have learned what informational writing should include through reading and discussing examples. We also focused on how authors use specific vocabulary based on their main idea and that paragraphs focus on  supporting details and examples.
 We have been learning how to develop strong topic sentences and a variety of sentence starters.This week we will be focusing on how to organize their notes to develop paragraphs based on their topic/main idea.

We continue to read informational texts. This will include our health unit on personal hygiene and dental 
care. Each day we will read a lesson and follow up with a comprehension and vocabulary quiz. The 5 quizzes will count as a test in health and reading. 
Students have been meeting with me in guided reading groups to practice close reading strategies to build fluency and comprehension.

Homework: Please remind your child to listen to and write down assignments. This will assist in their nightly application of daily lessons. It also gives us formative feedback if your child needs reteaching of concepts.

Thank you for using the agenda for communicating concerns , requests, and dismissal changes!! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Think Marks and Homework

Reading homework is based on your student's DRA and RI assessments. Tonight's assignment is to close read and reread  his/her leveled passage. They should use "Think Marks" while reading. Please see the photo below. This is what the students have in class as a reminder and resource. 

If your student's packet has questions attached, he/she are not to complete them until WEDNESDAY.Tuesday is reading for fluency and comprehension. Wednesday is for rereading and then answering to prove comprehension.

Reading passages will be based upon what we are learning in class. Currently we are focused on non-fiction informational text in reading and writing.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Our Routine

      We are gradually getting into our daily routine of Daily 5 centers expectations, partner reading expectations, and switching classes.
     Our reading and writing focus is currently Informational text elements. We have applied close reading strategies to understand how to construct informational writing by reading examples. Students will have their journals as a resource that is always available for them to use.
       This coming week the students will focus on the purpose of writing informational text, developing topic sentences,using the web to gather ideas, and  connecting ideas with linking/transition words.
      Daily 5 centers are a time when students work on practicing standards such as identifying run- ons, fragments, developing structured sentences, common and proper nouns, spelling and dictionary skills.
       Students will choose an extreme weather topic to research and develop an informational writing piece. This will integrate their upcoming science standards on weather . They will be searching the web and using texts to gather information. It will be a 2 -3 week task as we go through the reading and writing process.
       Grades are being posted in Parent Vue so please be sure that you have set up your login.
       Contact me by email with any questions or concerns!