News from Room 24 – December 13, 2017

I’m going to keep it short and sweet! We are finishing up our geography and math units this week before heading out for the break.  Students are working to finish up their regions brochures and will take a post-assessment on Oregon geography later this week.

I hope you will be able to join us for one or both of the events we have planned this week.  Our writing performances will be this Thursday, December 14th, from 9:30-10:30 am.  4th and 5th Grade Family Breakfast is this Friday, December 15th, from 8:15-9:00 am.  Please remember to bring something healthy to share at the Family Breakfast.

I hope you all have a great winter break!  Do lots of reading and sleeping and have lots of fun.  See you in 2018!

-Ms. Elissa


Today’s Art Lesson

Project: Create a silhouetted winter landscape using paint and sharpies.

Guidelines: Your work should show an understanding of perspective by including a horizon line, a foreground (things closer up), and a background (things farther away).  Your work should be realistic.  You should start by making a practice sketch to plan out your ideas and have a quick conference with Ms. Elissa before starting on your final copy.

The videos below are to help you with drawing the trees in your landscape.  You may choose which type of tree to include, or you could include some of each!

You will need to paint a sky & the horizon line first.  Think about what colors you would see in a winter sky.  Use watercolors.

Then add your trees.  You can use sharpie to draw them, or black tempera paint.

Finally, add any finishing touches: snow on your trees, snow falling, etc.

News from Room 24 – November 29, 2017

Welcome back!  I hope you were able out carve out some time for yourselves this weekend to relax and get reinvigorated for the weeks ahead.  We have three full weeks coming our way and each one of them is packed full!

On Friday, we will be traveling to Milwaukie Riverfront Park to release our salmon fry into the Willamette River!  Thank you to all the chaperones who have volunteered to join us!  We will be outside for the duration of the trip and the forecast calls for rain, so please send your child with a raincoat and some sturdy shoes that can withstand the elements.

We spent some time on Tuesday talking about Thanksgiving myths.  Hopefully your children shared some of their learning with you during the holiday.

Students are beginning to research their chosen region of Oregon.  They will take notes a about their region’s climate, physical features, natural resources, and tourist attractions.  Next week, they will compile their notes into an informational brochure about their region.

Our book clubs are up and running in Room 24!  Students are reading books at their level and doing some sort of written response work each day with their group.  This is a time when some groups benefit from having a volunteer with them.  If you are available on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays from 10:15-11:00, please let me know – we would love to have you come in to support our learning!

In math, we have been working hard on mastering multi-digit multiplication arrays.  This week, we will also work on multiplying money.   Our class and Ms. Rotwein’s class will then do some social justice work around minimum wage and the cost of living in Portland.  Students will be posed the question:  “Can people working full-time at a minimum wage job afford to live in our city?”  It is an eye-opening, impactful lesson for many students.

In writing, students are working to type, revise, and refine their personal narrative stories.  Starting next week, we will be working with a professional actor, Anne Rutherford, to turn each student’s piece into a theater performance.  It is going to be tons of fun to see these stories literally leap off the page and into the real world.

Upcoming News:  Please mark your calendars for the following events…more details to come soon!

Personal Narrative Author’s & Actors Writing Performance: Thursday, December 14th, from 9:30-10:30 AM in Room 24

4th & 5th Grade Family Breakfast & Singalong:  Friday, December 15th, 8:15-9:30 AM, Rooms 20, 21, 22, 23, & 24

Booksource: Helpful in finding books at your child’s reading level

In elementary school, students should spend most of their reading time with books that are a perfect fit for them.  They should be able to read most of the words with ease and be able to understand the story as they go.  This can be tricky for many kids and parents to navigate.  Finding enough books that are a good match AND that are interesting is often a challenge.

At conferences, you will see your child’s reading assessment data and learn about them as a reader: what they are working on, what they struggle with, and their reading level.  That information can be used to help find them good fit books.

The website Booksource has all of their books grouped by level so you can easily take a look at your child’s reading level (and those above and below their level) to help you choose books to buy or check out from the library.  Take a look:

Happy reading!

Ms. Elissa

News from Room 24 – November 1, 2017

Here comes “No School November”….  We are going to work hard this month to hold on to our routines even as the weeks get a little wonky around us.  I am looking forward to seeing you at our conferences next week!  Please contact the front office if you need to reschedule.

In math, we took our post-assessment for Unit 1 last week.  Students did well overall, but it was clear that many of us are in the habit of rushing as there were many careless errors!  We are headed into a new unit on place value and larger number multiplication.  In this unit, students will learn strategies for multiplying double-digit numbers and firm up their understanding of place value.  Our homework this week is all about place value.

In literacy, students are working on responding to text more independently.  We have covered many ways to analyze and think about what we read: asking questions, making predictions with evidence, writing about a character’s traits, and writing about a character’s hopes and dreams.  As students prepare to begin book groups, they are practicing these strategies independently with our shared read aloud, The Tiger Rising, by Kate DiCamillo.  I am consistently impressed with the deep-level connections this class is making in the text.  It makes reading fun!

In writing, we are still working our way through our personal narrative unit.  Students recently revised a piece of writing to add in adjectives and adverbs, making it come to life!  Next, we will brainstorm a story about friendship.  After that, students will begin the process of choosing one of the personal narrative beginnings we have written thus far, and taking that idea all the way through the writing process to publishing.

In geography, our class is creating comic strips to show how Crater Lake was formed.  last week, students used a theater exercise called “tableau” to help them visualize all the stages of Crater Lake’s history.  Now students are writing and illustrating each scene in great detail.  Keep your eyes out in the hall for these later this week.

Our salmon eggs have been delivered!  Over the next few months, we will watch them carefully, keeping track of the temperature and the health of the eggs.   Everyone is eagerly awaiting the first signs of hatching.  Feel free to stop in after school to check them out!

See you at conferences next week,

Ms. Elissa

News from Room 24 – October 18, 2017

We are cruising along this month!  I’d like to say a big thank you to all the parents who helped make salt dough or who came in to help us as we made our topographical maps of Oregon last week.  They turned out beautifully and are now rotating through taking turns sitting on the heater vents so they will dry! 🙂  We will paint them later this week.

In Literacy, we are focusing on character traits this week.  We talked about how feelings and traits are different – a feeling lasts a short time, while a trait describes someone’s personality: how they are almost all the time.  As we read The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, students are listing traits and then giving examples from the text as supporting evidence.

In writing, we are spending some time brainstorming some different story ideas about loss.  We played a movement game called “Stand Up If…” to help us think of specific memories of a time we lost an object, a person, a competition, etc.  Later this week we will practice using our five senses to accentuate our ability to describe items in our writing.

We are nearing the end of our first math unit.  We have spent this unit practicing multiplication and division strategies, using arrays to solve problems, learning about factors, and touching on what prime and composite numbers are.  We will finish out this unit by taking a quick look at area and perimeter. Our unit test will be on Tuesday afternoon.

Finally, we will be having a Harvest Celebration in a few weeks and we are looking for some parent support!  Ariel Dryad has offered to organize the event and if you would like to help with preparations, bringing in snacks, or coming in to help it run smoothly, shoot her an email: moonstone.goddess2000[at]  Our celebration will be on Tuesday, October 31st from 1-3pm.  Thank you for all your help!

-Ms. Elissa

News from Room 24 – October 4, 2017

How is it already October?!?  Time flies when you’re in fourth grade!

I will be sending home Scholastic Book Orders this week.  When you order, it helps raise money for our classroom to purchase new books throughout the year.  If you plan to order books, please turn in your form to me or order online using our class code on the back of your packet by Thursday, October 12th!

We started a new writing unit last week.  In this unit, students will use acting techniques and movement activities to help them become stronger writers.  Students will also be using mentor texts to examine what great authors do in their writing.  This week, students are focusing on writing a powerful introduction that draws the reader in by using character description, sound effects, setting description, dialogue or humor.  They have been doing remarkable work!

In math we are working on strategies for solving multiplication and division problems using rectangular arrays.  Last week, students used tiles to build the arrays and this week, students have learned how to sketch them quickly.  We will continue using this method throughout the year.  Thank you for supporting your child in making time for homework!  It has been great to see their strengths every day.

We are learning about Oregon Geography right now in class.  So far, we have learned about some of the mountain ranges, lakes, cities, rivers, and regions in our state.  We have a big project coming up where students will build their own salt dough map of Oregon.  We will need about 25 pounds of salt dough for this project and I would LOVE your help with making it.  If you are interested in making some salt dough at home before Thursday of next week (the 12th), please let me know via email ( so I can send your child home with the supplies and the recipe!  We are also going to need some volunteers in the classroom that day, so if you are free on Thursday, October 12th, feel free to join us for some messy (and fun!) geography work.

Run for the Arts is this Friday morning.  Please make sure your child wears some good running shoes and send in their form by the end of the week.

All the best,

Ms. Elissa