Yeah! We received our very first pen pal letters Monday. Students were excited to carefully open their envelopes and read all about their new faraway pals from New York. Thanks to Jen and her 4th graders from New York for the pen pal exchange.

I am looking for one more 4th grade class to pair up with my second class of 28 4th graders. Leave me a message in the comments below if you are interested in being our pen pals!

Students also worked collaboratively this week in Social Studies learning about Louisiana's Regions to create a poster and a short commercial showcasing their region. First, they gathered information from an informational article to answer questions on their region. Then they took the information gathered and filled in a script. Finally, they worked collaboratively to create a poster depicting their region and rehearsed for their commercial to present to the class. Check it out!

Thanks to my awesome student teacher for putting together this experience for students. Students became active learners and were encouraged throughout to problem solve, communicate and make decisions.

Our trucker buddy Mr. Eason also came for a visit on Friday. Both classes had the opportunity to meet with him and tour his truck. Check it out!

So what is Theme? Theme is the underlying message or Big Idea of the story. Theme was our focus this past week in Reading, and students were introduced to a various selection of texts including fables, folktales and myths. Students evaluated text through a shared reading discussing the plot to determine the theme. We also focused on the following questions: Did the character grow? How does the title relate to the theme? What did the characters learn? Throughout the week, students turned and talked to discuss these questions as well as responded to them in their reader's notebooks. When responding to the text this week lots of modeling was done on how to justify your answer using text evidence. Finally students also discussed how some of the themes covered would apply to their own life.

Here's a look at the anchor chart used with the students throughout the week, taken from Juice Boxes and Crayolas

Here's a look at some of the literature that was used this week to discuss Theme.
I began on Monday with a Shared Reading using the text Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, an African Tale. The theme in this text was "Kindness is rewarded over cruelty." The theme was given to students before the shared reading, and throughout the text we stopped to discuss the kindness that was exhibited by one of the daughters and the rewards she received. 

Tuesday and Wednesday, I used the basal to introduce students to another folktale, The Roadrunner's Dance. Tuesday and Wednesday we charted the plot to determine the theme.

Wednesday, students watched 4 short Aesop Fables on Discovery Education including: The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Grasshopper and the Ant, and The Horse's Mistake. We also discussed how a fable is similar and different from a folktale. 

Finally, on Thursday, I used the myth King Midas to teach theme. We once again discussed how a myth is similar and different than a folktale and fable.

Next week, I will use fairytales, fiction and nonfiction selections to teach author's purpose, word choice and how the author's life influences the text. Some of Louisiana's Fairytales include: 'T Pousette et "T Poulette: A Cajun Hansel and Gretel, Jolie Blonde and the Three Heberts a Cajun Twist to an old tale, Petite Rouge A Cajun Red Riding Hood, On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik - (this book I will use to show how the author's life influences the text.)

This coming week is also our last week for Geography Skills, and we will culminate the Unit with a focus on the regions of Louisiana and it's culture. Students will collaborate in groups of 3-4 to produce a commercial on their Louisiana region. Stay tuned!

We would love to share some of our commercials with you through Skype! Leave a comment below so we can set a date and time to Skype with you, for us to share a bit of Louisiana culture and heritage.

Also, what fairytales or folktales are common in your state?

Review, Review, Review is what the Stars have been doing this week!

We began with putting all the Elements of Fiction together. I read a loud the book A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. The students have been begging me to read this book, which has been sitting on the bookshelf since the first day of school! I promised them it was coming soon, and Monday was the day. They really enjoyed the read-aloud. We stopped throughout identifying the Elements of Fiction using a narrative organizer I borrowed from Working 4 the Classroom, she offers it as a freebie. We also used the vocabulary in this book to determine word meanings using context clues. Before reading, I introduced students to 10 words we would encounter throughout the book. I told them to listen carefully as I read and raise your hand when they heard one of the words read. After reading, I used this awesome powerpoint I found at Classroom Magic to teach determining the meaning of words in context. At our writing center this week, student's are practicing their first Reader's Response Letter using the read aloud text by writing a summary of the plot and adding some thinking while they are reading.

In Social Studies this week, we are also reviewing all of the Map Skills we have discussed thus far. My student teacher and one of our inclusion teachers created power points for us to use as a review with the students. You can check them out here and here!

We are also working on our first Social Studies Research project. Last week, we introduced the class to their topic the Appalachian Mountains. I modeled for students why we would want to generate questions on a topic. After I modeled, students turned and talked to their partner to generate 3 questions on the Appalachian Mountains. Then we brainstormed resources we could use to answer our questions. Since this is our first research project, we are focusing on using only a non-fiction book on the mountains. So, this week the students are creating outlines from their questions they generated. Then they created a Flee Map from the information in their outline, and finally wrote their final paper. Most students finished Friday and posted their informational report on their blog. You can check them out here!

During our English block this week, we are studying how to write titles and correct run-on sentences. The students learning goal was I can write titles correctly using capitalization and underlining and I can correct run-on sentences by separating the two sentences with a period and then capitalizing the first word of the second sentence. It is very important they understand the purpose for the lesson and be able to ask themselves at the end of the lesson if they accomplished the goal. Here's a sample of what the students were working on.

After they completed a few titles independently, students were called to the board to correct a few titles using capitalization and underlining.

Next week, we will be studying Theme, working on our first writing prompt, studying Regions, discussing words with Suffixes, and an introduction to Resources.
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