March 1, 2015 Update

Dear Fourth Grade Families,

You have probably heard some talk about the upcoming PARCC assessments.  The PARCC tests take the place of the ISATs that your child took last year as a third grader.  The state of Illinois adopted the Common Core State Standards and chose to administer the PARCC assessments this year.  The fourth graders will take the test in several sessions (there are five) over the next few weeks.  We will have morning sessions in the computer lab.  The tests that we take now are called PBA, which translates into Performance Based Assessment.  These scores will be used to help inform our instruction for the remainder of the year.  At the end of the year, students will take the EOY (End of Year) tests that will serve as a summative assessment.  Note that the PARCC will not take the place of the NWEA, Measures of Academic Progress. In the classroom we have been practicing for the tests in two ways:  on paper and on the chromebooks. Students practiced using the features of the test itself (answer eliminator and high lighter, to name a few) and how to read the selections critically or perform the calculations accurately.

Here is our PARCC schedule:

3/3       10:00  ELA-1

3/10     10:00  Math-1

3/11      10:00  ELA-2

3/16      10:00  Math-2

3/17      10:00   ELA-3

You will notice that we have the same time slot each session. Students will have snack before the test and a short break halfway through the test.  Students will have until 11:30 to complete the tests.  Unlike the NWEA, students without testing accommodations will not have extended time.  Please help us help your child by encouraging a positive mental attitude toward the testing sessions.  Reinforce the importance of following the directions and respecting the need for quiet during the sessions.  Please do what you can to have them present on testing days.  Please contact me with questions and I will do my best to answer them.

Academics this week:

ELA:  This week we will have a lighter than usual academic load in the classroom.  On Monday we are going to learn about the Green Feature the wind turbine, with a true story, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  Students will learn about this young man’s invention and how it changed his village’s life.  We will also learn how a wind turbine works. We will still have spelling…Core words:  led, note, various, race, bit, result, brother, addition, doesn’t, dead.  Content words:  memorize, recite, hornbook, religion, storytelling.  In writing we will work on our mysteries and hopefully most students will begin their rough drafts on the chromebooks by Friday afternoon.  Our classroom Bluestem winner was Stonekeeper.  Thanks to Mrs. Conlon for organizing the Bluestem voting and to all the parents who supported this effort at home!

Math:  This week students will continue work on fractions, focusing on ordering fractions on a number line, converting mixed numbers to improper fractions, and operations with fractions.  Students will have a math packet due on Friday.  At this point there is no other math homework.

Social Studies:  We will finish Chapter 5 in Illinois, Our Home this week.  Students will learn about the lifestyles of the pioneer family:  work, play, and school.  It is interesting that when the students learn that pioneer children didn’t attend school as much as they do, they think that it’s great…but when they find out about the work load, they change their thinking!  FYI:  My grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania. She had 40 students, grades 1-8.  She made $700.00 a year and had to live with a family in town.


This is a note from Mrs. Meyer, the school social worker…

On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, all students in fourth grade will participate in the Child Assault Prevention Program (CAPP).  This program will be presented by trained specialists from the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center and presented at an age appropriate level.
The purpose of this program is to teach children to recognize and cope with potentially dangerous situations.  The children learn simple strategies such as assertiveness, peer support and utilizing trusted adults to reduce their vulnerability to unsafe situations or to get help when an unsafe situation occurs.  The program is presented in a single 40 minute session lead by a trained CAP presenter.  The classroom teacher will also be a lesson participant.
If you do not wish to have your child participate in this program, please contact me before the end of the day on Monday, March 2nd and we will arrange for an alternative activity during the presentation.
This is from PCCS administration…
On Saturday, March 7th, beginning at 3pm, PCCS will host the One Earth Film Festival’s screening of “Project Wild Thing”.  This is a free event that is open to the public.  Please RSVP for your free ticket and come join the fun on March 7th.  Bring some friends–I think they will love it!  Go to to see the trailer.
Dates to Remember:
3/6     Sock Hop
3/7     Wild Thing movie
3/8     DST:  Spring forward one hour
3/9     Green Challenge Assembly @ 9:30 am
3/11    Student Led Conferences
3/13    No School (teacher institute day)
I will be at the National Green Schools Conference from March 4-7, 2015.   This is my first time to attend this conference and am really looking forward to it.  I will see students on March 9th!
Cynthia McG