An effective classroom is one in which all students feel safe, respected and valued. The classroom routines and procedures are intended to ensure that all students achieve their potential in a supportive environment, which promotes self-control, kindness, independence and responsibility. I try to help students learn that effort and perseverance lead to success in learning and other endeavors. I also try to help students see that the study of life and the human condition, be it through literature, writing, science, social studies or math, is incredibly interesting. My hope is that every child will not just be successful academically but also move towards having his/her own intellectual life; that every child will not just solve problems and remember information, but will develop a confidence in his/her own abilities and internal resources in the face of difficult challenges; that this confidence will be based in the knowledge that he/she has persevered in the face of obstacles and frustrations and overcome them.
An important part of student success is having a ‘growth mindset’, i.e., a belief that through effort one can learn difficult things and become smarter. Based on the research of Carol Dweck, a classroom culture that values effort and perseverance can help foster in students a mindset that relishes challenge and views struggle as a necessary part of learning. Contrasted with this, a classroom culture that values only getting the right answer as quickly as possible can create a limiting mindset that teaches children that if they don’t understand something quickly, they just aren’t smart or good at it. You will hear more about supporting a growth mindset at home during open house.
A physically and emotionally safe environment is a prerequisite to learning. To help all students learn at high levels, students are expected to behave in a kind, responsible and honest manner. If a student acts in a way that does not support a respectful classroom, I will have a conversation with the student so he/she clearly understands how the behavior is affecting others; we will then discuss strategies to help that child act in a more positive way. If the student continues to engage in the behavior, then the child will receive a logical consequence, and I will contact you to think together about ways to best support your child with her/her behavior challenges. I always try to help students see how their behavior is impacting their learning and their relationships in school, and I try to help them move toward mature, productive behaviors.
Homework is intended to reinforce what your child learns in school. Homework focuses on practicing reading, writing and math for relatively short amounts of time, but on a daily basis. This type of homework has a cumulative effect and helps add to the progress the student makes over the course of the year. There will also be other homework at times that is not given weekly (e.g., spelling, grammar) I have included a homework contract for students to sign. Please look it over with them and discuss it. If you have any questions, please let me know.
In fourth grade students should read independently every night for 30 minutes. Other homework should take, on average, between 30-45 minutes of diligent, independent effort to complete. If your child is working hard and routinely takes longer than this to complete his/her homework, or if your child is not able to complete his/her homework without significant parent or sibling help, please contact me. Furthermore, please contact me if your child finishes his/her homework quickly or not to the best of his/her ability.
To help students keep track of their homework assignments, a homework packet will be sent home on the first day of the week containing the week’s homework. Each homework packet will have a cover sheet with the directions for the homework for the week. Please read this cover sheet at the beginning of each week with your child! In the beginning of the year, many students need support planning their week to complete their homework successfully. By the end of 4th grade students should be able to plan and complete their homework with little or no parent support. On Friday morning students turn their homework packet in to me.
If a student is not able to finish the homework, please send a short note with the reason. If homework is missing or incomplete, or if it does not reflect good effort, I will ask the student to complete or redo it.Regular Weekly Homework:
Independent Reading: Students should read independently for 30 minutes every night. To help your child keep up with his/her nightly reading, a reading log will be sent home in the weekly homework packet. If your student is struggling with reading, I will contact you to discuss different ways to support him or her at home.
Math: Students will generally have two math sheets to complete each week. The math sheets will generally fall into one of two categories. Some math sheets will be practice or review of straightforward problems (computation problems, word problems, etc.) Other math sheets will have one or two complex, multistep problems. These more difficult problems are designed to test your child’s perseverance and ability to justify his/her thinking. Students are expected to justify their thinking for all problems (i.e., show their work so that I can understand their thought process). At open house I will go over some ways you can support your child with math this year.
Math Games: Students are expected to practice math facts by playing math games twice a week for 10 minutes. We will play games in class and the homework sheets will have a list of games that students can play. The games list will come with directions if the games listed are new. Online games are acceptable for this, as long as they target students’ areas of need (I will give suggestions for good web sites), though if possible I would ask you to play games with your child sometimes to monitor their progress. If your student is struggling with addition or subtraction math facts, they should play a math game every day (if you are not sure, ask me).
Math Challenge: Most weeks there will be an optional math challenge sheet. The math challenge often covers something that goes beyond what we have done in class. If you would like me to make the math challenge not optional for your child, let me know.
Independent Writing: Students should write independently for at least 15 minutes every night. This is particularly important for students who struggle with writing, as over the course of the year it will help them greatly with the ease of their written production. The first lessons of the year are designed to help students think of ideas to write about, as in the beginning of the year it is normal for children to have a hard time with this. If you child struggles to think of an idea to write about, please direct him/her to reread and choose a topic from his/her writing notebook. You can also brainstorm ideas with your child if that is helpful.
Typing: Students are expected to practice typing twice a week for 15 minutes. I will be sending a link with an online typing program, as well as several links with games for students to practice. It is crucial that students practice using proper finger placement, both for the typing practice and for the games. Students who have significant struggles with handwriting may also have penmanship practice.
In general, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s homework, be it level of challenge, anxiety, frustration, time spent, or something else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Snack:Please try to send your child in with a healthy snack, preferably in a reusable container. Throughout the year we will try to minimize our use of wasteful packaging and encourage healthy lifestyle choices.
Cell Phones and Electronics:Students should leave all electronics at home. If a student must carry a cell phone for after school reasons, it needs to remain turned off and at the bottom of their backpack while at school.