• Sara Pennypacker

    Sara Pennypacker, American Writer

Mr. Quisling's Online 4th Grade

  • This is where teachers and writers have exactly the same goal: how to get a reader to pick up a book and read it willingly. Children read for pretty much the same reasons adults read:

    1. Pleasure (which can include safely experiencing terror or regret or grief, not just laughter or fun.)
    2. Curiosity - humans are wired to want to know what happens next!
    3. Self-understanding - People read to find out who they are, and who they could be. By presenting characters kids can relate to, books say to the reader, "The tribe is wide and varied, and look! You're already a member! And look! There are lots of other paths to try, also!"
    4. Connection with others - We humans are pack animals, and having successful relationships is high on our priority list. Books that show people forming friendships, working through differences, finding common ground or exploring new human experiences together are extremely attractive to kids as they grow.
    5. Information - Children are born into small worlds which expand rapidly - family, neighbor, school, and beyond. They value books which help them understand how the world works.

    - Sara Pennypacker

Classroom News

  • MLK and More

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 1/18/2021
    Hello all!
    In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., I picked out a few things he said to discuss with the kids this week, probably one quote each day. I'm eager to hear the kids' thoughts about what he meant and how it relates to our lives now. Here are the quotes I picked out:

    "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

    “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
    We're also going to read a book about MLK together on Tuesday, and I picked out some other books on Epic about MLK, civil rights, peaceful protest, and justice the kids can read if they want. Maybe your child can pick out something to read and discuss together with you!
    As for other learning this week, we'll be wrapping up our literature study of Pax by Sarah Pennypacker, we'll continue our math study of multiplication, and we'll continue our study of Native Americans in social studies.
    The other teachers of online grade 4 classes and I are enjoying crafting the Native American lessons together. So far I authored the "Native Americans Along the Lewis & Clark Trail" lesson (1.16), and Sarah Long authored "People Groups" (1.17). Jackie Fuller and Kristen Chancellor authored this week's lessons 1.18 (language and culture) and 1.19 (geology and folktales), and next week Laura Zimmer will provide a lesson about geography and cultural connections to the land. I have a terrific team of dedicated teachers to work with!
    Wishing you joy and contentment,
    - Mr. Q.
    Comments (-1)
  • From our Virtual Classroom ...

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 1/10/2021

    Hello Families!

    Before writing anything about the kids and school, I need to acknowledge the troubling circumstances in our country and world. I'm hoping and praying for better times, and I want to help.

    The kids made a smooth transition back to school. The highlights of the past week for me were the individual meetings I had with each of my students. We talked about good times over winter break, things that the kids were doing and thinking about, and I checked in about how they are feeling about school. The kids in my class, your kids, have so much to offer the world!

    This week were starting an important math unit about multiplication, we're continuing our study of Pax by Sarah Pennypacker, and we're beginning a study of Native Americans in the past and present.

    You might have noticed that there is one less K12/FeulEd ELA lesson assigned each week. I thought that was the best way to address the pressure many of the kids were expressing. As you can imagine, most of the kids were very enthusiastic about that. For those who want to work ahead, they can!

    You also might have noticed the "To-Do List" posted for the kids each week on our Clever page. They can print it and check off assignments and activities as they do them, refer to it on the computer screen throughout the week, or both. I hope that helps the kids know exactly what to do each day. I think it does!

    I'm looking forward to the week, and I hope you and your kids are too!

    Warm wishes,

    Mr. Q.

    Comments (-1)
  • It's 2021!

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 1/4/2021

    Happy New Year, and welcome back to school! Let's make 2021 the best it can be!

    - Mr. Q.

    Comments (-1)
  • Warm Wishes

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 12/21/2020

    Have a winter break full of love, joy, and good tidings!

    - Mr. Q.

    Comments (-1)
  • Winter Break Ahead

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 12/11/2020

    Hello Families!

    It's our last week together before heading off for winter break.

    We've made tons of progress since this unusual school year began, and it seems like we have a good rythm established. The kids seem mostly comfortable using the systems and structures we have set up, and they seem to enjoy each other when we meet on Zoom.

    I'm still a little unsure about the pacing of the K12/FuelEd lessons, and I'll be thinking about that over winter break. Would you do that too? I'm eager to know your perspective about the amount of schoolwork the kids are doing, which lessons and activities are the most effective, and how to make it the best we can. More about that soon.

    Even though it was through masks, I enjoyed seeing the kids and adults who stopped by for supplies pick-up at the district office last Friday. I can't wait for the day we can all actually get together in person. Even if that doesn't happen until after the school year is over, I still want to set something up in the future.

    About this week, there is less K12/FuelEd work, and more fun activities planned. Let's make this week one that leaves everybody with good feelings about themselves and each other. That's my main goal for the week.

    Best wishes!

    - Mr. Q.

    Comments (-1)
  • Whole Class Complete Lessons

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 12/6/2020

    Hello Famous Families!

    I was mostly thrilled with the way the kids responded to the whole-class K12 complete lessons we did last week. We did Science 4 Summit 6.1 on Monday, Math 4 Summit 4.7 on Tuesday, and ELA 4 Summit 4.7 on Wednesday. With few exceptions the kids showed curiosity and stamina, and most seemed to gain in understanding the material and the process.

    Doing the lessons completely takes effort. There are instructions to follow, lots to read and think about, and planning required. There are activities in the science lessons that require gathering materials, and sometimes it isn't obvious how to use them. Paper and pencil work is needed for the math lessons, and the ELA lessons require lots of reading and writing. And most of the lessons require problem solving, like either printing something to do by hand or writing responses on separate paper if a printer isn't available. It's possible and tempting for some (many!) to skip through parts of lessons and still have the lessons marked completed. I'm sure some kids think, "I already know this" even when there is plenty more for them to do and think about.

    My primary reason for doing those lessons together was to show them how to slow down and do all the parts without skipping through, and to convince them that clicking through wasn't enough to get the most from them. I'm trying to communicate, "Show some grit. You might as well do your best, even if you don't feel like it. You'll surely learn something, and you might even enjoy it!" I also wanted to show them how to pace themselves. We worked in 30 minute increments with breaks in-between.

    I received some positive feedback from the experience from some of you, and I even received some directly from some kids.

    I encourage you to do the same with your own child. Not each lesson because helping them learn to take responsibility for trying their best is a skill that this unusual school year offers practice with. That's frontal-lobe brain development. But once in awhile do a complete lesson together. I'm sure the kids would like that, and I bet you would too!

    I'm not sure the next time we'll do that as a whole class, but feel free to let me know your thoughts.

    Have a great week!

    - Mr. Q.

    Comments (-1)
  • With Gratitude

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 11/29/2020

    Hello Families!

    I sincerely hope you and yours enjoyed the week off, and I hope you felt gratitude from others and expressed gratitude towards them. I feel much gratitude for you and my students for all the energy given by all, and for just genuinuely being a terrific group of people to spend time and work with.

    As I looked over the kids schoolwork during the break, I wondered about some of the scored results in K12, and wanted to try out some ideas to help the kids not only get the most from the K12 lessons, but I'm hopeful they might enjoy them too.

    This week the kids and I are going to look in depth at one each of the K12 Science, Math, and ELA lessons. In our live lessons and small groups we'll work through each lesson to learn as much as we can from them, and we'll also try strategies for doing all the activities, pacing ourselves, and taking breaks. I'm hoping to help the kids improve their stamina, focus, and results.

    In science, we're starting a new unit about energy. In math, we're finishing up some geometry and starting adding and subtracting fractions. And in language arts, we're continuing our non-fiction study of aviation and aviators.

    Let's have a great week together!

    With gratitude,

    Mr. Q.


    Comments (-1)
  • The Week Before Thanksgiving Break

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 11/15/2020

    Hello Families,

    As we head into the last week before Thanksgiving Break, the kids are finishing up their current K12 Science unit and beginning new units in math and ELA.

    For the next several lessons, our math focus will be geometry with an emphasis on angles and their measurements. They will use protractors to measure and form angles for part of their work.

    For ELA we return to non-fiction reading with several pieces about aviation and aviators including John Glenn, The Wright Brothers, Bessie Coleman, and Charles Lindbergh. Many of the readings are from the Expeditions in Reading book from K12/FuelEd, so you'll want to make sure your child knows where that book is.

    The final 2 lessons in our current science unit are this week, one about animal behavior and then a review and assessment lesson. Science lesson 1.5 includes an optional hand-on activity that requires gathering pillbugs. I assume the pillbugs are hibernating because I couldn't find any in my backyard. For now, the kids are welcome to skip that part of the lesson. We might come back to it later when the weather is warmer and pillbugs are easier to find. You are also welcome to order some pillbugs online and do the activity with your child when they arrive.

    I wouldn't complain if any students want to research to find out where the pillbugs go during this time of year!

    One more thing about math - I'm giving the kids a "November Assessment" that my teaching team and I made to give us data for report cards. It's important that the kids do this assessment independently without help from coaches or parents. Also, I'm having them learn to submit photos of their work using their computer webcams and Google Classroom. Please don't help them with the math work, but helping them submit it on Google Classroom would be good! Ask them to show you the Google Classroom assignment.

    That's all for now. Have a terrific week!

    - Mr. Q.

    Comments (-1)
  • Making Progress

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 11/8/2020


    By all accounts things seem to be going well in our class! Attendance has been high, and formal and informal assessment indicate that the kids are making progress. Participation and attitudes have been lively and positive. The kids' work shows that they care about doing their best.

    Most students have written and turned in their personal narrative writing that they worked on through K12/FuelEd lessons along with lessons and guidance from me and learning coaches. We're planning a special celebration of our writing and ourselves as authors on Friday of this week. More details to come about that, so please check your email throughout the week. Parents and coaches will be invited to join us.

    We'll soon have all the kids' narrative writing posted so we can all enjoy it.

    About making progress, in Thursday's coach/parent meet-up, a few learning coaches and I reviewed a "10 minute daily check-in" that spells out some ideas about how to check in with your child each day about their progress. The result of our conversation is posted on the Coaches Corner page under "10 Minute Check-in." Please take a look, and let me know if you have any ideas about that.

    There is something else new on Coaches Corner, two graphs that show student progress (anonymously) in K12 Math and ELA Summits. Let me know if you need help understanding the graphs.

    In honor of our nation's veterans, there is no school Wednesday, November 11. I won't be assigning anything, and schoolwork is completely optional that day, so your child may take the day off, or use some of the day for schoolwork at your discretion. I hope you enjoy the day, and I hope our nation's veterans feel our appreciation for their service to protect our country and our freedom.

    I hope we all have a terrific week!

    - Mr. Q.


    Comments (-1)
  • Election Week

    Posted by Michael Quisling on 11/1/2020

    Hello Families and Coaches,

    As we head into the ninth week of school (hard to believe!), let's do so with eager minds, calm spirits, and kindness towards each other.

    Oh, and Tuesday is Election Day, and what a noteworthy elections this one seems to be!

    We'll continue working with fractions this week. In particular, the week's lessons focus on finding equivalent fractions using models and by multiplying and dividing numerators and denominators by the same factor. As the kids work through the lessons, be sure to ask them to draw models that show why the procedures work.

    In writing, the first few lessons in unit 3 take the kids through revising, editing, and proofreading the personal narratives they began in unit 2. After going through the lessons myself, I think that if the kids pay close attention and use the strategies in their own narratives, they'll learn things that will help them grow as writers.

    In upcoming reading lessons, the kids will continue to stregthen comprehension strategies by reading mysteries.

    We're shifting our focus from Social Studies to Science this week, starting with a study of plant and animal interactions, but we'll also talk and think about the election.

    As always, please let me know your comments/questions/concerns/ideas/feedback/etc.


    - Mr. Q.

    Comments (-1)

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