We are coders! We learned to code this week by participating in the world wide event, Hour of Code.  We learned how to write lines of code for a Minecraft game.  Your child can continue to learn and practice this skill on the website code.org from their iPad or any desktop or laptop computer.

We are deep into reading nonfiction and doing our research this week!  On Monday we presented our first group research that we did on a form of extreme weather or a natural disaster. We then switched topics so that we could compare what different ones had in common.  We looked for patterns and relationships.  We then let our research spark new ideas and came up with new research questions.  We talked about how we need to dig deeper, and it is hard to find what we need when the author does not have our agenda when writing.

In math we practiced the “old school” long division method before venturing into our 3 day testing cycle.  The results of these tests will come home Monday.  Today we began our next unit – multi-step word problems.  We are learning how to write an algebraic equation from a comparison word problem using phrases like “times as many.”

In writing this week we used the technique of parallel lists to support our reasons in our essays.  We then worked on our introductions and conclusions.  We are also learning some basic grammar lessons.  Before this week we have studied proper nouns, common nouns, pronouns, singular and plural nouns, regular and irregular nouns, collective nouns, and reviewed when to capitalize letters.  This week we began to tackle verbs – action verbs and verbs of being (am, is, are, were, etc.).

In science we began a new unit on phases of matter. We took a pretest, then jumped into talking about properties of matter.  We learned the difference between mass and weight and the tools used to measure each.

We are always practicing to be mindful.  This week we looked at the science behind our brains when the amygdala gives us the “flight, fight, or freeze” reflex.  We saw a diagram of the neurons and how they carry messages through signals.  We talked about how we can slow down our brains and “override” this reflex to plan a mindful response to our surroundings.

Important Dates

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break – Our last day before break will be Wednesday, December 20.  We will return to school on Wednesday, January 3.

Friday, January 19 – 1/2 day – noon dismissal


Our brains our like a muscle, and they have been working overtime these past weeks!  It began last Monday when Mrs. Smits set a challenge before us to protect her “precious,” except we didn’t know what it was, and from what danger?  We had materials to use to build.  Once we saw what she was going to do to a very delicate Pringle, we had to reassess and rebuild.  We learned a lot about ourselves and how we handle stress, a challenge, and group situations.  We had to handle those things indifferent ways this week throughout our learning of new math and group presentation projects too.  We watched a cute short movie today about a piper learning to find food, and talked about how we sometimes want to give up when learning gets hard, but we have to battle through it and overcome initial fears.  We also discussed how our amygdala classifies incoming things as pleasurable or threatening, and sometimes gives us false alarms.  We talked about how we need to think before we react to give our brains time to get information to the prefontal cortex.

In math this week there was a lot of frustration, but that frustration is beginning to turn into learning.  We began by dividing with remainders, then moving toward using pictures to divide, then the area model, and finally the “old school” long division method we know.  The reason for this progression is to allow children to have an understanding of what it is they are doing before memorizing random steps in an algorithm. As a parent I know it is hard to help with the homework when you do not understand it.  There are videos available to your child in the homework.  We just learned the “shortcut,” as we call it, today.  we will be reviewing it on Monday.

In reading we were researching a topic as a group of either severe weather or a natural disaster.  We had subtopics under those topics that we had to focus on, and then we got together as a group and made a poster to present that information.  While we were researching we learned how to synthesize information coming form different sources, how to grow our ideas about a topic, and how to tackle the hard parts by slowing down rereading, drawing a sketch, etc.  We will present these posters to each other on Monday then research a new topic.

In writing we wrote the body to our essays.  We have three reason paragraphs that consist of a reason sentence and a story to support or reasons.  We each have a different thesis we are writing about.  Next week we will work on the introductions and conclusions to our essays.

We took a science test this week!  Hopefully you saw the vocabulary come home and used it to study.  Those will be graded and sent home next week.  Our next topic is “States of Matter.”

Important Dates

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break – Our last day before break will be Wednesday, December 20.  We will return to school on Wednesday, January 3.


Do you know where your amygdala, hippocampus, and prefontal cortex are?  Do you know what they do?  Ask your child about these parts of your brain.  Today we talked about these parts of the brain and how we are going to work on calming our amygdala in order to get new information to our PFC and store the important things in our hyppocampus.

This week in reading we learned to tackle the hard parts in nonfiction such as misleading headings, too many facts packed in a paragraph, texts that go off track, hybrid texts, and unknown words. We also reviewed how to create a good summary by focusing on the main idea and supporting details.  We were surprised, as many people thought giving a good summary meant trying to remember as much as possible, when it is really about being able to find the main idea of a section.  We also began our mini research groups.  We are working in groups of 4 to study a form of severe weather or a natural disaster.  We will be taking notes and making a presentation the week we return from Thanksgiving break.  Here are pictures of our weather research teams at work.

We are practicing grammar and conventions each week.  This week we reviewed some things we all know, but do not always use – when to capitalize a letter and when not to.  We learned terms like proper noun, common noun, abstract noun, and concrete noun.  We also talked about when to use “a” and when to use “an.”

In writing this week we are working on our essays.  We chose a thesis we could be interested in and have a lot of stories about to support our thoughts.  We then wrote reason sentences and began our first part of the body of the essay – the first reason to support our thesis and the supporting details or story.  We are following a recipe to make an organized and thorough essay.

In math this week we took the final test on multiplication, a cumulative test on what we have learned so far, and we began looking at estimating larger division problems.  After break we will look closely at long division and learn the “whys” and ‘hows” before tackling the long division algorithm.

In science this week we talked about predators and prey and the role eye placement takes with each of those types of animals.  We looked at beneficial and harmful relationships between animals in a habitat, and we talked about some invasive species and how they can upset the balance of an ecosystem.  After break we will review and have the unit test.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Important Dates

Monday and Tuesday, November 20 and 21 – 1/2 days

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break


We had some special visitors today in honor of Veterans Day!  Members of the American Legion came to speak to us today about  Veterans Day, the American Legion, and what the folds in the flag mean.  We have a few projects that we will be doing later this month to follow up.  We were honored to have them visit us!


Did you know that the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on today’s date in 1975?  Ask your child what they learned today from our picture book and Gordon Lightfoot’s song.

In reading this week we began our nonfiction unit.  We took a pretest and then dove into reading.  We compared and contrasted how we read fiction and nonfiction, emphasizing that we do not want to read nonfiction like we are sitting in the waiting room at the dentist office – no flipping pages, but read every word.  We also reviewed how to start a new book by previewing the text and pausing after paragraphs to review what we read.  We then talked about different text structures for nonfiction, such as compare and contrast, cause and effect, or chronological order, and how know the structure can help a reader figure out what is important.

In writing this week we began our unit on writing essays by talking about the structure on an essay. We then did some free writing to brainstorm ideas for our essays that we are passionate about and practiced pushing our thinking further to write more.

In math this week we learned the “old school” shortcut for 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication, practiced multi-step word problems, and began the testing cycle.  In order for our skills to remain sharp with multiplication, we need to review it frequently.  You can help at home by giving your child the occasional 1 digit by 3 or 4 digits and 2 digits by 2 digits problems to solve.  The final paper test will be on Monday.  Your child brought home papers to use to study and practice, if they have to take the final test.

In science this week we learned about food webs.  We talked about different examples and even how we fit in to the web.  We then discussed the different ways animals use color. Ask your child about the three ways.

Please remind your child to charge their iPad every night and bring it to school.  Some days we use the device more than others, but students always want to be prepared for whatever the day may bring!  If they do not have an iPad, or there is no charge, your child misses out on a lot of our learning opportunities during  day. Thank you for your help!

Important Dates

Friday, November 10 – HPC Family Fun Night at the SLCFAC 5:30-8:00

Monday and Tuesday, November 20 and 21 – 1/2 days

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break


Thank you to all the parents that supplied treats, games, the craft, and help for our Halloween Party!  I appreciate all your hard work!  Your children had a great time!  Check out pictures from the indoor parade and party.

Here we are!  The Grand Haven Tribune’s Classroom of the Week!  They came to visit last Friday, and we are in today’s paper.

GH Trib Classroom of the week


We went swimming on Thursday and Friday with Mrs. Berry’s class.  What fun!


This week in reading we showed what we learned while reading Tiger Rising together.  I asked the students to give a retell and do some inferring about the text as well as talk about the craft and structure the author used.  We took a final test this morning on this reading unit on characters.

In writing this week we are reviewing power paragraphs. They learned about this nonfiction structure in 3rd grade.  We are reviewing how to write in this format before we begin our unit on essays.

In math we are learning different ways to understand 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication including the array model, the distributive method, the partial products method, and the zero trick.  Next week we will learnt he “old school” shortcut.

In science this week we took a closer look at snails and guppies to discover what they have that helps them survive in their environment.

Important Dates

Thursday, November 9 – Art to Remember due

Monday and Tuesday, November 20 and 21 – 1/2 days

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break


We had two special visitors this week!  We were the Classroom of the Week for SMILE Grand Haven and the Grand Haven Tribune.  Dr. Zillich from Little Smiles came to talk to us about germs on our teeth, and then Krystle Wagner from the tribune stayed to take pictures and videos of us going about our day.  She watched us do a science lesson.  The pictures will be in the paper on Friday, November 3.  I will include a link in next week’s blog.  Here are a few:


In reading this week we looked again at what the author repeats in a book, because that is obviously important.  We tried to find meaning in those reoccurring objects, phrases or images to help find the theme to our book.  We finished this unit on building interpretation in fiction through characters and talked about how “you are what you read” and what we can take away from the themes and characters in our books.  We made bookmarks to remind us of those important ideas.

In writing this week we took a couple of class periods to plan and write a fiction story from beginning to end showing everything we learned about fiction writing.  These are called “on demands,” and they will be used for comparing what we have learned from the beginning of the year and a grade in writing using a rubric.

In math this week we began learning about two digit by two digit multiplication using multiples of ten first, then estimating by rounding, estimating by using compatible numbers, then using an area model to learn the steps of multiplying all the ones and tens. Your child has an example of the area model in their blog today!

In science this week we talked about different habitats and what animals would be in those habitats.  We talked about what attributes an animal has that would help them survive in their habitat. We also looked at what would give one animal an advantage over others of his own species.  We took a close look at the African Dwarf Frog to see what it had that would help him survive in his habitat, and wrote about this in the Notability app on our iPads.  We took pictures of our frog friends and labeled their parts. (See pics above)

We have two very important events coming next week! Tuesday is Halloween.  Students should come to school in costume and bring clothes to change into, especially if their costume is restrictive for recess, etc.  We will have a normal day of school after the parade and party.  The parade will be outside beginning at 9:00 AM. The party will begin right afterward and end at 10:30.  If you wish to come up for the party, you must have a volunteer form already on file.

The second important activity next week is that we will have swimming lessons at the aquatic center with Mr. Robinson on Thursday morning and Friday afternoon.  Students will need to bring their suit and a towel to school in a bag. Please do not let them wear their suit under their clothes, as they will need dry clothes for the rest of the day.  They will change in the locker rooms.

Important Dates

Tuesday, October 31 – Halloween parade (9:00 AM) and party (9:30 AM)

Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3 – Swimming with Mr. Robinson

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school



We celebrated Mrs. Smits and her new citizenship this week!  Although Mrs. Smits has lived in Michigan since she was 6 years old, she was born in Canada and was a Canadian citizen.  We presented her with a flag from all of us, waved our flags as we sang her a couple of songs, and watched bits of her naturalization ceremony from that morning at the Gerald Ford Museum. Congratulations to Mrs. Smits for being a proud American now!

This week in reading we looked at how the setting and the mood of the story can help us figure out the meaning and build our interpretation of a book.  We looked at all of the individual responses we have had throughout the book and tried to connect them together.  When first work together in our mentor text, Tiger Rising, and then we try it on our own books that we are reading.

We are editing, revising, and rewriting our final copies of our own realistic fiction stories right now.  Next week we will share our final stories and write an “on demand” piece of writing as a test to show what we have learned about writing this genre.

In math this week we practiced the “old school” short cut for multiplying 1 digit by 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers and then took our very long test that included multi-step word problems and different methods to solve the problem.  Next week we start 2 digit multiplication.  Please have your child practice their multiplication facts at home!

We are beginning a new science unit this week on Organisms in Their Environment.  We began by looking at habitats and what animals need to survive.  Next week we will look at different animals and what features help them survive or have an advantage over their same species in their habitat.

Thank you to everyone who signed up to bring things for the Halloween party.  Don’t forget, if you would like to come up to the party, you must have a volunteer form on file already.

Important Dates

Tuesday, October 31 – Halloween parade (9:00 AM) and party (9:30 AM)

Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3 – Swimming with Mr. Robinson

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school



It was great to talk to everyone this week!  Thank you for coming in to talk to me about your child!  Please feel free to email me anytime if you have any questions.

This week in reading we looked at supporting out ideas about characters with evidence from the text.  We practiced, “I take the position that… the reason is… my evidence is…”  We also looked at how characters are complicated. They are one way around one person, and another around other people.  We discussed why that would be true.  Everything we do is in the attempt to look deeper into the text for meaning.

In writing this week we worked on revising our realistic fiction stories.  We took a look at what makes a good lead and a good ending. We also revised our dialogue using “tags.”  Next week we will make final edits and rewrites.

In math this week we have learned five different ways to multiply 1 digit by 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers.  We started with the concrete and moved to the abstract.  We used the Distributive property of multiplication to begin multiplying the different place values and moved to finding partial products and then the “old school” algorithm today.

Important Dates

Tuesday, October 31 – Halloween parade (9:00 AM) and party (9:30 AM)

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school


We sure had school spirit today!  Here we are in our red and gray – Go Lakers!!

This week in reading we tried to have a more insightful description of our character by using more precise words or trying to compare our character to an object or animal.  For example, we said Sistine in Tiger Rising is like a porcupine because she is so mean on the outside, but really nice and soft on the inside.  We also talked about how characters are complicated.  They are never just one way.  They act differently in different situations, around different people, or even different on the outside than on the inside.  We are working on trying to apply these ideas to our own books and write our thoughts.  I will show you our reading packet of lessons and jottings at conferences.

In writing we wrote our final three scenes of our realistic fiction stories.  We tried to stretch out the most important scene using inner thought and scene description along with action and dialogue.  Next week we will focus on writing good dialogue, as well as great introductions and endings.

In math this week we took the final test on adding and subtracting before starting our new unit on multiplication.  We began by learning the “zero trick” and estimating answers to larger multiplication problems.

In science this week we learned a little more about fossils before spending three days reviewing for the test.  We took the test today, and I will share these with you at conferences.

Don’t forget to check out our student blogs!



Important Dates

Wednesday and Thursday, October 11 and 12 – Parent Teacher Conferences

Thursday ad Friday, October 12 and 13 – 1/2 Days


Thank you to all of the generous donors that contributed to our Donors Choose project that allowed us to go to the planetarium this week!  We learned more about moon phases and the seasons.  We were even able to see the stars during the day, and what the sky would look like in the future!

We made a model of the sun, moon, and earth revolving and a flip book of the seasons.  There will be a review page coming home next week, and a test on this unit next Friday.

In reading this week we took a closer look at our characters in our books we are reading.  First we looked at what motivates our characters.  In every book a character wants something, but obstacles get in their way, so they react or respond, and they have tools or resources to help them solve their problem.  We tried to identify all those things in our own books. (We call it Somebody wanted…But… So…)  We also looked at what the author emphasizes through detail or repetition. We then ask ourselves why he/she would do that.  What are they trying to get us to think about?  This action helps get our thinking and responses to our books at a more significant level.  Ask you child about the suitcase or the pink dress in Tiger Rising.

In writing this week we began drafting our realistic fiction stories.  We are following the story arcs we made last week and writing them one scene at a time.  We are only on scene 4 as we are working on having all the types of sentences in each scene, staying in past tense and in third person as we write.

In math we focused on subtracting larger numbers, especially when there are zeroes in the number.  We took the practice test today.  We will review more and take the test next week.

Congratulations to everyone who made posters and gave their speeches today for Student Council Representatives.  They all did a great job!  Unfortunately, we could only pick 4 of the 10 people running for the positions.  Congratulations to: Claire, Noa, Paige, and Ethan

I hope you had a chance to sign up for a parent – teacher conference.  Check your email for a link to the sign up site.  I look forward to talking with you soon about your child.

Important Dates

Wednesday and Thursday, October 11 and 12 – Parent Teacher Conferences

Thursday ad Friday, October 12 and 13 – 1/2 Days