Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monarch Butterflies and More!

Whew! This year has been a whirlwind already! We have accomplished so much in such a short period of time. I am really impressed with my student's work ethic this year. They are hard workers, and I look for that to be a strong indicator of success in 4th grade. We recently finished an opinion letter about the monarch butterfly. The students learned about the danger monarch butterflies are in because of careless human mistakes. We are cutting down milkweed, a plant that the monarchs rely on for food and to lay their eggs. The students wrote letters to our mayor and asked him to plant milkweed in our local parks. They had to add information pulled from multiple texts to support their opinion that the monarch butterflies need our help. The letters were great! Having an actual audience for their work apart from one another was really helpful. The students loved the idea that the actual mayor, who in their minds is a celebrity, was going to read their letters and listen to their opinion. The letters were great. They are asking me daily if the mayor has written back yet.

During this unit we also dissected the poem A Chrysalis' Diary from Joyful Noise: A Poem for Two Voices. The students took a daily entry from the poem and determined the meaning of the lines, difficult words in the text, and the emotions of our narrator. It was a great way to tie in some figurative language skills that we had taught previously through mini lessons.

My students also just finished up a Cinderella Around the World unit. This was such a fun unit! I loved it and so did the kids. They analyzed the different story elements of Cinderella stories from around the world through close reads, graphic organizers, and then a culminating writing of a Cinderella story with their own twist. It was a great literary analysis project. Their writing was very creative and they were really engaged in the process.

I guess I can say that this year has been really great so far. I have a few students who have had previous behavior issues before this school year. I am really pleased at how well these students have acted in my classroom and with their peers. They have impressed with their ability to work comfortably with others and how the conversations we are having in my classroom are really shaping their work ethic as well. Only time will tell if this continues, but so far so good. I am continually excited about the work we are doing. I hope my kids are too.

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