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April 28, 2023

STEAM with Sammi

Working through all the steps of the scientific method in depth is a long and hard process! The fourth graders are still at work on the paper towel experiment and they will be wrapping up their lab reports next week. Over the last two weeks, we focused on writing procedures and on analyzing our data. To find out about our lessons on writing procedures, ask your student to tell you how to draw a snowman! We had a lot of fun poking holes into people’s writing as we found ways to be precise with our words. When it came time to actually write procedures, it was an easy task compared to our practice! Then, to analyze our data, we created bar graphs and interpreted the graphs. Next week, to wrap up our lab reports, we will be writing our conclusions. The 4th graders can’t wait to show you their work at the end of year celebration.

Math with Luis

In Math, we’ve been focusing on real-world applications in the form of measurements and conversions! We focused on:

12 inches in a foot
3 feet in a yard

5,280 feet in a mile

16 ounces (oz) in a pound (lb)
2,000 pounds in a ton (T)
8 fl oz in a cup
2 cups in a pint
2 pints in a quart
4 quarts in a gallon
It was at this point that 4th graders protested that the US should go metric. Thankfully, we went on to practice:
100 centimeters in a meter
1000 meters in a kilometer
1000 milliliters in a liter
1000 grams in a kilogram
and spent today practicing addition on the clock. (e.g. 40 minutes from 2:30pm is 3:10pm). You should ask your 4th grader about their restaurant’s “signature drink”, whose recipe they invented and converted into fluid ounces this week. We got a nice review of multiplication, long division, and Google Slides animation skills from this project, and then presented our drinks to the class. Who knew there were so many fans of Starbucks’ pink drink!
We’ve also begun taking short 10-minute sections of standardized test practice in preparation for the ERB tests during the second week of May. Each time we take a practice test, we review that these tests are NOT normal tests, because there is some 3rd grade math, some 4th grade math, and some 5th grade math on the test, which means that it’s totally fine for us to get some questions wrong or take educated guesses, and that it doesn’t mean that we should get nervous during the test if we get a question wrong. We’ve also reviewed test-taking strategies like process of elimination and drawing pictures to represent the problem.

Humanities with Hilary

Dear Fourth Grade Families,

Thankfully there have not been many April showers this month, so we spent more time outside. For instance, we’ve spent a few morning meetings this week in the sideyard decorating chalk outlines of ourselves. 

This month, we have also been commemorating and celebrating special Israeli days. Last week, we had a special tefillah to commemorate Yom HaShoah. Then, this week, we had a special speaker come (Sally Frischberg) to speak about her experience as a Holocaust survivor. On Tuesday, we commemorated Israeli soldiers on Yom HaZikaron. Then, on Wednesday, we celebrated Israel’s independence day with Yom Ha’Atzmaut! Some of those pictures can be found in this week’s blog photo album.

In writing, we have finished our literary essay unit! These 4th graders picked one of four stories to analyze: Cynthia Rylant’s short stories Boar Out There, Slower Than the Rest, or Spaghetti; Or Fox by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Ron Brooks. After picking their book, each student came up with a thesis statement about a character in the book. After picking their thesis, they had to come up with two or three reasons for why, and at least one example to prove that reason. We learned the difference between textual evidence (where you summarize what happened in your own words) to quotation evidence (where you directly quote the book and use quotation marks to show that). Students then explained why that quote matters. At this time, the class has been working on writing a more writer-authority voice – instead of using a verbal writing style –  so their essays definitely sound more adult than prior pieces. Up next, we will be connecting a reading unit about immigration stories to our writing. Students will get to choose a moment of immigration/migration in American history and write a realistic fiction piece about or relating to it. We can’t wait to start this next week!

In Social Studies, we have been talking about both the Holocaust/Jewish experiences (in connection to Yom HaShoah), as well as starting our official enslavement unit where we talk about the history of enslavement in America. Did you know that before 1660, your social class was based more on owning property, having money, or being a Christian than having your social class be based on race? That was what Elizabeth Key (a black American, whose mother was an indentured servant and her father was a member of The House of Burgesses (the Colony of Virginia’s legislative and judicial branches)) and Anthony Johnson (a black immigrant who became an indentured servant in 1625) experienced. For them, this societal system worked in their favor and helped them be successful in their pursuits. The court cases of Anthony Johnson (1653, 1654) and Elizabeth Key (that lasted from 1655 to 1662) showed this – ask your student 

  • what happened to Anthony Johnson’s home, in 1653?
  • what did the court decide about Anthony Johnson’s indentured servant in 1654?
  • why did Elizabeth Key believe she was wrongly enslaved?

      In the last 1650s, rules and laws began to change in Virginia. Race began to be a reason to judge a person, and colonists created laws that “gave them permission” to enslave people of color. No longer was your father’s status in life granted to you – now it depended on your mother’s social status. No longer did being Christian matter – only “true” Christians couldn’t be enslaved. Next week, we will continue to discuss the changes that happened in America. We are focusing on the Fugitive Slave Clause that is in our constitution all the way up to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Learning about the Civil War and Reconstruction is just around the riverbend!

      In connection with Yom HaShoah, I read Lois Lowry’s book, Number the Stars, with the class. While I read the book aloud, we reviewed reading skills learned earlier this year, such as internal/external character traits, predictions, finding historical truths, and asking questions. Here is a running list of predictions the class made, as we read the novel. This read-aloud brought about amazing questions that led to impromptu conversations about the 1930s-1940s in Europe, America, and the world. Questions about: where Jews were brought; why people focused on the Jews; what antisemitism looked like; where Nazis went after the war; how did Nazis and people from different countries treat Jews (before they were sent to ghettos or concentration camps); why people would help the Jews; others who were targeted and why; what “the Resistance” is; and how Jews were treated after the war when they tried to return home. 

      Having Sally as a speaker really helped in making these ideas or concepts more concrete. We related the character of Uncle Henrik to the Polish family who helped hide Sally’s family and her extended family. The kind German soldier, who was posted in Sally’s Polish home (before they ran away in 1939), was similar to the German soldier in Copenhagen, who warned Danish government officials that Nazis were going to start rounding up the Danish Jews during Rosh Hashanah of 1943 – which was 1 Tishrei 5704. Under Shira’s section, you will find a list of Holocaust/WWII-centric books that you could read, if that is of interest!

      Judaic Studies with Shira

      We dedicated last week to the topic of the Holocaust and commemorating Yom Hashoah. We read the book The Butterfly about the true story of a French woman who his Jewish families in her cellar during the war.  Students also had the oppurtunity to hear testimony from Sally Frischberg, who survived the war by being hidden in a barn attic for two years. Her story was amazing, and the fourt graders had front row seats to her testimnoy. This marks the first year that students in our school are invited to hear live testimony and I was very proud of the behavior, maturity, and respect that they demonstrated. 














      This week was all about Israel as we commemorated Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) in school. In anticipation of this week’s festivties, we have been following the 8th grade Israel blog and learning through the writing, photos, and experinces of the Senesh eight graders. On Wednesday we celebrated along with the rest of the school, including doing Israel themed stations along with the 2nd and 4th grades. Thank you to all the parents who shared pictures of family photos in Israel. The students loved sharing and viewing them, and they really made our Israel studies feel more personal. Lastly, we had the chance to connect with our former classmate Mattan, who moved back to Israel! The 4th graders were SO excited to zoom with Mattan during school and to hear all about his life back in Israel. They asked thoughtful questions and got to hear Mattan’s thoughts and reports on:

      • The Israeli school day
      • The Israeli diet
      • The names of his new friends
      • Feeling more independent in Israel walking to school and having a phone
      • What celebrating Yom Ha’zikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut is like in Israel









































      Lastly, our week was capped off by inviting a special guest Torah reader into tefillah on Thursday- Shannon! Shannon learned to chant an entire aliyah for her daughters upcoming bat mitzvah this Shabbat! The fourth graders were a supportive and welcoming congregation to Shannon who layned the entire aliyah for them at our morning Torah service. It was much longer than the several verses that we usually read at our Torah service, but they were so excited to hear Shannon read that they listened with great attention! We wish Shannon good luck as she reads Torah for the first time, and we wish her and her whole family a big Mazal Tov on her daughter’s bat mitzvah!








      **For more books about WWII or the Holocaust**