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March 31, 2023 — … and Out Like a Lamb

Humanities with Hilary

Dear 4th Grade Families,

We have been having a blast at school these past few weeks. Buddy time. Purim. Field Trips. Social Studies lessons. What’s not to love?

In reading, we have focused on non-fiction reading. One aspect has been how to read non-fiction books in general. Then we had lessons on “What do I do if I don’t understand the vocabulary?” or “How do I figure out what a complex text is talking about?” We worked on how to organize non-fiction writing and decided if it is a problem/solution text, a compare-contrast text, a cause & effect text, or a text that is in chronological order. When we return from break, we will do a lesson or two on the skill of summarizing before going into a research project about hurricanes, tornados, or earthquakes (students will be put into 3 groups).

For writing, we are working on a literary essay based on character traits. We made a general claim about a short story, written by Cynthia Rylant, and then students came up with different reasons and examples to prove this. We have learned about using quotes from a text as an example, and then adding an inference to it in order to explain what it means. Throughout this process, the class has been transferring some of the skills learned with persuasive writing into the literary essay:

    • State a clear opinion
    • Craft a solid organizational structure
    • Support claims with reasons and evidence
    • Use transitional phrases for clarity and cohesiveness
    • Provide a conclusion related to the stated claim

In Social Studies, last week we finished our “New Government” unit, and this week began learning about different aspects of Westward Expansion. In our New Government unit, we learned about all 10 Amendments in the Bill of Rights and what each means for Americans. This ties in with our current mini-writing unit. This week, we started learning about Westward Expansion. First, we broke down the words and hypothesized what they could mean. Then we learned about the Louisiana Purchase — you should ask your student how much President Jefferson was willing to pay for New Orleans (from the French) compared to what he paid for the entirety of the Louisiana Territory. We then delved a bit into the exploration of the Corps of Discovery, a group of male explorers looking westward. This is otherwise known as the group led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. It included York (a black man who was enslaved to Clark), Sacagawea (a Shoshone native who helped Clark and Lewis as a translator and navigator), and Toussaint Charbonneau (a fur trader who owned Sacagawea and was her husband).

Our exploration of Westward Expansion has continued! We not only learned about the basics of the Oregon Trail (like that it started in Independence, Missouri, and typically ended in the Washington/Oregon region), but we also learned about what people encountered on the trail and the challenges they faced. Some encounters are landmarks, such as Chimney Rock, Fort Walla Walla, Independence Rock, Fort Laramie, and the Snake River. Students learned more about the parts of the wagon, as they created their own shoebox example. Click here to see our photo album from that day! (https://photos.app.goo.gl/dXNzXoxxBFZBGQAB6) We also flashed back to 1991 by playing the computer game The Oregon Trail — the link to it can be found on google classroom. Students clicked on the “guide” button and “talk” button in order to learn more about stops along the trail, diseases, and daily life of people on the trail.

From there, we started talking about the Industrial Revolution in connection to the Erie Canal, steamboats, and the Pony Express. When we return from break, we will talk about Morse code, telegraphs, and the Transcontinental Railroad. We ended March by investigating “The Trail of Tears.” We learned more about: the Native nations that lived across the United States; the Indian Removal Act of 1830; President Jackson’s ruling against the Supreme Court; population numbers vs square miles of land. We discussed the aspect of assimilation, thinking about what that means for Natives as well as other people who have done it in world history. An example of this is Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants during the turn of the century. We also talked about the experiences of being kicked out of their home, and how Jews throughout history have [sadly] experienced this as well, such as during the 1930s and 1940s in Europe, or pogroms in Eastern Europe/Russia.

Here is just one of the maps we analyzed about population size and location. Our talk included conversations about what the land was like, such as for farming, and how that can affect a group of people.

Enjoy your spring break, and chag sameach!

Math with Luis

…and that’s a wrap! 4th graders finished their decimals unit Friday. 4th grade is the first time decimals are taught at Senesh, but we didn’t take long to master them. The week before last, we learned and practiced ordering decimals, adding and subtracting decimals, and really reviewing why we can’t just do 0.8, 0.9, 0.10, 0.11… etc. Last week, we reviewed the connection between fractions and decimals, and did a fun project where we calculated the dollars and cents involved in running imaginary and fantastic restaurants. This week was all review and practice for our test. When we get back from break, we’ll get started on our next unit: conversion of measurements. Wishing you all a happy Passover!

Music with Heidi

In Music class, Fourth Graders have continued offering wonderful presentations of songs that they think are powerful. They have also been learning how to play a 12-bar Blues on the xylophone and, recently, classes have been writing an original blues song.

STEAM with Sammi

Over the last two weeks, the 4th graders have been engrossed in their biggest experiment yet- the paper towel experiment. The question: Which brand of paper towels is the most absorbent? The contestants: Bounty, Viva, Caboo, and the school paper towels. The hypotheses: mostly split between Bounty and Viva! The 4th graders learned the procedure for this experiment, which included learning how to read a graduated cylinder, and they have been independent ever since! All students will come home today with their group’s answer, but after spring break, we will have a chance to explore a large data set across both classes to receive our final results and write our hypotheses.

I hope everyone has a great Passover break!

Hebrew with Rimma

4th graders were busy creating their presentation about feelings. Students had a class discussion about what makes them feel happy, sad, excited, scared and angry, shy etc.

 We learned the word כאשר or  …כש This helped to construct more general sentences about feelings at a more age-appropriate level. For example,

אני מאוד כועסת כשיש לי הרבה שיעורי בית.

Students will continue to work on the daily situations that evoke emotions and feelings and record this situations by using the Hebrew vocabulary that they learn.