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May 12, 2023 — getting ready for our end-of-year celebrations


Dear Families,

Please make sure that your students are practicing every night for this performance. There are songs both in Hebrew AND in English. We want to make sure that the songs are memorized. As well, each student has a line that they are saying to introduce the songs. The English songs can be found on Hilary’s google classroom page.

Thank you!

Rimma, Heidi, and Hilary

Math with Luis

In math, we wrapped up unit conversions last week with a short quiz, and then began a mixed review of 3rd grade shape skills and vocabulary, such as finding perimeter and area, decomposing compound shapes in order to find the area of compound shapes, working with obtuse/acute/straight/right angles, using protractors, naming angles and shapes, and reviewing symmetry. A healthy amount of games were played to practice these vocabulary terms and math concepts 🙂 

The general shapes/area review has been helpful for the just-math-vocabulary questions the 4th graders might encounter on their ERB tests. For additional test prep, we’ve reviewed the benefits of taking educated guesses, setting aside questions to return to later, and reminding ourselves that the ERBs are just another test. 

Lastly: the 7s and 8s multiplication quizzes went vastly better this week than last week! Excellent job to all 4th graders who diligently practiced their 7s and 8s!

Humanities with Hilary

Dear 4th grade families,

As the year is coming to a close, one of the themes discussed in General Studies is the idea of a journey, be it immigration or migration, the movement of progress in our country, etc. This is seen in our topics during social studies, the books we are reading in Book Club, our writing project, and our field trip on June 8. 

Over the past two weeks, we have been talking about the evolution of slavery in America. Ask your student: 

  • about Elizabeth Keys and Anthony Johnson
    • what was “slavery” like when they were alive (before 1670)?
    • how did slavery change after that, specifically in Virginia? 
  • What happened with the Fugitive Slave Clause, in our Constitution?
    • how did the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 differ from it? 
  • How did people react to these rules? 
  • What big compromises were made in our country, in 1820 followed by 1850? 
  • About Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (later changing his name to Frederick Douglass)
    • How many masters did Frederick have, or was rented out to?
    • What is a “slave breaker”?
    • Why did he have to run away to England and Ireland after 1845?
    • Whose rights did he go out to protect

Another great discussion we had was about what home means. We learned that President Abe Lincoln wanted slavery to end but also wanted all Black people to return to Africa. At first, students were fine with that, because they could go home. Yet we started talking about what home means, and what that means to someone whose family has lived in America for generations:

  • where is home? 
  • How would WE feel if our “home country” told us we had to move to a country we have never lived in or experienced? 
  • Do we think it’s right to make a person or a people do that? 

This group of 4th Graders has really had firm opinions and feelings about right and wrong! We are thinking really deeply about justice and equality, and these conversations should definitely continue at home!

In our book club, students are divided into three groups reading realistic fiction stories about immigration and migration. One group is reading Kiki and Jacques: a Refugee Story, which is about a Somali refugee who moves to a French-influenced town in Maine, set in the 2000s. Another group is reading How Tia Lola Came to Visit Stay, which is about a mom and her two children who move to Vermont — from NYC — after divorcing their father, set in the 2000s. Her tia (aunt) comes to live with them, to help out, from the Dominican Republic. The third and last group is read The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, which is about a Chinese family who immigrated to New York in the mid-1900s. We’re not just exploring character traits and development through these books, but we’ll also explore themes in a story, reoccurring objects, push-pull factors, attempts to assimilate, and more. 

For writing, we are creating realistic fiction stories based on a time period in American history. Students decided which period they wanted to focus on, and picked a journey (immigration or migration) that could be evident. We have some students writing about the Oregon/Santa Fe/Mormon Trail, and experiences they faced along the way. Some wanted to write about the Pony Express, where their character is a female who is only able to hold the job because they are dressing up as a boy, or the character is coming home to find their family dead from an interaction with Natives. A few students are writing about the Transcontinental Railroad (being a builder of the railroad or being a porter on a train) and the experiences faced. Others are writing about immigrating to Ellis Island between 1892-1954, and discussing the push/pull factors that influenced that. We have stories about the Gold Rush, natives having to escape a volcanic eruption at Mount Hood, AND MORE! We started this unit by thinking about our characters (different ways to describe them), writing out an envisioned story arc, and creating a graphic organizer of the hardships/struggles and wants/motivation of our characters. You will get to read these stories during our end-of-year celebration on Thursday, June 1 at 9 am. 

This is a reminder that we have a field trip to Eldridge Street Synagogue on Thursday, June 8. It will be from 9:00-1:00 (the latest). A permission slip will be sent out when we come back from Shavuot.

Shabbat Shalom,


Music with Heidi

In Music, Fourth Graders have been learning a bit about singing technique and working on songs for their End of Year ceremony. They have also continued to share and teach us about “powerful” songs.

STEAM with Sammi

The fourth graders finished their science reports for their paper towel experiments! This was a huge accomplishment and deserved a celebration so we enjoyed some popcorn and donut holes. Some students chose to free build while others chose to watch Meet the Robinsons (a fantastic movie if you haven’t seen it!). With only 9 science classes to go (because of assemblies, field trips, special events, etc.), we have begun a final mini-unit on viruses and vaccines. This unit will give us a look at how viruses work and the different types of vaccines that exist. A really relevant and interesting unit to end 4th grade!

Judaics with Shira

After so many holidays, we jumped back into Chumash, continuing with the family drama of Toldot. Students studied the text where Rebekah starts to enact the plan to get her younger child the birthright. Students saw that though there were two characters in the scene, all the verbs were female, making Rebekah the primary acter. Students also explored the plan from the perspective of the 5 senses. We already know that Yitzchak did not have a strong sense of sight, so we saw how Rebekah’s plan was taking into account his other senses. Students loved doing a Bibliodrama, acting out Rebekah dressing Jacob. They noticed that it was strange for a mother to dress a grown child and used this to think about each character’s state of mind.

This week we delved into Lag Ba’omer studies. The fourth graders were great leaders of the lower school on Tuesday as they set a great example of sportsmanship during the relay races, and played nicely with the third graders in the park playground. We used the Hadar Omer magazine as a resource for studying significant numbers in Judaism. Students learned fun facts such as the word “kelev” (dog) appears in the Tanakh 32 times and the number of meals Rabbi Eliezer says that one should eat in a sukkah over the course of the holiday. We wrapped up the week with catching up on Parashat Hashavua (weekly torah portion) studies as this week marks the end of reading Vayikra, the third book of the Torah. Each student focused on a specific parasha in the book. They then learned something about the parasha, which they shared with the class, as well as posing a question about the parasha.