PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

4th grade Commentaries

Dear Families,

As we enter into the new year I am reminded of one of my favorite educational quotes.

The students just finished publishing their commentaries and I am thrilled how they came out!  We have some leaders for our future!  I didn’t take them home with me because I expected to be back on Friday to take them home with me.  I apologize ahead of time that they will be graded later than I expected.  Here are a few for you to read.




Upcoming Units

We will be starting realistic fiction book clubs this week!  Students will be given a book on their level and will have opportunities to talk and write about the book in depth.  We also will be writing realistic fiction stories. The focus on our work in narrative writing will be on elaboration and thematic work.  In Social Studies, we will begin our European Explorers unit which will last through February.  Our driving question throughout the unit will be that the “telling of history” is often told by the “winners.”  One’s perspective in the telling of history often is wrapped up into one way of thinking and being.  History is but an effort to reconstruct the past.  Our own perspective often overshadows it.  We might never really know the truth.  Ethical considerations of celebrating difference  and tolerating of difference will be examined as well.

Field Trips

Our next Field trip will take place on February 8th.  Both fourth grade classes will go to a workshop geared to launch our Colonial America/Revolutionary War unit beginning in March.

Read Aloud

Our next Read Aloud will enhance our study of European Explorers.  We will read parts of Pedro’s Journal, an historical account of Christopher Columbus’ travels.  We will also read the book Encounter and Feathers and Fools.  Feathers and Fools is a beautifully illustrated and thought provoking story that tells what happens when a group of peacocks and swans are afraid of each other because of their differences. Use the accompanying activities to help children understand the concept of tolerance and the responsibility to take action in the face of intolerance.

Spelling tests 

I have seen remarkable progress in their spelling!  I will give them new words on January 22nd.  The next spelling test will be on Friday February second.  Each group will meet twice to practice them.

Homework and Grading

Beginning next week there will be some minor changes in the way I grade the HW.  Nothing will change about the expectations.  There will still be a Read Works reading assignment.  There will still be 2 writing entries a week and one reading response.  However, I will only be grading it once a month.  I will be using a rubric and the students will self reflect on their work.  The rubric will be provided to the students.

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ELA preperation

We will not have a “Mock” ELA this year for all grades.  I will be doing a pre-assessment of last year’s multiple choice section.  I will communicate the grades via School Loop.  This information will be used provide individualized instruction.  I do not do traditional test prep in the class.  I will however give them some practice managing time, going over specific words related to the testing language and going over the basic expectations for the exam.

The following is a chart detailing the test dates for this year.  Released questions from previous years may be found online as well.  Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 8.53.34 AM.png