Ms. Poirier's Class

Norman E. Day School

Literature Circles


This morning, the class began our trek into literature circles.  Different from reading groups where we read smaller text to target specific skills and concepts, literature circles is the time when we read novels and come together to discuss our reading in a semi open-ended format.  True literature circles, where students have a choice in the books they are reading, will not begin until after February break.  Right now, we are introducing Lit. Circles to go over the routines and expectations with the lit. circle sheets and how we discuss books in class.  For this introductory period, each student will be reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  In class, we will read the odd-numbered chapters and I will model the completing of parts of the literature sheet with each chapter.  The students will then read the next (even-numbered) chapter independently and complete the assigned piece of the lit. circle sheet on their own.  While time will be given in class each week, it will be impossible for student’s to complete the entirety of the assignment at school; at home time will be essential.

In class we read Chapter 1 today and students received a “sample” lit. circle sheet (clipped in their binder).

After, they were assigned Chapter 2 and the Summary (yellow sheet) to be due on Thursday.  I have guaranteed that I will give them 30 minutes in class tomorrow to work on this assignment. (Mrs. Creighton and I will be assisting many students to make sure they are feeling confident in their reading and with their summary.)

If you would like to read along with your child and discuss the book, please feel free to do so.  The literature circle sheet should be done entirely by your son or daughter.  If they are unable to get through it, please send me an email so I may address that concern.

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Math Today


Today in math the students were introduced to the Partial Products Multiplication strategy.  This looks a whole lot  like the traditional method at the start but changes quickly.  To help you help your student, here are a few short videos that explain the process:

Partial Products Strategy 1

Partial Products Strategy 2


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Hello! Happy New Year to you all!  We have begun the first full week of the new year and we are off to a roaring start.  Big math, literature circles, and the reemergence of science all highlight the month of January in 118.  I will send a more comprehensive update later, but wanted to give you an important heads up about math…

Moving Forward with Large Multiplication

First, the students are beginning to tackle larger multiplication.  For a number of wonderful reasons that will bore you to tears, we cover several different methods of larger multiplication that may seem unnecessary to parents.  (When I was in school, we learned to multiply one way; that is not the case anymore.). Please trust that the way we unveil this truly benefits the student in the long run.  To that end, I ask you, if they do not already know the traditional algorithm (the way you and I would most likely multiply), please do not teach them.  Please try and support their progression through the steps we take in class.  Today we covered single digit x double/triple digit multiplication using the “partitioning” method.  That is the method your sin or daughter will have to do on their homework tonight.  They all seemed to feel very comfortable with it, but just in case they…or you…would like demonstration, see the video in the Math Corner.

Factors Challenge and Parent Involvement

Second, I gave out a “Finding Factors Challenge” today.  I want to give the kids a bit more time to work on some very important skills; but, make no mistake…finding factors of 300 is a challenge.  As the kids embark on this, I want to preemptively address a few concerns:

One of the first questions a student asked was, “can my parents help me?”  The question was asked by a very strong math student and my gut instinct was to immediately say, “no.”  This is because I want the students, especially those who tend to be stronger at math to feel the discomfort of the struggle.  For so many kids, they jump to seek immediate help because if it is hard, they instantly think, too hard.  They aren’t comfortable with the difficult, so give in too soon.  For those kids, the ones who do not often have math troubles,  I ask you to allow them to struggle, within reason.

For those students that do not approach math with confidence or who frequently struggle, please do help (also within reason ;).  Better yet, encourage them to see me during our morning work time for a hint.  I’d be happy to steer them in the right direction.  (If you are helping, we are NOT doing long division to find factors, nor are we using divisibility rules; these will boggle the mind of some of the strugglers!)

Math Homework and…Parent Involvement (there’s a theme!)

From many students, homework is being turned in that cannot be replicated in class.  In other words, a student’s homework comes back perfect and he/she is unable to be successful with the same concept the very next day.  My sense is that many are getting too much help from home or, in some cases, the after school program.  Helping your student is well-meaning and admirable.  I do not want you to abandon that endeavor.  But, I absolutely need to know the degree of help your son/daughter received.  Also, for some families, checking homework can mean checking to make sure it is done, but not necessarily to make sure it is done correctly.  I will certainly do that and the information I get from analyzing mistakes is more valuable than not.

Thank you for reading until the end!  I will step off my soap box now 🙂



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December Stuff


I hope everyone is fairing well in the December holiday rush!  As always, we have been exceedingly busy in 118.  I have been terrible about getting a few of these updates to you all!  Here are a few notices, reminders, and other information about the class.  If I think of anything else, I will add it to the post.

  • Report cards are available online today at 4:00 PM.  Access the Parent Portal or register for it here.  Today, we went over the Habits of Mind/Study Habits section of the report card.  I find that most kids are unsure of the meaning of these categories.  We went over each category with “kid-friendly” language describing each one.  The kids then scored themselves in each category.  I was very proud of the thoughtful, reflective way that the students approached this task.  In some cases, they were much harder on themselves than I was!  Additionally, they each “starred” a few goals for Term 2.  As they shared some of their goals, I was struck by how well they know themselves and the areas where they could work to improve.  Their self-scored Habits of Mind sheet is in the front of their portfolio.
  • Portfolios are  traveling home with your students today.  Have a look at just some of the work your son or daughter has been completing over the course of Term 1.  Portfolios need to be returned, intact, by Weds., 12/19.
  • The Day School Holiday sing-a-long and pajama day will be next Thursday, 12/20.  That afternoon, we will also be holding our class holiday party!  Students are invited to bring in their own special treat to enjoy during the party.
  • On Friday, 12/21, the students will be enjoying a movie, and unless there are any objections from the parents, a surprise treat from me.  :).   Also, note, it is a full day of school.
  • The STEM Fair season was kicked off at Cobra Council this week.  Students who would like to participate do not need to have their project figured out, but their registration is due next Friday, 12/21! Visit the STEM Fair page for more information and to register.

Academics Update…

Math – We are wrapping up our 3rd unit and will test on Tuesday.  We have begun reviewing and will continue to review on Monday.  Finding equivalent fractions, ordering fractions, writing/reading and comparing decimals are the major topics of the exam.  Large number multiplication, advanced perimeter and area, and volume are all on deck for Unit 4.  If your child doesn’t already know large digit multiplication, please do not introduce it to them!  We use several different algorithms and learning the traditional way first will confuse many! That said, when I introduce a method in class, I will upload a video here so you can support your student using the “way the teacher does it.”

Reading – I am thrilled that we are beginning our giant fiction unit!  We will cover elements of plot, work with characterization, and jump into literature circles after the holiday break.

Writing – We are also beginning our narrative writing unit.  We will be writing an excessive amount of creative narratives over the next several months.  I am excited for this unit as it is naturally engaging for the students.  My non-writers will begrudgingly…like writing!

Science – Our next science unit will begin in mid-late January and will be our Energy unit.

Social Studies – We will be finishing up our study of the Northeast region and heading to the Southeast next.  Blue music and jambalaya, here we come!







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Comparing Fractions


Our first fractions unit is well underway!  Fractions is the crux of the entire 4th grade math curriculum so I really want everyone to be seeing some success.  Here are a few notes on what we have covered in class, just in case any student is struggling to keep it all straight:

  1.  Equivalent fractions…”Multiply or divide the numerator and the denominator by the same number to get an equivalent fraction!”  We’ve repeated this over and over in class, a the top of our lungs.  Remember it!
  2. Comparing fractions…There are 4 ways to compare fractions.  We went over them in class today.  Here is Comparing Fractions Help, just in case!
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Happy Thanksgiving!


Have a wonderful holiday!

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The Playground!


The Race for Education – The revamped Race for Education will be held next Friday, November 9! We will participate in a mini field day to “earn” the donations we have received.  I know the PTO will be looking for a few volunteers for the 4th grade session, which will be from 1:40-2:25. (This is a recent schedule change!)  If you want to help out, please sign up here.  If you would like to still donate or if you’d like to share the link, here is the site for continued donations: Donate to the Race for Ed.

Scholastic – November book order forms are going home tomorrow.  Our class code is H4FBQ.  Book orders should be in (online or handed in to me) by Friday, 11/9 at 3:00.

Conferences – Conference forms went home today. Please send the form back as soon as you can. Once I get all forms back, I will let you know conference times as soon as possible.  If you have another child at Day or even at Miller, please write it in the form.  I will do my best to coordinate with the other teacher(s) to make sure your conference times do not overlap.  Additionally, if you’d like a conference earlier than 8:15, I can begin as early as 7:30.  Please leave a note on the form if you are interested in this earlier time.

The Playground – Almost 1 1/2 years in the making, the Day School playground opened today!  After a ribbon-cutting ceremony where we heard from town and state officials, each class was to be given dedicated “preview” time to themselves.  True to the trend of the last 2 months, the weather nearly rained us out.  But we had waited so long that our class (and Mrs. Jussaume’s) were at least able to squeeze in our “preview” time.  It was not exactly a dry few minutes, but as you can see from the pictures, the students voted it “well worth the damp!”  Now, let’s hope that we can get a few dry days in before the winter sets in!

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Halloween Party!


A very special thank you to Mrs. Czado for coming in with a whole bunch of games and Halloween crafts!  The kids had a ball and I was able to enjoy having fun with them!

If you think of it tonight, please email me a picture of your son or daughter in their costume, if they have one.  I’d love to share pictures with the class in the morning.

Also, in the hustle of the afternoon, I forgot to remind the kids to dress for the weather tomorrow!  We will be outside for a small chunk of time for the playground opening ceremony.

Here are some pictures from today!

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Math Assessment Scores


Let me begin by saying this is all really dry information and not necessary for you to know in order for your student to be successful in 4th grade.  That said, I’ve had some questions about how the math assessment cover sheet works and how it relates to the report card.  So, here is my attempt at answering some of the basic questions; riveting, it is not! 😉

First, in 4th grade our report card breaks math into 21 different benchmarks.  These 21 Report Card benchmarks are based on the 36 Common Core Standards in math (federal/state level standards that dictate what we teach).

Here is a key for the assessment cover sheet:

1 – At the top of the Assessment cover sheet are the 6 Report Card categories assessed on the Unit 1 exam.

2 – Underneath that is a set of letters and numbers (OA 1,2,3 and NBT 1,2,3, etc) that refers to the correlated Common Core Standard.

3 – On the Unit 1 exam, question 1 was in 4 parts and was worth 4 points.

4 – Question 10 was worth 3 points and in this example, the student scored 2 of 3. It is important to note that this does not translate to a 66%. Three points is hardly enough to determine mastery or not; Students are given many opportunities in a trimester to earn more points in each category.

5 – Here is where the real minutiae begins…Sometimes, like in problems 6 and 7, the question covers more than one report card category.  Since the students had to estimate (falls under the CC standard for knowledge of place value) and add or subtract (falls under the CC standard for addition and subtraction), we have to “farm out the points” to different report card benchmarks.  On Unit 1, #6 was a 2 part question with a point in each part for estimation and a point for the actual answer, making #6 worth 4 points.  How’s that for math?!

Additionally, it may be helpful to know that written responses, where a student has to “explain,” are typically worth 2 points.  To earn the full 2, there must be math vocabulary used and a truly clear explanation; this is tough for the students right now, but we are working on it.

Finally, teachers keep math grades for all 21 report card categories (just in math!). These fractions will be recorded as fractions (not percents).  A tally of all the points earned/points available, over a trimester, is one way we look to determine if a student “meets the standard.”  It is important to note that unit assessments are not the only scores recorded or that “count.” Work in the journal and class work will also be an important factor.

This is also why a total percentage on these exams is not used.  A total percentage wouldn’t show mastery–or not–of certain report card categories or CC standards.

Grade 4 Report Card

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October II Update


Hi Everyone, Just a few quick bits of information and reminders to help get you through:

Halloween Party – Our class Halloween party will be held during the day on October 31.  Thank you to all of you who sent in $10; a portion of that money will be used to fund our craft/activity for the Halloween party (The rest is earmarked for the holiday and Valentine’s parties.) During the party, the kids will be making a craft and participating in “minute-to-win-it” type games.

Food – At our class Halloween party, students are invited to bring in a special treat for themselves.  We can’t share treats due to food allergies and school policy, but each student can enjoy their own special treat during the party.

As for costumes…new this year, students will be allowed to wear their costume to the party!  Wearing costumes is entirely optional! There are a few guidelines, though:

  • Masks and any weapons must be left at home.
  • Costumes can be put on over clothes before the party and taken off after.  Mr. Sardella has asked that students not wear them all day.
  • Students will not be permitted to go change in the bathroom so it does need to be something manageable to take on/off over clothes.


Living Lab – We had our first visit to Living Lab on Monday! The students built a pinhole camera to model the function of the eye and learned about different types of volcanoes and eruptions.  They were then able to model a “gentle” and a “violent” eruption.  It was a ton of fun and there was a whole lot of squealing! Some pictures are below.

Miller/Day Halloween Dance Party – The annual event is to be held this Saturday, Oct. 27 at Stony Brook Middle School from 6:00-7:30 PM.  Tickets can be purchased now, here at school. The flier is below and contains more specific information. Volunteers still needed!


PTO Website – Speaking of the PTO, we need members! Please bookmark the PTO site for access to upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. Come to the monthly meeting to learn about all the wonderful things PTO does and would like to do!

Math Test – The unit 1 math test was sent home this week for signature.  Please have your son or daughter bring this back in as soon as you can.  If you have any questions, please email me.  I would be happy to explain any of the scoring.

Homework – Lately, I have noticed that many students are coming in with math homework that is all correct but has a large amount of erasing.  Additionally, I am finding that many of these really great homeworks are coming in with students who cannot replicate the same work in class.  If your son or daughter is truly struggling, please let me know.  It is so much easier to address an problem if I can see the extent of the problem.  That, and it may save you some tears and instruction time at home.  Also, a few of you have written a note to me on the homework letting me know that something was difficult or caused problems; this is great!  I may not be able to go over it the very next day but I do design some of my small groups around things like this.  If you give me a note, I will revisit it with your son or daughter.


Reading – The students are getting better about logging their reading into Bookopolis.  I know the struggle but please make sure they are doing the reading they report.  The way to become a better reader is to read, so I want to make sure this is happening.

Race for Education – Thank you to those who submitted addresses or who donated to the Race for Education. I know many in our school community are feeling tapped out by fundraisers so I do appreciate your participation.  The PTO raises money to fund Arts & Entertainment programs for each grade.  Last year in 4th grade, we had the “Wingmasters” bring in birds of prey for an awesome presentation and a “Mentor Inventor” come in to demonstrate his inventions and scientific concepts.  Race for Education is the largest fundraiser of the year and proceeds will directly fund these visits, among other school centered activities.  If you would still like to donate, the PTO and the teachers and students would be grateful!  Here is the online flier.  And here is where you can donate!


What else did I forget?  Email me with questions, comments, concerns…  Go Sox!

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