Ravens M – F 8:30 – 2:30
*Our existing 3rd/4th grade will shift to a 4th/5th grade in fall of 2017 when our final class configurations are realized.
The Ravens class is made up of eighteen dynamic students who serve as the glue between our lower and upper grade programs. They are a group with strong connections that enjoy learning together, laughing at common jokes, and supporting each other through life’s daily ups and downs. Fourth and fifth grade students at the Marylhurst School are entering an exciting stage of growth and independence. Eager to learn new things, they enjoy socializing and working in groups to solve problems, both social and academic. Our approach to learning is student-centered, providing the opportunity for children to be self-directed while fostering both independence and cooperation. We place increasing emphasis on developing fluency in mathematics, reading, and writing and inspiring and supporting each student to reach her or his potential while embracing a love of learning. Ravens get together with their kindergarten buddies once a week for reading and planned activities. These informal meetings allow for cooperation and collaboration between the two classes and greatly benefit both age groups. Our activities are
designed to give children opportunities to practice taking turns, sharing work, listening to each other, teaching skills, and forming lasting relationships with a buddy they will keep all year.
Our overarching theme for the year is “Memoir and Biographies.” a theme that takes us into the magnificent stories that make up our own lives and a study of the life stories of others. This study includes fascinating authors, influential peacemakers, and other individuals who have interesting stories to tell.
In the fall we began our year-long study with a look at memoir writing by reading stories from children’s authors who have written about one period or significant event in their life. Books like Jane Yolen’s, “Owl Moon”, and Jeannette Caines’, “Just Us Women” demonstrate that even small events that are told with a personal point of view tell us much about the life of the writer. Guided by the question, “what are the significant events in our lives that shape who we are?”, students are exploring some of the moments that have been pivotal in their young lives. They have written stories with one common theme: soup. Their stories highlight family tradition by including a recipe and a description of the kitchen in which the soup is made. Raven soup stories are posted in the hallway outside of the classroom. The fourth and fifth graders have also interviewed parents about the first time they arrived in the family and written the story of that eventful day. Raven students will complete a fourpart autobiography, a memoir story, and various portraits to share at a culminating winter Authors’ Tea.
In the spring, Ravens will learn more about the lives of peacemakers who have influenced great change in world culture. Each student will choose a person in history who has worked for peace and shaped our collective thinking and then create an independent research project examining this person’s impact on history.
Students are now reading independently and are able to access much information through text. Our classroom reading times consist of book groups, whole class discussions, and independent reading periods. During reading times we work with the developing skills of comprehension, text synthesis, and inference to critically interpret both fiction and non-fiction materials.
Students are also learning how to discuss literature and enjoy sharing the books they’re reading in student-led book groups. With an extensive classroom collection and weekly visits to the school library, students have ample opportunity to read from many different genres and to learn to choose books that suit their varied interests and reading levels.
Studies of authors Allen Say and Eve Bunting will give students a chance to look closely at the works of one artist at a time this year and examine the types of decisions these writers made while creating their stories. These author studies will also link important connections in math, science, and social studies to our reading and writing program.
Raven students will explore their voices as writers as they become more sophisticated and skilled at editing for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. To help the children “think as writers,” we use writer’s notebooks as a place for them to document their daily lives, thoughts, and ideas and texts by published authors to model expert non-fiction and fiction writing. As detailed above, we have started exploring personal narrative writing as the children have begun to craft their own life stories, a model which will be used in writing biographies of famous inventors in the spring.
Lessons in spelling and grammar give students practice recognizing patterns and employing strategies as they begin to spell words conventionally in their everyday writing tasks. Cursive practice will begin in December using the Getty-Dubay Italic handwriting series, which is introduced in the Kindergarten classes.
Math in the Raven classroom features meaningful mathematical problem solving. We believe that children learn best by exploring
problems in depth while inventing personal strategies to approach various problems. Fluency and accuracy are critical at this age; however, our focus is on building a flexible knowledge of number relations as the third and fourth graders gain competency. We encourage Raven students to communicate their mathematical thinking through drawing, writing, and sharing their discoveries with partners in small groups and whole class discussions. Throughout the year, Ravens will develop a foundation in several key content areas: work with numbers, work with data, and work with geometry.
Four mornings a week, Raven students rotate through specific math stations relating to one similar mathematical topic or concept. These rotations involve small groups of students working with a teacher, practicing basic math skills independently, or playing an nth strategy game.
As we integrate math into our themed study, students will explore net change, invent ways to represent change over time, and design a unique board game. Raven students will also investigate geometry through architectural innovations. As we explore biographies and the lives of people who influenced change, students will work with timelines from the past two centuries. We will also collect data, critique and refine our own data collection methods, compare different ways to display their data, and begin to use statistical terms and measures.
PE, Science, and Music specialist teachers each meet with Ravens in two hour-long sessions per week. Our specialist classes closely integrate with the children’s daily learning in the classroom, enriching the curriculum and helping to make important connections to the students’ lives.
So, come by and check us out! Just outside of the Raven classroom you will find the children’s work hanging on bulletin boards in the lower hall, or peek in and watch our kids collaborating, exploring and creating in this lively learning environment.
Teachers Britta and Dawn