Monday, November 2, 2015

What do you get when you mix half a dozen iPADS 
and 25 STUDENTS?

On Friday, our class won 3 more iPads from the Washington Technology Committee after we received a grant.  It was an exciting moment for everyone when we found out during the WZRD news. Cheers went up in the room. This brings us up to a class total of 6 iPads, 4 desktops and a laptop, almost a 2:1 technology to student ratio. 
A small group watches a video on the Trail of Tears.
They are answering questions in their response journals as
they learn facts about the journey.

I had applied to receive  the iPads from the technology committee so that I could build interactive lessons and so students could create digital projects. In addition to class discussions I can now use interactive programs like Socrative and Padlet so that students can post their responses to the whiteboard from their desks. Vocabulary quizzes can become interactive with where I can project the quiz and students login with their iPads. The feedback is immediate and students are 100% engaged.

I know that preparing our kids for citizenship in the 21st century will require ensuring their flexibility and skill at using technology. The number of devices we have still requires collaboration between students, which I think encourages important cooperative work skills. These new iPads are going to get a lot of use! 

What are your thoughts about technology in the classroom? 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Celebrating our Narrative Writing
With Writer-in-Residence 
Kelly Starling Lyons

After a week long study of techniques of good narrative writing, students got to celebrate and share their finished stories with the class. I could see students had learned at lot from our writer in residence, sponsored by the PTA. They are focusing on small moments, writing with active verbs, using quotations and dialogue, and adding similes and metaphors to make stories come to life. Ms. Kelly also shared her published books with the class.  
Using the microphone made for more
dramatic performances.

Ms. Kelly looks on as a student shares her story with the class

Students enjoyed entertaining each other
with their creative dialogue and descriptions.


We began our study of electricity with an investigation of how to light a bulb. With 2 wires, a battery and a small bulb, each group of 4 was able to work cooperatively to get the bulb to light. The excitement in the room was ELECTRIC!

Students learned the terms current electricity, closed circuit and open circuit, electrical receiver, electrical source, insulator and conductor. By day 3 they were adding switches and multiple receivers (bulbs, buzzers and motors) to their circuits. This week they will continue their investigations and learn how to build series and parallel circuits.


 The class did a great job collaborating to create circuits in small groups. Getting the bulb to light took many hands. 


Here is a view of the fossil pit after it has been renovated with PTA funds. See what your generous donations can bring to the school? Please consider giving to the Shining Star Fundraisers if you haven't already. See the flyer in  this week's Tuesday folders (going home 10/20/15!).


Sunday, October 11, 2015


The Final Product-  A Salt Dough Map of NC 


 Here are the pictures I managed to capture during the class's creation of salt dough maps of our state. Students were so excited to have a hands on project to show the three regions of our state, attenand the border states. They painted the Atlantic Ocean blue. Our capital city got a star, the Fall Line separating the Piedmont from the Coastal Plain is labeled and students molded and put a flag on the top of Mount Mitchell, the state's tallest mountain at 6,684 ft in elevation. If your child gave you any feedback on the project let me know in the comments below!

Thanks to our parent volunteers, all went smoothly! 
Students are studying the map to add points of personal interested to their maps.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Thoughts more than halfway through first quarter...

As interims go home today, I am reminded that we are 5 weeks into the quarter. The class is settling into routines and fourth grade work. Interims are just a snapshot of what level of mastery your child has reached at this point. All students progress at different rates, and there are many students who are still working on mastering first quarter goals.   A 2 on an interim is a sign of what needs more practice. The range of a 3 can span from having  just mastered a skill, or being very comfortable with it.  A score of  4 on a standard shows that a student is extending a skill beyond grade level expectations. If you have any concerns please contact me for more information.

When I grade assessments, I add up and down arrows to give more detail. A 3 up shows that a student achieved a high level of mastery. A 3 down would show that a student demonstrated mastery, but that there are areas left to strengthen. A 2 up indicates that a student has more work to do to be independent on a skill, but that they are close to mastery. If you ever have questions about an assessment score, please let me know. Next week you will receive the first two graded  math assessments and the results of Beginning of the year assessments for reading in Monday Folders. 

We will finish our second whole class read-aloud, Stone Fox this week. Ms. Gordon (our talented student teacher) and I have established guided reading groups that meet each day. During small groups we can target individual needs and get immediate feedback on student learning. Ask your child what they read about in groups today! In math, we have moved into large calculations and solving story problems. Tomorrow they will put their calculation and research skills together to show how they would spend a million dollars. In science, we will wrap up our study of magnetism and have a quiz Thursday. 

We have an exciting month ahead. Writing has been a big focus the past two weeks. Students have used graphic organizers to plan and  write their first multi-paragraph story of the quarter. Next week, the fourth grade will benefit from having a writer-in-residence come to teach a one hour class each day of the week. They will have writing homework so that they can complete a story within the week. I will share more about this great experience that is funded for the entire 4th grade by the PTA. 

I hope you all have a great week. Exciting things are happening in Room 316!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

And on the Fourth Week we worked on breaking the force of magnetism....

Here is a T-chart Varen created to record his data.
Students are using the scientific process. 
 The experiment began with a research question,
 making hypotheses to test, collecting materials,
following procedures carefully, 
recording data and drawing conclusions.
At the end of the week they will present their results to the class.  

OPEN HOUSE is Thursday night. There will be no homework for students on Thursday. I hope you will be able to attend to hear more about our classroom, fourth grade curriculum, schedule for field trips and see all the work that students have completed in the first month of school. 

Open House Schedule 

      6:00-6:30       Intro K-2 staff followed by short PTA Meeting

      6:35-7:05       K-2 classroom teacher session with TA's

-          7:30-8:00       Intro 3-5 staff 

       8:10-8:40       3-5 Classroom teacher session


Locator Card Information Sheets were sent home in Monday Folders
Please return as soon as possible. These are used by the office to reach you in case of an emergency. 

RUNNING CLUB will be held on Wednesday mornings from 8:00am-8:50am. Sign up sheets were sent home with interested students on Monday. 

Math assessments for place value will be ongoing this week. Our next focus will be adding and subtracting into the millions.  

Beginning of year assessments for reading are complete. Students were assessed for fluency, accuracy, retelling passages orally and in writing. They also completed the Comprehensive Assessment of Reading Strategies, which tests 12 comprehension skills. Students are graphing their performance and determining strengths and areas for improvement in small groups this week. 

I will be contacting parents of students who are performing below grade level in any area over the next 2 weeks. If you would like a conference, don't hesitate to contact me. 

Electives are up and running. Students in band and orchestra should bring instruments Monday-Thursday. Please email Mr. Bell or Ms. Sherling if you need information on instrument rentals.

A BIG THANKS to those of you who have provided snacks! If everyone provides a box we will have enough for a few months. Students are enjoying spending their bonus bucks.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Rolling into First Quarter

What a start! Everyone is settling in. Students finished making  origami windows with character traits that described themselves, and decorated them beautifully to display in the stairwell.  Here is a photo of the result:

Important Dates

Sept. 8th      Elective Sign Up (by students)

Sept 14th    First Day of Electives

Sept. 17th    OPEN HOUSE * see schedule below

Sept. 23        Teacher Workday


Open House Schedule 

      6:00-6:30       Intro K-2 staff followed by short PTA Meeting

      6:35-7:05       K-2 classroom teacher session with TA's

-          7:30-8:00       Intro 3-5 staff 

       8:10-8:40       3-5 Classroom teacher session


Ways You Can Help this Week

1. Return all beginning of year forms, $6 for agendas if you haven't already

2. Join the PTA! Contact me if you need a new sign up sheet. 

3. Send in healthy snacks such as granola bars, crackers, pretzels, apples for students to buy.

4. Send in any costumes or props you have at home for Mr. Chappell's drama supplies



Language Arts 

So far we have finished the novel Jake Drake Bully Buster by Andrew Clements and read Anansi the Spider Stories with partners.Students have chosen "good-fit books" for silent reading (called read-to-self time) each day. They have created Response Journals to write entries on personal topics and reading responses. Students have also brainstormed and written small moments they recall from their lives. Mr. Bastin joined us to teach about interesting ways to begin stories, how to "hook" the reader. 

Retelling the story including character, settting, problem, events and solution has been a key focus, as well as identifying character traits. We also had some great class discussion on the character traits of "tricksters" in folktales and current fiction. We will move into more abstract concepts of making inferences and identifying theme this week. Students will explore more folktales from around the world in small groups. They will do a short research activity on the country from which their tale originates. In writing this week they will develop their own trickster characters and write a short story. 

Student-Led Book Clubs
Groups chose a book and assign roles (discussion director, illustrator, word detective and summarizer) for chunks of the book and then meet for discussion. I check the binders for quality work and to make sure they are on track with comprehension. Book clubs are very motivating for many students.

Math Matters!

Our Place Value Unit is underway! Students are learning to order, round and compute numbers into the millions place. 

For the first time, students are introduced to the concept that in a multidigit number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place value to its rightFor example, in the number 3,456 the 4 represents 400, whereas in 3,546 it would represent 40, which is 10 times less.

 Students work on word problem solving in this unit involves rounding numbers and completing multistep problems

If you are interested in more in depth information, including video lessons explaining each concept in the unit, please follow the link below. Math Resources from Wake County Public Schools Place Value Unit Guide for Parents

Students have been exploring magnetism. They have learned that magnets attract materials containing iron, nickel or cobalt. They are learning vocabulary- repel, attract, magnetism, force,  temporary/induced magnetism and more. This week we'll get into the scientific process and do an experiment to measure the force of a magnet.

Student Tasks to Remember

Here are the main responsibilities students are learning to do weekly-

  • Deliver Monday Folder to Parents and return signed folder the next day
  • Write homework daily in agenda
  • Read 20 minutes daily Monday-Friday
  • Practice Multiplication and Division facts with, flashcards or other strategies
  • Have any think sheets signed and returned the following day

A last note ....

If you are like me, you ask your child "How was school today?" and get the reply, "Fine." I ran across this website with a list of questions to replace this question. Finally I got my daughter talking. The email link to the website is below, but here are a few we enjoyed-
#1.  What was the best thing that happened at school today?  (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
#2.  Tell me something that made you laugh today.
#3.  If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class?  (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class?  Why?)
#4.  Where is the coolest place at the school?
#5.  Tell me a weird word that you heard today.  (Or something weird that someone said.)
For more, follow this link:


Monday, August 31, 2015

Week One was Spectacular!

About Last Week...
On the very first day, students completed Who Am I? paragraphs and we spent the week reading them aloud to get to know each other. They ended the day with a team building activity called "Saving Fred" that required making a plan with a flowchart, and then working together to complete the task using only paper clips to put a gummy worm (Fred) into a plastic cup (his boat) in a gummy ring (his life preserver). It was great to see everyone working together to meet a goal!

What's important this week?
ELECTIVE CHOICE FOLDERS are in Monday Folders today. PLEASE be sure to number your child's top choices for each period. I need these back by Friday.

PLEASE TURN IN $6.00 for Agendas and all beginning of school forms sent home last week in the Monday Folder if you have not already. Thanks to all the families who returned these last week!

DAILY AGENDA SIGNING: for the first month of school, parents will sign agendas daily to show that their child has read 20 minutes and completed assignments. Completing homework is the child's responsibility, so if your child does not do the work, don't sign the agenda for them. If your child gets stuck on a homework question, have them circle the question and ask me in the morning. This is good feedback for me as a teacher, so that I know what areas need more reinforcement.

It has been a great start so far. I will be posting upcoming events and more information later this week! Please don't hesitate to email me at if you have any questions.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015-2016 Welcome to Fourth Grade

 It is Sunday August 23, and tomorrow is the first day of school. You will not read this until tomorrow at the earliest. I hope you all had a fun-filled summer. I have been busy getting ready for our year over the past two months. This blogger page will be a spot to get information on our classroom events, assignments and school activities. I will post a new entry each Monday afternoon. 

Parents: Please follow this link to fill out a brief  information sheet for my classroom records:

All about Ms. Andrews

 This outfit in the picture was from Norway,
where my grandfather grew up. 
This is my kindergarten picture. I went to kindergarten when I was just 4 years old at Carrboro Elementary School. My twin sister Katherine was all ready to go, but I was not. My kindergarten teacher said that I was great at napping. Luckily, instead of sleeping away my education, I woke up and went on to graduate from Grinnell College in Iowa and then to get my Master's degree in teaching from the University of Oregon. I have been teaching in Wake County since 2000. 

I live with my daughter and my cat in Raleigh. We love to get outside when the weather is nice. My favorite book is Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. I can't wait to get to know all of you in this year's class and read many exciting books and articles together.

I love teaching because I learn new things everyday. Helping students discover their talents and grow in their skills is very rewarding. Working together with parents is very important to me. Our classroom is a place where I want children to wonder, discover, collaborate and grow.

This summer I had the chance to go backpacking in the largest stand of Giant Sequoia trees in the world! My daughter Naomi (the tiny person in the blue jacket) and I went to Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park in California in July.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Goodbye to the 2014-15 school year... 

                                                      Hello SUMMER! 

It has been a truly amazing year of growth and learning in Room 316. Thank you all for the contributions you have made to this fine group of students.  I hope they leave here confident in their skills. Read, rest and relax in these few months before fifth grade!

A HEARTY THANK YOU to all the parents who chaperoned our field trips, sent in snacks, pencils, tissues and other materials, who came in for conferences and sent emails. Parent involvement, parent/teacher communication and student's success go hand in hand. It has been great partnering with you. Please feel free to contact me in the future as needed. I am here for recommendations as well.

The NC Museum Projects were some of the finest I have ever seen. Congratulations to the historians for doing great research and putting together engaging and educational exhibits. It was most exciting to hear students talk so knowledgeably about their topics. This is learning at its finest. Thanks to all of the parents who were able to take some time to come visit the museum. For those who were unable to come, and those who want to savor the memories, here are a few pictures of the event.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Week of School!


Greetings Everyone!

Last week was full of researching NC-related topics for the Museum projects, learning new vocabulary from our book study of Frindle by Andrew Clements and an ongoing math project mapping a trip from Murphy to Manteo. I am so impressed with the student's dedication to learning. They are still going strong. 


This week students will finish their five paragraph research papers at school and their museum exhibits (at home). Please send in all projects by Thursday morning so we can set up. We hope you will be able to join us from 10:30-11:30 to see their hard work on display.

If you would like to help contribute with paper products (plates, napkins, cups), non-caffeinated drinks, a veggie plate or dessert items please let me know. 

SPIRIT WEEK- Flyers went home Friday with more details, but it a nutshell- 

Monday:Pajama Day
Tuesday: Wacky costumes  
Wednesday: School/team spirit day
 Thursday: Throwback Thursday-styles from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s 
Friday: Beach theme!
Students broke into small groups to study the word "authority" and then each
group sent a presenter to report to the whole class. Here Conor is sharing his groups findings.

Field Day was a blast! 

The inflatable obstacle course ran out of power, but students enjoyed old standbys
like sack races (above)
and tire rolling relays (below)

The class finished up a great week by doing some whiteboard graffiti.
Luckily, they all wrote nice comments about their teacher, so no one got in trouble.
What clever kids....

May 18 Newsletter

Congratulations to our Washington Wizards Track Team for a great job at the meet on Tuesday!


Students should be working on their exhibits for their museum projects at home. They have the next 3 weeks to work on their exhibit. They will most likely need your help to break their project into steps to work on daily and providing materials.

Many students use tri-fold boards as in science fairs, other have posters, models, powerpoint presentations (we have laptops they will be able to set up at their exhibit spot), even video presentations.  Dressing up as a historical figure and giving a monologue is also allowed. I have copied the Rubric for the project at the end of this blog for reference. Students were given the rubric last Monday and we went over the requirements for getting a level 3. Students will complete a 5 paragraph essay at school and have access to internet and the media center books and reference materials. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. We hope that many of you will be able to visit the museum on June 4 from 10:30-11:30. All fourth grade classrooms are participating in the project.

Please let me know if your child's last school day will be any day other than June 8. We do a number of special things that day, and some advance notice if a child will be absent is helpful so that we can properly say goodbye.


May 18- 7:00pm Band Concert, Media Center
May 19- 7:00pm Strings Concert Media Center
May 21- Language Arts EOG, 9:20am
May 22- Math EOG, 9:20am
May 29- Field Day,9:30am (K-2),  1pm (3-5)
June 3-9:30 am 5th Grade vs. Staff Kickball game
June 4- Museum Projects Due, Museum Open 10:30-11:30am
June 8- Last day of school
Curriculum Notes…. Here’s what we are working on now:
  • Language Arts: Using the RUNNERS strategy for comprehension of fiction and non-fiction passages. 
  • Math: Measurement- Customary and Metric Systems, Quiz on Thursday
  • Review of 4th grade math vocabulary and concepts
  • Social Studies: NC State Constitution
  • Science: Animal Studies with Mr. Ash

Museum Exhibit Project


  • Students will create and display an exhibit that demonstrates some aspect of North Carolina’s history, diversity, or an issue connected to present-day NC.
  • Completed Project will be due on June 4th
  • Exhibits will be open to the “public” (parents, guardians, family members, etc.- please check in front office first) in your child’s room  on Thursday, June 4th  from 10:30-11:30.

Rubric: (To obtain these scores, most of the following criteria are present)

  • Student has done no or little original work on an exhibit.
  • Exhibit has nothing/very little to do with North Carolina’s history, diversity, or present. When displaying exhibit, student was able to provide no/very little explanation about the exhibit.
  • No/very minimal amount of written explanation was included as part of the exhibit. Very little/no care was taken to be neat and accurate.
  • No references were included.

  • Student has done little original work on an exhibit.
  • Exhibit has very little to do with North Carolina’s history, diversity, or present.
  • When displaying exhibit, student was able to provide very little explanation about the exhibit.
  • Minimal amount of written explanation was included as part of the exhibit.
  • Minimal care was taken to be neat and accurate.
  • References were incomplete/missing.

  • Student  has created an original exhibit.
  • Exhibit is based on North Carolina’s history, diversity, or present.
  • When displaying exhibit, student was able to provide an explanation about the exhibit.
  • A thorough written explanation was included as part of the exhibit( would equal about 1 typed page).
  • Care was taken to be reasonably neat and accurate.
  • References were included.

  • Student  has created an original exhibit that demonstrates outstanding creativity and/or  research.
  • Exhibit is based on North Carolina’s history, diversity, or present and contains evidence of analytical thinking.
  • When displaying exhibit, student was able to provide an explanation about the exhibit.
  • A thorough written explanation was included as part of the exhibit( would equal over 1 typed page).
  • Great care was taken to be neat and accurate.
  • References were included.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11 Newsletter

May 11 Newsletter
Wednesday students had fun reviewing the week's  Wordly Wise
vocabulary words with a Kahoot It online quiz created by Conor.

Looks like it is going to be a rainy week. So much the better to buckle down and begin research for the Social Studies NC Museum Project. Classroom temperatures are in the mid-60s according to the thermostat so please send in a sweater or sweatshirt/jacket so they can layer as needed.

Please consider buying an extra box of healthy granola bars, breakfast bars, crackers, pretzels or even a bag of fruit next time you are shopping. There is always a need and students love spending those bonus bucks.

Progress Notes were sent home today. Please sign and return by Tuesday. They are created directly from the electronic grade book. If you have questions please let me know. I am happy to set up a phone or in-person conference, or just talk over email.

Students will be responsible for writing a research report, preparing a display of information on their topic, and a talk to give those who visit their exhibit. Exhibits can be done as display boards (as in a science fair tri-fold or poster)  3-D models, costumes, Powerpoint presentations, digital slide shows or video. Combinations of these presentation forms is also welcome. The research report will be done at school. The presentation and display will be created at home. Students will bring in their displays on June 4. The museum will be open from 10:30-11:30am June 4 and parents and siblings are welcome to come.

 The Track and Field Team will be headed to Meredith College on Tuesday morning to represent Washington in many events. Our class is proud to cheer on classmates Sienna, Hannah, Markell, Rah-Kwez, Kaden, Evan and Jordan. If your child is on this list, please be sure they dress for hot weather. They will leave at 9:30am.

Congratulations to the performers in this years Spring Celebration. It was great to see so many students come and enjoy the fun on Thursday evening.


May 18- 7:00pm Band Concert 
May 19- Strings Concert
May 21- Language Arts EOG
May 22- Math EOG
May 29- Field Day
June 4- Museum Projects Due, Museum Open 10:30-11:30am
Curriculum Notes…. Here’s what we are working on now:
  • Language Arts: Using the RUNNERS strategy for comprehension of fiction and non-fiction passages. 
  • Math: Measurement- Customary and Metric Systems, Quiz on Thursday
  • Review of 4th grade math vocabulary and concepts
  • Social Studies: NC State Constitution
  • Science: Animal Studies with Mr. Ash

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Field Trip Fun

Our amazing fourth graders and chaperones listen to a lively
presentation at Fort Macon. It ended with a
 real bang- a demonstration of a
 Civil War musket firing.

Jordan and other students enjoy ocean views, dolphin and wild
pony sightings during the harbor cruise.

The Coastal Field trip was a big success. We escaped a rainy day in Raleigh for sunshine in Morehead City and Beaufort, NC. Our first stop was at Fort Macon. Then we were on the bus again for a short trip to the Maritime Museum in Beaufort where the students completed a treasure hunt. We ate lunch in a sunny courtyard in front of the museum. Our next stop was a harbor cruise which was just a short walk from the museum. As soon as the tour began we saw dolphin playing in the wake of the boat. I did not get an exact count but there may have been as many as six dolphins around the boat. Wild ponies were also in view on the nearby islands. Then we got back on the bus and enjoyed a snack en route to Tryon Palace where we got tours of the blacksmith's shop, the stables, the main palace rooms, the servants quarters and the kitchen. Our last stop, and some students' favorite stop, was the Golden Corral in Kinston. We even returned to Washington a few minutes ahead of schedule. Well done, class! There are many more pictures I have to post, and this is just a small collection.

Here is the whole class in front of Tryon Palace

Arrival at Golden Corral where the staff did a great job
accommodating our entire grade level!
Thanks so much to Ms. Franks, Ms. Leung, Ms. Kluttz, Ms. Nimmer and Ms. Flores for being fabulous chaperones and braving the bus ride with
 44 9-11 year olds!
Here's a view of the Harbor Cruise Boat operated by Crystal Tours

Everyone was in high spirits boarding the
 bus just before dawn. 

Students enjoyed a scavenger hunt at the
Maritime Museum. Here students look for the next item while sitting in a model of a
 fishing skiff from the early 1900s, similar to the ones we studied in the novel Storm Warriors last quarter.

More fun on the bus! Thanks Ms. Flores!

Lots of energy at 5:45am.