Homework is generally assigned on Monday-Thursday. Usually, the
work is due the day after it has been assigned. However,
there are often long-term pieces of work that will need some
attention each evening in order to complete it on time. Homework
is assigned through the day, each day, and students are
responsible to record their homework in their daily planners, which is guided in class by the teacher. The
day's schedule will be on the board each morning. The work that
is due the next day will have a box around it, so it is
easy to know what is due the next day. The students will be told when it is due, it is on the board,
and they will receive a reminder at the end of the day. Additionally,
the materials that will be needed will be stated for the fourth
graders. One last place to find homework is on the classroom
website. The "Homework" link will have a daily listing
of the homework for the week. There will also be reminders about
other things to keep in mind on that webpage. Lastly, at the end of the webpage,
there will be a link for downloading certain pieces of the homework.
About 90% of the work is able to be downloaded. There is no reason to not know when something is due!
Homework and Absences~
When a student is absent, the number of days absent will be equivalent
to the number of extra days to turn the work in for scoring.
Homework is often able to be downloaded, and many students keep
up with the work in that manner. It is not, however, required
that sick students download and complete homework. The focus
should be on getting well and back to school so more of the classroom
activities are not missed.
If a student misses turning homework in on time, s/he will fill
out a form in a binder that is a record for missing work. A notice
will be sent home to inform the parent that an assignment was
missed. It is expected that the form will be returned the next
day along with the completed homework. At the beginning of each
week, a form will be sent home for every student indicating the
student's success in turning work in on time as well as classroom
behavior. That form will need to be returned the next day. Thus,
there should be two ways to find out if a student successfully
completed all his or her work.
Projects are longer pieces of work that the students will need to work
on with regularity after they have been assigned. Projects will often
have a handout that states the requirements, but not always. Students
need to learn to listen and record notes on the requirements when a
sheet is not handed out. There will always be a rubric given out for
projects, so it is easy to see what the expectations are for the work.
Upon completing our literature books, there will always be a project.
Projects usually will have one to two weeks for completion. The due
dates will be posted on the "Important Dates" section of the classroom
website. There will always be time in class to work on projects, but
not enough to complete the entire work. Projects will be given out in
nearly all subjects. Careful planning and following time guidelines
will make the completion of this work easier. Pacing of the work will
always be discussed in the classroom.
Back to the
Homework and Parental Assistance~
This is a commonly inquired about topic and there really is no
one set answer except for the very blunt response of: homework
is the work of the student and the parent's role should be that
of a guide. If there is difficulty in a subject or even a topic
within a particular subject, then there might be more guidance
needed. However, the goal is for the student to do the work independently
as much as is possible as long as learning is occurring and scores
are acceptable. Sometimes, checking over the work by a parent
is of benefit to a student, but don't argue with a fourth grader
over it as long as the scores are acceptable. It is sometimes
a good idea to give homework a random glance to check for neatness,
thoroughness and accuracy. Homework is returned in a very timely
manner, and there will be comments written on the
work. It is highly advised that the student and parent discuss
the comments together as that is where key learning toward improvement
is gained. The comments are specific pieces of feedback designed
to improve the quality of the work. To ignore the comments would
make it difficult to improve. Thus, a bit of time spent looking
at the comments and then checking to see if the subsequent work
has employed those ideas would be a great way for a parent to
assist with homework. Providing a good timeline and keeping students
working toward the end product on a longer project would also
be a great benefit. Students in fourth grade are learning to
pace themselves to complete long term work. Whereas a pacing guide and reminders will
be given in the classroom, it is important that the progress
of the work is monitored at home.
Some parents sit over and
watch their student do the homework and if an error is made,
it is "jumped upon" immediately. A message of dependence
is sent to the student. The student feels that she or he cannot
complete anything without a parent right there. This is not the
goal. Students need to feel that they can successfully accomplish
their work. When assistance is needed, there is no problem, but
the student should make the request for such. A quick examination
of the work at the end might be necessary, depending upon the
student, but the student should still be guided toward the correct
response. It is a fine line for some families, but finding it
is necessary in order to have a successful, independent fourth
Editing Student Work~
Most of the formal rough drafts of longer writing will be edited
in class by the author and at least one other student. Once the
final copy has been written by the student, a parent might wish
to go over the final copy. Please, if that is done, only point
out errors to the student and guide the student toward finding
the correction to the error. I would suggest saying things such
There is a spelling error in this line; can you find it?
There is a punctuation error in this line; can you find it?
There is a capitalization error in this line; can you find it?
There is a word usage error in this line; can you find it?
This sentence is difficult to understand; can you clear it up?
The goal is for the student
to find and correct the work himself or herself. Giving students
the tools for editing is what is sought rather than simply doing
the editing for the student. Day to day work may need some editing
as well. If a student has a tough time with spelling, or punctuation
or sentence structure, etc. it may be necessary for the work
to be examined by a parent and guidance given to assist the student
in correcting those mistakes. If a problem doesn't exist, then
don't worry about it.
Daily Oral Language (DOL)~
Daily Oral Language is the method
in which the rules of grammar are taught. Each morning, the students
are presented with two sentences which have errors in them. The
errors may range from spelling mistakes, sentence structure errors,
capitalization, punctuation, or word usage errors. The students
are to correctly write the sentences in their spiral notebooks.
We then correct the sentences as a class and discuss the reasons
as to why the items are mistakes. The correct answers are written
on the board for easy copying for the fourth graders. The students
are to check their work and make any corrections that they may
not have made on their own. When we are done correcting the work,
the students should each have two perfectly written sentences
in their spiral notebooks. Every two weeks, there is a DOL quiz
based on six of the sentences that the students have seen. Those
quizzes generally take place on Friday and will be announced
in the classroom newsletter. Over the course of the two weeks,
the students will have 18 - 20 sentences in their notebooks.
The quiz will have six of those sentences. Thus, if the sentences
are truly correct in the notebooks, studying should be relatively
easy. Students are urged to examine those sentence prior to the
quiz. The program begins with a fifth grade series, but by midyear,
the class will be ready to move to a more challenging, sixth
On the first day of nearly every
week, the students will receive a half sheet of paper which will
have their behavior score for the previous week and a homework
completion score for the same week on it. There is a place for
comments to be made by either the teacher, student or parent.
If there is any homework still needing to be completed and submitted,
it will be listed on that sheet. The sheet has a place for a
parent signature on it. The expectation is that the sheet will
be returned the next day, with a parent signature on it. Attached to that sheet
will be any quizzes, tests or rubrics that were completed the
previous week. Please look through those major assessments with
your fourth grader. If you wish to keep the papers for a day
or two longer to examine them more thoroughly, please simply
send a note with your fourth grader so I know that the packet wasn't lost or forgotten.
Look for those packets each Monday with a return date of Tuesday.
If there is no school on Monday, look for those packets on the
first school day of the week. Should there be no packet for the
week, that will be stated on the homework page of the classroom
website. It is rare that there isn't a signature sheet, however.
Back to the
average about a field trip a month. All of our trips require parent
drivers, except for Del Norte. Approximately 3 weeks prior to the field
trip, an email request for drivers will be sent out to the group. If
you would like to drive, instructions will be in the email for you to
sign up for the trip. Most of our trips are such that whoever
volunteers can go. Thus, if you volunteer, please watch for a
confirmation email sent back to you when the entire team of drivers is
complete. There will always be an email sent to confirm your driving,
and it will have specific instructions for the trip.
We are currently scheduled to
go to Westminster Woods from Tuesday, April 10-Friday, April 13, 2018.
The camp is in Occidental which is in the Bodega Bay area. We
leave DPM on Tuesday morning and return to DPM on Friday afternoon.
The trip is the major event of the school year. The focus is
environmental education. We spend a day in Armstrong Redwood
State Park which culminates our redwood report. We spend a day
at the ocean in the tide pools. The actual tide pool time is
a little over an hour. We hike at camp and do stream studies
on Dutch Bill Creek. Each evening, there is an activity and one
night during the week, we will have a night hike. The trip is
well run by the camp and we are given three naturalists who are
the students' teachers for the week. The fourth graders sleep
in cabins of about 5-6 students with 1-2 parent chaperones. We
are allowed eight chaperones. I will be asking for volunteers
about the time we need a deposit, which is generally in October.
The decision as to who chaperones is usually made in January.
Many times, there are more volunteers than can attend this trip.
Please understand that and if you volunteer but are not on the
trip as a chaperone, it is simply a numbers game. My goal is
to put a good team together that will work for the students.
There are many combinations of volunteers to accomplish that.
Again, we are allowed eight volunteers only. The cost of the
trip is approximately $300.00 per student with an additional cost for parent
volunteers. That parent cost is approximately $225.00. That may be subject to change when the contract arrives.
There are many dates about which
students and parents need to be aware. These range from due dates
on projects, test dates, field trips, GATEPOST meetings and GATE
Advisory meetings. The best way to keep up with them all is to
use the "Important Date" link on the website. As soon
as I know of an important date, it will be listed on that page.
The page is updated each weekend.
Backpacks and Water Bottles~
possible, try to avoid rolling backpacks; they are just really large. The students have a hook outside on which to hang
their backpacks, but the rolling type will not fit on a hook and end up
laying all over the back patio. If your child needs to have a rolling
backpack, we can make it work. He or she will just need to find a place
on the patio that is not in the way. The patio is used as an
instructional setting nearly every day.
Back to the
As for water bottles, it is great during
hot weather for students to have a bottle of water as long as
the top closes and no spills occur. Please limit the contents
to water, however.
Bringing Books Home~
Fourth graders ask me all the
time if they are allowed to bring their school books home in
order to assist them with their homework. The answer is a resounding
YES! Homework is designed to practice skills and without
the books, it is often difficult to practice. We have many assignments
that require the book-like all of the reading sheets we do. Often,
there will be work done in the social studies book and possibly the science book. The use of the book and knowing how
to find and figure out answers is often one of the skills to
practice. As for math, the students need a spiral type notebook
where they will record important information and practice problems
from the day's lesson. Those should be taken home as well since
practice problems and solutions, that were worked and checked
in class, are in those notebooks. Students will always be allowed
and encouraged to bring the books home with them. In fact, as
I recount the homework for the day, I always state what materials
should be brought home, and the textbook will be listed when
it is necessary, or even helpful.
Class Group Email~
group email account has been established for the class for
communication purposes. It has proven to be a very successful way for
me to communicate with all the families with just one email. It also
has been successful for organizing classroom events such as holiday
celebrations, the silent auction event, field trips and so on. The
newsletter is also sent out each weekend, and there are reminders for
the upcoming week in that email, too. I will be collecting email
addresses in order to create the email list. You may have multiple
addresses on the group email system. I hope that everyone will take
part as important information is given out through this system. It is
each family's choice to belong or not, but by belonging to the list,
you will be assured of getting all of the information that is
dispensed. You may also post items as well. It is important to note
that if you post anything on the group email, whether that be an
original post or a reply to one sent out to the group, it will go out
to everyone. Thus, keep in mind as to whether your post should be seen
by everyone. The group email is designed to be a communication tool for
the class and its events. It is not a tool for voicing personal
opinions, unless one has been solicited. There may be times when your
inbox receives a lot of messages, and you need to be certain you are
willing to accept that. Should you wish to be removed from the list at
any time, that is not a problem.
Students are expected to:
||Be prepared for each day with
the proper books and materials at school
||Be attentive in class and work to create knowledge
||Work their hardest in order to
gain the highest possible education
||Turn in homework and projects
on the proper due date
||Be organized so that materials
can be found in a timely manner and learning may begin on time
||Treat each other with respect
||Be helpful toward each other
and create a strong team within the classroom
||Participate in the day's events
and be willing to take some risks
Can we miss a school
I am often asked that question
when a family wishes to take a vacation during the school year.
I am also asked that question when a family needs to take a longer
weekend and have their fourth grader miss a Friday or a Monday,
or both! The other question that goes along with that is, "Are
you doing anything important on that day?" The answer
is YES! We will be doing something important EVERY day. The Rapid
Learner Program moves quickly, and missing a day or more will
cause a student to miss important items. If a student needs to
miss school for whatever reason, he or she will be missing important
instruction. Many of the things we do in fourth grade are done
only in the classroom. Science is hands-on, we do many simulations,
there are numerous discussions. Those are things that
cannot be made up. If a day or multiple days need to be missed,
that is a family decision and not one on which I have input.
In a perfect world, I say don't miss school. However, I know
it's not a perfect world, so if your fourth grader needs to miss
school for whatever reason, that is your decision. She or he
will miss instruction. She or he will miss something important.
Do what is needed for your family, but do know that instruction
will be missed.
Should we read ahead?~
Many times, parents want their
children to read ahead in the literature books or even to read
an entire book prior to our reading it as a class. Please do
not have your child read ahead. One of the comprehension
skills is predicting. If a student has read ahead, s/he cannot
take part in predicting. Sometimes, predicting is part of a homework
assignment. When a student already knows what's going to happen,
the prediction skills cannot be utilized. Predicting is a great
assessor of whether a student is understanding a book or not.
Secondly, we have discussions regularly in class. Too often,
students who have read ahead give away key pieces of information
to the rest of the class. That spoils the reading for the other
fourth graders. Also, a student who has read ahead is asked not
to take part in a discussion. That cheats that particular child
out of a huge skill building exercise. Thus, reading ahead does
nothing beneficial for a student.
Instead, I would recommend
rereading chapters or passages. Many times students miss nuances
or sometimes even major plot pieces in a first reading. In fourth
grade, we begin to analyze the symbolism in books. By rereading
a chapter, the student is able to cull the finer points of that
chapter and be better prepared for the homework or discussion.
If a child rereads after discussion, the story's details are
cemented further, and the discussion may actually make better
sense after a rereading. Then, the student will be better prepared
in knowing what to read for in the next night's reading.
Contacting Mr. La Marr~
The easiest and most efficient
way to get ahold of me is through my school email address. There
is a link from the homepage of the website that will bring that
up in your email program. The address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need to set up a time to meet, email would be the best
way to arrange it. If you have a question, again, email would
be the best way to get a prompt answer. Impromptu meetings in
the morning or after school are not recommended. During the morning,
I am preparing for the school day and after school, I often have
commitments. Please don't try to catch me with the idea that
it will be "quick" as it often isn't quick and I cannot
give your concern the proper time it deserves when I am in a
hurry. Thank you~
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