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Welcome Letter

August 2013

Dear 4th grade Students and Parents,

          I want to welcome you to fourth grade. I am looking forward to a terrific school year and I’m very excited to get to know you and your student.  I’m sure that we will have an awesome year with lots of growth academically, socially, and emotionally. I believe you and I are partners in your child’s education and together we can help your child reach their full potential. Please read over this newsletter so you gain an understanding of what I will be teaching your student and what procedures and expectations there are for 4th grade this year.

          Let me start by introducing myself, my name is Niki Jordan and I was born and raised in Pittsburg, KS. I attended Pittsburg State University where I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degree in Education. This will be my 10th year teaching. I taught two years of 4thgrade in Pittsburg.  I then came out to Wichita and taught three years of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Literature and three years of 3rd grade at St. Peter Catholic School. Last year was my first year at Cheney and I loved it! I am married to Patrick and we have one son, Keegan who is almost a year and a half old. We have one cat, Jingles. I love the outdoors, scrapbooking, playing games, and spending time with my family.

           If you ever have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 542-3137 or e-mail me at njordan@usd268.org.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate in your child’s growth.                                                                                                                                                                                            

Standards:

This is a word you hear quite often. “Standards” are a list of educational objectives from the Kansas State Department of Education that are taught at each grade level. There are specific standards for Communications (reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language), Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.  Common Core Standards were developed on a national level so that students would be receiving the same benchmarks no matter where they lived.  The standards are aligned with rigorous content and application of knowledge through high order skills so that students will be college or career ready when they leave high school. The expectation of students continues to be higher each year.  As a teacher, I always want my students to put forth their best, push themselves to perform a little more, and set higher goals than expected and to achieve them.  They will be very successful with the Common Core Standards if they do so.

If you would like to have a copy of the standards, they are available on the Kansas State Department of Education website (www.ksde.org). These standards are what your child will learn this year and also what your child will assess on when it’s time for the reading, math, and science state assessments this spring (March and April).

 

 

 

 

Rocket Math Facts:                                   

Students cannot move on to higher level reasoning and problem-solving in mathematics until they master and memorize their basic math facts.  Our school uses an exciting program called “Rocket Math”!  This is similar to 3rd grade. Our math class will practice daily on math drills.  This year we will focus on multiplication, division, and subtraction. Be on the lookout for more information soon!

Parents can help at home by practicing daily with the papers sent home or computer programs.  You can even call out math facts to your child while driving in the car or while waiting in the doctor’s office (they should be able to answer within 3 seconds). Students not meeting quarterly goals will stay in for part of one recess to practice until the goals are met.  Students should be practicing for 5 minutes each night. 

 

Daily Folders and Friday Folders:

Green daily work folders will come home every day.  Please check your child’s school bag each and every day for this folder.  In this folder, you will find an assignment sheet (agenda) with daily assignments listed. Daily work folders are due back to school each and every day. Before packing their school bag at night, both parents and students should look through the daily folder to see that all homework is completed. This will help students learn to be responsible.

Yellow Friday folders are sent home on Fridays.  It will contain your child’s schoolwork for the week, special bulletins, and notes from the teacher. Please take time to review papers with your child. This will help you to keep track of your child’s progress and see how they are doing academically. 

There is a parent/teacher communication sheet that is enclosed in the Friday folder. This sheet will show you how your child did during the week on their behavior and completing schoolwork. This sheet needs to be signed by a parent and returned to school by the followingMONDAY in the Friday folder.

 

Tests

I will be saving the test students take for all subjects in their portfolios. I will put a SIGN AND RETURN stamp on each test and students will be required to return the test the following day.  I will send home test in their green homework folder and they need to come back the following day in their green homework folder.  I will not send test home in Friday folders.  It will be too confusing on which papers to return and which to keep at home.  If students score low on a test, parents can help students make corrections on the test. Again, test will need be signed and returned the following day.

 

 

 

 

Assignments/Homework:                           

Homework is a very important part of succeeding in school.  It reinforces skills learned in class, prepares students for upcoming class topics, teaches students to work independently, and develops responsibility. 

Students have class time to finish most assignments.  However, some students work slower than others and need to finish work at home. In many cases, homework is simply class work that was not finished in class. All assignments are due first thing the next school day.  Students are to complete homework in their neatest cursive. Any sloppy work will be returned and redone.

A fourth grade student should expect to spend about 40 minutes each night working on “homework” every night.  If you find you are spending more than this amount of time on homework each night, please let me know so I can share some study tips with you that may help.

In addition to uncompleted class work, homework includes: reading A.R. books, studying spelling words, memorizing basic math facts, or completing bi-weekly math “homelinks” and “test-ready” papers before spelling tests. 

Homework Tips

·         Schedule a time to work on homework the first day of school and try to follow it.

·         Make homework time a time for everyone. Don’t let one child play while another works.

·         Keep the TV and radio off and keep all other distractions away.

·         Make sure to have good lighting while doing homework.

·         Eat a light and nutritious snack before beginning homework.

·         Double check your homework area to make sure all homework is returned to the daily folder before putting the folder back in the backpack.

 

Technology:

Years ago, Cheney Elementary fourth grade classes received a technology grant funded by the Kansas State Department of Education.  The goal of our “technology-rich classroom” grant was to improve academic achievement by integrating technology into daily learning activities.  This year we are adding iPads to the classroom.  We will send more information on iPad usage home very soon.

Technology will not replace traditional teaching instruction and learning, but is used to enhance it.  Each classroom has access to a wide variety of technology.  Various technology equipment used includes: desktop computers, wireless laptops, digital video, iPads and still cameras, Internet, scanner, Smartboards, suspended LCD projector, and more! Possible projects include science explorations, communication organization and writing, and social studies investigations.  Look for thrilling learning from your child!

 

 

 

Reading:  

Accelerated Reading will continue similar to past years.  In a few weeks, students will set their reading goals. Reading goals are set for the entire quarter with weekly “checkpoints”.  Students will monitor their goals by checking the weekly “checkpoints”.  Grades are taken at mid-quarter time (students are expected to be at 50% or more of the quarterly goal at that time) and again at the end of the quarter(100% of the quarterly goal).

The Accelerated Reader program is a reading incentive program and is a part of our reading program.  Students read books from a selected list and then take short computer quizzes to test their comprehension and vocabulary.  Students earn points based on the difficulty of the book and their performance on the quiz.  Incentives are offered to students according to the number of points accumulated.  As part of our reading program, students are required to meet an individualized point goal and maintain a reading comprehension average above 85%. 

Students are tested at the beginning of the year to find out their approximate reading level.  This allows me to recommend books in a particular reading range for each student.  Students will record their books and test results in their Reading Logs. Updates are sent home weekly in Friday folders so parents can also monitor their child’s reading progress. Parents can also receive e-mails after each AR test a student takes.  I will send home the sheet on how to do this around the first of September. Students should be reading 15 – 20 minutes 6 nights a week in order to reach their point goals.

Cheney Elementary School is starting a new reading program as part of our reading time called Daily 5/CAFÉ literacy. It will build their reading stamina and enhance their personal reading strategies in (C) comprehension, (A) accuracy, (F) fluency, and (E) expand vocabulary. More information will come home soon. 

 

Spelling:

We use the Sitton Spelling program for grades 3-5 at CES! The Sitton Spelling program is designed to empower kids to spell correctly for a lifetime in the real word (not just learn the word list for the Friday test). Students study high-frequency words and word patterns, develop careful proofreading skills, and practice making sure they spell their “no-excuse” words correctly in all their writing. Some homework is part of the program. We will send more information home soon!

 

School Supplies:

** Please write child’s name or initials on ALL supplies

Please send school supplies to school as soon as possible.  If you do not have a copy of the 4th grade supply list, please let me know and I will send one home.

 

 

Grading:  

In fourth grade, your child will receive a percentage grade for their schoolwork.  Please take the time to talk with your child about his/her grades.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  Fourth grade students receive a percentage grades in Reading, Mathematics, Spelling, English, and Social Studies.  The Cheney Elementary grading scale is as follows:

                   90%-100% = A

                    80%-89% = B

                    70%-79% = C

                    60%-69% = D

                    59%-below=F

          With our online “PowerSchool” program, parents can monitor student’s individual grade from home throughout the quarter!  I highly recommend monitoring your child’s grade through PowerSchool!

 Information about this program and logging in is sent home from the school office. If you do not have your child’s username and/or password, please contact me or the office and we will send you the information. I will update grades once a week.  A weekly assignment sheet that gives you a progress check on your child’s work habits as well as behavior will be in their Friday folder. Formal report cards are issued every 9 weeks.  Parents can also set up PowerSchool to send you weekly grade updates.  If you have any questions, please let me know. 

 

Behavior:

I believe in positive reinforcement in my classroom. First and foremost each student will show ALL students, teachers, and adults respect at all times.  The environment in our classroom will be positive, safe, and one in which all students can learn and find success. We will follow the Cheney P.R.I.D.E core values (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Dependability, and Empathy.)

Our society has rules and it would be unfair to our students to lead them to believe otherwise. The consequences for inappropriate behavior will be related to the problem, reasonable, and respectful. Children are not allowed to disrupt the learning process of other students.  Along with our school-wide expectations, as a class, we will have the following class expectations:

                  

#1:    Follow directions the first time they are given.

                   #2:    Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself.

                   #3:    Remain quiet when someone else is talking.

                   #4:    Adjust your voice level to suit the activity (inside – use an inside voice).

                   #5:    Raise your hand before speaking.

                   #6:    Remain seated unless you have permission to do otherwise.

 

If a student chooses to not follow a rule, then they also choose to accept the consequences.

Our consequences will be:

          I use two behavior systems in my class, a clothespin tower and a behavior board/card pull.

 

Clothespin tower: All students will start the day with their clothespin on green.

Upon receiving the 1st verbal warning, they will move their clothespin down to yellow and the second verbal warning down toorange. A third warning moves a student to the behavior board where they will pull a yellow card and move their clothespin back up to green.  A student has two chances to get it together with two verbal warnings for minor incidents before pulling a card. Examples of minor incidents would be (but not limited to): not raising their hand to talk, shouting out, not following directions, not paying attention, running in the hallway, etc.  If students are caught helping others when not asked, opening doors when they are not the door holder, saying kind words, or other doing other P.R.I.D.E. examples, they can move their clothespins up the tower to blue and then purple. After the purple, they receive a cardinal ticket, which is explained later in the newsletter, and then start over again at green.

 

Behavior board/card pull: All students start each day on a greencard.

          The student will turn a card to yellow on the behavior board and lose 5 minutes of recess for the 3rd verbal warning for minor incidents. A student may directly go to the behavior board to pull a card for more severe incidents such as: lying, cheating, stealing, hitting, kicking, cursing, name calling, etc.

          The student will turn a card to red and lose all their recess for a 2nd major incident or having moved their clothespin down after 2 more verbal warnings.

          The student will turn a card to blue for a 3rd major incident and lose all their recess and visit the principal.

          The student will turn a card to orange after the 4th major incident and lose all recess, call their parents, and we will set up a conference to see what we can do to help the student get their behavior back on track so they are doing their best.

          If a severe disruption occurs, a student will be sent to the office immediately.

If a student receives two or more color changes in one day, a note will go home explaining the situation. This note will need to be signed and returned the next day so I know that the parents are aware of the behavior.

 

Rewards:

      I will be giving out a “cardinal ticket” to those students who turning in homework the day it is due, Friday folders being returned on Monday, or test being returned the following day. They also receive a ticket when they pass purple on the clothespin tower. Students can earn quite a few cardinal tickets during the week.  Students will write their names on the tickets and place them in the “nest” throughout the week. On Fridays I will draw out 2 cardinal tickets from the nest.  The students will receive a box of candy or a homework pass. A student’s name can only be drawn out once a month. If a student receives candy or a homework pass on the first Friday of the month, they can save their cardinal tickets until next month and put them in the nest at that time.  If a child pulls no card during the entire month they will receive a treat at the end of the month.

Absences:

Attendance at school is very IMPORTANT!  Keep absences and tardies to a minimum as every day is important to your student’s learning growth. Class begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. If a student is late they must check in with the office before coming to the classroom. If you know ahead of time that you child is going to miss school, please let me know by e-mail.  I will send as much of their missing work as possible so they will not be so far behind when they return to school.

If your child is ill, please call the school office to request missing work.  For each day your child is absent, they will have two school daysto make up their assignments before the assignment becomes “late”.

If you need to schedule appointments for the student, please try to do so later in the school day or during recess time. This way they are less likely to miss out on reading and math time.

Students MUST be checked out through the school office.  This is for your child’s safety.

 

Snack Time: 

Since the fourth grade lunch is after 12 noon, we will have a small snack time in the morning. Each child may bring a snack for him/herself. I ask that the snacks be simple and nutritious. We will not stop class for snacks, but will enjoy them as we work. If you child does not need or want a snack, they do not need to bring one. Snacks are optional and are not shared with other students.

General guidelines:

1. The snack should not be part of their lunch. In the past, some students decided to each 1/2 of their sandwich at snack time and then didn’t have enough to eat at lunchtime.

                    2. The snack must be nutritious.

                    3. Snacks should be easy to eat in 5 minutes or less.

                    4. Please do not send candy, cookies, or chips.

 

As a special treat to the students, I will provide snacks for our first snack time on the first day of school.

                                                      

Birthdays:                                                              

Your child is welcome to bring birthday treats to celebrate his/her birthday.  We will usually have treats around 2:55 p.m.  Children with summer birthdays may bring their treats anytime (ideas include: in May or on their ½ birthday).  THE BRINGING OF BIRTHDAY TREATS IS OPTIONAL.

 

POP Your Top:     

Each Friday is “Pop Your Top” day!  On Fridays, students may bring a 12oz. or smaller can/plastic bottle of pop (or juice, sports drink, or bottled water) - no glass bottles, please - to school.  Then, during our afternoon reading time, the children can “pop their top” and enjoy a cold drink while reading.  To participate, STUDENTS MUST HAVE ALL OF THEIR WORK CURRENTLY COMPLETED AND HANDED IN.  Bringing of a drink is optional.  Students who don’t have a drink will simply enjoy reading.

 

As another special treat to the students, I will provide the drinks for our first “Pop Your Top” day this week (Friday, August 16th).

 

Communications:

I believe that we must form a “partnership” that will encourage and support your child’s learning.  There are several ways of communicating that work well.  You may call the school (542-3137), e-mail me at school (njordan@usd268.org), or send a note with you child.  I will always answer you as soon as possible. I will be sending home a monthly newsletter so look for that in come in September.  I also try to send home a weekly update on Fridays through e-mail to let parents know of reminders or upcoming events, test, projects, etc. 

 

Once again, I’m happy to be your child’s 4thgrade teacher and I look forward to a SUPER year!

 

                                                                                                Mrs. Niki Jordan

                                                                                               

(cut below and return the slip by Tuesday, August 22nd)

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Student name ________________________

 

             By checking this box, parents acknowledge they have read the welcome letter.

 

                                                                                                           

Parents, please provide me with an e-mail address(es) that would allow me to communicate with you best.  This will be the e-mail(s) through which I send Friday updates, monthly newsletters, and any other information about your student.  Provide as many e-mails as you would like.

 

 

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(print)                                                                                                  (relationship to student)

 

 

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(print)                                                                                                  (relationship to student)

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