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Fourth Grade Open House

Dear Simon,

Last night you had your Fourth Grade Open House. Here's what I learned:

1. The technology in your classroom is so cool. You showed me how you use/play with Garage Band. I thought it was cool just watching you walk over to the computer cabinet and carefully pull one out and bring it back to your desk, hugging it to your chest the whole way. I also liked seeing the  "clicker" that each kid uses to "log-in" to the main computer when they arrive in the classroom.

2. The garden right outside the window of your classroom is so beautiful. Right now there are rows and rows of sunflowers. I got to see a great photo that your teacher took of you standing out in the sunflowers on a day that your class spent some time outside sketching (and learning about Vincent Van Gogh and his sunflower paintings). I also noticed at least two very giant pumpkins growing out in the garden. The garden is one of your teachers passions and I really like that about her. She brought in this bowl of little tomatoes and your sister ate about ten of them.

3. Daddy and I got to ask your teacher about spelling homework and tests. You've brought home spelling homework the last couple of weeks and have been really frustrated at not immediately knowing how to spell all the words. We've been talking about how that's part of the process of learning - but sometimes that's hard to understand. She gave us some good tips, suggestions, and perspective and let me know that it was more important for you to just say the words out loud, spell them out loud and then write the words on the line vs. me just saying the word out loud and you guessing the first time. We'll try that next week.

4. It was so awesome to see the math papers on your desk! We saw that you are learning about the Distributive Property ("The Distributive Property lets you multiply a sum by multiplying each addend separately and then add the products"). Here's an example that I found online:

4 x 53
(4 x 50) + (4 x 3)
200 + 12
212

I love that you are learning this skill - I think it's going to come in handy as you get into bigger numbers. I don't think I learned to do arithmetic that way when I was in fourth grade so I might need to do a little practicing with you to get the hang of it.

5. We got to visit all your past teachers again. It's always fun to see you want to see them, say hi, give them a hug as you make your way through the building.

Fourth grade seems to be off to a great start. We are so proud of you Simon! Keep up the great work.

Mama

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44 thoughts

  1. Helen says…
    09/28/2011

    Lovely Ali, its so great to take a moment to capture all these thoughts isn't it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Nicky from Canada says…
    09/28/2011

    Such an amazing little man!!! Well not so little anymore. So wonderful to see his growth.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Cheryl T. says…
    09/28/2011

    I LOVE how you document your life. You are my hero!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Jacque says…
    09/28/2011

    Your love always shines through and always warms my heart!! Travel safe.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Michele H. says…
    09/28/2011

    Wonderful documentation Ali! I love that they have use of the computers right in the classroom. That is so very cool!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. A. Sanborn says…
    09/28/2011

    Love your perspective, interpretation within your letter, Ali.

    As a past early childhood educator I L-O-V-E hearing other ideas educators are incorporating into their classrooms. Especially love the gardening... life lessons!

    Thanks for the glimpses into your everyday life.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Gina Maserang says…
    09/28/2011

    Wow! School sure has changed since I went. It is truly a different world for our children. When I first started reading your blog, Simon was starting kindergarten and I was doing Discreet Trial Training in a preschool class designed specifically for children with autism. It has been a joy watching Simon's progress through the years. I am so proud of him!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Lisa W. says…
    09/28/2011

    You do document with such inspiration for us all!!! Go Simon GO!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. JenRay says…
    09/28/2011

    Does Simon go to regular public school? Looks and sounds like some really great stuff going on there! Seems like I am always worrying about sending my littles off to school. I am considering homeschooling so that we can teach through experiences like gardening, more art, more science, more music, more literature, more mental math... But this is heartening and fun! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      09/28/2011

      Hi JenRay - he does :). It's a really great school and this teacher seems especially grounded in stuff like technology (it's a technology grant classroom - pretty sure that means that she applies for grants to be able to have this cool stuff included in her curriculum) and gardening. They also already had a field trip to an art museum. Good stuff.

  10. Sharon Dryjanski says…
    09/28/2011

    Ali,
    I feel so proud of Simon since from his birth I followed his growth and challenges. He is doing amazing. Praise the Lord!I thought it was precious how Anna was right in the mix of it all at Simon's desk! I also agree I never learned math like Simon is learning, I was math challenged and if I had that process of learning it may have been easier for me. i never ahd enough fingers and toes to do my math(lol) Kudos to Simon.
    blessings and hugs,

    Sharon Dryjanski Phoenix AZ

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. marisa says…
    09/28/2011

    Great post! Our son is HFA and with the help of his aide he was learning math that way too. Big clumped up problems were frustrating him and breaking down took a tad longer which he doesn't like but the frustration level dropped at least :) I'm amazed at the technology in classrooms now too. He is such a visual learner and the computer is his thing so learning on there this year has helped too.

    Can't wait to hear how 4ht is going with Simon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Paula G says…
    09/28/2011

    Way to go Simon! Spelling has been a "bad word" in our house over the years - you have good weeks & bad weeks!Good luck!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. rhonda says…
    09/28/2011

    Wow Simon it looks like you are getting the school year off to a great start! Keep up the good work! And Ali lots of talk at SC about the DD, I am so excited and will be glad when info can be shared as I have already started the planning and buying process of Christmas items so I will hold off for now!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Carrie says…
    09/28/2011

    Heartwarming. :D

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Amy says…
    09/28/2011

    Hey let Simon know that spelling is really not that important anyway! Well maybe not in those words! This is coming from a high school English teacher! Practicing spelling is important because you need to learn the basic rules and major exceptions. But a lot of research suggests that being a good speller is very difficult for students (myself included) who have learning difficulties. My brain is simply not wired that way. But's ok because I am good at lots of other things, and all those D's in spelling (and handwriting BTW) didn't keep me from getting a full scholarship to college!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      09/28/2011

      Amy - that's really what his teacher was saying last night too :). I really appreciated her giving me a different way to look at it and approach it with him that's more tailored to how he learns.

  16. Emily says…
    09/28/2011

    Thanks for sharing this bit of your life with us! And wowza- school has changes since I've gone...laptop cabinets? =D I don't have kids so I have yet to encounter that, but so cool!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Jennifer M says…
    09/28/2011

    Absolutely love that they have sunflowers growing in their garden and they went out to sketch them while learning about Van Gogh. So, so awesome.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. alida says…
    09/28/2011

    Wonderful to get a glimpse into Simon's life at school. Sound like a really cool school.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Jolynn says…
    09/28/2011

    Sounds like a wonderful school. Being in a technology field, it's so important to have K-12 kids learn about technology and not be afraid of it. Kudos to that teacher for doing such a great job. It's also wondeful that Simon is having the start of a good year. : 0 )

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Tonya says…
    09/28/2011

    It sounds like a really great school!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Raylene says…
    09/28/2011

    Ali, I used to teach kindergarten/grade one and when teaching letters, I poured corn meal into a cake pan, and had the kids spell the letters with their finger in the "sand". The visual & tactile together seems to work well. Why not get Simon to spell his words in sand or cornmeal, then copy out with pencil? Just a suggestion. . . . I'm a very visual/tactile person and this method really appealed to me!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. melissa says…
    09/28/2011

    Ali,

    I don't know if you are familiar with this website, but check it out because it is a fun way to work with spelling words. Since Simon is such a wiz kid with technology he might really enjoy this.

    www.spellingcity.com

    Enjoy,
    Melissa

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. sandy sh. says…
      09/28/2011

      we use that site too.
      LOVE IT !!!

  23. patty says…
    09/28/2011

    SIMON R*O*C*K*S!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Leea says…
    09/28/2011

    Saw this on your fb page, and had to come over and say woohoo on the technology! Work in K-3 reading/computer labs love that he is "into" the technology! I also agree with Melissa on spelling city, we use it at work, just on the free version, the kids love Hangmouse! Thanks for sharing the peek into Simon's open house!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Juli says…
    09/28/2011

    As a mom of a 4th grader who hates spelling tests I feel your pain. This year the teachers have stopped giving spelling tests and instead are focusing on vocabulary and learning the root to words. Each week they get their list and the create a motion for each word, then on Monday nights they draw a picture for each word, on Tuesday and Wednesday nights she writes sentences for each word. Honestly by the end of the week she not only knows what the word means but she can also spell it because she's developed a connection with the word. It might be another way to approach it with Simon.

    It's really cool to see how different Simon's classroom is compared to what we have here. He is one lucky boy to have such a loving family and a great place to learn! Thanks for sharing your love for him! It reminds me to find better ways to share my love for my children.

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