About Grade 4

    Welcome to the Grade 4 Family!

    Fourth Grade Information Guide

    I am ecstatic to start the 2016-2017 school year as we do not simply create a class, but build a family. I believe that in order to learn and grow as comprehensively and deeply as possible, we must be people who are for and with each other in an intentional way. As we explore, discover, question, analyze, engineer, and laugh alongside each other, I know our fourth grade family will come to realize that we are more alike than we are different.

    Health and Safety

    Please refrain from sending any nut products with students for snack as we do have students with nut allergies in our class. We must be as diligent as possible in ensuring the health and safety of each student in our learning community. Thank you for your support toward this end.


    In order to create an atmosphere that is responsive to the social and emotional needs of our students, our fourth grade family will show C.A.R.E.S. core values, ensuring that in all we do, we are models of Cooperation, Agape, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control for our community. Students will earn class dojo points based on their ability to show Cooperation, Agape, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. Students will receive praise and earn privileges both individually and as a class as they earn class dojo points.

    If students are not demonstrating their C.A.R.E.S. core values, they will be asked to:

    Reset: Student checks their behavior to determine how they can better show C.A.R.E.S. and will reset, taking action to ensure they do so (new work space, reflective space, walking break, etc.).
    Reminder: If they have not sufficiently reset, they are given a reminder to show C.A.R.E.S. and, again, should take action to do so (new work space, reflective space, walking break, etc.)
    1 Strike: Student loses 1 class dojo point and 5 minutes of recess if they have still chosen not to show C.A.R.E.S. values. (Class dojo points can be earned back by demonstrating core values.)
    2 Strikes: Student loses an additional class dojo point and must complete a reflection in writing during the next recess or free period if they have continued not to show C.A.R.E.S. values. (Class dojo points can be earned back by demonstrating core values.)
    3 Strikes: Student loses an additional class dojo point and care takers will be notified via phone or email. (Class dojo points can be earned back by demonstrating core values.)

    The first book we will read this year, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, will serve as a basis for students to analyze the power of our C.A.R.E.S. core values as we work to answer the essential question: How can reading make us more CARING people who are for and with others? Students will be exposed to challenging topics and language as we hear from Melody, the narrator of the story who has cerebral palsy. While a pdf of the book is provided in the like above, find additional resources here to discuss concepts of inclusive language and equity with students at home.

    Growth Mindset

    Over the course of our year together, students will be presented with challenging material which they will need to employ higher level thinking skills to grapple with. With these challenges often can come feelings of doubt or frustration. However, the development of a growth mindset allows children to understand mistakes as opportunities for creative problem solving. This year, students will be rewarded class dojo points for demonstrating a growth mindset. They will have the language to discuss neurodiversity, neuroplasticity, and the effect of growth mindset on the brain. Class dojo resources will be provided to discuss this at home with students.

    In addition, the books, What do You do With a Problem by Kobi Yamada, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett, Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Thanks for the Feedback, I Think by Julia Cook and My Fantastic, Elastic Brain are excellent literary resources.

    Homework Policy

    Students can expect at most 60-75 minutes of homework each night to support the learning that takes place during the school day. Students will write down their homework in their planner each day and will also be able to view homework in the Grade 4 Calendar that appears on this page.

    Students will place completed homework in the homework bin each morning and will receive a class dojo point for demonstrating Responsibility if their homework is completed neatly and with their best effort!

    If homework is not completed or only partially completed, students must ask for a one-day extension in writing in the form of a note signed by their caretaker. If they have not done so, students will lose one class dojo point, but will earn this dojo point back as soon as they provide a signed extension note and have completed the homework. Students must be the author of the extension notes.

    One-day extensions for missing homework can be granted twice. If students find that they need additional extensions beyond this quota, I will conference with the student and caretakers together to create a plan to best meet the student’s learning needs.

    Students who are absent will receive their homework the following day and will have two school days from that day to complete the missing homework. (Example: If a student is absent Monday, the homework missed will be due on Thursday.)


    Fourth graders are able to access Chromebooks this year during the school day in order to work on writing assignments, create digital projects, and activate knowledge in new and exciting ways!  The use of Chromebooks will allow me to edit and comment on student work as they are working in real time. Information regarding student log-in and privacy information can be found here. It is also the last page in this information packet.

    Independent Novel Studies

    Each trimester, students will be required to complete one independent novel study using a book of their choosing, but may complete as many novel studies as they wish beyond this requirement. As they read, they will be asked to identify “flex words” or new, challenging vocabulary, inferences they have made, questions they asked themselves, character analysis, symbol analysis, and theme analysis. Each time students complete an independent novel study, they will earn a charm to be placed on their necklaces on our “We Are Charming” wall! Students who earn 3 charms will earn their charm necklace at the end of the year, however, students who work to earn six charms will earn both their necklaces and a book of their choosing.

    Mathematics Labs

    New to the fourth grade are mathematics labs, which will require students to integrate knowledge of learning that will take place in the sciences and the humanities. For example, after reading the book Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, students will design and engineer a device that would allow for the main character, Melody, who has cerebral palsy, to communicate more effectively with her peers. After having empathized with the main character, students will be more equipped to “engineer a better community”. Student labs will be formally assessed based on students’ ability to follow the engineering process, make use of mathematical skill sets, employ creativity, and attend to detail.

    Contact and Class Dojo

    I am looking forward to walking alongside your families this year as we learn and grow together! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have via email at bburke@saint-peter-school.org. Emails received after 7:30 pm will be returned the following day, however, I will return all emails received prior to 7:30 pm the day they were sent to the best of my ability. If you would like to set up a time to conference outside of formal conference times, please let me know and I will gladly do all I can to support your student and family to the greatest degree possible.

    You may also contact me via class dojo message! I will be using class dojo this year to relay how students are living out C.A.R.E.S. values, share resources about growth mindset, display pictures and videos of student learning, and leave messages for parents regarding a job well done!

    With care,

    Ms. Brittany Burke

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