Oh, The Places We Are Going!
Mrs. Pack’s Social Studies Newsletter
Volume 1, October 1, 2012
What a busy start we have had to this school year! This has been an adjustment for all
of us (students, you and me) as we get to know one another and learn procedures and
expectations. I regret that I have been unable to put together a Social Studies newsletter
prior to this one. It has been a challenge to remain organized and to stay current with
all the items that need to be accomplished each and every day for all of my students.
Please accept my apologies and know that it is my goal to provide you with detailed,
current information for each new unit as we progress through the remainder of the
Fourth Grade Information
Several Successes and a Few Struggles:
Students have spent the first half of this trimester learning procedures and expectations
for fourth grade. In Social Studies, they have been learning and reviewing flashbacks
(an assessment tool for material taught from a previous class period) and exit slips (a
tool to assess content taught in that cay’s class period), how to follow procedures like
entering the classroom, how to follow CHAMPS (specific directions for each class
activity which include the appropriate Conversation Level, How to Get Help, Activity
Details, Movement Allowed and Participation Requirements for a specific activity) and
how to complete and turn in work on time. We have gradually been making progress
and have required fewer and fewer reminders for most procedures. In addition,
students have shown a greater attention span which started out at the beginning of the
school year as approximately 3-5 minutes to the current time of 8-10 minutes without a
“brain break” or stretch break. However, after seven weeks of school, we are still
struggling with a few issues that I would like to share with you.
Students are given daily reminders to write their name, class number, and date on each
and every assignment in every class, every day. There are still many students who
consistently do not follow this direction and are therefore missing assignments. No-
name papers are thrown away due to the management and time issues involved in
tracking down a paper that might belong to any student out of 120. Please remind your
child to consistently follow this procedure that they have been practicing since they were
Also, many students are struggling with controlling talking and paying attention. These
are two key factors that are directly tied to your child’s success in the classroom.
Students have been either earning or losing chips for appropriate or inappropriate
behavior choices since the beginning of the school year. Please encourage your child to
make good choices, to pay attention, to be engaged, and to control his/her talking in
class. Each student’s choice not only affects that student, but it also can affect all of the
other students in the room and my ability to teach without interruptions or distractions.
Our time together each day is short and extremely important. It is vital that we use all of
our time as constructively and efficiently as possible. Your child’s cooperation and
attention to detail will help make this a time of consistent learning.
Our First Unit:
Students have been learning about the geography, symbols, natural resources, and
regions of Kentucky. We have also learned about types of historical sources: primary
and secondary, how to interview and share information from an oral history report,
learned about events and heroes from 9/11 and most recently, have learned how to work
together in a group. Students spent last week working cooperatively to prepare a simple
Power Point presentation and create a class book with specific information on
Students are quickly approaching the end to this unit and my hope is to assess students
by the week after Fall Break. A study guide will be worked on in class and sent home
early this week with an specific, anticipated test date. This first unit test will consist
only of multiple choice questions. We will spend future days in class reviewing and
practicing Extended Response Questions (ERQs) and those types of questions will be
added to future common assessments. (*Please see electronic attachment for
additional information about ERQs in Social Studies.)
Following our unit assessment, students will review Wrong Answer Analysis (WAA) and
will receive specific instructions for Social Studies WAA. This is a process that was
introduced in 3rd grade and has already been used in all 4th grade classrooms. This
process will continue in all classes next year in 5th grade at Reiley Elementary.
The biggest challenge of WAA is getting students to explain with clear, detailed
sentences WHY an answer is incorrect and WHY a correct answer is indeed correct.
Students actually are given the correct answers when we score and discuss their multiple
choice tests together in class, which is the easiest part of WAA. The analysis and
explanation of WAA is the most difficult for students. However, Reiley teachers believe
in WAA so strongly that it is worth the time and extra effort required of students and
teachers too. (I often re-grade every student’s WAA 2-5 times or more until every
question is complete and all explanations are thorough.)
Students are told that making mistakes is part of our learning process. We discuss how
long it took us to learn to walk or to talk and how we made mistake after mistake until
we mastered those specific skills. The same learning process applies to school. We are
all unique individuals and we learn at various paces for each subject area and in
different modalities (oral learner, visual learner, kinesthetic learner, etc.). Students are
also reminded that our goal at Reiley is to master the content therefore we participate
in the time-consuming and sometimes agonizing process of WAA.
Please know that every student will eventually earn 100% on each and every Social
Studies unit test either by scoring 100% on the test itself, or through participating in
WAA. Please also understand that your child will continually correct his/her test until I
am satisfied that they understand and can clearly explain WHY their original answer
was incorrect. Each student must also show an understanding and must clearly explain
WHY the correct answer is indeed correct.
Often students will be asked to add more details to their WAA explanation until I believe
that they truly understand each and every question. One final clue that I can give you
about WAA is that often students will tell WHY they chose a wrong answer instead of
WHY the answer is wrong. Please help your child understand the subtleties between
those two differences and thank you for your patience as we proceed through the
process of learning from our mistakes in order to master each unit’s required content.
Extended Response Questions (ERQs):
Formally known as Open Response Questions, these types of questions assess a
student’s ability to use clear, focused, detailed writing to show their knowledge of
content. We will spend time in class this week reviewing this procedure and modeling
appropriate responses to Social Studies ERQs. Students will continue working on this
type of writing throughout the course of the school year in preparation for the Kentucky
Core Content Test (KCCT) in May.
Please remember that students have been receiving instruction in answering ERQs since
kindergarten. Each year teachers build on this procedure to take their students to the
next level for answering all parts of an ERQ with appropriate, clear, complete answers.
Students will be reviewing power word definitions and will be learning our ERQ chant to
help them remember this writing process. Please see the attached electronic document
with additional details about this process and specific ways you can help your child
Your child’s progress report is going home today. Please remember that this is a
snapshot of how your child is currently doing in school at this moment. This is the half-
way point of our first trimester. There is still time to complete late and missing
assignments so please don’t panic. If you have questions regarding a specific grade, you
can email the appropriate teacher, write a note in your child’s agenda, or contact me and
I will answer your question or forward your question to the appropriate teacher as
As previously stated, many students are still struggling with the simple direction of
writing their name, class number, and date on each and every assignment. Students are
reminded in every class, each day to follow these directions. There are still a consistent
number of assignments turned in each day without this information. Assignments with
missing names are thrown away because of the management and time issues involved in
tracking down no-name papers.
Therefore, students who have missing or late assignments most likely did not write their
name on their paper or were absent and didn’t turn in their absentee work. These items
can still be completed for credit but students must ask for and collect the needed copies
from the appropriate teacher.
Fall Break is an excellent time to catch up on missing or late assignments. Please
contact me or the appropriate teacher with questions and have your child collect needed
items in order to complete and turn in late/missing assignments as soon as possible.
It is not too late to contact the office to get your user name and password for Infinite
Campus. I strongly urge you to begin using Parent Portal if you haven’t done so yet.
This is a simple and effective tool to assist you in monitoring your child’s grades and
late/missing assignments. Remember that you can easily set up your account to alert
you to late/missing assignments, behavior issues, or attendance data with a few clicks of
your computer mouse.
Please take advantage of this valuable tool and help to make this a successful year for
your child. Remember, due to the high number of papers that cross my desk each week
(at least 1 daily assignment per class x 120 students; x 5 days = an average of 600 pieces
of paper weekly) I am unable to successfully track late/missing assignments. I am
asking you to monitor and track your child’s late/missing work. Together we can make
this a year full of academic growth for your child.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns about your
child. Thank you for your support and cooperation in helping make this a wonderful
and successful final year at Reiley Elementary.
Bonita.email@example.com 859-635-2118 ext. 211