Mrs. Topham

Welcome to 4B!

I love fourth graders! They are my favorite in all the school! I get excited when I see how my students grow, learn, explore, and think beyond their wildest dreams! It is a thrill to be a part of this transformation! But the best part of all is how we help each other to grow in the love of Jesus.

Grade Level Overview

Grade four at Saint Joseph Elementary School is a year full of excitement and personal growth. We learn about ourselves as students and our world around us. It is the best grade of all, just ask us!

What is a fourth grader?

No two children are the same, thanks be to God! However there are certain traits that fourth graders generally exhibit. First, they value friendships. They love to help one another and work well in pairs. They generally work hard and want to do well. Connecting themselves to learning is a necessary component to the learning process. They love to collect things. They respond well to humor and are developing their own sense of humor. They love to talk things over. They demand fairness and see the world as fair and unfair, just and unjust, right and wrong. Fourth graders are seeking to know more about the Lord and are so open to prayer. They are honest and expect others to be also. In short, they are wonderfully and beautifully made!

"Some people come in your life as blessings.

Some come in your life as lessons." (St. Mother Teresa)


Resources for 4B (An excellent website listing many resources that will be handy for our fourth grade students) (This software website includes many interactive games that will help to study various skills)

Weekly News

Welcome to 4B!

August 15, 2018

Dear Students,

Welcome to the Fourth Grade at St. Joseph School! I hope you’re having a great summer. I am excited to be your fourth grade teacher!

Fourth grade is a fabulous grade! You will love all the very interesting things we will learn, the new friends you will make, and the fascinating discoveries. I can’t wait to meet you!

I’m sure you’re anxious to know what I’m like, as I’m equally anxious to learn all about you. We’re going to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year getting to know everyone in our class. In my class, you will be respected,cherished, and treated fairly.

Hasn’t this summer been a great time to read? I can’t wait to hear about your favorite book you read this summer, so please come prepared to discuss the wonderful books you’ve read. I’m excited to hear your thoughts and opinions. We have many discussions and work in groups a lot in fourth grade!

Please remember to bring to school your school supplies, the summer reading log and the math packet. I would like you to bring in Rosary beads to be kept at school, and a recent picture of yourself. It can be any picture of yourself that you particularly like.

I am looking forward to a fantastic year in the fourth grade! Enjoy the remainder of your summer. I can’t wait to see you on the first day of school!

I love teaching fourth grade and I hope that you will love fourth grade too!

God Bless,

Mrs. Topham

Newsletter 9/7/18

“Let us make up for lost time.

Let us give God the time that remains to us.”

-St. Alphonsus Liguori

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday! What a wonderful beginning to fourth grade we have had in 4B! I thank you for helping these days go smoothly. I explained that the beginning few weeks of school take time and patience until everyone feels totally comfortable in the new class. In fact, my goal for the beginning weeks of school is to build a classroom environment in which all children feel comfortable and respected. I spend these beginning weeks getting to know your child as quickly and thoughtfully as I can. I have such a great feeling about this class! I know this year is going to be marvelous!

We had fun doing a reader’s theater, “Tale of Three Trees”. They did a great job. It is a beautiful story with a deeply spiritual lesson. Not only does it require reading and practicing fluency, it takes a certain amount of acting to make it work. Another day, they did 2 more reader’s theaters, one a folktale and the other a mystery.

They worked on “Selfies” that you will enjoy seeing at our Open House on September 20.

We will begin reading Skinnybones by Barbara Park as a class shared reading book. Next, we will be reading Fenway and Hattie by Victoria Coe. In fact, the author, Victoria Coe will be visiting the 4th grade classes in early October. She does a wonderful presentation for the children. I am requesting that your child have a copy of each book by Friday September 14 as I am anxious to begin our reading program in the class! Thank you so very much for getting each of them!

The class did a math placement test this week for me to analyze their math strengths and weaknesses. The results of this test do not affect their report card grades; they give me important information regarding learned and retained math skills so I can gear instruction based on the data.

Looking ahead to next week the children will have their first spelling list. There will be homework in spelling each day, in addition to math.

Looking ahead to next week:

Thursday: MAP testing, math subset

Friday, September 14, at 9:00 is our opening of school Mass. We would love for you to join us!

Since our school focus this year is Seek God first, I love the above quote from St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Thank you so much for helping to make the start of our school year go so smoothly! Have a great weekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 9/14/18

“God wants us to be happy even more than we want to be happy.”

(Matthew Kelly, Dynamic Catholic)

Greetings Parents,

We had a wonderful full week of school in 4B! We are slowly getting into routines and schedules. They are doing very well!

In writing this week we set up the writer’s notebooks and worked on a personal narrative piece around a summer theme. My goal these next weeks is for them to see writing as an enjoyable experience, as well as to improve as writers.

We will read The Giving Tree and discuss our school theme of “Seek God First”. I will be asking the children to write 2 paragraphs: one about someone who is an example of seeking God, and the second to explain how they can pass that along to others.

We will begin the “40 book Challenge” next week. I will explain that each student will be required to read at least 40 books this year. In addition, I will give them a list of how many of the various genres they will be asked to read. I am not assigning individual titles, just genres. The purpose is for the children to read often, and to read genres that they may not necessarily choose on their own. They will log in their completed books in the reading notebook that is kept in the classroom. I will send home another set of logs to use at home. Thank you for supporting my reading program. Each night for homework they will be assigned to read for 30 minutes.

Today we took the first spelling test of grade four. In addition to spelling the assigned words, I dictated several sentences that included some of the words. I will be looking to see how they spell in general, not the just the assigned words, but their overall writing. When I grade their papers, I will only grade the assigned spelling words. I explained that I will also take off one point for a word not capitalized and if a sentence isn’t punctuated correctly. Each month I will increase the amount of points taken off. I am trying to improve the overall quality of their written work. The goal is to have the children attend to the details of written work, being careful to use language mechanics in their writing.

I am looking forward to meeting you this coming week at Open House. It is a good opportunity to come into the classroom to see where your child spends the majority of his/her day. In addition, I will have the opportunity to show you what we will be studying this year, and to get to know my students’ parents. I know some of you have more than one class to visit, so I totally understand if you can only spend a few minutes with me on that night. I always love gathering together at Open House to discuss the year, and to answer any questions you may have! Please note that the evening begins at 6:30 this year. Please gather in the gym for a general meeting, and the classroom visits will then follow. I look forward to seeing you if your schedule permits!

Looking ahead:

Tuesday, September 18 early release

Wednesday, September 19, picture day

Thursday, September 20, MAP testing part 2

Thursday, Back-To-School Night at 6:30

Please read the attached letter explaining Future Problem Solvers. The children were introduced to this program on Thursday, and will take home information in the red folders as well.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend! I look forward to seeing you next Thursday night!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 9/21/18

"Love Our Lady and make her loved; always recite the Rosary and recite it as often as possible."
— St. Padre Pio

Dear Parents,

I really enjoyed seeing and meeting you all last night! I love being able to talk to you face-to-face and to discuss the year ahead. Since we just saw each other, I will keep this brief! The children were excited to read your response letters to them from last night.

I am delighted you enjoyed reading the children’s “selfies” last night that were hanging in the classroom, as well as their letters to you. They thoroughly enjoyed making them for you. I love it when the children really enjoy writing! We are going to continue with personal narratives in Writer's Workshop next week.

The children are really enjoying our first book together, Skinnybones. While reading it, I will be going through a careful study of literary elements, starting with character trait analysis.

They are going to be taking their first math topic test next week. The test will be either Wednesday or Thursday. We will review in class on Tuesday and they will have a practice to do for homework Tuesday night. The children will need to study for math tests this year. I know that sometimes in the younger grades it wasn't necessary to study for math tests, but this should become a standard practice now, as well as for the grades ahead.

Next week we are going to visit map scale, latitude and longitude to locate exact locations on a map in Social Studies as part of our study of maps. In fact, we used the iPads to discover the different types of maps today.

In science, the students will look at rock samples and identify the minerals in each, as well as to sketch them.

The children brought home copies of “The 40 Book Challenge” to be kept at home. Ask them to explain what this is all about!

Student Council elections are next Wednesday. We talked about this this in depth, discussing how candidates are those who really want to be involved in the school and are excited to be a part of the process to SERVE their school. We also discussed that those who run for this cannot make promises that can’t be kept, such as more pizza days, more recess every day, etc. I am hoping that several students will choose to participate in this process! Interested candidates should make a poster to bring in on Monday and deliver a short speech on Tuesday. Voting will be on Wednesday.

There are several items going home today in the red Friday folders. The fundraiser envelopes are part of that. The retreat letter envelopes are also included. Thank you for those!

If your child is ordering from Scholastic Book Club, they are due Wednesday, or please feel free to order them online using code JC469.

Looking ahead to next week:

  • Monday: Spanish quiz
  • Wednesday: math test topic 1 and Student Council elections.

Thank you again for last night!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 9/28/18

“For it is in giving that we receive.”

(St. Francis)

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday! Since the feast day of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is this week, there was a lot of talk about angels in 4B! I wish you could have experienced these beautiful discussions!

The children have been asked to answer questions based on the reading of Skinnybones. In addition to checking their overall reading comprehension, I am also looking to see how they answer them. In other words, attention to answering in complete sentences, neatness, and punctuation. Rather than starting right out grading them numerically, I use a grading rubric at the beginning of the year. It is a system based on 1-3, with 3 being the best and desired score. I graded a set of papers and passed them back. They analyzed what they need to do to receive a 3 the next time, and subsequently changed their current work. I hope that this will help them to do better on written school work. These are life skills! I sent home a copy of the rubric for you to see.

The children began lesson 1 in Wordly Wise this week. I use vocabulary lessons to teach study skills as well as to increase vocabulary. Next week they will be asked to make study cards. There are several reasons for making them. As the children make the cards they are looking at the words and studying them as they do. In addition, the color-coded portion helps to visually remember the words and their meanings. Thirdly, vocabulary cards are a study technique that will serve them well, not only for Wordly Wise, but can be applied to other content area studying as well. For example, making Spanish cards to study is a terrific tool for mastering the meaning of Spanish words and what they mean in English. And finally, the children can quiz themselves and determine which words they know, and which need more time and attention.

There are those times in every household when, due to many factors, that a child may not be able to do all their homework. I know this won’t happen often, but if it does, please send me an email so I can excuse your child from homework that day.

We began topic 2 this week in math. I will be testing them on their multiplication facts periodically. This automaticity is very important when multiplying large numbers and doing long division. I explained that they now should be practicing these multiplication facts. Thank you for helping with this!

I am looking forward to the faculty retreat next Friday! Susan Horne will be leading us on this day of prayer and fellowship.

Looking ahead:

  • Thursday: spelling test
  • Friday: faculty retreat

Have a wonderful weekend!

God bless,

Ginny Topham

newsletter 10/4/18

“The Most beautiful thing that God made, the Bible says, was the family.” (Pope Francis)

Dear Parents,

I am sending this to you a day early due to the long Columbus Day weekend!

We have reached the end of Skinnybones. They have loved reading it! I love hearing them laugh out loud at a funny part, and there are many funny parts! While we have been reading this book, we have been studying literary elements. These include plot, setting, theme characters, mood and tone, etc. In addition, I have occasionally asked them to answer questions about a few chapters. Not only was I looking for how well they understood, but how well they responded in writing. I’m sure you’ll agree that well in writing is a life skill. I gave them a detailed rubric for written answers. The goal is to help improve the overall quality of their responses.

When your child comes home today look for the math facts quiz, spelling test, and a reading paper that goes along with Time for Kids. Since most of the reading we do in real life is nonfiction, I will be doing frequent nonfiction reading comprehension tasks. You may notice that the scores might not be what you would like, but do not despair! I anticipated these lower scores. We looked at them this morning. When I assigned them, I reminded them that they needed to look back into the passage to find the answers. Many of the children neglected to do that step which is very typical for beginning fourth graders! Also, typically children just want to read it once and rely on their memory to answer questions about the reading. They want to get through it and be done. I had them look at their papers and go back into the text to make corrections. I am anticipating a more “close” reading in the future! It takes time, but we will prevail!

We used the iPads this week to begin our study of types of rocks. In addition to viewing these rock types, I introduced them to a “t-chart”. This type of graphic organizer is one of many types I will introduce them to this year. The point of a t-chart is to locate the main ideas of a topic in a visual way. This type of study aid will help them throughout their school years.

I explained the breakdown of letter grades and their numerical correspondents today. I gave them a list to keep so they can keep track of the numerical grades and how they translate to letter ones. Please ask them to show it to you.

They made their Wordly Wise study cards this week for lesson one. They will use them to learn the meanings of the words for their assessment next Wednesday. They were studying as they made the cards! The strategy of making study cards applies to all subject areas, not just to studying vocabulary. I will also start assigning making study cards for their Spanish words and phrases too.

Please look for the Reflex Math login information that is going home today. The children practiced logging in and are now ready to use this program at home.

Now that we finished reading Skinnybones, I look forward to beginning Fenway and Hattie on Tuesday! We are very fortunate to have the author of this book visit with fourth grade next Thursday!

Looking ahead:

  • Wednesday: Wordly Wise test lesson 1
  • Thursday: Fenway and Hattie author visit
  • Friday: 9:00 Mass and spelling test

I hope you have a great long weekend,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 10/12/18

"Discovering God’s beautiful plan for your life is essential to your happiness."

(Dynamic Catholic)

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday! I loved taking the children to Mass this morning! The children also had a beautiful introduction to Our Lady of Fatima this week. I read the story of this miraculous event to them. including the miracle of the sun that over 70,000 people witnessed. The children were very taken with the story and had many questions. I am always in awe of their spirituality and thirst to learn about our faith.

Please look for several assessments in the red folders that are going home today. Their latest math, Wordly Wise, and spelling tests are there. I am delighted with the results that clearly show how well the children studied!

The fourth grade had a fabulous day with the visit by Victoria J. Coe, the author of Fenway and Hattie. We began reading it in class this week and they love it! The story is told through the point of view of the dog Fenway. Not only did the author really relate to our fourth graders, she had them writing point of view pieces too! She explained how to write from the point of view of a dog by using their senses to explain. They thoroughly enjoyed it, and they were learning to utilize their imaginations when writing!

The students will use the iPads next week to learn about how latitude and longitude help to identify and locate specific locations on the earth. They will also use them in Science as they explore the rock cycle.

Please look for the improved reading responses that are going home today. I asked them to bring home the rubric last week so you can see how I used it to improve their responses. They were given theirs back, and with modeling, they redid them to bring them to a higher level. I am proud of how well they grasped the goal and rose to the occasion! Please ask them to explain what we did.

As you view your child's overall averagesso far for this term, please note that this is the beginning of the year and much of the beginning is getting used to expectations. Not all grades are formal tests. I don’t view childrenjustin numerical terms. Iseeteaching and learning as not just achieving high grades, but more importantly to instill the thirst for knowledge and the love of finding out about the world we live in. I care deeply about helping children to work well with others, tocare about the quality of their work, tostretchthemselves,whileimproving their effortand the overall quality of what they do. I am concerned with the whole child!

For many years St. Joseph has been blessed to have Msgr. McGann be a part of our parish community. This incredibly holy and humble man has recently taken up residence in the retirement home for priests. This must be a difficult transition for him as he has been very active and has loved parish ministry. Next weekend there will be a reception for him. The school community will participate in this thank-you to Msgr. McGann by making him cards. In addition, we felt it would be a fun thing to do to collect candy bars for him. He has a “sweet tooth” and will love the gesture and can share with his fellow priests. Please consider donating a candy bar for him by Monday or Tuesday. Thank you in advance for your kindness!

Speaking of incredible kindness and generosity, I want to thank you again for you very generous donations to the class from the “Wish Tree”. I am still in awe of your generosity!

Looking ahead to next week:

Wednesday: early dismissal

Friday: Rosary service at 1:40, please join us in the upper church

I hope you have awonderfulweekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 10/19/18

"A word or a smile is often enough to put fresh life in a despondent soul."
— St. Therese of Lisieux - The Little Flower

Dear Parents,

We have had a very productive week in 4B! The children have been working hard and I was telling them that I am seeing improvement overall since the beginning of school. I asked them if they could feel it too, and they heartily agreed!

I am grateful to the Room Mothers for organizing the Halloween party! Thank you for helping them with that!

We are studying and analyzing literary elements: character, setting, theme, mood, etc. in reading. This week we focused on conflict and the 4 common types of conflict found in literature. Paying close attention to the character conflict can greatly enhance the overall understanding of a story.

In Writer’s Workshop, we looked at how personal narrative writing is more effective when we write “seed” stories rather than “watermelon” ones. This enhances what the writer is trying to convey. What I am most happy about is that the children are really starting to enjoy writing as they see how they can make choices about what they write, and how they can improve their writing by applying what we are learning.

This week the focus in Social Studies was on latitude and longitude. Next week they will use the iPads and laptops and apply their knowledge. Because we have learned how to locate specific places on earth, the children will do a map quest. They will be given a large world map, then will be asked to locate places on the earth by using the coordinates. Finally, they will use Google Earth to identify what major city each point is.

Next week in Science we will continue to investigate the 3 types of rocks and their properties, how they are formed, and how they can change over time.

Next week the children will complete topic 3 in math. This topic focuses on rounding numbers, place value positions, and extending number knowledge to increasingly larger numbers. There will be a review of this topic followed by a chapter test. I hope the children are using “Reflex Math”. I do occasionally assign it as a specific homework assignment, but they shouldn’t wait for that, but should use the program on a regular basis.

Enjoy the beautiful autumn weekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

Looking ahead to next week:

  • Wednesday: Topic 3 math test
  • Thursday: Wordly Wise lesson 2 assessment

newsletter 10/26/18

“The Saints are all the people who live according to the law God has given them.”

(St. Teresa of Calcutta)

Dear Parents,

You can feel the Halloween excitement building each day as we get closer to Halloween! Isn’t that part of the charm of children, seeing how they get so excited and enjoy life?

I am so grateful to you parents for helping with the Halloween party that the room moms have organized. The children are going to have so much fun on Wednesday! Thank you, Room Moms!

The old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them” will apply in 4B on Wednesday. I have decided to scratch what we would be doing normally and instead we will have a “spooktacular” kind of day! The children will be designing “bootiful” Halloween costumes. Next, they will write a fashion show script (full of great descriptive writing!), describing their creations. It will be a lovely Halloween fashion show straight off the “blood-red carpet”! Math will take on a Halloween theme as well. They will also be performing reader’s theater based on Halloween. They love doing them!

I hope you will have a chance to go over the Saint Project assignment. It is going home in their folder. When you do, please talk it over with your child. Each student will bring in an index card on Monday listing their top 3 saint choices. Since the goal is for all children to learn about these wonderful role models, there will be no duplicates on saints within the classrooms. Please note that this is an oral talk and there is not a written component with it. They should use note cards to speak from. The grading rubric shows that they should talk to the class, not read from their note cards. They will use first person as they present as the saint.

We have been studying landforms in the combined study of social studies and science. The children used the laptops on Monday to do a web quest using latitude and longitude coordinates and Google Earth. It was a challenging and fruitful activity.

In reading I have been guiding them in a close study of literary elements. This week’s focus has been on theme and its key elements. We will continue next week studying how the theme is inferred and that a book can have more than one theme.

In writer’s workshop we are writing personal narratives. They discovered how “watermelon” or too broad topics do not lead to good writing. They turned a watermelon idea into a small “seed” idea, and then wrote that story.

There are several items going home today, including the math topic 3 test and the Wordly Wise.

The children seem to love doing Reflex Math. I reminded them that should be logging in 3 times weekly. As you know I also assign it as homework.

Looking ahead to next week:

  • Monday: Spanish test
  • Wednesday: Halloween
  • Thursday: Mass at 9:00 for All Saints Day; students begin wearing winter uniforms

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 11/2/18

“We must remember that God has no other hands but ours, no other feet but ours, no other mouth but ours. Therefore, God is still going to work miracles of love, miracles of freedom and liberation through people like you and me.”(St. Teresa of Calcutta)

Dear Parents,

We had such a great Halloween party in 4B! Mrs. Condon and Mrs. MacLaughlan organized everything and what great ideas party ideas they had! Mr. Condon organized the party with great assistance from Mrs. MacLaughlan, Mrs. Fradette, and Mrs. Kaleba who gave up their afternoon to be in the classroom. Jack’s Mom helped and took pictures too! Mrs. Fryberger stopped by to help also. The children loved the party, and each game and activity. Thank you all so much for making the Halloween party special for the children!

The children used the iPads this week as we discovered the rock cycle. They participated in a QR Code activity to apply their understanding of how rocks form, and in turn can change from one type of rock to another.

This year we are establishing a relationship with our second-grade counterparts (2B). We met with them for the first time on Thursday afternoon. The fourth graders were wonderful with them. The second graders read their Saint reports to their fourth grade “buddy”. Next they did an activity together. We will show our support for our buddies by going to their Saint Parade next Friday afternoon. Since grade 4 is also researching Saints, we will show them our Saint banners on our Saint day. The 2nd and 4th graders were very excited to begin their “buddy” relationship!

Miss Warner has put together a list of resources that will be helpful to the fourth graders as they research and prepare their Saint reports. That paper is going home today in their red folders.

We will be writing letters to Veterans next week. I have been doing this for some time now. For a veteran, celebrating Veteran’s Day is at the top of their list! They gather to remember and memorialize their fellow members in service. They love gathering and reading the letters from the children. They mean so much to them, and I love that the children can bring such joy to them.

I will thank you in advance for your generosity as we prepare for our annual school-wide Thanksgiving dinner outreach program. We discussed it in class this morning. The children are being asked to donate $3.00 each to buy turkeys that we will donate to those in need. In addition, each child is asked to contribute the other items necessary to complete a Thanksgiving meal. Your child is bringing home their assigned food item in the folder today. To order turkeys in time, we are asking that the money donation be due by Friday, November 9. The goal is for each classroom to make 2 complete Thanksgiving dinners. These are incredibly appreciated! Thank you so much for helping our children learn that we are called by God to serve those in need. The food donations may be sent to class any day by November 19.

Looking ahead to next week:

  • Tuesday: topic 4 math test
  • Wednesday: Latin/Greek quiz weeks 1-5 and early dismissal
  • Thursday: Wordly Wise test lesson 3

Enjoy your weekend!

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 11/9/18

“Just ask Jesus: What do you want me to do? And then do it.”

(Peter Kreeft)

Dear Parents,

What a busy week we have had!

The children wrote lovely letters to the veterans. They are going to the Veteran’s organization in Needham. These proud Americans love reading these letters from our children as they gather together to celebrate a day that is to them, the most important holiday of the year. I loved how the children really got into writing them and cared so deeply about offering their kind thoughts to the veterans. They are a tribute to you and how you are raising them! We were blessed to have 2 veterans speak to the children Tuesday.

We used the iPads to look closely at erosion and how it changes the earth as we are continuing our study of slow changes to the earth’s surface. Science and Social Studies are closely aligned as we discover how these slow changes to the earth affect the landscape of the country and the world. We will be preparing for a science quiz for next week that focuses on rocks and the rock cycle. They are getting a study guide to help them prepare.

I can’t wait for our special day on Tuesday! I look forward to the saint project. Even though it can be uncomfortable talking in front of a group, it is a good thing for them to get used to speaking in front of others. Thank you for all your hard work helping them. I love this project and how learning about these holy role models encourages us all.

I really look forward to gathering in the gym with the other classes next Friday afternoon as well. They can show the other classes their banners and gather with Fr. Michael, Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Solomon.

The children are really enjoying making their end of book story quilts for Fenway and Hattie. They are working with their partner to show the main ideas of the story, the literary elements, and interesting points of this story.

We completed topic 4 in math and began topic 5. These include multiplying larger numbers. Knowing their math facts greatly helps the process.

One of my favorite projects we do at St. Joseph School is participating and gathering turkey dinners for those who need help at Thanksgiving. In the past, our food drive has provided over 200 Thanksgiving meals in our local Boston area! Thank you for donating to this great cause! Each class will assemble the makings for two complete dinners. The food donations can be brought to school any time by November 19. No items should require refrigeration. Thank you for your generosity!

Looking ahead to next week:

  • Tuesday: Saints projects presentations
  • Wednesday: Science quiz

I hope you and your family enjoy the long weekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

Newsletter 11/16/18

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:2)

Dear Parents,

Thank you so very much for your generosity donating turkey money and food items for the Thanksgiving outreach project. The children will never see who the recipients will be, but they are learning that giving without expecting anything in return is our Christian way. I love how excited and proud they are of the meals they are donating! All food items are due Monday please.

We began the genre of mystery with a brief introduction. I read the book, The Mary Celeste, by jane Yolen. I really like her work. She has a series of mysteries from history. After reading the book and discussing it along the way, the children couldn’t believe that the mystery hasn’t been solved! The children will be reading a mystery in book discussion groups.

Because we are studying erosion and weathering in science and how they change the landscape, the children used the laptops to do a web-quest. They did a great job finding information about these slow changes to the earth’s surface.

There are several things going home today in their red folders. These include the math test, Wordly Wise test, religion project rubric and others.

As we come to the end of first term, we will spend time reflecting on how much they have grown already this year. It is amazing how much they have grown since the beginning of the year. I have seen a lot of growth and great progress!

Since next week is a short week, the only assessment will be their Wordly Wise test for lesson 4 on Tuesday. There will not be a spelling unit.

I am looking forward to focusing on Thanksgiving with your children next week. I have a math task, reader’s theater scripts to perform, and writing projects to do.

Please know I am keeping you and your families in my prayers on Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to experiencing Advent with your children!

Looking ahead to next week:

  • Tuesday: Mass of Thanksgiving 9:00, please join us!
  • Wordly Wise test lesson 4
  • Bring in a smock for Art class
  • God bless,
  • Mrs. Topham
  • Please take a look at our “Saints” in the following picture:
  • We had a wonderful gathering this afternoon with Fr Michael, Mrs. Kelly and the other 4th grade classes to share our Saint projects!

newsletter 11/20/18

Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Dear Parents,

What a great way to start our Thanksgiving break than by going to Mass. I love taking the class to Mass! Please know that each day as we pray in class, we are praying for you.

We had fun doing some Thanksgiving activities. The biggest hit was the humorous reader’s theater performance! This class was born for the stage. Each time they participate in a reader’s theater, they get better and better. I love that they enjoy performing so much. It is a joy to see them come together and work so well together!

The children used the laptops and did a web search to research other countries who also celebrate Thanksgiving. Using a kid search engine,, they discovered which countries also celebrate Thanksgiving and how they do.

After our break we will be continuing to multiply larger numbers in math. They will be using the standard algorithm.

There will also be an increased emphasis on learning and applying reading comprehension strategies. We will talk about being metacognitive. That means focusing on thinking while reading. This is accomplished by intensive learning and application of specific reading strategies. This leads to deeper understanding of what is being read.

As marks close this week and I begin preparing the report cards, I will look forward to meeting with you at our parent conferences. Please let me know if those days are not convenient with your work schedules, as I can accommodate your schedule, if possible, on another day and time.

Please know how grateful I am to you for sharing your children with me this year. I will be praying for you and your family this Thanksgiving. Have a blessed day!


Ginny Topham

newsletter 11/30/18

“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible;

And suddenly you are doing the impossible.” (St. Francis)

Dear Parents,

Your children have been working very hard this term. It is both a joy and privilege working with them. I look forward to parent conferences next Thursday and Friday. I know the conference time can go by quickly, so perhaps you could jot down your questions ahead of time, and we will be certain to discuss them then. I love the opportunity to meet with parents. Our close relationship, school and home, is the winning formula for success for the children.

I know there is much anticipation for the first report card that has letter grades. This is one new aspect of fourth grade. I have explained what each letter represents numerically as the term progressed. However, these letter grades can cause some anxiety for the children, particularly if they see themselves receiving a certain grade, but that does not reflect their work and therefore their grade. I cannot even begin to tell you how long I agonized doing these because I don’t want to cause the children any stress or distress! The report cards are available for you to view on Monday, December 3, in plenty of time for conferences later in the week.

I love Advent! We will spend time getting ready for the birth of Jesus as we participate in many Advent activities.

As we continue our study of rapid changes to the earth’s surface we used the laptops to continue our investigation. We then discovered glaciers, how they are formed, and how their melting and movement changes the shape and appearance of the earth.

We are focusing on multiplication of larger numbers by 1-digits this week. What is slowing down the process and causing inaccuracies, is when the children don’t know their addition and multiplication facts. Reflex Math is intended to help with this, therefore it is very important they use the program on the nights I assign it for homework.

The students were assigned to make study cards for Wordly Wise last night for homework. As you recall from your days as a student, making these cards is part of studying them. This morning I spent time explaining how they should effectively use them as they study. I sensed that some of our children weren’t using them effectively. I hope this additional discussion about their use will help them not only in 4th grade, but for all their school years.

Looking ahead to next week:

Monday: Spanish quiz and report cards are available

Tuesday: Wordly Wise test lesson 5

Thursday afternoon/Friday: Parent Conferences

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 12/7/18

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

Dear Parents,

It was a pleasure meeting with you at parent conferences. I love talking with my students’ parents because our relationship, home-school, is so important for the children. Since we just met I will keep this short!

Looking ahead to next week, I love that we can do Christmas here!!! We are all looking forward to attending the Kindergarten Nativity.

We are completing our study of weathering and erosion and their impact on the earth. To assess the children, I have assigned a writing piece. This assignment is to write a detailed explanation of weathering, erosion, and how they compare and contrast. This writing to explain and to show their knowledge is a valuable life skill. The grade will be for both science as well as for writing.

Our class will begin leading the school with morning prayer next week. The children will be writing their own prayers to be prayed over the loud speaker each morning. Each child will write their own prayer, but it is voluntary as to whether they pray theirs over the loud speaker. I respect those children who find this a difficult thing to do.

The children’s supply of pens and pencils seems to be dwindling. I appreciate your help getting these supplies replenished. It’s difficult when they don’t have the necessary school tools. Many thanks!

With Christmas fast approaching I know that their heads are on Santa and Christmas! We will continue to work on our curriculum next week, but I also know that productivity and focus suffer these next days! It is great being with children!

Please know how much I enjoyed meeting with you yesterday and today. I wish you all a great weekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 12/14/18

“I will proclaim to you good news of great joy: today a Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord.”

Dear Parents,

You can feel the excitement in the air! What joy there is to be with children at Christmas time! We’ve been having fun singing Christmas songs. These children have great voices!

Each class in the school takes a turn leading Morning Prayer on the loud speaker for the whole school. Last Thursday the children in 4B began their turn. Each child was asked to write a prayer and to volunteer to lead their prayer in the morning. They have done a beautiful job writing very heart-felt prayers. I am so proud of their written prayers and how spiritual they are! I wish you could hear them!

St. Joseph School is raising money this season for Franciscan Hospital. The children will have a tag day for this event on Wednesday, December 19. However, the money donations for this worthy cause is due on Monday so it can be received before Christmas. In other words, the tag day money is due on Monday, but the children don’t have their actual tag day (pajama day) until Wednesday. Thanks for always supporting our worthy outreach programs!

On Wednesday morning, the children will be shopping at Santa’s Workshop. They love this event and really look forward to going. We go first thing in the morning (8:40), so luckily, they don’t have to wait all day! These are the fun things that the children will have as happy memories at St. Joseph School!

The Kindergarten Nativity was fantastic!! I loved how the children in 4B were so excited to attend, and how they were reminisced about their lines in the play when they were in Kindergarten. A truly beautiful event that makes the season!! It truly puts us all in the Christmas spirit!

Next Thursday afternoon is the Middle School Nativity. If you have never gone, and you are free, I highly recommend attending. It will begin about 1:40.

The children will use the iPads next week to learn about landforms in the United States.

The children are finishing their mystery books. They enjoyed reading them as participants in book discussion groups.

Looking ahead to next week:

Tuesday: Wordly Wise test lesson 6

Thursday: MHMS Nativity

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 12/20/18

Come let us adore Him!

Dear Parents,

I want to wish you a very Blessed Christmas with your beautiful children!

It has been both a joy and a gift to have spent Advent with these precious children! As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this week, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of the children in 4B! Thank you for sharing them with me this year.

I will pray for you and your family this season, and I look forward to 2019. I have set many goals for the children when they return after break. Some of these will include a close study of reading comprehension strategies, larger number multiplication, and writing to explain using writing strategies and many opportunities to practice.

Thank you so very much for your gifts! Your generosity touches me deeply! Honestly, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the parents at St. Joseph School!

Christmas vacation is such a special family time. I wish you and your family many memories in the making!

Until then, may God bless us all this Christmas! I will keep you and your children in my prayers this Christmas!

Love to all,

Ginny Topham

newsletter 1/4/19

“If we pray – we will believe. If we believe – we will love. If we love – we will serve.”

Mother Teresa, Thirsting for God

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year to you all! I pray your Christmas holidays were joy-filled, full of family memory-making! Thank you again for your incredible generosity!

As we begin our new year in 4B, I am excited about how much more capable the children are since the beginning of the year. They have grown so much in the past 4 months, and we have not even quite reached mid-year! I am proud of their progress and I know you are too!

Our study of our nation is focusing on the landforms and natural features of the United States. It is important for the children to know what this country looks like, what natural resources we have, and how we use them.

This is the time of year when the school supplies can run low. Some of the children need to replenish theirs. Thank you for replenishing your child’s supplies!

The next Wordly Wise test for lesson 7 will be Wednesday.

We will begin to study rapid changes to the earth’s surface in Science. These include volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, etc.

We are studying larger number multiplication, and with a strong command of multiplication facts, this will go well. I plan to test their mastery of the basic multiplication facts next week. This will enable the children to assess their knowledge and automaticity.

Each class takes a turn writing and leading Morning Prayer for the school via the loud speaker. It has been our turn these past weeks, starting before vacation. I wish I could capture their beautiful prayers for you to hear! I am so proud of them!!

I began an in-depth study of comprehension strategies. I began with what it means to be metacognitive, thinking about one’s thinking when reading. I lead them to consider their prior knowledge and how activating their background knowledge helps because new knowledge is easier to grasp when one adds to what they already may know. We will go through a systematic study of each comprehension strategy, with many opportunities to practice and apply. The goal is to be a better, more comprehensive reader.

We spent time getting ready to experience the Epiphany. Please know you are in our daily prayers.

Have a great weekend,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 1/11/19

“Be faithful in little things, for in them lies our strength.” -St Teresa of Calcutta

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday! We have had a great week in 4B! Lots of learning and accomplishments!

In Math, we are learning 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication. This multi-step process takes lots of practice and perseverance. They used grid paper because it lends itself beautifully to keeping the columns of the place values straight, with no cross over. I also spent time analyzing their mistakes when multiplying. By looking at what goes wrong, it helps to correct that practice. I explained that this math concept takes a lot of time and practice. In time they will certainly master this math concept! I suggest that when you have a few minutes that you give your child a couple of these 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication problems. Practice makes perfect!

I am leading the children through an in-depth study of reading comprehension. We began the week by discussing our schema; in other words what we know, or our knowledge. I modeled how when we activate our background knowledge or schema, it helps when learning new ideas. We can apply or combine new information with what we already know, and that in turn makes the understanding more lasting. They came to the correct conclusion that it is when there is little or no background knowledge that it requires a great deal more focus and perseverance. We practiced this idea by activating their background knowledge about the Titanic. Next, we read a first-hand account by a Titanic survivor and by the discoverer of the wreckage, adding new information to their schema of this tragedy.

I also began a study of the skill of summarization with the children. I lead them through a PowerPoint of the components of a good summary. We looked at short stories and wrote summaries to practice the skill. In their mystery book groups, they completed a sequence of their mystery book, and then wrote a summary of the book from it. Being able to write a summary is an invaluable skill that they will be using for years to come.

Please look for the Time for Kids article and reading comprehension paper that goes with it. I use those articles to help them to read more closely, and to develop the life-long habit of reading something more than once, going back into the article to seek the answer or to verify the correct answer. They saw how reading it once and not taking the time to go back into the reading, they did poorly. I will not give up until all of them have mastered this!!!!

We used the iPads this week as part of our social studies United States landforms unit. After completing their landforms vocabulary picture dictionaries, they worked in small groups using a QR Code scavenger hunt of these terms. It was both challenging and very beneficial!

I have been teaching them about the key people of our faith tradition. We learned about creation, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, etc., and how Moses lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Thursday the children discovered how Moses received the Ten Commandments. We will now stop here to begin an in-depth study of each Commandment as we are all called to follow God’s Commandments.

This morning we talked about Baptism because that is what we will hear at Mass this weekend. When Jesus was baptized by John, we also see proof of the Trinity. God the Father spoke of His love of the Son, Jesus modeled that we should be baptized, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove. I suggested they ask you about their own Baptisms, and to relive that great day in their lives!

Looking ahead to next week:

Wednesday: Social Studies U. S. landforms quiz

Thursday: Wordly Wise test lesson 8

Friday: early dismissal

Have a great weekend,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 1/18/19

I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before Me.

(The First Commandment)

Dear Parents,

We will begin our study of our nation’s capital next week. I love introducing my class to our nation’s capital! It is such a fascinating city!

As you have seen, we have been doing 2-digit multiplication by 2-digit multiplication these past weeks. I have been reassuring them that this is a difficult process, one that involves several steps and lots of practice! Look for this assessment in the red folder.

We began division as the inverse operation of multiplication. Next week the children will be using the long division standard algorithm to divide numbers with remainders.

To continue my in-depth study of reading skills, we focused on summaries and then to determining the main idea. After determining main idea, we focused on the details that support it. The children practiced and did well when they focused on this careful reading skill. Next, we will look at summarizing nonfiction. This is quite different from summarizing fiction, therefore we will look at this carefully.

We used the iPads to learn what are natural resources, which resources occur in the United States, and how they are useful to humans.

Today we used the iPads to participate in a multi-step Martin Luther King Jr. activity.

As I corrected the spelling test last week, I realized some students really didn’t study sufficiently for it. The focus of that list was “ie” and “ei”, and how they can make both the long e and i sounds. In addition, there are other words in which these letters make a different sound altogether. The age-old rule of “i before e, except after c” was part of the focus of that lesson. This test is going home today.

Please look at the children’s red folders. There a several items going home, including the Wordly Wise test, landform test, spelling and topic 8 math assessments.

Enjoy the long weekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

“Find something good in each person you meet and help it grow.” (Matthew Kelly)

newsletter 1/25/19

"Pay attention to what is happening around you. There’s a good chance that God is speaking to you without using words."

- taken from Stop Worrying and Start Living

Dear Parents,

It is so hard to believe that we are hitting the mid-year mark of grade four!! Catholic School Week generally comes at that point. Other than going to Mass during Catholic School week, my next favorite thing for the children is to experience LIFT! If you are free Wednesday morning, please join us as we worship Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I love that the children experience Adoration.

Monday grade 4 will be hosting the Catholic Schools Week Mass to launch the week. I know that many of you cannot not join us due to work commitments, but if you are free, please join us! I know you are going to love the song they will be singing at Mass! This week celebrates what makes us different from other schools. There is no better way to begin than by attending Mass.

On Thursday morning, please visit us in the classroom from 8:30-9:00. Please know that the children understand that many of you are working and cannot come in to school, but if you are available, we would love to have you! Stop to get coffee and a treat that we teachers are making for you, then come up to be with us for a visit. I admire you for choosing a Catholic education for your children; and I know there is huge sacrifice to do that! In fact, when we pray each morning, the children always thank God that you chose Catholic education for them. They also pray for you each day!

In Math we are completing topic 9 which covers division with remainders. On Monday we will review and prepare for the assessment.

We began looking at how to write summaries for nonfiction. This skill is more challenging for students, but a skill they will need throughout school and life. We reviewed main idea to aid in this study.

The children began looking at how concluding sentences enhance the quality of writing. We will continue and then review both lead and concluding sentences.

On Monday we will be writing letters to the greater community as part of Community Day. Our class will be writing letters of thanks and gratitude to Deacon Paul who will be ordained a priest this May, and to the Knights of Columbus. This men’s organization does so much for both the St. Joseph Parish community as well as for the school. Did you know that for many years they have held an Irish Night and donate the proceeds of it to the school? It is amazing how many outreach programs these dedicated men do quietly and behind the scenes. I am thrilled we get to say thank you to them.

We will continue our study of our nation’s capital next week. The students will use the iPads or laptops to enhance that study. They will work in groups to do a “Jigsaw” activity. First the children will be assigned a group of either 2 or 3 children to focus on a specific monument or famous building in Washington, D.C. The will gather information about that site, focusing on the main ideas. Next, they will determine the key points to teach the other members of the class. They will continue this process when they make a teaching page, which is a tour of their building. They will be placed in a group to teach the rest of the class about their building or memorial.

As I look at the children at mid-year and think back to them in September, it is so exciting to realize how much they have grown as students!

St. Joseph Parish will begin Catholic School Week on Sunday at the 9:30 Mass! Perhaps you can attend?

Progress Reports are available for your viewing. Please keep in mind this is an ongoing gradebook so as I add grades next week, the average is liable to change.

Looking ahead to next week:

  • Monday: Mass at 9:00
  • Tuesday: early dismissal and Wordly Wise lesson 9 test
  • Wednesday: LIFT retreat!
  • Thursday: parent visits 8:30- 9:00, spelling test, and no homework for students
  • Friday: student day and free tag day, sports theme

Have a great weekend,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 2/1/19

"God has created you to be here right now for a very specific reason.”

-Matthew Kelly, from Perfectly Yourself

Dear Parents,

Thank you for a wonderful Catholic School Week! I loved having you visit Thursday, and so did your children! For those of you who were not able to be with us, I am attaching the PowerPoint of your children for you to enjoy.

We wrote Community Day letters to Deacon Paul and the Knights of Columbus. Deacon Paul was so touched by them, he came right over to thank the children!

Today was student day and it was a hit! After working on reading nonfiction, we had a Super Bowl activity, performed a Reader’s Theater (The Snowball Toss), and taught each other card games.

We concluded topic 9 in math, and we will begin topic 10 next week. Topic 10 is long division which requires several steps, knowledge of math facts (division, multiplication, and subtraction), and perseverance! Please help them master these important math facts. Reflex Math is but one way to assist this. They are assigned Reflex Math homework 3 times per week. It is very easy for me to check if the children are using it. They have flash cards to use as well. There is a lot to be said for using them.

My goal is to complete the Washington, D.C. unit of study before vacation. They have been using the iPads several times this week to do their investigations and gathering pertinent information. They will be choosing a monument or building in Washington to make a teaching page. This will showcase how they gathered information, determined the main ideas and wriote a summary.

I have been focusing on the reading comprehension skills of summarizing and main idea with the focus on nonfiction. To begin the concept of persuasive writing or participating in a debate, I divided the students in 2 groups, and asked the children to take the position of how technology can make us more polite; and the others took the stance that it can make us rude. They did a remarkable job!

We celebrate Valentine’s Day in fourth grade! The children will bring in their valentines on Thursday, February 14. Thank you so much to the parents who are organizing and helping with it!

Thank you so much for your very thoughtful gifts for Teacher Appreciation Day!

Thank you again for a great Catholic School Week! These children are the best!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 2/8/19

“Love is Patient, love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4a)

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday!

I know that the room mothers have been in contact about the Valentine Party next Thursday afternoon. I appreciate all their organizing because these parties are so much a part of their childhood memories! Thank you all for your generosity! For the safety of all children, please don’t send in any food items, even on the valentines.

The children have been researching Washington, D.C. monuments using the iPads this week. They selected a monument from a list and began their research. The final product will be to make a brochure featuring the key elements with the main purposes of their monument. Next week they will teach the class all the key elements of their monument.

In math, we began long division this week. I promised them that with lots of patience and practice, they will conquer it! We will persevere again next week. On a more serious note, if your child does not know their multiplication and division facts, this is greatly impacting their success. They really need to have a good mastery of most of them. If they need to stop to calculate, it throws them off, often forgetting which step they are on in the multi-step, long division process.

We began an author study of Kate DiCamillo this week. Each child chose which of 3 books they wished to read. These choices became the book discussion groups. The children are reading and greatly enjoying their Kate DiCamillo books. For each book group discussion meeting, they are assigned chapters to read, they prepare discussion questions, and meet to share their thoughts and to discuss their chapters. They have met for their first discussion and are really loving it!

March 2 is the birthday of Dr. Seuss and is the day that schools generally celebrate “Read Across America.” To celebrate it here at St. Joseph’s, the Student Council decided that each room will choose a Dr. Seuss book and will dress up to go along with the theme of it. Our class is dressing up to go along with the book, If I Ran the Circus. Since March 2 is a Saturday, we will celebrate Read Across America Day on Friday, March 1. Thanks for helping your child with this!

If your family is leaving early for vacation, please let me know. Thanks!

Looking ahead to next week:

Tuesday: Wordly Wise test lesson 10 and early dismissal

Thursday: Valentine’s Day party 1:30

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your families!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 2/15/19

“God’s dreams for you and me go so far beyond what the world has to offer.”

Matthew Kelly, Perfectly Yourself

Dear Parents,

Happy First day of vacation!

February vacation comes at the perfect time every winter. Our class has done so well with sickness until this week, and a week apart is the perfect thing for everyone to stop spreading germs and to get better!

Thank you to our parents who were with us on Thursday for the Valentine party. The crafts and activities were a hit! Thank you to Mrs. Condon and Mrs. MacLaughlan for organizing it, Mrs. Simmons and Mrs. Flynn who volunteered at the party, and to you parents who supplied the materials. It was fantastic! Thank you so much!!

We spent several days this week studying and researching many major monuments in Washington, D.C. When the children return from vacation, we will conclude our unit of study and they will be given a study guide and in turn will be assessed. They used the iPads as they researched, gathering the main ideas of several monuments. They were given a list of key places in Washington they are responsible to know. Once we complete this, we will look at economy, and then on to each of the 5 regions of the United States. Instead of studying each state individually, we break the country into 5 regions and focus on each, one by one. Each region has similarities, including climate, geography, history, and natural resources. As the children focus on each region, I will also have them learn the states and capitals for each. For example, the northeast region has 11 states. They will be asked to learn the name of the state, how to spell it, and what the capital of each state is. This will help to master all 50 states by the end of the year, which is the goal I outlined earlier in the year.

The children have held book discussion meetings this week. The students are greatly enjoying discussing their reading with their peers and seem to get a lot of insight from one another. When they return from vacation, they will continue their literature circles.

To put President’s Day into perspective, the children read, practiced and performed a reader’s theater about the presidents. It was a fun and interesting way to learn about several of them. They are bringing home the scripts if you would like to read them. As you know, 4B does love their drama opportunities! The auditions for the drama program for 4th grade will begin after vacation. The sign-up form is in your child’s red folder. It will also be sent to you electronically.

We have been learning long division in math as you have seen by their math homework. Instead of completing this topic in math, I felt it was in their best interest to prolong it until after we return from vacation. I didn’t feel confident that the children had mastered this concept. I explained that their job is to practice over vacation if they knew they hadn’t mastered it. Practice makes perfect! Thank you for your help with it! If your child doesn’t know the math facts, it greatly slows down the process.

The children learned about the marvelous story of Our Lady of Lourdes this week.

I wish you and your family a healthy and fun vacation!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 3/1/19

"God sees your unrealized potential. He sees not only who you are but also who you can be. Ask Him to share that vision with you.” — Matthew Kelly (Rediscover Lent)

Dear Parents,

Happy Dr. Seuss’ birthday! The children came in dressed to portray our Dr. Seuss book, If I Ran the Circus. They looked awesome!

It is almost impossible to believe that term 2 is ending today. The year is flying by!!!

I hope you had a wonderful vacation with your family. February vacation always seems to come at just the right time when it helps to be away from one another’s colds and germs!

This is the perfect time to replenish pens and pencils and other school supplies that are running low. May I ask you to help replenish your child’s school supplies please? The children are missing blue erasable pens, and their colored pencils are getting scarce too. Thank you!

The students worked 3 days this week using the iPads as they researched monuments in Washington, D.C. as the final segment of our study of our nation’s capital. They took their end of unit assessment this morning. Next week we will look at the idea of a country’s economy and then study each region of the United States.

I tested the class on long division on Wednesday. Please look for that test in their red folders. We are beginning our next topic of fractions. We will look at prime and composite numbers, how to determine the factors of numbers, and multiples of numbers. These lay the foundation to move smoothly through fractions.

The class worked on their end of book project for the Kate DiCamillo book they read in book groups. They all really enjoyed the books and spent quality time discussing them in their literature circles. To complete the process, they were asked to give the book a star rating (1-5), being specific as to why they gave it the rating they did. Next, they choose their favorite part of the book and acted it out for the rest of the class. In writing, they are describing the changes the main character underwent from the beginning of the book to the end.

Fr Stamm visited us this week to discuss Lent and the pillars of Lent. We will talk more about Lent next week as we all prepare for our Lenten journeys. We will go to Mass on Ash Wednesday. Each week the fourth grade will attend daily Mass on Wednesdays during Lent. If you are able, we would love to have you join us!

On Tuesday I will work with any student who would like extra help with long division. Please let me know if you wish to have your child join me then. I normally like to do this on Monday afternoon, but the play practice begins Monday.

I am instructing each child to have an informational book on Monday for our study of this genre. It is to be a nonfiction book, (not a biography however), of a topic of interest to them. They have Library class on Monday morning, so they may select one there, or bring in one from their town library or personal home library.

Looking ahead to next week:

Wednesday: Ash Wednesday!! Join us at 9:00 Mass

Thursday: Wordly Wise lesson 11 test.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 3/8/19

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday to you all!

I was delighted to see how well the children studied for the social studies test. It was very evident that they spent time studying so I am anxious for you to see their grades. They went home today.

Today ended up being a very busy day, and I never gave them their spelling test. I will give it to them on Monday morning!

This week we began looking at equivalent fractions. The students used fraction bars and then a mathematical formula to make equivalent fractions. This will lead to reducing (simplifying) fractions, and then adding and subtracting them.

We are studying informational text in depth this term. We identified the many text features that can be used to present information. They began a project in class this week. They chose a book on a topic of their choice, picked a smaller topic from that book, and divided it into subtopics. Next, they read and gathered information using their book and the iPads. They determined the main ideas for the subtopics. On Monday they will organize their information on a poster that will include the information as well as several nonfiction text features.

We will begin learning about the northeast in social studies. For the remainder of the year our focus will be on learning about the country, region by region. We divide the country into regions to make the study easier, rather than state by state. The states in each region are grouped because they have much in common.

It is so hard to believe that we have completed term 2 and are now in the final term of the school year. It’s amazing how quickly it flies by! Look for their report cards to become available online on Wednesday.

Looking ahead to next week:

Monday: Spelling test

Wednesday: Mass at 9:00 in the lower church and report cards

Thursday: Spelling test

Have a blessed weekend.

God bless,

Mrs. Topham “May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you Wherever you go.”
~Irish Blessing

newsletter 3/15/19

St. Joseph, Pray for us!

Dear Parents,

Happy almost St. Patrick’s Day! We discovered how our patron saint of the Archdiocese was in fact not Irish but was enslaved and brought to Ireland. When he was able to escape, he returned to his home, became a priest, and decided to go back to Ireland to spread Christianity. An adventure-packed story!

Happy almost St. Joseph Day too! If you’re free, please join us at the St. Joseph Mass Tuesday, March 19 at 9:00 a.m., in honor of our beloved St. Joseph, the patron saint of our school and parish.

Please look for the Latin and Greek quiz in their red folders. See what you think! It was a simple matching format. Memorizing is a skill we all need to nurture.

We will be continuing our study of the northeast next week. As you know they took their northeast states spelling test and the matching state to capital test this morning. They seemed to be on top of it.

We are closely studying the genre of nonfiction and reading and determining what is important while reading. We carefully study how to read nonfiction, determine what is important, and how to understand to remember what is read. The children did a project of making a teaching page that will contain the main ideas of their topic. They have a nonfiction book of their choosing to use as their resource. The students will then make a teaching page to show what they learned. They seemed very excited working on them! I was very pleased with the end results as I am seeing an increase of maturity and content in their work.

Just a few reminders of upcoming things:

  • Monday: Spanish test
  • Tuesday: St. Joseph Mass at 9:00
  • Wednesday: Mass at 9:00 and topic 11 math test which includes fractions, equivalent fraction, etc.
  • Thursday: Wordly Wise lesson 12 test
  • God bless,
  • Mrs. Topham

newsletter 3/22/19

The Annunciation

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday to you all! We have just completed a super busy and fulfilling week in 4B!

There are several items going home today in the red folders. Please look for their Math topic 11 test, Wordly Wise, and their northeast states map and capitals test.

We concluded our math study of multiples, factors, prime and composite numbers, and equivalent fractions this week. They took their topic 11 math test on Wednesday. Their graded tests are going home today. We began Topic 12 Thursday which involves adding and subtracting fractions, and how to find the simplest form. You may remember it as reducing fractions!

In reading we are closely studying nonfiction. We looked at the 5 major nonfiction test structures: description, sequence, cause and effect, problem and solution, and compare and contrast. By identifying the structure of a nonfiction piece, it greatly helps to comprehend it. Since most of school reading involves nonfiction, it is important the children learn to read and understand what they are reading. I also recommend that if your child is reluctant to read at all, that you consider leading your child to nonfiction. Reading a book centered around a topic of interest will help to inspire the child to read. Choice of what to read is very important too.

The writing genre we are focusing on right now is explanatory writing or writing to inform. Because we are studying nonfiction in reading, I like to also do nonfiction writing at the same time because they are closely connected. The children wrote a Lenten reflection about St. Joseph and descriptive paragraphs this week.

We looked at how apostrophes are used and not used! The bad habit of using an apostrophe for plurals is being broken, as well as knowing when they are appropriate.

Next week we will begin the southeast region. The children will be assigned the states and capitals for that region in a similar way that we did for the northeast.

Looking ahead to next week:

Monday: The children will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and some have Spanish test retakes

Friday: southeast states map, spelling and capitals test

Have a blessed weekend,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 3/29/19

“God sees your unrealized potential. He sees not only who you are but also who you can be. Ask him to share that vision with you.”

-Mathew Kelly (Rediscover Lent)

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday of the 3rd week of Lent! In the spirit of alms-giving this Lent, we looked at the CRUDEM Foundation which is the recipient of this week’s tag day money. St. Joseph Parish has been actively involved with this mission for a few years. The building of this hospital is miraculous! The poverty and poor health facilities of Haiti is very well known. The building of this hospital and suitable houses for people has changed the lives of many. The monetary donations are really appreciated, as are the donations of high protein bars, vitamin C lollipops and toothbrushes and toothpaste. If you are looking for an idea for alms-giving this Lent, consider donating some of these items so greatly needed by the hospital to treat the people, particularly the children.

Each year we have a school-wide Latin Bee. Each class sends 2 representatives to the Bee. To qualify to be a rep, the classroom has its own Latin Bee, and the 2 winners go the school Latin Bee. I was going to have our class Bee today, but to give the children more time to study for it, I changed it to Monday morning. The School Latin Bee is Wednesday, April 3 at 1:45.

In Math we are adding and subtracting fractions. After learning the difference between improper fractions and mixed numbers, we then applied them to fractions. The children found subtracting fractions more challenging as it often requires “borrowing” and then bringing it over to the fraction column as a fraction rather than in whole number form. Look for a math skills checkup in the red folder today.

This week we looked closely at how quotation marks, tags, periods and commas in direct quotes are used. We will continue our study next week.

We continued our close study of nonfiction text structures this week. The children are doing well reading and identifying them in print. In addition, because of the close relationship between reading and writing, the children are also writing a piece of their own using each text structure. So far, they have written description, cause and effect, and sequence pieces.

We will continue our study of the southeast next week. The children seemed very prepared for their southeast states map and capitals quiz today!

Looking ahead to next week:

Monday: 4B Latin Bee and Spanish quiz

Tuesday: Wordly Wise test lesson 13

Wednesday: Lenten daily Mass and School Latin Bee at 1:45

Thursday: Miss Money

Friday: First Friday Mass

There will be a math topic 12 math test next week, but the day will depend on when the children are ready.

Have a blessed weekend,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 4/5/19

Fifth Sunday of Lent:

We need the forgiveness of our sins.

Dear Parents,

Happy Friday! We have had a great week in 4B!

The children have been greatly enjoying attending Wednesday Mass during Lent. They love Fr. McDonald who fills in at St. Joe’s on Wednesdays. He really makes the children feel welcome and tells them interesting stories that capture their attention. They have grown very fond of him! To top off our week as we grow closer and closer to Easter, Fr Stamm led them as we prayed the Stations of the Cross on Thursday. Next Friday they will experience the Middle School Stations of the Cross. I invite you to join us as you will be very moved by this experience. As much as I love vacation, I regret that we are on vacation for Holy Week. I especially love experiencing Holy Week with my class. I will spend time going over the events of Holy Week with them next week.

I wrapped up nonfiction text structures this week and gave an assessment. You will see this going home today in their red folders. There are several items going home, including the southeast states and capitals test, Wordly Wise and Math topic 12 tests.

We looked closely at using context clues to read and understand unknown words. It has been my observation that when students come across a word they don’t understand, they just keep reading. Therefore, I felt it was necessary to stop and identify 5 clues a reader can use to determine the meaning of an unknown word in context. We practiced using these clues.

We completed topic 12 in Math and are moving on to topic 13 that includes multiplying fractions. The children are involved in a school-wide competition with Reflex Math. The children should use this program every night. Each week I will tally the total green lights earned for this class. The goal is for the school to achieve 1,000 green lights! This will be a great review leading up to MAP testing at the end of April.

We will wrap up our study of the southeast next week. To complete this unit, the children will be taking an end of unit test. This will incorporate several components: There will be key vocabulary words, questions about content, and written response questions. I have been leading them towards this type of assessment all year. It is time for them to be given this more advanced type of test. Next week there will be a study guide given to help prepare for it.

Looking ahead to next week:

Wednesday: early dismissal

Thursday: Social Studies test

Friday: Spelling test and MHMS Stations of the Cross

Have a great weekend!

God Bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 4/12/19

Dear Parents,

I want to wish you and your family a blessed Easter! We are blessed to attend the Stations of the Cross presented by the Middle School children this afternoon. I always look forward to it!

We spent a lot of time preparing for the Easter Triduum. I am always touched by their spirituality!

Please know I am praying for you and your families this Easter.

I received the following reflection, so I am passing it along to you:

Nothing is more practical than
finding God,
than falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

-Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)

When we return from vacation we will be moving full steam ahead for the last leg of grade four! It’s hard to believe. I’m thrilled with their progress this year and how they have matured as students.

I wish you a restful and healthy vacation!

God bless,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 4/26/19

“Your heart is a garden of spring water. Guard it.

 Otherwise it will be become polluted and poisoned.”  (Matthew Kelly)

Dear Parents,

I hope you all had a wonderful April vacation!  We are very busy back at school this week!  There Is still so much to accomplish before the year ends!

In Math we are studying decimals.  In addition to reading and understanding decimals, the students are finding equivalent fractions that correspond to a decimal, and how to rewrite a fraction to a decimal, and vice versa.

In reading we have been reading paired texts.  After reading each pair, the students were to identify how using both pieces, they could synthesize the information from both.  Next, we will begin looking at figurative language that authors often use in their writing.  This includes similes, metaphors, alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, and idioms.

In Writing, the children are finishing up an informational writing piece that uses problem/solution as the format.  They chose the topic and presented the problem with several solutions to the problem.  These are the text structures they have been studying in reading, and so it follows that they will write their own pieces to practice these nonfiction genres.  Reading and writing go hand-in-hand!

In Science, the children used the laptops twice this week as they used the Science Court electric currents program. After viewing each segment, they met with their assigned groups to discuss and answer directed questions.  Next week they will continue this study.  They are learning that it is the flow of extra electrons from one end through a closed circuit and returning to the other end of the battery that is involved.

We have been studying the Midwest region of our country.  As we discover this mid region of the U.S., they have been reading their textbooks, as well as reading another packet about the region.  They are using these 2 sources to gather information to make a Midwest scrapbook of information. The purpose is to not only complete the scrapbook, but more importantly to use 2 sources to gather information.  This is the foundation of doing research: using more than more source, and synthesizing information.

I know that some of the children are running low on pens.  May I please ask for your help replenishing them?

Looking ahead:

We continue our Reflex Math challenge!  We will also complete topic 13 next week.

Monday:  Spanish test

Tuesday:  Wordly Wise test lesson 14

Friday: Grandparent’s Day!

It’s impossible to believe that May 1 is next week!                                             

Have a blessed weekend and Divine Mercy Sunday,

Mrs. Topham                                                                                                                     We talked a lot about Divine Mercy

                                                                                                                                                And prayed the Chaplet!



newsletter 5/3/19

Dear Parents,

Thank you for a wonderful Grandparents’ Day!  It was an honor to have them as our guests.  The children love having their special visitors visit, and they were excellent hosts.  It’s a thrill to see the love they have for each other!

Next week I will be introducing the class to our next writing project.  They will be writing and illustrating a picture book.  They will apply their writing and reading skills to write it.  There will be a lot more information to follow. I will begin by asking them to consider several topics that are particularly interesting to them, and to then pick one to write their book.  This picture book will be much more than just a picture book.  They will do research and will be writing an in-depth explanation about each page.  In addition, we will be looking at how to paraphrase information.  We have been working all year leading up to this type of writing. 

In math we studied decimals, how they can be converted to fractions, their place values, and how to compare them.  The topic test will be going home Monday, as will several other assessments.

I will be talking about our up-coming field trip to the Museum of Science on May 21.  There is a permission slip going home Monday.

Next week we celebrate our hard-working nurses on Wednesday.  May we ask each of you to donate $1 so we can buy them a token of our love and appreciation?   If you wish to donate, please send in the $1 with your child either Monday or Tuesday.  Many thanks!

Also, on Wednesday is our “Buzz Off” day.  Each of us is being asked to donate $5 to this very worthy cause.  The children will also have a tag day that day.  Thanks for your support!

Looking ahead to next week:

Monday: Progress reports are available to view

Wednesday:  Nurse Day, “Buzz Off” tag day, MAP testing (ELA)

Thursday:  Prayer and Pick-up for 4B, STREAM night 6-7

Friday:  MAP testing (reading)


Have a blessed weekend,

Mrs. Topham

newsletter 5/10/19


Dear Parents,

I wish to express my deepest affection to the mothers of the children in 4B! I wish you all a very blessed Mother’s Day!  I also want to give a shout-out to my Room Mothers, Mrs. Condon and Mrs. MacLaughlan, who have been fantastic this year!  Many thanks to you both!

We had a great week in 4B!  The children started talking about the topics for their Good Night books.  Ask them to explain what these will be.  This writing piece will incorporate informational reading, and the writing will be to inform, but in a picture book format.  The goal is to choose a topic that is particularly interesting to them to write their book about.  I hope that they discuss it with you before they choose their topic.  They will also need to gather information to use.  I suggested that they get books from the library as they are easier to use than doing searches on the internet.  Any use of technology for this project will be closely monitored by me.

Members of the Rotary Club in Needham visited the classroom last week to talk about trees and to present each child with a tree sapling to plant in their yards.  Just think, in 15 -25 years you can use it for your Christmas tree! 

The permission slips went home for the upcoming field trip to the Science Museum.  I do try to be fair, so when it came to chaperones for the trip, I felt it was fair to have parents who have not had a chance to be with the class, as some have for Halloween and Valentine’s Day parties.  Thank you for being so generous with your time!

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited these children are this week about the upcoming play!  It is a joy to watch!  I assured them I would be very mindful of their long rehearsals regarding homework and tests next week.   I can’t wait to see it!

We began a new topic in Math.  This measurement unit includes units of measure for length, weight, and capacity.  We are introducing changing classes to the students by rotating classes in Math for geometry and angles, etc.  I will teach measurement to all 3 fourth grade classes, and the other teachers will teach their math topic to the classes as well.  This will give them a taste of switching classes that will be their routine in fifth grade.  

In reading we have been looking at the various types of figurative language as we begin studying the genre of poetry.  They have analyzed similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, onomatopoeia, alliterations, and idioms.   We will begin a study of poetry next week.

We will continue our study of the Midwest, and begin the southwest next week.

Looking ahead:

Tuesday: Wordly Wise test

Thursday and Friday: 7:00:  the drama event of the year!

I will keep you mothers in my prayers on Sunday!                                                         

God bless,

Ginny Topham

newsletter 5/17/19

“Love needs time and space;”

                                                                 everything else is secondary.”         (Pope Francis, The Joy of Love)


Dear Parents,

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited these children were this week!  By Thursday they were so wound up due to the play, it was hysterical to watch.  I love this drama program at St. Joe’s!  It is so beneficial for children on so many levels!  As I watched the play last night, I was struck by their talent and I felt so proud to be their teacher!  Incredible!  These are the things the children will look back on and remember forever!

Despite their mounting excitement about the play, we did get a lot accomplished this week! 

The Good Night Books project is well under way!  After choosing their topic for the book, they began to gather information for each page of their book.  They will also be using the iPads and laptops next week to help gather information.  This Good Night Book project uses the entire writing process, from prewrite to publish.

As you know, each student will be tested on all 50 states and their capitals at the end of the year.  They should be reviewing and practicing the states and capitals to get ready for this.  The final assessment will include matching the state to a U.S. map using a computer program.  The capitals test will be to match the correct state from a list of states and capitals.  They will be matching, not writing the capitals, in the same format that we have done so far for each region.

We are studying the Ten Commandments in depth this month.  They are finding that each Commandment has a lot more meaning than they initially thought!

I math, we three fourth grade teachers tried something new in math.  We rotated math classes.  I taught measurement to all 3 classes, Miss Larson taught angles and triangles, and Miss Sullivan taught area and perimeter, etc.  We thought we would try this as a precursor to next year when they change classes every day.  It seemed like a success! 

We are really looking forward to our field trip on Tuesday!    Your child will need a substantial lunch in a disposable bag labeled with his/her name.   There won’t be a snack time, so they will be particularly hungry by lunch. I also recommend that the children have a good breakfast to carry them through the morning.  Please, no cans for beverages.  Thank you!  They will wear their gym uniforms also.

Looking ahead to next week:

Tuesday:  field trip to Science Museum                                                                                                                                                     

Wednesday: Wordly Wise test lesson 16

Thursday: Rosary service 10:15                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

God bless,           

Mrs. Topham                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

newsletter 5/24/19

Dear Parents,

Our field trip Tuesday was a huge success.  The children were fantastic!

I am so delighted with the children’s west group projects. They have been working diligently on them!  They said they love doing these types of projects!  I love how they used their reading skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and cooperation to tackle this assignment.

I was delighted how beautifully the students applied their informational reading skills to research their topic for their Good Night books.  I am so proud of their progress!  They are really enjoying writing!

As we studied each region of the United States, I tested them on the states and their capitals.  As we approach the end of the year, I want to remind you about the end of year states and capitals test.  I told the children at the beginning of the year that they will be responsible to know all fifty states, where they are located on a map, and their state capitals.  They should be spending time drilling these.  There are a lot of fun ways for them to learn them.  Maps games, puzzles, and computer sites work well.  The final Social Studies map and capitals test will be Tuesday, June 4.

Nothing makes me happier than praying as a whole school community!  I loved that we all gathered to pray the Rosary on Thursday!

We remember our heroes this Memorial Day, and how dear their sacrifice is to all Americans!  These times have been challenging, but one of the good things to come out of tragedy, is the deep commitment many have to the United States, and we are grateful to the many who serve to keep our liberty.  May God bless them all!

The 40-Book Challenge is due Friday, May 31.  The purpose was to keep the children reading throughout the year to become better readers. 


Looking ahead to next week:

·       Monday:  Memorial Day

·       Thursday: Southwest and West states map and capitals test

·       Friday: the 40 Book Challenge is due

·       Friday: spelling test   

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!                

God bless and thank you for sharing your children with me,

Mrs. Topham                                                                                                                                             

newsletter 5/31/19

"Our perfection does not consist of doing extraordinary things, but to do the ordinary well."
— St. Gabriel Possenti

Dear Parents,

What a busy week this has been! 

The 40-Book Challenge was due today.  The purpose was to keep the children reading throughout the year to become better readers.  We will celebrate this great accomplishment on Friday with a “Party in a Bag”.  Because we need to be careful of allergies, each parent is asked to send in a bag of party food just for your child.  Please send in 3 items in the bag for your child to have: something sweet, something salty (crunchy), and a drink.  Our party will be Friday afternoon. Thank you!

We can all agree that the meaning of reading is to understand or comprehend what is read.  It follows that the comprehension checks of the reading assessment are very revealing.  One of many goals this year was to raise the level of comprehending from the basic literal understanding to a higher level of thinking and understanding.  This is where our fourth graders are!  They need to read often to become good readers who can think deeply about is read.  Research clearly has shown that a vital component to reading success is to read often.  This is where summer reading comes in!  It is a known fact that students do “slide” back over the summer (The Summer Slide!).  The best way to overcome this sliding back is to read daily and to talk about what they are reading.  I am urging the children to read often this summer, choosing books that are of interest and to try genres that are not as familiar.  I love that this class always recommends good reads to one another.  Just as we adults read what our peers suggest, the children do as well.  Encourage your child to talk to friends about what is being read and recommend what was particularly enjoyable.

The 40-book challenge ensured they read a lot this past year which is the reason I assigned it!

So, happy summer reading!  I already have a stack of books I am anxious to read!

The librarians have asked us to remind you that all library books are now due back to the library, so they can begin the daunting task of inventorying the vast number of books we are blessed to have!

The children have been diligently working on their “Good Night Book”.  They used the laptops several times to gather information.  They are also writing their drafts.  It is a huge project that applies their writing skills!

Because St. Joseph won the Bruins contest, we will be celebrating on Tuesday with a Bruins Day.  This is a tag day for the school.

The end of year assessment in Social Studies will be Tuesday.  Using the laptops, the students will be locating all 50 states on a blank U.S. map.  In addition, they will be matching each state to its capital.

Looking ahead:

·       Monday: all library books due

·       Tuesday: 50 state final and Bruins Day!

·       Wednesday: early dismissal

·       Thursday: Book Fair for 4B 8:30-8:55

·       Friday: “Party in a Bag” for achieving 40 Book Challenge

I am already getting a pit in my stomach anticipating how difficult it will be to say good-bye to these awesome children!!

Have a great weekend!

God bless,

Ginny Topham



newsletters 6/7/19

Dear Parents,

I have been dreading writing this last newsletter to you!! Where has the year gone?  I think back fondly to these awesome children in September when they arrived in 4B, and I marvel at how they have grown since then!  They have become closer to Jesus, grown academically by leaps and bounds, and have been a joy and blessing to me!  How can I let them go?  I always struggle with that.  They become so special to me!  I’m trying not to think about saying good-bye to my class next week!! Perhaps I’ll just keep them all back in fourth grade!

I have been testing the students using the Fountas/Pinnell Reading Assessment System again these past weeks.  This assessment was given twice this year.  Each child was asked to read a portion of a leveled reading passage aloud, and then to complete it silently.  The student knew before beginning that he/she would be talking about the passage afterward.  If the student had difficulty retelling the story, I prompted discussion by asking comprehension questions.  The questions were both literal and inferential, utilizing higher order reading skills.  I was looking to see how fluently the child read, noting phrasing, intonation, and how well the child attended to the punctuation.  The task of this oral reading segment was to make note of miscues (errors that are made when reading).  When I analyzed the miscues, I noted whether they impact comprehension, or whether they are minor in impact.  For instance, if a child reads, The rabbit jumped high over the fence, but instead of reading high, she reads how, that is a significant miscueWhile high and how are similar visually, the miscue greatly impacts the meaning of the sentence, indicating that the child didn’t attend to the meaning of what was being read nor the syntax, just attended to “saying” the words. Following a specific grading rubric, a child either moved up to the next higher level and the process began again or stayed at that level.

 I am so proud of the tremendous growth these children have achieved this year in reading!  They moved up many levels.  Developing reading comprehension skills and strategies, as well as reading daily, was the key!

Thank you for helping your child prepare for the states and capitals final! 

One of the children’s favorite days is Field Day.  They have their field day shirts, so they are all set for Monday.  The forecast for Monday is to be cloudy but pleasant.  Pease apply sunscreen at home.  Each child will bring a large snack and a couple of disposable water bottles.  Please label the bag and each bottle with the name of your child.  We ask for the snack and water bottles be disposable because it is very difficult to keep lunch boxes and water bottles straight in a large group.  I know it isn’t ecologically friendly, but it truly helps!

I hope you can join us on Thursday for the end of the year Mass at 9:00.  This is the perfect way to end our school year!

Try to think back to what your child was like in September.  I often do, and when I think back, I marvel at how very much they have grown in all areas this year!

Please know how much I love this class and how I am so grateful to have had the joy of being a part of their lives!  Thank you for that honor!


Have a great weekend!                                                                     

God bless,

Mrs. Topham                                                                                        



newsletter 6.13.19

Dear Parents,


I want you to know that I thank God for our year together!  How quickly the year flew by!


I want to thank you so very much for your thoughtful gifts.  The gift cards are so very generous!  It was so very thoughtful of you, and your notes and letters deeply touched my heart. Thank you so very, very much! 


I really love this class! We had a wonderful year together.  I will always remember how wonderful my students in 4B were.  We were a close-knit family for this year, and we shared many wonderful days and created beautiful memories.  I will always remember how special each person was to this class.


The summer math and reading packets went home Tuesday.  It is a proven fact that if children don’t read and keep their math skills fresh in their minds, students will experience “Summer Slide”.  Thus, we have assigned both reading logs and math packets to help to keep this from happening.


I also urge you to have your child keep practicing their multiplication facts.  Having these facts memorized greatly helps when doing larger number math computations.  Reflex Math is available all summer.


I purposefully saved a few papers from the very beginning of the year.  Two were questions and thoughts they had at the beginning of fourth grade.  One of them was a postcard writing task.  I passed them back today and they had a lot of laughs looking at their responses and gulped at their writing skills.  As you know, we have concluded our writing curriculum this year by writing a “Good Night” book on the topic of their choice.  When you have a chance to look at them, you will see a marked increase in writing ability.  They went home today with the report cards.  They are very proud of their books!


The school is making available access to Raz Kids this summer. While it doesn’t replacer reading a book for students at this level, I am sending home your child’s password and log in instructions. 


Please note that your child’s report card is available through Ren Web.


The MAP scores are going home today. Please look for an envelope from me with this and a few other things in it!


I still can’t believe another year has gone by and I must let them go!! They are so very different from when they arrived in September!  I dreaded saying good-bye to them!!!!!!


Please have a blessed summer full of fun, good health, and the joy of Jesus.


I will look forward seeing the children when we return to school in September.


God Bless!




Mrs. Topham


Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
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Calendar & Category Legend:

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