Nick Lodge (Room 311)

Nick Lodge
Grade 4
Room 311
Contact Information

June 2019

Homegrown alligator, see you later

Gotta hit the road, gotta hit the road

The sun it changed in the atmosphere


                                                   George Ezra

Statistically the most played/requested song in 311, and lyrically appropriate for the end of the school year... ! So that’s that then! September only seems like yesterday, but already it’s time for tomorrow. The seasons have cycled and brought us back here! Fourth graders become fifth and we all hope that we are a year older and all a year wiser!

A year of hometeams (Alfa, Bravo, Charlie and Delta), geometry, fractions and  multiplication, 16+ two-week-spanning trivia quizzes, wizard(ing), energy, matter and engineering (Daphne the duck, water wheels, roller coasters, balloon-powered vehicles….), team building games and challenges and beat the teacher in morning meetings,  fiction and nonfiction, trips to the theater (‘The Man Who Planted Trees”), Shelburne Museum, and Echo, primary sources and the history of the USA from the First People to the close of the Revolutionary War, Friday raffles, TATS and food roulette 2019, friendships, conflicts and class conversations, opinions, stories and reports, syllables, claims and evidence, laughter (happily, lots of laughter)...

And now…

The chromebooks have been turned off and unplugged. The classroom has been cleaned and organized (somewhat), and will remain so for a number of weeks, but feels empty and lonely. We have bid farewell to a number of staff such as Jean and Feeney and Charlie Cavanaugh . We have finally despaired and having never found the owner of that hooded sweatshirt that is constantly left on the back table  cast them into the lost and found. (And incidentally, if you’re missing any sweatshirts or any other items please call the school ASAP so that you can check the lost and found before the bulging bins are emptied.)

Indeed! The school year is finished. It’s summer!

As this is just another paper, amongst a forest-wide slew of other papers in the report card envelope, I will keep it brief.

I have genuinely enjoyed spending the past year  in the company of your student, and I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my thanks. When you spend 6 hours a day in a room with fourth graders, you hope that they will be engaging and fun.  They certainly have been that! I can honestly say that there is not a single student whose company I have not enjoyed and who hasn't enriched the class. There is not a single student that I won’t miss! As a class they built a community and dealt with any conflict that arose. School is more than maths and reading. It is also how to navigate human relationships and live in a society. I  wish them well. 311 has been their home for the past year and whilst new students will move in, they are always welcome back as they have been an important part of the room. Once a wizard, always a wizard!

I will be spending a chunk of the summer in Dorset, England, attending to family responsibilities while trusting that my own son and daughter are attending to the house..  Whatever your plans may be this summer, I hope that the time between today and the end of August is filled with health and happiness.

You do have the final report cards of the year. I have appreciated the feedback about the color coding and so sharpened the the colored pencils again.

And with that, that’s that!

I wish you all a very happy summer.


Nick Lodge   

  PAST NEWS      

May 17th

In case you missed this in the paper (and in case this wasn’t printed in the paper), I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Estes.

Going Gaga For Gaga Ball

The difference between being a dreamer and an entrepreneur is the ability and drive to turn the idea into reality. Vermont has had its fair share of innovators such as Burton, Ben and Jerry’s and Concept 2, but maybe none of these started as young as Estes Rodriguez of Johnson.

It was while at a soccer tournament in Westford that Estes, a fourth grader at Johnson Elementary School, first encountered the game of gaga ball. Played in an octagonal pit, the goal of the game is to be the last person remaining in a fast paced variation of dodgeball. This variation is designed to be inclusive, where all ages and all students can play together, and having strong hand-eye coordination and strength will not guarantee victory.

Such was the impression the game made on Estes, that he voiced that the addition of a gaga pit to the playground of Johnson Elementary would enhance the community. This is where the idea could have remained, as a wistful notion and a unrealized fancy. Estes, however, with the help of his older brother, sixth grader Grady, began to work on making it a reality. After researching and brainstorming, the brothers presented to the school principal, David Manning. The slideshow presented the game, but went further by having all the expenses worked out, funding sources suggested and a plan for installing the pit detailed. Having completely sold the idea to the principal, they again presented to the staff, and then to the entire student body in a community meeting. The entire school was now on-board.

The next step was fund raising, where again Estes took both initiative and ownership. Hitting the streets,  he secured generous financial donations from the Johnson PTO, Donald Blake Inc., McDonalds, Perras Auto, New England Auto Glass, Geraldine Carpenter, Joe and Marsha Curtis, Joe Stridsberg, Holly Jones, Tony and Joie Lehouillier, Tammi and Earl Wuestenberg and Dave and Angela Lamell.  The brothers also dipped into their own savings to fund their project. Before long the entire cost for the gaga pit was in place.

On the sunny Monday morning of May 6th, the yellow school buses arrived as usual, parents pulled up at the school to drop off students and staff parked their cars to unlock classrooms. This particular morning a surprise was awaiting all of them, for over the course of the weekend the Rodriguez family, including Beepa, aka Bruce and excavator, had been at work in the playground. A gaga pit had been fully installed and was waiting for players! It didn’t have to wait for long and has been the focal point of the playground ever since.

With such entrepreneurship at such a young age, perhaps Vermont already has its innovators of tomorrow.

Field trip

Thank you for supporting the trip to Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center. Hopefully your students gave a warn review of “The Man Who Planted Trees”.  As engaging, charming, poignant and funny as the show was, tit was equaled by sounds of the students’ laughter and emotional reactions to the performance. Upon returning to school, we discussed the timely themes protecting and healing our natural environment, the difference that a single person can have upon the world and the mindset of staying hopeful. We still have 2 more trips this year; Shelburne Museum ($5) and the Echo Center(free).  With one trip done I have attached a second permission form to this letter.


A quick overview of our current course of study. In maths we have split the class in half, with some students reviewing equivalent fractions and the other half looking at fractions through the lens of probability. Science is currently focusing on waves and how this links to energy.  In ELA, students are continuing to research and using non-fiction skills (summarizing, comparing…) as we use the Revolutionary War as an anchor.

May 3, 2019

Testing Times

And breathe out…

Normal service will now hopefully resumed with the end of the state testing in grade four. This week the class tackled the two maths and two ELA SBAC tests that is required by the Department of Education.  These are by no means a cakewalk. I honestly wonder how many of us, as adults, would fare if we took it, given the complexity of the reading, questions and computer interface and tools. It is long way from the filling in the bubbles on the Stanford tests of old. Before testing, we discussed the tests and the strategies to use during the testing, such as reading each question carefully for understanding, not rushing through the tests but taking it slow and steady, and using a notebook to calculate answers and plan responses. Kudos to those in the class who took the testing seriously and wanted to do their very best. They used the strategies and fought testing fatigue to keep tackling question after question.

Revolutionary War

In ELA/Global Citizenship, we are considering the Revolutionary War. Students have so far completed their first chapter (The Colonies Before the Revolutionary Way) of an in informational report where they had a choice in how to present their learning. They are currently working on chapter 2 (Causes of the Revolutionary War). In writing and researching we are also practicing the skills needed in reading nonfiction and making features of  nonfiction text. For example, students practiced finding cause and effect relationships and signal words in texts and following this read about the French and Indian Wars and were required to make a cause and effect flow chart to summarize it.

A hurdle that I find with teaching the Revolutionary War, especially with younger students, is that taxes and the concept of “taxation without representation” does not have any emotional connection with them. Clearly the colonists felt about this passionately enough to take up  arms and lay down their lives for the cause. We can tell the students the why, but they can’t feel the why. This is also true when we we read about the African American experience under Jim Crow. We can recognize the injustice but cannot inhabit the injustice.

Gandhi's grandson advised

“Use your anger for good. Anger to people is like gas to the automobile - it fuels you to move forward and get to a better place. Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It is an energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust.”

To try to get students to connect with their ancestors, we did a historical simulation in 311. Mr. A came to class and presented to the students that due to a budgetary freeze and an increase in vandalism, students would need to start paying for the use of the bathroom, nurse and chromebooks.

The students reaction was uncanny in how much it almost exactly mirrored what happened when the colonies were taxed by the British.

5/18 of the class were fine with the plan and  were quite ready to pay. They offered up the rationale that toilet paper, band-aids and electricity all cost money and need to be paid for. In the Revolutionary War ⅓ of colonists (6/18) were loyalists and supported Britain.

This was not true for the remaining 6/18 of the class, where anger and injustice burnt fiercely. In truth, it would have been easy to stop the simulation here, but then the whole purpose of the lesson would have been lost. The students who were raging against the plan, began to channel their anger.

Getting together they formed reasons why it was not fair. Of note was “If we go to after school we are told that we have to wash our hands in the bathroom and we will be charged but we have no choice” [shades of taxation without representation] and “why should we have to pay for other people’s choices ? [vandalism, but equally pursuing the French and Indian War].

It was decided that these reasons would be presented to the principal along with alternative ways to raise money to pay for things. Everyone would sign it and it would be a petition.

Becoming militant they also decided that if Mr. Manning did not accept their proposal they would refuse to do school work. One student used the comparison, like Rosa Parks and the buses. This nonviolent social protest was clearly a strategy in the lead up to the Revolutionary War, with colonists refusing to buy taxed British goods.

If that did not work then students decided to quit Johnson and go to a different school, mirroring our Declaration of Independence.

Thus within an hour students had developed empathy for the colonists and reenacted all the stages of the Revolutionary War without even being aware of it. At this point students were informed that they had participated in a simulation. This lesson will now become an anchor as we move through the Revolutionary War, and we can return to it as we look at how the actions of the colonists progressed.

Field Trips

As a team we do have 3 field trips in the pipeline before the end of the school year.

On May 13th we are seeing “The Man Who Planted Trees” at Stowe. There is a $5 fee for this.

On May 30th we will have the colonial experience at Shelburne Museum. This ties in with our Revolutionary war unit as well as the primary research into schools in the 1860s at the start of the year.  A form will be coming. We have also managed to get the price of this down to $5.

On June 4th, we are planning to take all the 4h graders to the Echo center. For this trip we negotiated a fee of absolutely free.

Hopefully $10 for a total of 3 major trips is seen as reasonable request.

April 12th

Dear Families

An update from Room 311!


In the last letter I mentioned an engineering task that the class was undertaking.

Your task is to make vehicle that uses a balloon as an energy source. The potential energy in the ballon will need to be transformed into kinetic energy.  This will also use Newton’s First and Third Law of Motion.

Your challenge is to make a futuristic vehicle that travels in a straight line and goes as far as possible!

The class identified some significant engineering problems that needed to be addressed.

  • If the vehicle was to use wheels, how to make a wheel and axle that would freely turn

  • How to inflate the balloon when attached to the vehicle and then release the air when needed

  • How to attach a balloon to the vehicle which would increase and decrease in size.

Students drew designs and began building. After this initial session it was time for some integrated thinking. Using and combining students’ ideas and plans, a class prototype was built.

                    Distance = 19 feet

In testing, students identified design flaws. Most significantly the inflated balloon rubbed on the wheels. If Newton’s First Law says that an object in motion will continue moving in the same direction and at the same speed unless acted upon by a force (or having its kinetic energy transformed or transferred), then the friction/heat energy of the rubbing stopped motion. In addition the wheels were not very stable.

Students then went back to work finding solutions to these flaws and testing them.

        Distance = 23 feet                                Distance = 20 feet


Of course there are always more than one solution to a problem. Violet, Emily and Lyla thought outside of the box and decided on the ballon being attached to a zipline/cable. Again, engineering prospers with integrated thinking and other groups used this idea and developed it. They key design challenge here, upon testing, was the need to reduce mass.

 Distance = 18 feet                                Distance = 27 feet

English Language Arts

Students, as mentioned in the last letter, had a choice of explorer; the First People, Vikings, Columbus, Cabot, Cartier and Hudson. Upon completing their research they then had a choice of how to demonstrate their  understanding. They had a week to select a method and complete the presentation. There was a range of of ways that students presented their knowledge, as the task was adjusted by every student to play to their strengths. 311 produced

  • A poster

  • An informational pamphlet

  • A timeline

  • Slide shows - both individual and a cooperative presentation (where groups shared the google slides so they could all work on it with their own computers)

  • A report

  • Books

Name; Dylan


The Vikings and the Discovery of America

Leif Ericson was born between  970 and 980 ad. He was born in Iceland. He was a viking. He travelled to North America in 1002.  When he traveled they only had one boat and 35 men. He traveled from Greenland. He was the first European to find North America.

Leif was exiled to Greenland. He was the son of Eric the Red. His father killed a man in Iceland. He was made to leave. He took Lief to Greenland. Greenland is a  land of ice and no trees.They wanted trees for boats.

Bjarni Herjolfsson was a viking. He saw trees on new land when he got lost in a storm. He told Leif.  Leif wanted to find the trees. He found America before Columbus.

The first place they stopped had many flat rocks.  They called that place “Land of Flat Stones”. This was Baffin Island in Canada.


There were no trees so they went south and found trees. They called it Woodland. We call it Newfoundland.

The vikings stayed in North America for a short time.They did not stay long in North America because they fought with the native people and finally left.

Unfortunately a printed newsletter is unable to showcase animated slideshows…

Field Trip

On Monday, May 13th the 4th grade is going to Spruce Performing Arts Center to see a performance of The Man Who Planted Trees. The show is an ecologically inspired tale of a French shepherd sets out to plant a forest and transform a barren wasteland, acorn by acorn. The themes are the difference one person can make to the world and also the need to protect our environment. Performed by the “Puppet State Theater Company” from Scotland, the show has been  touring for eleven years. Reviews are very positive. I know teachers in the US and UK alike who have recommended it. The press is positive too;

“It is very, very rare to find something that appeals as effortlessly to children and adults as this magical show,”  the Scotsman.

Thanks to an ongoing collaboration with the Flynn Theater and their continued generosity, we received half-price tickets. As such we can fund the trip for $5 a person.  


Nick Lodge

                                                   March 25th
     Dear Families,

Between report cards, conferences and this week’s progress reports, as well as the never-ending Vermont winter, it’s all been a bit full throttle. Let’s take the opportunity to catch up with what is happening in  311.


We are currently engaged in geometry. Geometry is a little heavy on vocabulary, as students learned when we rattled through lines, line segments, rays, points, intersecting lines, perpendicular lines, intersecting lines, acute, obtuse, right, straight and reflex angles. Crikey! And we haven't even started on the polygons yet…

Students have measured and drawn angles using homemade protractors and the ones we all remember (and love?) from our own school days. Kudos to Lyla (above) who went beyond and determined the internal angles of all triangles by drawing and measuring a variety of triangles.

This week was devoted to area and perimeter. This was practiced through a series of differentiated activities whereby some students practiced on basic quadrilaterals while others moved on to problem-solving the areas of  triangles and trapezoids.


We have moved into non-fiction reading and writing. Students have been practicing close-reading. In this I have given them poems which they have to read a number of times to uncover deeper meanings. They can then make claims about the poem and support the claims with evidence and quotations from the text.

As an example, below is a favorite poem that considers a universal experience of feeling isolated and excluded in school. On the right hand side is a the analysis that students made of the two central characters having done close-reading of the poem.  

Titch Miller by Wendy Cope

Ticth Miller wore glasses

with elastoplast-pink frames

and had one foot three sizes larger than the other.

When they picked teams for outdoor games

she and I were always the last two

left standing by the wire-mesh fence.

We avoided one another's eyes

stooping, perhaps, to re-tie a shoe-lace

or affecting interest in the flight

of some fortunate bird, and pretended

not to hear the urgent conference:

'Have Tubby!' 'No, no, have Tich!'

Usually they chose me, the lesser dud

and she lolloped, unselected,

to the back of the other team.

At eleven we went to different schools.

In time I learned to get my own back,

sneering at hockey players who couldn't spell.

Tich died when she was twelve.

Titch Miller

Titch is a girl as the text says ‘she lolloped ”.  She wears unattractive glasses and has “one foot three sizes larger than the other.” This means she cannot run well. She lollops. She is not very popular. She is not good at sports. In the poem she is doing PE outside. She is younger than eleven. She and Tubby are the last ones to be picked. Tubby is picked before her so nobody wants Titch. She is introverted. She does not stand up for herself. She is also reserved. When she is eleven she goes to a different school. She dies when she is twelve.


I in the poem is Tubby. Tubby is the author. The author is Wendy Cope. Tubby is a girl. The name is a nickname. Tubby means a little bit fat. Tubby is also not very popular. Tubby is also not good at sports but not quite as bad as Titch. She is second last to be picked for teams in PE. She is the “lesser dud”. The effect of feeling excluded and not wanted is that she becomes vindictive. When she goes to a new school she gets her “own back, sneering at hockey players who couldn’t spell.”

In addition students are researching the early explorers of the American continent. This will lead to a mini-report where they will have a choice of how they present their acquired information. Students also had choice of explorer; the First People, Vikings, Columbus, Cabot, Cartier and Hudson.

We continue to explore the sture of words via syllabication


Vowel Consonant E


Consonant L E

R Controlled

  • One vowel

  • Vowel followed by 1 or more consonants (closed in)

  • Vowel is short

cup, it, pest

  • One vowel- then one consonant- then an e

  • First vowel is long

  • E is silent

mile, male, hope

  • One vowel that is the last letter in the syllable

  • Vowel is long

hi, no, flu

  • Last syllable of a word

  • E is silent


  • One vowel followed by an r

  • Vowel is not short or is controlled by the r

car, (hor)(net)


Fer, fir, fur

All sound the same

spelling options

With syllabic understanding words can be spelled through logic rather than memory. Spelling becomes predictable and conversely words can be better decoded for reading. To the left are a selection of words recently spelled that demanded no studying.


In studying energy and the notion of the conservation of energy and in studying motion amd forces, a student asked if they could make slingshots or catapults. They would, I reasoned, demonstrate Newton’s Third Law of Motion (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) as well as potential energy transforming into kinetic energy AND Newton’s First Law (an object in motion will continue in the same direction and at the same speed unless another force acts upon it or energy is transformed/transferred). As such the request became an engineering task!

This week they were engaged in a more complex engineering challenge.

Zoom To Your Future- engineering challenge

It is the year 2058! The world used to depend on oil to power its cars, boats and planes. However, the oil was a limited resource and and it finally run out. Humanity needed to find other sources of energy to power it’s vehicles…

You are now 50 years old! Your task is to make vehicle that uses a balloon as an energy source. The potential energy in the ballon will need to be transformed into kinetic energy.  This will also use Newton’s First and Third Law of Motion.

Your challenge is to make a futuristic vehicle that travels in a straight line and goes as far as possible!

I am hoping that this letter gives you a better idea of at least some of what your student is doing in 311. In truth, having put the pressure on the students each morning in Beat the Teacher, the tables are being turned. Students are now starting to put the questions to the teacher. Tonight I need to muse over Estes’s riddle of

“on my side I am everything but cut me in half and I am nothing”.

Such being the case I better end this and start some musing….


Nick Lodge

Alfa and Bravo have to completely swap sides with Charlie and Delta in a class problem-solving challenge.


   February 20th        

Dear Families,


We are investigating energy and forces. Part of this is applying the engineering process to the scientific method. In science we ask testable questions such as

“If you increase the amount of magnets, will you also increase the amount of magnetic energy?”

To answer this, a valid test has to be designed that can collect data.  The data can be used to answer the question (claim and evidence). Such was a recent task for the students who were successful in designing a variety of tests and thus convincingly determined that, yes,  if you increase the amount of magnets, you will also increase the amount of magnetic energy. This is a further illustration of the conservation of energy -  energy cannot be created or destroyed; only transformed into a different form ot transferred to another object.

Number of magnets




Distance from which the paper clip was attracted

2 cm

2 ½ cm

3 cm

Casey, Patrick

Number of magnets





Number of paperclips held





Chase, Carter, Dylan

Number of magnets







Number of cardboard strips the energy went through







Estes, Ripley, Jaden

We then focused on potential energy and kinetic energy. Whereas in previous years ramps were made from rulers and dictionaries and marbles were rolled, this year the Echo Center lent us some splendid equipment. It was like going from driving a 1997 Rav 4 to a brand new Bentley. With these ramps speed, the effect of mass, the transfer of energy....could be investigated in luxury and taken further than the former DIY equipment. Indeed the culminating roller coaster challenge has never been possible before.

English Language Arts

Fiction has come to an end. In reading students have been reading novels and in writing they have been constructing their own stories. As an example we present

The Haunted House By Hailey Brown

“MIA?”, My mother yelled.

“YES?”, I answered.

“Go look for your sister okay?” My mom said.

“UGH FINE!” I replied in a rude tone while rolling my eyes.

I was very selfish at that point of life… I was 15 years old and only cared about myself and my phone.

I walked around “looking” for my sister then my phone dinged. Ding! Ding! So I texted back while walking… I didn’t pay attention and I walked into a weird house without even noticing. Then I looked up from my phone and… AHH!

I ran really fast because…

THE DARN HOUSE IS HAUNTED !The lights they would flicker! The silence was so loud! It smelled like a dead fish to me. It was very dark too! So I used my flashlight on my phone. After a few minutes I thought about calling my mom but as soon as I  went on my message app MY PHONE RAN OUT OF BATTERY! I could barely see anymore so CRASH! I ran into a wall! I rubbed my head forgetting about the HAUNTED HOUSE  I turned around and there was a *%$# zombie and it started to chase me!It looked hideous! I kicked it! It felt weird so I also felt vomit coming up my throat. It tasted gross when it came out… After I ran a little faster so i lost my breath and panicked

I took a breath and ran as fast as the Flash! For some reason I heard my sister’s voice as if she was inside …  It was strange. It echoed and I got more scared so I started to run faster because I thought the ghosts and stuff were trying to lure me there. I freaked out

I hid somewhere safe!

“I'm gonna be okay!”I thought

My sister’s voice kept getting louder and louder AND LOUDER!

She was saying “wheres my sister and mommy waaaaaa!” she sounded scared...lost… lonely


A few minutes later I managed to get out of my hiding place

I ran as fast as the Flash again!

I got out to the carnaval… WAIT

IT WAS JUST PART OF THE CARNAVAL! It smelled like cotton candy and a BBQ mixed. I must've  hit my forehead so hard I was being so dumb!

I forgot I was at a carnival. My little sister ran out of the haunted house ride  looking scared and squeezed me

So we walked back to our mother and  we moved on with our day!

We ate cotton candy that tasted soooo good. Afterward, my sister smelled like cotton candy  it got all over her! We all laughed “HAHAHAHA!”

We went on the ferris wheel and the view was beautiful.

“Wow” said my sister

“I wove da view!”

I chuckled  “hee hee!”

“LEAH! Its dinner time!” Leah’s mom shouted up the stairs.

“Coming mommy!” Leah replied.

The little girl put away her dolls “Don’t worry mia i'll be right back!” She  ran down stairs and ate her food.

                                                            THE END!!

After vacation, non-fiction will be the focus of both reading and writing.


With the standard algorithm for addition secured by the class, we spent some time working with the more complex algorithm for subtraction. There was a significant range of exposure and proficiency is pre-assessments and so class was heavily differentiated as students worked towards mastery. Those who demonstrated proficiency earlier worked with money - keeping track of the change collected by the class for the Big Change Round- Up, balancing checkbooks and bank accounts and working with converting measurements.

In terms of how much 311 has raised for the Vermont Children’s Hospital, we can proudly say that $302.97 (as of our last count)  will be helping the children of Vermont due to the community’s generosity. This was our last count and there is a lot of change in our jar that has yet to be accounted for.

Certainly, a goal for the class at the start of the year was to create a safe and supportive community. A recent activity in Morning Meeting gave the class an opportunity to literally support one another (see attached photos). This support can also be seen in the academic realm where students peer review one another’s stories, help a fellow student understand how to multiply by a certain factor, or help develop a test in science. It can also be seem socially where students selflessly give their Friday raffle drawing away to somebody else, including one another in games, and giving honest feedback in social situations.

311 - supports each other!

Parent Conferences

A reminder about  Parent Conferences on Wednesday, March 20. Plenty are still available! If you would like a conference you can either put your name on the chart below and sent the page back, or call or email me. I have attached names to slots that have been filled, as both a reminder, a confirmation, or, for anyone who said anytime, a way to avoid playing phone tag. I will send it out again in the next parent letter.



















Until March….

Nick Lodge


 February 5, 2019


We have completed a unit on fractions. Below is our class graph that shows growth. The first column is the pre assessment for unit 3, while the second (black) represents the post assessment. As you can see there was significant growth. The final column represents the post assessment on fractions in unit 7. As  a class we went deeper and further than was required. As such, I thought I would give the later assessment, believing that many were already ready for it. They proved that they were in many cases.

We are now working with addition, subtraction, rounding, place value and measurement. In this unit we will need to compare numbers using inequality signs (<,>,=). It is clearly very tempting

to accessorize these symbols with googly eyes, fearsome fangs and perhaps even a little fire breathing. If you are ever in the neighborhood, I would encourage you to read Violet, Lyla and Emily’s book inspired by my exasperated cries of, “Please, please no more eyebrows and bowties...”  I suspect that “The Inequality Monster” is destined to become a classic of

children’s literature. Kudos to the authors!


In science we are have embarked on an exploration of energy. The concept of energy is somewhat difficult to precisely define, so we are using

Energy – the movement of particles/ the ability cause motion or cause a change to happen or do work. Some examples of energy are hydro energy, electrical energy, magnetic energy, heat energy, light energy.

The big idea that we will keep circling back to is the conservation of energy - energy can never be created or destroyed; it can be changed into a different form, or transferred from one object to another.

We began with lighting bulbs with batteries (potential energy to kinetic energy to heat and light) and determining if increased potential energy results in increased light energy. Using magnets we then furthered the idea by asking the testable question “If you increase the number of magnets, will you also increase the amount of magnetic energy?”. This extension required students to design a test that could answer the question. Their claim had to be supported by evidence. From here we will use ramps and tracks to investigate questions such as

  • What variables affect the speed of the ball?

  • Does increased potential energy transform into increased kinetic energy?

  • Does the mass of a ball affect how much potential and kinetic energy a ball has has?

  • Can kinetic energy be transferred into a stationary object (or objects)?

An engineering task is also in the pipeline that will allow students to consider Newton’s Laws of Motion.


On Thursday the 14th we will recognize Valentine’s Day, with a clear focus on friendship. As we have done in the past, the fourth grade classes will be having an ice cream social. The teachers will supply the ice cream, bowls, and spoons for this party. If you’d be willing to send in a topping of some sort (whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, etc.), we’d greatly appreciate it! Students volunteered for certain items, but please don’t sweat it if it doesn’t happen. Thanks in advance for any donations!

In addition, your child is welcome to bring in Valentines to hand out to his or her classmates during the party. We just ask that you ensure there is one for each person in the class. Below you’ll find a list of the names of everyone in our classroom community:







Parent Conferences

After February break, second trimester report cards will be sent out. This year we are also scheduling parent conferences on Wednesday, March 20. A little early I know, but if you would like a conference you can either put your name on the chart below and sent the page back, or call or email me. I will send it out again in the next parent letters.
















Grade 4 is required to take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Students will either be tested in maths or English language arts and the test is taken on Department of Education devices. The test is run by outside assessors who work for the Department of Education. I will be in the room whilst testing. We have been scheduled to do this on Monday morning (February 11).

Here is the overview from the the official NAEP website (

“The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only assessment that measures what U.S. students know and can do in various subjects across the nation, states, and in some urban districts. Also known as The Nation’s Report Card, NAEP has provided important information about how students are performing academically since 1969. NAEP is a congressionally mandated project administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). NAEP is given to a representative sample of students across the country. Results are reported for groups of students with similar characteristics (e.g., gender, race and ethnicity, school location), not individual students. National results are available for all subjects assessed by NAEP. State and selected urban district results are available for mathematics, reading, and (in some assessment years) science and writing.”

As always feel free to call or email with any questions or comments.


Nick Lodge

 January 25, 2109

January Progress Reports

Another month, another Progress report. The January progress reports are sent home today! Last week we self-monitored for attention to precision and accuracy. As a class it became clear to the community that this is an area where we need to put increased emphasis. This will be a focus until we have strengthened this particular transferable skill.


We have been working on author’s craft so that when writing stories we can show rather than tell. As an example we worked with using figurative language, such as similes. Below is a poem that was collectively written by the class.

A School Lunch Room

The line was as long as a lion's tail, an anaconda, a Boeing 1604, a football field, a blue whale, a hundred school buses, the Great Wall of China, my future!

With  children as loud as a rooster crowing, a snoring grandpa, a four-wheeler, a bull horn, a million people clapping!

These children were hungry like pack of wild wolves.

The school cafeteria, where the floor was as slippery as banana peels, a water slide, ice,

And the lights were as bright as the sun, a million fireflies!

The cafeteria was as warm as pee, a lava lamp, a toaster lamp, a toaster oven, mercury rising, a fire, the desert!

But the food was cold like winter, snow, a popsicle, a goat in an ice block, Antarctica, frostbite!

Impatience increased! It was like waiting to open presents on Christmas morning, waiting for Fairpoint internet to connect, waiting for an old computer to load, like a baby wanting to be nursed.

Food was slopped on trays, chewy like used gum and bad like earwax!

The trays are taken to seats that were hard like rhino skin, brick, rock, concrete!

Like cymbals or a gunshot, a tray is dropped and food is spilled.

The staff, already grumpy like an old man who has lost his false teeth or t-rexes, get grumpier still.

The school lunchroom, where everyone would rather be elsewhere….

By 311   *The authors would like to note that this bears no resemblance to the JES cafeteria. Indeed the class would like to express their deepest thanks and appreciation to all the cafeteria and kitchen staff (especially Violet).

In the back pick-up challenge, congratulations to the following students who made it to the final round where only the bag’s base was left to be picked up by only using the mouth and with only the feet touching the ground. These students used the engineering design process to figure out how to be successful. Hailey and Emily requested 12of the base,  Chase and Ripley both requested 116of the base, while Estes requested 132of the base. The smaller the base the easier it was to pick up by either using inhaling or the adhesive property of tongues. Not strictly academic, but as a Morning Meeting activity it ticked the boxes of building community  and problem solving.

Head Lice

We have had cases of headlice in the class. Our class conversation is that head lice is like the flu or any other virus. Nobody chooses to get it, everyone can get it, and getting it is a drag. Just like nobody thinks poorly of anyone catching a bad cold, so too nobody should think poorly of anyone catching lice. We can take precautions, whether it be washing our hands to stop passing on a cold and not sharing hats in the case of lice, and as a class we are conscious of this. Sorry for all the inconvenience if you had to deal with this situation directly. You have my sympathy, having had to deal with with my own family on a number of occasions. It’s not fun!

Vegan Workshop

I wanted to extend a extend a big thank you to Carter Whitney’s mother and the catering staff at the Johnson campus of  Northern Vermont University. They presented a taste-testing workshop on Vegan food to coincide with “Veganuary”. Students got their 5 a day for a number of days in a single class period!


January 5, 2109


Dear Families,

A very happy 2019! I wish you a peaceful new year and success in any resolutions that you may have made as you toasted the ball dropping.

Welcome Back - Re-establishing Community

Having been off school for almost two weeks, we started the new year with re-establishing community with some physical problem solving.

Safely transport one member of the class above the ground from A to B.

  • You can only use the contents of the tub for props.

  • If you are supporting the person’s weight you cannot move.

  • Every member of the class has to be involved.

Props can often become the total focus as the means to solve a problem. The class quickly dismissed the need for any props arguing that there were more efficient and safer solutions that did not require them. They also recognized that everyone has different strengths and in this case Abby’s size could be used to the class’s advantage.  Three solutions were developed and tested, all of which met with success success with only minor tweaking in the design process.



Coming Soon to 311

I thought I would give you a “trailer” for what is coming to 311 in the next few weeks. Then, if your resolution, was to have your student not just say  “nothing” when asked what they did at school that day, these can be some prompts!

Maths; We are finishing our fraction unit. Students have worked in 3 different models; arae, set and number lines. With these areas they have worked with addition and subtraction of fractions, creating equivalent fractions, comparing fractions, calculating a fraction of a set, ordering fractions, and converting improper fractions to mixed numbers and vice versa. This week we have seen how equivalent fractions can be made by multiplying by 1 and we are moving onto to linking fractions and decimals. Following the post assessment, the next unit will be addition, subtraction and measurement.

Writing; We are continuing with our narrative unit. We are looking at stories with twist/O Henry endings and planning stories within this genre. In addition we are considering how stories need to be shown and not told. As such we looking at author’s craft. For example

                                             I walked in the forest at night

Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives describe nouns (person, place or thing)

How many? What kind? Which one?

Adverbs describe verbs (action or linking)

How? When? Where?...the action happens

I nervously walked in the dark pine forest at night

Figurative Language

Sounds; Onomatopoeia, Alliteration

Imagery: Similes, Metaphors, Personification (compares two things) Symbols

I nervously walked in the dark pine forest at night, which was as black as ink. Dead leaves crunched beneath my feet.

Word Choice

Use the best word

I nervously stumbled in the dark pine forest at night, which was as black as ink. Dead leaves crunched beneath my feet.

Use all the senses

What do you see?

What do you     smell?

What do you hear?

What do you feel?

What do you taste?


The author’s craft we spoke of above will cross over into reading when students do ‘close reading’ of texts to find examples of the craft. Students are also in groups, determined by reading level, and reading novels. The novels have been selected based theme and deeping student’s understanding of the world in which we live; the history of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the US (“Abby Takes A Stand”, “Mississippi Bridge”, “Song of the Trees”), the effect of war on a population (“Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”), the history of cinema (“The Invention of Hugo Cabret”), the experience of migrant workers (“The Lost Road”, “La Mariposa”)...


We will continue to look at spelling as  predictable where if you understand syllables, then you can spell words using logic rather than memorizing a string of letters. Indeed, the spellings of nearly 50 percent of English words are predictable based on sound-letter correspondences that can be taught, and another 34 percent of words are predictable except for one sound. We will look at the exceptions to the closed, vowel-consonant-e and open syllable and then move on to consonant-l-e syllables.

Global Citizenship;

Before vacation we considered how the geography of a place is a causal factor for the history of its people. This was illustrated by looking at the Vikings and then the economic history of Vermont from 1760 to the present day.

We are currently looking at world geography. Students did a pre assessment which placed them in the following sequence; continents and oceans, compass and relative location, climate zones, absolute location, scale. This will conclude with looking at primary source maps from different  points in history to determine the knowledge and world-view of the people.

And from!

Recess and Colder Temperatures

We are planning to let students go out to recess at slightly colder temperatures. We discussed this as a class and most students were glad to have less inside recesses. We also discussed that for this to happen it will essential for them to have coats, hats, gloves and boots. I am only too willing to be the nagging, spare-me-please-what-is-so-bad-about-below-freezing? old adult around this, but I would also certainly appreciate you also reinforcing your expectations about winter wear

This “short” letter has grown somewhat from what was originally planned. This often seems to be the case! As always please feel free to contact me at any time and for any reason.


Nick Lodge

 December 14, 2018

Welcome Back

Room 311 (home of the wizards) would like to welcome Patrick back to Johnson. Originally slated to be part of the class, his cubby and coat rack had been picked out, but he moved away before the start of the school year. Luckily we never sold them, and they have been waiting for him all this time. They can now be used by their rightful owner. Being now 18 in number, we also can finally field equal intraclass teams….


Students spent the afternoons last week working with the engineering design process. As background knowledge, the advantages and disadvantages of hydropower were considered. (Sixty percent of the electricity that Vermont Electric Coop in Johnson supplies comes from hydropower, with nuclear and wind in second and third place and both less than 20%. I personally did not realize it to be so high, so thought I would pass that on…). Armed with some knowledge of turbines, students were presented with the following problem;

Trafford Falls

The town of Trafford is located at the top of a waterfall called Trafford Falls. Every week a boat arrives at the base of the waterfall and unloads supplies for the town. These supplies of turnips and and carrots then have to be transported to the top of the waterfall and the town. As it is a long trip to follow the winding path, the town decides to use hydropower. They will build a turbine/water wheel and use the power of the falling water to pull the supplies straight up.  Design a turbine/water wheel that will pull up the heaviest weight possible. Think about the size of bottle, the shape of the blades and the number of blades.

Students then had to sketch initial designs using the materials available, form groups, construct prototypes, test them, identify ways to improve the design, rebuild and retest. Each group demonstrated the design process and via persistence and communication were successful in the task.


Winter Wear

It certainly has not escaped your or my notice that it is wintery out there, although it often does seem to escape the students’. Recess finds the teachers and recess supervisors having repeated conversations (let’s be honest here...nagging) with students about the need to wear winter boots in the snow, and no a sweatshirt is NOT in fact a coat, and fingers and ears will get very, very, very cold if you don’t put on your hats and gloves. If you could possibly reinforce with your students your expectations that they wear the winter gear you send them to school with out to recess and to the bus, well that would be much appreciated.


We are currently engaged with working with fractions. We began with the concept of one whole. All students, except one, were adamant that they would rather have a whole candy bar rather than half a candy bar. The ‘except one’ reasoned that it would depend on whether the one wholes were the same size. Indeed, whilst everyone got a whole mini-KitKat, she got half of a king size.

We then began to use models to understand fractional concepts.

Because many of the class are visual learners we began with the area model, beginning with pulling out the cuisenaire rods. From here we drew our own models.  Note that we are not using ‘pizzas’/circles as these are too hard to break into equal parts. Rather we are using rectangles split vertically. Students used these area models to explore adding fractions, changing improper fractions to mixed numbers and vice versa, finding equivalent fractions, and subtracting from mixed numbers. Being a flexible model, like the arrays in multiplication, they can also be used to solve the multiplication of fractions, fractions divided by another fraction and adding fractions with unlike denominators. These latter concepts are beyond grade four expectations, but certainly were available for any student ready for them.

We are now seeing the set model where our one whole is a set of elements. Hence we can ask, what is 12of 12, or what is 34of 16? Here we have linked the concept to investigations and problems such as fair share of sandwiches, Ms. Thistlebottom’s Garden, and splitting a cake fractionally but with equal perimeter (as that is where all the whipped cream is).


Writing has turned its attention to narrative writing. This will have a focus on using figurative language (alliteration, onomatopoeia, similes, metaphor, personification…), detail (sensory detail, dialogue, adverbs…) as well as plot.

In spelling we are focusing on syllabication. There are six types of syllable in the English language and all words are made up of them. If we understand syllables, we can both deconstruct and construct words with logic rather than memorization.

I wish you peace and comfort this holiday season. Thank you for your support and your students, who I enjoy tremendously.

                                                                                                 November 27

A Song of Thanksgiving

It is all too easy to focus on the negative and not take stock and appreciate what we have. Last week was Thanksgiving and in that spirit I wanted to offer a poem that was collectively written from the class.

A song of thanksgiving to planet Earth for giving us life,

For letting me have a place to breathe

For the memory of people.

The moon  and sun

But what happened to our earth?  

People are littering and that is not good!

Come on people, we need this world.   

A dance of thanksgiving to my country for keeping us safe,  

For having a lot of good people,

For  freedom and equality,

The trees that gives us the air to live

The army for protecting us from war,

Social security for when you lose your job and times are hard.

A poem of thanksgiving  to my community for a home, my school, the fire department

The church that teaches me about how to love everybody,

For tools; wrenches, pliers, air compressors.

Tools for fixing cars and sewing machines, tractors and trains, guns and faucets.

For having PURE good people,

A picture of thanksgiving to my family because they care about me and they give me clothes and food,  

So I can have a place to stay and help me through depression.

For loving me and taking me through bad time,

For the love that makes me happy

A play of thanksgiving to myself for feeling the breeze through the cool fall air,

For loving my family and friends,

For being a beautiful person

For being me for while most can walk not all of us can see it in our heads and build it. A sometimes engineer….

My dyslexia,

For the eyes that my daddy says are beautiful and let me see the world

A song of thanksgiving for everyone.

We must all live in peace. XOXO



The class has completed the unit on multi-digit multiplication and early dvison. As a class growth mindset was certainly demonstrated.

We are now moving onto fractions.

Dear Families,

The Brothers Rodriguez

In case you missed it in the Jaguar Journal....

Environmental Lessons for Students…. Now Taught By Students

Four Winds has been a long-running and valuable volunteer-led program that Johnson Elementary has been fortunate to have. Countless students have increased their knowledge of the environment and the natural world because of it.

This year Room 311, is welcoming it’s first student instructor. Grady Rodriguez, grade 6, is attending the Four Winds trainings this year and then leading class lessons, instruction and activities in Mr. Lodge’s Fourth Grade class. Research into the  protégé effect demonstrates that we learn information better when we teach, or intend to teach it to others, than when we learn it just for ourselves. Certainly Grady’s lesson on spiders was comprehensive and the class enjoyed having a teacher who was a contemporary. We would like to thank Grady for all the work he put into arachnids and we are already looking forward to our next lesson.

Not to be outdone, the following week Estes presented a slideshow on dyslexia to the team and conducted a question and answer forum. Combining information and comedy, students and adults alike left with greater understanding about something that is shared by 1 in 5 people. Estes proved himself to be an invaluable resource and a voice for many!

Thanks to both brothers Rodriguez!


By the close of grade four, students have the expectation that they can multiply a 4 digit by a 1 digit number

(6 x 2,435) and be able to perform double digit multiplication (65 x 45).  As a class most students are doing this by using an area model. We are not teaching the standard algorithm that we may be used to from our schooling. To illustrate what this looks like, students began by physically building arrays of multiplication expressions. Here is 11 x 11;

Note that we now have four parts;

10 x 10 = 100

10 x 1 = 10

1 x 10 = 1

1 x 1 = 1

Thus, 11 x 11 = 121

This model can then then be abstracted and represented. Let’s see how Layla solved 24 x 35

This is a very concrete model where students understand each step and can visually see the answer. It is also very flexible. Once students are exposed to the model they can adapt the model for any question. Without being taught how to, Emily went beyond 2 digit by 2 digit, which is the grade 4 requirement.

Students have also been multiplying the likes of

44 x 88 ½

456 x 345

All of these can be solved by adapting the structure of the area model. As such, it can be a lot more user friendly than the standard algorithm and  errors can be easily spotted and isolated. I find that with my own personal maths, I default to this strategy!

It’s a reading wrap! Class film!

For the past few reading classes we have been looking at the author’s craft of narrative point of view; first person, third person limited and third person omniscient. Caleb noted, to help our understanding,  how in Minecraft you can play in different modes; either seeing the character you are controlling or seeing through the character's eyes. Taking this to the next level we made a class film where the same story was filmed three ways to demonstrate each of the narrative styles. The film anchored understanding and students performed well on exit assessments. Thanks to the developers of i-movie!

Traditionally classes have picked class names based on alliteration (e.g. Wheeler's Wiggly Waffles). As a class we have introduced symbols in books and society.  The previous class novel, Tiger Rising, was rich in symbols. Due to this we decided as a class to select a class name based on a symbol rather than alliteration. Students submitted symbols and what they represented, and then the class voted, and then did a final run-off vote. We are now 311 Wizards, as the letter banner proclaims.  Why wizards? What does it symbolize?



And from further research…..

Wizards are very individual - don’t judge others

Wizards love to learn and have an insatiable curiosity

Wizards believe nothing is impossible.

Wizards love nature.

Wizards are in charge of their own lives.

Wizards are very creative.

Wizards are highly adaptable. They can handle change

                                                                                              Secrets of the Serpent;  myths and magic


Students have been working through a series of science stations that explore causes of weathering and erosion, namely glaciers, temperature change, flowing water, acid rain and wind.


Thanks for all the contributions to the harvest party and for the empty soda bottles! Report cards will be coming out at the end of the month, so be on the look-out for those.


 October 19    
    Parent Conference Sign-Up

At Open House, many of you signed up for conferences. We still have plenty of openings, so if you have yet to secure a time, here are all of the available times, as of writing. If you would like a slot, let me know with a call or a note and I will put you in schedule.

Wed. Dec 5

Thurs. Dec 6



Abbegail Ferriman


Dylan Whitehill


Layla Hoffmann



Lyla Blanchard


Carter Voyer



Hailey Brown



Chase Hill



Estes R.







Emily Stearns



In a recent writing activity, the class tried their hands at list poetry.  Please enjoy the following small selection;

Gross Toppings for Pizza

My brother’s stinky socks

A used mop

My mom’s underwear

Or a bear

A moldy rat

Or my brothers bat

NOT my dads tv remote

NOT a dead goat

NOT  my dogs toy

Or a gross old boy

NOT even a dove




Things I Can Find Under My Brother’s Bed

My brother’s  dirty underwear.

A dead bird, half eaten by my cat.

His stinky,  really stinky socks.

Ramen noodle bowls.

Plates of ramen noodles.

He likes ramen noodles.

His Xbox One.

The shirts he blows his nose in.

Did I tell you that we have bunk beds?

And he sleeps on top...


A Carpenter's Toolbelt

Screw guns


Tape measure and square


Saw and Sheetrock knife

Paintbrush and sander

Wagon hammer and level.  


Having used primary and secondary sources to research schooling in Vermont in the 1860s as well as the use of corporal punishment, we are now moving into opinion writing. Students will have a choice of writing about the use of corporal punishment or whether school is better today than the nineteenth century.


Last week we welcomed Chris and the Echo Center to the classroom, as we entered our engineering partnership with the students. Having learned about sturgeon in Lake Champlain, students had to engineer a claw that could pick up sturgeon and move them over a dam so that they could lay eggs. Following the task we learned about fish ladders, elevators and canons that can be used to help this endangered species. This was an introductory activity for a science unit we started this week based on the theme of water.


All Green Mountaineer students are working with the Echo grant this year, as well as Kindergarten. Expect an engineering evening in the spring and a field trip to the center.


Students have completed a mini unit on measurement (linear, mass/weight and volume/capacity) in which they compared both metric and customary units in hands-on stations. Metric is worthy of inclusion as it is the standard unit for science and has been adopted as the official system of weights and measures by all nations in the world, except for Myanmar, Liberia and the United States.

Growth mindset is a goal in class. Students are encouraged to be active learners and engage with the habits of mind so that they can have a growth mindset and be lifelong learners. To encourage this, as well as to collect data, students have a learning target each week and self-monitor for this. If both they and I are in agreement that they met the target for the day, then they receive a Team Appreciation Ticket.

This for example is last week’s….

This week’s focus and rubric   

Informed and Integrative Thinking

  1. I learn from past experiences. Example;  knowing that morning work is due on Friday, I start it early so that I have time to complete it. Example; knowing that I have a hard time working sitting next to a friend I move to do my work. Example, knowing that if I don’t pay attention the work is harder, I pay attention to make it easier.

  2. I use use what I have already learned and know to solve new problems and challenges. Example; I can use traits to discuss somebody’s character accurately band with examples.

In maths, students have completed their post-unit assessments in models of multiplication and division. As well as looking at levels of proficiency, we also paid attention to how much growth each student made. This is reflective of growth mindset, and the class certainly did demonstrate this.  

October 4

With the first of the monthly progress reports sent out and Open House concluded, the new 311 is properly established and rolling forward into fall.  It would appear to be time for a catch up!


We are nearing the end of our unit on models of multiplication and division. By the end of grade 4 students are expected to be able to multiply a line digit number by a 4 digit number and a two digit by a two digit number. As the numbers get bigger, students are moving away from models such as repeated addition, skip counting and making groups and sets. Instead they are seeing the value of ratio tables, decomposition and arrays.

For example for 9 x 12

array model with decomposition

ratio table

Groups of 12







120 - 12 = 108

We have also been using these models and the associative property of multiplication (it doesn’t matter the order you multiply factors) to move from 2 x 2, to 20 x 2, to 20 x 20 and 200 x 20.  Prime and composite numbers, an introduction to algebra, division, measurement, word problems have also been put into the mix.

English Language Arts

We have been doing some formal grammar in writing and all students have demonstrated that they understand the 5 criteria for sentences; beginning capitalization, end-punctuation, subject, verb (either action or linking), and making sense. Clearly understanding the criteria doesn’t always translate into writing perfect sentences all the time... They have been practicing and will continue to do so. Let’s showcase some of their recent work right here and right now;


There once was a snail.  He wanted to be the fastest of them all!  So every day he raced with the human beans.

He kept on losing but he never gave up!

So one day he went to the park and there was this weird human. He was kind of weird looking! All humans look weird to snails.

The snail looked up at the human and the human looked down. Then magically…

Puff... like that the human swapped places with the snail!

Somehow he turned into that weird human, and the human turned into a snail!

Then the snail (that used to be a human) said, “hey you! How come I am a snail?”

Then the human (that used to be the snail) said, ”I don't know. Why are you a snail?”

The snail (that used to be a human) said, ”somehow you put me here!” and BANG! He walked right into a tree.

The human (that used to be a snail) started laughing but the other guy didn't care.

The next day the human (that used to be a snail) won a race! But he didn't feel right.

So afterwards the human want to the park.

There he met the snail.  He said to the snail (that used to be a human) “do you want to switch back?”

The human ageed.

Puff...they switched back and they were happy.

The theme is be happy with who you are!

                                                                 Lyla Blanchard.

There were once 3 kids.

One kid wanted to go to a forge. The two other kids laughed and laughed. You'll never be a blacksmith !!!

The second kid wanted to be a famous poet. The kids said what do you mean a famous poet you can't even write normally !!!

The third kid wanted to be a famous soccer player. The kids laughed it up for the final time. A soccer player who doesn't even know what a soccer ball is !!!

The first kid who wanted to be a blacksmith didn't work out so well.  He tried to make a knife. His hand got cut off! And then he was like I can't forge with only one hand.

The second kid who wanted to be a famous poet never learned his words. Do you know how to write?  I should just be a cashier he said.

The third kid who wanted to be a famous soccer player... Well it came true ! He played 24/7 and he became the one and only Neymar ! Neymar, the best soccer player from Brazil!

Persit! Don't give up!

                                                             Estes Rodriguez

Addition and Subtraction Poems





Big brother+laryngitis=peaceful                      

 cookie+mouth=cookie gone

In reading students are doing genre studies, so far having read realistic fiction and fantasy. Whilst reading, they are also identifying elements of fiction such as character, setting, problem and solution, and theme. This week we are expanding our understanding of character by widening our vocabulary tool box by becoming familiar with a range of traits.

Science/Global Citizenship

Science focused on claims and evidence. Having practiced on picture mysteries, students worked on properties of  matter. They measured mass, calculated volume, recorded hardness by scratch/smear tests, and assessed states of matter. From here they were presented with 5 white powders and had to test them for chemical properties. Once this baseline data was gathered, they could then test mystery powders and use their data to figure out what the powders were.

Does it FIZZ in baking soda water?

Does it FIZZ in vinegar?

Does it go black with iodine?

If you heat it, does the solid turn to liquid?

Mystery powder E





Powder E has to be baking soda & sugar and cornstarch



Baking soda fizzes with vinegar.

Corn Starch turns black with iodine.

Sugar melts from fire.

Salt maybe?                          

These are the powders in E


Global citizenship has introduced students to history as a series of causes and effects, where claims are made by studying primary and secondary sources. All students have demonstrated that they can identify what are primary and what are secondary, and have had the opportunity to work with 100-200 year old artifacts, trying to figure out their purpose. They are now researching what Vermont schooling  was like in the 1860s using primary sources, as well as corporal punishment and the philosophy of punishment (reparation, deterrent, reform, protection, revenge). This research will then give them a choice of opinion essay that will be written in ELA.

It was great to see so many of you at Open House last night.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Heather and Grady Rodriguez in advance for offering 4 Winds to 311 this year!

September 6

In establishing the classroom society, we have now fleshed out our 311 Constitution.

...Here are the class rules and expectations. They were written as if we did not know who we would be in the class (male, Violet, short….) so that whatever rules we decided on would be good for everyone!

Respect ourselves and others,

which means treat them as if they are important because they are!

which means make them feel important because they are!

  How do we show respect?

We treat other people like we would like to be treated! Examples;  we do not blame one another, but are positive and encouraging, we are not  rude, we don’t interrupt people when they are talking, we listen to people, we include everyone, we have freedom, we have fun...

We keep ourselves and others safe!  Examples; keep hands to yourself, no jumping from chairs...   

Things are earned through good choices (respect)! Examples; team rewards, class rewards, raffle prizes….

We are fair, and also recognize that people (ourselves and others) should get what they need!

We take care of our resources. We try to improve the resources that we have and make them better. Our knowledge, skills, and abilities  are resources, so we should be active learners and we should let others be active learners.

Active Learners

We have a growth mindset. We are patient! We persist (don’t give up) so that our “not yets” can become “I did it”.

We communicate and get help when needed

  • We reread directions, anchor charts, board

  • We ask classmates as they will support you

  • We ask teachers.

We allow ourselves and others to be successful.

We extend your learning if we finish early.

We used this format of big idea and examples of what we would expect to see if this were happening, in relation to learning objectives and criteria. Students initially wrote the criteria for what they would expect to see in a chocolate chip cookie, if the cookie were a good cookie.  They then used these criteria to evaluate if the cookies that I brought in were “good cookies”or not. None of them were! Violet’s mother’s cookies, however, did score VERY well today (so thank you!). This then allows students to have more control of their learning.

For example;

Learning Objective: Students will have writing stamina

Criteria: I can write solidly for ten minutes

             I can write 4 correct sentence

             My writing has elements of style (voice and tone for example)

Students now understand what the goal is and how it will be measured.

Having established the community and begun to grow it, we have started core academics.


Our first unit is on multiplicative reasoning. An opening question revealed that the models that students were using were

a.) repeated addition

b.) skip counting and number lines

c.) sets and elements

d.) decomposition

Students came to see that the first three models were inefficient for bigger numbers. As such we introduced arrays/area models and ratio tables that will be practiced.

English Language Arts

In writing it became apparent that grammar is important in terms of clear communication. The illustrations for

Mrs. McKnight loves cooking her students and her cat and Mrs. McKnight loves cooking, her students, and her cat, made that abundantly clear. A preassessment also revealed where there was a lack of clarity about sentence structure. Due to this, we are working on some formal grammar as well as practicing this in short writes.

In reading we are working on good reading habits and building stamina for independent reading.  


Students completed their first engineering activity. In this they had to construct a way for Daphne the Duck to elevate her eggs above the reach of predators in a wetland.

A fundamental part of engineering is analysing problems in the design and using interdependent thinking. Check out Emily and Violet’s prototype;

Using this tripod design, students tried to scale it up..

They decided that the tripod design was indeed the way to go!

We then moved on to making claims and supporting them with clear evidence. This was done by analysing crime scene pictures and solving cases. Claims and evidence  will run through maths, reading, science, global citizenship and…. life.

As always, please never hesitate to contact me with any questions or feedback. I am always only a phone call or email away.

Nick Lodge (Abbey, Hailey and Emily)


 August 2018

 A summer of unseasonal heat that has baked both North America and Europe alike, is drawing to a close. School and a new academic year are nearly upon us, and the fans in the classroom are working overtime and almost winning the battle of keeping 311 cool enough to write this letter in.  Very warm (literal) greetings to both new families to grade four and returning families.

If we are yet to meet, I am your fourth grade homeroom teacher for the coming year. British by birth, from Oxford, England, I married an American and ended up in rural Vermont and have stayed put for the the past 30 years. While I am thus a flatlander, at best, I can take pride in having worked at Johnson from before the extentenson was built and now seem to often have the children of former students in class. And I still call multiplication and division, maths!

The advance of time is inescapable, and so too is change. Whilst much stays the same this year,  such as the core teachers, there are a number of changes for the Green Mountaineers. Looking at the schedule for the year will indicate some of them.






7:30 - 7:50

Arrival/Breakfast in the classroom

7:50 - 8:15

             Morning Meeting (inc. Calendar, Team Building, Beat The Teacher)

8:15 - 9:15


9:15 - 9:45






9:45 - 10:15


Tech in classroom



10:15 - 12:15


12:15 - 12:45


12:45 - 1:15


1:15 - 1:35

Number Corner/Math Fluency

1:35- 2:20

Science/Global Citizenship


Daily Classroom “Trivia” Quiz



So what are the most important things or changes in this schedule?

  • Note that the day runs a wee bit longer as we have have negotiated the bus times with the high school. This does not make the afternoon so rushed, and has been something that the teachers have been wanting for a while.

  • We now know for certain when sneakers are needed for PE (Wednesday and Friday) and when library books are due (Monday…or before if the students are finished with them).

  • Our lunch remains the late lunch of 12:45.  As such, it will be really important for students to have a decent breakfast and a sustaining snack each day so that they can survive without having to resort to eating the crayons, pencil shavings, and the contents of the recycling tub! As of press time, we will still be providing free breakfast in the classroom before 7:50. In addition we still have the grant that supplies all students with fresh fruit and vegetables for snack each day at no cost to families (if students choose to take it). Snacks from home can also be brought from home if so desired.

The set-up class may be a little different for students. Forsaking desks, we have round tables. Students will be put in teams for two weeks (Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta). The teams are then reassembled. There are are also alternate work spaces in the classroom; team extension tables, stand-up desks and solo spaces. To coincide with the two week rotation, there is a fortnightly end of the day “trivia” quiz that is played between the teams. “Trivia” allows news rounds, problem solving, critical thinking, the exposure to new concepts and the review of others...We started it last year to add a positive closing structure for the day that fostered teamwork. It was popular with the class, so it is returning this year in a refined formatt.

Students also have a variety of seating options; chairs, yoga balls, wobble chairs and standing at the stand-up desks. Negotiating within the teams about the use of these resources is part of the social curriculum. This is also the main emphasis of morning meetings in 311, where group activities such as initiative tasks, trust activities and inclusive cooperative and competitive games encourage cooperation, communication, a variety and difference of input, active participation, intrapersonal problem solving... All these skills are necessary for building a community, and the building of class community is emphasised within 311. It is the community in which learning will happen, and the community that will process and solve problems and issues when they arise.

In terms of academic learning,  as a fourth grader (and to lay out the course of study for this year) these will be some of the key areas of proficiency we will be working on for year’s end.


As determined by the Common Core, and using Bridges as an outline/framework

Practice Standards

Makes sense of problems and perseveres in solving them. Attends to precision.

Constructs viable arguments and critiques the reasoning of others. Reasons abstractly and quantitatively

Uses appropriate tools strategically; models with mathematics

Looks for and makes use of structure. Looks for and expresses regularity in repeated reasoning

Content Standards

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

Uses the 4 operations to solve problems

Gains familiarity with factors and multiples

Generates and analyzes patterns

Number and Operations Base Ten

Generalizes place value understandings for multi-digit numbers within 1,000,000

Uses place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic


Extends understanding of fraction equivalence and ordering

Builds fractions from unit fractions by applying and extending previous understandings of operations on whole numbers

Understands decimal notation for fractions (0.1=1/10) and compares decimals (0.1>0.01)

Measurement and data

Solves problems involving measurement and conversion of measurement from a larger unit to a smaller one.

Represents and interprets data

Understands the concept of angles and measures angles


Draws and identifies lines and angles: classifies shapes by properties

English Language Arts

As determined by the Common Core, and using Guided Reading and Lucy Calkins as an outline/framework


Foundational Skills

Knows and applies grade level phonics and word analysis skills

Reads grade level text with accuracy and fluency to support comprehension

Informational Text

Uses key ideas and details, text features and content vocab to deepen understanding of text,  integrates knowledge and ideas, reads range of texts varying complexity


Uses key ideas and details, craft and content vocab to deepen understanding of text,  integrates knowledge and ideas, reads range of texts varying complexity


Writing Standards

Uses writing process NARRATIVES (real or imagined)

Uses writing process opinion /Argument (point of view and support)

Uses writing process informative/explanatory (examine topic, convey ideas)

Researches to build and present knowledge/ideas

Recalls experiences or gathers info from print and digital sources

Writes routinely over extended and shorter time frames for a range of disciplines

Conventions Standards

Demonstrates conventions of English grammar, usage,  mechanics and spelling

Acquires and accurately uses grade appropriate  Vocabulary words and phrases

Science and

Global Citizenship

Practice Standards

Demonstrates an Understanding of the Concepts Covered

Engages in the Inquiry Process, Discussions, and Activities

Science is  determined by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This year grade 4 will also be working in partnership with the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.

Global Citizenship in grade 4 this year is moving to meet the standards set out by College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

This year students in grade four will again be eligible for each trimester’s academic awards; Principal’s Academic Achievement List and Principal’s Lifelong Learner Award. Expect to also see an increased number of progress reports this year!

Our weekly “Blue Jaguar Folders” will remain our means of communication (along with the phone, e-mail…). These will be stuffed with parent letters, Jaguar Journals (if you do not elect the electronic version), notifications, homework. This consolidates communication and lessens the chances of things not being seen or being lost in the darker corners of the backpack. These will go home on Fridays. Once seen and emptied, please return them to school so they can be refilled for the next week.

As the school year starts, please feel free to call me with any questions or comments. If I can alleviate any anxieties, or provide information, I am always only a phone call away. As noted at the top of the letter, 888-6760 is my school number. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible. In addition there’s also e-mail; Continue to enjoy these last long August days. I look forward to seeing you all very soon.


               Nick Lodge

Attached is a short family “getting to know you” sheet. The purpose is to kick-start our communication and individualizing learning process. It has proved to be very useful in the past. If you could take the time to complete all or some of it, I would be much obliged.


Student Name

Parent Name

Phone Number

Best time to call for non-emergencies

E-mail (for non-confidential communication)

A wish that you have for your fourth grader this year.

Things I should know about your fourth-grader (recent changes, medical, fears, concerns, strengths, weaknesses etc.)

Words that best describe your fourth-grade student

Student’s favorite music, hobbies, interests