Nick Lodge (Room 311)

Nick Lodge
Grade 4
Room 311
Contact Information

                                                                      February 23

As we arrive at February break, we can bid farewell to a strange few weeks of school, full of snow days and soaring  temperatures in the 60s,  floods and flu...I look forward to March when hopefully normal service can be resumed!

A shout out to Dorian, Samarah, Cassi, Lorelei, Bean and Sam whose hard work was on display for all to see on stage in Seussical! Broadway is beckoning in your futures!

In class we have been wrapping up units and courses of study so we can have a fresh start after town meeting.

In maths we have completed the fractions and decimals unit.  The class graph below shows student progress and growth mindset.

For the past couple of weeks we have been working with the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction, whilst also stressing attending to precision. This was driven home with reading the start of “The King’s Chessboard” where grains of rice are doubled on each subsequent square of the chessboard. Students were tasked with seeing how much of the chessboard they could calculate. Here, an earlier error in calculation renders all the rest of the work inaccurate. The 34th square was the milestone set by Cassi as she added into the billions. Similarly, students who showed early aptitude with subtraction,  were tasked with balancing a checking accounts deposits and withdrawals. Again an early mistake will result in an inaccurate balance for the rest of the task.

Students have finished fiction and novel reading, clearing the decks for non-fiction after vacation. We have also been introducing and practicing close reading of texts.

Spelling is working with the sixth and final syllable type - the diphthong (vowel team) syllable. In addition, students are ensuring that they can spell high frequency  words (doesn’t, especially..) as part of their morning work.

Today was the due date for the students’ stories in writing . As ending a story can be hard (how many novels are weakened by an unsatisfying conclusion?), we considered twist endings. They worked for O’Henry and the Twilight Zone and many members of the class decided to try this approach.

As an example, here’s the start of Tanner’s. Can you guess the twist?

The sun was rising as Bob and Jeff walked to the country school bus stop. The sun was orange but it was still cold out.  It was May.  The jocks jogged to the bus stop. They played soccer as they waited for the bus. The cheerleaders talked excitedly about their routine. The country road was woodland. It was mostly birch trees with white bark. There were ditches on the side of the road for rain and mailboxes. The birds were chirping.

Bob and Jeff had been best friends since kindergarten.

“I wonder what we are going to do in tech class” Bob said.

“I think we are coding” said jeff .

“Good i've been waiting all week for this” said Bob .

“We are coding on Zork” Jeff said.

The yellow school bus was almost there. You could smell the gasoline and hear the engine rumble .

The bus pulled up. The door opened. The students climbed up the stairs,

Drake and Justin the jocks .

The cheerleaders got on the bus, Tiffany Steph and  Lola .

Then Bob and Jeff got on, the nerds.

The bus drove off. All you could hear on the bus was talking or the bump             bump of pebbles on the dirt road. The bus driver was listening to the radio. Cage the Elephant were singing “Ain't No Rest For The Wicked”. The bus was approaching the new bridge that crossed the Sheepshole river. It had replaced the old rickety bridge that had collapsed.

The bus went over the bridge. You could hear the river flowing rapidly.                    Then suddenly the bus started to fade away. It simply vanished! It melted like ice cream!

It would be remiss not to mention the abhorrent attack in Florida. It cuts us all to the core. Each morning when you send your student to JES  you are entrusting us with their care. Neither myself or Mrs. McKnight take this care of duty lightly and the safety of your student is  is our paramount responsibility. As a school we practiced lock-down procedures with the class before the events of February 14th and had both honest and hopefully reassuring conversations with the class. The students have seen the class barricades go into effect (Bean in fact timed it), and know that being quiet and following our exact instructions is their job. Our thoughts are with Parkland and all schools across the nation.

As always, never hesitate to call or e-mail.


                                                                     Nick Lodge

  Past News  

February 1, 2108


A successful joke, it would seem, needs two components; a good punchline and good timing. The best joke falls flat without good delivery. As a British comic used to say, “It’s the way I tell ‘em”. This is also true with the telling of stories, where the best plot can become boring if not told well. This is the approach we are taking with our narrative writing. Whilst plot is important, the author’s craft of showing rather than telling is even more so. This was illustrated by our initial writing prompts where students were given 45 minutes to write a story. This exercise allowed us to see where the class were in story writing as well as using student work for later teaching examples. In sharing some of the students work, the class were pulled into Cassi’s story of a farm girl. Upon reflection, they realized that, in terms of plot, not much really happened, but it was told so well that they were drawn in.

As such, our focus of late has been learning and practicing elements of author’s craft through exercises, prompts and diagramming. Most notably we  are considering;


Alliteration: when all the words start with the same sound.

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”

Onomatopoeia: Words whose sound suggests its meaning.

“The bees buzzed.”

Specific Detail:

Adjectives (describe nouns) and adverbs (describe verbs)

Sensory details

Imagery: Creating pictures for the senses (through, e.g., similes or metaphors).

Simile: A comparison using ‘like’ or ‘as.’

“She floated in like a cloud.”

Metaphor: A figure of speech stating two things are similar.

“The book was a passport to adventure.”

Personification: Giving human qualities to ideas and things.

“Her stomach growled.”


As an example of an exercise, here is the class poem about a school cafeteria, as a way of practicing similes.

A School Lunch Room - A Simile List Poem   By 311

The line was as loooonnnng as a flagpole, a cut-down redwood, a football field times ten, a slithering snake, and the Great Wall of China

Filled with children, loud like an alarm, a roaring river, a pack of barking dogs, a herd of rhinos with iron boots, elephants honking horns, upset monkeys with no bananas, teenage girls at a Taylor Swift concert, and Times Square when the ball drops.

Their feet on a floor as slippery as wet moss, wet soap, ice in the wintertime, and a snail without its shell.

While the cafeteria is hot like your gym socks, a sauna, Florida on a summer’s night, the flaming sun, and a chinchilla in a coat  factory, the food is cold as the ice age in winter.

Chewy too, as a bunch of rubber balls, worms and old gum.

Still the children wait in line, impatient as newborn babies  wanting a bottle, old people waiting for bingo, a soccer coach, and fans at the concert wanting Billy Joel to take the stage.

They are hungry like bears looking for food after hibernating.

They get their food and shuffle to tables whose seats are as hard as diamond, rock, bricks covered in balsamic, and boulders.

A tray drops and sounds like the gunshot of a bewildered man.

All the while supervised by staff as grumpy as an old man getting up from his bed, Trump not playing golf, a wasp that had his nest poked. Perhaps they hadn’t had their coffee!

A school lunch room somewhere, but not in Johnson!


Last week students in the fourth grade have been working in combined classes on an engineering project. In designing, testing and redesigning boats that transform potential energy into kinetic energy, they have also stumbled across some major scientific ideas. For example, Bean noted that the way she wound her propeller determined the boat’s direction. This allowed us to introduce Newton’s Third Law of Motion, that states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This could be seen in student’s subsequent tests. Were students able to find solutions to the enginerging challenges? We’ll let some of the student’s work speak for itself.

Challenge 1

Design, test and refine a boat that changes potential energy into kinetic energy and can move from one end of the water table to the other.

Photo of our design


problems our design had and how we solved them

  • Holes for rubber band broke so we put rubber band around tray.

  • Tray bent in so we used popsicle sticks

  • Our  cardboard propeller got wet and flimsy so we  had to make a new one.


Challenge 2

Decrease the length of your boat that changes potential energy into kinetic energy and still have it move from one end of the water table to the other.

Photo of our design

The problems our design had and how we solved them

  • Well this isn't really are second one its really are third are first one disintegrated so we made another boat so the problem was we didn't have enough power so we added another rubber band  so then it worked.  

                                                                                                                    Ethan and Thomas

Design a boat that changes a different form of energy into kinetic energy. It must move from one end of the water table to the other.

The problems our design had and how we solved them

  • The balloon kept falling off the popsicle stick

  • So we used a straw to fix that. and then the straw kept on falling off so we took another popsicle stick to secure them



Continuing with fractions, students have been coming to terms with equivalent fractions. They have repartitioned number lines and area models.

Using the concept of one whole and the identity property, they then came to see that you can multiply any fraction by 1 to make an equivalent fraction, you simply change how you express 1.

E.g. 12x 1 = 12


      24x 1 = 24

                                                                                              As  12 = 24,   12x 1 = 24


                                                                                               So                   12x 22 = 24       

This is proving to be useful in comparing fractions and problem solving.

As always, never hesitate to call or e-mail.


                                                                     Nick Lodge


                                                                  January 15

Science can tend to be taught out of text books, by watching teacher demonstrations, or by following a teacher-directed experiment. Yet this is not how science happens in the real world. Rather scientists

  • ask a question

  • construct a hypothesis/prediction

  • design a way to fairly test the hypothesis

  • test with multiple trials and collect data, troubleshooting the procedure if it needs to be redesigned

  • analyze data and draw conclusions that answer the question

This is the experience that we want students to have in 311. As such the bulk of this letter will share student work as they moved through this process last week.

Students were given the following testable question; Does increased potential energy give an object increased kinetic energy?

Predictions were varied.

I think yes because x amount of potential energy gives out x amount of  kinetic energy so that means increased potential energy should give out increased kinetic energy. This is the conservation of energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only change. More potential energy will transform into more kinetic energy.  SAM

I think yes because for an example if you are sledding you can not go fast or go that far on flat ground but if  you have a high and steep hill than you will go a lot faster and farther and it is called releasing potential energy and it becomes kinetic energy.  Dorian

Fair tests were then designed in their electronic science journals.



Some procedures had to be redesigned

The first time tested it was not fair because the floor was slanted.

We  tried to make it fair by building a track on desks. This didn’t work because we did not have enough room. The track ended too quickly. I got frustrated! It is easier to use a floor rather than construct a floor. So now we are going to try the hallway!  SAM

Data was collected over multiple trials and recorded.


Conclusions were made using the data.

Increased potential energy does  give an object increased kinetic energy! Because of gravity I learned  the higher the ramp is the further it goes. But the lower the ramp is it go’s slower which doesn't go as far. Karissa

Students who completed the first investigation were able to move on to a second question; Does greater mass give an object greater kinetic energy?

Dominik answered this within the first investigation due to his observations. He tested 2 marbles of different sizes reasoning

The only variable is the size of the marble. A bigger mass. More mass has more energy. A heavier person sledding goes faster and further than a person who weighs less. His results were conclusive

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Small marble

110 inc

124 inc

124 inc

Big marble

134 inc

146 inc

135 inc


The answer is yes because the mass of a big marble goes further than a normal marble.  Increased potential energy does give increased kinetic energy.

Others designed new tests and came up with surprising results that they then had to make predictions about to understand.

On the carpet small marble = least distance,big marble = greatest distance we expected the steel ball to go  further . I wondered if friction affected the steel ball more and it lost energy. Then I tested on tile and consistently the ball with the greatest mass went further. Increased mass means increased energy.  Cassi

If the purpose of the testable question was, in part, to consolidate their understanding of the conservation of energy (the idea that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but rather changed from one form to another or transferred from one object to another) then this reasoning amply demonstrates this.

On the carpet the energy turned into heat and the heavier marble gave the most energy to heat Thomas

Engineering Method

As well as becoming versed in the practice of the scientific method, students in 311 also are practicing the engineering method. This is embedded in designing and troubleshooting fair tests. This week it been more explicit. In engineering, engineers

  • define a problem

  • brainstorm , evaluate and choose a solution

  • develop and prototype a solution

  • test the solution

  • based on results and data, make design change and test again until the solution meets the requirements of the problem.

This was our focus this week when both 4th grade classes combined on the same task. Here was the the engineering challenge;

NGSS Grade 4 PS3 Energy Standards

4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Challenge 1

Design, test and refine a boat that changes potential energy into kinetic energy and can move from one end of the water table to the other.

Challenge 2

Decrease the length of your boat that changes potential energy into kinetic energy and still have it move from one end of the water table to the other.

Challenge 3

Design a boat that changes a different form of energy into kinetic energy. It must move from one end of the water table to the other.

As always, please feel free to call at any time and for any reason!


                                                                           Nick Lodge

                                                                                                January 5

         A very happy, if bitterly cold, 2018! With the start of a new year comes a raft of new focuses in class. Let’s preview what to expect in the the first weeks of January.


We are turning our attention to narrative writing. Part of this will be author’s craft and how to make the writing vivid so that students show rather than tell in their writing.  Having looked at sounds (onomatopoeia and alliteration), we will look at details such as adjectives and adverbs. This will also allow us to review sentence structure as we’ll look at these via diagramming sentences. We will also consider imagery such as similes, metaphors and personification. Students will need to develop story arcs and write narratives with clear learning goals in mind.


We are ensuring that all students are comfortable and efficient with the use of dictionaries. This will be helpful when we turn our attention to r-controlled syllables. While /ar/ and /or/ (car, for) are straight-forward, /er/, /ir/ and /ur/ are more problematic as they all make the/r/ sound. Hence, for the word fur we have spelling options; fer, fir or fur. The dictionary will prove to be helpful to secure the accurate spelling.


Before the break students did their post assessment in place value, multi-digit multiplication and early division. The graph below clearly shows class progress and growth mindset;

The black bars indicate the amount of growth that the class made on an assessment that was by no means easy.

We now have turned our attention to fractions and equivalent fractions. A pre assessment was given so that we can see what the students know to help tailor lessons accordingly. This is also used to determine eligibility  for enrichment maths with Ms. Cass.


We are now investigating energy in science.  

4-PS3 Energy

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

4-PS3-1. Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.

4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

4-PS3-3. Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.

4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Conservation of energy will be a key concept. This is the idea that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but rather changed from one form to another or transferred from one object to another. For an anchoring activity students had the seemingly simple task of using a battery to light a bulb. This was used to illustrate conservation of energy as potential energy was released as electrical energy, which then transformed to heat and light energy. From here students have to design tests to answer the following questions,

Does increased potential energy give an object increased kinetic energy?

Does greater mass give an object greater kinetic energy?

Whilst there is inherent engineering in the designing fair tests for these questions, a specific engineering task will be to design paddle boats that convert potential energy into kinetic energy so that a prescribed distance can be covered.


Students continue to read novels at their levels, and track their thinking and assess their comprehension. Mini-lessons will be on author’s craft and overlap with the narrative writing.

Coming Up

Expect to see progress coming home on Friday, January 19.

Once more, happy new year and as ever please feel free to call at any time and for any reason!

                                                                                                                   Nick Lodge

  Before the break, Kindergarten baked gingerbread people. Unfortunately one was a bit of a scamp and ran away, causing mayhem in the building. In 311, it was particularly mischievous, but the class was saved by Ms. Dolan and Ms. Hoag’s classes who gave chase, released us and caught the the little rascal. The teachers appreciated how our class got into the spirit of the occasion and made it magical for the younger students.

                                                                                                  December 15

Winter Wear

Now that winter is truly upon us it may be prudent to review recess. When snow is on the ground, we do tell students that unless they are wearing boots, they are confined to the South Porch (frost-bite due to wearing sandals in deep drifts, not being the sort of holiday gift that anybody wants). If students want to sled or roll around in the snow, then snow pants are required (so as to help combat global warming caused by running the school dryer every afternoon, tumbling 180 pairs of sodden jeans). If you could also mark the winter-wear with names, that would be truly helpful. I can’t honestly say that I look back fondly on the times where five different students argue over five identical pairs of black snow pants in slightly different sizes…


A tour of our recent class focuses and work.


We have turned our attention to division. Students dismissed number lines, sets and repeated subtraction as inefficient models to use for division. They are gravitating to ratio tables as they move towards dividing 4 digit dividends by a  single digit divisor. We also considered the meaning of remainders and how the items being divided determine what we do with the remainder. For example,

25 cookies 2  = 12 12cookies

25 feet 2  = 12 feet and 6 inches

25 people into 2 rows = 12 r 1

We also introduced writing formulas in google sheets so that the computer will perform mathematical functions (eg. =a2*5). This is a good introduction to writing code, equations and algebra and will allow them to become renowned accountants and financiers who will earn a fortune to help fund your retirements. Kudos to Thomas who has been taking to the next level at home.   

English Language Arts

Students are continuing with their novels in reading as well as having mini-lessons in author's craft. Having worked with narrative viewpoint, we have turned our attention to figurative language. Onomatopoeia and alliteration have been our recent focus. Opinion essays are being finished in writing, and consonant-l-e syllables have been added to their repertoire in spelling.

Global Citizenship

World geography has run its course with post-assessments, including drawing world maps on blank paper for some students. This knowledge will then be used to determine the knowledge and worldview of Europeans from the 1300s to 1507 when students study maps (primary sources). These primary sources are Sebastian Minster’s Cosmosgrahia, and Martin Waldseemuller map 1507. Inferences will be made based on the maps inclusions and exclusions.                         


Holidays and such

They say that now is most wonderful time of the year. I’m not so sure about that! Maybe it’s just me, but it certainly feels the most exhausting time of the year….

Indeed, next week is the last week of school before the Christmas/Holiday break. As such we have a pretty full calendar.

Tuesday, December 19th is the school’s Grades 3-6 Winter Music Informance/Concert.  We will have a dress rehearsal on the Tuesday morning. I mention this as I know that some parents work nights, so you do have a (less polished) opportunity to see your students take to the stage. Just call the school if you’d like to do this! If a winter storm comes in then the Wednesday is the back-up date.

Friday, December 22, the last day of school, will have a homeroom “party”. The format of this will be morning meeting style activities (the purpose of which is to teach the basics of communication, cooperation and trust in a milieu of fun), followed by an opportunity to share food and drink. Upon such occasions, I usually tell the students that if they would like to bring in a contribution it would be appreciated and enjoyed. We’ll share whatever we have, and the class thanks you in advance for any provisions, whilst also exerting no pressure or expectation.

I will be passing out a small gift to each student, and I only mention this so that I can honor Chet Cole. For the past 20 years or so I have been driving to Marshfield to collect these gifts for successive classes from his studio. He has always been extremely generous, the price going up by only $1 over two decades. Chet sadly passed away this summer at the age of 79. I made a final trip to the studio this past weekend to pick up a remaining batch from his widow. Passing them out on Friday will be quite poignant as it the end of an era.

As we started, we both have much to do at this time of year.  As such (and if you made it this far), we should all rush off now to take care of the next thing.

I wish you the happiest of holidays,


                                  Nick Lodge


                                           December 1, 2017


Students have shown that they can successfully multiply a one-digit by a four-digit number using an array model.

  Concrete model of 5 x 22

As such we have moved on to multiplying a double-digit number by a double-digit number.

Concrete model of 24 x 22

Students showing how adaptable the array model is, by independently moving beyond grade 4 expectations and multiplying 3 digits by 3 digits

We will apply this to introduce area, which will return later this year in greater depth along with perimeter.

In addition we will use rounding as a tool for estimation, and move into models for division. The model we will use to begin with for efficiency is the ratio model. This will help reinforce the inverse nature of multiplication and division. Arrays can accomplish the same end.

To illustrate this, 779 19

   Hence 779 19 = 41

As a fourth-grader the standard is dividing a four-digit number by a 1 digit divisor.


Find whole-number quotients and remainders with up to four-digit dividends and one-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

Report Cards and Conferences

It was grand to see so many of you at conferences before the Thanksgiving break. Whilst these are the only whole school-scheduled conferences of the year, please, please, please never hesitate to contact me at any time of the year to schedule meetings/conferences. We can have as many conferences as you would like to have, with or without your student. Certainly I feel free to call you for meetings and I really hope that you feel the same freedom.

In the same vein, if you missed your conference or didn’t set one up (...after all life gets busy, as we all know...) we have plenty of time, which is convenient for your realities, to reschedule/schedule!

In either case, the e-mail and phone number is above in the banner. I look forward to hearing from you!

English Language Arts

In reading, our current class novel is “The Butterfly Lion” by Michael Morpurgo. We are in addition looking at the author’s craft of narrative choice; first person, third person limited and third person omniscient. Student movies have helped to illustrate the difference. Reading groups are also reading novels and analyzing characters in the text.

In writing, students are working on an assessed opinion essay that calls on them to use their research from Global Citizenship. The are discussing if they would rather attend school in present day Vermont or the Vermont of the 1860s. Corporal punishment seems to be making most them choose the former! Such being the case, they may want to stay put as over 20 states in the present US still allow it.

Spelling is focusing the exceptions to the closed, vowel-consonant- e and open syllable. Next week we will introduce the consonant-l-e syllable.

Global Citizenship (Social Studies)

This week students took pre-assessment in world geography that encompassed

  • Continents and oceans

  • Cardinal directions

  • Relative location

  • Climate zones

  • Absolute location

Based on the pre-assessments, we could differentiate and place students in the sequence of knowledge and skills.


We bid farewell to Ryan today! We wish him all the very best at Waterville. We will miss


                                  Nick Lodge

Past News

November 3, 2017

And this week in may have escaped your notice, but it was October 31st on Tuesday. The annual mask parade wound its way through town, and if you missed it, didn’t have a camera, or had a camera shy child, a few photographs to get things rolling!

P1030073.JPG P1030075.JPGP1030076.JPG

P1030077.JPG P1030078.JPGP1030079.JPG

P1030080.JPG P1030081.JPG

P1030083.JPG P1030084.JPGP1030086.JPG



Students have completed a mini unit on measurement (linear, weight and capacity) in which they compared both metric and customary units. 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. A little bit of trivia for you there! Speaking of which...

Trivia Quiz

The day is now ending with the daily Great 311 Trivia Quiz, to settle them at desks before dismissal. At the time of writing, Echo is currently in the lead!


Having written an opinion essay in 45 minutes as a preassessment, we are now looking at the structure of opinion writing, and what is needed to write an effective argument.

Spelling has added open syllables to our study of syllabication; joining closed and vowel-consonant-e. Using this as a means to compose and decompose words, four syllable words are being spelled correctly using logic rather than memorization as the key.

Global Citizenship

Students have started history, where history is being seen as a series of causes and effects. Kudos to Thomas who produced a cause and effect map that effectively showed a conflict cycle. This is now being used to help end real class-based conflicts, and as Thomas has copyrighted it, he is being paid in TATs.

Students have differentiated between secondary and primary sources as a means to get evidence about the past upon which claims can be based. They also got to handle antique items to try to determine their historical use. As butter paddles and a mold, was one of the items, we also made butter on Wednesday afternoon. The candle maker and powder horn outfoxed them all.

From here, they will use mostly primary sources and some secondary sources, to investigate what schooling in Vermont was like in the 1860s.


Fall reading assessments have now been completed, and new reading groups have been made based on these. Students will strengthen prior knowledge on a background aspect of a novel (Jim Crow laws, the history of cinema…) before following and tracking a protagonist and their conflicts. Groups will also have the opportunity to film a mini-movie to illustrate a type of conflict found in narrative fiction.

Sincerely,     Nick Lodge


October 23, 2017


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 week’s focus and rubric   

Remaining open to continuous learning

  1. I  listen to instruction so that I can understand.

  2. I asks a peer and then teacher if I need help with understanding.

  3. I am involved with partner and group work and take ownership.


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. Moving from nearly proficient to proficient by gaining 9 points is pleasing, but I would also ask that we applaud the student who goes from below to nearly by gaining 28 points. Below is a graph of results that we used as a class to look at the class’s growth.


October 31st

October 31st is on Tuesday! A reminder that we don’t wear Halloween costumes to school on the 31st.  In the morning the traditional mask parade is taking to the road and will walking through Johnson Village. Full information is in the Jaguar Journal. In the afternoon each class will host a harvest party. Traditionally students bring in food and drink to share with the class. Certainly this is a tradition that can continue. My stance is always that anything that is brought in will be appreciated by the students and enjoyed. However, if nothing were to be brought in that would also be fine. As members of the class may be going out in the evening, I am conscious of an overload of sugar and don’t necessarily want to contribute to that. Whatever the ‘snack’ situation, we will still do group activities and games to mark the occasion. As such, there’s no sign-up and no pressure (from me at least…I can’t speak on behalf of your student…).


Having completed informational writing, we are moving on to opinion writing. Some students have already started as passions were stirred about fresh water. I’ll leave with Cassi’s conclusion...

    This writing is more than just important. You are not just reading some silly little kid’s writing about trying so save a big world.It’s about saving people and surviving. Yes we do need to protect freshwater. Yes fresh water is polluted. Yes you can clean water and I have done it. Johnson town cleans their water differently than I do but they do a great job with just two guys. So think about the future, about these things!You see us with our water. What do you see?Because we don’t know if we even can survive.Just to give you a heads up we can’t. A drop of water is worth more than a sack of gold to a thirsty man. So just think about our future with our water.


Nick Lodge

                                                                           October 16, 2017

Parent-Teacher Conferences Sign-up Sheet

It’s that time of year when parent conferences and report cards are on the horizon (...given that it is a really clear day and you can see for over a month). Some families have already scheduled a conference at Open House, but there are many open slots.

The blank boxes are the times that are still available for parent-teacher conferences.  Please e-mail or call Janet Davis in the office to set up a time that works best for you. A reminder of conferences scheduled will be sent out shortly.



Science inquiry


October 6


   Having focused on sentence structure and procedures, the class is now working on paragraphing (indented topic sentences, detail sentences, closing sentence, all in correct sentences where only proper nouns are capitalized). To practice this we are writing a five paragraph informational essay about freshwater as a resource. Clearly they are using their knowledge and research from science class. Here are the start of a few of the pieces;

It is important to protect our freshwater streams and lakes because humans need water to survive.


It is important to care for our water because if we [the Earth] have 100 cups of water, only 1% of it is drinkable.



This week we have used the Homework Out-of-School Opportunities for Practicing Academics and Habits of Mind solutions for target number to introduce order of operations and algebra. Here are the class answers that either came close to 33 or scored a bullseye.

(3 + 3) x 5= t

(2 x 5) + (3 x 8) = t

(8 x 5) -(3 x 3) +2 = t

(8 + 3) x 3 = t

3 x (8 + 2) + 3 = t

Using this, we then looked at multistep problem solving, where students could read and summarize problems by writing a plan of action/procedure in equation form.

If you a had a 3-by-6 sheet of stamps and each stamp was 25 cents, then to calculate the cost….

(3 x 6) x 25 = c

Progress Reports

First trimester progress reports are enclosed with this parent letter. If new to the school you will notice that we are not giving “traditional” letter grades in subject areas, but rather measuring students against standards that have been discussed and criteria given for success. In the case of progress reports we look at habits of mind and skills for lifelong learning. If students can demonstrate these, then academic success will occur. At the start of each week students in 311 are given a “habit” to focus on and the criteria needed to be successful. They self-monitor this each day and I also monitor it. At the end of the week we can see if students are demonstrating this consistently or inconsistently. This the data and basis for reporting on the progress report.

This ties in with our value of promoting a growth mindset.

Students can often see school as a place where abilities are evaluated, and not as a place where abilities are developed. In the former “fixed” mindset, students can focus on trying to show that they are smart (or at least trying not to look like they don't understand.) Here, mistakes can be seen as a weakness or an indicator that they lack talent. Students chase an A, and the grade is so much more important than the learning that may be occurring. This grade-chasing to define yourself as a learner can lead to avoiding more challenging work or taking risks as ‘failure” may happen.

If we encourage students to have a growth mindset with the belief that skills and intelligence can be developed, then these students can see school as a place to develop their abilities and think of challenges as opportunities to grow. They are no longer being evaluated by a letter grade, but they, as well as the teacher, can measure their progress in a certain area against clear and prescribed criteria. They are no longer competing against other students for grades but focusing on their own learning and progression.


Our current class novel is The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. We are using this as a mentor text when we work on envisioning characters in order to make them come to life. In reading groups, they have been reading short stories across genres; realistic fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, folktales. Once we have done F and P testing next week, we can finalize groups and move onto novels.


We are concluding our water as a resource unit. Thanks to Tom Elwood and the Johnson wastewater plant for our field trip on Tuesday. Their process for cleaning water proved to be very different to the settling and filtering that the students engineered in class.

An important part of science is to design tests that can answer testable questions. As such students are currently trying to answer the following question by designing a test, conducting it fairly and using the results to answer the question.

Many homes in Vermont have a well. We drill down into the ground and pump water up from the water table. The water in the water table is surface water (lakes and rivers) and rain that sinks through the ground. This is called groundwater. How is this water cleaned? It is filtered by the ground! As it passes through sand, soil and gravel it is cleaned. Which of these is the best filter and the best earth material to have above the water table? Make a prediction and design a test to answer the question.


                                  Nick Lodge

File_003.jpeg    File_006.jpeg

File_001.jpeg     File_007.jpeg

Field Trip (10/3)

Past News

September 22

Dear Green Mountaineers and Families,



    It is procedure writing in 311 this week and next. Acting out  the procedures for walking a dog and blowing bubbles, led into writing the procedure for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This was a learning curve as the need for detail became apparent when the procedures were tried. From here directions will be written to navigate a path through a city, and future employment at Google Maps will be tested! Procedures will also be tested in reading when the class has to follow recipes to make perfect cookies, and procedures will feature heavily in science when they design and describe fair tests to answer testable questions.They will also be figuring procedures to clean dirty water.


Multiples, problem strings  and foundations for advanced multiplication were a focus this week.

Here are class models for

2 x 2 = 4

2 x 20 = 40

20 x 20 = 400

We could say multiply the whole numbers and add the same number of zeros in the question to the end of your product. We want a deeper mathematical understanding, however.File_000.jpeg

20 x 20 =

(2 x 10) x (2 x 10)

Because it doesn’t matter the order we multiply our factors, we can change this to

(2 x 2) x (10 x 10)

As such we now have 4 x 100 = 400


    Science this week has focused on water as a natural resource. Although a renewable resource, it is also limited. The amount of fresh water available to us is a lot less than students thought, as the circle graphs they made in Google sheets demonstrated.

    The small quantity of fresh water available to us can certainly be recycled, however if we pollute it to excess it may be a short term renewable resource.

The week was rounded off with researching the types of pollution we put into our water sources and how our use of this resource affects our environment

Students next week will  use materials to try to clean muddy river water as much as possible. Settling and filtering may be an obvious choice although perhaps evaporation will also happen. From here, further investigation in filtering will occur as different  filters are tested. Here students can use their understanding that cornstarch goes black with iodine from “mystery powders”. Filtering a solution of cornstarch and iodine will allow them to see which filter is the best based on the color of the water after filtration. Alum from the start of science will also be used to see coagulation.

     From the classroom we will see how Johnson deals with waste water on Tuesday, October 3rd. The class has a tour of the Wastewater Treatment Facility at 10am. A short walk from the school, we will leave about 9:40. Not all areas will be open to us (biohazards and fourth graders aren’t the best mix), but students will learn how their investigation either mirrors or differs from the town’s system. We do need a couple of chaperones if any of you good people are free and have filled out the necessary paperwork. It’s a short tour and our thanks go out to Tom Elwood for helping us out!


Perhaps it is the time of year to dive head-first into the stormy waters of homework! Reading the local papers in recent times, the topic is making headlines and stirring debate;

“South Burlington school subtracts homework” Burlington Free Press, September 9th, 2016

“Homework is banned at this Massachusetts school”, September 6th 2016

I see two sides to the whole homework debate. For example;

For Homework

Against Homework

  • Homework allows students to practice responsibility. Two of the habits of mind are self-direction and responsible and involved citizenship. Homework is an opportunity to practice these.

  • Middle school and high school certainly will assign homework, and so by giving it in younger grades they can start to form habits that will make transitions to the older grades easier.

  • To achieve certain goals in life, practice is needed. If you don't practice your band instrument, the piece of music will never be played. If you don’t exercise frequently, your fitness level will never be where you would like it to be. So too with reading and math fluency! The more you practice these skills, the stronger you will become.

  • There is no compelling data that shows homework in elementary school leads to increased academic performance.

  • Homework is a stress on families. As a parent myself, I know how hectic the typical American family’s life is; between trying to pay the bills, take kids to extracurricular activities, maintain the house... I know the additional, conflict and stress that homework assignments can cause.  In addition, after a long day at work I would rather have quality family time rather than nag and hassle. Talking over dinner, reading a book as a family, going for a walk are surely more beneficial than a grammar worksheet.

  • Homework tends to lack equity. Not all students have the same level of support with homework, resources to do homework, and environment to do homework in. As such, grading homework as part of a grade has never sat well with me.  With the new report card there is no room for this anyway, as we are measuring observed work against Common Core expectations.

So where does that leave us? Your input is encouraged and welcome!

My proposal is that as a class community we offer Out of School Learning Opportunities. Students will not be kept in for recess if it is not completed and nor will grades reduced by 10%, as happened in my elementary school days.

The buy in is

  • The knowledge that students are becoming stronger and better readers and mathematicians because of it, and increasing their future opportunities. This ties in with our clas vision that we improve the resources we have!

  • T(eam) A(ppreciation) T(ickets) will be earned that will increase the team’s total for rewards and increase the student’s  chances of winning a prize in the Friday raffle.

  • It’s an opportunity to demonstrate evidence of self-direction and being responsible citizens, that are habits of mind that are now assessed.

To that end the first opportunity is in today’s Friday folder!


                                  Nick Lodge

Here we are on the 7th day of the new school year (8th by the time your student, hopefully, passes you the folder/you unearth the folder from the backpack). The start of school is equal measures of introducing fourth grade curriculum, establishing routines and standard operating procedures, and establishing a classroom community.

As a class we have as a community decided on a shared vision and what we should expect from ourselves and others. This was done by creating situations where students explored different social possibilities, spurred on by a bowl of candy and some philosophy of justice. Underneath is the the class’s resulting social contract

The 311 community decided that we did not want to have anarchy.

The community and its resources needed to have rules and expectations. These are expectations that we all agree on if we did not know who we would be in the class (gender, race, age, abilities). They were created behind the veil of ignorance!

One shared vision/ One expectation!    

We show  RESPECT to ourselves, others and our resources. We show that we are important, others are important and our resources are important!

      How do we show respect?

a.) We treat other people like we would like to be treated!  

b.) We keep ourselves and others safe!    

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

d.) 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.

e.)  Things are earned through good choices (respect)!

Active Learners

We try our best! We complete assignments to the best of our ability. We stay positive, patient and persist. We understand that “not yet” will turn into you did it!

What has become apparent in the last few days is that an area we need to work on socially is group work, so greater success can be achieved in academic classes and problem solving. Indeed it can be the difference between soaring success or defeat.

We are now working on these guidelines

Working in a Group

Everyone should be involved and participate.

Take turns!

Listen to each other.

Clearly split the jobs so everyone has something to do.

Stay calm and express feelings in I statements.

If there is a disagreement about how to do something vote, and be OK if you don't get your way.

It is OK to take leadership, but true leadership encourages, involves, and makes group members feel important. Don’t be controlling!

Using these guidelines groups are functioning better. As evidence some spice drops and toothpicks (that you can ask your student about);

Sep 7, 2017, 2:04 PM.png   Sep 7, 2017, 4:15 PM.png

      model to be made                                student results

With these results, we can tackle more involved group projects such as testing powders for properties and then analysing mystery powders.

I also wanted to give you a sense of where we are heading academically. As such I have made a curriculum map to provide an overview. It’s not set in stone as we want to be responsive to the needs of the class.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. Hopefully our new telephone system is now functional.


Nick Lodge

"Homework"- Out of School Learning Opportunities