Nick Lodge (Room 311)

Nick Lodge
Grade 4
Room 311
Contact Information
(families' private site)
January 30, 2020

Dear Families,

Greetings from 311, where students were leaving school today like it was a reality game-show. By the close of Thursday we were six less than the start of the day. I wish you a weekend of health and recuperation. 

Having washed my hands, I can promise that this letter is not contagious and that reading it won’t result in fever.  An overview of our current curriculum follows….


Students are working with narratives. In story writing there is both the plot (what happens in the story) and the author’s craft (how the story is told). The plot is the easier of the two. We have been considering the craft of story writing so that hopefully we can show rather simple tell. Working through a certain tool box, we have become familiar with  


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) - via sentence diagraming

Sensory details:




FEEL including emotions



Imagery: Creating pictures for the senses 

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

“She floated in like a cloud.”

To demonstrate  similes the class wrote the following poem;  

Lunchtime in the School Cafeteria - A Study in Similes

By 311 Klaxons

The line was as long as the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, all the letters in a post office, a serpent coiling around a ship, journey to Mars. 

Hungry like a pack of starving lions, the students were as loud as klaxons, screaming police sirens, a t-rex roaring, a boom box at full volume.

They got increasingly impatient like a toddler expecting birthday presents.

The floor was slick like a slip and slide smeared with soap 

Shone upon by lights as bright as the sun in the sky.

Whilst the cafeteria was as hot as a big sandy desert, lava and Australian wildfires crisply circling 

The food was not! Rather it was as cold as the remaining ice in Antarctica, an arctic wind blowing, someone giving birth to Christmas, an igloo with air-conditioning. 

Food served, they shuffle to tables with seats hard like obsidian rock, a high school math test.

A tray is dropped, making a sound like a thunderstorm roaring at night, while students continue talking like a bunch of jackhammers.

Observed by staff as grumpy as a store-owner who has two bulls in their china shop. 

They are  now writing, and I am attempting to apply the brakes so that they don’t simply state the plot but infuse the writing with craft. 


Having analyzed and compared texts, including non fiction,  we are now remaining with non-fiction and have considered nonfiction text structures. 

Based on student interest ( I’d like to acknowledge Braxton here), and some class conversations,  students will read about slavery in America, segregation and the civil rights movement. With this background knowledge they will move into historical fiction with the setting of life under the Jim Crow Laws. 


 We are ensuring that we have a handle on base words and suffixes.  Clearly their stories should be using the suffix ed to cast the story in the past tense. 


Being a flexible thinker is an important skill. In maths, for example, we are encouraging this by offering a variety of strategies for subtraction. For example,

Number Lines 

  Standard algorithm  

      1, 0 5 0 

  •       6 9 8 

Constant Difference -

1 5 6   (+2)      1 5 8

-  9 8   (+2)    - 1 0 0

  1 0 0   (-1)       9 9

-   5 1  (-1)    -  5 0

Flexibility can also be seen in addition. 

Take and Give +

1  5 9           take part of 159 and give it to

+  9 8            to the 98 to  

                                      make it a different number

    1 5  7 (-2)        

+  1 0  0  (+2)


     98     100   


In science students have worked with insulators and conductors, exploded balloons by using the conservation of energy, developed fair tests to determine if an increased number of magnets results in increased magnetic energy, engineered maglev trains and tried to explain phenomena (electricity in water, wires catching on fire and a rather splendid mind reading trick performed by myself and Aidan “Maestro” Dunbar) by considering patterns, scale, cause and effect, models, and energy flow. Next week they will be having global citizenship with Ms. Newberg.  

As always feel free to call or contact me at any time and for any reason. 

Stay healthy,

Nick Lodge 


January 7, 2020

Dear Families,

Happy 2020! With the coming of a new year, we also have the arrival of a new member of the class community. We welcome Noel and her family from Ohio!

With the new year, we have new courses of study so let’s run through and see what your student is currently, and soon to be doing, in grade 4. 


We have completed our first fractions unit, and below you can see the growth from pre to post-assessment. 

Whilst the class were substantially below proficient for the most part at the start of the unit, due to a growth mindset, they ended up firmly in proficiency. 

Our current unit works with place value, addition and subtraction  measurement and data representation. Due to informal assessment and observation (many students claiming,  for example, that 600 - 574 = 174) we are starting by using number lines as a tool to see and make sense of these maths concepts. This visual model roots the students conceptual understanding. The number line is being used for subtraction, time problems and rounding. With this as a foundation that can be returned to, we can then more comfortably move into mastering the standard algorithms, using number sense and more abstraction. 


In reading, we are currently engaged with interpretive and analytic reading. Having been introduced to a graphic organizer that allows them to compare and contrast in a more thoughtful and organized way than a Venn diagram, they now have to use it on tasks. These tasks require them to analyze similarities and differences between texts in regards to character, theme, symbols.

Once we conclude this, we will turn our attention to historical fiction. Our initial focus, based on conversations, misconceptions, and surprise that have arisen in class, will center on the American experience following the end of the Civil War and the emanicpation of the slaves, and the Jim Crow laws that replaced slavery. Last week, when doing a mini-unit on primary and secondary sources as a way to collect evidence about the past, we discussed how history is important as it helps us understand why things are as they are.

If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”

Pearl Buck

Later this year we will turn attention to the Revolutionary War. 

Writing is currently practicing author’s craft which will be used when they write stories. Indeed one might have the best plot in the world, but if the story is not told with alliteration, onomatopoeia, sensory details, or language, for example, then the reader will not be engaged. Here are some examples of poetry written, that uses alliteration to create mood or rhythm; 

“Pelly Potato” - Tongue Twister By Nadia

Pelly Potato was a pin picker.

Pelly Potato picked pins out of perfect purple or pink pillows.

Other potatoes payed plenty for perfect purple or pink pillows without the imperfect pins per day.

Pelly Potato had different customers per day who paid plenty for pillows.

And foods such as pears, pickles, peaches, and pineapple,  peas, pecans, and peanuts .

Pelly Potato was a pin picker.

Pelly Potato put the imperfect pins that she picked in a bin.

Pelly Potato picks pins out of the perfect pillows she picked.

Suzy’s snails

Suzy sold some

Salads with smart snails

In the center of the salad.

Soon, the smart snails were sad!

So the smart snails slowly settled in the silent sea.

Suzy started sobbing! 

Suzy sadly said:

“I need my super smart snails 

In the center of my salads to sell!


Summer Day 

The sun sets slowly behind the mountains behind my house .

The wind whistles through the trees outside.

Time to grow tomatoes tall in  the garden.

Parties and playing with friends.

Rainbow’s race across the sky after summer showers

People watch them

Lots of leaves grow on trees in summertime.




Trees crack and crash. 

Green grass dies in fiery flames. 

A creeping beast makes me and my mom scared. 

Burning smoke is in the dark air. 

Many speed and jump for their lives. 

Zebras and deer pounce in fear.              

The glass of my house chips from a terrible tail. 

Like a xylophone piece by piece. 

Tons of lightning crashes onto the ground. 

Thunder smashes in the cold dark air. 

Some animals lived. 

And others died 

From the burning flames of the wildfire. 

With razor sharp teeth, 

And tough claws, 

A burning breath, 

And a mighty tail. 

And the end. 

The dragon flys away.   



This week and next week the class is in makerspace with Ms. Cass working with cubeits (mini robots) and then sphero (programmable spheres). Following this we will do two weeks following this sequence that meets NGSS standards; 

“How do we move energy and information from place to place?” Part  2

Lesson 1 and 2 

Review conservation of energy - energy cannot be created or destroyed but transformed or transferred. 

Engineering - Magnetic Energy

Testable Question - If you increase the number of magnets, do you also increase the amount of magnetic energy?

Design a fair test to demonstrate that increased magnets increases the energy

Lesson 3 and 4

Insulators and Conductors

Insulators - do not let energy pass through them

Conductors - let energy pass through them

Design a test to determine if a substance is an electrical conductor or insulator. 

 Extension; Is water a conductor or  insulator?

Introduce resistance

What is a better conductor -  thick wire or thin wire

                                              short distance v long distance

Lesson 5 and 6

Explode a balloon with electricity and explain how it works scientifically (design a device that converts one energy to another form) 

Lesson 7 and 8

Design a magnetic vehicles using mag-lev track 

Lesson 9 and 10

Catapult Challenge

Introduce  Newton's Laws of Motion

First - An object at rest will stay at rest unil energy/force is given to it or will move until and opposite force acts upon it/transforms the kinetic energy..

Third - for every action (force)  there is an equal and opposite reaction (force)

Design and build a catapult that will be tested for accuracy and power.


In advance of next Thursday, I would like to extend my thanks to Alana’s father, Jacob Nash, who is coming in from the college to talk about nutrition, food safety and vegan food to the whole fourth grade. It’s like watching a cooking show on tv, except you can reach into the screen and sample the fare. 

As always feel free to call or contact me at any time and for any reason. 

Stay warm,

Nick Lodge

December 12th 2019

Dear Families,

With the holidays imminent, I would like to extend my warmest wishes for peace and happiness. I was going to send this letter next Friday but reasoned that with the hullabaloo of the holidays, the chances of you receiving it were slimmer than if it went home this week. 

On Friday, December 20, the last day of school, the class 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. As with the harvest party, I  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. 

It will also mark an end of an era. 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 26 years or so I have been driving to Marshfield to collect these gifts for successive classes from his glass blowing  studio. He has always been extremely generous, the price going up by only a dollar or so over two decades. Chet sadly passed away three summers ago at the age of 79. I made a final trip to the studio that Fall to pick up a remaining batch from his widow and workshop. That batch will be gone with this current class. By my reckoning around 468 have been given out over the course of the years.  Passing them out on Friday will be quite poignant, as will be passing the last one to Peyton when her mother Marcy was one of the first to get one. 

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 ending our work on fractions, which we will return to again to in the spring. 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. 

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. 

From there we moved on to a 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 egg boxes, Ms. Thistlebottom’s Garden, and splitting a cake fractionally but with equal perimeter (as that is where all the whipped cream is). 

We finished up with seeing the relationship between fractions and decimals. Threaded throughout this is fraction equivalency - how the same fractional part can be expressed in different numerical ways.


Writing has turned its attention to paragraph writing. Students practiced with prompts and then used this understanding to construct a four paragraph essay on literature, that also addressed weaknesses in their opinion essays such as the use of transitional phrases. We will soon be moving on to writing narratives.


Our focus is reading is interpretive and analytic reading. Students have been close reading and using inference in poetry.  For example, they had to unpack poems such as 


I dibbin go to school today,

Bom looked at be and said, "No way."

Wend back to bed and here I'll stay,

Cause I hab a terrible code.

By throad is sore, by eyes are bink,

By node dribs like a leaky sink,

By head's so stuffed it hurds to think.

I hab a terrible code.

Carol Diggory Shields

Upon the completion of poems, they will analyze similarities and differences in themes and symbols across texts. 

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


Nick Lodge

November 11, 2019

Dear Families,

The first trimester is now ending and we find ourselves ⅓ of the way through the school year. As such, we are waist deep in flood days, snow days and writing report cards. As for the snow, a quick reminder that students need winter boots to go wading into the playground (frostbitten toes does not a happy Thanksgiving make) and snow pants if they want to sled or roll around. Hats and gloves are also highly recommended...As for floods, I’m sure that you all heard about Masson and his family. They/you are in our thoughts this holiday season and I encourage you to see our Facebook post/Jaguar Journal  post regarding Masson. And report cards? They go home on Wednesday December 4th. Parent conferences are happening on the 5th and 6th. If you haven’t yet reserved a spot there is plenty of time and times. I am staying late on Friday to accommodate your schedules as much as possible. Call the office if you want to set up a slot. 

As a class, we welcomed Braxton Shedd this week from Spokane, Washington. Whilst from the west coast, the roots are Hyde Park and and a former lancer has returned to Lamoille county. Welcome!

Let’s take a tour of the curriculum so that if your student responds to your question of  “What did you do in school today?” with “Nothing!”, you can beg to differ. 


Our bundled question, based on Next Generation Science Standards,  is 

“How do we move energy and information from place to place?” Part 1 

“What happens when objects collide?”

Lesson 1 

Light a Bulb - to introduce potential, kinetic, conservation of energy

Lesson 2 

Potential, Kinetic, Conservation of Energy Observation/Stations

Soda and Mentos Video

Newton's Cradle 


Bulb and 3 batteries

Lesson 3  - using roller coaster kits borrowed from the Echo museum

Does increased potential energy transform into increased kinetic energy?

Lesson 4 

What variables affect the speed of the ball?

Lesson 5

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

Lesson 6

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

Lesson 7

Compare what happens when objects with kinetic energy move towards each other and collide

Lesson 8 and 0

Construct a roller coaster to specified criteria

Lesson 10

Newton's First and Third Laws of Motion


We are now working with fractions, using area models, number lines and sets to work with equivalency, improper fractions, mixed numbers, and comparisons. We began by asking the question would you prefer to have a whole candy bar or half a candy bar? The obvious answer may be a whole bar (if you are a lover of chocolate) but, to many of their cost, the mathematical answer is it depends on what the whole is. Those who got a whole miniature bar (bought on remainder after Halloween - the timing was great) were sorely envious of those who got half of a full size bar. The question of what is the whole? will be key in our working with fractions. 


Students who have reading class in 311 have been reading realistic fiction novels. Comprehension has been measured by chapter questions and discussions, and an overall understanding of the story elements summarized in a final electronic graphic organizer. This week we tackled narrative viewpoint and whether fiction is told as first-person, third-person limited , third-person omniscient. This was/will be illustrated and demonstrated to the whole class with a movie that we filmed and edited. 


Students have selected one of their opinion drafts and have taken it to a second/third/final electronic draft. Upon finishing, students were able to work on the poetic form of a kenning. From Old English and Icelandic, this is the poetic phrase that is used to describe a noun, an example being “a wave traveller” for boat. Like a riddle, the kenning poem describes a subject for the reader to guess. 


 We have moved onto our third syllable. 


  • One vowel

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

  • Vowel is short

cup, it, pest

Vowel Consonant e

  • 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

With this understanding, we do not give words to learn or memorize. Rather they are given a word and, by breaking down the syllables, they have to spell it logically.

For example





Why learn these when you can simply hear and spell them? This also informs us why so many words have a double consonant. 



 To make the short vowel sound you have to close the first syllable. 

With that I’ll wish you warmth in the cold days ahead of us. It’s a snow day and my patchy internet is giving me a window of opportunity, so there are report card comments to write.

Happy Holidays

Nick Lodge


October 23, 2019

Dear Families,

Those of you who are on our class facebook

 ( already have a snapshot of what has been happening in 311. A shameless plug, there! Let’s review what has been happening in class since last writing.   


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 = 10

1 x 1 = 1

Thus, 11 x 11 = 121

This model can then be abstracted and represented. Let’s see how a student 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, some students are able go beyond 2 digit by 2 digit, which is the grade 4 requirement.

This model is very flexible and can be adapted to 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! 


Taking a break between writing opinion drafts, students turned their hands to writing list poems. Here’s a sample 


I like my brother

And that’s true.

I wish he could

Do Kung Fu.

I like his food a lot.

I like his food while it is hot.

I wish he would play Gaga ball

So shout out loud AWESOME!

And that is all!


Toppings I Would Not Want on Pizza

Anchovies, they make me gag!

Salmon, it would make me sad!

Cake on pizza? Oh no please!

Please, please, please no spicy cheese!

I don’t even want one meatball!

If there is one, chuck it at the wall!

No calamari, not in a loop.

No mango,apples. I can’t stand fruit!

No, no to chicken which is boiled,

And no nothing which is oiled!

I like my tomatoes to be diced,

I like my pizza precise!


If My Mom Wasn't There…..


I would drink soda.

I would eat cookies and muffins all the time!

My life wouldn't be as boring.

My sister wouldn't get her way.

I would never clean my room or pick up!

I would play roblox so much

And watch Youtube all on my laptop.

I would have my own Lamborghini

I would be rich .

I would own Owen’s Chinese restaurant, cause why not? :)

I would be the first female president and kick Trump out

I would be a famous Youtuber more famous than T-series, Pewdiepie and Mr. Beast all together!


...But then I gotta deal with my dad ...



I like mostly cheese and pepperoni.

That’s mostly all.

But sometimes I like ham and pineapple

In the middle of winter

When the pizza is hot

And I am cold

But never pizza with peppers

Onions, mushrooms and ranch.

But yes yes yes to a cheesy crust.

I could eat the whole thing. I will NOT eat the crust if there's no cheese on it!



Students have just completed their second science unit. Our anchoring question was

“How do organisms survive including  receiving and processing information?”

We began by considering how animals and plants have structures and behaviors that allow them to survive. The components of survival? - protection, get food/water, get rid of waste, and reproduce. Students conducted a bird beak simulation and adapted birds for different environments. They considered mimicry and protective coloration as a way of defense and/or getting food. They mimicked corn flakes and tried to protect a breeding population of moths, grasshoppers and ants from the hungry swarms of Ms. Newberg’s students. 

This week we are looking at the receiving and processing of information. Using 

skulls and 

Eyes on the side, born  to hide

Eyes in front, born to hunt

students considered how organisms see. Using lasers and mirrors in a challenge, students came to understand that light energy travels in rays from a light source and can reflect. To see, light rays need to reflect off an object and enter the eye. 

But how do we see? Laser and mirrors. Laser on block pointing N hits a mirror and needs to hit a target/picture of eye that is SW by using other mirrors. Students then made a working model of the eye and used this to determine that images are inverted on the retina. The brain then edits the image by flipping them. 

To round this off we looked at reaction times by collecting data and reflexes.  

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 the office know and they will give the slot(s) of your choice.

Thursday, Dec 5th

Friday, Dec 6











































October 31st

October 31st is on Thursday! In the morning (9:15am – 10:00am)  the traditional mask parade is taking to the road and will be 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…). 

                                      PAST NEWS
October 3rd, 2019
Dear Families,

Some students have been asking for homework, whilst others turn a deathly shade of pale when overhearing the requests. I suspect that parents are equally split by the request too. As in writing class we are about to venture into opinion and  persuasive writing, and we have settled into the year, now seems to be a good time of year to dive head-first into the stormy waters of homework! Reading the local papers in recent times, the topic is still making headlines and stirring debate;

“South Burlington school subtracts homework” Burlington Free Press, 

“Homework is banned at this Massachusetts school”, September 

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 growth mindset and our class criteria that we value success and understand that success requires work!

  • 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. So far our class has earned 405.5 this year, including the daily self-monitoring TATs if they demonstrate the habit of mind that is the week’s focus.

  • 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, alongside the first progress report. 

As we mentioned TATs and team rewards, students did meet a goal we set for them. The reward is not until next March but it is a rather good one. I have enjoyed a long relationship with the Flynn Theater in Burlington, who have always been very generous to our fourth graders in giving us subsidized seating. In picking shows we try to always find one with a bit of a “wow” factor - something you may not normally see on a stage. This year we have got tickets for “Blizzard” by FLIP Fabrique.  A Quebec cirque group, the show is currently touring Canada before embarking on a full US tour.  

With Blizzard, FLIP Fabrique takes you on a crazy, poetic and gentle journey in the dead of winter, and invites you to lose yourself in a moment of complete wonder. With performers at the peak of their art and outstanding visual poetry, Blizzard promises to blow away everything in its path.

A reminder that photos and videos of what we are doing in class are being posted regularly on the private facebook site;

 Lodge Fourth Grade ( It gives a more real-time sense of some of the things that we are doing in class. 

I look forward to seeing you at our Open House next week.


Nick Lodge

September 17

In the last newsletter, we said that we would look at curriculum. For a more daily sense of what we are doing in class, I’ll drop another plug for the class facebook page;  Lodge Fourth Grade ( It’s being added to regularly and gives you a glimpse of the classroom in a more immediate fashion. 


We are working with multiplicative reasoning. By the end of grade 4 students are expected to be able to multiply a one digit number by a 4 digit number and a two digit by a two digit number. We are not there yet, but are introducing models for multiplication. Whilst repeated addition and making sets are viable, they will not be efficient for bigger numbers. As such we have been working with models that will prove their worth as we move into greater factors. 

For example for 9 x 12

array model with decomposition

ratio table

Groups of 12







120 - 12 = 108

Prime and composite numbers, factor pairs, multiples, multiplication and division fluency (3 seconds a fact being a goal) and word problems have also been the content of maths class. 

Literacy/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. In spelling we are using syllables to strengthen everyone's spelling. As such, we have been writing poetry to ensure that students are increasingly comfortable with syllabication. In particular we have worked on the Japanese haiku (3 lines with a 5,7,5 syllable structure), Japanese tanka (5 lines with a 5,7,5,7,7 syllable structure) and the cinqain, invented by Adelaide Crapsey (5 lines with a 2,4,6,8,2 syllable structure). Let’s share some student work.; 


Fishing with my dad

In a boat on nice Lake Eden.

I had a great time.


The Dragon

Skin of plants and twigs

With the antlers of a deer

And that would be me. 


Haikus are weird.

Haiku is what I don’t like.

Now, no more writing.

Haikus have three lines.

Haikus need punctuation.

Now I like haiku.



These are the seasons

Winter - Kids building snowmen

Spring - Flowers are here

Summer - Kids run having fun

Fall - Leaves, yellow, red, orange


I love September!

Thursday was my birthday, yay!

I got presents, hey!

I had a good chocolate cake.

I had friends at my house too!


I was always happy

Until one day I got mad

And frustrated! I got so mad I screamed out loud

And then I finally calmed down. 




Scares everywhere.

Fun costumes for the night and

Having fun getting candy and

Fear night.


Nice, kind

She always cares.

She makes everything cool.

She loves all her kids so much.

It’s mom!


It’s so yummy.

It is so delicious.

It is my mom’s good apple pie.

Eat it. 


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, conflict, problem and solution.


Science focused on claims and evidence. Having practiced on picture mysteries, students worked on properties of  matter. They measured physical properties. Mass, calculated volume, recorded hardness by scratch/smear tests and recorded length. From here they were presented with 5 white powders and had to test them for chemical properties.  In both cases students had to collect data accurately so they could then do data analysis. 

For example, once this baseline data was gathered for the powders, 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 A






Powder A has to be baking soda & alum 



The gym floor is about to be torn up and so lunches in the classroom will become a regular feature. Maintaining a nut free environment for lunch does mean that we will need to be a little vigilant. Your help here is much appreciated. 

I usually throw in some photos with the newsletter, but the reproduction on the photocopier is always underwhelming. Given that, most photo’s will retain their glorious color and high definition on the class facebook page. 


                                                                 September 4th, 2019

Dear Families,

You will be reading this after the first eight days of fourth grade. Hopefully things are going well with your student, and please feel free to contact me at any time with questions or comments. As students often respond with “Nothing” when asked “What did you do in school today?”, I am hoping that these newsletters can help keep you better informed. I was planning on sending this letter out last week, but as it contains photos of students I needed to wait until I knew what editing needed to be done based on parental permissions. If you have still to return the permission forms (field trip, photo release…) we would be awfully grateful to get them back in…See the end of the letter when we return to this and facebook.

The start of the school year is spent establishing a class community and developing criteria and expectations. Here is a summary of our first four days.

Room 311 Constitution

In 1781, after the Revolutionary War, the British left the colonies. The new country had to decide how the country should be run. The Constitution (a set of rules) was written…

In August 2019 a new community was made in Room 311...

Class 311 is a community!

  • We are a group of people in the same place and have a feeling of fellowship because we share common interests, values and goals. 

For example we share the value of interdependent thinking!

  • many people working together on a problem are more powerful than working alone.


Build the highest structure using the things-we-have-in-common cards. 

Julianna (Charlie) asked, “Can we fold the cards? 

Which allowed...

Bravo to build a structure

Which allowed…  Alfa to realize that a folded card is more sturdy is you turn it 

Which allowed…  Delta to go higher and higher!

Interdependent thinking!

The class did not want anarchy (no rules at all). All communities need rules. The class did not like tyranny (one person who makes rules to benefit only themselves). They preferred royalty (one person who makes rules to benefit everyone).  As a community our goal is democracy (everyone has an equal say in what the rules are).  When we make rules we should write them as if we did not know who we would be in the community


The student who wrote the rule “I get all of the candy” did not like this rule when he opened the mystery envelope to see that he had a different class identity in the activity. Avianah liked her rule that “we should share the Skittles fairly amd evenly with everyone” because it did not matter is she was playing as Avianah, Owen or Jacklynn.

Class Criteria/ expectations/ rules

We treat members of the community fairly. 

  • We treat them in the same way that we would want to be treated. 

  • We want to feel respected (valued and important)

  • We want to feel safe

  • We want to feel/be successful


If a member of a hometeam feels that they are not being heard, the rest of the group needs to listen to them as they would not like it if they were not being heard.

Everybody gets what they need, rather than everybody gets the same. 


Every one gets the same     Everyone gets what they need

If a member of a community is allergic to peanuts they need a nut-free classroom.


We can be successful by using the criteria. Criteria tell us what needs to be done.

Criteria - standards, expectations, and requirements that are used to judge and evaluate


Evaluating chocolate chip cookies

  We can find success….

If we are patient

If we don’t give up (persevere) 

If we stay calm
If we stay focused

If we work together 

If we have a growth mindset (I can’t do it YET…)

What does group work and interdependent thinking look like?

Communication is an important skill and very hard!


Using a seer, a teller and a builder build this…..

In communication, we may get a partial understanding of an idea….


We need to communicate carefully precisely and with detail so that people can fully understand our ideas. 


Our first student of the week.... 

The unknown can be uncomfortable or scary. However, when we learn about what may be unfamiliar, then our questions are answered and the unknown becomes normalized and not threatening. Aviannah did a sterling job teaching the class, and her openness both informed and put everyone at ease, herself included. Thank you!

This week we moved into curriculum; maths, literacy and science. In the next letter, we can spend time on what we are studying. 

I am aware that a letter every couple of weeks or so is not a particularly timely way to find out what we are doing in the classroom. To that end I have created a facebook page Lodge Fourth Grade ( . It is only open to friends rather than the whole internet. As such if families would like to join, photos and news can be posted closer to real time. As we move forward students can also publish writing etc on the page. Clearly we will respect families’ wishes (hence the note about permissions at the start of the letter and the editing of this letter in terms of photos). As students will also have access to it (while clearly not being able to join) we want it to a positive experience. 


Nick Lodge

Back to school

Another 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 and air conditioner in the classroom are working overtime and almost winning the battle of keeping 311 cool enough in which to write this letter.  Very warm (literal) greetings to both new families to grade four and returning families.

 If we are yet to meet, I am currently your fourth grade homeroom teacher for the coming year. Heralding from Oxford, England, I married an American and ended up in rural Vermont and have stayed put for the past 31 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.

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 for any student who collects/buys one from the grab-and-go cart

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




10:15 - 12:15

English Language Arts (writing, reading…)

12:15 - 12:45


12:45 - 1:15


1:15 - 2:00 

Science (Lodge) /Global Citizenship (Newberg) 

2:00- 2:20


Daily Classroom “Trivia” Quiz



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

  • Note that students in grade 4 will be taught by both myself and Ms. Newberg. I will teach science to both classes, whilst Ms. Newberg will instruct global citizenship (social studies). Classes will alternate between the subjects fortnightly. 

  • We now know for certain when sneakers are needed for PE (Monday and Friday) and when library books are due (Thursday…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! This year we are unable to offer free breakfasts in the classroom to all students as well as free lunches. As of press time, snack of fresh fruit and/or vegetable will still be available. 

The class set-up may be a little different for students. Forsaking desks, we have round tables. Students will be put in hometeams for two weeks (Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta). The teams are then reassembled. There 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 “trivia” quiz that is played between the teams at the end of the day. “Trivia” allows news rounds, problem solving, critical thinking, integrated thinking, the exposure to new concepts and the review of others...We have been doing this for the past two years as a positive closing structure for the day that fostered teamwork. It has proved to be  popular with the class, so it is returning this year.

Students also have a variety of seating options; chairs, yoga balls, wobble chairs and standing at the stand-up desks. Negotiating within the hometeams about the use of resources, projects and self/peer monitoring  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. 

Students in class are positively recognized in a variety of ways. One such way is a teacher appreciation ticket (TAT). Students are given these and they are collected. Every Friday they become raffle tickets for class prizes. They are counted before grade 4 team meetings. In these forums both classes get together and the class with the most TATs earns the team cup, whilst both classes TATs are totalled and when a certain goal is reached,  a team reward is earned.  

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


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 be continuing to 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. 

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.... 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. 






7:30 - 7:50

Arrival/Breakfast in the classroom for any student who collects/buys one from the grab-and-go cart

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




10:15 - 12:15

English Language Arts (writing, reading…)

12:15 - 12:45


12:45 - 1:15


1:15 - 2:00 

Science (Lodge) /Global Citizenship (Newberg) 

2:00- 2:20


Daily Classroom “Trivia” Quiz