• Goals for the New School Year

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 8/26/2015
    Hello everyone!
    In less than a week now, Open House will be over and the new school year will unofficially be underway. One of the things I'm planning for Open House this year is to post the 4th grade goals that most of you had written back at the end of 3rd grade. What were the things you wanted to do well in 4th grade? Did they have to do with learning a certain subject, or staying organized, or getting along with certain people? We spent a lot of time at the end of the year talking about goals, and I know everyone came up with one. Even if some people from our class were going to be at different schools, setting a goal was still something that could help them begin the year right. 
    I know I've got a few goals of my own. After teaching 5th grade for so many years, going to 3rd grade last year was a big change for me. Because of that, there were some things that I had done in 5th grade that I didn't want to try with 3rd grade yet, just because I wanted to make sure I was covering all of the material we were supposed to learn. But getting back together this year with a class that is very, very close to being the same class we had last year makes it easier for me to think we can try out some of these things. I'm going to keep them secrets for now. But trust me -- even though there will be a lot of things the same about how our class will work, there will be a lot of new and different things, too.
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  • Running Out of Time

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 8/18/2015
    Hello everyone!
    Wow, there are only two more Tuesdays until school starts again, at least for me. Even though school doesn't officially begin for all of us together until well into September, my first day back is August 31. I've already been thinking some about new ideas I'd like to try in the classroom for this coming year, along with things I'd like to do better or differently than last year. Do you remember writing down a 4th grade goal during the last few days of school before summer? Those goals will be up on the wall when you come back to school (maybe even in time for Open House!) to remind you about where you left off in the spring.
    This time of summer always gets busy for me. It's so easy to get caught up in the relaxing and fun of vacation that you (or I) can easily put off the jobs I wanted to get done before school starts again. Since we're almost out of time, I've got some busy days and appointments ahead of me!
    What things do you still want to get done before starting back to school? 
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  • Books

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 8/11/2015
    Now that we're only a few weeks away from getting back to school (at least I am since the staff has to report back a week before all of you students do), I'm starting to think about what things I need to get ready for the new year. I'm thinking about what supplies I need to go buy, how I want to organize the room, what things worked well about last year and what things need to work better, and, of course, what books I'm going to read to the class.
    I spent a lot of time yesterday -- hours, actually -- sorting through all of the picture books and chapter books I have in my classroom collection. These are the books I keep on the shelf for students to borrow, since everyone will always have at least one book they can read if they have the time. I went through the collection figuring out which books were a good match for fourth grade readers, which books weren't on the shelves last year, and which ones were so old and beaten up now that they would probably fall apart if anyone tried to open them.
    Going through the collection and trying to pick the ones I want for read aloud made me realize exactly how many good books there are out there for elementary students to read these days. I know how exciting it can be to get wrapped up in an adventure series or to read the same funny book over and over and over, but I'm really hoping that once we get back, people are going to give these books on the shelf a good thoughtful look. Discovering a new book to read, especially when you wind up being surprised by how much you enjoy it, can be a great thing.  
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  • Pencil Shopping!

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 8/4/2015
    Hi everyone!
    Sorry about the interruption last week, but I was having some computer problems that wouldn't let me get online to post. Everything is better now though!
    This week I'm posting something of a public service announcement, since all of the Back to School sales are starting up in stores. New clothes, new shoes, new lunch boxes...it seems like every store out there wants us to buy new things this time of year, including school supplies.
    I'm here to tell you today that not all school supplies are equally important. If you have a copy of the Morris Bye list of supplies, you should be ready to find all of the things you'll need, and if you weren't going to need it for something we wouldn't have included it on the list. However! I would encourage everyone -- especially the parents among you who do the actual shopping -- to take advantage of all the Back to School sales as a great chance to stock up on one of the most important supplies of all: Pencils! Each student goes through an incredible number of pencils during the school year, and I really don't think you can ever have enough. I usually look for the sales to stock up on my own, because I know we'll reach a point in the school year when some kids just run out.
    If there is anything we all really need to have at the ready to get through the school day successfully, it's always going to be a pencil. Keep an eye on the sales out there now and you can probably find some great deals! 
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  • Halfway

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 7/21/2015
    Hello everyone!
     I hope summer is rolling along splendidly for you. I did a little math earlier and realized that today is just about the halfway mark for summer break this year.  There are two ways to look at this: 1. OH NO! Half of our summer break is already over! 2. HOORAY! We still have half of our summer left to enjoy!
    I'm going to look at it the second way. My summer hasn't been full of big adventures this year, but I've been enjoying it a lot. I've had some good relaxation time, I've done some fun and interesting things, and I've gotten a lot of jobs and projects done. On our 1-4 grading scale, I'd probably give my summer a 3 so far -- it hasn't been the greatest, most exciting summer ever, but it's been enjoyable. Plus my brain is already beginning to think about some new things to do once we get back to school, so I know in a few more weeks I'll be looking forward to getting back to school to try these ideas out.
    I'm going to leave you with some questions today: Since we're at the halfway point for summer, are there still any things you'd like to do before we return to school? Are there any other events you're looking forward to? How do you plan to make the most of the second half of your vacation? (And, of course, are you keeping up with your independent reading and math practice? You want to make sure your brain is in good shape and ready to go when that first day of school arrives!)
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  • The Hottest Week of the Summer, So Far

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 7/14/2015
    Hi everybody!
    Even though it's a Tuesday morning as I write this, I'm still getting used to being back at home and in my normal summer routine again, after spending a weekend with my extended family at my cousin's cabin in Wisconsin. We get together there for a weekend every summer and always have a great time. My family is a big one, so there are usually about 50 or 60 people there.
    This year we sure had a hot weekend to get together, though. I think perfect weather would have temperatures somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees with sunny skies most of the time and just enough rain to keep everything growing. When it got into the 80s and 90s this past weekend, that was a little too much for me. I didn't complain (much) about it, though. Whenever we have super hot days in the summer, I always remember just how much I dislike the days in January and February when it gets so cold it's dangerous to go outside. Back then I try to think about these hot summer days, and remind myself that I should try to enjoy them for what they are once they arrive. 
    What's everyone doing to stay cool and comfortable during these hot days? 
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  • What Vacation Really Means

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 7/7/2015
    Hello everyone!
    I hope you all had a great time celebrating Independence Day and have all kinds of fun things ahead of you throughout the month of July.
    It sure is nice to think that we're only getting started on our second month of vacation. I looked up the word "vacation" on my dictionary app when I decided to write this post, just to see exactly what it meant. It said "an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling." For most people, getting that extended period of recreation or travel means taking a temporary break from our jobs. When I say "most people" here, I'm including all of you who will be starting 4th grade in about two months.
    Vacations are a great way to relax, but they're always followed by returning to a job of some kind. Your job right now is to do the best you can to learn all you can. My question for you today: Have you been doing anything this summer to continue your learning? Are you working on any of the activities on the math calendars that were passed out at the end of the year? Are you doing any practice with fact triangles, if you brought those home? Are you reading every day, and looking for new things to read instead of just going through the same books over and over? I hope so! Any of these jobs can be things that you could just do a little bit each day, and they'll make starting back to school in September much easier!
    Enjoy your vacation, but don't forget how important your job is! 
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  • July

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 7/2/2015
    Hello everyone!
    Does it seem like a long time since we've been in school, or does it seem like summer vacation is flying by?  I think I'd vote for the first choice. We haven't even been out a full month, and I'm already very used to a summer lifestyle. On a typical day I'll wake up before it gets too hot out and take a walk through my neighborhood, then spend a lot of my mornings and afternoons either working on my summer To-Do list or doing some writing. The second book is a ghost story which I think is pretty scary. I've already drafted it three or four times, and hopefully this summer will be the last time I need to. The last time I spoke to my agent we agreed it's pretty close to being done. I don't think I'll be able to finish it before school starts, but you never know?
    Independence Day is on a weekend this year. I don't have any big plans for it -- I'll probably get together with some people in my family for the day. Is anyone going somewhere special to see big fireworks this year?
    Have a great week!
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  • The REAL First Day of Summer

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 6/23/2015
    Hello everyone!
     Doesn't it feel like it's been forever since we were back in school? We've only been away for two weeks now, and third grade is a distant memory (at least for me). 
    This past Sunday was the Summer Solstice, which is the day the official season of summer begins. If you enjoyed our science work during the Sun, Moon, and Stars unit, you might want to try a little experiment. Do you remember when we went out to the basketball court and traced our shadows? They sure made a lot of long and funny shapes! If you tried to do the same thing this week you would have very different results. Try going outside right at 12:00 noon, and see what you can observe about your shadow now! Why do you think that's happening?
    Another thing about the Summer Solstice is that it's the longest day of the year, in terms of how much daylight we have. If you'd like a little practice figuring out elapsed time in hours and minutes, try this one: On June 21, the sunrise was at 5:26 A.M. and the sunset was at 9:03 P.M. How many hours and minutes of daylight were there between those times?
    Mr. Mulroy
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  • One Week Down

    Posted by Tom Mulroy on 6/16/2015
    I hope summer break is starting off well for everyone. It feels like vacation is just getting started, but at the same time it feels like it's been forever since we were back in school. Hard to believe our last day was only one week ago!
    The biggest thing I've done in this first week was help throw a party to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. They're real anniversary is this coming Friday, but we had the party back on Saturday the 13th instead. A lot of their friends came to celebrate with them, and I got to spend time with a lot of my cousins. One of my favorite things about summer time is getting to see my cousins as often as I do. 
    No big thunderstorms yet, but it sounds like tomorrow will bring some rain. Maybe that will be a good day for me to either go see a movie or read a book. 
    Have a great week!
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