Happy New Year 2019!

I can’t believe the break is over and we are back in school! I hope everyone is well rested and ready to work hard. I’m excited to be back and ready to move ahead in all subjects. The next two weeks the school is having STAR testing. We will begin our testing next week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I felt beginning this week was a little stressful with just returning back from break, getting two new students, field trip on Wednesday, etc, etc. Next week we will be ready both mentally and physically.

As I’ve mentioned previously, and I’m sure your children have shared with you, we have two new students in our class. They are visiting for three weeks here from Korea. We are so happy they’re here sharing our classroom with us. I hope they will enjoy their stay here with us.


Field Trip

As you all know, our field trip to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano is this Wednesday, Jan. 9th from 7:45am – 3:30pm. It will be an all day trip including a ride on the train.

When we go on our field trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano we will gather at school at 7:45 and drive to the Solana Beach train station. We will take the 9:00 am train to San Juan Capistrano.

I DO need a couple of drivers to take other students now that we have two extra students. If you are able to take other students with you please let me know ASAP and how many you can take. We will need to meet as a group, where we will need to line up on the platform prior and the elevator or journey down can take a bit.

Students should wear jeans and their Stella Maris Academy polos and sweatshirts. If there is rain, they will need a rain jacket. Please pack a sack lunch for the day with snacks for the train as well. Some students have enjoyed bringing card games and things for the train trip. Please no cell phones .

We will be returning on a later train, the 1:49 train. This train will arrive in Solana Beach at 2:42 and then we will make our trip back to school from there. This will make us arrive at school after pick up at around 3:30, so plan accordingly.

Here is a brief overview of what’s to come for the week of January 7th:


We will be discussing Chapter 11 – ”The Third Commandment”. In this chapter, the students will learn that we follow the Third Commandment by Remembering to Keep Holy the Lord’s Day .


In Math, we have finished Unit 3. The children did quite well on the Division Test. I was very happy with the outcome. Now we will be continuing on to Unit 4: Properties and Algebraic Notation with Expressions and Equations.


We are continuing to read our new book called: By the Great Horn Spoon. We have currently read chapters 1-4 already. Now the children are busy answering comprehension questions which we share out every day as we all catch up. Next, we will read Chapters 5 and 6. We will continue implementing our knowledge using different Reading Strategies throughout the book.


This week we will continue to work on Informative writing and our research skills as we continue to work on our California Mission reports. My goal is to have these papers done and turned in by January 17th. That gives the children two weeks to finish and finalize their papers. I will be sharing the rubric that I will use to grade their papers this week to give them an idea of what I’m looking for in their final product.

In Writer’s Workshop, the students will be working in a group rotation setting, working on “Figurative Language”. Also, we will be developing more poetry and using our spelling words to create a paragraph about our New Year’s Resolutions.

Social Studies:

We will be finishing our discussion of the Spanish explorers who set out to find new land and who have found the West Coast: Alta California, establishing our first Missions and cities, we now know, along the way. We will be focusing this week on “Missions, Presidios, and Settlements”. After coming back, I realized the children need a little more review on this chapter, so we will be doing some individual work, as well as, some fun group work to understand what they’ve learned so far.

Science :

We will be doing a fun experiment involving snow and snowflakes. I’m sure the kids will come home and tell you about it, because it is pretty fascinating.

Announcements and Dates to remember:

  • January 8th – Pizza Lunch

  • Jan. 9th (7:45-3:30) – Field trip to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano

  • Friday, January 11th – 9:15 All School Mass —- NOTE time change!!

  • Monday, January 14th – Monday Morning Mass

  • Tuesday, January 15th – STAR testing (Reading)

  • Wednesday, January 16th – STAR testing (Math)

  • Thursday, January 17th – 8:10 Student on the Month

              STAR testing (Make-ups)

  • Friday, January 18th – No School

  • Monday, January 21st – No School

Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions or concerns. I check my email quite regularly.

Thank you again for all you do to help your children!

God Bless all of you!

Have a wonderful week!!

Summer Work

I hope you are enjoying your summer! I just wanted to make sure you were aware that students have been asked to complete 8 ALEKS assignments this summer in their ALEKS accounts and to read 5 books to attend Mrs. Marcelino’s ice cream social. Please see the information below for more details.

Want to come back to school in the fall and attend our ice cream social? What about having the math department serve you pancakes? If either of these options interest you, please take a moment and check out the information below.

Every summer our students are asked to read and complete math assignments (grades 4-8) to help prevent the summer slide. Below you will find the links needed for these assignments.

Mrs. Marcelino’s Ice Cream Social Summer Reading Log – Students in kindergarten through third grade are asked to read and record 10 books. Students in fourth and fifth grade are asked to read five books, and middle school students are asked to read three books.

Summer Math (4-8) – Students in fourth through eighth grade are asked to complete 8 ALEKS assignments over the summer with a score of 90% or higher. If students score lower, they can use the Quick Retake option to simply redo the problems they missed. Assignments can be found in the upper left-hand corner of ALEKS by clicking on the three lines and selecting “Assignments“. It is strongly suggested that students complete the 8 ALEKS topics before working on their personal pie if they are close to finishing their pie so as to not lose their work on the assignments.

Thank you! We hope you have a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, August 22nd.

Fourth Grade Update

Hi parents,

I am writing to remind you of a few things this week and to let you know some things that are currently happening in 4th grade.

As you may have read in Mrs. Lowell’s letter last week, Mrs. McGarry is retiring this year. I hope you can join us at our Night of Art and Music and see your child’s artwork. It is always a wonderful event with some of our students singing and our band will also be playing!


Night of Art and Music with a reception starting at 5 pm


Student of the Month assembly at 8:15

Talent Show – NEXT WEDNESDAY, 5/16, 1-3 in the Parish Hall


We are moving on to the eighth commandment and will soon be starting our Whole Life Curriculum. It would be wonderful if you could send a baby picture of your child. In fourth grade, the focus of Whole Life revolves around all of us being made in God’s image and how we are all unique. The most we discuss is a baby’s development in the womb. No pictures. We just talk about things that happen for all of us – a heartbeat at 22 days, 6 weeks – ears and lips begin to form… etc. We talk about how we all hit these same milestones but look at how different we all are. It is fun for them to see each other’s baby pictures as well. We read Sneetches and continue to discuss our uniqueness as well as discussing mistakes we might make in regards to similarities and differences with others. We talk about all the adventures God has planned for each and every one of us. Please let me know if you have any questions.

You can check out some of the overviews here: http://www.wholelifecurriculum.com/elementary-school/scope-sequence/


We have moved on to our last unit of math – Geometry. Today we reviewed acute, obtuse, and right angles and how to write about angles, rays, lines, line segments, and points. Tomorrow we will begin utilizing our protractors and measuring angles. We will be learning about triangles and how to name them by their sides and their angles. We will continue our unit with learning about various quadrilaterals and lines of symmetry.

Language Arts

We have been focusing on opinion/persuasive writing this trimester with students writing about whether cats or dogs make better pets. They also had to write a quick persuasive letter to me to convince me of the best book, color, sports player, etc. We are currently working on an essay convincing the reader that plastic is bad for our world. We read an article in Time for Kids about this and students need to include some facts and statistics from this article in their essays.

We have been working on comma use this week and combining sentences. We will also be working on determining the meaning of various idioms and proverbs.


We are currently reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH we are keeping track of the character development of Mrs. Frisby and learning about these secret rats and how they came to be on the FitzGibbon’s farm.

We recently learned about point of view and the different types of narrators. In the coming weeks, we will be doing a lot of comparing and contrasting different themes and topics in short stories and articles. Students will continue to work on some informational standards in regards to the author’s use of reasons and evidence and work on the ability to talk about the various structures of non-fiction articles.

Curriculum Update

Here a quick curriculum update about what is currently happening in the 4th grade classroom.
We are now on Chapter 8 in our religion books. We are learning about God’s Law. This is the beginning of our in-depth study of the Ten Commandments. After this chapter, each chapter will focus on a commandment. Last week we learned about the Feast of the Epiphany and discussed the two required prayers for 4th graders to learn which are the Prayer for Peace and the Memorae.
We are on Unit 4 Equations and Word Problems. This is a more difficult unit for 4th graders as they learn to write equations with a symbol or variable for the unknown number to represent the problem. They are also asked to represent statements of multiplicative comparisons as multiplication equations. Later on in this chapter they will also learn to write equations to represent problems with more than one step. Some students are being challenged trying to write the situation equation when it calls for it, but I expect that all students will be able to write their solution equations for their problems.
We started our new novel before break, Esperanza Rising. This is by the same author as Riding Freedom and will allow the students to complete an author study when we are done.
Infused in our literature block this trimester will also be informational texts. These are short passages about a variety of topics. On Monday students read about Rosa Parks for example. Tomorrow we will start reading part of What was the Gold Rush? to help support their upcoming unit in Social Studies. We will also be utilizing Time for Kids and other news articles as students learn to break down these informational texts, summarize them, have opinions and support their opinions with facts from the text.
This trimester we have been focusing on informational writing as students researched, took notes, wrote rough drafts and have been typing final drafts about their mission. It is my hope that we will complete these essays by next week. We will start to write written responses to the texts that we are using in literature to further work on informational writing the rest of the trimester.
Students will also continue to work on their writing in regards to our literature standards as they explain different aspects of our class novel and write character paragraphs and responses to literature as we read.
We continue to move forward in our grammar book and will learn about verb phrases, irregular verbs, and verb tenses.

Mass, Missions and Other Things…

Just a quick update on all the happenings in 4th grade.
This Friday, December 1st, 4th and 5th grade will be in charge of mass. The students listed below have been assigned a part in the mass. Please know not everyone could participate since the mass is shared with another grade.
Belen – Mary
Owen – St. Patrick
Thiago – St. Nicholas
Kenzie – Diamond
First Reading
Prayers of the Faithful
Gift Bearer
We hope you can join us at this wonderful celebration.
Mission Information
Field Trip
Next Monday, December 4th, we will be going on our field trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano. We will gather at school at 7:45 and drive to the Solana Beach train station. We will take the 9:05 train to San Juan Capistrano. In the past some parents wanted to meet AT the train station. Please let me know if you are planning on that so we don’t wait at school for you. If you are planning on meeting us there, please try to be there by 8:30 or so. Since we have a large group they will need us to line up on the platform prior and the elevator or journey down can take a bit.
Students should wear jeans and their Stella Maris Academy polos and sweatshirts. If there is rain, they will need a rain jacket. Please pack a sack lunch for the day with snacks for the train as well. Some students have enjoyed bringing card games and things for the train trip. Please no cell phones.
We will be returning on a later train, the 1:49 train. This train will arrive in Solana Beach at 2:42 and then we will make our trip back to school from there.
Students were given permission slips this morning. Please sign and return these by Thursday. I have attached one to this email as well.
Mission Reports
Prior to break your child received their mission report packet. In the packet were suggested art project ideas. Please review this packet with your child and decide on an art project together. Mission art projects are due Wednesday, December 13th.
Please see email for assigned missions and mission packet.
Christmas Play
About half the class has a speaking part in the play and will be at practice on Wednesday mornings. The whole class is learning 4 songs. The costumes this year will be the same as last year, shepherd attire or dressed as people living during the time of Christ’s birth. If your child has a speaking part or other part, please check with them as to what they should wear or contact Ms. Misleh.
The dress rehearsal for the play will be at 1 pm on December 14th. The evening performance will be at 6 the same night.
Upcoming Events
Float Building 8 am in the senior yard alley
STEAM Maker Festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds 10-3. Please see Mrs. Zack for student tickets if you are interested in attending.
Dads’ Club Wine, Beer, and Dessert Tasting 7-10 in the Parish Hall
La Jolla Christmas Parade

Welcome to 4th Grade!

Welcome to 4th grade!!!
I know many of you are soaking up the last few days of summer, but as the weekend approaches and you begin to get your child ready for their first day of school on Monday, I wanted to send a quick email to highlight a few things. 
I am looking forward to an exciting year getting to know all of you and meeting you at Back to School Night on August 30th at 6 pm. There will be new family reception in the junior yard at 5 pm, so come welcome all the new SMA families!!
In order to best assist your child this year I am asking if you could get their Case It/Accordion File set up in a similar way

  • Home
  • Paper
  • Religion
  • Word Skills
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Writing
  • Projects
  • (Spanish?)​ – Mrs. di Lorenzo has requested a yellow folder so this section might not be necessary but last year some students placed their yellow folder in it in order to be ready for homework.
Thanks! I used to have students do it themselves the first week and some were frustrated that it wasn’t as neat as they wanted. This way they can do it with you or you can help and make sure they get a great start on organization in 4th grade.
Also, if you can send earbuds or headphones in with your child that would be helpful. We no longer order school headphones and this enables each child to have their own without issue. 
Lastly, if you could take the time to write me a letter about your child, I would really appreciate it. In the letter you might include a brief biography, special abilities, fears, strengths, weaknesses, and past school experiences.  You may also tell me about your expectations for this year, from your child, the school, yourself, and me.  Tell me about the things that you want me to remember while I work with your child in fourth grade. Please be honest and complete.
Okay, if you made it this far, thanks so much for reading! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

Summer Work

Hi parents,

The school is hoping that fourth and fifth graders read 5 books over the summer and record them on the sheet provided to your student this week. I know a lot of papers came home this week, so I am attaching it just in case it has been misplaced. If they read 5 books and submit the paper in the fall, they will attend the Ice Cream Social in September.

Also, your child is asked to complete 8 ALEKS assignments over the summer. These are already available to them. I would suggest they complete the assignments before finishing their ALEKS pie because then I will need to reassign the assignments. Each assignment has about 20 questions and students need to complete each assignment with a 90% or better. There is a quick retake option that will allow them to only redo the problems that they missed. Some parents have expressed that they don’t know where to locate the assignments. In the upper left hand corner of the ALEKS home screen there are three lines.Click on that and then click on Assignments. These assignments shouldn’t take very long and should just keep their math skills fresh for the new school year. Please see the letter below from the math department.

Over the summer it is recommended that each child work on ALEKS as frequently as possible. ALEKS work should become part of your child’s routine at home learning during the summer months. This summer assignment for ALEKS is to complete 8 ALEKS Assignments from June 19th until August 18th. Each will be made available all summer long for your convenience (as we know some families travel during some of the summer months).  Students are also encouraged to continue to work on their persona lALEKS Pie this summer. Once school begins again, your child will be given a new personal ALEKS Pie to work on for the coming year. These summer assignments will be given as your first grade of the new school year.  Additionally, those students who complete the summer assignments with a score of 85% will be included in a start of year pancake breakfast. The math teachers will serve you as a thank you for taking your math learning seriously!


SMA Math Department

If you need your child’s username and password, please feel free to email me. Also, if they finish their pie over the summer, email me and I will move them up. I will have access to all of their accounts until August.

Reminders 1/6

Well we are slowly getting back into the school groove again!
I wanted to remind you of two things:
1. Tomorrow is a mass uniform day since we will be going to mass at 11:15 as a school.
2. Please make sure your child has all of their mission research materials available tomorrow. Students are completing their research and finishing rough drafts. Some have begun typing, but there are a few students that are stuck saying all of their materials are at home. Please send everything that is at home back and please let them keep it at school until we are done with our rough drafts as a class.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear parents,
I hope today your were able to see the gratitude pumpkins we made in class. I am so thankful for all of your children, they truly are such blessings to me each and every day.
I won’t be here tomorrow as I will be beginning my 60 mile journey (20 miles a  day) and will be thinking of all of you as I walk. Thank you for your prayers and support. I feel so blessed to be a teacher here at SMA.
Tomorrow is Dollar Denim day if your child wants to participate in that. There will be a Student of the Month assembly where students that met their AR goal will be mentioned. The following students met their AR goal this last trimester:
Great job 4th grade!! 
Students asked me today if there would be homework over the holiday. I pretended that they were going to owe me a 10 page paper on Thanksgiving! They were laughing by the end of it, and NO, I DID NOT ASSIGN A PAPER!! I did tell them though that if they are looking for something to do, reading and reviewing those multiplication and division facts are always a good idea.
When we return, we will be going to the mission on Tuesday, November 29th. Know that students will need a sack lunch on that day and can wear jeans and athletic shoes, but they must wear their uniform polos and sweatshirts on the top!!
That same week, on Friday, December 2nd, we are also in charge of the mass with 5th grade. Your child might be reading or participating in some way. I will update you on Monday, November 28th as to what everyone is doing, but consider saving the date!! Does anyone have a Saint Patrick’s costume or a St. Nick’s costume? We also might be in need of a Mary costume. Let me know if you can help us out.
Don’t forget that the Christmas pageant is coming on Wednesday, December 14th!! Most students need to be dressed like citizens of Bethlehem – think shepherds!! On that same night, starting at 5:15 in the Parish Hall, the advisory board will be giving a State of the School address updating you about all the great things we have been doing at SMA and what we hope to do in the future. We hope you can join us as well as save your seat for the pageant immediately following.
Phew, I feel like the year if flying by and it will be Christmas break before we know it. Have a wonderful break!
Mrs. Katie Zack