Parent Guide

Parent Guide for Mrs. Crotty’s Fourth Grade Class

Parent Guide

Parent Volunteers 

There are many ways that you can be involved here at Sycamore Creek. Parental involvement is expected. Wake County requires parent volunteers that work in the classroom or attend field trips to fill out a volunteer form to become a level one or two.  You must be a level three in order to chaperone a field trip. This needs to be completed before October 3rd. You can do this on one of the computers in the media center or in my room. Parent mentors (or guest speakers) may present a project to the class, chaperone field trips, or help out in the classroom.  There are several opportunities for you to do at home help if you cannot make it into the classroom. 


Regular attendance is critical to the learning process.  When your child is absent, he/she misses valuable instructional time. 

1.       Please send a dated, written note of explanation whenever your child is absent. 

2.  State law requires us to code each absence as excused or unexcused. 

3.  Excused absences include illness, doctor appointments, and death in the immediate family.

4.  Unexcused absences include out-of-town trips (not pre-approved), missing the bus, babysitting younger siblings, and sleeping in. 

5.  Students are permitted to make up work missed because of an excused absence.  Please note, some activities will be difficult or impossible for students to make up (such as science experiments and hands-on math activities).  Therefore, your child may be given an alternate assignment. 


I believe that homework is necessary for practicing skills that have been learned or for enriching the classroom experience.  Homework will be assigned Monday through Thursday nights.  Weekend assignments will only be given for a student needing make-up work due to an excused absence.  Students have the responsibility for their own homework.  Our school implements the Wake County Public School System homework policy.  Please refer to the student/parent handbook or for the complete policy. 

Policy Highlights:

1.       Homework will be specific and based on previously studied concepts, is considered “practice work” and is reflected in a student’s work habit grade.

2.      Research-based guidelines indicate that students in grades 3-5 should receive 50 minutes of homework per day.  Rarely will your child’s homework time exceed this guideline. 

3.       This time does not include self-selected reading. 

Student’s Role:  Students are expected to make sure they understand homework assignments and have all required materials before leaving school for the day.  Students are also responsible for returning independently completed homework to school by the assigned time with any required signatures.         

***Remember:  Always do your best! Please observe the following when completing homework. 


1.       Homework is due at the beginning of class on the assigned date.  They may not work on it for morning work.

2.      Generally, a grade is not given on homework assignments, and this system is used:

  • The students will get a check mark if it is all completed.
  • If only half of the assignment is complete, than the student will receive a check minus.
  • If the assignment is not completed at all, the student will receive a minus.

If your child does not complete all homework assignments, he or she cannot receive a 3 for work habits.

Parent’s Role:

Parent involvement is an important part of the total program.  The parent’s role should be one of interest, praise, encouragement, and support. 

1.       Provide a quiet place to study that has good light.

2.      See that your child has a specific time set aside to study.

3.      Encourage your child to read daily.  He/she will be required to read at least 20 minutes every night.

4.      Help your child organize his/her books and materials each evening so that he/she doesn’t forget needed materials in the morning.

5.      See that your child gets a sufficient amount of sleep each night.  

Grade Specific Guidelines:

1.       Parents may help with directions, but students will need to complete homework independently.  

2.      Homework will be reviewed at school.  As students learn new concepts, teachers expect that parents will not complete or correct their child’s homework so that teachers may better assess student understanding. 

3.      Parents are encouraged to use the agenda or email to communicate any problems in understanding or completing an assignment.

4.      Homework is written on the board and students are expected to copy it in their agendas each day. The homework is also posted on the Weekly Newsletter.  The students need to learn to be responsible for their own learning.   


Weekly Progress Reports 

Inside the weekly folders sent home each Friday will be a weekly progress report.    The weekly progress report will inform you about your child’s class work, homework, and behavior for that week.  Please sign the sheet and return it to school the following Monday. If the student has a check mark that means that they need extra help in that area.  Interim reports will go home in the middle of each quarter for children who are at-risk and having trouble making progress.  Every child will receive a mid-quarter progress report in the first and third quarter.  


Each student will receive a 1, 2, 3, 3*, or 4 on graded assignments and assessments.  Scores of 1 or 2 indicate the student has not yet mastered the skill(s).  A 3 means the child is performing on grade level.  A 3* means the student has mastered the skill(s) with evidence of applying the skill(s) over a period of time.  A score of 4 means the child has extended grade level standards.  Students who are not meeting grade level expectations will receive an interim report each grading period.   All students will receive a report in the first and third quarter. 

Homework Agendas 

I expect my students to have their homework agendas for class every day.  The agenda has holes in it so they should always reside in their binders.  When they do not bring their materials, they cannot copy their evening homework down.  This can result in many missing assignments.  Please encourage your child to have his/her materials when they need them.  

Accelerated Reader 

The Accelerated Reader program is a reading incentive program.  Students read books from a selected list and then take short computer quizzes to test comprehension.  Students earn points based on the difficulty of the book and their performance on the quiz.  Incentives are offered to students according to the number of points accumulated.  At the beginning of the year, I will administer the Star Reading Assessment which will give the Zone of Proximal Development.  This is the level of books your child should be reading in order to grow.  I will assign AR goals for each quarter.  The goals consist of a point goal, percentage correct and reading level goal.  Your child must meet all three in order to receive AR incentives for the quarter.  Accelerated Reader is a resource used in the classroom.  It is not the reading program in fourth grade.  Although the number of points are important, my main focus will be on the percentage of correct answers and book level.  

Classroom Library 

I maintain a small classroom library.  Students may check out books one at a time from my library.  To do this, they sign their name in the check out log.  When they return the book they must check their name off the list.  Throughout the year my books seem to disappear from the classroom.  My books are all labeled with a “P” or a “C”.  If you find my books around your house please return them to school.  Every week our class will go to the media center.  Each child is allowed to have two books checked out from the Sycamore Creek library.  If your child finishes a book before our scheduled time he/she may go to the media center before the 8:20 bell, or between 2:30 and 3:00(depending on afternoon instruction).  There should never be a reason for your child not to have a book to read each night. About every few months I will send home a book order from Scholastic. There are always terrific deals on books.  When you send in the book orders please make the check to the book club (not Sycamore Creek).   Cash is not accepted for book orders. 

Language Arts 

Students in fourth grade apply reading strategies and skills automatically, flexibly, and strategically to comprehend fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.  They read for literary experience, to gain information, and to perform a task.  They use a variety of strategies and writing process elements to compose fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. They become increasingly proficient in active listening, speaking, and using media and technology.  They deepen and extend their understanding and use of English language conventions in oral presentations and written products. 

 Students will: 

1.        Expand vocabulary through wide reading, word study, exposure to content area words, and discussion.

2.       Routinely spell high frequency words and use resources to check spelling

3.       Write for a variety of purposes and audiences and use writing as a tool for learning.

4.       Communicate effectively with different audiences through spoken, written, and visual formats.

5.       Use media and technological resources for research and as tools for learning.

6.       Use increasingly sophisticated knowledge of grammar and language conventions in oral and written products and presentations.

7.       Apply comprehension strategies critically, creatively, and strategically. 

In order to meet the standards, I will use many different approaches to teach language arts this year.  Wake County has adopted a basil reader which will be used.  The students will also participate in literature circles, small guided reading groups, and independent reading projects.  


This year I will begin a new math curriculum called Math Expressions as a resource for teaching our mathematics curriculum.  This program is based on the idea that the children have math talks and go in depth about how they came to their conclusion. Your child really has a tough job this year.  In addition to the transition from third to fourth grade, they are also transitioning between completing concrete work (simple arithmetic) into more complex, abstract work (problem solving).  With help and cooperation from home and school your child can be successful.  Encourage your child to CHECK HIS/HER WORK.  At times we think this must be a new concept to our children.  Many careless mistakes are made that could easily be caught if students would check their work carefully.  This is something you can encourage your child to do on their homework.  Check to be sure they are taking the time to go back and look over their calculations. Encourage your child to show their work as well.  Most word problems cannot be solved in their heads, so they need to show the operations of how the problem was solved.  More often than wanting the “right” answer, I look to see if the students can complete the correct processes to solve the problem.  Please encourage this at home.  THEY are permitted to underline or highlight ‘key words’ in each problem.   


What makes a special program work is the mutual respect and support we have for one another as teachers, students, and parents.  I value your opinions in regard to your child.  Your insights and concerns when problems occur are important to me. 

I would like to request that:  

1.        Students and parents discuss concerns before they become major problems

2.         If there are questions/concerns, please contact me at school either via a phone call, written note, or e-mail.  I will respond as soon as possible.  Please remember that phone messages will not be received immediately (except for emergencies). 

3.        I check my email twice a day and am usually able to respond within 24 hours.      If a homework assignment needs clarification.      I am willing to set up a conference, at your convenience, to discuss concerns and your child’s progress.  Regular conferences will be scheduled late in the first quarter and third quarter, however, I am more than happy to set up other conferences any time you have questions or concerns.                   


The students may bring in a healthy snack. Our lunch is pretty early, so a we will be having snack in the afternoon.  You may also send in a treat for your child’s birthday if you wish.  These will be eaten during our lunchtime.