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I am excited to work with your students in 4th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies this year!
 
I received a Bachelors of Science degree, in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with a specialization in Elementary Reading from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2000 and a Masters of Education degree, in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University in 2003. Along with my degrees, I am also certified to teach English Second Language Learners and Gifted and Talented students.
 
My career began in Garland ISD teaching self-contained 4th grade. After attending Arizona State for graduate school, I moved to Hazlet, New Jersey where I taught kindergarten. In 2007, we (finally!) came home to Texas. After taking a few years off to raise my children, I joined the Tomball ISD family originally as a parent, then a sub, then a long term sub, and finally as a full-time teacher in 2015.
 
My husband, son, and daughter, Shamus, Peyton, Kallee, and I moved to Tomball in 2013. We enjoy traveling.  I've been to 49 of the US states (The plan is to visit the NW United States National Parks in the Summer of 2018 to get my final state of Oregon) and about 15 or so countries - including some "weird ones" like Haiti, Iceland, Taiwan, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Slovenia (yet I've never been to France, England, or Spain), spending time with family (I have one brother who is married with two boys), football (Go Badgers, Lumberjacks, Sun Devils, Cowboys, and Texans), and hanging out at the lake (any lake will do, but it is primarily Lake Texoma... on the Oklahoma side).
 

Recent Posts

Wax Museum – Journal and Speech Questions to Answer

  • What is the full name of your historical figure?
  • Where was he/she born?
  • Who are the members of his/her family?
  • What was your historical figure’s job before becoming involved in the TX Revolution/during the TX Revolution?
  • Why did your historical figure move to Texas (or was he/she born in Texas)?
  • What was the role that your historical figure played in the Texas Revolution?

We need dictionaries!

Today I found out exciting news!  On the STAAR writing test, students will be able to use dictionaries.  The dictionaries that I have in class (I only have 2) are excellent because they have kid friendly definitions as well as synonyms.  We will be working with these dictionaries in class to make our writing even better!
 
I would love to have a few more dictionaries on hand to share with my kids that are all the same so that we are used to using them.  When test day comes, I will have to split my dictionaries with Ms. Love's class so that her homeroom has the same opportunities as my own.
 
If you would like to donate a dictionary to our classroom, I would be very, very appreciative.  The link to my Amazon wish list is: http://a.co/fTGpYNB
 
Please, please, please do not feel obligated to buy anything.  :-)
 
Melissa O'Brien

Reading Lists and More

    At Parent Orientation on Thursday, 9/28, several parents were interested in reading websites and reading levels!  I am happy to help in any way that I can with making sure your child is getting the best leveled, enjoyable, and made-for-academic-growth book in their hands!  (Thank you, also, to the parents who wrote me the quick note to remind me to get this posted as soon as I could!)

·      Most readers in the 4th grade are between reading levels O and R.  Some will be higher, and some will be lower.  Wherever they are is exactly where we start to grow! 😊  No child will receive a grade on their starting reading level for the 4th grade. 

·       I have completed my individual testing of kiddos in class and have given each child a letter.  I usually tell them that the letter they are aiming to find is, for example, P.  However, I always tell them one letter higher, in this example, Q, as a higher level book where they can challenge themselves!  I also remind them that it is okay to read books at lower levels occasionally because we want to continue to have fun as readers, too!  (As adults, you know how fun it is to read an entire “easy read” in an afternoon!)

As you can imagine, the Fountas and Pinnell reading level system is not perfect, as there will be books that are rated higher (because the content or subject is higher-level) or lower than what seems equal in rating.  This is why the kids know a range of letters.  **If your kiddo does not remember their letter, I have that information readily available and I can give it to them again.  Also, I will be sharing this information at parent conferences.

For more information on the Fountas and Pinnell book leveling system, I encourage you to check out this website.
 

·       The app that I like to use on my phone (free!) from Scholastic is Book Wizard. Book Wizard App  This app allows you to scan the bar code of a lot of books and the RL (Reading Level – a letter from A to Z) will come up.


·       As requested, I have been able to compile a few book lists for you to use when shopping for books.  Please note that they are separated by fiction and non-fiction and by grade level.  (Typical third grade reading levels, and please use this only as a rough guide, are L-O; fourth grade O-R; fifth grade R-T; etc.)  Please see the lists on my website under Reading Level Lists.  On these lists, you will see a number such as 4.5.  This can be interpreted as fourth grade, fifth month.  5.2 = fifth grade, second month, etc.  Again, these numbers are not a perfect system, and should only be used as a guideline.

·       At home, parents are the primary helpers to have kids reading and understanding what they are reading better.  This one-on-one time you have with your child will help them excel at comprehension in all areas – predicting, inference, characterization, and so much more.  An app that was recommended to me, but I have not personally used, is “Fountas and Pinnell Prompting Guide Part 2”.  I will warn you that it is $10, but apparently AMAZING!

I hope these items are helpful to you and your child.  If there is anything else I can help with, please do not hesitate to ask, and I will do my best to answer those questions.

Melissa O'Brien
4th Grade LA/SS
Wildwood Elementary School