Monday, October 25, 2004

An alto xylophone set up in a pentatonic scale. We do much of our work in third grade in the five note scale because it make harmony somewhat easier. Also, most folksongs are written in that mode.
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Musical Matters

Our music program is now in full swing in room 19. The students are learning to sing correctly. We are concentrating on breathing and using the head voice register. We have studied the idea of underlying beat, and students have learned to find the natural rhythm in words. They are learning to connect the beat and rhythm they feel with standard rhythmic notation. They are also learning the notes of the treble clef, and soon we should be actually reading music! And it's only October!

They are starting to learn the notes of the recorder and to play the recorder correctly, as well. This is a fairly slow process which requires a lot of practice. Generally, our pattern is to learn to play something that the children have learned to sing, first. That helps them when they are looking at the notes because they already know what it should sound like. We're doing some very simple melodies right now, concentrating on so, mi, and la. Students will be given the opportunity to play the same tune in different keys so they begin to understand the concepts of relative and absolute pitch.

In Reading, we have finished the first unit and are starting on the second one, City Wildlife. This is a challenging unit for the children, but we will be doing as much as possible to make it engrossing for them.

Homework: Finish the rough and final drafts of the friendship essay, if not already finished and turned in. Do the "Knowledge about City Wildlife" paper. Pick one of the ideas from that paper, and put it on the small "What I already know" paper together with a good drawing or a picture from a magazine. In math, student should finish the second multiplication sheet by Wednesday. The spelling word list will be sent home tomorrow.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

A great Dodger cap here! Go team!
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A Model Thursday!

Today we finished up Teammates, the story of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese's friendship. We discussed contractions and subject-verb agreement. Students generally do well with both of these skills, though it's comes as a shock to many of them to realize that they have been unconsciously adding the -s sound to the end of many verbs for years! To continue our work with main idea and detail, students wrote paragraphs about their favorite baseball teams. Since many of them, like me, are a little fuzzy about who plays for what teams, they got to make up the players and the teams if they wanted to! After all, it's the writing skills here that are important, not the sports skills. They also did pictures of the hats of these teams. One of the very, very best you can see above this post!

Math is starting to really well! After a lot of confusion and procrastination about the assignment sheets, most of the students are really getting competitive about finishing as many as they can. And the quizzes are showing a lot of learning, too! Mrs. Oh is very impressed that the students can name the standards that they are studying.

Homework: Students who did not finish the rough and final drafts of the baseball team paragraph need to do those tonight. Students should also finish the pictures of the baseball caps if not done. Otherwise, all they need to do is study the spelling words and continue with the math.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A couple of the great food chains the students made today!
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Our First Rainy Day

Well, there's nothing teachers hate so much as rainy day schedule, but we had a pleasant day today despite the deluge!

Our reading conferences are really going quite well, and I'm impressed by how much many of the students are reading. We also sloshed our way over to the library where students picked out more books for their free reading. Our student librarians have distinguished themselves by their quick grasp of the new library automation system.

Back in the room, we reviewed the Teammates story and discussed finding main ideas and details in a text. We paid particular attention to how the main idea is usually found in a topic sentence and supporting details fill up the rest of the paragraph.

After an in-class recess, students worked in partners to construct a model of a food chain. An example of one of these marvelous models is shown in the picture above. We discussed who were producers and who were consumers in the chain. The students then worked with their partner to create an expository paragraph with the main idea stated in the topic sentence and supporting ideas, drawn from the models they had made, in the rest of the paragraph.

After lunch, the students did a wonderful job cleaning up the room and we had math time. We talked about when you have to use addition to solve a problem and when you get to use multiplication. About half of our students are already finished with the first Number Sense 2.2 page and have moved on to the second one. Great work!

Homework: Continue to study spelling for Friday's test. Complete the Parts of a
Book worksheet. Complete either "Folktales" or "Tell a Tale",
whichever one you received. Complete at least through the Chapter
Review, page 128. If possible, finish the first multiplication page
(NS 2.2A).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Blog's Back

Well, regular readers, you may have noticed nearly 10 days have passed without a post. This was not because I was being lazy, but because we lost our internet connection in room 19 as a result of work that was being done to upgrade our network. Evidently somewhere along the line, a piece of fiber optic cable was snapped and that was the end of our electronic connection to the rest of the world. But now things are corrected, as you can see, and regular posts will begin again! A big thank you to the guys from Compel, the contractor, for fixing this.

Students are now beginning recorder, purchased thanks to parental generosity. We are beginning the process of learning the notes, particularly by taking the same song and learning to play it in different keys. That way students learn the difference between absolute pitch (C D E F G) and relative pitch (do re mi fa so).

We've also skipped ahead in math to Number Sense 2.2. This is to make sure that everybody gets a solid chance to study multiplication and geometry before the Quarter One assessment next month. We'll go back and "pick up" the missed standards as we can. Nobody will be unfairly penalized for this. Next time we'll make the deadlines a little clearer and sharper so that students will keep pace a little better. Students are overall doing very well in math!

Homework: Students need to finish the study sheet on the Teammates story. Be sure to copy the sentences in the vocabulary section and to write the answers for the questions in the comprehension section in complete sentences. They should look back through the book for the answers! It's not a test! Students should also be finished with the four assignment on the NS 2.2(A) sheet, that is, they should be finished by tonight with page 125. Many have already finished the whole section and aced the quiz. Way to go!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Again a quick post

My car needs to go to the car doctor, so I'm out of the classroom quickly today. See you tomorrow at 8:30 or before!

Homework: Do the crossword puzzle for Dog and Leopard. Continue with math. Students should be working on subtraction and estimation NS 2.1(B) and MR 2.1(B) now.

Again a quick post

My car needs to go to the car doctor, so I'm out of the classroom quickly today. See you tomorrow at 8:30 or before!

Homework: Do the crossword puzzle for Dog and Leopard. Continue with math. Students should be working on subtraction and estimation NS 2.1(B) and MR 2.1(B) now.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Back to School Breakfast

Just a quick note to remind you that Third Street will be having its annual Back to School Breakfast this Tuesday, October 12. Since we have already had our own Back to School event, my presentation will be brief at 8:30 will be brief, focusing mostly on improving the process of getting work completed and turned in, mostly in math. I'm open to suggestions here, because some of our students are really behind in their assignments already.

I'll be available from 7:30 to 8:30 for informal conferences. This is also the time for you to sign up for the formal December parent conferences which accompany the first report card. Please stop by at least to sign up for a time that will be convenient for you.

A big thank you to the many, many parents who have contributed to the classroom fund. I have already ordered recorders, and I'm going to be getting a portable container for their emergency kits so that we might actually be able to carry them out to the playground in the case of an actual problem. I was never sure how exactly I was going to do it before because all that water is pretty darn heavy!

Homework: The students have been working hard in the last few days on catching up on math. They now have red math folders which they should have taken home with at least one or two assignment sheets to work on this weekend. If you child didn't, let me know right away and we'lll work on solving this problem.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

PE testing

Mrs. Caruso, as I've mentioned before, excels at one of the areas that I like the least -- physical education. She got the idea to give the children a comprehensive test of some of the key physical fitness and sports abilities including long distance running, short distance running, ball throwing, and a variety of calisthentics. She involved the children in observing and helping to assess each other's performance in these key areas. She and I timed some of the running One of the things I will be able to share with you at the conference is a one page report on your child's physical condition.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the children could do when motivated. Still, kids today, as we all know too well, watch too much television, eat too much junk food, and don't get enough exercise. I encourage you to help your child find the kind of activity which he or she will enjoy. Some kids really love competitive sports, and getting them on teams is the best thing you can do. But other children -- and I was one of those -- just hate organized athletics and being forced to play when they know they're not any good can be a crushing experience. But many of those kids like swimming or Tae Kwon Do.

Homework: The spelling list went home today. As before, though there are 50 words, they are not that hard. Also, keep up on the math. Many students are falling way behind, and I'm going to just give them a quiz whether they have studied it or not and get them caught up with where they should be. We can always go back and do addition and subtraction if needed.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

An example of the kinds of narrative pictures the students saw at LACMA. Ms. Limb took pictures of the students on the field trip, and we'll post these really soon!
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Art Tells a Tale

Well, today was our first field trip of the year and I think it went smashingly well! A big "thank you" for Karen's mom for organizing the trip, to Talia's mom and Grace's mom for carrying lunches, and to Jay's mom and Alina's mom for walking with us.

Most of the kids didn't think they could walk all the way to museum and back, and despite some theatrical growns, they not only did it but had a good time getting all that exercise. We stopped at points along the way to talk about plants and houses and local history, too.

At the museum, the children were divided into groups of four or five and each went with a docent. They looked a variety of art works from different periods and different continents. All of the paintings and sculptures in some way told a story or at least suggested a possible story to the children. That kind of art is much more easily understood by children than decorative art or abstract art is. But the docents did not merely let the children spin tales about the works they saw. They pointed out the materials out of which the works were made, and they discussed how different types of lines predominated in different works and the emotional impact of those kinds of lines. For example, horizontal lines tend to create a peaceful feeling in the viewer, while diagonal lines give a sense of agitation.

We had lunch in the park afterwards and then walked back to school -- in time for lunch recess, no less! After lunch, Mrs. Caruso showed the student a film about life for children in the Pilgrim era. We had the first faculty meeting of the year in our room this year (partly because Mrs Oh is so impressed by the work the students have done so far) and I needed to help set up.

Homework: Finish what was assigned Monday. Spelling lists never did get passed out today, but the words are again pretty easy and I think that two days should be more than enough time to master the one or two troublesome words.

Monday, October 04, 2004


One of the key features of the Open Court reading system is its emphasis on teaching children to sound out words. So one of the things that we do with each story is spend time "blending" words. Its surprising how much practice in this skill even apparently proficient readers need!

There are two kinds of blending: letter-by-letter and whole word. Letter-by-letter blending is what all of us did when we first started to read. "Kuh Ahh Tuh -- Cat!" But this kind of blending isn't for kids only: good adult readers will sound out an unfamiliar word in the same way. But children need some practice with sounding out words in this way or else they tend to forget how to do it. And when they forget how to sound out words, then all they can do is guess what they think the word must be. We try to spend a few minutes each story practicing the letter-by-letter blending, but mostly we do whole word blending. When we do this, I have already written the words out on the board before school and we read them through together and discuss any patterns we see.

Remember, tomorrow is not only the LACMA field trip but is also the first day of early dismissal. School will be out tomorrow at 1:30, not 2:30. This will be the pattern until May.

Homework: Do the crossword puzzle. Words and clues are on the back. Do the dialogue worksheet. Keep working on math assignments. Students should be on estimation (mathematical reasoning 2.1) right now. I forgot to photocopy the spelling list, so that will come out tomorrow. Since we have a field trip, this homework is not due until WEDNESDAY!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Just a few quick reminders

Another wonderful week is over, and all of us deserve a good weekend rest! Let me remind everyone of a few things:

  1. Tuesday we have our walking field trip to LACMA. This will be a lot of fun for the kids even though they will complain about how long it takes to get there! (Ignore them. They need the exercise.) The field trip will focus on "Art that Tells a Tale". If you signed up to accompany the class, please let me know any changes of plan as soon as possible! A BIG thank you to Talia's mom for getting us volunteers, and to Eve's mom for planning the trip.
  2. Hunter's mom wrote a nice note asking for donations. We need some extra money for recorders and field trip admissions (Friends of Third takes care of the busses only). If you can contribute please do. If you can't, your child will still participate in everything, though the teacher, not the school, will cover any shortfall.
  3. Also, remember Saturday's Friends of Third get together from 6:30 to 8:30 at 208 South McCadden Place. If you haven't already please RSVP to (323) 871-0413.
  4. The Back to School Breakfast is coming up soon. I treat this as an informal opportunity to check on progress with you, and we also use it to sign up parents for the December parent conferences. Please come if you can.
Homework: Do the "Following Directions" paper. Do the "Adverbs" or "Super Adverbs" paper, whichever one was assigned to you. Likewise, do either the "Homonyms" or the "Homonym Fun" worksheet. Keep up the good work in math. Most students are finished Number Sense 1.4 (Rounding) and Number Sense 2.1 (A) (Addition and Addition properties).