Friday, April 29, 2005

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Scene from our Fitness Walk. How lucky we are to study in such a lovely neighborhood!
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Well, the student were great today, but between the absurdly difficult math test in the morning and the Open Court test in the afternoon I really felt sorry for them. Still, we tried to liven things up as best we could by taking our Friday Fitness walk about 11:00 am, and by working on our second composition activity in the last 30 minutes or so.

Homework: They've earned a weekend without any!

Thursday, April 28, 2005


We seem to have a sudden crunch of tests and getting ready for them. Not only is the California Standards Test/CAT 6 coming up soon, but we have the district quarterly math test to give and the Open Court unit test.

The district test strikes me as particularly hard, and the homework today is largely designed to give them a chance to review the Statistics and Geometry that we did some time ago. There's a lot of this stuff on the test. Sorry. I didn't make up the test.

Homework may seem heavy tonight, but students were given from 1:50 to 2:30 to get started on it. Some used this time wisely. Others didn't.

Homework: (1) Statistics: Review/Test, p 264 and Cumulative Review, p 265. (2) Geometry: Review/Test, p 410. (3) Complete Connect Concepts, p C36. Copy the chart. (4) Punctuating Dialogue Worksheet. (5) Multiple Meaning Worksheet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

New Blog

Please check out our latest blog, this one featuring student writing. It's at

Also, the gradebook is up to date now. I did have to adjust the points in Independent Reading, and didn't realize that doing this would artificially inflate existing scores. These are now corrected to reflect what's on the chart.

Vocabulary Review, Science, page C36 #1-11 only. Do NOT do Connect Concept. Copy the questions. (2) Math, Review/Test, page 516, and Cumulative Review, page 517.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Learning and Drills

There real growth in school comes, I've learned, not on those big exciting days when lots of things seem to happen but on the ordinary days when a quiet routine carries learning forward. This was just one of those days. The only thing "exciting" today was a fire drill with a lengthy explanation about what to do when bees are sighted on the playground.

But a lot of wonderful learning is going on. Equivalent fractions are hard, but we're learning them. We'll be done with the Money unit in the next couple days.

Homework: (1) Finish "Golden Touch" storyboard. Draw and color carefully. This is an arts grade. (2) Do both pages of the spelling review. The words on side one are the same words in the word search. (3) Math, page 512, #8-28. Reduce to simplest form when possible. (4) Write a four line poem. Each line should have 8 syllables. This is preparation for our next music writing assignment.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Going well

A ordinary but pleasant Monday. We began with Reader's Workshop. After the Pledge of Allegiance, we shared what we had done with weekend. We continued with Writer's Workshop. We concluded with a short quiz over "Cobbler" and read through "The Golden Touch", a retelling of the King Midas Story.

We went to Tech Center today where students imagined their own dinosaurs and drew them in Kid Pix. Lunch time was a little exciting when a bee nest was discovered in one of the Chinese elm trees on the yard. Once the hysteria died down, we had our PE. We concluded with our discussion in math time of putting fractions in simplest form. I think about half of the students get the idea. That's pretty good for the first day!

(1) Math, page 506, #8-30 only. Answers MUST be in SIMPLEST FORM. (2) Plural Forms worksheet. (3) Crossword puzzle.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Getting Fit

Today we had another brisk walk through Hancock Park. Mrs. Caruso sets quite a pace for us! It's amazing to see how much fitter the students have become over the course of the year. We're working on keeping a steadier pace and keeping our attention fixed on the people in front of us and behind us so that we can move together smoothly as a group. As I tell the class, walking in line has all the skills important for driving - staying in you lane, watching the cars in front of you and behind you, and keeping the right distance, neither too close nor too far.

We corrected the math tests today. The results are online at www. I think all of the parents have access. If you have forgotten your log on or your password, let me know right away so I can allow you to check. The test were basically good, though some students need to continue working on the idea of equivalent fractions.

We finished the Cobbler's Song today. Next week we'll do the King Midas story and start our culminating activities, including the test.

Homework: Finish any classwork not completed today.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

This group did a fantastic job with our song writing project. They not only created a lovely melody, but put it in canon all by themselves! Posted by Hello

Steady Progress

Another lovely day. Our Writer's Workshop in going splendidly, and I hope to start posting student compositions soon to a new blog. Details to follow.... We are closing in on the end of the money unit. We've raced through it in order to make plenty of time for the Country Life unit which has a major, major performing arts project.

Students performed the songs they wrote to the four bar rhythmic pattern I gave them. It was a first attempt, and the results were mixed. One group of girls did an absolutely phenomenonal job. I heard some of the boys mutter, "Next time we need to get some girls in the group!" Boy is it rare to hear third grade boys say that! I look forward to future composition projects.

We also took our math test today covering the first part of the fraction unit. We'll grade it tomorrow. By the way, if you haven't checked the gradebook lately, you'll find it is up to date now. My apologies for how behind I got this winter. I think we're back on track now.

Homework: Homework holiday today! A little reward for lots of hard work and wonderfully cooperative behavior.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Two students discussing their compositions in preparation for writing second drafts.
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Great Day

No special insights to share today. It was a thoroughly pleasant day. We continued with Reader's and Writer's Workshops, went to the library, and corrected our Open Court homework. After lunch, we continued working on our group compositions and reviewed atoms and molecules. We continued work on our PE skills in the baseball unit, and we did some review of fractions and equivalent fractions in math. We'll have a quiz tomorrow on this subject! Study hard!

Homework: (1) Open Court worksheet on Drawing Conclusions. (2) Practice and Problem Solving pages for 27.2 and 2.3. This is a PHOTOCOPY.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Today we focused on composition in two different ways.

First, we FINALLY started our Writer's Workshop. I'd been meaning to get this started for a LONG time, but I felt like the pedagogical zeitgeist demanded that I have tasks and criteria charts and and checklists and rubrics and who knows what else for every composition I might possibly assign. It was all so overwhelming that I ended up teaching writing a whole lot less than I should have. Well, I've come to the conclusion that I hate rubrics, those stupid 4-3-2-1 charts which everybody is supposed to use to evaluate everything. I'm sick of them! So, we'll just start writing and sharing our writing and doing it like we used to do before.

Second, we started composing in music today. I gave the students a four measure rhythmic phrase swiped from Musik fur Kinder. They got together in groups of three or four and are setting words to the rhythm. Most of them finished that today. Tomorrow they will compose a simple pentatonic melody for each phrase and will have a song to present the class. I'm looking forward to seeing and listening!

Homework: (1) Complete the "Four Dollars and Fifty Cents" study questions. (2) Do the Chapter Test/Review and the Cumulative review on pages 498-499.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Another one of the excellent fraction charts. Note the astounding precision of this student's work!
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All things being equal...

Well, there are moments in the year that a teacher dreads. In third grade, teach ing equivalent fractions in one of them. The idea isn't too hard for students to understand when you draw pictures for them, or have them draw pictures for you, but learning the very simple formula of "Multiply or divide the numerator and the denominator by the same number" is challenging to apply for them. They'll need a lot of help in the next couple weeks.

Thanks again for a wonderful Open House.

Homework: (1) Do final draft of thank you letter in cursive. (2) Comparing fractions, pp 493-495, #3-31. (3) Problem solving, pp 496-497, #1-8.

Friday, April 15, 2005

One of our great "black velvet art" style pictures.Guess who did this one?
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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Another pleasant day

We started today by doing an art assignment combined with a writing assignment. One of the key standards for third grade is writing a good descriptive paragraph, and it occurred to me that if they drew and colored a picture FIRST they might be more attuned to fine details as they were writing their descriptions. So students did a "rough draft" of the picture on newsprint and then used oil pastel on black paper to create a special glow to their pictures. I'll post a couple great examples tomorrow. They then wrote rough drafts which we will revise and complete tomorrow.

We read the story "Alexander who Used to be Rich" in Open Court as we continued our look at the Money theme. Students correctly identified it as an example of realistic fiction and we enjoyed keeping a kind of checkbook as we watched poor Alexander squander the dollar that his grandparents gave him. This story introduces the third big question of the unit, "What is the proper use of money?" It's one adults can ponder as well as children.

We finished filming the wonderful music and drama that the students presented at Open House. I will edit this and include it on the DVD. We also started a look at the idea of the physical properties of matter today.

Homework: (1) Science questions, page C13. Please copy the questions as well as answering in complete sentences. (2) Math, pages 486-487, all problems. This introduces the idea of fractions of a set.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Students made fraction diagrams to illustrate the basic concepts they are learning.
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Students helping to get the classroom ready at the beginning of Open House.
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Open House

What a great time I had last night! And, judging by the comments I heard, I think our students and parents had a good time, too.

We performed three of our best musical selections: the fruit pie canon, "Who has Seen the Wind?" and "All Through the Night." After that, half the class did their version of the classic African spider story, "A Story, A Story," while the other half of the class improvised accompaniment on the xylophones and other instruments.

A big thank you to all the mothers who brought food, served it, and even cleaned up, too! The chicken and the kimbap were delicious! The vegetables were the perfect complement and the cookies just the right touch for dessert!

Today we had a chance to walk through many of the classroom in the school to see what they had done for Open House. The kids were very excited to visit their old classrooms. We also had library and PE today.

Today were started, as you can see from the picture above, some work on fractions.

Homework: (1) Finish the fractions diagrams. (2) Do pages 483 to 485 in the math book. (3) Do the point of view worksheet.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Home Alone

I wasn't feeling particularly well today, so I left without going to the faculty meeting in order to catch up on a nap. Not that I couldn't have easily napped through the meeting, of course, but it is considered in bad taste.... So it's a quick post today before I sleep.

Homework: (1) Do the study questions on the Open Court story, and (2) page 333 in the math book, numbers 6-17 only.

Monday, April 04, 2005

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Our Money Concept Question board. Note the international currency, much of it shared by students.
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Money, Money

Our Open Court unit on Money is progressing nicely. Students are grappling with three "big" questions in this theme: (1) What is money and why do we have it? (2) How do people earn money? (3) What is the proper use of money? We have discovered quite a bit about the first question, tracing the origins of money from barter economy to debit cards. We are starting to look at issues of business right now, focusing particularly about how even children can make money.

Math takes a huge leap up in difficulty this week as we grapple with two digit quotients in division. If your child knows the times tables well this is a relatively quick procedure to learn; if she or he does not, well it is nearly impossible.

Homework: Read page 328 in the math book. Starting on page 329 do numbers 2 - 54. SHOW ALL WORK.

Friday, April 01, 2005

It was hot today at the zoo, but some folk knew how to cool off!
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Everybody had a great time, despite the heat.
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The bird show was utterly amazing!
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Thanks Mrs Caruso for arranging our trip!
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Zoo Trip

We had our trip to the zoo today. We had a great time despite record heat and the world's grouchiest bus driver. We saw the bird show shortly after we came in, and really had fun watching a bird steal a dollar bill from Mrs Kaupp, one of the parents in room 29! We wandered around and saw all kinds of critters from alligators to cassowaries. I'm sure everybody had a particular favorite. I loved watching the snakes and lizards in the Reptile House.

Homework: Have a great weekend!