Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Short Day

Today seemed pretty short. We had the Dunham Dance program today, and that seems to be coming along pretty well, though the kids have to do an awful lot of waiting. We also had a faculty meeting today in room 19, so we had to clear our by 12:15. An extra PE period for the week. Nobody was heartbroken.

Homework:  (1) Study spelling. (2) Math review sheet -- extended form and polygon review. (3) Science questions, p B63, 23-27. Most students also need to finish “Roxaboxen” questions and the crossword puzzle. The students who work with Ms. Jan will do the crossword puzzle tomorrow.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Playing a birth date in the F Pentatonic scale.
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An Altogether Admirable Day

We had a great beginning to this last week of the first month. After silent reading, we started on a new story in Open Court Reading. It's called "Roxaboxen." It tells the story of how a group of children in Arizona or New Mexico about 75 years ago created an imaginary town called Roxaboxen. They remembered this years and years later and told their grandchildren about htis experience. It's a wistful, charming tale with nice illustrations. We also listened to a good bit of The Wind in the Willows, too.

After recess, we continued our work in Music. We're learning a rondo in body percussion, and we've mastered the "A" sectiond.We also continued our work with our birthday compositions. This was a fun way to compose a melody. Students were given this chart of a pentatonic scale:

do re mi so la
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 0

They then turned their birth date into numbers. For example, my birthday July 4, 1957 became 07041957. In notes it then became D G C C F C D G. Students took turns on the glockenspiels "playing their birthday." Above you can see a picture from last week when we did this the first time and they used xylophones.

We went to the Tech Center where we (almost) finished putting our rough drafts of our fantasy stories into Appleworks. Typing them up will make doing second (and third and fourth and fifth) drafts much easier.

After lunch, we continued our kickball unit mixing with students from room 17. In math, we studied fractions of sets. This is kind of a hard thing for students to get. It seems logical to us that 1/3 of 6 is 2: as a adults we just see it. But children have a hard time visualizing this. They may need some handholding with this tonight.

Homework: (1) Study spelling. (2) Multiplication worksheet (3) Subtraction with regrouping worksheet (4) Fractions of a group, Math, page 486-487

Thursday, January 26, 2006

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An Artsy Day

Today we did our cubist self-portraits as you can see above. Students worked pretty hard on these and the results were good. I think that the students will understand cubism more clearly now than they would have had we just talked about the Picasso story.

We also went to the Dunham Dance program today. Our children were concentrating very hard here which wasn’t always easy because they were doing picture make-ups on the stage. It was an “artsy” day.

Homework:  Study spelling for the test tomorrow. A few students have some independent work from the afternoon to finish — science vocabulary and a couple of math review worksheets.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One of our Flow Maps of Picasso's life. Notice the Blue Period (second one), the Rose Period (third one) where clowns were a frequent theme, and the wonderful depiction of Cubism in blocks.
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Mapping Picasso

Our school has made a point of implementing Thinking Maps this year. This program attempts to teach thinking skills by providing a special graphic to illustrate each one — a circle in a square for defining ideas, a circle connected to other circles for describing, and so forth. I admit being a little skeptical about all of this, but when one of the designs is really appropriate to something we study I try to use it. That was the case today.

We have been looking at Picasso in our Open Court Reading theme of Imagination. The selection in the reader is a biography of the artist which connects the different periods of his art to what was happening in his life at the time. This selection lent itself well to a Thinking Map. We used the Flow Map to illustrate this. You can see one in the photograph above. In the middle row of boxes the students described something of what happened to Picasso in each of the four major periods of his career:  the early years, the Blue Period, the Rose Period, and the Cubist years. In the bottom row of boxes students described his art during that time. In the top, biggest boxes, they attempted a drawing in that style. Some even tried to copy one of his famous works from a period. I think these simple graphics really helped students to organize their understanding of the artist and his work.

Tomorrow students will be doing their own cubist self portraits. I think you’ll find that these are particularly wonderful.

Not much homework tonight. We are actually ahead of where we need to be in the Math Pacing Plan, so we can relax and review a bit. The division worksheet is not due until Friday.

Homework:  (1) Study spelling. (2) Do the division worksheet by Friday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An project that we did a while ago. This was a forest environment.
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Project Progress

Today we kept busy on our short day with a couple big projects. First, we went to the Tech Center (taking advantage of the fifth grade going to Astrocamp) and spent a longer than usual time there so that we could put the rough drafts of our fantasy stories on the computer. This will allow us to more freely edit and revise over and over again in a way that I could never make them do if they had to constantly copy everything over. We made good progress here. Second, we worked with the two teachers from the Dunham Dance Company getting ready for the performance that classes will be presenting on February 17th. Some of the steps were pretty complicated, and for the boys even quite athletic, but they did overall a good job.

Light homework tonight. In addition to the two things belong, try to make a little time for multiplication facts drill. Some students are having a hard time here, not because they do not understand division, but because they really do not yet know the facts “cold.”

Homework:  (1) Study Spelling. (2) Do Chapter and Cumulative Reviews, Math pp 229-229.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Going a Little Slowly

It was a pleasant day, though one of those when I did not get nearly as much done as I had planned! Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

Homework:  (1) Study spelling. (2) Do Practice and Problem Solving worksheets on finding unit cost. (3) Do “Work Backwards,” Math page 227. (4) Do Subject/Object Pronouns worksheet.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Blowing in the Wind

I've never quite figured out what it is about windy days that makes children so restless. But there's something about the the wind, whether its a warm Santa Ana or cold polar blasts like today, that has the students moving in their chairs like the grass on a Nebraska prairie.

Despite this, we had a pretty good day. We did the study questions on "The Cat who Became a Poet" in class. We went ahead and started our comic strip versions of our fantasy stories. We read a good chunk of The Wind in the Willows. We corrected our math tests. We read about and discuss the solar system, a topic on which they already knew quite a bit!

Apparently yesterday's post did not make it to the Internet. We were again having some on and off network problems. Sorry for any confusion.

Homework: (1) Study spelling. (2) Division, Math, pages 218-219, 1-37, 39-43.

Also, a few students still need to complete the "Cat" study questions or the comic strip.


Just a quick homework post today since I need to get things in order and then go off to Mrs. Osterberg’s retirement soiree.

Homework: (1) Study spelling. (2) Do “Dividing by 6, 7, and 8,” Math, pages 215-217, all problems, answers only.

A few students still need to finish the chart on page B 34 of the Science book. Most are finished with it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dunham Dance

Today we started our residency with the Dunham Dance Company. This group was inspired by the work of the great African-American choreographer Katherine Dunham who did groundbreaking work in combining modern dance with traditional dance movements from African and the Caribbean. We’ll be working with these artists each Tuesday and Friday for the next four weeks, and we’ll be doing a culmination next month. I’ll keep you posted on the date.

Homework:  (1) Study spelling. (2) Do “Recording Concept Information” sheet. Read the directions carefully here. The point is to tell what each selection added to our understanding of the idea of imagination, not to recapitulate the story. (3) Complete the chapter 12 review, page 210 and the cumulative review, page 211.

Additionally, many students need to finish the drawing and description of the of the characters and setting of the fantasy story they plan to write for the unit culmination.

By the beginning of next week all students should have completed the lowercase letters in the handwriting book.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Typical Thursday

Today was a pretty regular day in every respect. We had silent reading and checked homework first thing in the morning. We took a phonics quiz. We discussed the idea of schedules. We took a while to really read and discuss the story "Through Grandpa's Eyes" which explores how a young boy uses his imagination to help him empathize with his blind grandfather. We continued listening to The Wind in the Willows. We took a math test. The results should be on the gradebook soon. After lunch we discussed corrected the math test. Since we had a lot of homework scheduled for the evening, I gave them ample time to get started. Some may even have finished everything, but it would be helpful if parents checked it over to make sure there were no points on which they were confused.

Homework: (1) Study spelling. (2) Do "Through Grandpa's Eyes" study sheet. Be sure to use complete sentences, and do not start any sentence with a pronoun. (3) Do "Dividing by 2 and 5," Math, page 201, numbers 2-26 only. (4) Do "Dividing by 3 and 4," Math, page 202-203, numbers 2-35 only.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Wind in the Willows

In each Open Court unit, I try to provide students with some exposure to a larger piece of literature. This is usually a book which is somewhat or even far above their reading level, yet is completely at their interest level. I read the book aloud to the students to work on listening comprehension. For the Friendship unit we did Charlotte’s Web; for City Wildlife we did A Cricket in Times Square.

For our new Imagination unit, we will be reading The Wind in the Willows. I’ve added a little twist to it this time, however. Because students often like to follow along in a book as they listen — plus being kind of fidgety anyway without anything in their hands — I purchased a copy of the book for each student. We are also listening to an audiobook reading so as to allow me to help them to follow along better. If you’d like your child to have the copy of this classic when we’re done with it, just send along 6 dollars and it will be his or hers for good. Otherwise, we’ll just make sure that the book is in good shape so I can use it again with classes next year and beyond.

Homework:  (1) Study spelling. (2) Review Test/ Cumulative Review, Math, pages 196-197. (3) Science, B 29, 13-23. Write answers as complete sentences.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Like or As

Like or As

Today one of the things we focused on was figurative language. Yesterday we read the famous poem about the blind men and the elephant. In that poem the blind men each compared a different part of the elephant to something they were familiar with — a wall, a rope, or a fan.

Today the students tried their own hands at writing similes and metaphors. They picked a particular person, place, or thing. They then picked at least five parts or aspects of this and developed a metaphor for each. These were combined to form a free verse poem. This was not altogether easy for the students, but we had some striking metaphors and some great rough drafts. I look forward to finishing these up and posting some on our bulletin boards for everybody to see.

Homework:  (1) Study spelling. (2) Family of Facts, Math, pages 191-193, numbers 2-29, 36-51 only. (3) Review, Science, page B28 only. Copy questions and diagram.

In addition, a few students still need to finish their metaphor poem rough drafts.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Welcome Back

Just a quick post today to welcome everybody back and to let you know about homework.

I'll get the spelling list to the students tomorrow. Network printers are fabulous unless the network crashes, so I could not print it out today. We started division today. The idea of division as repeated subtraction may be new to some of you, though it's pretty logical when you think about it. That's page 187 in the math book.

Homework: (1) Complete the Blind Men study questions. (2) Division, Math, page 187, numbers 2-18. (3) Division, Math, page 189, numbers 2-21.