Thursday, March 27, 2008

Welcome Mr. Lawton!

Well, it's been a couple weeks since I have posted, but it has been so hectic that I have hardly had time to write.

We have been busy since we have been back. I had the pleasant surprise to learn that Mr, Richard Lawton, who had taught Music to our students earlier in the year, would be working with us doing his student teaching. Mr. Lawton, also known to many of you as a parent here at Third Street, has worked for the district as a substitute teacher, but is now getting his full teaching credential. His ultimate goal is to be a music teacher. We are delighted to have him here, and he will be doing providing our students with a great deal of supplemental instruction in Music.

We are continuing with all the usual stuff -- Open Court reading, Math, Science, and the like. We are getting ready for Open House also, organizing materials and starting to put together books and other Open House materials. And, of course, we are always thinking a bit about testing coming up, too.

Home Studies: (1) Do Science questions, page B67. (2) Do "Graph an Equation," Math, pages 463 - 465. (3) Do the Math worksheet. Make a number line as needed to determine the value of x.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Corks under Water

Teaching elementary school was once famously compared to trying to keep 30 corks under water at the same time. Not every day is like that, of course, but some days can be. Today the students knew that they were going to be spending the last hour of the day playing on the yard while teachers had release time, and that simple change of schedule seemed to create enough excitement that it was hard for them to think of anything else!

Despite this, we got some good work done. We will be starting on the "Surviving" unit in Open Court next week, and we "frontloaded" this by writing and illustrating stories of personal survival. These were quite varied. Some survived fires; others natural disasters; and one or two wrote about surviving their fourth grade teachers. You have to take these in good humor.... We also went to the library and corrected our homework. We discussed the different types of rocks, reading a chapter from the Science book, and we also talked about the Celsius system and negative numbers generally. At 1:30, the corks popped out the door and the teacher breathed a sigh of relief.

Home Studies: (1) Make a tree map of the three different types of rocks. List at least five facts for each type including how each one is formed. (2) Do "Celsius," Math, pages 440-441. (3) Do "Negative Numbers," Math, pages 442-445.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Some Desert Landscapes

Quiet and Industrious

It was a quiet and productive day in room 19. We started the day by finishing up some of the watercolors that the students had started yesterday. That may seem like an odd way to start the morning, but it was a practical solution to dealing with wet art papers. After the students did their art, they did the "Checking Skills" section of the Open Court test and finished the rough draft of the composition. This is the most important of the writing assessments for the students because their score will appear on the report cards as the "Language Arts Performance Assessment" and they will receive an "invitation" to attend summer school if their score is below a 3. This gave them some motivation to work hard!

After recess we did a gallery walk where we looked at some of the watercolors. Many of these were quite good! I will post some of them on the blog tomorrow. The students have also become quite good at giving compliments to each other, very specific praise using art terminology. We then reviewed a the gold rush era and the students took the Chapter 6 test in history. As usual, this was an open-book, open-note exam so it helped to develop reading skills as much as assess factual knowledge. While a few students were finished quite early, most took some or all of the time between lunch and PE to work on this as well. Results will be on the gradebook soon.

At PE, about half the class played soccer while the other half did handball. Both groups seemed to have a good time. We came back to the classroom where students chose writing response partners. They read the rough drafts of the OCR essay which they had started earlier, and then moved on to do the final drafts.

Home Studies: (1) Do "Diagram," Math, page 433, numbers 1-7 only. (2) Do the "Chapter Review/Test," Math, page 434 and the "Cumulative Review," Math, page 435.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dr Seuss's Birthday

Last Friday, our class and room 5 celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday. First and fourth grade students read the books together and did a word search. Thank you to Mrs. Mark for coordinating this annual fete.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Testing and Getting Ready for Testing

I have not been well lately, so forgive the lack of an entry on Friday and the short one today.

We had a pleasant day. Students began work on their Open Court tests, a mini-ordeal which will take up a good portion of the week. In particular, they started work on the writing portion of this test. This is known in LAUSD-speak as the "Performance Assessment" and it has its own line on the report card. Worse still, at least from the students point of view, is that any score under a 3 on this somewhat complex writing prompt will make the district's computer spit out an invitation to attend summer school, a letter which the students would rather not take home. So they worked pretty hard on it....

Speaking of tests, tomorrow is the state Writing Test for fourth graders. Please send them to bed early and to school on time! Because of this, homework will be very light.

Home Studies: (1) Finish the division worksheet. The students already had about 30 minutes to start on this, so most should be close to finished or done. (2) Do "Capacity," Math, pages 428-429. Be sure to read page 428 carefully even though the problems do not begin until the following page.