Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Not so Hot ... Thankfully!

The heat wave broke today, and everybody in room 19, both students and teachers, found things much, much more pleasant today. Indeed, everything was quite pleasant today. The students did reading as usual and we corrected our homework. Mr. Lawton led the students in a review of some of the basic ideas of plane geometry and polygons. After recess, Mr. Lawton also had the students do some experiments with magnets. You can see some of the interesting things they were doing below. Students continued working on the play which we will be presenting next month. This play, based on Native California sources, will involve students in all aspects of the creative process. It will be great!

Speaking of great things, we will be having our field trip tomorrow to see the filming of American Gladiators. As parents already know, the students will be returning to school late, probably close to 3:30. Please be sure your child has a sack lunch.

Home Studies: (1) Do the Open Court packet. This covers the last part of the "Anne Frank" story and the beginning of the "Music and Slavery" selection. (2) Do the math packet. This covers polygons, area and perimeter, equivalent fractions, and division.

Experimenting With Magnets

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Area of a Cereal Box

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Rectangular Prism

One of the rites of passage of any new teacher is having your professor come during student teaching to observe you and provide a critique of the lesson. Today it was Mr. Lawton's turn as his professor from CSULA watched his lesson on determining the surface area of a rectangular prism. Mr. Lawton came in with dozens of small cereal boxes. The students cut these up and determined the size of the area by putting them on a sheet of graph paper. They did a great job with this activity and it served as a great introduction to learning the formula. The students now get the idea that there are six faces on a rectangular prism and that the total area is equal to the area of each face. It was a lot of fun, and the students were marvelously cooperative. Some pictures of this activity are found above.

We also spent some time in Tech Center beginning to learn the garage band program. The students had composed some short rhythmic and melodic motifs during music time, and we had recorded them playing these on boomwhackers. The short passages are known as "ostinati" and they serve as the underpinning for a melody. In the upcoming weeks students will be refining their melodies to make them work well with the ostinati.

The rest of the day was pretty regular. We checked homework, did reading, went out to PE, and, of course, had lunch and recess.

Home Studies: Last night was pretty heavy so we'll take a day off. Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Stopping Global Warming

The highlight today was an assembly, sponsored by our Friends of Third group, which gave the students an overview of the problem of global warming and offered them some simple solutions for using less energy and creating less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It was an informative if sober way for us to end our day.

The rest of the day was pretty straightforward. We corrected and discussed an number of assignments from last Thursday and Friday. We did reading. We did our usual rotations and exercises at PE. Mondays are usually pretty straightforward days and this was fit that pattern.

: (1) Do Test Best, pages 39-45. (2) Do the two pages in the History study guide. (3) Do the "Adding and Subtracting Fractions" and "Division of Money" sheet. (4) Do that Math CST release questions Mr. Lawton handed out.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Today went quite smoothly. We did reading and then corrected the language arts homework. Mr. Lawton worked with the students on area and perimeter. This is a hard concept at points for kids to grasp. They get the formulas easily enough, but understanding what they mean and when to use them is harder. Mr. Lawton is working hard to move the children beyond mechanically applying the formulas to real comprehension. It isn't always easy....

We read a little of Great Horn Spoon. We practiced singing "California Here I Come." We talked about time zones and started on the history packet.

After lunch Mr. Lawton started teaching the students "Cloud Song." This is a Native California song which they will be singing and performing on recorder and Orff instruments. There is also a short play which goes along with the song. The students will be getting this ready for a performance in the late Spring at a "Music on the Green" evening sponsored by Friends of Third. It should be great.

Finally, the students worked in Read-Around Groups to edit each other's adventure stories. They then started on their final drafts. The last forty five minutes of the day was blissfully calm as the students diligently worked on their final drafts.

Homework: (1) Finish final draft of adventure story. (2) Finish history packet. (3) Practice Test, Test Best, pp 31-38. (4) Commas, Your, you're. (5) Fractions and Multiplication. (6) Released Test Items.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quiet Day, Quick Post

It was a quiet day today, particularly after all the hustle of last week's Open House and Earthquake Drill and the other stuff. We did reading, we worked on some review sheets in language arts, and we took a Science test. Mr. Lawton continues to work with the students to develop their musical understanding, and to help them master some of the fine points of geometry. It was all fine.

Home Studies
: Very light today. A few students are finishing a composition that was due last week, and a couple are also finishing up this morning's language arts work. Other than that, nothing special today. They'll be a bit more tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Open House Music

Peaceful and Productive

Ah, once Open House is over teachers feel like they can breathe again. Now we can quietly get ready for testing and the end of the year stuff. Today was just that sort of day. We read "McBroom and the Big Wind," a tall tale during Open Court Reading. This is a silly story about how wildly the wind can blow in Texas during the winter. Students always enjoy details in this story like jackrabbits flying through the sky like geese.

We did an art project after this which explored "flowing rhythm". In art, rhythm refers to repetitions of lines or patterns which create a sense of unity in the work. Students were asked to think of something in nature, like wind or waves, which demonstrates this kind of flowing rhythm. They used cut paper to give the impression of the kind of rhythm they sense in these things. You can see some examples of this below. Many of these were quite good!

After recess, we corrected home. Mr Lawton introduced the concepts of relative scale and solfege after lunch. We played a quick kickball game with room 17, and then the students returned to the classroom where Mr. Lawton led them through an activity to explore symmetry in the shapes of letter.

Home Studies: (1) Write the rough draft of a tall tale. Be sure to take a realistic situation and then make it ridiculous by using exaggeration. This should be a minimum of two full pages in length. (2) Do the "Simplest Form" and "Multiplication" worksheet. (3) Transposition worksheet for Mr. Lawton.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

After Open House Glow

What a wonderful evening! Our students gave a marvelous musical performance last night under the capable direction of Mr. Lawton. I have to admit that right up to the last minute I was not sure it was all going to come off, but it was great! We had a great response from parents, and the parents of students in the third grade who were coming here to check things out for next year were mighty impressed, too.

Today we had an opportunity to look at some of the other classrooms in the school. We certainly have capable students and teachers here at Third Street, and it was hard to find a classroom that wasn't a knockout. Still, you know which one had to be my favorite.... We also spent the morning planning and writing the first draft of a survival/adventure story. We discussed how authors often begin stories "in medias res" - Latin for "in the middle of things" - and include the exposition material in flashback. That was the technique used by the author of "Nachito's Teachings," the last story we read in the Open Court anthology. Students then did a flow map of their story and started on the rough drafts.

After recess we went to Tech Center where the students worked on some pages which may or may not be included in the yearbook. After lunch, we Mr. Lawton led the students through our pieces from the performance last night which I filmed them. I will be editing this and uploading it in a couple days to YouTube and linking it to the blog. We went out to PE, and then Mr Lawton discussed symmetry and other geometry concepts with the class.

Home Studies: (1) Do the flow map and the first rough draft for the adventure story. The rough draft should be at least three pages long, skipping lines, writing only only the front side of the paper. Again, students started this during class. (2) Do Chapter Review, Science, pages B86-87. (3) Do the Division practice sheet. (4) Do "Symmetrical Figures," Math, pages 488-489, problems 1-16 only.