Friday, October 31, 2008

Fast Friday

The usual quick Friday post. The only homework is finishing up some classwork. They really should not be taking any of this home, BUT, with Halloween-induced Attention Deficit Disorder, quite a few may have some weekend work.

Congratulations to Alex for being the first person in our class to complete the Library Marathon reading contest.

Homework: (1) Finish the double bubble map comparing any two Native California tribal groups. Be sure to put good pictures inside the bubbles and write a short phrase to explain what each picture means below the bubble. Remember, there does not need to be an equal number of bubbles on left and right. (2) "Parentheses," Math, pages 160-161, number 6-49 only.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rhythm in Art

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Picture Perfect

We started out day with Music with Mr. Lawton. He had given us an assignment last week to do "Rainbow Rhythm" and we worked on it together in class on Monday. I posted a couple good examples of this assignment Tuesday. He was quite please with our students' work, and he picked several examples to use as a basis for improvisation with the Orff instruments.

Back in the room, we went over the Word Study and the Vocabulary from Context homework from last night. Our first story, "Eddie, Inc." is pretty long, so I read it to the students so that they could concentrate on using their strategies. They will be doing some followup tonight with their post-it notes and the textbooks.

The big event today was Picture Day. Teachers hate picture day. It's boring for children to wait endlessly while others are having their picture taken, and trying to keep them from excessive talking is like trying to keep corks underwater. We were lucky to get a slot right in between recess and lunch, so it was not as bad as I remember it from other years. I had a proof of the class picture so I could write the students' names, and I did a quick scan and posted it below.

After recess, we corrected and discussed the math homework. We also did an art project about pattern or "rhythm" in art. I'll post some examples of these later. As usual, many of the pieces were quite exceptional.

Homework: Light tonight. I need again to go home somewhat unexpectedly, so there will not be any homework club. Sorry for any inconvenience. (1) Do the "Using Reading Strategies" paper for this morning's "Eddie, Inc." story. (2) Do "Choose the Operation," Math, page 153. (3) Also do the Review Test, page 154 and the Cumulative Review, page 155 in the same book.

Class Picture

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Minotaurs and Elections

We started today, as usual for Wednesdays, with our Theater class. Today Mr. Pratt introduced the idea of stage combat. All our students had a great time with this, not just the boys! As Mr. Pratt explained to the students, actors often have to pretend to fight. He talked about how important it is for them to stay safe while they do this because they will have to have the same fake fight over and over again for many performances. He explained that in order to keep safe the actors very carefully choreograph their fights.

Mr. Pratt went over the classic Greek tale of Theseus and the Minotaur. (See, were already getting ready for May's field trip to the Getty Villa!) He had the students practice a simple, but very effective, choreography for the final fight between the protagonist and the antagonist (Mr. Pratt really stresses vocabulary) of this myth. The students had a blast. They will be practicing this during the week, and they will be performing it next Wednesday. So in about 10 days or so, expect another video. 'Til then, don't be surprised if you see your child stabbing the air when he thinks nobody is watching, crying, "Die you disgusting creature!"

Tech Center was also great today. Ms. Richards focused on the election. She had the students look at a map of red and blue states on the NPR website, and she explained what the electoral college is and how many votes are needed to elect a president. Students had to decide which of the undecided states will go for Obama and which will go for McCain, and they saved this information in a text file. Next week, when the final results are in, they will import this data into Excel to create a spreadsheet and a graph. Politics, math, technology...I wish I had been exposed to stuff this challenging when I was in fourth grade.

The rest of the day was normal. We corrected and collected homework. We went out to PE. We did silent reading. And yes, we got this evening's homework.

Homework: (1) Do the pages 1-4 of the second OCR packet. These focus on the theme and also the word study and vocabulary for the first story. (2) Do the take-home Quiz over chapters 6-10 of Island of the Blue Dolphins. (3) Do the front cover for the "Land and Early Peoples" packet in History. This should have the words "Land and Early Peoples," a color picture, and the student's name. (4) Do "Multiplication Through 12", Math, page 149 and "Multiply 3 Factors," pages 150-151 in the same book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Concepts and Questions

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Outside Expertise

We have many very talented parents in room 19, and one of them, Claire Feldman, is an expert in Open Court Reading. She works for the district as a Literacy Coach out in the San Fernando Valley. At our Back-to-School evening, she volunteered to do a unit opener for me. I immediately suggested the Dreams to Jobs unit because I've always found that one a little hard for the students to make a connection with the materials. Or maybe it's just that I am so accustomed to working in the public sector that I have trouble understanding the idea of business and profits and the like.

Anyhow, Ms. Feldman taught our Open Court this morning, and the students had a grand time. I learned a lot, too. She helped the students to review what they already knew about business and economics - more than you might have expected - and to develop some good questions. These were distilled into the Concept/Question board, and Ms. Feldman provided cleverly color-coded papers for students to use as they go through the unit. In addition, Ms. Feldman came brought in jars of baby food and split the students into groups. Each group will come up with an advertisement which we will film a little later in the unit when we come to the "Birth of a Baby Food" story. It was a real pleasure to have such an excellent introduction to this theme, and all of us in room 19 are now excited to start thinking about jobs. (Well, right now, I suppose an awful lot of people in the banking industry are also thinking about jobs, but that's another, sadder, story.)

The rest of the day was pretty normal. We corrected yesterday's math test and the results are on the gradebook. Please remember to check that regularly. We did our silent reading and journaling. We read and discussed a chapter in Island of the Blue Dolphins. We read and discussed a lesson in the old Harcourt Science book. We checked, corrected, and collected a bunch of homework.

Homework: (1) Do the Review questions, page A 71 in the green Science book. Be sure to copy the questions. (2) Do "California Connections" in the Math book, pages 136-137. This is going to count as a History rather than a math grade. (3) Do the Regrouping worksheet. I am not sure why the computer made the top number always 9000. Please show all work. (4) Do "Facts Through Ten," Math, pages 144 -147.

Rainbow Rhythm

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Jobs to Nightmares

Our next theme in Open Court Reading is called "Dreams to Jobs." To get them thinking about the idea of occupations, I asked them the normal question in reverse: "What would you NOT like to do when you grow up?" There were lots of trash collector essays, of course, but a several stood out for the detail or the unusual choices. Here are a few:

Construction Worker

I would hate to be a construction worker. I would freak out if I had to balance on a beam ten thousand feet high. I would have to eat my lunch ten thousand feet above the ground. If you trip, you fall all the way down to the ground. I think the elevator cables are going to break on normal elevators. But the construction elevators look even scarier. They don't have any walls! You could fall out of the elevator at ten thousand feet above the ground and die. That's why I don't want to be a construction worker.


I would hate to be a professional surfer. Why? Because I can't surf! Riding waves? Ain't happening! Even if I learned, I only enjoy running and swimming sports. Them: "Hanging 10!" Me: Hanging on for my life!!! They say, "Duuuude." I scream instead. I have little balance and sight control. And I'd rather not be over 250,000 dollars per year earner. I'll write draw, or program, but sports are out of the question. S-U-R-F-I-N-G. Surfing is not for me!

Kindergarten Teacher

If I were an adult, I would hate being a kindergarten teacher. They always have to be all nice and soft when the kids get in trouble. The kids always cry and scream. When there is a fat, ugly, dumb kid, you have to hug them and say, "You'll get some friends." They always fall on their knees, bleed, and pull out their teeth. I don't like it when you have to teach them the alphabet and keep saying over and over and over again, "A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y and Z." It's so darn boring! They can't pronounce words an then they hit each other. The girls are always saying, "Where are the Barbies?" They act all sassy and try to have their own posse. The boys always play with dinosaurs and those Pokemon cards. They pretend they have guns and then they making those shooting noises and spit in your face. I don't like to tie their shoes because sometimes they are all muddy and gross. I wouldn't want to be a kindergarten teacher. The kids always break the crayons and markers and then start crying. When they draw a picture you have to lie to them and say it's pretty. They also make up jokes and they are really not funny, but you have to laugh anyway.

Finally, one that really spoke to me,


My hatest job is being a lawyer. I hate it because you have to go to law school and go on others' sides when they are saying that they are good or it's wrong. But at court if you lie you go to jail. I would rather be a normal person. I hope you agree with me that being a lawyer stinks!

Homework: Light tonight. (1) "Relate Multiplication and Division," Math, pages 140-141, and (2) "Facts Through Five," pages 142-142 in the same book.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fairy Tale Tableaux

Fast Friday Post

Again, Fridays are hectic for me so just the minimal weekend homework:

Homework: (1) In Math, do the chapter 7 "Review/Test" on page 130 and the "Cumulative Review" on page 131. We will have a test on Monday. (2) In the history book, do the chapter two review pages, 114 to 115. Only do
  • Connect Main Ideas (copy the chart)
  • Use Vocabulary (read the directions carefully here)
  • Check Understanding and Read Critically (be sure to answer in complete sentences)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Colorful Collages

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Cockles and Collages

We started out today with Mr. Lawton. He was working with the students on developing awareness of meter, and they did some cute variations on the traditional Irish tune, "Cockles and Mussels." Returning to the classroom, we worked on the Spelling and Writing subsections of the Open Court test. We needed some time after recess for this, too. We corrected our math - I'm happy to say that elapsed time on a calendar is a lot easier for them than elapsed time on a clock - and after lunch we also discuss our History homework.

The big activity for the day was making collages in the afternoon. This was part of the exploration of organic vs geometric shapes in the art curriculum. I am not totally sure the lesson fulfills that purpose all that well, but it sure is fun for the children. Well, cleaning up is not that fun. Some pictures of the best ones will be coming soon.

Homework: (1) Do "Activities in Central Valley" and "How to Identify Causes" worksheet. The students will need their history books for this. (2) Read "Alcohol and Health," pp D10 -15 in the Health book. Copy and answer the Lesson Review questions on the bottom of page D15. (3) Do the "Expanded Form" worksheet. (4) Do Extra Practice, page H38 in the back of the Math book.
(5) Do "Elapsed Time," Lesson 7.3, in the Problem Solving Workbook, page PS 36.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Visual Analogies

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A Wondrous Wednesday

Our day began in the auditorium with Mr. Pratt in our theater class. Today we worked some more on our tableau skills. After the usual "Be Our Guest" warm up, Mr. Pratt reviewed the basics of tableau with the students and did a demonstration using three scenes from The Wizard of Oz. He then broke the students into groups, and assigned each group a fairy tale to dramatize. I took pictures of these tableaux later in the day, and this will be working on the film shortly. Coming to a screen near you soon....

In Tech Center, Ms. Richards broke the students in to two groups. One group worked with her assistant, Ms. D., on an introduction to PowerPoint lesson. The other group worked with Ms. Richards. This group was exploring the idea of analogies. The students reviewed analogies using Mr. Anker's wonderful website. These were pretty simple verbal analogies like kitten is to cat as puppy is to dog. Ms. Richards then had the students create visual analogies using the PhotoBooth program on the Macs. You can see an example above. This one is: up is to down as left is to right.

After lunch, we corrected homework. I normally try to be positive, but the math homework was a disaster. Almost none of the kids has a clue about determining elapsed time. We will work on this more in class, of course, but it's an good skill to constantly review with your child at home, too. If a movie starts at 5:00 and ends at 7:10, how long is it? Unlike 4x - 1 = y, this kind of math is really essential for everyday life.

: (1) Do the spelling wordsearch. This is review for the Open Court unit test. (2) Do the "Desert" study questions. Students will need their California history book for this. (3) Do "Sequence Information," Math, page 125, numbers 2-8. (4) Do "Elapsed Time on a Calendar," Math, pages 127-129, all problems.

Also, we will be doing collages tomorrow in Art. Students should bring in old magazines, advertisements, etc to cut up for this.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


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Red Ribbon Week

Today I had a chance to see most parents for the Back-to-School Breakfast activity. If you were not there, feel free to stop by the room whenever you can to sign up for parent conferences in December. I will, of course, send reminder notes right before conference week begins.

This was the second day of Red Ribbon Week. We will be focusing all this week on the dangers of drug use. Today we focused on the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs. We made some posters about this, and you can see a couple of them above.

Other than that, just a bit of this and a bit of that today. We corrected some homework, practiced our Native Californian songs, read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins, and started compiling our reading journals.

Homework: (1) Do the final draft of the fantasy story. (2) Do the proper and common nouns worksheets. This is preparation for the "Writing Skills" section of the Open Court Test. (3) Do "Elapsed Time," Math, pages 121-123, numbers 2-33.

Also, finish the drug poster if not already done and turned in.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Prairie Ecosystem

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Wrapping up Risks

Every 6 weeks or so we come to the end of a unit in Open Court Reading. There are a number of things that happen about this time. The most important is that the students take a test which the Sacramento County Office of Education developed. It's not perfect, but it does help give a sense of where the students reading and writing skills are at a moment in time, and it gives a sense of what skills they have mastered in the course of the unit, and what skills still need more work. Much of our work this week will be either taking this test or reviewing for it. Two of the homework assignments tonight help the students review for the test.

The other significant assessment is the conclusion of the writing project connected with the unit. The students were required this time to write a fantasy story. We spent a lot of time discussing the structure of stories and the elements which make a story a fantasy (instead of realistic or historical fiction). Students wrote rough drafts, and then they worked in small groups to assess and revise their work. After completing revisions - second rough drafts in this case - today they worked again in small groups doing peer editing. Tonight they will start to complete their final drafts. These are not due until Wednesday.

Final drafts need to be in cursive. I know that more than a few tears flow whenever I require cursive, but the ability to read and write cursive is a state standard. And whenever I receive any paper perfectly typed I really wonder who did it. I know it's hard to believe, but children do manipulate their parents to do an awful lot of work for them. And the parents aren't the ones in fourth grade. At least I hope not!

Tomorrow is Back-to-School Breakfast. I have nothing special planned, but will obviously be available to talk to any parents who would like to stop by. You can also sign up for conferences in December at this time if you wish.

Homework: (1) Do the Vocabulary crossword. There are clues provided already, and the word bank is on the back of the Spelling jumble. (2) Do the spelling jumble. The words are at the bottom here. (3) Do the Review questions on the bottom of page A79 in the Harcourt Science textbook.

Also, finish the ecosystem energy flow map (we had a lot of time to start this in class). You can see a good example of this assignment above. Also, continue, if time permits, with the final draft of the composition. Again, this will not be due until Wednesday.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just the homework for now

In case I don't get a chance to tell all the fabulous things we did today until this weekend, he's the homework.

Homework: The first three assignments are handouts related to the final Open Court Reading selection of the first theme. They are: (1) "Drawing Conclusions", (2) the comprehension questions for "Tickets", (3) "Joke" and "Theme Connections". (4) Also, do "Before and After" Math pages 116-117 and (5) AM/PM, pages118-119 in the same book. (6) Finally, make a cover for OCR unit materials on "Risks and Consequences".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Typical Thursday

We began today with music with Mr. Lawton. The students had their introduction to using the Orff instruments today. It was noisy, but they had fun. Quite a few of our students had also taken part in the Orff ensemble this morning, too. You can check out more about Mr. Lawton's programs, including some of our students' lyrics and a picture from last week, at his blog. Returning to the room, we reviewed the elements of fiction, and students did a story analysis of "Two Tickets to Freedom." A few may need to finish this tonight.

After recess, we turned our attention to Science. We have not done much here, but we will be doing quite a bit in the next few weeks. Today we discussed the idea of how energy moves through an ecosystem, and we made food chain diagrams. You can see a couple of these below. After lunch, we finished making the food chains, read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins, and practiced some of our Native California songs. We did an art project - we'll have pictures of those tomorrow - and then it was time to go!

Homework: (1) "Draw Conclusions," Math, page 111. (2) Review Test and Cumulative Review, Math, pages 112-113.

Food Chains

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesdays are Special

When I was young, there was was a campaign by some spaghetti sauce company to make Wednesday special because everybody was supposed to eat spaghetti on that day. And the ads featured some little Italian waif running home because he knew that it was Wednesday and that there would be spaghetti. Well, in room 19 we do not need pasta to have a great Wednesday. We have Theater and Tech Center! Those fabulous activities make Wednesdays special for us.

Today in Theater Mr. Pratt introduced the concept of tableau, or theatrical group statues. Although it seems like it would be easier for students than improvisation - after all, you do not have to invent dialogue - fourth graders have a hard time picking a position and staying frozen in it. It's hard for 9 and 10 year olds to not giggle. But tableau is a great tool for story analysis, and Mr. Pratt linked it clearly to identifying the conflict or problem in a story and identifying the exposition, where the problem in introduced, the climax, where the problem reaches its most exciting point, and the resolution, where the problem is finally resolved in some way. Students did a couple different tableaux (yeah, we're even teaching them French plural forms in fourth grade now) and you can see one of them below.

In the Tech Center, Miss D. had the children explore analogies using some of the clever quizzes and other related matters on Henry Anker's website. Mr. Anker is the district ITAF (no, I have no idea what those initials stand for) assigned to our school, and he has been very helpful to the parents who are sponsoring our computer lab. After this, they did their own kind of tableaux using the Photo Booth program making pictures of themselves looking up, down, left, and right.

After lunch, we read and discussed a long chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins. We went out to PE where we did our warmups, but skipped our laps (just a tad too hot, don't you think?) and then rotated between activities. We returned to the classroom where we corrected homework and I gave them the following light assignments for this evening.

Homework: (1) Do "Choose an Approriate Graph," Math, pages 106-109. Students can skip question 23. (2) Do the music assignment for Mr. Lawton's class tomorrow morning.

Students are highly encouraged, but not required, to watch tonight's debate between Senator Obama and the other guy. Not that I have an opinion here....

Tableaux of a Simple Story

Getting an unexpected present.

Discovering it's an unpleasant surprise.

Getting revenge for the practical joke!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reading Rules

This was a pretty good day with literature. We read "Two Tickets to Freedom" in the Open Court reader. This is the story of William and Ellen Croft who escaped from slavery in Georgia in 1848. Ellen, who was light-skinned, dressed as a man pretended to be a white slaveowner and William accompanied her on their trip to Philadelphia and freedom. We had a really good discussion about what slavery was and what it was like to be a slave and modern parallels to slavery. Then, in Island of the Blue Dolphins, we read chapter 8 today, the part where Karana and her brother are left behind on the island. At first this seems like fun, but then she discovers his body, ripped apart by a pack of wild dogs. Students just never expect this turn of events in the story.

The rest of the day was pretty ho-hum. We did a bunch of follow-up skill activities in language arts, we checked homework. The usual. Nothing as good as escaping bounty hunters or not escaping savage beasts.

Homework: (1) Do the crossword puzzle. The words are all taken from the "Two Tickets" story. (2) Do "Line Graphs," Math, page 105. (3) Do the second draft of the fantasy story. This should also be at least three pages, skipping lines, front side of paper only, just as the first rough draft was. Students should make significant revisions between the first and second drafts. The second draft should be stapled to the top of the first draft.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More Improvs

An Ordinary Day

A pretty ordinary Monday. Probably the most important thing we did today was to take the Chapter 5 math test. The results of that test is on the gradebook along with several other new scores. More to follow. In fact, I think I'll go back to grading right now....

Please remember that tomorrow is our first shortened day. Students will be dismissed at 1:30 tomorrow.

Homework: (1) Do "Double Bar Graphs," Math, page 101 and "Read Line Graphs, Math, page 103. (2) Do the "Simple and Compound Sentences" worksheet. Please put your answers on a separate sheet of paper. (3) Do the "Word Knowledge" and the "Vocabulary from Context" sections for the next Open Court Reading story.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Hey! You! What?"

Sorry this post did not get published until Monday. I am in such a hurry to leave on Fridays - I have my piano lesson at 3:00 pm - that I sometimes forget I have only drafted but not published the post.

We started today with the spelling test. We went to the library where Mrs. Koneff taught the students more about how the books are organized and read them "Taily-Po," a famous African-American scary story. Returning to the classroom we took some reading quizzes, did our independent reading, and worked on our journals. After recess, we corrected our homework, practiced our Indian acorn-grinding songs, and read and discussed a chapter in the History book about Central Valley and foothill natives.

After lunch, we had a makeup lesson with Mr. Lawton. We usually have music instruction with him on Thursdays, but we missed yesterday because of the Yom Kippur holiday. He did some great stuff with the students today. Building on some work by Keith Terry, a famous Oakland performance artist, students learned a cool "Hey! You! What?" sequence using body percussion an alternative 5/3 and 3/5 patterns.

At PE, we started work on basketball skills. Returning to the classroom, we read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins and got a chance to start on homework.

Homework: (1) Do the chapter reviews in Math, pages 96-97. (2) Do the handout pages for the History packet.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fun and Easy

Today was a pretty fun day for the students, and a pretty easy day for the teacher. We started off with our Theater class with Mr. Pratt. The students worked today more today on improvisation skills. After leading the class through some warmups and reviewing the basic improvisation rules they learned last week, students were paired up for two improvs. The first had students pretending they on a playground where one students was on a swing and the other student wanted to take turns. The second dealt with a child who came home with an animal which he or she wanted to adopt as a pet. In both cases, Mr. Pratt stressed the idea that all characters have objectives or things that they want to accomplish, and that these objectives tend to create some kind of conflict. The essence of drama, students learned, is that the characters have to overcome or resolve this conflict. In improvisation, some kind of negotiation is the best way to do this. By the way, that often works in real life too.... I filmed a few of these later in the day and after I'm finished editing them I'll post them here on the blog again. It may be a couple days, however.

After recess, we went to Tech Center. As most of you know, our technology program at Third Street was not all that successful last year, and the booster club, Friends of Third, has worked to improve it by hiring a near teacher and an aide. They have also provided these teachers with a decent budget to buy software and other needed supplies. Today was our first day there, and I think that the computer lab will be a favorite activity for students this year. Ms. Saran Richards, the new teacher, greeted the students and went over rules and expectations. She then had them work on an educational website while she observed their skill levels in preparation for some upcoming lessons.

After lunch, we did this and that. We checked homework. I filmed the improvs. We went out to PE. We came back and discussed what they needed to get accomplished by Friday. I then gave them a solid 45 minutes to get started so they could take home as little as possible. Most worked very, very hard!

Homework: (1) Finish the music paper for Mr. Lawton. Finish the 8 stories for "All About Me" and do the cover page. (2) Do "Quiz Time!" paper over Island of the Blue Dolphins, chapters 1-5. (3) Do Math, pages 92-93, numbers 1-14. Do Math, pages 94-95, all problems.

More Watercolor Portraits

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Watercolor Portraits

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Too Darn Hot

Yikes! Where did this heat come from? When will it go away? Twenty-seven fourth graders were wilting a bit today and so was their teacher!

Despite this, it was a pleasantly productive day. We did our independent reading and we read another short story in the Open Court Reader, "The Girl who Loved the Wind." Since this story, like "King's Fountain," is a kind of modern folktale, it works well to take them out of the order in the book and read them together. Plus, they're both pretty short.

We continued work on our Thinking Maps writing project, and a couple students have actually finish the final drafts and bound their books. All the rough drafts submitted to me have been returned (well, except a couple which are missing names), and there will only be limited time to work on this project in the classroom in the future. As these are turned in, they will be graded and the grades posted on the gradebook.

We postponed checking homework until after lunch, and we took a lot of time to discuss both types of plots. I have to admit that I doubt the students will ever see a stem-and-leaf plot in real life, but at least line plots are easy and useful. The math homework tonight, as a results, ought to be pretty easy.

Since we have no school on Thursday, our usual art day, we did our art today. This was a hard lesson - watercolor portraiture. Still, as you can see above, many students did a pretty decent job with it. At least the heat was a bit helpful here - our paintings dried in no time at all!

Homework: A little bit light tonight so that students can have an opportunity to watch the debate. (1) Do the spelling scramble. (2) Do the study questions over "King's Fountain." Be sure to use the dictionary or glossary as necessary to properly use the vocabulary words. (3) Do the sections on "Line Plots" and "Stem and Leaf Plots" from the Problem Solving Workbook, pages 25-26.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Quick Post

I've been busy correcting work and putting it on the gradebook, so just a quick homework post here. As one of our candidates might say, "Catchin' up with the doggone gradin' is takin' me a mite longer than I think it otta!"

Homework: (1) Do a Tree Map to sort the spelling words by long vowel pattern. All have the long o sound. (2) Do the Open Court Reading packet papers. These include "Word Knowledge," "Vocabulary from Context," "Folktales," and "Subject-Verb Agreement". Use a dictionary if needed for the word knowledge. (3) Do two math lessons here - "Line Plots," Math, pages 88-89, numbers 2-14 only, and "Stem and Leaf Plots," Math, pages 90-91, numbers 1-12 only.

Finally, if not completed this afternoon, finish the "King's Fountain" Flow Map. Be sure to label the exposition, the rising action, the climax, and the falling action.

Friday, October 03, 2008

No Freaky Friday Here

It was a pretty ordinary, yet productive Friday. We began with Independent Work Time. Here we finished up some pages from the Reading Writing Workbooks and had some time for independent reading. We then went to the library. Mrs Koneff continued instructing the students in that all-time favorite topic of librarians, the Dewey Decimal System. Returning to the classroom, we took a spelling test, a reading quiz, and a reading skills quiz. Results will be on the gradebook soon.

After recess we check and discussed homework. I taught the students a Native California acorn grinding song. They thought it was weird, but that will pass after we practice it more and add percussion and hand gestures. We started to read about north and central coast Indians. Students will need to finish this as homework, however.

After lunch, we read and discussed another chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins. We did some followup on the music activity for Mr. Lawton, and I introduced the students to transitional rhythmic notation and the Kodaly rhythm syllables. More on that next week. We went to PE. When we returned to class, we did the second lesson in the Hands-On Equations program. This went well, and I look forward to doing this every week or two. It really does build good mathematical thinking.

The very end of the day was a bit hectic as some of the students took off for the LACMA trip. But that will be a fantastic opportunity for them. Thanks Ms. Nunez for arranging this!

Homework: (1) Finish reading the section "The Coast" in the hardcover California book. Then do the study guide questions and an "Indian Legend." Both of these are handouts. (2) Do review pages 78-79 in the Math book. These also teach some useful facts about California! (3) Also do "Median and Mode", pages 86-87 in the hardcover Math book. We did not have a chance to discuss this until the very end of the day, so those people who went to LACMA need to read page 86 carefully.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Still Life of Drums

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Music and Art

We started our music program today with Mr. Richard Lawton. This is the music program which is funded by Friends of Third. Most of the students worked with Mr. Lawton last year. This year he is only working with third through fifth graders and is also starting an ensemble program. You can find out details of his program by checking his blog, Mr. Lawton began with teaching the students a fun, but rather challenging round. They will continue working on this for several weeks. They used this song and its lyrics to explore beat and rhythm. This complemented many of the activities we have done in class here nicely. We will be following up in class on a composition assignment he gave the students.

We did a number of other routine things: we checked and corrected a couple homework assignments, we read and discussed the second chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins, and we did some followup work on "Mae Jemison." We studied our final thinking map, the Bridge Map, which focuses on analogies. We discussed simple analogies like "puppy is to dog as kitten is to cat" and discussed what a relating factor is. The students were then challenged to think, "Who takes care of me?" and "Who do I take care of?" They made a bridge map out of this and then created a short composition which will conclude their All About Me book. We will be doing our last couple final drafts here and binding them in the next couple days. They will be on their desks for Back-to-School Breakfast later this month.

Thursday is Art Day in room 19, and we built on our work in line and contour this week. As you can see above, students again used pen and ink to create a contour drawing. This time they were allowed to look at their paper, though they were encouraged to spend more time looking at our still life. For our still life I took a variety of ethnic percussion instruments and place them on top of a plastic tub so that they could be seen more easily. The students really got the idea of looking at the edges to create the shapes of the different objects. I think you'll agree that they did a wonderful job here.

Homework: This seems longer and more complicated than it really is. Plus, they had time to get started on assignments in class. (1) Do the spelling wordsearch. The test is tomorrow. (2) Do the four pages of the Open Court packet. They are "Jemison Vocabulary" and "Long Vowel Patterns," "Main Idea and Detail," "Types of Sentences" and "Features of Biographies." This sounds like a lot more than it really is. Most of these can be done quite quickly. (3) Do "Collect and Organize Data," Math, pages 83-85, numbers 1-23 only.

Three of the Shoe Store Improvs

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Today started out, as our Wednesdays will until Winter Break, with our theater class. We had the usual fantastic time with Mr. Pratt. Our topic today was improvisation. We began, like usual, with the pantomime exercise to the song, "Be Our Guest." After that, the students reviewed the vocabulary and key concepts from the previous lesson. We also practiced pantomime and the cooperation skills learned last week in the Machine exercise by doing tug-of-war. (Of course, the rope was invisible!) After that, Mr. Pratt discussed the idea of improvisation and the key rule, do not deny! The students then paired off to do their own improvisations. You will see a couple examples of these shortly when I edit and upload the video. These concerned a customer coming into a shoe store to buy some new shoes and also bargaining over the price. The students had a great time, and maybe learned some haggling skills which could come in handy on a visit to a foreign country!

Later in the day, we corrected homework, finished reading the "Mae Jemison" story, and we did a little PE. (We did skip running laps, however, because of the miserable heat.) We also started reading Island of the Blue Dolphins today. Again, a big thank you to the parents who contributed to the class fund which allowed us to buy copies of this book for each child. We had a math test. More fun for the students, we had a drum circle exercise to work on listening skills. This is called "audiation" in the music pedagogy world, and it's considered the foundation of music education. But if I told the students that maybe they would not have enjoyed it so much....

Most of you have already received an email giving access to our gradebook. If you haven't yet, let me know. It will take a few days to get the backlog of grades posted, but I promise you when the system is up and running you will love it!

Homework: (1) Write the rough draft of the fantasy store. The students have already done some prewriting in their Inquiry Journals and they can use these to help them write the first draft. Please write only on the front side of each paper and skip lines. The rough draft should be a minimum of three pages long. (2) Do the Unit 1 review in Math, pages 76-77.