Friday, May 29, 2009

Odds and Ends

Not a hard day at all! We had a big special event today, an assembly on ocean pollution from the Malibu Foundation. Next year our school will be partnering with this group and students will have an opportunity to participate in a festive beach cleanup. But even though that is not a possibility this year, students still learned a lot about how the trash they fail to properly dispose of many miles from the beach can have terrible effects on ocean life.

We went to the library for the last time this year. We watched a film about the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE as a follow-up to our visit to the Getty Villa. We corrected a whole bunch of homework.

HomeworkAh, let’s skip it this weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stewart Found this One


Just a quick post today as I have to rush out after school and deal with the plumber. The garbage dispose appears to have given up the ghost. Sigh.

Homework:  (1) Do the history packet. (2) Do Great Horn Spoon sheet. (3) Do “Draw Conclusions,” Math, pages 576-577. (4) Do “Review/Test” and  “Cumulative Review,” Math, pages 578-579.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Another quiet, productive day. We gave a second chance at last week’s spelling list for most of the class. Many improved significantly. We started the “Louis Braille: The Boy who Invented Books for the Blind” story in Open Court. We will finish it tomorrow. We worked on the our History packets.

At the Tech Center we used the Stellarium and Fish programs. The former really tied in with some of the Greek mythology we had been studying as we readied ourselves for the Getty Villa. We met in read-around groups and helped each other edit and revise our rough drafts. We played softball again. We corrected out math and talked about “fairness” as a mathematical term.

The cannas outside the room seem quite happy this year. Big thanks to our students for helping to keep our patio and beds so nice.

Homework: (1) Do the final draft of the story. This should be accompanied by a picture. (2) Do “More about Probability,” Math, pages 572-573 and “Test for Fairness” pages 874-575 in the same book.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mister Ed

A Horse is a Horse?

I hope everybody had a wonderful long weekend. Before we know it, summer break will be upon us!

Today we started a whimsical writing project. We had been talking a good bit in the communication unit about animal communication, and how people can understand some animal communication, and, at least in the case of Koko, have the animal understand how to communicate with people. So I figured, why not get a little whimsical here and imagine some talking animals.

Now when I was much, much, much younger Mister Ed was one of my favorite television shows. For those of you under fifty, Mister Ed was about a horse who could talk, but only talked to his owner. I still remember the theme song word for word and the students looked at my with a combination of horror and pity as I sang it to them this morning. (I’ll try to find it on You Tube when I get home, and if I do, I’ll link it.) I told the students they were going to follow a similar premise. They had an animal that could talk, but it could only talk to them. I told them to think about some kind of adventure, serious or comic, which they might have with this animal. They did some planning with the story and started a rough draft. They will finish the rough draft tonight and we will share those and edit them tomorrow.

We also discussed California’s transformation in the years following World War II, and we read a bit from the history text here. Students also began putting together their Unit Four history booklets. We correct the math homework, played softball, and discussed how probability can be expressed as a fraction. Overall, a pleasant but low-key day back.

Homework: (1) Finish the rough draft. (2) Do "Word Knowledge and Vocabulary from Context for the “Louis Braille” story. (3) Do "California Grows and Changes" study sheet. (4) Do "Probability as a Fraction" Math, pages 570-571.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Post Hoc, Propter Hoc

The Latin tag above, “After this, therefore because of it” usually denotes a logical fallacy. But, in our case, it is the “apologia” for our day. Since yesterday was our field trip to the Getty, today we did some Roman-inspired art.

The most famous art form of antiquity, after sculpture, of course, is mosaic. The students saw some great examples of this yesterday at the Getty Villa. So today we made mosaics of our own. It would be fun if we could give the students cement and bits of broken tile to make their mosaics, the the logistics of that are a little too hard. So we worked on learning the same technique with bits of construction paper and glue.

Many of the students will be finishing their work tomorrow – this is a pretty time-consuming assignment – but as you can see, some of those finished today were quite impressive.

After lunch we did PE with Akiko Morrison – another regular Thursday activity. The students did a lot of fun things. They started our with a relay, which included the sit-up station you see below.


They also worked on hand-eye coordination by bouncing a rubber ball ten times on a racket and then handing it off to a teammate. 


There was also an exciting relay, and the winning team is going to be treated to Yogurtland certificates, again, courtesy of Akiko.

Homework:  Write a multiple-paragraph essay about the trip to the Getty Villa. The focus of the composition should be the art, not the bus trip or lunch. There should be opening and concluding paragraphs. Spelling, punctuation, and handwriting all count, though the ideas are the most important part.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Classical Day

We had a great field trip today to the Getty Villa in Malibu. Of all the days to forget my camera! Darn. The students were so involved and our gallery teachers and parent guides were so excellent. Big thanks to Helen Kang, Gary Meyers, and Mark Albrecht for accompanying us today.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling sentences. (2) Do “Review/Test,” Math, page 566 and Cumulative Review, pages 567 in the same book.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ordinary and Typical

Today was a pretty routine Tuesday. We did our Independent Reading. We corrected and discussed homework. We worked on our Writer's Workshop stories. We prepared for tomorrow's field trip. We took a history test. All very productive, but nothing all that exciting.

Let me clarify that this blog is my personal work, and it is not part of the Third Street School website. It is not sponsored or supported in any way by LAUSD or its Instructional Technology Division. The opinions I express are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the administration of the school or of the district. I do reserve the right to express my thoughts to the broadest extent permitted by the First Amendment, even if other members of this school community disagree with my conclusions.

Homework: (1) Do spelling jumble. (2) Do "Make an Organized List," Math, pages 560-561. (3) Do "Predict Outcomes," Math, pages 562-565.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Calm Seas

After all the sturm und drang of Friday, today seemed peaceful. It was a pretty productive day, all in all.

First, let me show some of the cool things that students did Thursday and Friday. As regular readers know, Thursday is customarily our art day. We went outside on Thursday and did some sketching out by the library and Dermoudy Court. Students then returned to the classroom where they adapted their sketches and put them on a larger sheet of art paper. Friday, the students used watercolor or oil pastel to add some color here. The results were, as I think you can observe, fine to very impressive indeed!

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Today we started a new story, “Koko’s Kitten” in Open Court. Like other Mondays now, we went out and did Yoga with Gina.



We also started our look at probability. Students made simple spinners and calculated the results of 20 spins. We discussed the ideas of outcomes being certain, possible, or impossible. We talked about more likely or less likely.


We also took the chapter 28 math test. We would normally have done this last Wednesday or Thursday, but I figured that their brains were fried with enough testing by that point!

Students ended the day playing kickball with room 17. I had to leave a little early to go downtown.

Homework:  Lots of little stuff today. It seems like way more than it is. (1) Do the summary sheet for chapter 16 of By the Great Horn Spoon!  We read this together in class last week. (2) Do the “Primary Sources” and “Point of View” worksheets for History. (3) Do the “Study Guide” questions over the “Nonverbal Communication” selection. (4) Do the “Final –le” worksheet. (5) Do the front page only of the “Complete Complex Sentences” sheet. I discovered too late my scanning mistake here. (6) Do “Tumble, Jumble” worksheet. (7) Do “Outcomes,” Math, page 557. (8) Do “Tree Diagrams,” Math, pages 558-559.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day Three

Another pleasant day. We did the first day of Math testing today. Most students find this a bit easier than the reading section. We spent a bit of time discussing and correcting our math homework, too. We went to Tech Center where students continued to try out Google Sketch Pro. We played softball. And we watched more of Clash of the Titans.

Homework: (1) Do the "Word Knowledge" and "Vocabulary from Context" for the next Open Court Reading selection. (2) Do the "Fractions" and "Division" worksheet. Be sure to include the check step.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day Two

Day two of testing was a breeze. Students finished the second part of the Language Arts test with time to spare. We also corrected and discussed our homework, read a chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! and did some PE with room 17. We watched a little more of Clash of the Titans as we prepared for the field trip. All in all a very pleasant, easy day.

The judge did enjoin the strike for Friday – I am glad that I can still remember and apply correctly the two-part test for an injunction – but it will still be a minimum day.

Homework: Just the math review worksheets for today. Just a little preparation for CST math tomorrow….

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day One

Today was the first day of California Standards Testing. It’s the day I have to pay the most attention to what the students are doing because if they inadvertently code the wrong test version onto their answer sheets the results could be disastrous. Fortunately, we have smart students in room 19 and there were no problems. Everybody finished by recess, and the general consensus seemed to be that it was no that hard. So, one down, three to go!

After recess, we had Gina the yoga teacher. Just like last week, the students were amazingly focused. Some of them are so flexible! I wish I could lean backwards and touch my feet to my head. Several of our students could! Well done!

We went to second lunch and second lunch recess today because of yoga. When we returned from lunch, we started getting ready for next week’s trip to the Getty Villa in Malibu. We reviewed what the students already knew about the Greek gods and goddesses – quite a lot, I’m happy to say – and then we started to watch Clash of the Titans. It’s a wonderfully cheesy movie – the special effects seem so dated – but it does have Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, and a very young and dashing Harry Hamlin. We’ll be watching the movie in segments over the next week.

A couple announcements. First, if you are interested in being a docent for the trip to the Getty on the 20th, please send me an email. We need two or three parents here.

Second, we have just been informed that Friday will be a minimum day throughout the district. This is in response to the demand by United Teachers-Los Angeles that teachers strike that day in protest of the proposed budget cuts.

I am not sure what I will do on Friday. I believe that the strike is illegal and that the course of action urged by the union is financially irresponsible. At the same time, I have to work with these people for years to come and there is a limit to how much I am willing to antagonize my colleagues, even when I think the course of action they advocate would be disastrous. My hope is that the Superior Court will issue an injunction here.

Homework: Again, light during testing week. Students had the last 30 minutes to get started on this, so many are done and most others are close to done. (1) Do “Draw a Diagram,” Math, pages 544-545. (2) Do the “Review/Test” on page 546 and the “Cumulative Review” on page 547, also in the Math book.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Testing, Testing

We started the California Standards Testing today with the Practice Test. This short test introduces students to the format of the test – particularly the fact that in fourth grade they have to put their answers on a separate answer sheet. In third grade, they only wrote their answers in the book.

There were typically frustrating moments here. The directions told the students to fold back the last page of the testing booklet along the perforated line and detach it. That would have worked splendidly had they actually perforated the last page. Oh well, it could be worse. One year the directions instructed the students to put their answer sheets inside their test booklets and pass them up separately. If you figure that one out, you achieve enlightenment.

On a bit more fun note, we had Jump Rope for Heart. Continuing our tradition of room 19 generosity, one of our students raised 260 dollars for the American Heart Association! Congratulations, Yehudit!



Homework:  Very light during testing week. Students had the last half hour to get started on this, so many will have almost nothing. (1) Do “Classify Triangles,” Math pages 538-539. (2) Do “Classify Quadrilaterals,” Math pages 540-543.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Another pleasantly productive day. We worked on both our Writer’s Workshop stories and our Literature Circle books. We corrected homework, and we watched a short documentary about growing up in the Manzanar detention camp. After lunch, we talked about the different parts of a circle – radius, diameter, chords, and circumference.

Later in the afternoon, Akiko Morrison spared the students the usual workout, and instead we played a really cool game called “Rounders". It’s a little like softball, but there are five bases and the ball is hit with a tennis racket. It was fun!

Tomorrow is the CST Practice Test. We’ll take the big test on four days next week. It should not be too bad! Please make sure everyone is one time so we can avoid makeup tests.

Homework: (1) Study for the spelling test. (2) Do the Chapter 8 review on pages 352-353 of the History book. (3) Do “Circles,” pages 534-535 and “Circumference,” pages 536-537, both in the Harcourt Math book.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Quiet Day

Garrison Keillor begins many of his Prairie Home Companions by saying, “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone, my home town.” Well, it was a quiet day in room 19, our hometown.

We did a little more catching up on our Open Court Reading notebooks. Most students are pretty much finished here or close to it. In the Tech Center, Gary Meyers, Mac’s dad, introduced us to the world of Google Sketchup. This is a totally cool program, and there is a free version of it which you can download from Google’s website. I am adding it to our class computers as I write this. After lunch, we checked, corrected, and discussed our homework. We went out to PE. We came back where we took a math test and started homework.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling sentences. Only one word per sentence! (2) Do “Turns and Degrees,” Math, pages 530-531. (3) Do “Measure Angles,” Math, pages 532-533.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Today seemed not quite as exotic as yesterday – no teacher appeared mysteriously with a fabulous, unexpected lesson – but it was every bit as productive.

We a good portion of the morning working on updating out Open Court folders. Many students were missing papers, and we found or printed out replacements and they worked on them. After recess, we read a chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! and we discussed our history homework. After lunch, we corrected and discussed our math homework. We will have a test on chapter 27 tomorrow.

We also did some math-related art today. We discussed again the distinction between line symmetry and rotational symmetry. The art text calls the latter “radial balance” and gave the students some examples of this such as a Chinese lacquer plate and an American ceramic plate. The assignment for the students was to create a similar kind of design. Here a  few examples from the students who finished first. There are some other excellent ones I will add to tomorrow’s entry.




The  students ended the day on the yard while I attended a meeting on testing procedures.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Do the worksheets on “Vocabulary Development” and “A Tale of a Whale.” Also do the Thematic Connections. (3) Do the By the Great Horn Spoon! sheet for chapters 14 and 15. (4) Do the “Review/Test” and “Cumulative Review,” Math, pages 526-527.

Monday, May 04, 2009


First of all, a big thank you to all the parents and children who contributed backpacks to the Third Street Olympics activity on Saturday. I was at a training at the Getty Villa – our next field trip – and I could not be there, but you can imagine how pleased I was when I learned this morning that our class had contributed the most to this project. A special thanks to the clients of Akiko Morrison who provided backpacks filled with school supplies on behalf of our room. You folks not only have a great trainer, but huge hearts. Thanks so much.

Today was mostly a normal day, but we did have one special activity. Akiko had made arrangements with one of her fellow trainers to come and do yoga poses with our class. Gina was fabulous! She made the students feel comfortable even when the stretched might have been a little challenging, and nobody felt afraid to try. That was great, and with such excellent teaching out students really excelled as you can see below.

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The rest of the day was pretty typical. We did correct our last math test, and I hope to get those on the grade book soon. I know I’m behind on grading, but hey, catching up what testing time is for!

Homework:  (1) Arrange the spelling words in a tree map. (2) Do the “Golden Gate Bridge” handout. (3) Finish reading “California in World War II” in the history book and do the study sheet. (4) Do “Find the Volume of a Prism,” Math, pages 522-523. (5) Do “Too Much Information / Too Little Information,” Math, pages 534-535.