Monday, November 30, 2009

I-Search and Gibberish

Well, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving Break. My Thanksgiving Day went well – all 14 at the table seemed to have a good time – but then I became miserably sick at the weekend. I had hoped to use this time to catch up a bit on grading and then like, but I guess I will have to burn the midnight oil instead. Sigh.

Despite not feeling my best, we had a good day in room 19. We began by journal about our weekend and the experiences we had had. We shared these in pairs and then volunteers shared them with the whole class. Many of the students surprised and pleased me by the vivid details they put into some of their narratives. After that, we went to the library. Monday is not our usual library day, but Mrs. Koneff gave us this time since we will miss next Friday because of set-up for the Book Fair next week.

After library, I discussed the I-Search paper with the class. As I explained to the students, the I-Search paper is a different way of doing research. Instead of having the students pretend to be experts on a particular topic, the I-Search paper asks them to record their exploration to find out more about this topic. I’ll post an example of this later this week. For tomorrow, the students will be completing the first step in this project. They will need to write a paragraph

  • indicating a job or profession which they think they might be interested in when they are older;
  • why that job or profession interests them;
  • what they already know about that particular kind of work; and
  • what particular questions they hope to answer about that work as they do their research.

As I said, they have specific directions for this and an example of a reasonable good (but not perfect) paper from last year.

After recess, we read one short (and dull) and one long (but exciting) chapter from Island of the Blue Dolphins.

After lunch, the students had some time to get started on their history homework. We then practiced gibberish, a theater game, to help polish our skills for the play. The students liked this, as you can see below.

We also worked on the songs from Charlie Brown.

We went out PE where the students worked on cooperation, playing a game with Ms. Caruso, endurance, working with Leslie, one of the room 19 parents, and worked on kicking technique with me. I am actually learning stuff about proper PE technique from this EPEC program!

Math is pretty easy tonight. I talked about multiplying by a number in the tens place such as multiplying by 20 or 30 or 90. I pointed out that all they have to do here is to put down a zero and multiply just as they would any other number. BUT, we also took a lot of time to point out WHY they are putting down that zero.

Homework: (1) Do the first paragraph of the I-Search paper as described above. (2) In the History book, do numbers 1-13 on page 136. For numbers 1-6, just write a definition for the word: skip the crossword directions. For numbers 7-13, please copy the question as well as answering it. (3) Do “Multiply by 10,” pages 144-145 in the Envision Math book. (4) Do the Word Knowledge and Vocabulary from Context for the “Food from the ‘Hood” story.

Monday, November 23, 2009

NOT being Grateful

Forgive the belated post, but I am getting ready for Thanksgiving and feeling a little pressed for time.

We had a good, solid, productive day. We started our with a pretty fun journal prompt:  “25 things I am NOT thankful for.” As you can imagine, we had some wonderful ideas here. We then turned our attention to the final drafts of the mission field trip composition. I held writing conferences with each student as they also worked on a picture to go with their writing. Many are nearly finished with this, though others will need to finish it tonight.

After recess, we talked about food webs versus food chains. They grasped the distinction pretty easily, I think. I gave them an assignment here, but it will not be due until Wednesday. I’ll write more about it tomorrow.

After lunch, we checked homework and practiced the Charlie Brown songs. We went out to PE. Mrs. Caruso worked with them on a cooperation skill-building game, while a parent in her class had them work on pull ups and other upper-body strength building exercises. I worked with them on proper kicking with a particular emphasis on coordination and control.

Homework:  (1) Finish the final draft of the mission field trip essay and do the picture. (2) Do the Word Knowledge and Vocabulary from Context papers for “Ice Cream Cones:  A New Scoop.” (3) Do the Pronoun worksheet. Be sure to read the information in the box carefully about subjects and object pronouns. (4) Do pages 136-137 in the math book. (5) Do the Thanksgiving Math handout.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Producers and Consumers

Today we did a bit of this and a bit of that. We spent time reviewing the “Sifuentes” story and the vocabulary from the story. We’ll have a quiz on that tomorrow. We also worked on conjunctions and compound sentences – a key objective for this OCR unit. We started out by watching the famous “Conjunction Junction” episode from Schoolhouse Rock.

I modeled the difference between compound subjects, compound predicates, and compound sentences. Students wrote some original sentences based on each of these models.

After recess, we read the chapter from Island of the Blue Dolphins where Karana attacks and then befriends the leader of the dog pack that killed her brother. It’s such a great section with so much subtlety as she oscillates between revenge and compassion. We also finished writing the rough drafts of the trip to the mission composition.

After lunch, we practiced songs from Charlie Brown and we read about food chains, food webs, and food pyramids. The students readily mastered the differences between producers, first-level consumers, and second-level consumers. They then made some food webs of their own.


Homework: (1) Write one spelling sentence for each spelling word. (2) Do the “Multiplication Practice” and “Five Numbers” math worksheets.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To the Mission

Today was our field trip to the San Fernando Mission. I always feel frazzled before a field trip, and I wonder why I ever agreed to such a venture. Yet afterwards I am almost invariably glad we went and remember them as high points of the year. Today followed that pattern closely.

The trip from Third Street to the mission had some problems. Well, the bus that Dr. Fulton’s class and our class was on had a problem. The driver got lost. We drove for at least 30 minutes around the city of San Fernando fairly aimlessly. At one point the driver just stopped and asked a guy standing on the street for directions. Why don’t they just stick a Tom Tom in these buses?

But, we finally made it there. The other two classes had already started their tour and there was only one tour guide left. So that poor man had 55 students to take around the mission. But he was patient and had a sense of humor and all went well. Our first stop was in the blacksmith’s shop where he explained how the mission Indians were put to work making farm tools.


We walked past the carpentry shop (which I love because it has the coffin on the floor) and went to the weaving room where he discussed the jobs that women had on the mission.

Our next stop was the church. Our guide here did a nice job of explaining how the church had been built and rebuilt several times and that the current pictures and statues were not original, but probably looked very close to the original designs. The students loved the idea that there were people buried under the floor.


As we left the church we walked past Bob Hope’s grave. The students had no idea who he was. Ah, how time flies. He was such a big star when I was young. Sic transit gloria mundi and all that, I suppose.

We walked around the mission grounds.


This tour was shorter than previous tours and our guide left us in the mission library. Since I had been to the mission a number of times and remembered a fair amount from those trips, I took the students to the museum rooms of the mission. There were a lot of stuff there, and some of it, like old Eucharistic vestments, did not interest the students much. But they did like this old pipe organ, reputedly one of the oldest in the country.

IMGP0111  We had lunch across the street at the city park. Thanks to Alysoun Higgins and Ivy Andrade, my fantastic parent volunteers, lunch went very smoothly. We finished with a trip through the lovely rose garden. We posed for a picture at the fountain there. One student – grrr – posed a little too much.


The bus ride home was uneventful and quick. Deo gracias, as the padres would have said.

Homework:  Why not have a free day today?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting Ready for the Mission

Another productive day. We spent a good deal of time this morning checking, correcting, and discussing yesterday’s homework. Of course, since a lot of this concerned missions, it was also preparation for tomorrow’s field trip. The timing of this trip couldn’t have been better. My thanks to Mrs. Polacheck for arranging it for the grade level.

We were all excited about a concert performance today by the Colburn School Orchestra, but this was cancelled for some reason at the last moment. We substituted Thursday’s math assignment instead – much to sighs from all.

After lunch we read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins and we practiced the Charlie Brown theme song. We had a particularly wonderful time with reading buddies. The kindergarten kids are starting to bond with their fourth-grade mentors. It was great as you can see.

DSC07284 DSC07282

Homework: (1) Do pages 71-72 in the math workbook. (2) Do pages 127-128 and 130-131 in the math book. This seems like more than it really is. (3) Divide the spelling words into syllables. (4) Do the “Inflectional Endings” worksheet. (5) Do the study questions on the “Elias Sifuentes” story.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Busy Day!

First of all, let me thank all the families who helped contribute to our food drive. What a great response! I know we collected more than any other single class.


It was a busy Monday. I felt like we were rushing from one thing to the next trying to get time to fit everything in. We did, more or less, and learned a lot in the process.

We started by finishing off the LAUSD quarterly math assessment. The less said about this, the better. We quickly corrected Friday’s math homework. We much more time discussing the vocabulary for our next selection. We tried to figure out it there were synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and homographs for each word. It was a good discussion but hard work! We also went over the concept-question board which I assembled this weekend. Note the great art work the students did of jobs which require uniforms or other special clothing.


We read the story “Elias Sifuentes, Restaurateur” from the Open Court anthology. We worked on questioning and connecting strategies as we read this short non-fiction selection.

After lunch, we started learning the title song for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The play will be a daily kind of activity for the next few months. We talked more about the missions and read a chapter from the book. This is to get the students ready for Wednesday’s field trip (see below). We went out to PE where Mrs. Caruso and I divided the class into groups and did activities with them from the EPEC (Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum) program that we are piloting at Third Street. I had the students work on leaping. This was my grumpiest moment of the day because I had trouble getting them to realize just how much they needed to relearn a movement they thought they knew. Leaping and jumping are not the same thing. We’ll continue with this…. After PE, as usual, we did math. 

Student are taking home a permission slip today for Wednesday’ strip to Mission San Fernando Rey. They should also bring one dollar in for admission along with the permission slip.

Sorry for the short notice, but we only received final confirmation from the Transportation Branch this morning. If you are interested in accompanying the class, please send me an email.

Homework:  (1) Finish the “Reading Strategies” worksheet. (2) Do the “Point of View” worksheet. (3) Do the “Life in the Missions” study sheet. (4) Do the “Time Line” and “Portola” worksheets. (5) Do “Simplifying Expressions,” Envision Math, pages 124-125.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Picture Day

Today's big event was school pictures. This went pretty painlessly this year. There have been years when we stood for over an hour in the auditorium waiting to get our pictures taken, but this year we were in and back in only about 20 minutes. And that included the class photo. They gave me a copy of the preliminary shot so I could identify students for the yearbook. I hope I don't have such an idiotic grin on my face in the final selection, but I am not hopeful.

Class Photo002

Otherwise, a pretty uneventful day. We work on sentence combining skills, and we checked, corrected and discussed homework. We did independent reading and responded in journals. We slogged through a particularly long selection in the history book about the Spanish colonial system, but that was important since we should be going to Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana next week. Permission slip to follow.

Homework: (1) Do the spelling word search. (2) Write sentences for each of the spelling words. (3) Do the “Adjectives” and “Ad-lib” worksheet. (4) Do the “Multisyllabic Crossword” and “Connecting to Theme” worksheet. (5) Do the “Settling Alta California” study guide. (6) Do “Expressions with Parentheses,” Envision Math, pages 122-123.

Students can substitute a box of food or a can of food for the food drive for assignments (1) and (2). One contribution for each excused assignment.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quiet Tuesday

Just the homework for now. I’ll update this later.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Complete the tree map and the flow map for “Eddie, Inc.” story. (3) Do the “Eddie, Inc.” study questions. (4) Do “Equality,” Envision Math, pages 120-121.

Monday, November 09, 2009

New and Improved

First of all, a big thank you to all the parents who helped out at Culture Day. Our Drum Circle booth did reasonably well, and it was both fun and educational. 


Today we did a number of new things. We started a new unit in Open Court Reading. We started a new independent reading program and the students received a new journal as a part of this. We also started new units in History and Math. We started work on You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown by watching half of the cartoon version. We’ll start on the songs tomorrow.

Best of all, we started the EPEC program. EPEC stands for “Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum” and it is the state-of-the-art PE program that the state and the district would like us to teach. We are the first class at Third Street to attempt to implement this, and we now have the equipment we need thanks to the generosity of our fabulous room 19 families. Our students worked on two activities today. I worked with students to learn and practice proper jumping form.  Ms. Caruso did a cooperation game with the another group. After a period of time, we switched off so that both groups could do both activities.


Homework:  (1) Write each spelling word once. Underline or circle the silent letter. (2) Do the “Reading Strategies” page with the post-it notes. Be sure to write not only the page number but the phrase that prompted the prediction, connection, or question. (3) Do the Multisyllabic Words worksheet. (4) Do the “Explorers Arrive from Mexico” study sheet and the “Early Explorers” and “Routes” worksheet. (5) Do “Variables and Expressions,” Envision Math, pages 118-119 and “Who Wants Pizza” on the back.  

Friday, November 06, 2009

When I Grow Up…

Today we looked backward and forward. Several students needed additional time to finish some of yesterday’s activities like the tests or the final draft of the Open Court writing assessment, so we found some time for them to work on that. But mostly we looked forward towards the next reading theme, “Dreams to Jobs.”

I like to introduce this theme on a negative note. I ask the students, “What would you absolutely hate to do when you grow up?” They like the vocational questions in reverse and their ideas about jobs can be interesting – if not always completely accurate.


          When I grow up I don’t want to be a doctor. I don’t want to be a doctor because I would see a lot of blood. I also don’t want to be  a doctor because I would have to work all day, every week. I would be very tired. Also , I if was tired I could do something wrong. I might puke if there was too much blood. Those are the reasons why I don’t want to be a doctor.


          The job I would hate the most is to be a teacher. I would hate being a teacher because all the kids would yell when they’re supposed to be doing their work. The second thing is they would be sharpening their pencils. The third thing is because they get out of their seats and ask you questions. The last thing is when kids jump around in the bus! I WILL NEVER BE A TEACHER!!!

Actually, being a teacher is not that bad, at least at Third Street School.

The students did rough and final drafts of these paragraphs and worked on illustrations, too. This took a lot longer than I expected it would, but they seemed to be focused on the topic and having a good time, too.

In the afternoon, we had our first experience with Hands-on Equations. This is a nifty program designed to introduce algebraic concepts to students by using manipulatives. The first lessons in the program are pretty easy, but they get harder soon. Our students did quite well with it, and, as you can see, they were interested!



Homework:  (1) Do the Word Knowledge and Vocabulary from Context for the Eddie, Inc. story. This is a handout. (2) Do the math worksheet. There is a section on multiplying money and also one where the students need to solve an algebra problem for the value of x.

I look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow at Culture Day!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Quiet Movement

It was a pretty quiet day in room 19. We did a lot of testing today – it’s that time of the year. We more or less finished the OCR Unit 1 test today. The results will be posted on the gradebook a little later. It was a bit disappointing, but the first unit is often the weakest of the year.

We also did the Topic 4 math test today, and a few students will be finishing it tomorrow. I think the results will be good here. The students also worked on the Chapter 2 History test as well. I think these may be a big improvement over the first unit.

We did one fun activity at least. We discussed nonobjective art and how artists can use repeated shapes and lines in this kind of art to create a flowing sense of visual movement. We were particularly inspired by a work by Joan Miro here. The students tried their own works and many were really fine!


Homework:  (1) Do the “Dreams to Jobs” circle map. This is a handout that all the students should have. (2) Do the two math worksheets.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hey, Buddy

At the end of every Open Court Reading unit there is a district assessment. To be perfectly honest, these are not particularly good tests. The skills tested do not perfectly match up with the materials in the unit, and the vocabulary section is often quite confusing. I spend a good bit of time preparing the students for the test since the results are logged into the district’s computers. I make up review worksheets and word searches and spelling scrambles and other things so that I feel the students will be ready. And that’s what we did today.

Yesterday I gave the students some prep materials as part of their homework, and today we spend a good bit of time – probably more than the students wanted to spend on it – going over the answers. We will be doing some more of this as part of homework tonight, and going over it tomorrow. It is valuable material; it is more than just teaching to the test. But like the students I wish it were a trifle more fun.

But the day was not without some fun. Each Tuesday is our “Buddy Reading” Day when we have an opportunity to read to kindergartners from room 2. Last week we went to their class; today they came to us. We’re still getting to know each other, but I can tell that we will have some fast friendships by the end of the year.



It’s a nice way to end our shortened days.

Homework:  (1) Create a tree map using the words from the spelling word search we  did this morning. Focus on the ending patterns like adding an extra consonant before the –ing or –ed or changing a final y to an i. (2) Do the review diagram on page 114 of the Social Studies text. (3) Do “Greater Numbers,” Envision Math pages 106-107.