Thursday, December 17, 2009


Well, winter break is so close that you can smell it like the yule log burning in the fireplace. Everybody in room 19 is excited and ready to have a break. It’s so hard to stay focused….

But we did our best. We checked, corrected, and discussed our homework. We then finished our drawings of presents. As I said yesterday, this was an effort both to work on drawing rectangular prisms, which is a good introduction to perspective, and to creating visual rhythm through regular patterns.

Some of our presents were very fine indeed:

We made little paper bag reindeer. Most of the students took these home today so you should be able to find them in their backpacks – hopefully reasonably intact.

Then it was time for the party. We had a lot of parents here. Thanks so much for coming! It meant a lot to the students. The food was great, too.


We tried to make our party more than just a carbohydrate fest by having the students read and present picture books which they made for the occasion.



The parents really enjoyed the stories, particularly the ones with topical references like Santa getting the H1N1 flu!

We did PE to work off some of that energy, and I gave the students division and multiplication worksheets to keep them busy and quiet when we returned. They needed the practice, and I needed the peace and quiet. Perfect…. Many students finished these before the end of the day, but a number will finish them up as homework.

Homework:  Just finish the math worksheets if necessary.   

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Getting Ready

Tomorrow’s our holiday party where we’ll share our holiday stories. I sure hope that as many parents as possible can make it here to join us tomorrow.

We spent the morning, after correcting homework, working on the final drafts and illustrations.

After recess, we had a big disappointment when Ms. Richard cancelled Tech Center. I feel bad when teachers have personal issues, but getting told 5 minutes before you’re scheduled to go somewhere that it’s not happening leaves a teacher scrambling. In our case I had them read a chapter of Island, bind their Topic 6 math papers, and do a picture of a present as a way to review perspective and rhythm in art. They’ll be finishing the art tomorrow and I’ll post some of the pictures then or Friday.

We did PE as usual on Wednesdays. We finished the day with cupcakes and soda for Yuyang’s birthday.

Homework:  (1) Do “Zeroes in the Quotient,” Math pages 176-177. (2) Finish final drafts of stories and illustrations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Stories

OK, sorry for not writing yesterday. I was really, really tired and just plain forgot about it. I hope that did not cause any confusion with homework.

Today we worked a lot on our holiday stories. As you probably know, the students had to write a story about Christmas or Hanukkah or some other seasonal theme. They will be turning these into picture books – we’ll bind them and put nice homemade covers on them – and they will be sharing their stories with the class and the parents at the holiday party on Thursday. So, far, many of the stories are just wonderful. I hope as many parents as possible can be here Thursday to hear them.

We did a couple other things. We read another chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins today. We talked about the Mexican War of Independence and how it changed California. We had Buddy Reading with our kindergarten friends. And we practiced division.

Homework:  (1) Math, pages 174-175. Please be sure to do the enrichment activity on the back of the sheet too. Several students were missing that this morning. (2) Do the “Mexican California” worksheet.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Primary Colors

The last day of conferences went pretty smoothly, and I thank parents again for being so prompt and helpful. The weather was also a little helpful today since we did manage to have a regular recess!

After checking and correcting our homework this morning, we turned our attention to Art. We are starting our unit on color, and we talked about the color wheel. The students then did abstract designs using primary and secondary colors. Some were quite striking!



We continued our work with long division at math time, and that’s the bulk of tonight’s homework.

Homework:  (1) Do pages 61-64 from the Open Court packet. (2) Do “Division,” envision Math, pages 169-170.  (3) Write the fourth paragraph of the I-Search paper. Many, many students did not finish the second source (third paragraph) of the paper last night, so they will have double the work to do.

In an additional effort to keep parents informed about grades, I will be sending our daily emails about homework and other critical grades when they are entered into the gradebook.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Classic Fourth Grade

Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever had a year where nobody missed a parent conference. Thanks to everybody for being so prompt, and, of course, for having such wonderful children.

Today was a real fourth grade day. We took a test over the mission era in History, and then after recess we started to learn long division. Two of fourth grade’s greatest hits!

Homework:  (1) Do pages 165-166 in the math book. Page 176 is NOT assigned. Be sure to do all the work on a separate paper and to bring that in tomorrow. (2) Do the third paragraph for the I-Search paper. This should be a different source from the second paragraph. We just to have a topic sentence and at least four detail sentences. Write in the first person as before. And, since it’s a rough draft, skip lines.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Getting Down to Business

What a speedy day this was! We were packed up by recess. But we still learned a lot.

We started out checking, correcting, and discussing our homework. Students did a good job in particular with the estimation homework. We had a good discussion of the “Business is Looking Up” story, too.

We then went on to math. Today we introduced the standard algorithm, or procedure, for dividing with a remainder. The numbers are still pretty small like 17 divided by 3. But the students did a good job getting the concept and the skill.

After recess, we went to the Tech Center. This is really becoming a super productive time for us. The students are writing a business plan at the same time that they are learning to use PowerPoint. I hope to have them finish this after the Winter Break and actually present these as the culmination of the unit.

We then went to lunch – it not raining we could eat outside – and then played until the bell rang.

Homework:  (1) Do “Dividing with Remainders” envision Math pages 162-163.Be sure to put all the work for numbers 7-24 on the purple paper. (2) Do the nontraditional greeting card. This should be a card either for a nontraditional recipient or for a nontraditional occasion. There should be a greeting and a picture on the front and an appropriate message inside. This should be neat and correctly-spelled.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

At the Fair

It was a nice, quick day in room 19 today. We started out, as usual, checking and correcting homework. We went on to read our next story, “Business is Looking Up.” This is a pretty boring story, but it does help to add to the idea of writing a business plan. We’re working on that in Tech Center.

After recess, we did math. Today’s lesson involved using rounding and comparable numbers to estimate quotients. The students had a lot of time to get started on this pretty easy assignment, so homework is pretty light today.

After lunch, we read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins. We then went to the Book Fair. I’m sure that was the highlight of the day for the students. No rain was the highlight of the day for the teacher.

Homework:  (1) Do the Reading Strategies page for the “Business is Looking Up” story. (2) Do the study questions for the same story. (3) Complete “Estimate Quotients,” Envision Math pages 160-161.

Monday, December 07, 2009


I know we need the rain. I know there has been a drought. I just don’t quite understand why it can’t just rain in between 2:30 in the afternoon and 8:00 in the morning. Sigh.

We started today with a look at homework from Friday. We then went on to look at Friday’s art project which some students finished as homework. The assignment here was to use rhythm – repeated images and other patterns – to create movement in the depiction of an activity. It was a hard assignment, but several students did exemplary work here:




We work on putting together portfolios for conferences. We reviewed the history chapter review from last week. We discussed using math facts to divide larger numbers mentally. Oh, and we watched The Wild at lunch. That’s probably the best part as far as the students were concerned.

Homework:  (1) Finish, if necessary, the concept for the concept-question board. (2) Do the multiplication study sheet. Be sure to show all work. Use a separate paper if necessary.  (3) Do the rest of the study review questions on page 163 of the History book. (4) Do “Using Mental Math to Divide,” Envision Math, pages 158-159. (5) Do Word Knowledge and Vocabulary from Context for “Business is Looking Up.”

Students had a lot of time to get a head start on these assignments. If they’re bringing much work home it’s only because they were not working that diligently during the morning.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


If yesterday was fast, today was faster.

We started out checking, correcting, and discussing our homework as usual. A number of the students did not receive full credit because they “forgot” the paper on which they did their work. This is essential again tonight, and I gave them a spiffy purple paper to show all their work as well as the answer sheet.

After homework, we did a math lesson. Today’s topic was three digits times two digits (for example, 324 x 26). The students had ample amount of time to work on this and many even finished it before recess.

After recess, we went to Tech Center. Ms. Richards had them work on keyboarding, and then introduced them to their first PowerPoint project. The students will be using this piece of software to write and present a business plan! This will tie in very closely with the Open Court Unit and the writing assessment at the end of that unit.

After recess, we read a bit of Island of the Blue Dolphins. Today we did our activities with the students from room 37 because they are also interested in the EPEC program.

The students stayed out on the yard because the teachers were give time to work on report cards. Dr. Oh and the aides supervised the play.

Thanks for all the parents who have returned the conference form.

Homework: (1) Do spelling words 11-20 with definitions and sentences just as we did yesterday. (2) Do pages 148-149 in the math book and be sure to show all work on the purple paper. (3) Do "Features of Informational Articles" and "Main Ideas and Details". (4) Do the contractions worksheet.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


It was a short day and it seemed to rush by so fast!

We started out checking and correcting the homework. Most of the students are coming along nicely with the multiplication, but a few of them could use a little help there. We went on to Open Court where we were faced with a long and pretty boring story. To make it less painful, I read it to the students while they used their post-it notes to practice their strategies.

I then had a meeting with Mrs. Walker and some other folk. I figured that our students should not have to suffer because some adults cannot come to school before eight o’clock, so I insisted that they get to have two recesses while I attended the meeting. You can imagine their joy at that!

After I got back, we turned our attention to prepositions. I showed them the School House Rock video on this:

Then the students wrote sentences with prepositional phrases. We cut the sentences in half and the students traded them with their partners. We then compared who could make the most ridiculous sentence with a mismatched main clause and prepositional phrases.

After lunch, we did math. Today we introduced the normal way of doing two digit multiplication (that’s the “standard algorithm” in case you ever are stuck talking to a math teacher) and most seemed to sort of get the idea. They will need some help with it tonight.

We had reading buddies with room 2 and called it a day.

Homework: (1) Write a short definition – a synonym is OK here – for words 1-10 on the list and then write a short sentence for each. (2) Do the “Food from the Hood” questions. Be sure to answer in complete sentences and use the book! (3) Also, work on the word search but do not spend too much time on it. This should be kind of fun, and it is not essential to find every word. (4) Do “Multiplication,” Envision Math, pages 146-147. Show all work on a separate paper and put the answers on the answer sheet.

Big, big thanks to Abigail’s mom for helping clean the room! Thanks also to Joshua’s mom for doing it a couple times earlier this semester. Your help is so appreciated.