Thursday, December 16, 2010

Twas the Day Before

One of the funniest descriptions I ever heard of teaching elementary school was that it was like trying to keep 30 corks under water at the same time. It usually is not that hard, but the days before Christmas Break does have this feeling. Particularly if the teacher is coming down with the flu....

Anyhow, we muddled through. We corrected and discussed homework. We talked about prime and composite numbers. I gave the students the math early so that I could conference with each of them about their final drafts. The math assignments should be done leaving only the writing as homework for tonight. Nevertheless, since we'll check it tomorrow morning, I'll put it on the homework.

Homework: (1) Do "Prime and Composite Numbers," pages 180-181 in the math book. (2) Do the division practice sheet. Be sure to check the answers as well. (3) Do the final drafts of the holiday story in cursive.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


What a cold day! For a while, the office even had rainy day schedule planned for us. Fortunately, that didn't happen.

We reread the "Salt" story today. We went to Tech Center where the students worked a bit more on their PowerPoint presentations. We talked about factors in math.

Homework: (1) Do sentences for the spelling words. (2) Do the "Salt" study questions. (3) Do the commas worksheet - which for some reason only printed out on the front side. (4) Do pages 178-179 in the math book.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Conference Day Two

Our second day of this last week of 2010 is going along swimmingly! We read "Salt", the last story in the Dreams to Jobs unit in the reader. We worked on a variety of skills with this story, too. We practiced the strategies of predicting and questioning. We worked on determining the meaning of words from context. And we reviewed compound sentences and prefixes, too! After recess, our math work introduced the procedures for dealing with quotients with a middle zero (such as 207 R 2). The students seem to grasp this pretty easily. I gave them the whole hour to get this work done so I hope that few have it has homework tonight though it is still on the list below. Finally, after lunch I returned their stories and they shared them with partners. I graded these first rough drafts just for ideas. They will work on second rough draft tonight. These revisions should help improve the coherence of the story and add details and dialog.

Homework: (1) Do "Fixing Compound Fractures" and "Theme Connections". (2) Do the "Prefixes and Suffixes" worksheet. (3) Do pages 176-177 in the math book. (4) Do the second rough draft of the holiday story. Like the first rough draft, it should be at least four pages skipping lines, front side of the paper only.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Conference Day One

Today was our first day for parent conferences. Like most of these minimum days, it seemed to go by in a blur! We checked and corrected our math homework, read a short chapter from the Science book, and then we were off the the KDLP winter concert. It was really quite sweet, particularly the little ones and the fifth graders who wrote an original bilingual play for the occasion.

After the concert, we came back to the room and the students had a few minutes to get started on their Science homework. After recess we started on math. Lunch comes early on minimum days, and after that we were done!

Homework: (1) Do the "Summary: The Force" questions. (2) Do pages 174-175 in the math book.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

We're Inventive

Yesterday we read about the Gerber family and how Dan and Dorothy Gerber used their imaginations to create a labor-saving creation, canned baby food. Today the students used their imagations to create their own labor saving technologies. They then made advertisements for these devices, just as the Gerbers had to do for their baby food.

After recess the students worked on magnetism. They made balances and connected two magnets on each side of a plastic cup. They then used steel washers to see how much weight would be required break the force. They then inserted plastic spacers in between the magnets to see how that affected the amount of weight needed.

After lunch we made paper cut outs in the style of Henri Matisse. We did these with a holiday theme, and you will see them next week if you are able to come to our holiday pot luck.

Homework: (1) Do the spelling word search. (2) Do the "Conjunctions" worksheet. (3) Do the "Cause and Effect" worksheet. (4) Do pages 169-170 in the math book. Be sure to show all work on a separate paper as well as writing the answers on the answer sheet.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Long Division!

Today we introduced the students to standard algorithm for division. That's a fancy pedagogical term for teaching them the way the we adults do division. Most of them seemed to grasp it fairly well, but it would be a good idea if parents double checked student work today.

We also went to Tech Center and took a very pleasant trip up to the Fremont Library. We reread "Birth of a Baby Food." We did our usual PE, as well. For those students participating in tonight's Family Night and winter orchestra concert, good luck!

Homework: (1) Do the "Baby Food" study questions. Be sure to write complete sentence answers. (2) Do pages 156-166 in the math book.

It's Already Over?

The day just zipped by! We read a story, "Birth of a Baby Food" in the Open Court reader and we practiced using connecting and questioning as strategies here. We reviewed a bit of what we did yesterday with magnetism and read a chapter in the FOSS science text. We focused on the idea of division with remainders in math. And, to end the day, we went to the book fair.

Homework: (1) Do the spelling scramble. (2) Answer "When Magnet Meets Magnet" questions. Be sure to use complete sentences. (3) Do the multiplication worksheet.

Most students should be finished with the pages from the math book. They were given ample time to work on them during class. However, 162-163 in the math book will be check and corrected with other homework assignments tomorrow.

Conference letter confirmations went home today. Please be sure to ask your child for it. Also, be sure that the field trip form is signed for tomorrow's walking field trip to the Fremont Library.

Monday, December 06, 2010


We had a couple of really fun activities today in room 19. First of all, we went to the auditorium for a production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas done by the students in room 17. Since many of our students had had Mrs. Caruso as their third grade teacher, this was a familiar script. All the students did a good job.

It was a particular pleasure to see Eve Whitman, Mrs. Caruso's daughter, as the accompanist. She is a room 19 alumna now at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

After recess, in Science, the students explored magnetism. They had a bag of test objects and they check to see which ones a magnet would stick to. When they were done, they figured out that magnets only stick to iron and to other magnets.

In the afternoon, we had sock ball for PE since room 17 was too tired to come and and do the usual rotations. We worked in math on estimations - never an easy skill for students, but they seemed to do pretty well with it.

Homework: (1) Sort spelling words by digraph. Some words have both vowel and consonant digraphs: put them in as many categories as apply. (2) Do "Estimating Quotients," pages 160-161 in the math book.

Students also took home a field trip form for Wednesday. We're just going up to Fremont Library to check in and check out some books: no presentation by the children's librarian this time.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Unconventional Greetings

Today we finished reading the "Business is Looking Up" story. The students made greeting cards. They had their choice of picking either an unconventional recipient like the one below,

or picking an unusual situation such as this one where granny gets sent to jail!

There were some other great ones like "Happy Justin Bieber Day" and another welcoming vegetarians to the world of eating meat!

In the afternoon, we took two math tests, one over Topic 6 and the other as a "second chance" for Topic 5. The students finished their cards and then got a head start - well, some of them did - on homework.

Homework: (1) Do the "Business is Looking Up" study sheet. (2) Also do the "Conjunctions in Compound Sentences" worksheet. This is pretty easy, but students do need to read the directions inside the box. (3) Do "Different as Night and Day" and "Theme Connections" to finish off our work on this story. (4) Do "Multiplication Practice 4". There will be a multiplication quiz tomorrow as well as the spelling test.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


What a quick day! It seemed like today just went whizzing by.

We started off today with checking and correcting homework. This often takes more time than I'd like to spend on it, but I do think that if homework is assigned it should be corrected and discussed, not merely collected and "checked off". We started "Business is Looking Up", one of the least interesting stories in the Open Court Reader. Some of these stories can just be read quickly and "checked off"! We will do an art and writing project with it tomorrow, so the story is not a complete waste....

We went to Tech Center where students received flash drives from Ms. Richard. They saved their PowerPoint presentations on them, and many will be bringing them home tonight to continue work on these. After recess, the students went to Mr. Pratt. He continued teaching them about the early settlement of California and also is starting to them them the songs from Oliver!

We read more from James and the Giant Peach after lunch, and our math lesson dealt with problem solving. The students will have a math test over topic 6 tomorrow. Students were dismissed for play activities at 2:00 today so that teachers could work on getting ready for conferences. For that reason we did not have the usual afterschool homework club today.

Homework: (1) Do the Word Knowledge and Vocabulary paper for "Looking Up". (2) Do pages 150-151 and 152-153 in the math book. (3) Do the Multiplication 3 practice paper.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's in the News!

Today we began by checking our homework and discussing each assignment. We then went on to review the Open Court Reading story about the invention of ice cream cones. We talked some more about the writing assignment the students did yesterday, and I clarified some points about newspaper writing style and content. The students revised their rough drafts as needed, and added a little bit of art to the final draft by creating their own front pages.

After recess, they went to Mr. Pratt again for History and Drama. After lunch, we continued our look at multiplication by two digits.

Homework: (1) Do spelling sentences for words 11-20. (2) Do "Words with Prefixes" worksheet. (3) Do "Another Pair of Prefixes" and "Theme Connections" paper. (4) Do "Greater Numbers," pages 148-149 in the math book and "Playing with Numbers" on the back of the answer sheet. Show all work on a separate paper. (5) Do the "Multiplication 2" worksheet to continue practice on this skill. Again, be sure to show all work.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Coming Back

It was hard coming back today, at least for the teacher. I had such a great break, and so many of the students did, too. We all shared our vacation experiences in the morning after we said the pledge of allegiance and took attendance. But the school day, like the show, must go on and we went on to have a pretty normal Monday. We started a new story in reading called "Ice Cream Cones:  A New Scoop" that tells the story of the invention of the ice cream cone at the Saint Louis World's Fair in 1904. The students read this short selection and then practiced writing a summary in the form of a newspaper article. We'll be continuing this tomorrow.

After recess, the students went to Mr. Pratt where they worked on early explorers and some songs. I worked with his class on magnetism experiments. Our class will be doing that later. After lunch, we read some of James and the Giant Peach. We went out for a fairly long PE block. Mrs. Caruso, assisted by one of the parents from room 7, did some fitness testing with all the students. Meanwhile, I worked with them on dribbling skills.

In math, we worked on multiplying by two digits. There's plenty of practice on that this evening.

Homework: (1) Do the "Pronouns" worksheet. (2) Write sentences for words 1-10 on the spelling list. (3) Do pages 146-147 in the math book. (4) Do the multiplication practice sheet. (5) Do the cursive connections practice paper.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Tearful Goodbye

Today was our final day in the library with our beloved librarian, Mrs. Koneff. Words fail me when I think of the pedagogical idiocy of this school system in disabling its school libraries, and the loss of such a fantastic person to our school is deeply tragic. Despite the loss of her position, Mrs. Koneff is a true professional, and our her last day she read us two really funny stories after we returned out books.

On a happier note, Andrew received his medal for completing the reading marathon. Way to go!

In math we learned the short way to do multiplication by two digits.

Homework:  Finish any unfinished work from our short day:

  • pages 216-219 in the Language book,
  • page 144-145 in the Math book, and
  • the two digit multiplication worksheet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The days right before a holiday are hard for both the teacher and the students. Everybody feels a little restless waiting for the vacation to begin. So the day seems a little long for everybody. Still, we did our best to learn.

In the morning, we discussed informational articles and the structure of nonfiction paragraphs. We also began learning how to multiply by 2 digit numbers. The way the new math series introduces this is not exactly intuitive or the way most of us adults learned it, but it does sort of help them learn the meaning of the procedure.

In the afternoon we did art. Our lesson today dealt with the use of rhythm and movement in art, and the students studied and discussed a work by Catalan painter Joan Miro. Their abstracts were pretty good, don't you think.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling wordsearch. (2) Multiplication, envision Math, pages 141-142. (3) Action Verbs, Language Handbook, pages 212-213.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fremont Library

First of all, as you can guess, we have our electricity and internet back in room 19. Apparently one of the circuit breakers is seriously in need of replacement, but the LAUSD electrician managed to jury rig the existing board until replacement parts can come in.

Our big item today was our trip to the Fremont Library on Melrose Avenue. We went with room 7. The children's librarian there is absolutely fantastic. She began by giving our classes an orientation to the Los Angeles Public Library system and reading a heart-warming story about an elephant and a dog at an elephant sanctuary  in Tennessee.

The students then had an opportunity to pick out books and check them out. Many were using an LAPL library card for the first time.

Our walk to the library and back was quite pleasant, and Mr. Pratt stopped several times to point out interesting architectural features in our neighborhood.

In the afternoon, we had a couple fistball games for PE instead of our usual rotations because Mrs. Caruso was out on a field trip. We're starting double digit multiplication in math.

Homework:  (1) Do sentences for each of the spelling words. (2) Do the "Using Reading Skills" paper for the Open Court Reading story. (3) Do the study questions on the same story. (4) Do "Estimating Products," envision Math pages 138-139 and "Vacation Estimation."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why No Blog

Sorry for the fact there have been no blog posts for the past few days. Several classrooms, including room 19, have been hit with electrical issues. Most of my plugs do not work, and there is no internet access at all. The district is working on this, but apparently the problem is more serious that just the circuit breakers.

I can received email on my phone, so feel free to contact me that way if there are any problems or concerns.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Short and Sweet

We had a short but productive day. We read "Elias Sifuentes, Restaurateur" in Open Court. It's a bit dated, but the students did understand why he might prefer to own his own business instead of working in a factory. With Mr. Pratt, the students reviewed for their next history test and learned did a great little improv about buying shoes at a shoe store. We ended the day with math discussing the order of operations, particularly using parentheses.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Finish the "Using Reading Strategies" paper. Students had time to start on this during class. (3) Finish the "Sifuentes" study questions. Again, students had time to start on this during class. (4) Do "Parentheses," envision Math pages 122-123. (5) Do the multiplication practice paper. (6) Do the cursive practice worksheet.

Monday, November 08, 2010


The day started unexpectedly with rain, but it was otherwise a pretty ordinary Monday. We did our independent reading, and we checked out homework to begin the day. In writing, we discussed broad vs narrow topics, and the students brainstormed some different topics and did a quickwrite. They went to Mr. Pratt for history where they learned about the native peoples of the Sierra Nevada area. After lunch, we read a bit of James and the Giant Peach, and went to Physical Education. In math, we studied inequalities today.

Homework:  (1) Make a tree map of the spelling words. (2) Do the "Word Knowledge" and "Vocabulary" page for tomorrow's reading of the OCR story, "Elias Sifuentes." (3) Do pages 120-121 in the math book and the "Chain Challenge" on the back of the answer sheet. (4) Do the multiplication practice worksheet. (5) Do the I and J letters in cursive on the worksheet provided.

Ms Jennifer Castaneda, or Miss C as the students call her, one of our aides, had her baby over the weekend! He's healthy and happy and we look forward to learning more details and sharing them with you.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Odds & Ends

It was a day to tie up a bunch of loose ends. We collected and turned in all of our Open Court Reading papers for the first unit. We turned in our reading journals. We graded and corrected both of our math tests from Wednesday.

We also had one of our final days in our school library. As many of you know, Mrs. Koneff received a layoff notice from the district and her last day with be the 19th of this month. She will be profoundly missed by students and teachers alike.

In PE, we worked again on various skills including hurdling. We took spelling and reading quizzes. And, of course, our students DEMANDED homework tonight.

Homework: (1) Do Concept and Question for the Concept/Question board. (2) Do the adjective worksheet. (3) Do "Expressions," pp 118-119 and "Pizza." (4) Do the multiplication practice worksheet.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Picture Perfect

Today was miserably hot, but we tried to keep cool as best we could. In some ways it was a pretty normal Wednesday. We checked our homework, finished reading an Open Court Reading story, and went to Tech Center. The students did particularly good work in Tech Center where they are writing a five paragraph essay with the help of PowerPoint.

Our most out-of-the-ordinary activity today was getting our pictures taken. This can sometimes be an ordeal lasting an hour or more, but today it moved quite smoothly and we were in and out in only about 20 odd minutes.

In the afternoon, we took a math test (actually two math tests, since they had their "second bite at the apple" chance for Topic 3) and they had a chance to get a good head start on homework.

Tomorrow is our field trip to Stunt Ranch. Please dress in cool clothes, and bring water to carry on the trail. Wear a hat and some sunblock. Bring a sack lunch that will be easy to carry in and to take the trash out. 

Homework:  It may seem like quite a bit here, but students had ample opportunities to start this before picture time and after the math test. (1) Do spelling sentences for all 20 spelling words. (2) Do the "Eddie, Inc." study questions. (3) Do the "Multisyllabic Words" worksheet. Be sure to find the word which you can divide between consonants. (4) Do the multiplication practice worksheet. (5) Do the cursive practice.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Glad to be Back

My meeting yesterday was pretty pointless, even by the generally low standards I've become accustomed to after many years in the district. But every member of school site council is supposed to go over year, so I had no choice. Still, it was really nice to be back here in room 19. The substitute, Miss Wynn, left a nice note, and that made it even better.

We spent a lot of time today going over Friday and Monday's homework. We also started our next OCR story, "Eddie, Inc." It is one of the lamest stories in the entire anthology, but it introduces the students to ideas like profit and investment. We went over "Reasonableness" as a checking strategy in math; we have the test over Topic 4 tomorrow. Students will also take the "B" form of the Topic 3 test to see if they can improve their score any.

Homework: (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Do "Reasonableness," envision Math pages 108-110 and "Test Prep" page 112-113. (3) Do the cursive connections worksheet.

Please make sure that the field trip form is signed and turned in! We have space for a couple parents on Thursday's bus trip.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Homework!

Today we did a few Friday things like taking our spelling test since we will be leaving for downtown relatively early tomorrow. The only thing we did that was really different or fun today was to start on a collage project. The students had a lot of fun looking through old newspapers and magazines and finding pictures that interested them.

They did a surprisingly excellent job of cleaning up after this, and they were rewarded with no homework for the evening. Of course, for the teacher, this was also a recognition that there was no way we could check it until Monday anyhow.

So enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Pretty Nice Day

Recess is one of the best parts of the school day!

It was a nice sunny day, and we had a pretty nice day in room 19. After reading and checking our homework, we went to the Tech Center where the students worked on their PowerPoint projects related to the Reflections theme of "Together We Can." After recess, the students went to Mr. Pratt where they begin their study of California's native peoples. After lunch, we listened to some of James and the Giant Peach. We did our usual rotations during PE, and Reese's mom was here to help students measure their ability to do sit-ups. We'll be monitoring their progress towards the Presidential Fitness goals. We worked on learning the standard algorithm for multiplication in Math - that's the way that all adults normally do it by carrying over a number.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling jumble. The word search is optional. Because of the field trip on Friday, the test will be tomorrow. (2) Do the "Girl who Loved the Wind" study questions. (3) Do the "Doubling Final Consonants worksheet. This one is not hard, but please read the directions and the explanation in the box. (4) Do "Multiplying," envision Math pages 101-103 and "Mathematical Marlena" on the back.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just the Homework Today

Quick post before I head off to a meeting....

Homework:  (1) Do "Complex Sentences" worksheet. (2) Do "Using an Expanded Algorithm," envision Math, pages 97-99. Also do the Quick Review page we skipped in class.

Monday, October 25, 2010


A good, productive day, despite winds blowing leaves inside the room every time we opened the door....

We started a new story in OCR, appropriately enough called "The Girl Who Loved the Wind." Students went to Mr. Pratt for History and Drama today. They'll be having a test there tomorrow, so please review the worksheets with them. In Math, we're working on rounding and estimation.

Students are also taking home a field trip permission form. I should have sent this out last week, so please get it finished today and turned in tomorrow. We're asking the students to bring in 6 dollars to pay for Metro fare. We're doing the Metro for this field trip to save our bus for something farther away. Since we're going to downtown, we'd love to have as many adults as possible come with us. Please let me know if you're available.

Homework:  (1) Finish the "Using Reading Strategies" page. We started on this in class, but it took them astonishingly long to complete it and many didn't. (2) Write the spelling words in syllables. (3) Read the worksheet on "Complex Sentences" and finish it. If the students read the section in the box, this should be easy. (4) Do "Using Estimation," envision Math pages 94-95. (5) Do the "Word Knowledge" and "Vocabulary from Context" pages for "Girl who Loved the Wind."

Review the history worksheets. The students will be able to use these to do their test.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wise Old Owls

Our week came to an end with a bit of sunshine, finally. We had a pretty quiet and productive Friday, but we squeezed in a bit of fun, too. We began by checking our homework. We went to the library where Mrs. Koneff gave us a great reading of Chris Van Allsburg's The Widow's Broom, a particularly great story for Halloween. We took our spelling test and we took a couple of reading skills tests. Results for both are already posted on the gradebook.

After recess, we went over to the auditorium for Mr. Lawton's special program. This is, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the research for his master's degree.

Today he had the students work on a short song called "The Wise Old Owl" which had a place for improvisation. The students were attentive and really enjoyed the improvisation section.

You can tell how hard they're concentrating. This is part of the mental "flow" that Mr. Lawton is trying to measure.

In the afternoon, we had PE by ourselves - room 9 was on a field trip and room 7 was busy - we just had kickball. That's not good physical education generally, but every now and again it's sort of a treat for the class, the pedagogical equivalent of eating potato chips!

We finished the day with Math. Today we are doing mental math strategies. These are often I find more challenging for the adults to figure out than for the children to perform.

Homework:  (1) Do "Mental Math," envision Math, pages 92-93. (2) Do "Joke" and "Theme Connections". These relate to the "Two Tickets" story.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Today was the great earthquake drill that wasn't much of a great earthquake drill. We always have a couple big, district or state earthquake simulations, one in the fall and the other in the spring. This year, apparently because of budget cuts, we only ducked and covered under out desks. I am not quite sure how this saved money, but I can't say I missed spending 45 minutes on the yard.

We make thinking maps of the "Two Tickets" story after we checked, corrected, and discussed our homework. Some of these are quite promising, and I am looking forward to getting all of them completed and turned in.

We graded both of the math tests. I am happy to report excellent results on Topic 3, and significant improvement for most students on Topic 2. The results of both tests are on the gradebook. If the students had a better grade on the Topic 2 test, the new score has replaced the original grade.

After lunch we listened to a bit of James and the Giant Peach. We also went out for the PE, more I suspect, for the teacher's mental health after three days of rainy day schedule than for the students' physical health. We finished off the day with math.

Homework:  (1) Do the "Ticket" wordsearch and study for the spelling test tomorrow. (2) Do the vocabulary review crossword puzzle. (3) Do "Multiples," envision Math pages 90-91. (4) Do the U and X cursive pages.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Rain

Another dreary, rainy day. The teacher was depressed. The students, who actually enjoy rainy day schedule, seemed to have a good time. They did not get to go to PE, of course, but they did go to the Tech Center where they started a PowerPoint project. During lunch, they watched Homeward Bound:  The Incredible Journey, a really nice adaptation of the 1963 book. After lunch, we listened to Jeremy Irons read a bit of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, our current core literature selection. They took their math tests today (the topic 3 test, and the second bite of the apple for topic 2). They had a lot of time after the test to get started on homework, so I would be surprised if they took anything home.

Homework: (1) Do sentences for each one of the spelling words. (2) Do the "Two Tickets" comprehension questions. (3) Do the "Drawing Conclusions" worksheet. (4) Do the subtraction practice worksheet. (5) Practice cursive T and Y using the pages provided.

Monday, October 18, 2010


It was a very gray day, and things were pretty subdued in room 19. Of course, that's not a bad thing for a Monday morning. We did reading, and we shared our weekends. We began reading "Two Tickets to Freedom", one of the better stories in the Open Court reader. This is the story of William and Ellen Craft, two slaves who escaped from Georgia to the north.

We did a little work in Science, and quite a bit of music. We're coming to the end of our rhythm unit this week. We skipped PE today because it was starting to sprinkle right at the end of lunch recess, and Mrs Caruso and I both did not want to be out there and suddenly trying to race inside to avoid a shower. So the students had  a chance to get a good head start on their homework.

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words in syllables. You can use a dictionary to help you. (2) Do the two cursive pages. (3) Do "Use Multiplication Facts," envision Math pages 80-82 and "Tables that Rule" on the back. (4) Do "Sentences" pages 166-167 in the red language book. Look at the examples at the top of the page for directions.

There will be a test on Topic 3 Wednesday; students will also take the "B" form of the Topic 2 test to see if they can improve their grades here. Please use the Topic 2 test to review. The students have this test in their folders or desks.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Looking at Ourselves

Our day started in the usual quiet way, but we had a visit from a company of actors from room 7 who performed their version of "The King's Fountain" for us. They were great! In the picture below, the poor man tells the two blacksmiths about the King's plot to divert all the water and cause everyone to die of thirst.

We then finished reading the story in the Open Court reader, and the students continued the "Asking Questions" strategy. The students then took the post-it notes on which they had been recording their questions and they created a T chart with the textual references on one side of the page and the questions on the other side.

The students worked with Mr Pratt, concluding their look at California geography. Meanwhile, I worked with his class on the bugs and learning to reading rhythm using the Kodaly rhythm syllables.

After lunch, we briefly looked at math. This is, I think, a pretty easy topic because our students seem to have their times tables generally quite well mastered. After that, we started art. Our topic today was lines and watercolor. The students experimented making different kinds of lines - thick, thin, light, dark, straight, curved, and zigzag - on a sheet of practice paper.

After that, I gave the students photographs of themselves. They used the photo to briefly sketch themselves on paper on a piece of regular paper, and then - and this was the hard part - they painted themselves in water color without already using pencil lines. This is not easy even for many professional artists, but some of our students did quite well with it!

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling wordsearch. The students already have the words from previous assignments. (2) Do "King's Fountain" study guide. (3) Do "Relating Multiplication and Division," envision Math, pages 74-75 and "Just the Fact(ors)" on the back.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


First of all, my apologies for not posting at least the homework yesterday. We had a School Site Council Meeting which lasted about two and a half hours and when it was over all I wanted to do was to get home as fast as possible! Fortunately, just about everybody did all the homework last night.

We went to Tech Center where Ms. Richard had them write a letter in MS Word. After lunch, we had PE. I'm continuing on with the students in hurdling skills. Mrs. Schiffman, one of the parents in room 7, is working with Mrs. Caruso to help the students get ready for Presidential Fitness Testing. Math was really easy today - the students reviewed division as the inverse of multiplication.

Homework:   (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Do the K cursive practice. (3) Do the "Subject-Verb Agreement" worksheet. (4) Do "Division," envision Math pages 71-73 and "Baby Sitting" on the back side of the answer sheet.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Swan Lake

The highlight of our day today was a visit from the Colburn Music School orchestra. These college musicians are fantastically talented, and their conductor really understand kids well and picks great music for them.

Our concert today featured selection from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. The orchestra used narrators, musicians dressed up as the prince and the princess, and a few simple props to help tell the story. 

Interspersed with the selections from Swan Lake were a few pieces to help introduce students to instruments of the orchestra. Here a very talented young bassoonist played an excerpt from a Mozart bassoon concerto (included a really beautiful cadenza).

Students switched off to Mr. Pratt for history and drama. After lunch, we checked homework, made folder, passed back work, and I gave the students some of lot of time to get a head start on some homework. It may seem like a lot of work, but they had over an hour to work on it in class and most of the assignments are pretty simple.

Homework:   (1) Do the Long Vowel Spelling Patterns worksheet. (2) Do sentences for spelling words 1-10 only. (3) Do pages 65-67 in the math book. (4) Do the subtraction and multiplication worksheets. (5) Do the two cursive letters practice.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Not too Demanding

We started the day with student council elections. We had seven highly qualified candidates running, but unfortunately we could only elect two representatives and one alternate. So, congratulations to Eli and Sally, our representatives, and to Nurjannah, our alternate. And thanks to everybody for running. Here is the entire group of fabulous candidates:

After the election, we went to library as we usually do on Friday.

We took our spelling test and the results are on the gradebook already. We also took the "Mae Jemison" quiz, but the results of that will take me a while to grade.

We had PE early today. Our students rotated among the three teachers as usual. While they were with me, the students practiced - and we assessed - on some simple hurdling.

After lunch, we corrected our math and did the next lesson which, to their delight, was unbelievably easy. We then went to the auditorium where we had a special music lesson with Mr. Lawton. We are helping him with some research for his Master's thesis.

The students did a wonderful lesson which asked them to improvise music to the telling of a simple story about a rainy day.

We left from the auditorium. It was a very pleasant day, not too demanding at all, for both teacher and students.

Homework:  (1) Do "Properties of Multiplication," envision Math, pages 62-63. (2) Complete the packet of stories for the Introducing ... Me!"    book. Since the students have had a lot of time to work on this, Monday is the final day to turn it in. I will not accept this one late.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Today we finished reading "Mae Jemison" and the students worked a little more on the final drafts of the book of Thinking Map inspired compositions that will become a book for Back-to-School Breakfast. Most students went to Mr. Pratt after recess so I could work with students from both classes who needed to finish up the CELDT test. The last section of the test is oral and it needs to be given with a bit of privacy. Mr. Pratt had the students watch an old video version of Sarah, Plain and Tall, the story we read last week in Open Court. It's a pretty dull after-school special from the 1980's, but he reported that they were surprisingly interested after having read the story.

Thursday is art day in room 19, and today's lesson focused on contour drawing. The students first picked an object in the room. This student picked one of the computers.

They then did a blind contour drawing. This is a classic art school exercise where the artist does not look at the paper nor lift the pencil. The results always look awful, but they force the student to really look at the object.

They then had the opportunity to draw the object again. This time, they could look at the paper, lift the pencil, and even use an eraser. But, because they had already looked at the object so intensely during the blind drawing, the results were much better!

Homework:  (1) Study spelling words for the test tomorrow. (2) Do "Patterns," envision Math, pages 60-61.

Homework is light tonight and tomorrow so that students can finish off the writing project.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Into Every Life

...some rain must fall, they, say, but why did it have to fall today? Sigh. Well, we made the best of it, and we had a pleasant day. We did our independent reading and checked our homework as usual in the morning. The students who had expressed an interest in orchestra after last week's assembly went off the auditorium to talk to Mr. Mason about this program. We read some more of the "Mae Jemison" story. And then we went off to the Tech Center. The students signed on to their new email accounts and most of them successfully sent an email off to me. They really liked hearing my phone "ping" when the emails were delivered!

After recess we worked on our Introducing ... Me! books. This is the project which is the culmination of our Thinking Map unit. The students have now studied all 8 maps and have made at least rough drafts of compositions based on those maps. They are now doing final drafts and we will be binding them on Friday and Monday so that they will be ready for the Back to School Breakfast on Tuesday.

By lunch time it was raining and we watched The Incredible Journey during lunch. It's probably my favorite rainy day movie and I usually save it for February or something, but we seem to be getting a lot of rain early. I know, I should have to write a hundred times, "We need the rain in Southern California" but I really don't see why it can't rain only between 2:30 in the afternoon and 7:00 in the morning.

In math, we're starting the first multiplication unit. This is one area where parents can really help their kids in math by quizzing them a lot on the tables until the students have them completely memorized.

Homework:  (1) Do the "Main Ideas" and "Biographies" worksheets. (2) Do the Spelling Scramble. (3) Do "Meanings of Multiplication," envision Math, pages 57-58. (4) Do the cursive I practice.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Short and Quiet

A short quiet, day. We started to read "Mae Jemison" in Open Court and we did a lot of work on our Introducing ... Me! books which we hope will be ready by Back-to-School Breakfast. Several students continued work on the CELDT test, and we all took a math test. Results on that tomorrow.

Homework:   (1) Do spelling sentences for words 11-20. (2) Do the cursive G practice. (3) Do the Jemison vocabulary crossword. (4) Do the Types of Sentences worksheet.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Weather or Not, Here We Come!

Gosh, a week ago we were sweltering under the highest temperatures ever recorded in Los Angeles. Today, we had rainy day schedule. Who says we don't have weather in LA?

Today, we did a couple other unusual things. First of all, shortly after school began, we went to the auditorium for speeches for student council. Four of our students were running and I tried to take pictures of all of them. I'm still learning in the ins and outs of the iPhone as a camera, however, so one of them was just hopelessly blurry. Sorry. I wish I could have recorded the speeches because they were wonderful. And the oversized pencil and eraser, well, you just had to have been there.

Today marked the beginning of the CELDT (California English Language Development Test) administration. Only a few of our students are taking the test, but the rest of them had to be quiet while I gave it. They did a wonderful job of this, of course. We'll be doing this after recess for much of this week.

We watched a movie during lunch - which lasts a little longer than usual on rainy days because teacher share watching adjoining classrooms - and we skipped PE. So the students had an opportunity to begin the homework a little bit early, and many of them finished before the final bell. 

Homework:  (1) Do "Jemison" vocabulary sheet. (2) Do Problem Solving and Topic Review pages, envision Math, pp 44-49. (3) Do cursive practice. (4) Do sentences for spelling words 1-10.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Fantastic Friday

We started out today with our second trip to the library. Even our new students are mastering the routines there well and I am really impressed by how carefully they are choosing their books.

Returning to the classroom, we took our quiz over the story "Sarah, Plain and Tall". I have not had an opportunity to grade it yet, but I suspect they did quite well. We also took and corrected our spelling test. Most students did excellent work on that.

We concluded our work with the isopods today by adding them to the terrariums. The students had fun with that, as you can imagine.  This did not take the full science period, so they had time to start on their science homework.

We worked a little more in music on body percussion and rhythmic speech. We did this before and after recess. We had "free choice" for PE today because Mrs. Caruso was unable to join us for our usual rotations and groups. They students enjoyed that, as you can guess.

Homework:  (1) Finish the Deserts and Rain Forests tree map and double bubble map. We started this during the science block. (2) Do "Subtracting Across Zeroes," envision Math, pages 42-43.