Friday, January 29, 2010


Another quiet day in room 19, our hometown….

We started with journal writing. The prompt today was “You have been abducted by aliens. Explain how this happened.” They like that a lot! We went to the library where Mrs. Koneff explained the new “Dewey Dollars” reading contest. We took our spelling test and checked, corrected, and discussed homework. We talked about the Bear Flag revolt and read a chapter in the history book. We read a section in the Science book about freshwater environment. This ties into our work with the aquariums. We practice Charlie Brown and we went out to PE. In math, we are continuing our look at solid figures in Geometry.

A big thank you to all the families who have contributed towards the cost of the CDI program. Our classroom participation is about 60 percent right now. We would like to get at least a little something from each family here, so if you have not yet contributed please send in a check (or cash if you wish in a sealed envelope with your name on it) as soon as possible.

Homework: (1) Do the “Bear Flag Revolt” study sheet. (2) “Do the “Freshwater Environments” study sheet. (3) Do “Views,” Envision Math, pages 212-213 and “Building Blocks” on the back of the answer sheet. (4) Do the “Multiplication Fiends” worksheet and “Factors”. The factoring exercise was hard for the students yesterday, so we are having some more practice here. We discussed it at length, but parents could help by double checking this one.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soft … and Loud

It was a pretty quiet day - at first  - in room 19. We began with our journal writing, and then we did the vocabulary section of the Open Court unit test. Thanks to the crossword puzzle and the other review activities, the students did quite well. They then went on to work on revising, editing, and writing the final draft of the essay from the same test. This took longer than expected, and they worked on it after recess as well.

It was after lunch that things weren’t so quiet any more. They were fun! We are picking up our life science unit which has been on vacation for a while. We are starting on an “aquatic environments” investigation, and, as part of this, the students made aquariums. Picking out the fish was definitely the most fun part of this!


After we finished this, we went on to art. Today lesson was supposed to deal with shades of color and using tempera paint to achieve these gradations. I’m not sure we really did as much as that as I had hoped, but there were some very fine paintings done anyhow.



The end of an otherwise wonderful day was only marred by me losing my keys. Send up thoughts please for them turning up….

Homework:  (1) Do the quotations worksheet. Look at the examples carefully to find out what to do in each section. (2) Do Exploration 2 vocabulary. (3) Do the “Regrouping” and “Factors” worksheet. (4) Do pages 210-211 in the math book plus the enrichment activity on the back of the answer sheet.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Today was Election Day at Third Street School. We began the day with an assembly in the auditorium where all the various candidates for office made speeches. This was pretty long, but surprising not as boring as I expected it would be. A couple of the speeches were actually amusing.

Back in the room we voted using a make-shift election booth.

The students voted one at a time, in secret, while the class did other things.

After recess, we went to Tech Center. This was not a particularly productive session in the computer lab owing some some problems Ms. Richard says they are having with the wiring. After lunch, we correct our homework. We went out to PE with the other classes. In math we started on solids (such as rectangular prisms and cylinders). Most of this is review.

Homework:  (1) Complete the rhythm worksheet activity for Mr. Lawton. The students had a good amount of time to start on this in class and most of them finished it there. (2) Do pages 207-209 in the math book. (3) Do the multiplication worksheet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dry and Sunny

The day was dry – well, at least until the final bell rang – and the teacher was sunny.

We started off with journaling. We reviewed all the different parts of speech in preparation for the “Checking Skills” part of the Open Court Test. We went to see Mr. Lawton who taught a marvelous rhythm lesson. After recess, we checked, corrected, and discussed our homework. After lunch, we did Math. We’re still in geometry, and today our topic was circles. This is an easy one for the students. It was starting to get cool, but our kindergarten buddies came over bundled up nicely.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Write 5 compound sentences. (3) Do the vocabulary review sheet. (4) Do “Circles”, enVision Math pages 204-205 and the enrichment sheet on the back. (5) Do the division worksheet.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blue Skies, Nothing but Blue Skies

First, let me offer a couple pieces of Friday’s art. I was just so eager to get home Friday I forgot all about the blog. Sigh.



I was GREAT to be off rainy day schedule. We had a productive day. We worked on parts of the Open Court test, read about some of the early pioneers to California including the famous Donner Party – yum, yum! We went out to PE for the first time in a week and we review quadrilaterals in math. Overall, a nice day.

Homework:  (1) Do a sentence for each spelling word. (2) Do the “Trails to California” study sheet. (3) Do “Quadrilaterals,” Envision Math pages 202-203. (4) Do the division worksheet.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ya Basta

Enough already! It’s time for a break from the rain. The ground needs to dry out and the students need to get to go outside for recess and lunch. Or maybe the teacher needs them to get to go outside….

We started on the Open Court reading test today. We’ll be doing more of this over the next two or three days. We finished off the art project. Well, actually most of us finished it up. A few students will be taking this home tonight. We read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins. We talked about Jedidiah Strong Smith and the first Americans to come overland to California. And we finally we reviewed polygons.

On a sad note, I received news that the California Dance Institute program is off – at least for now. Friends of Third does not have sufficient funding for this at this time. There will be a letter home about possibly funding it through fourth grade donations. I guess that will come home on Friday.

I had to cancel homework club today because I learned I was having unexpected company for dinner. So it’s off to Ralphs. Joy….

Homework: (1) Do the vocabulary review crossword. (2) Do the “More and More Division” worksheet. (3) Do “Polygons,” enVision Math pages 198-199 and the enrichment activity on the back of the page. (4) Do the “Trappers and Traders”  study sheet and the “Measuring Distances on a Map” worksheet. (5) Do the rhythm activity for Mr. Lawton.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It was a Dark and Story Night

Well, maybe it wasn’t night, but it certainly was dark and stormy today.

We did a lot of quiet things today. We checked, corrected, and discuss our homework. We did some preparation for state testing. It works best to do this occasionally for a couple months before the big day instead of cramming it all  in the first week of May. We did have enough of a break in the weather to get out for recess. But after recess we had a big disappointment:  our Tech Center time was cancelled again! So I had the students start on the weekly art project a day early. We’re doing desert landscapes – you’ll see some wonderful examples later this week.

After lunch, we read through Charlie Brown again, and we reviewed for the history test. We did our math, and then we ended the day with the history test itself.

Homework:  (1) Do the “Prefixes” worksheet. (2) Do the “More Division Practice” worksheet. (3) Math, pages 196-197.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rain, Rain

Yeah, I know, into every life some rain must fall. But does it have to do it all in one week? What was bad about the drought, anyhow….

Despite the rain – and the very exciting rolls of thunder which accompanied it – we had a productive day in room 19. We discussed homework, of course, at the beginning of the day. Then we started to read and discuss the “Salt” story in Open Court.

We went to room 33 for music while it was still reasonably dry and Mr. Lawton had his usual energetic and engaging lesson with the students.


He concentrated on introducing ideas of rhythm and meter with the students today, and he did so by having them do a little footwork.


This was particularly apt teaching technique because the term meter actually refers to the dances that originally accompanied Greek dramatic poetry.

After we came back to the classroom, we finished reading “Salt” and the students pasted the post-it notes that they use to practice their reading strategies onto the appropriate page in their unit booklet. They worked on predicting, questioning, and visualizing today.

We watched part of The Witches during lunch. After lunch, we did math. We are starting on a plane geometry unit right now. We will still be reviewing division, and probably having another test on that at the beginning of next week.

Homework:  (1) Do the Unit 2 Spelling Review jumble. There will not be a regular spelling test this week. (2) Do Math pages 194-195. (3) Do the Division worksheet. (4) Do “Salt” study questions.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Today we were artistic.

After reviewing the “Birth of a Baby Food” story, we talked about cause and effect. We then used one of our Thinking Maps, the Multi-Flow Map, to illustrate the factors which led to the development of Gerber baby food and the impact that this product had on the Gerber family and the larger society in the 1920’s. The example below had particularly fun illustrations.

After recess, we talked more about the rancho period in California history.  We discussed the hide and tallow trade, and the students pretended to envy the Californio children who only had a few weeks of school at the most each year.

After lunch, we had another read through of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. There’s a lot of talent in room 19, and it’s going to be hard to pick just two people for each of these parts.

Thursday is our regular visual arts day. Our lesson today dealt with complementary colors, that is, those that are opposite each other on the color wheel. The suggested activity for this in the art curriculum was to have the students pick several symbols which said something about the school, and to use complementary colors for each symbol. I added a little to this assignment because I also had the students write a paragraph explaining their choices. Here is a good example:


     Today in Art we made symbols. The first symbol I made was an eraser. In school, you need erasers because you make mistakes. My second symbol was scissors. You need scissors in Art. Finally, my third, and final, symbol was the flag. You need a flag in school to say the pledge of allegiance.

We finished by taking a math test . We’ll correct it tomorrow and I will post the grades as soon as possible.

Homework:  (1) Do one spelling sentence for each spelling word. (2) Do the “Conjunctions” and “Compound Fractures” worksheets. (3) Do the “Life in Mexican California” study sheet and the accompanying “Rancho San Miguel” map reading exercise. (4) Do the “Dividing Money” worksheet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Read Arounds

I have a vague feeling of doom every time that the day begins with precipitation, but everything went quite well today in room 19. We learned a lot and we had some fun, too.

We started off checking and correcting homework. The scores for the last couple days are posted on the gradebook. Students did quite well with prime and composite numbers. A few did not complete the poem/song lyrics assignment for Mr. Lawton, and they will need to get that done tonight in addition to any other work. We then finished reading “Birth of a Baby Food” – not a deeply fascinating story, but a good illustration of how people can make a fortune doing things which make the lives of others less stressful and more productive.

After that, I split the class into groups of five and the students read the stories they wrote on Monday to each other.


This is a technique called a “read around group” (or RAGs, if you are a connoisseur of educational acronyms). Each student reads his or her own paper; the other members of the group are supposed to give each writer at least one specific compliment and offer one suggestion or area of clarification. It seems easy, but the students find giving constructive feedback surprisingly hard. The students started revisions – second rough drafts – after they finished their group discussions.

We successfully avoided rainy day schedule, and the students all went to recess as scheduled. YES! (Not their reaction….) After recess we went to the Tech Center where Ms. Richard worked with them on both typing skills and their business plan power point presentation.

After lunch we had our first read through of the play.   We have a lot of interest in the various parts, and already some strong contenders. We went out to PE. As I mentioned on Monday, room 37 is now going us for PE, and I worked with those students to teach them to warm up routines. We had about 15 minutes of free choice activities, and then the students washed up.

We finished the day in the auditorium where Ms. Limb went over the plans for the new Student Council. A lot of our students are interested in running for office!  It should be great!

Homework:  (1) Finish the revision (second rough draft) of the holiday/vacation story. (2) Do the spelling wordsearch. (3) Do the study questions for the “Baby Food” story. (4) Do pages 182-184 in the math book as well as the test prep section.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prime Time

This seemed like a even shorter shortened day! But I didn’t hear any students complaining….

We started off, as usual, checking, correcting, and discussing homework. Most of the students did well with the factoring, though a few still seemed confused by the concept. We then went on to start reading “Birth of a Baby Food” in the OCR anthology. We will finish that tomorrow.

Today was our first music class with Mr. Lawton. I intended to take some pictures here  to show you some of the fun things he did with the class, but somehow left the memory card in the computer. So you’ll have to wait for next week. But, if you are not familiar with Mr. Lawton’s program you can check his blog.

After recess we did math. Today we learned about prime and composite numbers (and hence the title of this post). Again, most of the students mastered this easily, but it would be helpful if parents gave a quick review of the math homework tonight to double check comprehension.

After recess, we finish watching the Charlie Brown video. The scripts came this afternoon, so we’ll do a read-through tomorrow and start casting soon.

We finished up with reading buddies as we usually do on Tuesday afternoons.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Do “Prime and Composite Numbers” pages 180-181 and the “Pyramid” worksheet on the back. (3) Do Mr. Lawton’s lyric writing exercise.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A New Year

Welcome back! Happy New Year to everybody!

First, let me thank all the families for their extraordinary generosity at Christmas. I was touched by the kind words in the card and I must say that the cash inside came inside very handy during the holidays! There were a number of other gifts which I received as well, and if I were the person my mother wanted me to be I would have already responded with my thank you notes.

We had a good first day back. We spent the first few minutes getting reacquainted, and then the students started writing about their breaks. I gave them the option of writing a personal vignette (nonfiction) or a story (fiction). We shared rough drafts. On Wednesday, the students will work on revising these and doing second drafts.

We will be reading “Birth of a Baby Food” next in Open Court, and last year one of my parents led the class in creating baby food commercials as part of this unit. I loved the lesson, and I still had the baby food jars left over so the students had a chance to do it this year. We talked about the classic advertising and propaganda techniques – appeal to authority, bandwagon, glittering generalities, and so forth – and the students used these as they improvised their ads. We filmed them as you can see below.

After recess, we read some more of Island of the Blue Dolphins. We talked about the rancho period in Southern California and read the accompanying chapter in the book.

We are going to be working on Charlie Brown in earnest now. The Farrington family kindly agreed to photocopy the scripts for us, and while we are waiting for these to arrive we’ll be reviewing the video and a prior student production from another school. We’ll be doing casting soon, and I’ll be begging for parent help…. Before we started to watch the video, though, we did a theater exercises as a kind of refresher.


We did PE today with room 37 as well as room 19. It’s a fewer more logistics with a third class, but it makes it easier also to have a third teacher working with an activity. Math was about factoring – not a particularly hard concept for the students.

Homework: (1) Write the spelling words in syllables. (2) Do the “Word Knowledge” and “Vocabulary from Context” papers in preparation for reading the story tomorrow. (3) Do the rancho study questions and the worksheet on historical maps. (4) Do “Factors,” envision Math pages 178-179 and the “Division Amazement” on the back.