Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Today was a really splendid little day. It was pleasant and productive – everything you could want a day of fourth grade to be.

We started out with some vocabulary work during Independent Work Time. I had the students use dictionaries here today to work on this critical skill. I then presented the students with a rubric to help them evaluate the rough drafts of their writing. This is an approach to teaching writing through the “Six Traits” began in the Pacific Northwest and is spreading through the country. Several student volunteered to read their stories to the class and then their peers explained which score, a 1, a 3, or a 5, they would give them based on the rubric. This made the feedback surprisingly concrete and the students were quite fair to each other. I then paired the students up and each person listened to his or her partner’s story and offered a score and a critique based on the rubric. We concluded our morning by starting on our latest Open Court story, “The New Doctor.” We’ll finish this tomorrow.

Like we usually do on Wednesdays, we went to Tech Center. The students had written stories on Monday about their clay figures, and they typed them up on Microsoft Word. Ms. Richard ably helped them to understand some aspect of that program like the Page Setup dialogue box and the Formatting Palette.

After lunch we changed seats. The students had been asking for this for a while, and it always gives me an excuse to make them clean out their desks! We then continued with the PBS Gold Rush film. Although written more for adults than children, the film provides a wonderful mix of primary source materials such as photographs and dramatic reenactments (such as Sam Brannan walking down the streets of San Francisco crying, “Gold! Gold from the American River!”) which allows the students to really connect to the period.

We practiced more Charlie Brown. We will be having auditions here next week, and will be starting to work extremely intensively after this. I will have a parent meeting next week to line up helpers for this fun project.

We finished up with Math. We started on subtracting fractions with unlike denominators. The students are starting to really get the hang of this.

Homework:  (1) Revise the story. Students do not need to rewrite their rough drafts but should mark them up extensively with insertions and deletions. They can creatively cut and paste with scissors and tape to rearrange elements or add entire sections. This will be collected tomorrow. (2) Do “Subtracting Fractions with Unlike Denominators,” envision Math, pages 258-259.

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