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.