Thursday, December 08, 2011

Family Night

Tonight is Family Night. I have other commitments, but I hope many of you can make it to hear the students in the orchestra, the Orff ensemble, and the recorder group. This is also a great time to check out our book fair.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling word search to prepare for the test. (2) Do "Draw Conclusions" on page145 of the Practice Book. (3) Do "Line Graphs" on page 148 of the Practice Book. (4) Do "Long Division 4" worksheet - all problems. (5) Do "Multiple-Step Problems" pages 182-185 and "Test Prep" pages 186-187 in the math book. Also do "Graph Sales" on the back of the answer sheet.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


 Brrr! But a good day. Here's the homework.

Homework:  (1) Write a sentence for each of the spelling words. (2) Do "Prefixes," page 149 and "Silent Letters," page 150 in the Practice Book. (3) Do "Verb Tenses," page 153 and "End Punctuation," page 154 also in the Practice Book. (4) Do Long Division 3. Students can do all the problems today. (5) Do "Prime and Composite Numbers," pages 180-181 in the math book. Also do "Pyramid Patterns" on the back. This activity introduces students to squaring numbers.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Tuesday in Conference Week

Good to see everybody at conferences. Again, just the homework this week. 

Homework: (1) Do "Factors," pages 176-177 in the enVision math text. Also do "Division Amazement" on the back of the answer sheet. (2) Do the odd numbers only on the "Long Division 2" worksheet. (3) Do the spelling jumble. (4) Do "Proofreading" page 151 and "Verb Tenses" page 152 in the Practice Book.

Also, finish the summary of Dear Mrs. LaRue. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

Conference Week

This week I'll just be posting homework. I look forward to seeing everybody.

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words in syllables. (2) Do "Silent Letters" and "Vocabulary" on pages 143 and 144 of the Practice Book. (3) Also do "Phonics" and "Vocabulary" on pages 155 and 156 of the same book. (4) On the "Long Division 1" worksheet do the odd problems only. (5) Do the even numbers for "Zeroes in the Quotient," pages 176-177 in the math book. Also do "Stop the Flood" on the back of the answer sheet.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Homeward Bound

Heading home early today because I'm just exhausted. The students had the last 45 minutes of class as study hall so I think a good bit of the homework should done.

Homework:  (1) Do "Dividing," enVision Math pages 172-173. Show work on a separate paper. (2) Do the questions on page 285 of the Treasures reading anthology. (3) Do pages 141 and 142 in the Practice Book. (4) Do the even numbers only on the "Three Times Two 4" worksheet. (5) Do the spelling wordsearch.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fire Drill

It was a pleasant day and it went by quite quickly. We started with writing. The students are practicing writing personal vignettes. Today they wrote about a special meal. We also worked on irregular past tense verbs. Before we left for Tech Center, the students changed seats. For most of them that was probably the best part of the day!

At Tech Center, Ms. Richards helped them prepare for a touch typing assessment. The students then went to Mr. Pratt for Social Studies, while I played vocabulary baseball with his class in Science. As we had been informed that there would be a fire drill at 1:30, I started math with the class right after recess. We're continuing to master the standard algorithm (that is, procedure) for long division.

The students went to their different mixing activities after that. They did a pretty fine job with the fire drill - the second highlight of their day, no doubt - and I gave them about 45 minutes of "study hall" after the fire drill to get some or most of that math work done.

Homework:  (1) Write good sentences for each of the twenty spelling words. (2) Do "Inferences," Practice Book pages 133-134. (3) Do "Proofreading" and "Grammar," Practice Book pages 139-140. (4) Do odd numbers only on the "Three Times Two 3" math worksheet. The back side will be Thursday's homework. (5) Do "Dividing 2-Digit," Envision Math pages 169-170. Show all work on a separate paper. Also do "Will They Reach the Top?" on the back of the answer sheet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quick Post

 Just the homework for today.

Homework: (1) Do the spelling jumble. (2) Do "Fluency," Practice Book page 135 and "Toolbars" on page 136 of the same book. (3) Do "Models and Symbols," pages 165-166 in the math book and "New Shape" on the back of the answer sheet. (4) Do the "Three Times Two 2" math worksheet.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Four days went by pretty quickly, didn't it?

We're back in the usual routine now. We practiced writing personal vignettes - the students had to think of something memorable which happened to them over break - and reviewed present tense verbs. We corrected Wednesday's math work. We started a new theme in Treasures on "Powerful Words" and the students brainstormed words which seemed to have a strong emotional feel to them. We looked at this week's vocabulary, and read the mini-story in the reader which introduced it.

The students went to Mr. Pratt for History where they are starting to look at the rancho period in California history. After lunch, they returned to me where we read another chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins and worked a little on making inferences. We went to our different areas for mixing, and then finished up with math. We're making great progress towards long division. Today's lesson introduced the idea of remainders which everybody seemed to get right away.

Homework:  (1) Do "Dividing with Remainders," pp 162-163 in the math book and "Order Lunch" on the back. (2) Write the spelling words in syllables. (3) Do pages 132-133 and pages 137-138 in the Treasures Practice Book. These are pretty easy. (4) Do the "Three Times Two 1" worksheet. Tomorrow's math homework is the back side, "Three Times Two 2". These were accidentally photocopied together. It will be turned in on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Mosaic of Thanks

Today we had a big art project. I explained mosaic to the students and told them that real mosaic is dome with rocks, and hammers, and diamond saws and concrete. I told them that if I had my way I'd let them experiment with those materials, but the darned school district lawyers think those things are little too dangerous. So instead we used paper and glue to achieve some of the same effect. This was a lovely way to spend the day before Thanksgiving. The children were able to work in partners, and I was able to grade their Language Proficiency essays and even get started on the report cards. Sometimes you actually can multitask in an elementary classroom.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Hopping Good Day

The day went passed pretty quickly. We did a little journal work at the beginning of the day where the students had to explain the meaning of Thanksgiving to a long-lost cousin from Swushwashitan. You can imagine how much fun they had with that! We read a story in the reader about the Pony Express. This is a companion non-fiction selection to the Mystic Horse legend they read earlier in the week. We also did more work on the Literacy Periodic Assessment. We should finish that off tomorrow.

In History, the students watched a little of the film version of Island of the Blue Dolphins. They will be taking their test on Native Californians tomorrow, so it was a nice way to tie up both social studies and literature units. After lunch, we had the Science Periodic Assessment. I sometimes wonder if the district's ability to create web-accessible databases isn't leading them to create new tests to fill them up! But this test was generally a pretty fair assessment of ecosystems and food webs.

At PE, I worked with the students on a broad jump relay.

Math continued our look at the standard algorithm for double digit multiplication.

Homework: (1) Do “Greater Numbers,” pages 148-149 in the math book.  Also do “Playing with Numbers” on the back of the answer sheet. (2) Do “Suffixes” page127, “Possessives” page 128,  “Plurals” page 129,  and “Strong Verbs” page130 in the Treasures Practice Book. (3) Do the multiplication worksheet. Be sure to show all work! (4) Do the spelling wordsearch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Short and Swift

It was a short day. We worked on the final drafts of our Stunt Ranch field trip composition in the morning. We discussed our math homework. We read a good story from the reader called "Mystic Horse" and we worked on understanding its structure:  exposition, rising action, climax, and denouement. We did some more work on the Literacy Periodic Assessment.

The students worked in History with Mr. Pratt. After lunch, we turned our attention to a multiplying by tens. Logically, I would have put this lesson in front of the one we did yesterday....

Homework:  (1) Do "Multiples of 10" on pages 144-145 in the math book. Also do "A Finished Product!" on the back of the math answer sheet. (2) Write a half-page summary of the "Mystic Horse" story. Answer the questions on page 251 in the hardcover book. Be sure to use complete sentences. Some questions will require a short paragraph. Also do page 121 in the Practice Book. (3) Do the multiplication worksheet. Be sure to show all work! (4) Do the spelling jumble.

Please be aware than next Tuesday is NOT a shortened day. Nor is Wednesday a minimum day. All days next week are regular days with 2:30 dismissal.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Testing! (Sigh)

 For the last few years, after each unit in Open Court Reading there was a unit test. They were not that good, but teachers were used to giving them and the students knew how to take them. This year, with the Treasures reading program, the district has now instituted something called the "Literacy Periodic Assessment." This is, I think, in most ways an improvement on the old OCR tests. These look a lot more like the CST and while the reading comprehension questions are harder, the vocabulary and word study questions are fairer. , Also, there's only three of these tests, not five like there used to be. We started on the first of these tests this week, and we'll be doing a little bit of it every day.

We also started on double digit multiplication this week. This is a tough skill to master at first, and the way that it is explained in the math book is conceptually helpful, but not that real life helpful. Parents can feel free to explain the short way to do this to the students at any time. We'll be introducing that on Wednesday.

Homework:  (1) Do "Arrays and an Expanded Algorithm," pages 141-143 in the math book even numbers only. Also do"Crazy Cube" on the back. (2) Do pages 119 and 120 in the Treasure Practice Book. (3) Write this week's spelling words in syllables. You may use a dictionary to help you.  (4) Do the multiplication worksheet.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Beyond the Hump

Wednesday is often called "hump day" because it comes in the middle of the week and once you're dome with it you are over the hump and headed towards the weekend. But with no school on Friday we are definitely beyond the hump!

We continued work on our longer narratives today. Today they had to write about surviving a plane crash! They did a pretty good job establishing setting, characters, and creating conflict and resolution. We went to the Tech Center where most of the students have finished the Lincoln project and most were on to their onomatopoeia project. This had them leaning to create tables in Word and to import graphics.

We read a rather well-written selection on a wild horse sanctuary in South Dakota in the Treasures book. We continued work on our longer essay about our field trip to the Stunt Ranch. We corrected the math tests, and the results are on the gradebook. We did our mixing activities, and in math we're on to starting multiplication by two digits.

Homework: (1) Do "Using Mental Math," pages 136-137 in the math book. Also do "World's Greatest" on the back of the answer sheet. (2) Do the "Think and Compare" questions on pages 219 of the Treasures book. Use complete sentences, but you do not have to copy the questions. (3) Do the "Factors 3" worksheet. (4) Do the spelling word search.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Quick Day

 Tuesdays always go by quickly, but today seemed especially fast!

We started out with our journal writing activity. We are working on longer narratives right now. Today I gave them a simple situation. You're in your house and your mom collapses unconscious on the floor. You try to call 911, but the phone won't work. So you have to drive her to hospital yourself! You can imagine the fun the students had with this one.

We also started work on a longer composition about the Stunt Ranch field trip and took our math chapter tests.

Homework:  (1) Do "R-controlled vowels" on page 115 and "Plural Possessive Nouns" on page 116 of the Treasures workbook. (2) Write sentences for each of the 20 spelling words. (3) Do the "Factors" worksheet.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Monday Musings

We started our day with a traffic safety assembly. I would like to say that it was interesting for me or the students, but that would not quite be true. I do suppose that there were some useful reminders about traveling safely, and that it was helpful to review these with the children. Still, there were a few light moments such as this man dressed as a traffic light.

The rest of our day was largely spent with the LAUSD quarterly math test. I am not quite sure why the district insists on spending all that money on a math series which includes many assessment resources and then also develop their own math tests on top of those. But these are mandatory, so I had the students work on it.

We did do our afternoon rotations, too, so at least they had a little fun with art, drama, and physical education.

Homework:  (1) Do "Use Logical Reasoning" on pages 127-128 of the math book and "Test Prep" on pages 130-131. Also do "Subtracting Greater Numbers" on the back of the answer sheet. (2) Look up the following words in the glossary and write down their definitions:  descendants, emerge, habitat, fragile, threatened, and sanctuary. (3) Do the spelling jumble. (4) Do "Phonics" on page 107 of the Treasures workbook and "Vocabulary" on page 108 of the same book. (5) Do the factors worksheet. Be sure to list the factors in order from least to greatest.

Let me remind all the families that Friday is Veteran's Day holiday and that there is no school.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Stunt Ranch Field Trip

Today we had our field trip to the UCLA Stunt Ranch in Calabasas. The name is somewhat misleading. It has nothing to do with movies or movie stunts - a disappointment to some of the students. Rather, it is a nature reserve and an interpretive center for Tongva and Chumash culture. It is called the "Stunt" ranch because it was first owned by a family of that name who donated it later to UCLA. It is a perfect fourth grade field trip with one exception. It's in Calabasas, so it is a very long bus ride even if there is minimal traffic.

We boarded the bus about 8:45 and took off a few minutes later - after a few nervous moments when the bus wouldn't start! The traffic was not particularly bad, but it still took us about an hour to make it there. The students were generally pretty good on the bus. Some of the parent volunteers came with us on the school bus, while others had a much more enjoyable time driving themselves.

Our guides met us at side of road and gave us a short introduction. Nancy was the guide for the group I accompanied. She was great! She was a former LAUSD teacher who happened to have been Sean Penn's first grade teacher. I guess if she could handle a future movie stare, 15 children were no problem.

As we descended from the road down into the canyon, we saw beautiful views of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Along the way, Nancy explained many things such as this gall. It is an acorn which a particular kind of wasp uses as a place to lay its eggs. That is why the acorn swells to such a size. We cut one of them open later and saw the larva of a wasp inside.

Nancy also explained about poison oak and the students all recited, "Leaves of three, let it be!"

After we walked for about a mile, we arrived at the interpretive center. The different groups from the two classes rotate through different native American activities. Nancy's group started with Chumash games.

We then went on to do a version of cave paintings. Since it is impractical to have the students descend into caves, they used sandpaper, glue, and sand to make Indian symbols.

The the technique was simple, the results were impressive.

Students also tried their hand at grinding acorns, and Nancy showed them how the native peoples cooked by placing heated rocks in the acorn mush.

We had a well-deserved lunch after this. The students grumbled about having to take their trash back with them, but they clean up their area nicely. Our walk back was about another mile, but we took this more quickly and made fewer interpretive stops,
It was along bus ride to school, and we did not arrive until after 2:30. It seemed pointless to give them homework at that point, and I was ready to go home too!

Homework:  Enjoy a free night!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Picture Day

Today was picture day. It's an awful lot of time spent lining students up by height, and waiting while other kids and classes get their pictures taken. It's really boring for students and teachers alike. Both get restless and irritable.

Taking the class picture is a little more interesting. At least you get to be outside. I snapped this one while the photographer was getting ready. I'm sure you'll agree that the professionals take much better pictures than I do! Of course, they have better equipment than an iPhone, too.

We did a few other things, of course. We worked on writing narratives with problem and solution. We went to Tech Center where we worked on keyboarding as well as learning the ins and outs of Microsoft Word. We began studying the order of operations in math.

Homework: (1) Do "Expressions with Parentheses" pages 122-123 in the math book. (2) Do pages 95-96 and 99-100 in the reading workbook. (3)  Do sentences for each of the 20 spelling words. (4) Do "Larger Numbers 3" worksheet.

Monday, October 31, 2011


We've mentioned "Mixing" on this blog many times this year. This is when the students of all four fourth grade classes are combined and divided so that they can get to know each other and so the teachers can get to work with all the students on the grade level. Mrs Meldrum, the long-term substitute while Mrs Choi is on maternity leave, has been doing art with the students. Lately she's been helping them understand the difference between positive and negative space in art. Here are a couple examples of an activity:

Halloween is not a great day to introduce a lot of new concepts. The students are  little too spacey for that. This is one of those days when teaching elementary school is like trying to keep 30 corks under water at the same time. It can be done - sort of - but it's exhausting!

Our only really new idea for the day was in math where we introduced the ideas of variables and expressions. The students seemed to catch on pretty quickly to this.

Today I worked hard to give the students as much "study hall" time as possible so that they could avoid having homework tonight. I gave them the entire period from 1:00 to 2:30 to get started on some pretty reasonable assignments.

Homework:  (1) Do pages 118-119 in the math book. (2) Do Larger numbers 1. (3) Do the spelling jumble.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting Revved Up!

School today began with a special kickoff assembly for Culture Day. As most of you know, Culture Day is not only our special celebration of the many national backgrounds of the students at Third Street School, but it is also a major fundraiser for our parent booster club, The Friends of Third. At this morning's assembly, Frances Okwu, shown below, told the students about all the special celebrity guests that will be coming on November 5.

The students were generally pretty attentive.

Councilman Tom LaBonge was the special guest, and even thought the students hadn't the faintest idea who he was they follow Roy Forbes' direction that they give him a hearty welcome by screaming and waving as if he were somehow a fourth Jonas brother.

We cut out a couple minutes early from the assembly to get to library. In addition to Mrs. Sartore, we also now have Ms. Mia Drake as our library aide. She is a wonderful addition to our staff.

The students had less time than usual, but they did a great job looking for and picking out books.

The rest of the day was not quite as exciting as the first hour. Sort of boring, actually. We had a lot of assessment today. As we usually do on Friday, we had spelling and reading tests. We happened to come to the end of a math topic today, so we had our "first chance" test over Topic 4 and our "second chance" test over Topic 3. Overall, the students did well on both of the tests and the results are on the gradebook. Please check that if you have not done so recently. We also did the final draft of one of the compare and contrast essays - the students had their choice of which one - that they had worked on in journal time each day this week.

Homework:  As a special reward for being so fantastic yesterday for our visitors, enjoy a homework-free weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Display

Periodically at Third Street School, we have visitors from other schools in the district and even from other countries. Today, visitors from South Korea accompanied by our principal, Dr. Suzie K. Oh, came to room 19 to watch us work on our thinking and writing skills. Our students were amazing!

As I mentioned at our Back to School night, our class is using the 6+1 Traits of Writing program. Part of this approach to teaching writing - it isn't really a program in the way that Open Court was - has students reading anonymous papers and scoring them against a rubric. This helps sharpen the students' skills at analyzing good and bad writing. This was what our students demonstrated so capably today for our South Korean visitors. They looked at two essays, one on "Dinosaurs" and the other on "Rainy Days" and responded to them. Each was graded for Ideas and Organization on a scale of 1-5.

The students were so articulate as they connected the rubric with details in the composition. Our visitors were amazed and Dr. Oh was just bursting with pride.

After the visitors left, we finished our food webs. They were all good, but this one was particular nice.

Many of our students go to Beginning Strings after recess, so we did our math at this time instead of Science because I didn't want students to miss brine shrimp hatching. Our math lesson was pretty much review for tomorrow's test. After lunch we read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins and worked on our body percussion piece in music. We did the usual rotations at Mixing.

Our somewhat belated Science experiment for the week is hatching brine shrimp. This is a great activity for several reasons. First, it connects to social studies because of the brine shrimp population at Mono Lake which is so important for our California gulls. Second, the experiment helps the student understand both range of tolerances and isolating one variable in an experiment.

The experiment works like this. The students fill four cups with 150 mL of treated water. In one cup, they add no salt. In another, they add one measure of salt. In another they add two measures of salt, and in the final cup they add three measures of salt.

Finally, they add a small mini-spoon of brine shrimp eggs to each cup.

We'll watch over the next couple days to see how many hatch in each salt solution.

Homework:  (1) Study for the spelling test. (2) Do "Reasonableness," pages 108-110 and "Test Prep" pages 112-113.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Warming Up

The wintry damp we had at the beginning of the week has now given way, according to the weather service, to a red flag warning! One extreme to another.

But there were no red flags today in room 19. We began with working on compare and contrast essays. Today the students worked on comparing spaghetti and pizza. It's not an inspiring topic, but it helps them master the form. We particularly talked about creating a good introduction to interests the reader, something more than "I am going to compare pizza and spaghetti."

In Tech Center we continued our work on the Lincoln paper. The students learned how to save images from Google Images, how to place them behind text, and how to make an image transparent. In Science, we worked on our food webs some more.

We read another chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins. In this chapter, Rontu is attacked by the other wild dogs. The students were riveted by details like "muzzles dripping with blood." At PE, I continued work with students on the running broad jump. In math, we're working on multiplying four and five digit numbers.

Homework:  (1) Do "Greater Numbers," pages 106-107 even numbers only. (2) Do sentences for each of the 20 spelling and vocabulary words. (3) Do the math worksheet. (4) Do "Key to Multiplication" on the back of the answer sheet.

Monday, October 24, 2011


It was a remarkably cold day today, and the sun came out only at the very end. Those aren't bad days for fourth graders to concentrate, however, and we had a most pleasant and productive day.

We started out with writing compare and contrast paragraphs. The students are starting now to have to use more than one paragraph in their responses to the the prompt and to think about the structure of their writing in terms of paragraphing. That's a big jump from what they had to do in third grade. Today the student and teacher switched roles. Usually I provide them with pictures and a sentence so that they can infer the meaning of our vocabulary words; today I gave them the definition and they provided the sentences and the picture. Most will be finishing that tonight.

We also worked on food webs, using what is called Kodaly speech syllables to read rhythm, and many worked with me on the running broad jump.

Homework: (1) Do "Multiplying 2 Digit Numbers," pages 101-102 in the math book.  (2) Divide the spelling words into syllables.  Use dictionary as needed. Place on a separate paper. (3) Do the math skills worksheet.

Optional today: Mathematical Marlena" on the back of the answer sheet. It's really a cool number pattern, but some students and parents each year find it extremely confusing.

Also, be sure to finish the  vocabulary word pictures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Sudden Knock

We begin each day, as I have often mentioned, with journal writing. The students get a prompt each day, and these are related to the writing trait that we are stressing. Right now we are focusing on writing structures, and we're beginning with narratives. So yesterday to give them a chance to write any kind of story they wanted I gave them an opening sentence and left them to develop a story with a problem and a solution. The opening line was "There was a sudden knock on the door." There were lots of good responses, but this one delighted the whole class.

There was a sudden know at the door. Mr. Manon was scared. He slowly opened the door. Nobody was there. A short while later, there was a knock at the back door. He got his club ready. He was ready to knock someone out when he saw them. Nobody was there. About a second later, there was a knock at the front door again. He thought it was just some teenagers doing ding-dong-ditch. So he got ready to yell at some boys. But when he opened the door, five walking dead were there! He screamed! He had to do something. H e took his  club and hit each of the five walking dead in the head. They each did get hurt but not injured. They stepped inside. They cornered Mr. Manon. Mr. Manon tried to fight back with his club, but the dead were too much for him. The walking dead had a nice meal. Mr. Manon joined the walking dead with no choice because, after all, he was obviously dead. 

You can probably guess that it was a boy who wrote that one! We had no zombies knocking on our door today in room 19, but we had a pleasant and productive day.

We read a story in the Treasures about Rosa Parks. This is a typical pattern in this reading series:  partner two selections with very similar themes so that the students can be more aware of the genre and literary structure. The students finished the time before recess by working on their trait of organization poster.

After recess, I worked with the students from room 18 on their food chain mobiles. I don't think I posted pictures of the marvelous ones that our students did last week. Here are a few.

After lunch, we read another chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins. I gave the students some questions over the reading selections to help them review vocabulary and important concepts. Most were pretty well finished before mixing began.

At mixing, I've mentioned that my emphasis this week has been teaching broad jump. Students did quite well with this skill. To get a "4", they had to jump at least a yard and most of them did that easily.

Homework:  (1) Do "Using Rounding to Estimate" on pages 94-95 in the math book and do Who's Here? on the back of the answers sheet. (2) Do the Investigation 3 crossword puzzle. (3) Do Two Digit Multiplication (4) Do the spelling word search.

Also, finish the "Brother Martin" reading questions and study for the Social Studies test tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wondrous Wednesday

We had a really great day. Wednesdays give us an appealing day of Tech Center, Social Studies with Mr. Pratt, and mixing in the afternoon.

In our 6+1 Traits writing program we are turning our attention from the trait of ideas to that of organization. The students rewrote the rubric or scoring guide into kid-friendly language, and they're now using that to create posters. Here are a couple early examples:

In Tech Center, the student continued our work on the Abraham Lincoln exercise. The students not only learned to use the online version of World Book with this, but they wrote the paper in MS Word and learned to insert an image as a background.

Homework:  (1) Do “Using Mental Math,” pages 92-93 in the math book and “Block Party” on the back of the answer sheet. (2) Write sentences for EACH of the 20 spelling and vocabulary words. (3) Make a chart for transition/sequence words in Brother Martin. Copy the words and page numbers. (4) Do Two Digit Multiplication 3 worksheet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


A hectic but pleasant and productive day. Here's the homework. If I have a chance I'll describe our activities in more detail later.

Homework:  (1) Sort the words into a chart. The categories are long vowel made by a single letter, short vowel, -le ending, r-controlled vowel, vowel partners, and silent e. Some words will go into more than one category. (2) Do pages 71-72 and 73-74 in the Treasures Practice book. (3) Do pages 90-91 in the math book. (4) Do the multiplication practice worksheet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Energy from the Sun

Today we learned about energy from the sun in two ways. First of all, it continued to be brutally hot and we once again had to cancel some outdoor activities. But more importantly, we learned how energy from the sun is the source of all food energy in ecosystems.

In Science today, the students learned about producers and consumers. They learned that producers, like plants or algae, make their own food from sunlight. They learned that other organisms, such as animals, cannot manufacture their own food but must eat other plants or other animals in order to survive. We distinguished between first and second level consumers.

To make this a bit more fun, the students were given cards with different woodland ecosystem plants and animals on them. They had to classify the different organisms and place them in a chart.

Homework:  (1) Do the "Food Chains and Food Webs" study questions. (2) Do "Using Multiplication Facts," pages 78-79 in the math book. Also do the "Table that Rule" on the back. (3) Do the multiplication and division study sheets. (4) Do the spelling wordsearch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


What happened to our cool fall weather? Just a week ago or so we were on rainy day schedule. Today we cancelled PE because it was just too hot to be out on the yard!

It was, nevertheless, a productive day. We did all the usual morning stuff with our journals and we corrected homework. We then went to the Tech Center where we continued work in the Digital Library and with Microsoft Word. After recess we added some more critters to our aquariums and we talked about food chains. In math, we're starting to finish up our look at multiplication and division.

Homework:  (1) Do the Winn-Dixie story questions on page 119 of the Treasures book. This is a major assignment, but I already gave the students ample time to work on it in class. (2) Do "Special Quotients" on pages 76-77 of the math book. (3) Write sentences for each of the spelling words. (4) Do the multiplication and division facts sheet. This will be Friday's quiz and it will be timed!

Extra Credit:  Do the "Analogies" page on the back of the math answer sheet. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Enriching the Environment

First of all, a big thank you to all the people who came to this morning's "Back-to-School Breakfast." I enjoyed talking with parents informally about their children's progress and any concerns. It was nice hearing how many children seem to be having a great experience in fourth grade. Of course, I cannot claim complete credit for that. We have a great team of fourth grade teachers. If you could not come, please stop by as soon as you can so that you can sign up for the December parent conferences.

It was a pretty short day. We did our journals - today's topic was "How to Brush Your Teeth" which elicited some great responses - and we checked our homework. We read the selection from the novel Because of Winn-Dixie in the reading anthology. In Science, we added plants to our aquariums. We added lemna and elodea. We'll see how this begins to affect the environment for the goldfish.

Homework:  (1) Do "Relating Multiplication and Division," pages 74-75 in the envision Math book. Also do "Just the Fact(or)s on the back. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do the multiplication and division practice sheets.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tennis Balls and Fish

It was a much quieter day - literally. The noise from all the chairs dragging on the floors was getting really annoying to me and to the students, so I came in on Saturday after the gym and cut tennis balls to put on the bottoms of the chairs. It looks a bit dorky, but it certainly makes the room quieter.

We started out today with our journals as usual. We are working on accuracy of details as a key part of having good writing ideas, so the students wrote about how to make and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we discussed which students had the most complete and accurate details. We also continued trying to identify compound predicates in sentences. We went over the vocabulary words for the next story, "Because of Winn Dixie."

In Science, we are turning our attention from terrariums to aquariums. The students began Science today by observing gold fish in groups.

We also read about freshwater environments.
After lunch, we read a bit more in Island of the Blue Dolphins. We worked in Music at transferring our word chant from body percussion into instrumental percussion using hand drums and rhythm and lumi sticks. At PE, I am teaching broad jump skills this week. In math, we are reviewing division facts.

Homework:  (1) Sort the spelling words by long o pattern. Create a table or chart. Not all the words will be in the chart as some are vocabulary words. (2) Do pages 58-60 in the green Practice workbook. (3) Do the "Freshwater Environments" questions in Science. (4) Do "Meanings of Division," pages 71-73 in the math book. Also do "Babysitting" on the back of the answer sheet. (5) Do the practice page of multiplication and division facts. The students will have a time test on Friday.

Please try to attend tomorrow's Back-to-School Breakfast event. It will be your time to sign up for parent conferences in December and to talk informally about your child's progress.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Rain, Rain

Children love rainy days. Teachers hate them. They had a pretty good time today. I just survived.

We started out with our journal and language activities as usual. In language, we're continuing our look at compound subjects. In writing, we're looking at the details we use to make sure that we are really "showing" and not "telling."

In Tech Center today the students used the digital library for research. To give them a structured introduction to this amazing resource, I wrote up a paragraph on the life of Abraham Lincoln with lots of mistakes in it. I suggested they use the World Book site on the digital library to research a bit on Lincoln and find and correct my errors. They had a pretty good doing this. Those who finished - and that was most of them - began retyping the story on Microsoft Word to improve word processing and keyboarding skills.

We switched as usual after recess and the students went to Mr. Pratt for history. During lunch time, we watched about half of the Disney movie The Amazing Journey. It's not only one of my favorites - it's about dogs, after all - but it is old enough that most of the students have not seen it before.

After lunch, we did a bit of blind contour drawing in art. This is a classic art school exercise where students do not look at their papers but only at the object. They try to never lift their pencil or marker as they do this.

I did modify the exercise slightly by allowing the students a few minutes at the end to make a few erasures and clean it up a bit.

Despite the difficulty of the exercise, some of the results were pretty impressive.

Homework:  Do "Multiplication Properties," pages 62-63 in the math book.  Do "Making Change 3" worksheet. Do "How does your Garden Grow" on the back of the math answer sheet. Do the spelling wordsearch.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Quick Post

Tuesdays is a pretty busy day for me, so I am just going to post the homework. 

Homework:  (1) Do "Patterns of Facts," pages 60-61 in the math book. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do "Making Change 2." (4) Do "Patterns, Patterns" on the back of the math answer sheet.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Marvelous Monday

Homework:  (1) Do “Meanings of Multiplication,” pages 57-59 in the math book.  Also do “Hurray Array” on the back. (2) Do “Making Change 1” worksheet. (3) Sort spelling words by long I pattern. Not all words will be used.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Light and Dark

It was yet another great day in room 19. We started with journal writing and language activities as usual. Our topic today was "What would you do if you found a 50 dollar bill on the ground?" Our answers were varied but all great. We looked at the difference between simple and compound sentences. This will help the students start to do some sentence combining, one of our principal exercises for developing the trait of writing fluency.

After checking homework, we went to the computer lab where Ms Richards introduced the idea of the LAUSD Digital Library. This is a large collection of premium resources - like Encyclopedia Britannica online - which the the students can access from computers on the LAUSD network.

In Science, we continued our experimentation with darkling beetles and isopods. Today the students did an investigation to see whether the insects preferred light or darkness. They created an environment in their runways where the animals could choose one or the other, and observed their choice.

Homework:  (1) Do “Picture…Equation,” pages 44-46 in the envision Math book. Do the “Test Prep” on pages 48-49. Do “Flying High” on the back. (2) Do the Science crossword puzzle. (3) Do “Middle Zeroes 2” subtraction practice paper. (4) Do spelling wordsearch.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Bugs!

I'll update this later. Just the homework for now.

Homework:  (1) Do “Subtracting Across Zeroes,” pages 42-43 in the envision Math book. Do odd only today as the skill is also covered on the other math worksheet. Also do “Transportation Conclusions” on the back. (2) Do “Amazon Rain Forest Journal” questions. Students will need the Science Resources book for this. (3) Do spelling sentences for each of the 20 words on the “Kid Reporter” words. (4) Do “Middle Zeroes 1” subtraction practice paper.

Monday, September 26, 2011


What a whirlwind of a day! We had a great day in room 19, but I felt like I never had a chance to stop and catch my breath!

We began by reviewing simple subject and complete subject. All of this will help us to understand compound sentences. One of our major writing goals in fourth grade is get the students away from writing only simple sentences "The cat chased the dog" to more complex ones with subordinate clauses like "Eager for revenge, the cat chased the dog."  We started learning the vocabulary for this week's Treasures story, "Kid Reporters." We also evaluated a couple more anonymous stories for how well they score on the Ideas rubric.

Science was super fun today. In fact, it was so fun I didn't have time to even take a picture of them working. The students made "runways" today which they will use tomorrow for our work with darkling beetles and isopods. These runways look something like old-fashioned pencil boxes though they are made out of cardboard and aluminum foil. The students had a little time today to get some observations of the insects. Here is a stock image of a darkling beetle.

And here is another Google Image picture of an isopod. These are often called "pill bugs" or "roly polies" because they roll into a ball.

Tomorrow I will hopefully get pictures of our students with our bugs. After lunch, we read another chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins and we also worked some more on body percussion. At Mixing, I worked with the students on doing hurdles on the track. These are really cones, not the long bars you see at the Olympics, but the students took them just as seriously.

Homework:  (1) Do “Subtracting Whole Numbers,” pages 40-41 in the math book.  This is straightforward subtraction, nothing strange today! They will need scratch paper. (2) Read “Isopods and Beetles,” pages 93-97 in the Science Resources book and answer the questions. (3) Do the spelling jumble for the “Kid Reporters” spelling list. (4) For “extra credit,” do “So Many Decisions” on the back of the math answer sheet.