Monday, February 28, 2011

More Magnetism

Friday started out badly for me when I managed to break the frames of my glasses. I apologize for no blog on Friday, but I needed to get to Larchmont Optimetric as soon as possible!

One of the things we did Friday was to finish some of our pointillist paintings. They were really good!

Today we corrected and discussed our math homework. We read chapter four of By the Great Horn Spoon!. We also worked on Science. The students worked in small groups as usual. They made electromagnets with different numbers of twists to see if more wire twisted around the steel core would improve the strength of the electromagnet. To nobody's surprise, it did. The students recorded the results of their experiments on a t-chart and then put those results in a bar graph.

After recess we went to the auditorium for some more play practice. After lunch, had physical education and the students took their math tests.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. The words are latitude, horrendous, monotony, banshee, and impending. (2) Do the Great Horn Spoon worksheet over chapter four. (3) Do the Division and Fraction review sheets. Since today was the test, there is no assignment from the math book.

IMPORTANT:  Tomorrow is the fourth grade state writing test. Please make sure your child is here on time. They usually do not do well on makeups. Also, tomorrow is REGULAR schedule. The students will dismissed at 2:30, not 1:30.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Thursdays are usually art day in room 19, and today was no exception. We are in our unit on Color right now, and today we talked about how our eyes blend individual colors into hues. This led us to a discussion of Georges Seurat and the technique of pointillism. I showed the students a couple of his most famous works, and then we decided to do a bit of our own pointillism.

As with the great French master, distance tends to blend the points together into a scene with some depth.

Many of the students are not finished with their paintings yet, so we'll have a little more time to work on these tomorrow.

In addition to the art, we did the usual school things. We checked, corrected, and discussed homework. We read another chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! They went to Mr. Pratt for History while his class came to me for Science. In math, we continued our work on fractions and decimals.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words ten times each in cursive and do one sentence in cursive for each word. The words are balance, whistle, clamor, scoundrel, rogue, and ooze. (2) Do "Sea Routes." Students should use the maps in the back of their history books to help with this. (3) Do the By the Great Horn Spoon! study sheet for chapter 3. (4) Do pages 282-283 in the math book. Also do "Bright Ideas" on the back of the answer sheet.

There will be a spelling test tomorrow and a quiz over the first three chapters of Horn Spoon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On the Number Line

Wednesdays usually pass by quite quickly and pleasantly, and this one was no exception. We began by checking, correcting, and discussing our homework, as usual. We then went on to reading the second chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! We went to Tech Center. After recess, the students went to Mr. Pratt for history where they are learning about the Mexican War. We had PE after lunch as we usually do. With me, the students are practicing foot dribbling, a soccer skill. In math we're connecting fractions and decimals to number lines. This is one of those frustrating activities which never adults are never asked to do with numbers, but it is a designated standard and it's going to be tested so we do our best to teach and learn it.
Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 8-14. Write each word 10 times in cursive and write one sentence in cursive for each word. The words are dispirited, lurch, baffled, fierce, molting, penetrate, and despicable. (2) Do the chapter two study sheet for By the Great Horn Spoon! Be sure to answer in complete sentences and use a dictionary as needed to help with vocabulary. (3) Do "Fractions and Decimals on a Number Line" pages 278-280 in the math text. Also do "A New Measure" on the back of the answer sheet.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Things

It sounded like everybody in room 19 enjoyed their three day weekend in honor of Presidents' Day.

We started reading By the Great Horn Spoon! as our main reading this week.The previous emphasis at our district level on using the Open Court Reading series - and pretty much only that curriculum - seems to have diminished significantly, so until our hands are slapped we will be using texts which I think will be much more interesting and meaningful to students. It is a good bit more work for me, but frankly it is worth it. By the Great Horn Spoon! is a story about the California Gold Rush so it also helps the students master key history concepts as well.

In math we are learning to convert decimals into fractions and vice versa. Not really that hard a concept after a little practice, but it does require the fourth grade minds to jump through a few unfamiliar hoops. Although many of the students may say they are done with their work by the time they come home, it would be a good idea for an adult to spot check it to see if the concept was really mastered.

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words 10 times each in cursive and write a sentence in cursive for each word. The words are slake, imperative, suspicious, inundated, dire, cholera, and anxious. These are taken from the novel we are reading. (2) Do the By the Great Horn Spoon! chapter one study sheet. Students may need a dictionary to help with the vocabulary section. Be sure to answer in complete sentences. (3) Do "Fractions and Decimals," pages 276-277 in the math book. Also do "Shady Spot" on the back of the answer sheet.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just Deserts

Most of our morning was devoted to taking the district-mandated Quarter Two math test. It went quite well, in part because I forced the students to go at my pace through the questions and we read each one aloud. If only I could do that on the CST in May....

Thursday is our usual Art day, and we did some desert scenes today. We'll be doing some writing inspired by this tomorrow.

We also went out and played some kickball with room 7 today since we'll probably miss PE with the rain tomorrow. We started decimals in math. This is a hard concept for the students at first, so please review their homework here.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words ten times each plus one sentence. The words are courage, muscles, customers, ammonia, and pneumonia. (2) Do "Decimal Place Value" pages 270-271 in the math book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rainy Days and Wednesdays

Ah, after a long streak of nice weather we had some rain again. Great for nature. Not so good for teachers.

Nevertheless, we had a good day. We did our math tests, and we'll correct them tomorrow. We did the final draft of a composition. We went to Tech Center. We had a blustery PE time, and we read a chapter from the Science book.

There may seem like a lot of homework tonight, but each assignment is pretty simple. 

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 10 times each in cursive and write one sentence for each. The words are thoroughly, through, threw, throw, and matador. (2) Do the "Comparative and Superlative Adjectives" worksheet. (3) Do the "Following Directions on Graphic Sources" worksheet. (4) Do the "Maps and Atlases" worksheet. (5) Do the "Magnetism = Electricity" study sheet. Be sure to use the book. (6) Do the "Factors" and "Simplifying Fractions" worksheets.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


We explored the relationship between magnetism and electricity today. I showed the students a large rivet and showed them that it could not pick up steel washers. I then touched a bar magnet to the same rivet, and suddenly the rivet could pick up the washers. I challenged the students to figure out a way to make a rivet magnetic without using a magnet. Each group had a circuit base, a switch, a couple wires, and a D-cell. With an occasional prompt, the groups discovered electromagnets.

We'll be doing more with electricity and magnetism throughout the week. We then went to Music. Mr. Lawton began by demonstrating the banjo and having the students make up lyrics to "Streets of Laredo".

This led them to working in songwriting partnerships. They'll be doing some more with these songs as Mr. Lawton's program continues.

After recess, we finished reading the "Shadow of a Bull" story. After lunch, we concluded our short math chapter on adding and subtracting fractions. Tomorrow there will be a test over Topic 10 and there will also be another chance at the Topic 9 test. Students should review everything in both chapters about fractions because the grades on the last test were not that great overall and they have a fantastic chance to improve their scores tomorrow.

Homework:  (1) Do the spelling words 10 times each and use each one in a sentence. The words are feeble, listlessly, bandage, gauze, and scrubbed. (2) Do "Using Reading Strategies" paper with the post-it notes. (3) Do "Draw a Picture and Write an Equation" pages 261-262 in the math book. Also to "Test Prep" on pages 264-265 in the same book. Also do "Crazy Quilt" on the back of the answer sheet.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shadow of a Bull

We started reading "Shadow of a Bull" in the reader today. This is an excerpt from the Newberry-award winning book of the same name. It's not a completely easy story for the children to get because the social world of Franco-era Spain is pretty distant from that of contemporary Los Angeles, but they certainly enjoy the blood and guts that accompany bullfighting.

We also went to the auditorium again for more play practice. After lunch, we checked last Friday's reading quiz. We went to PE. In math we're doing subtracting fractions with unlike denominators.

A few kids brought Valentine's Day stuff, so we passed that out at the very end of the day.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 1-5. Write each word ten times each in cursive and write one sentence for each word in cursive. (2) Do "Subtracting Fractions" on pages 258-259 in the math book. Also do the "Fraction Action" on the back of the answer sheet.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another Quick One

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 16-20. (2) Complete the Study Guide for "Susan La Flesch Picotte". Be sure to use complete sentences. (3) Do "Adding Fractions" on pages 253-255 in the math book.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Just the Homework Today

Just a quick post today with the homework....

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 11-16. As usual, write each word 10 times in cursive and also write a sentence. Not that "reluctantly" should have the t crossed. (2) Do the "Using Reading Strategies" paper. (3) Do the "Capitalization of Titles" worksheet. This is review, but all the information needed is in the box. (4) Do the division and multiplication worksheet.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Almost a Tweet

A short post today because we have a meeting in here after school and I need to get ready for it! So short it's almost a tweet!

Today we worked on the final drafts of the "Sewed Up His Heart!" story. I'll post some examples tomorrow. We also went to music with Mr. Lawton. We reviewed fractions; we'll be having a test on this tomorrow.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 6-10 in the usual way. (2) Do "Problem Solving" on pages 243-244 and do "Test Prep" on pages 246-247 in the envision Math book.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Once More

Today we spent much of the day working on the second rough draft of our newspaper story about the "Sewed Up His Heart!" story. It's not easy as a teacher to admit that your directions were not that good when you first gave the assignment, but the students did so poorly on it that I had to figure out that I needed to go over what I wanted more carefully. So we divided the story into sections and we reviewed it and made notes together for this. We will do the final draft tomorrow combining it with an art project.

We did some other things. We reviewed finding common denominators as we corrected Friday's homework. We rehearsed a bit more for the play. We worked with foot dribbling in PE. And we talked about ordering fractions as part of today's math.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 1-5. Write each word ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each one. (2) Do Word Knowledge and Vocabulary for the "Susan La Flesche Picotte" story. Ignore the printed directions and use a dictionary or glossary for the definitions. (3) Do "Ordering Fractions" pages 240-241 in the math book.

Also, be sure that your homework for Mr. Lawton is done.

Friday, February 04, 2011

It Zoomed By

It was a fast day! I had an IEP (special education) meeting in the morning, and Sandra Choi, our coordinator took the class. We had play practice after lunch, and that went quite well. In the afternoon, we worked on comparing fractions with unequal denominators. That was a hard concept for the students, but with the help of the cross multiplying trick, I think they got it.

Homework:  (1) Do Negatives, pages 232-233 in the Language book. (2) Do "Comparing Fractions," pages 238-239 in the envision Math book. (3) Do the Division worksheet.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Lunar New Year

Today we celebrated our of pan Asian heritage by composing Japanese poems, painting a Korean celadon vase, and doing it all on the Chinese New Year! As you can see in a couple examples below - it was not always easy to get a good photograph of a complete student work - the students wrote Haiku about a branch of a flowering white cherry tree I had brought in from my yard. They then sketched the bough and the Korean vase in pencil, went over the lines in sharpie, and used watercolor to finish. Some of their work was astoundingly good!

That took up a surprising amount of the day, and students who finished early - quite a number of them - had a chance to start homework. In math, we worked on mixed numbers and improper fractions. It's not that hard a concept, but it's a new one to the students and it took a bit of time for it to sink in. 

By the end of the day, they were tired, I was tired, and we pleasantly spent the last 30 minutes in free play on the yard. 

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 16-20 as usual. The words are :  appetite, banister, canister, subscribe, and fisticuffs. (2) Do the "Making Inferences" worksheet. (3) Write the words to "Food, Glorious Food." This helps the children learn the words to the song and practice their handwriting! (4) Do pages 236-237 in the math book. (5) Do the Equivalent Fractions and Division Practice worksheets.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

No Internet Today

Quick homework via phone since our network is down...

Homework: (1) Spelling - facilities, superstition, reception,
pressure, and sense. (2) New Doctor study questions. (3) Commas, pp
244-245 in red Language book. (4) Math pp 234-235. (5) Math worksheet.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Singin' the Blues

Today we started a new story in the reader. It's called "The New Doctor" and it is hardly one of the more fascinating selections. It deals with how a new medical doctor comes to a small New Mexico town about 30 years ago and how she learns from the old herbalist, Manuelita. We did not finish it today; we'll do that tomorrow.

Tuesdays are Music days, and Mr. Lawton had them singin' the blues today in honor of February being Black History Month. The started out by having them do some body percussion to get a better sense of the rhythmic peculiarities of the blues style, and then led them to understand the classic twelve-bar blues progression. Students will be writing song lyrics for a blues song as this week's music homework.

In math we started equivalent fractions. This is not an hard concept, but students have difficulty mastering the algorithm or procedure. They keep forgetting that the numerator and the denominator can be changed an infinite number of times, but that both must be treated identically, i.e., multiplied or divided by the same number. This is important beyond merely fractions as it is both a key algebra concept and their first introduction to the world of rational numbers.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 6-10 ten times each in cursive and write one sentence for each. The words are instrument, furiously, gossamer, profusely, and threshold. (2) Reread pages 30-34 in the Science Resources book. Answer the questions on the study sheet. Be sure to use complete sentences.  (3) Do the "Diseases" crossword. Be sure to use the letters already provided and the words in the word box! The clues are written in "doctor talk," so they are not easy to understand. (4) Do "Equivalent Fractions," envision Math pages 231-232. Also do "Playing the Part" on the back of the answer sheet.