Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cesar Chavez Day

Wow! It's like summer today! And, isn't it great that there's a three day weekend, too?Happy Cesar Chavez Day!

Today was a routine Friday kind of day, except it was on a Thursday. We checked, corrected, and discussed homework. We took our reading and spelling tests. All of these are graded and the results are on the gradebook. After recess, we went to the auditorium where we had our first complete beginning to end run through of Oliver! It's going to be fantastic, and we'll keep all the families posted about ways you can help with the show later.

After lunch,we finished watching the Gold Rush film. The students also studied how to break L-shaped figures into two or more smaller rectangles to figure out that area.

Homework:  (1) Do "Area of Irregular Shapes" pages 365-366 in the math book. (2) Do "More Division Practice" and "Adding and Subtracting Fractions" worksheets.

If any parents would like to accompany us on Monday's field trip to LACMA, please let me know right away. We can use volunteers to walk with us and also one or two to drive the lunches over to the park and meet us there at eleven o'clock.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Last Chapter

Summer seemed like it was peeking out today with temperatures back in the upper 70's and so much sunshine! Everybody was in a good mood today in room 19.

Wednesdays are usually fast days, and today was no exception. After checking, correcting, and discussing our homework, we went on to reading the last chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! Today Praiseworthy and Jack lost all their gold when the stern-wheeler on which they were traveling back to San Francisco exploded, but the two wily adventurers managed to earn a lot of that money back by selling cats which had been multiplying on the decks of the old Lady Wilma. And then, Aunt Arabella and Jack's sisters show up, and Praiseworthy finally gets the courage to ask a question....

In Tech Center the students continued to work in teams on their Tech Career web pages. The students are doing a variety of things here including learning to create short video blog segments and insert them onto a page. This should be great! We watched the third part of the American Experience film on the gold rush. This section dealt with the rather more troubling second phase of the gold rush when frustrated miners who failed to become rich struck out at anyone who was different, and did so with particular savagery with the Native American population. 

We did the usual activities in PE. In math we began looking at area. The students always find this a little harder to understand than perimeter, and always have problems remembering the idea that area MUST be measured in square units. Please check their homework here, if you would.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. The words are constitution, delegate, stern-wheeler, opponent, wrist, and eluded. (2) Do the study sheet for chapter 18 of By the Great Horn Spoon! (3) Do "Area of Squares and Rectangles" pages 362-363 in the math book and "Perimeter Patterns" on the back. (4) Do Multiplication and Adding and Subtracting Fractions worksheets.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trio + One

We started out by checking, correcting and discussing our homework. This always takes longer than I want it to, but I think it is one of the most important activities of the day for both the students academic skills and work habits.

A little before nine o'clock, we went to the auditorium where students from the Colburn School of Music had a chamber music concert for us. We had an oboe, a violin, a bass, and a violin. Chamber music isn't easy to listen to when you've never been exposed to it, but our students did pretty well. The violinist played a couple solo pieces - a Bach partita and a Paganini Capriccio - and the other three played a couple selections from a Bach trio. The students took a lot of questions and cheerfully explained how their instruments worked, when they first started to play, and how much time they practice each day, among many other queries.

In other areas, we read chapter 17 of By the Great Horn Spoon! In this chapter Praiseworthy and Jack, after making their fortune at Gravedigger's Hill, return to Hangtown where Praiseworthy has to fight the fearsome "Mountain Ox." But since Praiseworthy has been studying a book on boxing, he easily beats the larger man who is illiterate and therefore a mere "street brawler." We watched the second part of the American Experience film on the Gold Rush as well. In math, we turned our attention to perimeter, usually the easiest area of geometry for students to understand.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. The words are invincible, reprieve, vigilant, millimeter, decimeter, perimeter, and compromise. (2) Do the study sheet for chapter 17 of By the Great Horn Spoon! (3) Do "Perimeter" pages 359-360 in the math book and "All the Way Around" on the back. (4) Do pages 29-34 in California Content Standards: Practice and Mastery book. You may mark in the book.

Monday, March 28, 2011

American Experience

It's been a couple busy days in room 19, so I apologize for a couple days without posting. The Concert in the Park event went really well, even if the rain-soaked ground forced it to be held in the auditorium, and our students received warm applause from everyone present.

Today we went over the math classwork from Friday - which was the closest we had to homework for the weekend - and that has been corrected and put in the gradebook. We also read another chapter from By the Great Horn Spoon! In the chapter today, Praiseworthy and Jack save Cut Eye Higgins from the gallows and make a very exciting discovery. We started to watch an episode from the PBS American Experience series on the gold rush. It's a really good film, though one not particularly designed for young viewers. I prepared a study guide to help them focus on the major points and significant details in the film, and they did quite well with it. We'll watch about 30 minutes of this each day this week.

After recess, we went to the auditorium where Mr. Pratt blocked the climactic last scenes of Oliver! It went really well, even if it was not always fascinating for the chorus members. We had Physical Education as usual after lunch, and in math we are turning our attention to mastering the metric system.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. The words are festivities, cantankerous, heinous, exuberance, dispatch, savor, and interfere. (2) Do the study sheet for chapter 16 of By the Great Horn Spoon! (3) Do "Metric Measurement," pages 355-356 in the math book and "Measuring with Metric" on the back. (4) Do pages 24-28 in California Content Standards:  Practice and Mastery book. You may mark in the book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Careers in Tech

Another productive day here in room 19. We had a good discussion, as we usually do, about our homework assignments as we carefully corrected them. We then read most of another chapter of Horn Spoon! We went to Tech Center where Ms. Richard is having them start to research careers in technology. They will be working in teams to develop a PowerPoint slide show on a career, and they will then be porting this to the school's website through the iWeb program.

After recess, they went to Mr. Pratt's class for History. In the afternoon, we talked about problem solving in math and we did our usual skill rotations in physical education. We also switched seats (which can be a form of problem solving....)

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words 10 times each. The words are solution, variable, integer, diagram, and Sierra Nevada. (2) Do By the Great Horn Spoon! study sheet for chapter  15. (3) Do "Problem Solving" pages 342-343 and "Test Prep" on pages 344-345  in the math book. Also do "Buried Treasure" on the back.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just the Homework Today

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words 10 times each. The words are free enterprise, entrepreneur, industry, territory, and isthmus. (2) DoBy the Great Hornspoon! study sheet for chapter  14.  Also do "Writing Home" and "Modern Gold Mining." (3) Do "Ordering Integers," pages 340-341 in the math book plus "Below Zero" on the back.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Drying Out

What a miserable day yesterday! Oh well, at least it wasn't a school day. But things were still incredibly wet around Third Street all day today and we were stuck with rainy day schedule during recess and lunch. I guess by the time it dries out on Wednesday or Thursday we should have more showers again.

It wasn't a miserable day in room 19, however, but a most productive one. We began by correcting and discussing our math from Friday. Negative numbers are often hard for fourth graders to understand, but our students seem to be grasping this concept admirably. We went on to take a quiz over last week's chapters in By the Great Horn Spoon! After this we went on to read another chapter of the book. In today's chapter, Jack accidentally buys a bushel of neckties at an auction, a move that Praiseworthy correctly see as being "brilliant."

We worked some more on last week's art project on perspective, using water color to finish off our drawings. We blocked and practiced some of the last couple scenes in the play. We corrected a math test from last week, and we did our usual exercises and skill rotations in PE. In math, we continued to learn about negative numbers.

So, into every life rain does fall, but learning still goes on.

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words 10 times each. The words are technology, discrimination, vigilante, population, and consumer. (2) Do By the Great Hornspoon! study sheet for chapter  13 plus "Similes" on the back. (3) Do "Comparing Integers," pages 338-339 in the math book plus "Countdown to Zero" on the back.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Today was our Walk-a-thon and if you haven't heard already, it was a rousing success raising about 36,000 dollars for our school.

We were delighted in room 19 to have had the opportunity to participate, as you can see.

We did other things besides the Walk-a-thon, of course. We checked, corrected, and discussed our homework and Thursday's math test. We took a spelling test, and we checked and corrected that, too. We rehearsed scenes and dance numbers from Oliver! And we had an introduction to negative numbers.

The students all had ample time to get the math done during class time today, so I don't think that many should be taking it home. So, enjoy a rare weekend without homework!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Be Back Soon

We had a good day today and did a good bit of practice on the play, too. We went over our homework, first thing, as we usually do. Then we read the next chapter in By the Great Hornspoon! where the citizens of Hangtown learn about the just how far Praiseworthy can knocked a ruffian when he's sufficiently upset. He even gets a new name, "Bullwhip." We took a math test today, but we haven't checked it yet. The students worked with Aiden's mom on a really fantastic choreography for "Be Back Soon." This is going to be amazing!

Tomorrow is the Walk-a-thon. A big thank you to all the families who have already sent in their pledge form and money. If you haven't yet, please do so tomorrow.

Homework: (1) Write the spelling words 10 times each and write a sentence for each one. The words are ruffian, thievery, clung, compassionate, and tintype.  (2) Do the study questions for chapter twelve of By the Great Horn Spoon! (3) Do the study questions over "Electromagnets Everywhere." (4) Do the “Simplest Form” and “Adding and Subtracting Fractions” worksheet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our Perspective

We began the day, as we usually do, by checking, correcting, and discussing each last night's homework. We then went on to read another chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! In the chapter we read today, Jack and Praiseworthy make it to the gold country only to almost be shot by an irate miner who thinks that Praiseworthy stole his washpan. In the end, though, the miner, named Pitch Pine Billy, proves to be an amiable fellow who shares his claim with the butler and the boy he nicknames "Jamoka Jack."

We usually have Tech Center on Wednesday and art on Thursdays but we changed that around again this week. Today in art we are continuing our look at perspective. We talked about foreground, middle ground, and background. The students did a little plein air sketching of second recess, and then they returned to the classroom where they turned some of these sketches into the beginning of a painting. We will finish these tomorrow.

We had PE after lunch, and we finished up our short algebra chapter today. We will have our test over chapter 13 tomorrow and along with that will be the second chance to improve the chapter 12 score. Please review for the test!

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 10 times each in cursive and write one sentence for each word in cursive. The words are notoriety, bedrock, fisticuffs, idly, and bandana. (2) Do the study sheet for chapter 11 of By the Great Horn Spoon! (3) Do "Problem Solving" on pages 328-329 and "Test Prep" on pages 330-331. (4) Do the division practice sheet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

They're Playing our Song!

A very quiet, orderly, and productive day in room 19. We checked, corrected, and discussed our homework. I was really pleased that every single student had finished every piece of homework today. That doesn't always happen for a variety of reasons, good and bad. We read and discussed another chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! We read a chapter in the Science text about how electromagnets are used in simple motors, doorbells, and in speakers. We also talked about how electromagnetism is used to create electricity, too. In math we talked about converting words into equations. That's not always the easiest of skills for fourth graders, but our students did quite admirably at it.

In Music, Mr. Lawton went over some of the best songs that the students have composed in the last couple weeks. In particular, the students had the pleasure today of hearing their songs played back to them on by the Sibelius computer program. It was fun for them to see the written notation on the screen and watch the cursor as it passed over the notes and produced a ethereal vocal sound.

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words 10 times each and write a sentence for each one. The words are elated, petrified, peering, elegant,  and exaggerated. (2) Do the study questions for chapter ten of By the Great Horn Spoon! (3) Do pages 325-327 in the math book. Also do "Symbol Acrobatics" on the back of the answer sheet. (4) Do the “Equivalent Fractions” and “Adding and Subtracting Fractions” worksheet.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Big Wave

In light of the current tragic situation in Japan, we took a break from our usual reading schedule today. We talked about the earthquake and the tsunami this weekend. Most of the students were pretty well-informed about it,but we clarified some things. I then shared with them some things about the 1923 quake which leveled Yokohama. Pearl Buck used this earthquake and the tsunami which followed it as the basis for her 1948 book The Big Wave. We read a selection from this book and took time to talk about how people deal with great tragedy. The boy in the story has to deal with the loss of his family, and many, many people in Japan at this time will be dealing with that as well.

On a lighter note, we practiced some of the scenes and the choreography that the students learned last Thursday with our guest choreographers. We also worked on learning to multiply and divide decimals in math. Students were dismissed at 2:00 pm so that fourth grade teachers could have some time to begin work on report cards.

Homework:  (1) Write the spelling words 10 times each and write a sentence for each one. The words are equation, hospitality, awesome, glance, and extract. (2) Do the study questions for "The Big Wave". For the letter be sure to have date, greeting, body, closing, and signature. The body should be about two full paragraphs. (3) Do pages 322-323 in the math book. Also do "Symbol Acrobatics" on the back of the answer sheet.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

They Could Have Danced All Day

If yesterday was off schedule, today was really that way. Most of the students had the fantastic experience of working with two experienced dance teachers in the auditorium on two of the big dance numbers for Oliver! These parents are doing amazing things with the students, and both Mr. Pratt and I are really grateful for the fantastic participation and support.

The students also had the opportunity to have a couple recesses again so that I could attend our last library aide interview. It went well, and it looks like we will have a superb person in there. But I'll let Dr. Oh give all the details about this when it is all finished. The students who did not go to the auditorium in the morning went to Tech Center where they worked on turning their tuba stories into comic strips. They also went to room 7 in the afternoon where they watched more of the movie version of Oliver!

Homework:  (1) Do the final spelling words for the week. The words are necessity,  courteous, undertaker, commutative property, and impostor. The last one was somehow misspelled on the spelling list, but I did ask them to correct it on Monday. (2) Do the Great Horn Spoon! chapter 9 study sheet. (3) Do "Equal or Not Equal" on pages 318-319 in the math book.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Today was a little off schedule, as tomorrow will be, too. First of all, we did not go to Tech Center today as we switched, for a variety of reasons, with room 7. We will go tomorrow. Then, I had to take part in interviews for the new library aide. So the students had the opportunity to go to both recesses, and our PE was pushed ahead to 11:00 from the usual time. The two classes switched after lunch instead of after recess. That's a lot of changes for the students to have a day!

Despite this, we were productive. We checked homework, of course. We took our math test, though we have not yet had a chance to correct it. I worked with the students on their project for Mr. Lawton, trying to take it a bit more step-by-step for those who were confused. Finally, I ended the day by reading the next chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! to them.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 ten times each in cursive. Also write a sentence for each one. The words are obliged, exasperated, ambled, lunatic, and jostling. (2) Do the Great Horn Spoon study sheet for chapter 9. (3) Do the "Adding and Subtracting Fractions" and "Division" review sheets.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


The last couple days have been pretty off schedule in room 19. That's not always a bad thing; in fact, for the students it's usually fun. For the teacher it's a bit unsettling, however.

First, yesterday we had a special assembly in the morning organized by Fred Escheverria, a parent in room 13, of representatives from the Tongva nation. These are the native peoples of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. They're sometimes also called "Gabrielino" since they were stationed at the San Gabriel Mission after conversion. They did a great presentation about their language, culture, and music. They even did a dance which I managed to catch a bit of on my camera.

We had to leave a little early, unfortunately, because we had our Music class. Mr. Lawton worked some more with the students on their songwriting project. After recess, the students went to Mr. Pratt where they are finishing their study of early American explorers in California and the Bear Flag revolt. After lunch, we had a quick math lesson.

We finished the day with a celebration of Mardi Gras. The DuMont family, originally hailing from the Crescent City, gave us the history of Mardi Gras and then provided our class and Mrs. Mark's class with King Cakes to share. It was a great opportunity for the students.

Monday, March 07, 2011


It was a most productive day. We read another chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! and we discussed it. We also wrote a short essay about the pictures that the students worked on last week. I have never had students actually write a composition about how they did their art before, but it was a surprisingly good way to force them to be aware of the techniques that we were using, and those that they could have used. I'll have some examples of this on the blog as soon as I can.

After recess, we went to the auditorium for some more play practice. They are getting really good at both acting and singing! The afternoon was devoted to Physical Education and Math. In Math, we are learning to multiply numbers with decimals. It's a pretty easy skill, particularly today's assignment.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 ten times each and write a sentence. The words are invasion, glum, lumber, morsel, and junk. (2) Do the Great Horn Spoon chapter 7 study sheet. (3) Do the "Latitude and Longitude" and "Butler" worksheets. Some of the maps did not photocopy that well, but do your best with it. (4) Do "Multiplying and Dividing Fractions" on pages 307-308 of the math book.

Also, be sure that the writing and art is finished. And, finally, make sure that the homework Mr. Lawton assigned for Music two weeks ago is finished.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Today was the birthday of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. But more about that later.

We read another chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! We also worked on creating telegraphs using our electromagnets.

We went to Tech Center where Ms. Richard had them completing their "How I Learned to Play the Tuba" stories. They will start using special software to make these into cartoon strips next week.

Then in the afternoon we paired up with the first graders in room 5 to read Dr. Seuss books. A great time was had by all.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 11-15. Write each word ten times each in cursive and write one sentence for each word. The words are inclement, ration, guava, Patagonia, and stalwart. (2) Do "Rounding and Estimating Decimals," pages 296-297 in the math book. (3) Do By the Great Horn Spoon! chapter 5 worksheet. Be sure to answer in complete sentences.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Writing Test

Today was the State Writing Test for fourth grade. This is the first part of our CST testing sequence. The reading and math tests will come as usual in May. This took up most of the morning before recess.

We also checked homework, corrected yesterday's math tests, and talked about rounding decimals. We had the extra hour today, so we did some more play practice.

Homework: (1) Write spelling words 6 - 10 ten times each and cursive and write one sentence for each. The words are becalmed, tarry, yard, languish, and exotic. (2) Do "Rounding Decimals," pages 292-294 in the math book, and also do "More than One Way" on the back of the answer sheet.