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.