Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We began today with writing, as we often do. Today, working on their storytelling abilities, the students were given this story starter:  “As the helicopters whirred overhead, I knew the police were after me. How was I ever going to prove I was innocent?” The stories were great! Some were filled with lots of action, others with mystery, and still others were funny. I particularly enjoyed the story where I had the been the victim of students who had finally had just too many homework assignments!

We read “My Brothers’ Flying Machine” in the Treasures book. This story, by the acclaimed children’s author Jane Yolen, is about the Wright brothers. It is told, however, from the perspective of their younger sister. This allowed us to discuss the difference between a first-person narrator and an omniscient third-person narrator. It allowed us to distinguish between historical fiction and narrative non-fiction.

After recess, we continued “thinking like a geologist.” The students were give four mystery minerals. They again examined them for color, streak, hardness, luster, cleavage, and magnetism. They then used a mineral chart to help identify them.


After lunch recess, we reviewed for the math test and then took the Topic 12 test. We went to mixing:  some students worked on the play, others went to art, while others went to PE. After mixing, we corrected the math test. The results are on the gradebook. I also gave them time to get a head start on the homework

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 five times each in cursive. Write one original sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do “Author’s Perspective” page 243 and “Personification,” page 246 in the Practice Book. Students do not do the back page of either page. (4) Do “Fractions 3” review sheet.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A “Purr-fect” Day

Before the bell rang, we had an unexpected visitor outside room 19 today.


The cat’s visit might have been an omen of what I can only call a “purr-fect” day.

We started out working on writing responses to literature. This is a blanket term that is used today to discuss anything which asks the reader to think about a piece of writing, evaluate the actions of characters in the story, think of possible motivations for the writer, or imagine being in the same situation described in the work. It is such a broad idea that it makes it actually pretty hard to teach it, even though it is a crucial fourth grade standard. We used last week’s Treasures story, “The Earth Dragon Awakens” to help us master this form. The students had to write an introduction, a body paragraph that summarized the story, and a second body paragraph which explained what they would do in a similar crisis.

After that, the students went to Music. Mr. Lawton introduced songwriting to them today – specifically, the ballad form – and in the process regaled us with his skills on the banjo.


We practice about the first quarter of the play in the auditorium. Mr. Pratt is doing a superb job with our student actors, and the students are doing a great job learning their lines. This is the opening train scene, “Rock Island” where the sales representatives are all discussing how their business is changing, but you still have to “know the territory.”


After lunch, we did Science. We students are learning to identify minerals using color, streak, luster, cleavage, and other properties. Today, we looked at calcite, quartz, fluorite, and gypsum.


Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 6-10 five times each in cursive. Write one original sentence for each word. (2) Do “Homophones” page 251 and “Quotation Marks,” page 252 in the Practice Book. (3) Do “Problem Solving” pages 310-311 and “Test Prep” page 312-313. Also do “Follow the Mystery Number on the back of the answer sheet. (4) Do “Fractions 2” review sheet.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Playing Around

We had a busy day with a lot of very productive practice on the play! I should have taken some pictures….

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 five times each in cursive. Write one original sentence for each word. (2) Do “Phonics” page 241 and “Vocabulary” page 242 in the Practice Book. (3) “Multiplying and Dividing Decimals,” pages 307-308 of the math book. (4) Adding and Subtracting Fractions review sheet.

Remember, tomorrow is NOT shortened day schedule. Dismissal will be at 2:30. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quick Post

It was a pleasant and productive day in room 19. We worked on writing narratives and discussed pronouns. We checked and corrected our homework. We finished reading the San Francisco earthquake story in Treasures. We learned about adding and subtracting numbers with decimals.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 14-20. Write each word five times each in cursive and write a sentence for each one. (2) Do “Draw Conclusions” page 231, “Technical Manual” page 234, “Multiple Meaning Words” page 235, and “Possessive Pronouns” page 238. The other side of these pages are NOT assigned. (3) Do “Addition and Subtraction” pages 299-300 in the math book. (4) Do “Fractional-Decimal 3”.

The word search is optional today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Practice, Practice

Today we did a fair amount of practicing for the play. We worked on some of the songs and materials for it with Mr. Lawton during music time and we also worked together in the auditorium after recess.

We also checked our math tests from Friday – results are on the gradebook – and did the usual stuff.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-7 five times each. Write one sentence for each word. (2) Do “Diphthongs” and “Vocabulary” on pages 229-230 of the Practice Book. (3) Do “Possessive Pronouns” and “Quotation Marks” on pages 239-240 of the Practice Book. (4) Do “Rounding Decimals” on pages 293-294 of the math book and do “More than One Way” on the back. (5) Do “Fraction Decimal 1” worksheet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Just the homework on this – grrr! – rainy day. I gave them most of this to keep them quiet during lunch time, so most people should be either finished or almost done.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 11-15. Write each one five times in cursive and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do pages 217, 218, and 223 in the Practice Book. (4) Do “Decimal Multiplication 3” worksheet. (5) Do pages 282-283 in the math book.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Talking Trash

Our day began with an assembly about the environment. Our presenter was a gentleman named Michael Klubock who created a group called the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education. He explained how trash ends up in the oceans and on the beaches because of the storm drain system and showed how plastic and other pollutants can be fatal to fish and birds.


We did all the usual things in addition. We checked and corrected our math from Friday. We read “The Ants and the Grasshopper,” a Chinese fable, and discussed the elements of fables. We examined four different minerals in Science – basalt, limestone, marble, and sandstone – and read about calcium carbonate. Tomorrow they will be using a mild acid – house vinegar – to test for calcite in these rocks. We read some more from James and the Giant Peach. Some of the students practiced songs or lines from The Music Man while others went to art or PE during our mixing block. Finally, we discussed the relationship between fractions and decimals in math.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1 to 5 five times each in cursive. Write a sentence for each word. (2) Answer the questions on page 459 of the hardcover Treasures book in complete sentences. (3) Do the “Calcite=Calcium Carbonate” study guide. (4) Do the “Alphabetical Order” and “Pronunciation” worksheet which go along with James and the Giant Peach. (5) Do “Fractions and Decimals” pages 276-277 in the math book and “Shady Spots” on the back of the answer sheet. (6) Do the “Decimal Multiplication 1” practice sheet.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


After yesterday’s adventures, today had to be a bit dull. And it was.

We began the day by clearing out and organizing portfolios. We corrected our math tests from Monday. The results are on the gradebook. We spent the time we would have normally spent on homework going over our math packets for the last four units, and those are also recorded on TeacherEase. We reviewed yesterday’s field trip and the the students made a chart of activities and new knowledge. They started to create a multi-paragraph composition about their trip.

After recess, the students went to Mr. Pratt for Social Studies. After lunch, I gave them 45 minutes to work on the field trip composition. They went to their usual mixing activities today. In math, we started on decimals today.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 five times each with a sentence for each one. All of this should be in cursive. (2) Do “Replacing Telling Statement” and “Inflectional Endings” on pages 203-204 of the Practice Book. (3) Do “Pronouns” on pages 213-214 of the Practice Book. (4) Do “Cloze Reading” and “Sequencing Events” worksheet. (5) Do “Decimal Place Value” pages 270-271 in the math book and “Decimal Patterns” on the back of the answer sheet. (6) Do “Adding, Subtracting Fractions 4” practice sheet.

Also, finish the composition about the field trip to the Leonis Adobe if that was not finished earlier.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Leonis Adobe

Today we had our field trip to the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas. It’s a great field trip, and it fits in perfectly with where the students are in the fourth grade history curriculum.

The Leonis Adobe is a kind of living history museum where the students get to take part in all kinds of activities which help them to understand what life was like on a Southern California ranch in the 1880’s. The students were divided into various groups, and the groups took turns going around to different activities. The group I monitored went first to a tortilla making activity.The students mashed up corns and learned how to turn the masa into tortillas using a press.


They also learned how cream is turned into milk.


They then learned about roping cattle and had a chance to practice tossing a lasso.


They learned what life was like before washing machines and driers. Was that ever a revelation!


Pumping water from a well, however, seemed like something they’d like to still do.


And ringing the dinner bell to call ranch hands to meals was definitely fun.


They learned about brands and had an opportunity to make their own marks, first on a piece of paper and then on a piece of faux leather.


Seeing the animals, like this magnificent draught horse, was a huge highpoint.


And feeding alfalfa to the Merino sheep and the goats was by far everybody’s favorite activity. 


Traffic was reasonably decent today, so we made it back in time to listen to a bit of James and the Giant Peach and to have a competition to solve the word search first.

Homework:  Enjoy the rare day off!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Rainy Days and Tuesdays

You have to learn to be flexible in fourth grade. Things just happen and you adjust to it. Our rain – such as it was, at least so far – was one of those things. Mr. Lawton getting laryngitis and cancelling class was another. You adjust and find something else to do.

We mostly reviewed for the math test, took the math test, and read and discussed our Treasures selection for the week. It’s an interesting informational article about ants. Our new reading series is quite heavy on nonfiction reading. That helps prepare the students more for middle school, I suppose. Fortunately, most of the selections are pretty good.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 6-10 five times each. Write one sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do “Matching Antonyms” and “Determining Feelings” worksheet. (4) Do the “Adding, Subtracting Fractions 2 worksheet”.

Also, students need to be sure that they are finished with the final draft of the animals/teamwork story. We started on this draft on Monday and they also had ample time to work on it today in class.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Room 19 did an amazing job on the coin drive. We raised over 1000 dollars! Yes!

We were not the first-place winners, but our performance was so stellar that we will be receiving the pizza and movie prize.

Thanks so much, room 19 families, for your generosity! Thanks, students, for your enthusiasm.

More Testing

Sigh. Today was the mandated Quarter 2 math test. Why schedule it the week after the Literacy Test? I suspect nobody was in charge of thinking about that.

Still, I think they seemed to do pretty well on it. At least these new tests, once they have been scanned and entered into the district’s computers, do provide teachers with some helpful feedback about what specific skills need work. That’s more than the old ones used to do.

Other than that, we worked on editing our teamwork stories, and we read a little about ants to introduce our week’s story in the Treasures book.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 five times each in cursive. (2) Do “Vocabulary” and “Description" on pages 205-206 of the Practice Book. (3) Do “Character and Moral” and “Greek Roots” on pages 209-210 of the Practice Book. (4) Do “Write an Equation” pages 261-262 and “Test Prep” pages 264-265 in the math book. Also do “Crazy Quilt” on the back of the answer sheet. (5) Do “Adding and Subtracting Fractions 1” worksheet.

Friday, February 03, 2012

A “Gem” of a Day

As usual, we started the day correcting our homework. We went to the library. We took our spelling test. The students bubbled their answers for the Literacy Periodic Assessment onto the Scantron forms and they took their fractions quiz. The results of that are on the gradebook; the spelling test will be there shortly.

After recess, we worked discussed birthstones. William brought in a set of these gems for all of us took look at. The students then planned advertisements for their own birthstones using all the techniques we have studies about persuasive writing. Here is an example from room 18; I did this project with them during the Science block last week. 


Most of the students will be finishing this assignment over the weekend.

After lunch, we did math and we switched for our mixing activities. We ended the day with the Reflections awards assembly on the yard.

Homework:  (1) Finish the gem advertisement. (2) Do “Subtracting Fractions,” pages 258-259 in the math book. (3) Do the second draft of the teamwork story. We started this story on Monday and worked on it in small groups yesterday.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Quiet Day

If I were Garrison Keillor, I’d probably start it with something like “It was a pretty quiet day in room 19, our hometown….” It was a pretty uneventful day here, but those are some of the best for learning.

We worked finished our Literacy Periodic Assessments today (except for bubbling in the blue answer sheet). We learned more about hardness as a property for identifying minerals. We read more of James and the Giant Peach. We discussed adding and subtracting fractions with unequal denominators.

Before going on to the homework, I thought I’d show an example of one of their art projects with Mrs. Choi.


Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 five times each in cursive. Also write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling word search. (3) Do “Understanding Special Meanings” worksheet. (4) Do “Evaluating What You Read” worksheet. (5) Do the “Birthstones” study sheet. Be sure to use the Science Resources book. (6) Do “Unlike Denominators,” pages 256-257 in the math book. (7) Do “Comparing Fractions 4” practice page.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


In the last few weeks, the students have been learning about the missions and the Spanish colonial period with Mr. Pratt. One of the things they did in room 18 was to do pictures of some of the particular missions. Here are a couple particularly great ones



Today was a pretty ordinary Wednesday. We checked, corrected, and discussed out homework. We did a little more on the second Literacy Periodic Assessment. We went to Tech Center where Ms. Richard had them work on their “Vacation” podcast project.

In Science, the students reviewed the idea of using properties such as color, transparency, and texture to help identify minerals. They agreed that since so many minerals looked similar, other tests would be helpful. So we talked about hardness as a property and the students learned about the scratch test. They then took Monday’s mystery rocks and scratched them with fingernails, cooper pennies, and steel paperclips. This helped them to figure out which one was quartz, which was calcite, which was fluorite, and which was gypsum. They had a pretty good time doing it.


In the afternoon, we corrected the math test and listened to James and the Giant Peach. Our students went to Mrs. Choi for Art while Mrs. Cha’s class came here for music. In math, we’re discussing addition of fractions with like denominators – an easy concept for most of them.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 five times each in cursive. Also write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling scramble. (3) Do “Determining Cause and Effect” worksheet. (4) Do “Making Inference” worksheet. (5) Do “Like Denominators,” pages 253-255 in the math book. (6) Do “Comparing Fractions 3” practice page.