Friday, December 20, 2013

Thank You

The last day before Winter Break is hard for students, but we actually were productive today in room 19. We reviewed chapter 11 in the math book. We finished reading this week's Treasures selections. We went to the library. We took spelling, reading, and multiple math tests. And we watched the last installment of Ramona. I think many of the students were surprised by how deeply they were affected by the unjust death of Alessandro and how much they had come to care about Ramona.

We had a great party. I want to thank all the hardworking parents who contributed to the food. And I have to single our Mrs. Cha who is not only my colleague but has done so much room parent work. And she made this day a huge success.

Thank you for all the gifts. Those who sent something individually to me I will try to do what my mother always taught me and send a thank you note after the first of the year. But even more, thank all of you who contributed to the class gift, the fabulous HP Chromebook on which I'm writing this post today.

Homework:  For a change, absolutely none! Enjoy winter break.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Reading

I think even without rainy day schedule, this would have felt like a long day. The students are sooo excited about winter break. And so is the teacher!

Still, we were quite productive today in room 19. We wrote rough drafts of holiday stories about a week ago, and today the students not only created final drafts but published them in book form.


Some of the students will share their stories at the party tomorrow.

Homework:  (1) Do the usual spelling assignment with words 16-20. (2) Do the “Multiplying Fractions by a Whole Number 4” practice paper. (3) Do pages 284-287 in the math book. There is no special answer sheet today.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Have a Geometric Holiday!

Today we started the day with a mix of math and art. The students were given nets of hexagons of dodecahedrons and we asked to not only color or illustrate them with a seasonal theme, but to them put them together into the correct three dimensional shape. That last part proved to be somewhat tricky! But many of our students did an outstanding job with it.



The rest of the day was frankly kind of ho hum. We corrected homework. We finished reading “Uncle Romie.” We went to PE. We had a fire drill. Ah well. That’s what the days right before vacation are like! One and  half more to go!

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 as usual. (2) Do pages 185 and 186 in the Practice book. (3) Do the summary of the “Uncle Romie” story and answer the questions on page 391 of the Treasures book. (4) Do Multiplying Fractions and Whole Numbers 3. (5) Do pages 282 and 283 in the math book.

Monday, December 16, 2013


This is one of the slowest weeks in the school year. The students are wild with the expectation of Winter Break, and the teachers are far more excited than the students. Sigh. We’ll get through.

It was a fairly productive day despite everything. We started work on another Treasures story and we corrected some work from last week. We learned about multiplying fractions by whole numbers and we also talked about placing fractions and decimals on a number line. For some strange reason that last skill, which never comes up in real life, is an obsession of the standards folks.

Our most interesting part of the day was starting to watch the classic movie version of Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel, Ramona. Starring Loretta Young and the almost-intolerable Don Ameche, it does give the students not only a potent dose of the “Mission Myth,” the idea that Mexican California was a kind of paradise, but it also provides a good sense of what life was like on a working rancho.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 1-5 as usual. (2) Do the spelling word search. (3) Do the chart on page 371 in the Treasures book. (4) Do pages 180, 181, and 182 of the Practice book. (5) Do the Rancho San Miguel map exercise. (6) Do Fractions and Whole Numbers 1. (7) Do pages 279-280 in the math book.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Brine Shrimp

In Science, we’re studying the Mono Lake ecosystem. So today we started by hatching brine shrimp, the main food source at Mono Lake. The students are trying to see what is the optimal saline concentration for the bring shrimp. So they added either 0, 1, 2, or 3 tablespoons of salt to treated water. And after that they added the tiny brine shrimp eggs.


In the afternoon, we finished the work on our monochromatic winter scenes. The students are naturals at impressionistic scenes.





Homework:  (1) Do the Mono Lake study questions. (2) Do “Fractions and Decimals” on pages 276-277 in the math book.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Back to Blogging

Since starting homework club, it’s been hard to get time in to blog. It’s also been a little crazy at home lately because our house was featured on the West Adams Heritage Association’s Christmas Tour. It’s a little strange having nearly 800 people walk through your house in a weekend and ask you all kinds of questions about everything in it! But, I will definitely try to be better about blogging, however since it’s such a great way to highlight the amazing things out students are doing here in room 19.

Today we did a writing assessment in the Treasures program to begin our day. We discussed the rancho period in California history. We started talking about the Mono Lake ecosystem and the students made mobiles to illustrate who eats what up there in the High Sierra.


We started on an art project on monochromatic colors. We’ll finish that tomorrow.

Homework: (1) Write spelling words 16-20 ten times each and do a sentence for each. (2) Do the spelling crossword. (3) Do the Life on the Ranchos study sheet. (4) Do the Multiplying Fractions 4 practice sheet.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Just the Homework for Now

We had a great day, but since I’m preoccupied with putting up student work on the walls and the bulletin boards right now, let me just note what the homework is….

Homework: (1) Write spelling words 1-5 ten times each and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do “Phonics,” page 155 and “Vocabulary,” page 156 in the Practice book. (4) Do the “Mexico Gains Independence” study sheet. (5) Do “Solids,” pages 207-209 in the math book. (6) Do the Subtracting Mixed Numbers 1 practice sheet.

We are having our field trip to UCLA Stunt Ranch Nature Reserve in Calabasas Thursday. We need some parents to help out. You will need to drive there and meet us. Please let me know if you can do this.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Tweet Life

Although by Seattle standards, I am sure this would count as a sunny day, we were on rainy day schedule here at Third Street. Not every teacher’s favorite, I’m sure you know…. But we made the best of it and tried to have some fun, anyhow.

We started by having the students list in their journals the things they were NOT thankful for. This proved to be a surprisingly hard thing for some of the nicer kids. For those with souls like their teacher’s, it was not only easy but fun to make such a list. And yes, homework appeared on every one!

Another way we made the best of our rainy schedule was to have the students write their summaries of Dear Mrs. LaRue as tweets. Here are some samples from Ike’s twitter feed.



Did not listen to Mrs. LaRue. Ripped her ratty coat. Ate her chicken pie. #did_not_listen


Mrs. LaRue sent me to obedience school. Not good, It’s like a prison. Writing to Mrs. L. #obedience_school_is_prison


Trying to run away. Really worried about Mrs. LaRue. Miss her. #running_away

Very creative! Next they want to do Facebook pages for characters. Where will it all lead? O tempus, O mores! (and oh what smart kids!).

The students finished their food webs today. They are really quite good. Here’s a particularly nice one.


By noon, blue sky was showing through the clouds but we were still on rainy day schedule. Grrr! So I took the students out for a little “physical education” after lunch. They needed to burn off some energy!


Tomorrow, in addition to the usual Friday quizzes and activities, the students will have a history test. The social studies homework tonight is not only good preparation, but they can use these notes on the test. All the information and skills they need to get a perfect score on the test are on these sheets!

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling word search. (3) Do “Future Tense,” page 153 and “Punctuation,” page 154 in the Practice book. (4) Do Adding Mixed Numbers 4. (5) Do Portola’s Expedition/Tallow Candles. (5) Do the history review pages.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mrs. LaRue

It was a dark and stormy day. OK, it wasn’t stormy, but it sure was gloomy, wasn’t it? Fortunately, things were pretty sunny inside room 19.

The students started the day with their journals, and then I gave them a lot of time to try to get finished with their mosaics. Most of them are done, and they sure are great!


We read one of my favorite stories today in the book, Mark Teague’s Dear Mrs. LaRue.

dear mrs larue

It’s a great story about a dog who is sent to obedience school. Is the Igor Brotweiler Canine Academy really the prison Ike describes … or is it more like a spa? The pictures are just a fabulous as the text.

We looked at the radius and diameter in math. In Science, we worked on creating food webs. We’ll finish these tomorrow.


Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 ten times each and write a sentence for each one. (2) Do the spelling crossword. (3) Do the Think and Compare questions on page 319 of the Treasures book. Copy the questions. The summary is NOT assigned today. (4) Do pages 149 and 152 in the Practice book. (5) Do the Adding Fractions 3 practice paper. (6) Do “Circles,” pages 204-205 in the math book.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eaters and Eaten

We started the day in Tech Center. The Prezis are mostly finished, and I’ve never been prouder of anything the students have ever done in Tech Center. We spent a while going over and discussing the homework. We look at the various kinds of quadrilaterals in math. In Science, we explored food chains and food webs using some picture cards supplied with the Foss program. Students had to math the eater and the eaten to learn about the flow of energy through an ecosystem.


And we finished the day with our reading buddies.


Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 6-10 ten times plus a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do pages 145 and 148 in the Practice book. (4) Do Adding Mixed Numbers 2. (5) Do Quadrilaterals pages 202-203 in the math book.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Back to Normal

Well, after a good week of conferences, the schedule at school gets back to normal – well, for a week. I think all of us are looking forward to that Thanksgiving Week break.

We started the day, as usual with journals. The students explored telling the last Treasures story from the point of view of the librarian. Point of view is an important part of this week’s story, Mark Teague’s “Dear Mrs. LaRue.”

We went to music as we usually do on Mondays. Today, in a kind of culmination, we met in the auditorium. The students had a chance to really polish a couple of the pieces they had been working on during the semester with Ms. Moran.


The students also had a culmination of sorts with Mr. Pratt. He stopped by and after some review, tested them on some of the concepts and vocabulary that have been so important during our theater class. The students generally did quite well. The results are posted on the grade book.

We read about the missions in social studies. In math we worked on classifying triangles.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 ten times each in cursive. Write an original sentence for each word. (2) Make a table or chart sorting the spelling words by the silent letter patterns. (3) Do “Silent Letters,” page 143, and “Vocabulary,” page 144, in the Practice book. (4) Do the Life at the Missions” study sheet. Be sure to answer in complete sentences! (5 ) Do Adding Mixed Numbers 1. Either show your work on the paper or attach scratch paper. (6) Do “Triangles,” pages 200-201 in the math textbook.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Washing Up

We started off the day with journal as usual. I was searching around for a topic when I remembered an incident from my undergraduate days when I had to explain to a clueless rich girl how to wash dishes. So I turned that into our topic for the day. The students not only gave the directions flawlessly, but are mastering the art of sarcasm as well.

A couple more students finished their turkeys. These are going to be excellent!


We started work on the District math assessment, and we looked at lines, rays, and angles in math.

Homework:  (1) Do the final draft of the dog or cat opinion piece. This MUST be in cursive. (2) Do pages 196-197 in the math book. (3) Do Subtracting Fractions 3 practice sheet. (4) Do “Reading a Time Line.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spaniards, Turkeys, and Perpendicular Lines

We had a very productive day today. We started out with a simple story starter sentence. For some odd reason, many of the responses were about Santa and Christmas. You can tell what the students are already thinking about! When they finished, they worked a little more on their mosaic turkeys. One student is already done.

We then went on to correct last night’s math and to finish the final paragraph of the district language arts assessment. After that, I gave a short presentation to the students providing them with an overview of the Spanish settlement of California. Inspired by the great work the students had done in Tech Center, I also used Prezi.

We started our unit on geometry today. This is usually a pretty easy unit for the students.

Homework:   (1) Do the Settling Alta California questions. (2) Do the Subtracting Fractions 2 practice sheet. (3) Do pages 194-195 in the math book.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Curses, Foiled Again!

Four short days in one short week. Things are going to go by quickly! Today certainly did. We started out in Tech Center today. Most of the students are finished or almost finished with their Prezis. Mr. Riko will be posting some links soon so you can see how fantastic these all are.

After that, students worked on both their Thanksgiving mosaics and I worked with small groups during this time on their melodramas. I wanted them to be just about perfect for Mr. Pratt. And they were!

The stories were the classic melodrama about the wicked banker who is about to foreclose on the hapless old people – actually, a surprisingly modern tale, when you come to think about it. There is a young maiden, of course,


a handsome hero, and


a dastardly villain with a snickering sidekick,


And the hero saves the day, foils the villain’s evil plans, and marries the beautiful young heroine.

These kinds of plays not only illustrate the basic elements of story, but they were the kind of entertainment that nineteenth-century Californians loved to watch. So, it’s a little bit of history, too.

Homework:  Do the Subtracting Fractions 1 worksheet.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Another Quick Post

Just the homework for now….

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the word search. (3) Write a half page summary of “When I Went to the Library” and answer the questions on page 285. Be sure to write at least two or three sentences for each question. (4) Do pages 140, 141, and 142 in the Practice book. (5) Do the Adding Fractions 4 practice sheet.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

November Nostalgia

Fall brings just a touch of color to Third Street School, enough to give wisp of nostalgia to displaced easterners. The colorful trees are a beautiful sight, but a sad reminder in the East that the bitter winter is coming.


But we had no time for tristesse in room 19 today. We were quite busy and productive. We began with our journals. Our topic today was, “If you wanted to scare somebody – but not hurt them – who would it be? What would you do?” As you can imagine, we had some great stories. This was an example of what teachers call “frontloading” because it helped get them ready to read our main Treasures story of the week, “When I Went to the Library,” a humorous tale of a student who send an ophidiophobic librarian to the hospital. We started work on our district writing assessment. We completed our short unit on adding and subtracting fractions. We started work on a Thanksgiving themed art project. More on that later!

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling crossword. (3) Do pages 133, 136, and 137 in the Practice book. (4) Do the Adding Fractions 3 practice sheet. (5) Do “Problem Solving,” pages 261-262 and “Test Prep,” pages 264-265 in the math book.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Three Headed Monsters Here!

Our day began in the Tech Center. Most of the students are either finished or nearly finished with their Prezis about Native Californians. Ask them to show it off to you! Mr. Riko is quite impressed with what they have done and will be putting it on the Computerwise Kids website in the future.


Theater class was our other big event of the day. Mr. Pratt, as usual, helped the students to master the language of theater arts.

Mr Pratt

The students did a number of theater games and activities today including one of my favorites, the three-headed monster. In this game, the monster is asked questions and each head can only say one word at a time. It really makes the students listen to each other!


The students also rehearsed their melodramas.


Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 6-10 ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each one. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do the “Early Explorers” and “Routes” activity paper. (4) Do Adding Fractions 2 (even numbers only). (5) Do “Subtracting Fractions,” pages 258-259 in the math book (odd numbers only).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two Days Today

A bit rushed yesterday afternoon, so no post. So, as the title suggests, we’ll do two days today.

Yesterday we began in Tech Center. Many of the students are close to completing their Prezis, and a couple are already done. They look great! Mr. Riko will be saving these is .pdfs so the students can show off their great work.

in theater class, Mr. Pratt began working with students on a final theater project that’s just perfect for fourth grade – putting on a melodrama! He began by explaining to them about the “science” of nineteenth-century acting. This overwrought style was the work of a Monsieur Delsarte.


He went on to have the students learn the different parts of the stage like “down stage right” and “up stage left.” The students had to waddle like penguins in a group from one area to another as he called it out! It was funny!


Finally, he gave them the plot of their melodrama. The students split up into groups and picked roles. One of the favorite roles was that of the villain telling the poor old people, “But you must pay the mortgage” with that wicked laugh. Hah, hah, hah!


Today we began the day with a writing exercise where the students had to write down that same story using correct dialogue form. They had a chance to volunteer to get up and read their version of the story with all the different voices after we finished. It was fun! The students also had a chance to watch the first part of Annie in the late afternoon. That will be our spring musical this year, and we will be starting to learn the songs soon!


Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 ten times each and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling crossword. (3) Do page 125 in the Practice book. (4) Do the social studies review sheet. This is the most important of the assignments as we will have a test on chapter 2 Friday and the students can use this paper to help them on the test! (5) Do Equivalent Fractions 3 practice sheet. (6) Do Problem Solving, pages 243-244 and Test Prep on 246-247 in the math book. There will be a math test tomorrow after we review the chapter.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quick Post

Just a quick post today. We had a nice day – good music lesson, lots of work on writing and math. The students were fantastic…as usual.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 ten times each in cursive and write an original sentence for each one. (2) Make a table to sort the spelling words by suffix. (3) Do pages 119-120 in the Practice book. (4) Do the History chapter 2 review page.  (5) Do the Equivalent Fractions 1 practice sheet. (6) Do pages 238-239 in the math book.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Under Water

Fridays are a little busy. We always have a writing assessment, a reading assessment, a math assessment, and a spelling test. Sometimes we have more than that! And getting all those papers passed out, passed in, graded, recorded … well, you can begin to feel a little overwhelmed!

But we also had fun today. Since two of the classes were on a field trip and another was at an assembly, we had Coach Angel all to ourselves for PE. And this was fun for the students as they played a cool variation on dodge ball.



We also finished the day with art. The students are starting a unit on shapes. We talked about the difference between geometric shapes and organic shapes. Since we have been doing a lot with fish lately, it seemed only appropriate to create an underwater scene to practice our organic shapes. The students used wet-paper watercolor as a medium here.




Homework:  Finish the math book math on pages 236-237.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Imaginary Creatures

We start out the day most days with journals, and the assigned topic this morning was to suppose the student had an unusual animal – real or imaginary. The students were asked to describe how they would train this animal to make it into a good pet. The results were often hilarious. Here is one example.

Hi. My name is Lucas and I have brought by pet. I call him a Spitosaurus. It has a dog’s body, a dragon’s wings, and a cat’s tail. It can move very fast. It can also breathe fire. It is very hard to train. You must first put him or her in a big cage (it is very huge). Then you have to give him food. It will start to like you then. Start to train him just like a dog because most of his brain is dog. He is called a Spitosaurus because he spits on people if he feels threatened. But his spit is acid. There are not many left in the wild, but if you want to find one in the wild you would have to go out to your back yard. You have to train him a lot for him to like you. There are only 100 left in the world. Spitosauruses like to eat Taco Bell. Nobody knows why. So I have to go to Taco Bell every day and order lots of Doritos Locos tacos. I think that explains why there isn’t any food for more customers in the line behind me in the morning. OK. That is my Spitosaurus. Oh, no! My Spitosaurus just escaped!!!!

We also began writing tall tales today inspired by our reading of Pecos Bill yesterday. We’ll be revising and editing them tomorrow.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 ten times each in cursive and a sentence for each. (2) Do “Plural Possessives,” pages 116-117 and “Verbs,” page 118 in the Practice book. (3) Do Longer Long Division 4. (4) Do “Simplest Form” pages 234-235 in the math book.

Students also need to write about a page about the person they chose for their report. This should be written in the first person. “I read the book Marie Curie by Mike Venezia. I learned a lot of things I did not know about her…..”

A few students may even need to finish their rough drafts although they were given 75 minutes of class time to work on this.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Short Post

A very quiet and productive day. Probably the only major new thing we did today was to begin work on equivalent fractions. We’ll be doing a lot with those for the rest of the year (though this year’s class is so smart at math I wonder if we won’t be finished with the book by early spring!)

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 ten times each in cursive. Write an original sentence for each. (2) Do the spelling crossword. (3) Do page 112 in the Practice book on hyperbole. (4) Write a summary of “Wild Horses” and answer the questions on page 219 in the Treasures book. You should write at least half a page for the summary and at least two to three sentences for each questions. (5) Do the Longer Long Division 3 practice sheet. (6) Do “Equivalent Fractions” on pages 231-232 in the math book.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Short but Productive

A very quiet, productive day. We went to Tech Center in the morning. We checked over our homework and read a selection from Treasures about a man named Dayton Hudson who created a wild horse sanctuary in the Black Hills. We learned about the relationship between fractions and division. We studied the Mojave Indians. And we did a little bit of mixing, too. Not bad for a shortened day, is it?

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 6-10 ten times each in cursive. Write a sentence for each word. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do pages 109 and 113 in the Practice book. (4) Do The Desert study guide. (5) Do the Longer Division 2 math practice sheet. (4) Do 228-229 in the math book.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to Reality

We had a pleasant day in room 19. It seemed a little pedestrian after those two field trips, but it was definitely productive. Our big event for the day was music class where Ms. Moran continued to work with the students on solfege, canonic form, and proper vocal technique. As usual, the students had a lot of fun learning all of this!


Other than that, we started a new story in Treasures, reviewed for and took math tests, and started work on fractions.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 ten times each in cursive and write an original sentence for each one. (2) Do pages 107-108 in the Practice book. (3) Do “Critical Thinking,” page 195 and “Standards Practice,” page 197 in the Practice book. (4) Do the Longer Division 1 practice sheet. (5) Do pages 225-226 in the math book.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Calle Olvera

Today was our field trip to El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park, better known to most of us as Olvera Street.


While many of us in Southern California think of Olvera Street mostly as a place to get great Mexican food or to buy south-of-the-border kitsch, it is really the historic heart of Los Angeles. It was here in September of 1781 that 44 pobladores, our first families, arrived here and set up a small settlement on the banks of the Porciuncula River. This trip was a way for the student to discover that a surprising amount of early Los Angeles history is still preserved.

As is only right for an urban school journey like this, we took full advantage of public transport. All of this was courtesy of the Metropolitan Transit Authority whose Metro Field Trip Program provided our students with free day passes and tap cards! Thank you, MTA! Many of our students and parents had never been on the subway before, so this was indeed a grand adventure.

Arriving at Union Station, we walked across Alameda to wait for our docents to begin their tour. As we were waiting, we took the opportunity to visit Los Angeles’ first fire station. A gentlemen there told us lots of interesting stuff about how early firefighting worked.


Our docents were fantastic! They pointed out things of interest and told us good stories about early Los Angeles.


For most of our tour, we were on the plaza. All Spanish colonial cities were designed around a central square called a plaza, or, in Mexico, a zocalo. This is ours.


Around the edges of the plaza, by the magnificent Moreton Bay Figs, are various statues and monuments. The settlement of California was authorized by King Carlos III of Spain. Here is a statue of him, a gift from the people of Spain.


The actual planning of this was done by Felipe de Neve. We have no idea what he looked like, and the sculptor of this statue worked for Disney studios. He does sort of look like a Disney cartoon prince, doesn’t he?


This area around the plaza was the prosperous center of a small farming town for almost a hundred years. During this time, many handsome buildings like the Pico House hotel were built.


But starting around 1890, the focus of development in Los Angeles turned south and west. The plaza and its old buildings were neglected. By the late 1920’s, much of its was in ruins.


It was then that a civic-minded reformers – and a shrewd businesswoman – named Christine Sterling decided to make restoring the area her passion. And on Easter Sunday, 1930, the old plaza and one small street that ran off of it were reopened as the Olvera Street we know today.

Of course, our students did more than learn history of this trip. They practiced math, too, and the most practical kind of math there is – using money! This is the only field trip where doing the buying stuff is not only allowed but even encouraged. Our students, accompanied by their fantastic parent chaperones, went through the little puestos or stalls where the vendors were more than willing to bargain with them.


No visit here is complete without a student buying a confetti egg…


… and finding a willing partner to share it with!


Homework:  Enjoy the weekend!