Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Wall

The most unusual thing today was we went to work on the new book wall. As many of you know, there was an art installation of a bookshelves with books on it outside the library. Parents tried to restore it earlier this year, but the damage to the artwork from years of rain and sun was simply too great. Plus, the underlying wood had been affected by dry rot in places. So parents paid for a new mural and Frances Okwu and Jason Stanton have been busy preparing a new book mural. This one will be on the side of the wall facing the reading garden.

Our students made “books” out of pieces of lumber. These had already been painted; the students provided the title, author, and “cover” artwork.


Alysoun Higgins provided the children with materials and some guidance and they had a great time picking a title and decorating their “book.”


Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 16-20. (2) Do “Fables” and “Greek Roots” on pages 209-210 of the Practice book. (3) Do Adding, Subtracting Fractions 4. (4) Do “Fractions and Decimals,” pages 279-280 in the math book and “A New Measure” on the back of the answer sheet.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Back Online

Sorry for a couple days without any entries, but we’ve been having some technical difficulties on the computer and internet front here at Third Street. I hope we’ve fixed them now.

It was a quick and pleasant Wednesday. We read an interesting article about ants in the Treasures book. The students went to Mr. Pratt for history. We learned about converting fractions into decimals and vice-versa. Not a lot – but it was all good.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 11-15. (2) Do pages 213 and 214 of the Practice book. (3) Complete the outline of “Ants.” (4) Do Adding and Subtracting Fractions 3. (5) Do Fractions and Decimals, pages 276-277 in the math book.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rachmaninoff and Rain

It was a gray quiet day here in room 19 today. We started out right away with the library. Mrs. Sartori was good enough to allow us to come about 25 minutes early because of the assembly schedule. She gave a short lesson to the students and they checked out books.


From there we went over to the auditorium where some young performers from the Colburn School serenaded us. The music was mostly late Romantic – Rachmaninoff and Bruch – and it seemed just perfect for the overcast, slightly melancholic weather.


The young violinist was particularly good.


Students had an opportunity to ask questions to the musicians.


After our recess, the students worked on circuits in Science, They were given a challenge – using one battery, make two bulbs light at the same time. They were quite clever here and most groups discovered how to make a simple circuit pretty quickly.


The students were then given a follow up challenge – find another way to make the two bulbs light. This allowed them to discover a parallel circuit where each bulb has a separate pathway to the d-cell.


The rest of the day was pretty ordinary. We took spelling, reading, and math skills tests. We finished watching Willy Wonka. They went to Health class with Mrs. Choi where they created a food pyramid. IMG_1128

Homework:  Only do pages 261-262 and 264-265 in the math book. There will be a chapter test on Monday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mystery Boards

Today went by pretty quickly and productively. We started off with our journals. We checked and corrected homework. We read a short non-fiction selection from Treasures on the "Great Wall of Los Angeles." Designed by artist Judy Baca, this is a large mural in Tujunga, probably the longest mural in the world. We discussed the difference between facts and opinions, and the students started to write summaries of the article.

After recess, we continued to work on electricity. We discussed electrical circuit boards, and the students were given pieces of cardboard with wires connecting different points. 

Mystery Board

They had to figure our which points were connected by the wires. Was it A to B? C to D? Or A to C? The students created circuit testers to do this using wires, a motor, and a d-cell. 

After lunch, we finished reading Stone Fox. This was the really sad point where Searchlight, Little Willy's beloved sled dog, dies trying to help him win the race and save his grandfather's farm. It's so well-written! We also talked about adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators. 

Homework:   (1) Write spelling words 8-17 five times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word also in cursive. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do "Skimming" page 221 and "Word Origins" page 223 in the Practice book. (4) Do Comparing Fractions 2. (5) Do "Unlike Denominators" pages 256-257 and "Animal Runners" on the back of the answer sheet.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Small but Good

 We were a pretty small class today with 5 out of our 25 students absent. I guess the flu has finally hit Southern California. But we were still quite productive and had a good day.
We went to the Tech Center and then to Music with Mr. Lawton. We started a new story in the Treasures book. We corrected our Quarter 2 math tests - the results are on the grade book - and we worked on adding and subtracting fractions with the same denominator. 

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 1-7 in the usual way. (2) Do the spelling sort. (3) Do pages 217 and 218 in the Practice book. (4) Do Comparing Fractions 1 worksheet. (5) Do pages 253-255 in the math book. 

Friday, January 18, 2013


We started off the day with an assembly to recognize the winners of this year's PTA Reflections contest.

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This is a national event, and students who win at their schools go on to complete regionally and nationally. We were fortunate enough to have one of our own students as a winner this year!

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After this, we went to the library where Mrs. Sartori played the recording of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech while showing them a lovely picture books illustrating the inspiring words.

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The rest of the day was devoted, as Fridays so often are in school, to assessment. We went over all our homework, particularly the math, in preparation for today's Topic 9 test. We took our spelling test. They took a history test with Mr. Pratt. After lunch, we took the math and reading tests. These have all been graded and the results are on the new grade book. The students returned to Mr Pratt during the mixing block to begin work on Willy Wonka, this spring's play.

Homework:  Students were again given a list of grades to date in all subjects and missing work. Parents should sign this and students will return it on Tuesday. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Today was our field trip to the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas. This is one of the most historically significant buildings in Los Angeles County. It was originally the home of Miguel Leonis, a Basque sheepherder who came to California while it was still a part of Mexico. He married a Chumash woman named Esperanza. Their rancho was enormous, covering most of the western part of the San Fernando Valley, some 10,000 acres. As a mark of their success, they covered the original adobe building with clapboard and wood filigree in the style of the early Victorian period.

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The trip to the Leonis Adobe each year not only helps our fourth grade students to understand more about California history, but it is a lot of fun. The staff there is great. They divide the students into small groups, each with an experienced and knowledgable docent. They rotate through a variety of activities each designed to help the students understand some facet of life on the ranch. The field trip began with an orientation from "Cowboy Harold."

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Students learned how to lasso cattle from a horse. Many of them were much better at this than their teacher was!

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They learned about how critical water was for the farm, and how carefully they managed their water resources. The students really liked pumping water from the well, though they were not sure if they wanted it as a regular chore like it was for the Leonis children.

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They learned how to grind corn into masa, any how to form the masa into tortillas.

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Probably the best part of all was interacting with the animals. Though only the tiniest fraction of its original size, the Leonis Adobe is still home to a surprising number of animals. The children had the best time observing the sheep who were definitely the friendliest of the creatures there.

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Some of these ewes had recently had babies and the little lambs were sooo cute!

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We also had an opportunity to feed the sheep. They have few teeth since they digest their food in their stomachs. But their tongue tickle when they eat the grass out of your hand. This part was just the best!

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Our trip ended as they gave us hot tortillas with fresh butter. About noon we boarded the yellow bus, and we had lunch at Woodland Hills Recreation Center. That was a lot of fun, too.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 five times each and write a sentence for each one. (2) Do the Equivalent Fractions 4 worksheet. (3) Do pages "Writing to Explain" on pages 243-244 of the math book and Test Prep pages 246-247. There will be a test over topic 9 tomorrow. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fabulous Fakes

Today we did a bit of this and a bit of that. We began by working on our fake book dust jackets. We have been talking about the importance of a good title in writing this week, so this was a way to help the students grasp that. Many of the book titles were quite clever.



We also worked on the Quarter 2 math test and read “Cricket in Times Square.”

Tomorrow is our field trip. We still have space for one of two more parents. Please let me know if you would like to come.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 10-15. (2) Do Equivalent Fractions 3 worksheet.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Brrr! It’s Cold!

Just the homework for right now.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 1-5. (2) Do “Inflectional Endings,” PB page 192. Also do “Vocabulary” and “Comprehension” on pages 193-194.   (3) Do Equivalent Fractions 1 worksheet. (4) Do "Compare Fractions" on pages 238-239 of the math book.

Students also need to have completed their surveys by tomorrow morning so they can begin to put their rests into Excel.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Brrr! It's rare that the day seems to get colder from early morning to noon, but today seemed to be that day. Still, our students managed to stay pretty warm as they continued learning.

In Science today we investigated the idea of conductors and insulators.

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The students made a "conductor detector" by creating an open circuit with a switch. They closed the connected the open ends of the circuit to different materials like the sheet of copper shown in the picture below and then check if the motor would run when they closed the switch. 

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They were conductors of another sort, I suppose, when they finished their rhythmic patterns and started practicing them. A few students performed their rhythmic compositions for the class today; the rest will do so tomorrow. 

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In addition to all this, we finished "Uncle Romie", read some more of Stone Fox, and studied fractions in simplest form.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words five times each in cursive. Also write a sentence for each word in cursive. The spelling words are bedspread, undergrowth, gentleman, clothesline, and undertake. Also do the spelling word search. (2) Do "Summarize" and "Think and Compare" on page 391. The summary should be about half a page. The questions should be answered in complete sentences. This will be collected and graded. (4) Do “Irregular Verbs” pp 189-190 in Practice book. (5) Do the Factors 4 worksheet. (6) Do "Factors in Simplest Form" on pages 234-235 of the math book and "Parts of a Region" on the back of the answer sheet. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Switched On!

Today was a pretty ordinary Wednesday. We worked on writing, we read the first part of a story in Treasures, and we corrected homework. After recess, things became a little more fun. The students were challenged to create an electrical circuit with a switch. Their goal was to make a small motor turn on and off. They work at it quite diligently.

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But most of the groups figured it out pretty quickly; faster, in fact than just about any other class I can remember. Well done!

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After lunch we read a little more of Stone Fox. We worked some more on our rhythm compositions. In math we worked on equivalent fractions. 

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 5 times each in cursive and write a sentence in cursive for each word. The words for today are loudspeaker, bookcase, skateboard, blindfold, eyesight. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do Directions, page 185, and Description, page 186 in Practice book. (4) Read "Edison Sees the Light" and answer study questions. (5) Do Factors 3 Worksheet. (6) Do "Equivalent Fractions" pages 231-232 in the math book. (7) Finish the Blues assignment from Mr. Lawton. 

Directions, page 185, and Description, page 186 in Practice book. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Singin' the Blues

Our day began in Tech Center. Our project, for the next few weeks, will integrate math and technology. The students worked to create four question surveys today. Three of the questions had multiple choice answers. For example, one question might be "What is your favorite kind of food?" and the possible answer might be "Chinese, Mexican, Hamburgers, Cupcakes". One question was open-ended but had to be answered with a number. For example, "How many hours a week do you watch TV?" Next week the students will put their answers into an Excel spreadsheet and use that to generate pie graphs and other graphics as well as calculating mean, median, mode, and range. And then they'll use all that information and those charts and put it into a report in Word. They should be good!

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After Tech Center, the students will to Music with Mr. Lawton. He worked on teaching them about African-American music traditions today, particularly the blues. The students' homework for him will be writing the lyrics for a blues song. 

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In math we worked on connecting division with multiplication. And in Science, the students figured out how to use two wires and a D-cell to light a lightbulb. We're beginning to study circuits. 

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Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 6-10 only five times each in cursive. Write a sentence for each of these words. (2) Do the “Factors 2” worksheet. (5) Do “Regions and Sets” pages 228-229 in the math book and “Paper Fun” on the back of the answer sheet.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Getting in our Hair

Welcome back, one and all, and happy 2013. Let me first of all thank all the parents who were so generous to me at Christmas time. I was overwhelmed with your kindness. I now have a new Kindle Paperwhite at home and I’m working on a new camera to replace the one that so sadly disappeared.

Today was a great day. We began by sharing our holiday experiences. Some of them were kind of funny! We then worked in our journals. Our topic today, which connects to the story we’ll be reading later this week in Treasures, was “someone you admire.” Most of the students wrote about their parents, a tribute to what good families we have in room 19. One student nominated God, and it’s hard to argue with that one!

We worked went over our phonics and spelling for the week. We introduced the key vocabulary words and read a short story to help learn the words in context. We started on our second unit in the 6+1 Traits of Writing program. We will be concentrating on organization in the next few weeks. The students took the standard scoring guide or “rubric” and translated it, with a little help from the teacher, from “educationese” to plain English. They have the opportunity to create a poster for this. While optional, any student who does a reasonably good job with this will get a homework pass. This will be due on Friday.

After recess, we started our exploration of electricity by working with static electricity. The students rubbed balloons on their hair or their sweaters to generate negative charges in the balloon. They then observed that the two negatively charged balloons repelled each other just like the like poles of a magnet would. They also observed that their now positively charged hair stood up and they liked that even better!


We’re starting our unit in fractions this week. If you would like more resources to help the students with this, there is a pretty good app available from the author’s of the textbook. It’s free.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 only five times each in cursive. Write a sentence for each of these words. (2) Do “Compounds,” page 180 and “Vocabulary” page 181 in the Practice book. (3) Do the “Making Static” study questions. (4) Do the “Factors 1” worksheet. (5) Do “Regions and Sets” pages 225-226 in the math book and “Look-Alikes” on the back of the answer sheet.