Monday, February 24, 2014

Quiet Day

It was a typically quiet Monday. We started off with our journals and some grammar. We are looking at definite and indefinite articles this week. After that, we reviewed the difference between open and closed syllables and previewed this week’s spelling. We went on to discuss this week’s vocabulary words and read the vocabulary story.

We were supposed to watch an American Experience documentary about the gold rush after that but the MacBook malfunctioned and so we substituted math. We looked at rectangles with the same area but different perimeters today. For some reason the authors of our standards are obsessed with the relationship between perimeter and area. I suppose it is easy to test.

After lunch we read another couple chapters in The Cay and I showed them how to divide decimals. After mixing, I swapped out the MacBook for an old HP laptop donated to our classroom by Friends of Third, and we watched and discussed the first part of the film.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. (2) Sort the words into two categories – those with open first syllables and those with closed first syllables. We discussed this in class. (3) Do “Phonics” on page 265 and “Vocabulary” on page 266 of the Practice book. (4) Do Dividing Decimals 1 practice sheet. (5) Do pages 268-269 in the math book.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


We started out today with the students imagining how they might survive if their plane crashed into the Arizona desert. They wrote diary entries about how they survived.This was not completely morbid as the students had been studying in the Treasures reading this week how different animals survive in the desert. We had some good responses. We also reviewed the “Walk in the Desert” story and practiced Annie.

After recess, we split into Science groups. Each group was give pieces of calcite, quartz, gypsum, and fluorite, though they did not learn the names of those minerals until later. First the students observed the stones carefully looking for properties like color, mass, and texture. 


After discussing the limitations of some of those properties to help identify minerals, we discussed how hardness might be a good property to explore. I explained the scratch test to them, and they attempted to scratch each of the minerals with fingernails, pennies, and a steel paper clip. 


In the afternoon, we looked at how rectangles can have the same perimeter but different areas. 

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 14-20 ten times each and a sentence for each. (2) Do pages 262, 263, and 264 in the Practice book. (3) Do the summary and questions 1-4 on pages 563. Students should study the questions. The students had 25 minutes to work on this in the morning. (4) Read “Mining for Minerals” in the Science Resources book and answer the study questions. (5) Do Multiplying Decimals 3. Be sure to show all work. (6) Do “Same Perimeter, Different Area” on pages 368-369 in the math book. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


A pretty quiet day. We finished reading “A Walk in the Desert” from Treasures. We started learning about the Gold Rush in history. We learned how to divide irregular geometric shapes to determine their area.

Probably the most fun thing we did today was to start working on the 90th Anniversary Logo Contest. This is something the parents are sponsoring for this spring’s ninetieth anniversary blast. Most of our students are still working on it, but there were a couple good ones among the early finishers.



Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 6-13 ten times each in cursive. Write an original sentence for each word. (2) Do pages 255, 258, and 259 in the Practice book. (3) Do the Gold Rush study sheet. Ignore the cartoon on the last page. That is part of a later assignment. (4) Do Multiplying Decimals 2. (5) Do "Irregular Figures," pages 365-366 in the math book. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


It was a pretty quiet day back - a nice change from the feeding frenzy of Valentine’s Day on Friday! We worked on our survey reports in Tech Center. We started a new unit in Treasures about habitats. We went over what we already know about habitats before going on the read some of the first articles. In math, we looked at how to determine area (and, of course, what we mean by area) and the basic rules for multiplying decimals. 

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-6 ten times each and write a sentence for each one. (2) Do pages 253-254 in the Practice book. (3) Do Multiplying Decimals 1 practice sheet. (4) Do “Area,” pages 362-363 in the math book. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two Daze

No, that’s not a misspelling. I have had a bad cold and with the cough medicine I’ve been in a daze! Fortunately, our students are great and we’ve still had two very productive days (even though I’ve been calling everybody the wrong name….)

Yesterday we did the final part of our mock rocks experiment. The students looked at the crystals in their evaporating dishes and most of them figured out that they were looking at salt. This helped them to finally discover all the “minerals” they had in their mock rocks. 


Today we worked in Tech Center to start putting our Excel charts and graphs into reports in Word. These will be remarkably sophisticated when they’re done:  I bet they’ll be better than a lot of reports submitted to some corporate bosses! After that, we started reading and discussing My Brother’s Flying Machine, a retelling of the story of the Wright brothers from the point of view of their youngest sister. 

After recess, we read another chapter of The Cay and started working on customary measurement. We finished the day with reading buddies and some of the students worked with Mr. Pratt on blocking the first scene of the play.

Homework:  (1) Write sentences for words 6-10. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Do the history activity sheet. (4) Do Mixed Numbers 2. (5) Do pages 351-352 in the math book. 

Friday, February 07, 2014


Today was a pretty quiet day. We had our usual spelling, reading, and math tests. The students generally did well on all of those, and the results are already on the grade book

We also worked on subdued colors in art today. We talked about how adding a complementary color like yellow to violet reduces the intensity of the color. The students experimented with this by doing desert scenes. Many were quite good.



Homework:  Finish the pages 342-345 in the math book. There will be a test on Monday.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

More "Mockery"

We started out today with the students writing down some ideas in their journals on how to protect themselves form earthquake injury.  We went on to check homework. We read the final selection for the week in Treasures and we went on to practice Annie for a bit.

After recess, we continued our investigation with the mock rocks. Today the students broke their mock rocks apart and separate them into pieces. The reason for this, they’ll learn later, is that rock are all composed of a variety of minerals and other materials. It’s part of what makes a rock a rock.


After they did this, they put a bit of the crumbly material from the rock into a vial and filled it with 25 milliliters of water.

Tomorrow they will be taking some of this liquid and putting in into an evaporation dish. Monday, they will look at the crystals. All of this will help them to infer the materials, the “minerals,” that form their mock rock.

The afternoon was spent working on learning to order integers. Sometimes this confuses students, but this year we have such a smart class that they all grasped it right away. 

As I am not that keen on riding a bike in the rain, I gave them some time to get started on homework so I could leave at 2:30 without any pangs of guilt.

Homework:  (1) Write a half page summary of Earth Dragon. Copy the questions on page 497 and answer in complete sentences. There will be a quiz on the stories tomorrow. (2) Do the Mixed Numbers 4 review sheet. There will be a quiz on this tomorrow as well. (3) Do pages 340-341 in the math book. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Making Up for Lost Time

I seem to have missed posting yesterday’s work. I guess I was just so excited about our faculty meeting. As the kids would say - not!

Yesterday the students continued work on their surveys in Tech Center. They learned how to computer the mean, median, mode, and range of a set of data. Pretty impressive for fourth grade, isn’t it? We started reading a really great story in the Treasures book about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.


We also started our earth science unit yesterday. The students will be studying rocks and minerals, and their first investigation was observing a “mock rock,” a fake rock.


Finally on Tuesday we started a new unit in math on integers, introducing the students to the concept of negative numbers.

Today we began by journaling about a time when we were scared. The students had the option of writing a fictional account here, and some of the entries were quite creative. We checked homework and finished reading “Earth Dragon.” We discussed comparing negative numbers. Usually many of the students find the idea that -100 is SMALLER than -99 confusing, but not our students. They grasped the concept right away. We also read about and discussed the Mexican-American War and its impact on California.

As I have a dentist appointment today and cannot stay for homework club, I gave the students the last 45 minutes to get homework done. With luck, many of them will have a free evening.

Homework:  (1) Do the final draft of the five paragraph essay on Third Street School, past, present, and future. This needs to be in cursive, of course. (2) Do Mixed Number Review 3. (3) Do “Comparing Integers,” pages 338-339 in the math book. (4) Do the “Mexican War” study sheet. 


Monday, February 03, 2014

Another Quick Post

A busy and productive day. But I have to go home a little early today, so here is the homework.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-5 ten times each and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do a spelling sort. Two works belong in an “exceptions” category. (3) Do pages 229-230 in the Practice book. (4) Do the Science study questions. (5) Do Adding, Subtracting Mixed Numbers 1.