Thursday, March 27, 2014


Today was our field trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We walked there as did the students from room 16. It is not altogether easy walking 60 students and 10 or so adults two miles safely, but our students and our parent docents did an admirable job of ensuring student safety. We are so lucky at Third Street that such amazing attractions as LACMA are within walking distance from our school. At my old school, the closest place of interest was the Farmer John plant. Needless to say, we never went there for field trips!


At the museum, the students were divided into seven groups and assigned to a docent. Each docent picked slightly different pieces from the permanent collection to show their students. I went with one group. We started out by looking at and discussing David Hockney’s Mulholland Drive on the Way to the Studio, one of the museum’s signature pieces. 


To contrast this modern piece with an ancient one, we looked as this Assyrian bas relief from the ancient city of Nimrud. The students were intrigued to learn that the little marks in the center are actually writing in the ancient Akkadian script. Surprisingly, they never asked why this rather masculine god was carrying a purse. Most years I hear somebody ask that. 


We went to take a look a very different portrait, this time the Pompeo Batoni’s Portrait of Sir Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham, a young English aristocrat just completing his Grand Tour. The guide explained this portraits like these were kind of like pictures they might take to help remember a trip to Disneyland and helped them see the significant details in it. 


We looked a very different port air, Amadeo Modigliani’s Woman of the People. The students discussed why the artist might have drawn her eyes in such a peculiar way and made her chapped hands so prominent. 


We looked at a kind of un-portrait, Rene Magritte’s The Liberator


Lunch, of course, is a highlight of the day. 


We returned back to school where we had some time for PE, a chapter from By the Great Horn Spoon! and a little study hall so they would have less homework tonight.

Homework:  (1) Read pages 698-701 in the Treasures book. Copy and answer the questions on page 701. There will be a quiz on this story and “Leah’s Pony.” (2) Do "Identifying Minerals" questions. (3) Do the social studies review questions. There will also be a test over chapter 6 in the History book on Friday. (4) Do the Factors review sheet. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good Story (at last)

Occasionally there are some good stories in the Treasures series. Today was just that kind of day. We read Elizabeth Friedrich’s lovely story "Leah’s Pony.” Set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, this beautifully written tale tells the story of a young girl who must sell her beloved horse to help save her family’s farm. 


In Science we finished up investigation 4. The students look at eight rocks and minerals investigating them for two new properties, cleavage and magnetism. Here one of the students discovered just how magnetic one of the rocks is!


We took our math tests today over topics 17 and 18, and the corrected tests are already on the grade book. We are also starting on the second plane geometry unit of the year. 

Remember, tomorrow is our field trip to LACMA. Sorry for the short notice, but our dates were abruptly changed on us. If you can walk with us, great. But we probably have enough volunteers from room 16 already. Remember to pack lunch for your child for tomorrow.

Homework:  (1) Write a summary of “Leah’s Pony.” This should be half a page or longer. Also copy and answer the questions on page 697 of the Treasures book. (2) Do Identifying minerals questions. This will be due Friday. (3) Do the social studies questions. This also will be due Friday. There will also be a test over chapter 6 in the History book on Friday. (4) Do the Factors review sheet. (5) Do “Congruent Figures,” page 438-439 in the math book. 

  Do Identifying minerals questions. Also give them the social studies questions. These will be due Friday

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not a Monday, but a Fun Day

We started the day in the Tech Center. The students are finishing their work on the biomes reports. They’re learning a lot about both environments and MS Word. Mr. Riko, as always, is a huge help.

We went to the auditorium to practice Annie. We concentrated today as we worked with Mr. Pratt on the second half of the play. Here Rooster, Lily, and Hannigan are singing “Easy Street.” 


And here the orphans are listening to the radio as Bert Healy sings, “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."


After recess, we did more work on minerals. Students examined both familiar and unfamiliar rocks and minerals for various properties. Tomorrow we will show the students how to take this information and use an identification table to figure out what our mystery minerals are. 


Homework:  Very light tonight! (1) Do the factors review sheet. (2) Do pages 430-433 in the math book as well as the Quick Review and Problem of the Day. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Depression? Yes. Depressed? Not Really!

The day outside was bleak and gray, but inside room 19 it was another lovely Monday. 

We started a new unit in the Treasures book today about “working together.” I am not quite sure how “working together” is all that different from “teams”, one of the earlier units, but who am I to question such things? Anyhow, the unit opener showed a pictures, similar to the one below, of a depression-era soup line. Since we are working on Annie, the students were interested to learn a little more about what life was like during the 1930’s. 


After recess, we turned our attention to Science. We’re starting a new investigation this week called “Take it for Granite” (somehow, students never get that joke). As a preliminary today, we introduced the students to the ideas of “streak” and “luster.” Here one of the girls is checking an unnamed mineral for its streak. We will use a mineral table later on to help identify these mystery minerals. 


In math, we continued our work with Cartesian coordinate grids. After mixing, we did more with our vanishing point perspective paintings. 





Homework:  (1) Sort the spelling words into categories. All have the /Ən/ sound. Create a table showing how each word makes that sound. (2) Do pages 314, 315, and 316 in the Practice book. (3) Find photograph of people working together to solve problems. This can be from a magazine or from an internet search. It should be fairly large, at least 5 x 7. (4) Do the factors worksheet. (5) Do pages 426-429 in the enVision Math book and “Video Playback” on the back of the answer sheet.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Today was Walk-a-thon! And thanks to all of your wonderful generosity, our class had 100 percent participation!!! Yay!!! 

We started the day in the library. It was hard to keep our enthusiasm down and remember our library demeanor, but our students were up to it.


After library we went back to the room and finished correcting our homework. We were just about to get started on the spelling test when one of our wonderful parent volunteers came and escorted us to the yard for all the fun Walk-a-thon stuff. 

One of the best activities at the Walk-a-thon is the relay race with the students carrying cups of water. We “versed” room 18. 


Cup stacking is also super fun!




Homework:  None today. In fact, in honor of 100 percent, cursive is cancelled for the next four school weeks!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Putting Things in Perspective

It was a pleasant, uneventful day in room 19 today. We are getting ready for the big Walk-a-thon tomorrow. I am still hoping for 100 percent participation. I am offering a MONTH without cursive practice if we get contributions from EVERYBODY. 

Our first experiments with perspective last week were okay, but the students still did not completely understand the concept. So today we started a project with vanishing point perspective, something that they will finish tomorrow. First I explained the concept of vanishing point and how artists create special guidelines to help them reduce the size of objects correctly as the grow closer to the vanishing point. 

Vanishing point drawing

Then the students practiced with a picture of some train tracks. We like trains!


We will finish this project tomorrow.

We also learned how to graph functions today. I am so awed by how these students are doing things in fourth grade I never did until junior high!

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 ten times each in cursive and write one sentence for each. (2) Do pages 282, 284, 287, and 288 in the Practice book. (3) Do “Critical Thinking” on page 605 of the hardcover Treasures book. Be sure to copy the questions as well as answering them in complete sentences. (4) Do the Area and Perimeter Review 4 practice sheet. (5) Do the What’s X 4 practice sheet. (6) Do pages 424-425 in the enVision Math book and do “Gridlock” on the back of the answer sheet.

Also, the final draft of the mystery story, assigned a couple days ago, is due tomorrow. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday

A thoroughly wondrous Wednesday in room 19! We started the day with journals, as usual. Since the Common Core State Standards are big on the idea of persuasive writing, and the students will probably have to do some writing as part of the trial testing of the new examinations scheduled for next year, we are making sure they are comfortable with taking positions and supporting them with evidence. Today they had to pick the “best” biome and explain why it was better than others. I randomly picked some people to share their ideas with the class. We read a short selection from Treasures that we had skipped a couple weeks ago, and the students met for the first time with their literature groups to discuss the first chapter(s) of their books. 

After recess, the students were paired up randomly to read and respond to each other’s mystery stories. This will lead them to doing some final drafts that will be due on Friday. 


After lunch, we had lots of students going off to orchestra, so I gave the remaining students 45 minutes to get started on homework. So if they complain a lot tonight just say, “Hey! What were you doing after lunch?” After mixing we had a review of rules and functions and more time to get started on some simple assignments. 

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 11-15 ten times each and do a sentence for each one. (2) Do pages 277, 278, and 279 in the Practice book. (3) Do the back pages of the 31st State newspaper. (4) Do Area and Perimeter Review 3. (5) Do What’s X? 3. (6) Do pages 422-423 in the enVision Math book. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Most Tuesdays go by quickly but this seemed unusually fast. If only I could say the same for the faculty meeting that followed….

But before we go over what we did today, here is something I did not mention yesterday. We are working on perspective in art right now. It’s a HARD skill for fourth graders who are able to distinguish symbolic from realistic art, but have a difficult time making art that looks like the real work. Part of that is technical skill, of course, but a great deal of it is learning to see things somewhat differently. We went over a number of different ways for creating depth and distance in art. One of them is the idea that lines going away seem to come closer together (even though the actual distance does not change). This student could see this in a football field.

Today we started out the day in the Tech Center. Students are completing their biomes project where they researched and wrote about the six major ecosystems of the world. They really concentrated as well on learning how to size and place pictures in a Word document. Returning to the classroom, we checked, corrected, and discussed homework. We started literature circles today and the students were assigned to specific books. You’ll be hearing more about this. 

After recess, the students worked with Mr. Pratt in the auditorium on Annie. The play is coming along quite well, but we are working with the students to speak lines more effectively and to use their faces and bodies to react to the words of other actors. In this scene, Oliver Warbucks, center, is meeting Annie, second from the right, for the first time.

We skipped reading buddies today because Mr. Pratt was generous enough to give us an extra 25 minutes and we went to second lunch instead. In math, we are introducing the students to functions. They’ll be graphing them soon! What amazing things students are doing now in elementary school. I’m not sure I did that until ninth grade.

Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 6-10 (2) Do Area and Perimeter Review 2 (3) Also do What’s X? 2 on the back. (4) Do pages 420-421 in the enVision Math book.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Blog's Back

It’s been a couple tough weeks for this teacher. I was out for several days, and really intensely sick for a couple of them. Just coming back to school has been really tiring. 

We’ve been doing some cool stuff in Science. Students have been learning about calcite or calcium carbonate. This is a common rock forming mineral. They learned that one of the properties of calcite is that it reacts to acid by releasing carbon dioxide from the rock. Real geologists use hydrochloric acid to test for calcite, but we settled for a much weaker acid, white vinegar.

The students watched as some rocks fizzed and as others did nothing. This help them determine which ones were rocks containing calcite and which ones were not. But they needed to be more certain. The students then poured some of the vinegar solution into an evaporating dish so that after a couple days they could compare the crystals - if any, to those of calcite.

We did those things last Thursday and Friday. Today we did examined the crystals in the evaporating dishes. 


Homework:  (1) Do spelling words 1-5. The words are easy this week. We have no Treasures story this week, so I just grabbed and recycled a list from when I taught third grade. (2) Do the Calcite Quest on the back of the Science sheet. (3) Do the social studies worksheets. (4) Do the Area and Perimeter Review and the What’s X? work sheet. (5) Do pages 418-419 in the math book.