Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Last Lap

I’ve heard from friends who have run marathons that the last couple miles are the hardest. It certainly feels that way in school. In the last couple weeks summer vacation seems so close you can almost taste it. But we still keep on doing our best to try to not waste on second of school time.

Today we started out the day in Tech Center. We had not been there for at least a month because of the play and the Tech Center. Mr. Riko had the students finish and publish a few projects and reminded them of all the neat things they can do over the summer on the Computerwise Kids website. Returning to the classroom, we read and discussed the final story in the Treasures anthology about Benjamin Franklin. 

After recess, we turned out attention to Science. The students were given the challenge of creating a circuit, including a switch, the could both light a bulb and run a motor. The groups tried hard, and most figured out that they needed an extra d-cell to make this happen. 


One hyper achieving group even figured out a way to light two bulbs as well as run a motor. Of course, this required an additional d-cell. 


After lunch we reviewed a bit about ratio and dividing decimals. These are late fifth grade skills, but most of our students have them down cold already. After a bit of physical education, we had our final session with our reading buddies from room 2. 


Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 1-7 ten times each and do a sentence for each one. (2) Do the spelling jumble. (3) Make a chart of ten problems and Franklin’s solutions for them. (4) Do the milage and map activity sheet. (5) Do the Connect Main Ideas section only on page 352 of the Social Studies book. (6) Do the Ratio paper. (7) Do the Dividing Decimals worksheet. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Two and a Half Days

Sigh. Once again your intrepid blogger has to make up for some lost time. First of all, I was happy to see that rooms 18 and 19 had the biggest and baddest bouncy at our 90th birthday party celebration last Saturday. Thanks for all your contributions!


Yesterday was a blur of three performances. Our students did an amazing job at their dress rehearsal. Mr. Pratt helped get them all psyched up and ready!


Our leads were wonderful.


Today we had another performance. Room 18 provided the leads today and they were absolutely fabulous. We worked on switches in electrical circuits - not sure why I forgot to take pictures of this - and also we took a math quiz and worked to peer revise our compositions on water conservation from last week. We finished the day today with our reading buddies. They were sharing their animal reports and other projects with us.


Homework: (1) Finish final drafts of the conservation paper. (2) Do the science questions and study sheet. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


We’re pretty close to melting after four insanely hot days. Once again, we did try to get a little outdoor time early in the morning, but the rest of the day we stayed inside being grateful for air-conditioning. We didn’t have that when I first came to Third Street School, many years before these students were born.

Most of the day was pretty productive but not all that thrilling. We checked, corrected, and discussed homework. We read the last chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon!  The romantic ending - the butler Praiseworthy marries the semi-impoverished aristocrat Miss Arabella in California - had the students pretending to be appalled, but, of course, they really liked it. We discussed the causes of World War II and its effect on California. 

The most fun thing we did was to start exploring electricity by talking about static electricity. The hot dry weather was pretty good for showing how electrons can transfer from hair to a balloon and create a negative-to-positive attraction. 


Homework:  Students had a lot of time this afternoon to finish a bunch of assignments. Many are finished, but a few are still doing one or two. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Two Hot Days

Yesterday was about nothing except play practice. We’re almost doing dress rehearsals right now, and we’re using props for all the performances. The backdrop is scrumptious and we can hardly wait to do our full performances next week.


Today, on the other hand, was mostly about orchestra. Tonight is the performance and we had a sort of dress rehearsal with Mr. Mason this afternoon.



We did some early morning PE as it is so brutally hot today, and we read another chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! We did a Science activity with magnetism, and we read about the Great Depression in social studies. Along the way I tried to give them as much time as possible to get a good head start on homework. 

Homework: (1) Write spelling words 11-15 ten times each in cursive and write a sentence for each word. (2) Do Great Horn Spoon 17 chapter 17 study sheet. (3) Do “Women’s Suffrage” activity paper. (4) Do “Great Depression” study questions. (5) Do the decimal division worksheet. (6) Do the problem solving worksheet. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

On Stage

Other than a trip to the library this morning, we spent most of the day today in the auditorium practicing the play. It’s getting pretty good, but there are a lot of rough edges to smooth out. That’s what we worked on today. I was generally pretty proud of the work our room nineteen students did - they’ve come a long way since we started this in January.


We finished the day in Dermoudy Court with a pep rally for our upcoming 90th Anniversary Party for the school. A big thanks to all the families who have contributed to our booth. I am confident we will have one of the very best there. We had some special guests for today. Fred - a famous YouTube guy - and Debby Ryan, one of the stars of Jessie, a Disney channel show. You should have heard the screaming. My ears are still ringing!


Homework:  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Autry Trip

It seemed for a while this morning that our field trip to the Autry Museum might not happen this morning. Our bus was supposed to be here before nine o’clock. When we called a little after that, the Transportation Branch admitted that they had neglected to schedule us for today. We were lucky that they managed to arrange something at the last moment, and we made it to the museum just in the nick of time. Once we were there the classes were divided into groups. Some went off to work on the Gold Rush and develop gold panning skills, while other classes - including the one I shadowed - explored the museum first. 

We had some really great docents. Here on of the docents is showing the students a Plains Native American dress and explaining how it was made. 


This resulted in a great discussion about the buffalo. Our guide called the bison the “Super Wal-Mart” of the prairie peoples. 


Students also learned more about the role of the stagecoach in the development of the west.


Of course, that mode of transportation depended on a good supply of horses and riders. The students were able to get a bit of the feeling of riding on a horse.


They saw exhibits that went over some of the key parts of a western town such as the saloon and the jail. They enjoyed their time in jail!


The other part of the trip was learning about the Gold Rush and learning to pan for gold. We had one of the museum’s resident teachers to guide us through this part and she was great! So were our students who answered every question correctly! They rocked and I was so proud of them. 


At our “sluice” we were joined by Ruben, another one of the teachers. He explained the finer points of panning as if he were old Quartz Jackson himself!


Our students picked it up pretty quickly and were finding nuggets of “gold" in no time. 


Of course parents, before you decide you can retire early, it was really only pyrite. But it was still fun to find those nice glittering chunks. they got to keep the two biggest pieces. 


After this we had lunch and then boarded the bus for home.


Homework:  Some students may need to finish the essay they wrote when we returned to school. Most are already finished with it. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Breaking the Force

It’s been just crazy with all our preparations for Annie in the last couple weeks (not to mention testing and other nonsense like that), so it’s been hard to keep up with poor old blog. I’ll try to do better….

Today we did one of my favorite Science demonstrations. It’s called “Break the Force”. The students were given a balance with a pole magnet on one side. On that side they put a magnet in the cup. On the other side they slowly put in big steel washers. They wanted to find out how many washers it would take before the two magnets separated, before the could “break the force” of magnetism.


After they did this the first time, they put in small plastic spacers between the two magnets to see how distance could weaken the force of magnetic attraction. They experimented by placing more and more spacers between the magnets and recording the results. 


After they had done the activity six times, they graphed their results.


The students concluded - quite correctly - that distance significantly weakens the force of magnetism. 

The rest of the day was spent doing a bit of this and a bit of that. We went over homework, we read and discussed another chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon! and we started reading about the Progressive Era in California history. We also learned about how to calculate balance in rectangular prisms. 

Homework:  (1) Do By the Great Horn Spoon chapter 16 study sheet. (2) Do the Hetch Hetchy response sheet. (3) Do Changing Times study guide. (4) Do Magnetism review paper. This will be a kind of “take home” test activity for them. (5) Do the Volume math papers. 

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Too Darn Hot!

Well,we are trying to survive this miserable heat. I hope the rest of this summer isn’t like this. 

Speaking of survival, we also somehow survived the field test of the Smarter Balanced tests. Our class was fortunate enough to be able to take these new online assessments in the computer lab where not only did the workstations connect reasonable well to the server, but the students could actually read what was on the screen. The students who had to use the iPads were not so lucky. Another reason why buying iPads for students is a poor idea…. The test itself was not that bad. In many ways, it seemed frankly easier than the old CST test. 

Today was not that exciting a day. We spent a lot of time going over homework and reviewing for the social studies test. We went out to PE early in the morning, but the boys still had the usual number of arguments over the fine points of scoring. The students also read and discussed a chapter in By The Great Horn Spoon!

Probably the most interesting thing we did today was in Science where we started our unit on electricity and magnetism. Today the students checked out a variety of materials to determine what was magnetic and what was not.


We used this data to make some generalizations about magnetism. At first, the students decided that metals were magnetic. But they later decided that this could not be the case because the aluminum and the copper materials were not magnetic. So they came - pretty quickly - to the conclusion that it has to materials made of iron.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 ten times each and do the sentences in cursive as well. (2) Do pages 353, 356, and 357 in the Practice book. (3) Do the chapter 14 study sheet of By the Great Horn Spoon! (4) Do the crossword puzzle in the back of the Social Studies Weekly paper. (5) Do Views of Solids worksheet. This is a little preview from the fifth grade math book. (6) Do the Fraction Review for today.